I’m so nervous, but excited to present to you a NEW sample of something other than the Personal Demons. Here is a sneak peek into the beginning of my new series, Of Blood and Deceit!
Chapter 1: A Royal Prisoner
Rusted cuffs bit into the flesh of my ankles shooting sharp pains up bruised legs. My heart pounded, and my head throbbed as I shuffled down the cell corridor in a red, shapeless prison gown. Red signified female, though I hardly felt so anymore.
Once a week. Just once a week for an hour, we could escape our hell on earth and breathe the air outside of the piss-saturated, rat-infested walls of our confinement. Ten cells a day were given their freedom for an hour. That was what the king of Anolyn granted, and it was kind compared to what my uncle would have allowed.
I paced my steps and thoughts, hiding my excitement for when I reached the guards and the manacles were unshackled from my bare feet. The cement stairs were ice cold. As we climbed, the wind blew through the cracks of the prison doors. Then they were thrown wide. Light poured in, blinding me. I blinked until the burning subsided and my sight returned. Although hindered by dense rainclouds, the infused sky pushed through the darkened recesses of my mind, erasing momentarily all the demons that festered my soul.
The wind chilled my skin. Goosebumps shivered down my spine. Rain fell from a bloated sky, but I didn’t care. It was a blessing. It was the only shower I had had since being captured by Riaan’s men. I lifted my face to the heavens of Anolyn, letting it wash away months of dirt and grime.
An automatic grunt bubbled from my lips as Lucan shoved past to go sulk in the corner of the arena with the other prisoners. Under the protection of a large oak tree he scowled at me from his cover. Again, another reason why I was thankful for the rain. He would leave me alone for once.
Retracing the muddied circle entrenched in the ground from countless other prisoners, I walked my laps alone, lifting my shackled hands as high in front of me as I could to stretch sore muscles. I almost looked tan, but it was only dirt that darkened my skin.
This was my eighteenth walk, my first given to me after two-weeks of healing from a severe beating by an overzealous guard upon my arrival. In his defense, I deserved it. He would never regrow the ear that now rotted in the dense soil of Varian forest.
It had been twenty weeks since I had arrived. Three months since my capture, and I was nowhere nearer to escape. Not that I was trying very hard. Josiah’s prison was luxury compared to what was waiting for me when my uncle reclaimed me. Death came to those who he deemed a traitor—and I was a traitor.
I rolled my neck, feeling the tight strain of my skin and the burn mark from my uncle. The scar stretched from just beneath my ear to right above my collarbone—a reminder of a past treachery, and only one of many. Blood or not, he did not tolerate dissidence.
The sound of hooves arrested my attention as a man on his horse cantered into the arena. The prison guard whistled—a signal that our playtime was over early. My shoulders hunched as I walked back, the muddy ground squishing between my toes. The rain grew heavier and by the time the last man entered the prison doors, I couldn’t see a foot in front of my face.
Which was why I ran headlong into the horse’s ass… and his black steed.
Letting out a surprised curse, I pushed away, but kept my head down.
The man brushed at the watery filth left behind on the sleeve of his black uniform and tsked. “That’s not very becoming of a lady.”
My face burned, but I swallowed my sarcastic reply. I had never been a lady. Born as a girl, I was already thought of as weak. Second-rate. Seventeen years of fighting proved I was anything but. Now I accepted the truth that I was a woman, but a lady? No.
That station only came with additional costs. Costs I was unwilling to pay. But if I wanted to remain hidden, I needed to pretend for the time being.
“Nothing?” His deep voice was gruff and unnervingly calm—and I didn’t like it.
His very presence radiated authority. His eyes bore through my face as he stood silently watching me, waiting for me to say something imprudent—to fall into some unknown trap.
I mumbled my apologizes and prayed to be excused. Rain dripped from my dirt-crusted hairline, down my face, and onto my soiled feet, but still the man stayed where he was. The mud coated his once nicely polished boots and I fought the growing temptation to look up. Enlightenment could sometimes be deadly, and enlightenment was not something I was looking for at the moment.
“Sir.” A panicked guard rushed from the prison doors, grabbing me roughly by the arm.
Despite the pain, relief flooded through me. I was happily ready to be dragged back to my cell.
“Bring her to my office,” the man said.
The guard stuttered, surprised. “Sir?
“Now.” Then he turned on his heel and led his horse away to the stables. He vanished through the downpour.
My heart dropped.
“What did you do?”
Before I could respond to the infuriated guard, he knocked me to the ground with a solid backhand to the face. Shock and then anger surged, but within seconds, two guards rushed me and I had barely enough time to block my face from a kick—missing the one to my side. The air knocked from me, my lungs seized in pain. Then another blow to my head—
Of Blood and Deceit is not available for purchase–yet, but if you like my writing you can go check out the Personal Demons series available now on Amazon. Keep checking in for more samples!