Excerpt week is such a great idea! Thank you, Marcia, for nudging me out of my winter cave to join in the fun.
Here’s a snippet from the first book in my Serpent of Time series, Edgelanders, classified within the high fantasy/romance category.
“What are you?” he whispered.
“Looks like a dead girl to me.” Rue’s shadow blocked the light of the moons, fell over the girl and darkened the bright perfection of her face.
“No.” He shook his head, a sweaty wisp of black hair falling into his face. “Not dead.” He’d almost said not a girl, but how could he possibly know that for sure? She smelled human, but there was something else in her blood, something familiar, something savage that whispered words to his soul he couldn’t understand.
Why couldn’t Rue smell it? She was a master huntress, could track a rabbit to its warren from five miles away, but she seemed completely unaffected by the power he could feel in that girl. Rue had known others like that girl, before he was even born. Surely the familiarity of her scent was not lost on his sister’s keen senses.
“Well, she will be soon enough. I can smell death on her. Leave her,” she said. “We need to secure the perimeter. Drive whoever owns that pack of hounds you just tore apart from our lands before they come looking for their dead girl and lay her murder on our doorstep. The last thing we need right now is an inquiry.”
“I won’t leave her here to die,” he refused.
And that was exactly what would happen to her if they just walked away. That beautiful little flower would breathe her last and her pale face would haunt his every moment until the day he died. He couldn’t let that happen. He had to take her home.
“I… I just can’t.”
His hand fell away from her cheek and he tucked it gently behind her neck before sliding it further in to lift her upper body from the mud. He shoved his other arm beneath the backs of her thighs and then heaved her weight against his chest as he rose.
“I’m taking her to Rhiorna. She can heal her.”
“Are you stupid? Wait, don’t answer that,” Rue smirked down at him. “Leave her, Finn. You know the laws. She is an outsider. She has no place here, and if she dies on our land, that is her own fault. Besides, what is that old witch going to do? Nothing. She hasn’t done anything useful since…” Her words faded into the low whisper of the wind, but Finn didn’t wait for her to finish.
“I don’t care about the laws!” he roared. “I’m not leaving her to die.”
“Finn, I can’t let you take her. I’m sorry.”
“I’d like to see you try to stop me.” Shifting her weight against his chest, she felt light as a feather in his arms; her body nestled perfectly against his as if she’d been made to fit in his arms, made to be carried that way by him and only him.
He was already walking, northwest toward Drekne. He’d gone several paces before his sister’s frantic footsteps quickly fell in behind him. Rue may have been his elder, but she was half his size, and when her hand came down on his shoulder to try and spin him around, he jerked it off and rounded to face her with fire in his eyes.
“Don’t, Rue. Don’t make me do something I’ll regret.”
“What? You’re going to challenge me over some… some stranger? Some half-dead girl? I can’t let you take her into the village. It is forbidden. The council…”
“Damn the council.”
“Damn the council? Damn the council?” She brought her hand down again, gently this time, silent pleading in her bright silver eyes as she tried to sympathize with his plight. “I know you like to rile them up, to get under their skin and show them you’re not a pup to be pushed around anymore, but this… Finn, this is madness. They will put you in silver chains and drag you into exile. Not even Viln will be able to save you this time.”
“I don’t care.”
“You don’t care?” she shrieked. “How can you not care? About your own brother, about me? There will be consequences for this.”
“You wouldn’t understand.” No one would understand; they never did.
“You’re right, I wouldn’t understand. This girl, who is she to you? No one, Finn. A human, a stranger.”
“She’s not human,” he muttered, but Rue hadn’t heard him.
“I will not let you throw away your life here with the pack for some stranger.”
“You can’t stop me,” he shrugged her hand away again. “I’d advise you not to try.”
Edgelanders is available digitally on Amazon: Amazon, Amazon Australia, Amazon UK, Amazon Brazil, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon India, Amazon Italy, Amazon Spain, Amazon Japan, Amazon Mexico. Members of the Kindle Unlimited program can borrow this book and the sequel, Sorrow’s Peak from the Lending Library with their membership.