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She and I don't have names. We're just slaves, after all. But our hearts don't care, and we're lucky, we have a chance at a scrap of happiness in our terrible lives. My father is the Queen's pet.
But when my love discovers the lords' newest atrocity, she lashes out, does the unthinkable, and attacks one of them. Her courage is heroic, but now they have stuffed her in prison, getting ready to slaughter her.
With nothing to lose, I dare to dream of a life far from the lords. I fight for our freedom, and escape to the woods with my love. We can do no less than free all of our people in the effort.
Our flight through the woods is only the start of our journey. The lords’ flaming attacks, their deception, the loss of so many of my people—I don't know if I will survive, or if I even want to. But for my love, I will do almost anything, even battle the fire above.
Enjoy an excerpt:
As I entered the village, my heart dropped and my feet turned from trusted friends to tripping enemies. The lord was waiting by my brother's hut. Carry a package. When they’d said from our village, I’d had a feeling. From my brother’s hut, what else could it mean?
I plodded forward, dreading the next moments. It was an honor to be Chosen, right? Father had been Chosen, and look where he was now. Pet slave to the Queen herself.
I watched the lord push open the door and obediently followed her inside. She looked around, wrinkling her nose. It looked like a regular hut to me, with its dirt floor, cooking pit in the center, sleeping mats to one side. Neater than most, in fact. My brother's mate spun as we came in, my nephew on one hip. I saw my niece peep out from the sleeping mats out of the corner of my eye. Behind the lord’s back, I winked at her and tipped my head to get her to go back to hiding. She did.
My brother's mate's brown eyes shone black in the dim light. She flicked her eyes at the lord, and then at me, wide-eyed.
The lord peered at her and said, “That child is Called.”
My brother's mate's face flashed with fear and went slack. I dove toward her, managing to catch my nephew before his head hit the floor. Luckily, I bumped his stiff mother back into the wall instead of forward, so she shouldn’t be too injured. My nephew started screaming, and I couldn't tell if he had an injury or was just scared.
About the Author:
With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.'s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She's just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.
But toys were not mature, and stories weren't respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.
Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.'s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn't leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I'm not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.'s spouse, rolled their eyes.
So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it's not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or...” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.
C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five pets, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.
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