Friday, May 18, 2012
New Release! The End of Light, a Protectors prequel novella
Coming SOON to the iBookstore and B&N!
Two and a half years after the events of Fire and Light, an elder of the shape changers comes to Shyra with life-changing news. She's had a vision, and in it, Sashe and Sierra break the curse the Protectors set on their family — by becoming pregnant. Yet a pregnancy hasn’t been carried to full-term for eight years, and many women have died from the curse.
Sierra, Sashe, and their husbands must decide whether to trust the elders and risk their lives for a chance at breaking the curse. And when a spy reveals the vision to the Protectors, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Third novella (about 34,000 words or 115 pages) in the Protectors prequels. Set two years before Promising Light and two and a half years after Fire and Light.
Read a sample right now!
Sashe nodded with appreciation as she scooped up the coins to go back into the Cosa-protected safe. Another good month. She wasn’t sure what she’d be doing without this jewelry shop. The trips around the country, the new designs she made, the orders from nobles and even royals—all small things that kept her motivated. Sometimes it seemed silly, but she’d had this shop for nearly four years now. She’d opened it up when the other women her age had started to have children.
She tucked the money away safely and stood to look out the window. The trees were sprouting new life as the seasons changed, the temperature getting higher as spring came—one of her favorite times of the year.
Magnus squealed as he flung the door open and ran inside. Sashe glanced over to see his sister rushing in and shouting something about little brothers. Magnus cackled with delight, running behind Sashe. His sister Karyn stopped in front of Sashe, put her hands on her hips, and glared at him.
Magnus hugged Sashe from behind, peeking around her hip.
Sashe couldn’t help the smile spreading on her face and put her hands on Magnus’s. “What did you do now?” she asked, glancing back at him.
Magnus grinned. “Nothing.”
“You liar.” Karyn huffed. “He tried to cut my hair while I was sleeping!” She held up a lock of her dark hair, hanging out of her ribbon. “Sashe, how do younger brothers survive us? I can’t stand him.”
Sashe chuckled. “They give us strength to endure anything. And Magnus, you should never touch a woman’s hair.”
Karyn’s anger faded just a bit as that comment. She’d just turned thirteen and loved to be called a woman. She sat down in one of the chairs and pointed at Magnus. “If you ever touch my hair again, I’ll tell mother what you do with all the food she gives you to take to Old Harold.”
Magnus laughed. “You would never!” He sidestepped her grab for him and dashed out of the shop.
“Don’t go too far,” Sashe called after him. She was watching the two of them because their father was traveling with Dar’s parents to and from Belisha. Gangs of Protectors lived in each big city, and many of them carried out crimes against shape changers and were rarely punished for them. So, when Avialies traveled, they went in large groups and brought a Thieran with them, just in case anything happened.
The caravan was due to return today. Sashe was glad since Seth and Evan had gone with them for protection and she and Sierra were driving themselves—and each other—mad with worry. She’d miss watching after Karyn and Magnus, but they spent a lot of time with her even when their father was home. Their mother had been pregnant when the curse was cast eight years ago and she’d died just a few days later. They’d moved here with their father a couple years ago when their father was given work on Damon and Lina’s orchard.
Karyn tugged on Sashe’s arm. “Can you braid my hair? The way you do Sierra’s?”
Sashe smiled. “Of course.” She walked behind the chair and pulled Karyn’s hair out of its ribbon.
The door opened again, and Sierra walked inside. “Afternoon,” she said, chewing on her bottom lip.
“Hello, Sierra,” Karyn said.
“Hi, Karyn,” Sierra replied. She glanced back outside, wringing her hands. “They should be back today.”
She’d tried to talk the men into letting her go, but of course, they hadn’t seen much point in taking a woman who wasn’t a shape changer.
Sashe held back a laugh as she finished combing through Karyn’s hair. Evan was one of the only things Sierra worried about. Usually, she took things in stride, sure things would work themselves out, knowing that worrying would solve nothing. Not so with Evan and his trips out of the country.
Her worry was sometimes intuition that something bad would happen. Jeshro had sent Evan, Seth, and Dar on some stupid mission a couple months ago, and Sierra had talked Sashe into following them. A couple days later, they would have been killed if not for Sierra and Sashe. The two of them said they saved their lives; the men would say they helped, but of course they would have been just fine had they not showed up. Sierra wanted to follow them again this time, but they were traveling with a group of nearly ten people.
“Anytime now,” Sashe said. “Sierra, grab me some hair ornaments.”
Karyn gasped. “For me?”
“Get some to match her dress,” Sashe said.
Sierra brought over some of the hair ornaments Sashe sold to nobles in Renaul. Karyn’s father wasn’t particularly wealthy, but Karyn worked for Matilda’s mother as often as she could so she could buy fabrics for her family. And Karyn occasionally had enough hours to buy a beautiful dress, such as the one she wore right now, a lavender-colored dress with long sleeves and a line of pearls along the top. Sashe wove lavender beads into her hair and finished her braid.
“You look beautiful,” Sierra said with a grin. She handed Karyn a mirror.
“Oh, thank you, Sashe!” Karyn said as she marveled at her hair through the reflection. “It’s beautiful.” She turned and flung her arms around Sashe. Sashe hugged her back and let out a small sigh as she thought about how much she’d love a daughter of her own.
“If Magnus does anything to your hair again, I’ll take care of him,” Sashe promised.
“You understand.” Karyn pulled away and stroked Sashe’s hair. She was tall for a thirteen year old, almost to Sashe’s height.
Magnus came running inside. “They’re back!”
Sashe smiled. They’d been gone for a week—too long to be away from Seth. They left the shop, Sashe locking up after them, and walked down the road towards Dar’s manor. Within a few minutes, they were in the courtyard where the caravan was unloading. Sashe saw Jeshro and Lisbeth, the elders from Belisha. She didn’t know they were coming. She searched for Seth, but only saw Evan and Sierra kissing in front of everyone.
Strong arms wrapped around her, making her jump. Seth’s soft laugh sent a breath of air and a chill down her neck. She grinned and turned in his arms to look up at him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he kissed her softly on the lips. Unlike Evan and Sierra, they didn’t go any farther than that. Though Sashe wouldn’t have minded one bit.
“I’m glad you’re back home,” she said.
“Me, too.” Seth tugged her close. “This is right where I belong.”
Jeshro and Lisbeth greeted her, saying they were in Renaul for a little while to visit with the Avialies here. Jeshro was a large, strong man. The only indicator of his age was his white hair and the wrinkles on his face and hands. Lisbeth was much the same, though there was a slowness to her step.
Sashe smiled tightly, nodding and acting as polite as she could. Whenever the two came around, they usually asked Seth, Evan, and Dar to go on dangerous missions: rescuing kidnapped Avialies, investigating powerful Thierans who may have cast the curse. Truth be told, she hadn’t quite forgiven Jeshro for the incident a couple months ago.
If you're interested in a review copy, don't hesitate to e-mail me at emilyannward at yahoo dot com!
Also, if you haven't read the prequel novellas yet, Shifting Light will be free next weekend 5/26 and 5/27 in time for some Memorial Day reading. So keep an eye out for that.