Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cinderella, P. I. Around the World (Cinderella, P. I. Mysteries Book 4) by Juliet Kincaid

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CINDERELLA, P. I. AROUND THE WORLD Join Cinderella, P. I. in EIGHT NEW ADVENTURES. Along with our clever detective, search for a missing Prince Charming–not her own, but Snow White’s–in “Cinderella and the Mysterious Blonde.” Other missing persons include a Muse, Cinderella herself, and two kids–Cinderella’s own younger son and her little girl. Investigate a surprising development in “Cinderella and the Tooth Fairy” plus mischief and mayhem in “Cinderella, Bewitched,” “Cinderella’s Matchless Case,” and “Cinderella and the Man in Charge,” all twenty years, three kids and a few extra pounds after the ball.




“You must be Mr. Dirk,” I said as the young man took my right hand between his cool, smooth hands. “I understand you need my help here at the zoo.” Mr. Dirk pulled me toward him. I didn’t mind because he was quite personable, younger though shorter than Prince C, with even features and slick brown hair that matched his brown uniform, its creases crisp. Glancing down, I noticed that he was barefoot. That’s odd, I thought.
Mr. Dirk and I stood near the entrance to the Kingdom Zoo. Of course, my family, animal-lovers all, scattered the instant they hit the gate. Prince C with Sophie, our youngest, on his shoulders, the two of them looking like a totem pole, went off to see the bears. Our oldest child Artie, along with his girlfriend Cinderannie, she of the piercings and totally black wardrobe, went somewhere else, but Boxy, our middle child, right on the cusp of adolescence, hung around a while to toss fish to the seals in their big pool near the front gate. “Arrrf! Arrrf! Arrrf!” barked the seals before Boxy took off, too.
Now I must admit that I wasn’t thinking much about my folks, not even my husband, Prince C. By then, I was enchanted by Mr. Dirk’s big dark eyes. “What is this all about?” I asked.
“Hey, Ma, look at me. No hands.”
I whirled around when I heard the voice and a thumping on the ground. Boxy galloped by on an ostrich. The bird flapped its wings. The kid flapped his arms. Behind them ran an attendant, flapping a leash. Reminded of my marital status by my son, I sprang away from Mr. Dirk. Then I shouted, “Watch out” as Boxy on his mount almost ran down some dwarf sightseers. But they jumped to safety in the geranium beds on either side of the path. “I must apologize for the behavior of my son, Mr. Dirk. I’ll just go after him and–”
I noticed that Mr. Dirk had luscious eyelashes, lying like silken brown butterflies on his cheeks. Then he opened those gorgeous eyes again, smiled and I thought, Oh no, he’s even got a dimple on his right cheek.
As if I were under a spell, he led me to a bench. We sat, knees facing each other. I wore a frilly yellow frock, sandals more comfortable than they looked, and a straw hat with a wide brim to keep the sun out of my eyes. Good thing, too, because I was already dazzled by Mr. Dirk.
Just then, close by, an elephant trumpeted, and there came Artie and Cinderannie, riding way up high in the tasseled box on the gray back. They waved before they went back to smooching. The elephant, its harness held by its keeper, plodded on.
I scooted away from Mr. Dirk as Prince C, with Sophie in front of him, rode up on a tall, trudging camel led by a guy in a tan burnoose. I fanned my blush away with my hand.
When they’d passed, I felt Mr. Dirk’s warm breath on my neck and got goose bumps. Up I jumped. “Why don’t we walk around the zoo? That way you can show me the problem you need my help with.”
Mr. Dirk wasn’t much with words, but as he guided me along the paths, I got the picture.
Sure, the two young gorillas played hide and seek around the corner between their outer cage and their inner one, but they’d have had lots more fun if they could scamper around in their larger habitat that had plants and rocks and real tree branches. A barred door shut off that part, though.
Further on, a lioness nursed her two cubs. As we passed, she glared at me with her golden eyes and bared her teeth as if to warn us away from her babies. Outside her cage extended substantial acreage designed to look like the veldt, but it didn’t have even a single animal of any kind in it.
The aviary was made like a greenhouse, all of glass panels, only instead of being level, it went up a hill, with doors top and bottom. In there, no birds flew and no birds sang, but we passed lots of filled cages. In one sat a raven using a glossy black feather held in his beak to guide a kernel of corn across the ground toward the cage, but he never got the corn close enough to pull through the bars.
Mr. Dirk released my elbow, knelt, picked up a handful of corn, and put it in the cage. The raven pecked hungrily at the grain.
When Mr. Dirk stood up again, he smiled at me and I about fell into his deep dark eyes. “I think I see the problem here,” I said. “But why are all the animals caged like this when they have perfectly lovely habitats? What has happened here?”

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