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Let's Talk About Kissing... by @LeeAnnWard1115 | Glimpses of Wilderness Book Tour & $25 Amazon GC #Giveaway | @SDSXXTours Presents #YA #Romance

Glimpses of Wilderness by Lee Ann Ward is on virtual book tour. The young adult romance stops at Readeropolis today with an author guest post.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the $25 Amazon GC giveaway and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).



Let's Talk About Kissing...

One of my favorite things about writing YA romance is the kissing! I mean, who doesn't love a good kissing scene, am I right? It's the moment we anticipate most after meeting the heroine and hero in the new story we're reading. My Anna and Robert in GLIMPSES OF WILDERNESS share some delicious kissing scenes...quite steamy, and well worth the wait! But the actual sweetness of kissing sometimes gets lost in the translation, and that's a shame. I always promise myself as a writer to remember the innocence of that first kiss. This is one of my favorite blog posts from about a year ago, and I want to share it with you. Long live the newness of kissing... 

Just finished writing a "kissing" scene this morning, and thought I would share something with you. I am a huge fan of Peter Pan (the book, not only the Disney movie that everyone associates Peter Pan with), because there is such beauty in innocence. One of my favorite lines from the book is spoken by Peter, and it is this, "You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you. That's where I'll be waiting."

I also adore the "kissing" scene between Peter and Wendy...

“I think it’s perfectly sweet of you,” she declared, “and I’ll get up again,” and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did not know what she meant, and he held out his hand expectantly.

“Surely you know what a kiss is?” she asked, aghast.

“I shall know when you give it to me,” he replied stiffly, and not to hurt his feelings she gave him a thimble.

“Now,” said he, “shall I give you a kiss?” and she replied with a slight primness, “If you please.” She made herself rather cheap by inclining her face toward him, but he merely dropped an acorn button into her hand, so she slowly returned her face to where it had been before, and said nicely that she would wear his kiss on the chain around her neck. It was lucky that she did put it on that chain, for it was afterwards to save her life.



The sweetest kissing scene ever written, in my opinion! So, remember people, sometimes kisses are thimbles, and sometimes they're acorn buttons. And they might just save your life...


Glimpses of Wilderness
The Glimpses Series Book 1
by Lee Ann Ward
Genre: YA Romance


No nightmares about my dad’s car crashing or my sister’s tiny face vanishing in a window of red. No, not anymore. Now when I sleep I fall into an expanse of frozen wilderness, the other life I’ve lived…


The one I’ve lived with him.

Anna experiences vivid dreams from a past-life she lived in the 1800s with her husband Robert and their children in the wilderness of the Michigan Territory. Much like her own mother grieving the man and child she lost, Anna can’t simply let go of the memories that haunt her.

But when she runs into Robert in this lifetime, a whirlwind of their past lives—and deaths—rocks her modern world to the core. What will she be willing to risk to spend every lifetime with Robert? 

In the twists and turns of “repeating” their lives over and over through time, Anna must sacrifice everything for a glimpse of immortal love.





Lee Ann Ward is an award-winning fiction author with a background in journalism and mass communications. She is also the former Senior Editor of Champagne Books. Her love of books started at the age of three, and she's been addicted ever since. She's published six novels with her seventh and eighth on the way (SEE a YA paranormal by Evernight Teen in June 2017 and GLIMPSES OF WILDERNESS a YA romance by Inkspell Publishing in December 2017) and has written several more. When she's not writing, she's reading, singing, baking designer cakes, bowling and dreaming. She's married to Joe (who also happens to be her publicist) and they have 4 sons whom they adore, and a granddaughter who is the love of their life. They make their home in the small fishing community of Bayou La Batre, Alabama.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




Author A&A ft @skye_of_ivana | The Sehhinah Trilogy Book Tour & #Giveaway | @SDSXXTours Presents #UrbanFantasy #UF

The Sehhinah Trilogy by Ivana Skye is on virtual book tour. The urban fantasy stops at Readeropolis today with an author interview.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for $5 Amazon and collection of in-universe short stories and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).

Author Interview


What is something unique/quirky about you?
I feel like literally any response I give is just going to be me talking around how autistic I am, so…
(Yes, I am autistic.  So are Elīya, and Yenatru, and Celyet, and Kjorel, and Teśena, and God … and Jibril and Sän have ADHD.)


Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you?
I once got lost in the woods in Germany with a self-identified sociopath who proclaimed his undying love to me.  


Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Boulder, CO, though I never technically lived there, but in some suburbs in the rough area.  My parents eventually moved to Portland, OR, when I was like six and a half, but Oregon is like only maybe 0.5% as cool as Colorado, if that, so it didn’t really work out that well for me.  I’m definitely a mountain girl.


What inspired you to write this book?
At the very end of 2015, I was bored one night and thought to myself, “Hm, it sure is weird that I enjoy reading Abrahamic fantasy so much when I’m not of an Abrahamic faith!  I wonder what it is about it that I like?” And then I wrote a bullet-pointed list of stuff I like about it … and accidentally started coming up with ideas for how to worldbuild something that had only the parts I like, and none of the parts I don’t like.
Half an hour later, I’d ended up with a cool magic system, and the idea of the Holy and my version of demons…
Then the Spring semester of my junior year of college started, but there was this dissatisfaction in me that I couldn’t quite figure out.  Writing was important—that much was clear. But what to do about it? So I started giving myself little writing challenges—like, “do five paragraphs of body language description”—that I could easily fit into my school schedule.
That worked for about a week.  But I wanted more.
So when I had a Monday off from school (MLK Day), I decided to spend it writing.  Like, seriously writing. Like “trial of what it would be like to be a professional writer” writing, which meant for some reason that I decided to do approximately nothing but write from 9am to 5pm, because that’s what Real Professionals do, right?  (Wrong.) It actually wasn’t the best setup for my productivity—in eight hours I “only” drafted 6000 words, which I now know I can do in about four hours total if I actually let myself have real breaks and talk to people and have good coffee and stuff—but it was still more than I had ever done in one day before.
And what I ended up writing was a short story set in that Abrahamic fantasy world I’d accidentally came up with less than a month before.
That short story was Stalking and the Glory of God, the prequel to The Stars that Rise at Dawn featuring Tamar, which you [can download for free here/can find as part of the short story collection].
And then in the next week and a half or so, I was realizing that I actually had a hard time focusing in my first class of the day … because I just wanted to write, darn it.  So I decided to wake up early (7:40!) and give myself an hour at a coffee shop before my 9:30 class every day…
…And during that daily hour, I started outlining The Stars that Rise at Dawn.


What can we expect from you in the future?
Well, I already started releasing my next series, Evocation, which is about a bunch of disasters who have just become adults in their respective cultures and are trying to figure out what to do with their life—at the same time that magic has, apparently, started existing in the world.  (Spoiler alert: some of the characters also discover that they can in fact do magic.) It’s a lot of fun, and each book is novella-length, so it’s not too long.
I’m also seriously considering doing a standalone fantasy Western novella when I’m done writing those … and there’s a sequel series to Evocation planned already…


Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yup!  That’s what my ongoing giveaway is all about…
I’ve got a short story collection of three short stories about various characters, all taking place before the series.  There’s the Tamar short story I’ve already mentioned, but there’s also one about how Lucifer fell, and one about how Lilith became the mother of demons.
They’re all readable and understandable to people who haven’t read the Šehhinah series!


The Stars That Rise at Dawn
Šehhinah Book 1
by Ivana Skye
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Yenatru had always had trouble making friends. So he didn’t expect that he’d have such an easy time befriending Lucifer…


Meanwhile, his one previous friend Elīya is still not over the loss of the third member of their friend group, Tamar. She disappeared one day to become one of God’s Holy, and as far as Elīya’s concerned, nothing’s ever been the same. It doesn’t help that her university philosophy program is turning out much less interesting than she’d hope.

It could be that Yenatru’s weird new friend has just the skills she needs to solve all her problems. But in order to get Lucifer’s help, she’ll have to confront parts of herself she’s never dared to.





The Birds That Fly at Dusk
Šehhinah Book 2



Celyet’s been trying to keep her head low ever since she left the camp of demons she grew up in. But then she actually talks to a barista at the local coffee shop. And then an angel gets involved…


Celyet finds nothing more terrifying than the idea of being misued or misinterpreted by people. That’s why she hasn’t been talking to anyone for half a year. But when she challenges herself to visit somewhere in town she’s never been, she ends up making a terrible mistake, bringing her time spent hiding to an abrupt end.

Sän may work at a coffee shop, but that doesn’t mean they know how to comfort people. But they really want to find a way to make a difference for that sad-looking demon who keeps coming in.

And just because the shop’s owned by the angel Jibril doesn’t mean that they’re going to stop by anytime soon and start flinging puns at people … right?






The Lives That Argue For Us
Šehhinah Book 3



Teśena and Kjorel have been in an open relationship for years. But when Kjorel leaves to travel for eight months, Teśena doesn’t really have anyone else to turn to. Well, except the most powerful person in the world…


Everyone knows God is made of fire. So of course no one would ever suggest that the easily-overwhelmed Teśena try praying to Them. Then why, when Teśena tries to do exactly that in a moment of desperation, do they seem to get along so well?

On the other side of the world, Kjorel’s dealing with a loneliness of his own. That is, until he starts his visit to the city of Ēnnuh, and finds a boyfriend within a few days. With no way to contact Teśena, he can only hope their previous agreements stand … or that Teśena will improbably find a way to communicate with him anyway.

After all, what’s a few thousand miles when you have God on your side?








Ivana Skye is a disaster without a permanent address, who much like her characters, spends a lot of time navigating the transition into adulthood and screaming. Oh, and writing. She does a lot of that too.


Despite currently being in the middle of multiple months of travel through various countries she is not from, she still retains a strong connection to the state of Colorado, where she will probably permanently live. Eventually.






Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




Mother’s and Father’s Day Gift Guide & #Givaways | @SMGurusNetwork

Thanks for stopping by Readeropolis! I am excited to help promote the Mother’s and Father’s Day Gift Guide.

Over the next weeks, I'll be helping to promote a variety giveaways hosted by Social Media Gurus Network. Be sure to drop by often - as new giveaways are being added weekly.

May the odds be ever in your favor!











Author Q&A ft A.L. Simpson | Broken Series Book Tour & $10 Amazon GC #Giveaway | @SDSXXTours Presents #ContemporaryRomance #ConRom

The Broken series by A.L. Simpson (contemporary romance) is on virtual book tour and stops at Readeropolis today with an author interview. 

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the $10 Amazon GC giveaway and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the bottom of the post).



AUTHOR INTERVIEW

What inspired you to write this book?

My books are inspired by real life experiences with ‘embellishments’ and ‘drama’ added. I love to put my characters through the wringer.

What can we expect from you in the future?

In the near future I have a book called – Snake and the third in the Broken Series called Broken Bum.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

Not really, I tend to put everything in the books.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in your books?

In Broken Bastard – Tyler is a young man with a bright future before him. But, after his father’s death, everything he’s ever known, comes crashing down around him. Falsely accused, he ends up in prison and it’s here he meets Bailey. Bailey is serving a sentence for beating a man almost to death for beating a child into a coma. Their lives become intertwined and love grows between the two gay men. Add in brutal beatings, an inmate who will stop at nothing to get at Tyler and a corrupt brother and you have drama in spades.

In Broken Bitch – Callie McKenzie has been dealt about as bad a deck of cards in life as you can imagine. A drug addict mother and a cousin who treats her as a punching bag. For years she suffers until she can take no more and finds a way to escape the remote property. Jake Prentiss is President of a Motorcycle Club which is at war. He picks Callie up on a dark deserted road late one night and comes to care for the young girl. So, how does Callie end up in Prison and why is she convinced Jake is dead?

These books are tied together by a center to help prisoners which the men set up.

Secrets? Is a recent release. Kyle is a cowboy with a large spread in central Queensland Australia. Luke is a Police Officer who moved away from town 15 years earlier. Circumstances bring Luke back and onto Kyle’s ranch, that’s when the drama begins. Both men and Kyle’s foreman, Wendy, are all keeping secrets, but, will they all eventually come clean and will it be too late for one of them?

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

A dose of life experience, help from my sister – a Prison Guard and help from very close gay friends whose real life story of how they met features in another of my books – Destined to Shatter – in the book they are criminals, in real life they most certainly are not. I can’t thank these two men enough, they make my male/male books realistic and believable.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

I usually do a search on the computer for names and pick what I think suits what I have in mind.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoy the development of my characters in every book I write. Causing them all sorts of heartache but eventually giving them their Happily Ever After.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

My first book in this, my pen name was Born to Sin and it just suited the circumstances and background of Hamish.

Who designed your book covers?

I do as well as Charlene Raddon from Cover-Ops

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I go over and over my books with my Editor and Mentor – Margaret Tanner – an exceptionally talented writer, to ensure the story is well developed, the timeline is correct and the words flow. I also use Word Pro-Writer to make sure grammar and punctuation is correct.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

For Broken Bitch – Chris Hemsworth and Emma Watson

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I love to hear from my readers. I love to hear their ideas on what they would like from me. I am incredibly grateful that they take the time to read what I have written.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I would spend time with Kyle and Luke from Secrets?. I live in the country and love it. I would spend the day horse riding and wrangling cattle.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Most of my characters are based on real people I have encountered throughout my life. I just ‘drama’ both them and the events up to add interest and suspense.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Haha, my characters definitely have the upper hand but I like to confuse them (and the readers) with twists.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

My regular readers say they consider my books ‘must reads’ because they never know what to expect, they are all very different. I push boundaries and in one actually killed off the heroine.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Started a couple for future consideration but not fully written.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

Definitely not vanilla.


Broken Bitch
Broken Series Book 2
by A.L. Simpson
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Callie McKenzie hadn't had a good introduction to life.

A drug addicted mother caught in the crossfire of a bar shootout saw her dumped in the foster system at the age of thirteen.

Life finally seemed to take a turn for the better when she was offered adoption by a kindly couple but, she knew it couldn't last. Tragedy puts an end to her dream of a happy life when she is taken to the isolated farm of an abusive distant relative.

At the age of seventeen, beaten and bruised, fearing for her life, Callie flees.

In the dead of night, on a lonely road, Jake Prentiss - President of a motorcycle club, finds her stumbling to freedom.

In the weeks that follow she is slowly pieced back together and falls hard for her knight in shining leather. It doesn't last long and tragedy once again strikes.

At the age of eighteen, Callie finds herself alone again and in prison.

Her cousin always said she was a BITCH.

Now, she was also BROKEN. 



Broken Bastard
Broken Series Book 1

Present Day


My name is Tyler Maxwell Alexander. I'm twenty-eight years old. A few months ago, I had it all. An executive job in a prestigious investment firm owned by my father. Ha! Yeah, right - father. I'll explain about that later. I lived in a waterfront apartment overlooking the harbor and drove a Mercedes convertible. Then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. All of it. Everything, except the fucking clothes on my back. I was broken. A bastard. Did I mention, I'm gay? No? Oh well, I have now. 


This is the story of how my fairytale life turned to shit in the blink of an eye.......





I write a variety of stories including Male/Male, Menage and Shapeshifter.

Each book has a strong focus on story line with romantic interest building throughout.

I explore real life issues from kids on the streets to motorcyle war and put my own twist on each one.


I hope you take the opportunity to check out my offerings.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!





Check out the Nite Fire series by @cl_schneider | Book Tour & Book Swag + $10 Amazon GC #Giveaway | @SDSXXTours Presents #UrbanFantasy #UF

The Nite Fire series by C.L. Schneider (urban fantasy) is on virtual book tour and stops at Readeropolis today.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for book swag (bookmarks, key chain, magnet, mouse pad, dragon eye necklace) and a $10 amazon gift card and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the bottom of the post).



Flash Point
Nite Fire Book 1
by C.L. Schneider
Genre: Urban Fantasy


Slated for execution, shapeshifting assassin, Dahlia Nite, flees her world to hide in the human realm. As payment for the shelter they unknowingly provide, Dahlia dedicates herself to protecting humans from what truly lives in the shadows. Moving from town to town, she hunts the creatures that threaten an unsuspecting human race; burying the truth that could destroy them all. 

But the shadows are shifting. The lies are adding up. And when Sentinel City is threatened by a series of bizarre brutal murders, light is shed on what should never be seen. The secrets that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries are in danger of being exposed. 

Wrestling with a lifetime of her own deceptions, Dahlia investigates the killings while simultaneously working to conceal their circumstances. But with each new murder, the little bit of peace she has found in this world begins to crumble. Each new clue leads her to the one place she thought to never go again. Home. 

**Only .99 cents!**






Chain Reaction
Nite Fire Book 2


If anyone can tell the difference between monsters and humans, it’s Dahlia Nite. For nearly a century, she’s hunted one to protect the other; safeguarding humanity from the creatures that slip through the torn veil between the worlds—creatures like her. But the lines are blurring. As people begin mutating and combusting on the streets, Dahlia realizes a strange affliction has descended upon Sentinel City. The mysterious ailment strikes all walks of life, from the posh, high-end nightclub district to the homeless community. Its victims, driven to random acts of savagery, are drawing attention too fast to cover up.

Assigned to the case, Dahlia and her human partner, Detective Alex Creed, investigate the deaths. But all they have are questions and bodies, and a public on the verge of panic. Working behind the scenes with her self-appointed sidekick, Casey Evans, Dahlia struggles to discover what, or who, is behind the alarming transformations. As the violence spreads and the mystery unfolds, she wonders: are the victims still human? Were they ever? 

**Only .99 cents!**






Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, C.L. Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape while she was still in high school, on a typewriter in her parent's living room. While her main focus is adult epic and urban fantasy, she also pens the occasional science fiction or post-apocalyptic story.

Though she has been writing all of her life, Magic-Price (the first installment in The Crown of Stones Trilogy) was Schneider's first published novel. With the trilogy complete, she is excited to be embarking on a new path with her urban fantasy series, Nite Fire. 






Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!





Prologue


I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be afraid. I’d outgrown the nightmares of my youth long ago. Burying the events that sparked them, locking away the images, I’d dismissed the power they held over me. But I still remembered…
Waking in my dark den, throat raw, fire spitting from my fingertips; in those first few moments before sleep released me from its clutches, I’d sworn the creatures’ hot breath was still on me, their barbed tongues darting out, smelling my fear on the air. In every shadow, I saw the black blur of their shifted forms, circling me. Every heartbeat bore the promise of pain as the razor-like teeth of the savage nageun shredded the meat from my bones. Every night, I waited for the creatures’ bites to penetrate, for their venom to flow in and my blood to spill out.
Those moments were far behind me. The nightmares were gone. Experience had made me stronger and wiser. Determination and training had pushed my fear of their slender, stunted reptilian forms to the depths of my mind.
Now they were crawling out.
They were stepping from my past.
The dark swarm was closing in, and the nageun’s pursuit of me was as real as the cold fear burning in my veins; twisting like a frozen blade with each pump of my legs as I ran.
Shifting out of my human form, crimson scales erupted to spread beneath the malleable confines of my uniform, covering breasts, stomach, thighs, and back. Muscles increased in size as my slender nose widened. Rounded jaw hardened. Cheekbones and forehead became more distinct as my full lips darkened. I dropped to all fours, back arched slightly, and the forest floor sunk beneath my weight. Claw tips extended, digging in, releasing the aroma of damp soil and moldy undergrowth. With a rustle of leaves, I pushed off.
Night birds scattered in haste at my swift trespass. Woodland creatures stirred and scurried. My unmistakable smell, an arousing amalgam of human female and dragon, had them skittish as I dove headlong into the clog of downed boughs and scrub. My agile hybrid form slipped through the labyrinth of timber with minimal effort. Arcs of fire crackled off the ends of my hair as it fluttered out behind me.
I was too conspicuous. I needed to blend.
Without breaking stride, I shifted the strands and their composition changed. From scalp to ends, human hair emerged, and doused the visible fiery heat wafting off the lengthy red waves. It wasn’t camouflage even close to what my pursuers were capable of creating. Their ability to shift into shadow, nearly erasing the edges of their bodies—little more than whip-like tails, long flat jaws, and serrated teeth to begin with—was one of the creatures’ greatest weapons.
It wasn’t easy to kill my kind. Death by nageun was a long, tortuous mutilation there was no coming back from. Picturing it, I tore deeper into the forest.
I tried to run and not think. But my mind was spinning, desperately seeking to understand, to conceive how a normal assignment on a normal day had landed me on the wrong end of an execution. With a single hesitation, my hopes, my future—my life—was over. The Guild was all I’d ever known. They’d plucked me from my den-mates, sheltered, fed, and trained me; promoted me to the coveted role of Executioner. They’d shown me the rewards of a life in service to our dragon elders. Dahlia Nite was a name respected in the ranks. I was known to all the tribes, decorated for fealty and bravery. Now, all had turned against me.
I carried the order through. I did as I was told. I’d just needed more time.
If the child hadn’t been there, if I hadn’t…
What? I thought bitterly. I still didn’t know what happened. Only that her emotions had been strong beyond explanation. They’d been tangible, slithering over and in me, affecting me in an impossible way. I hadn’t been merely sympathetic to the human child’s terror. Her panic had brought me to my knees. I’d felt the violence of the moment, the violence I’d been sent to inflict, in a way I never had: as a victim. I’d seen it, growing around her ankles like a black wet fog. Stunned, I’d lost hold of my fire and faltered. Pausing, even just a moment, had created a memory; a record of my uncertainty, and, therefore, a death sentence.
In a society where not even our thoughts were private, no mistake was overlooked. No performance could be embellished or hidden. Our mission reports, our kills, were pulled straight from our minds by the highest authority: Naalish, the Exalted One; mother of all firedrakes and Queen of the Elder Dragon Tribes of Drimera.
Telepathy was common in female elders, but Naalish was said to possess a superior mind. It was also rumored she’d ripped the heart from her predecessor and ate it, consuming her soul to gain her power. I’d never believed it. Naalish was the most beautiful and majestic of all the dragons. Even hours ago, standing before her wrapped in chains, I’d been in awe of her presence. Deference and pride had kept me silent as she ordered my execution. I hadn’t even thought to plead for mercy. I was better than that. I was a hybrid, a shifter, a lyrriken. The product of a human female and an elder male in human form, both human and dragon existed within me. It was by the grace of the elders alone that I lived. They had every right to judge and punish me.
It didn’t matter that I’d gone before the Queen confused, that I’d needed help and she’d called for my arrest. Mercy was a not a common dragon trait, and I would never have shamed either of us by begging. I took her condemnation with my head held high.
It was after when my outlook changed. After, as I sat in my cell, with the blood of that human child drying on my hands, as I dissected my actions and tried to comprehend—I watched the walls go inexplicably fluid and gray. And I saw her. I saw it all again: the clearing where her home sat, the woods surrounding it, the charred body of her headless father on the ground. Stretching out like a hand from the grave, the child’s terror, stronger than anything I’d felt before, had gripped me anew. It dominated everything. My status, my honor, my duty to die as commanded, had no value. My squad, not even my lover mattered. Suddenly and inexplicably, I cared for one thing.
Survival.
No one had challenged my escape. They had no reason to expect such a bold move. Even facing execution, no Guild-trained lyrriken would dare defy the Queen. We would stay and take the death that was given us.
Yet something had crawled inside me that didn’t want to die.
Something that wanted to live more than it wanted to obey.
Now the coin had flipped, and I was the target. I was the one striving to outrun the oncoming death on my heels, clinging to life even knowing the odds of surviving. Fleeing was foolish. My impulse to do so was puzzling, but I couldn’t stop. Even now, with my cell in the depths of the Citadel far behind me, with the lights from the City of Spires dim in the distance, the sounds of the child’s scream rang as strong as the wind in my ears.
I’d left her alive too long. Her noise had brought the nageun out of the forest. My hesitation, my compromised aim when I recovered, had left her not quite dead when the horde descended. She’d watched them swarming. Felt their teeth puncture and tear. I’d backed quietly away, out of their view, listening to the foul crescendo of the cracking of bones and the slurping of organs as soft human bodies were reduced to strips of meat and puddles of viscous matter.
They were to die, anyway. It had been my duty to kill them.
But not like that.
I’d botched the entire job, and I still couldn’t fathom how. How could one little human melt away my years of training, one mistake label me weak and untrustworthy?
Now, in fleeing, I’d earned another brand. Traitor.


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