The purpose here is to spotlight a few lines or a few paragraphs from a new release or backlisted title. This way my readers get to sample some delicious snippets and I'll do my best to tease, titillate and tantalize you into the weekend.
This week I'm teasing from IN DEATH'S SHADOW, my upcoming fantasy romance, and Book 3 in the Rifts series. Princess Maiasora Silvercloak has been a lamp for the last three centuries because an infraction perpetuated by her elder sister. Now the dryads who'd imprisoned her need her help.
“You’re one of the women who came to dance the night the artifact was stolen all those years ago, correct?”
Maia raised her head. “Yes…Majesty.”
The enigmatic woman looked her over with cold eyes. She wore the traditional wood grain tattoos common to the dryads and displayed the same superior attitude those with magic often offered to the “lesser” classes. No, I’m not bitter at all.
“We need you to find it, princess.”
Maia bit her lip. “What, Your Majesty?”
“Don’t play dumb with me. The artifact that was stolen by your sister’s lover. We need you to find it for us.”
How in the gods’ names am I supposed to do that? Maia struggled to control her expression. “Why do you think I could be of service, Majesty?”
“Are you refusing to help, princess?”
“No, Majesty.” Maia bowed her head. “I just don’t understand how I can find it when I knew nothing about it even at the time it was stolen. Why do you think I have the skills you lack with all your druids and dryads?”
A small smile curled the Keeper’s lips. “That’s a good point. However, your family had connection to the artifact. That’s why you were allowed into our world night after night to begin with. And how your sister had…relations with the Dark Druid.” A grimace worked its way across the Keeper’s face before it smoothed out once more. “The time of anger is done, but now we must recover the artifact the Dark Druid stole from us. Your family, and you in particular I’ve heard, have the ability to sense the magic unique to the artifact.”
Maia frowned in thought. “I know my family was sensitive to magic. But I never saw this artifact you keep referring to.” The ability had allowed them to come dancing with the dryads back when it had seemed a frivolous adventure. “Why do you think I’m the most sensitive to its magic?”
“Call it an intuition.” An enigmatic smile curled the Keeper’s lips and Maia suppressed a shiver. “Because of that sensitivity, we need you to go find this artifact and return it to us. I suspect it has a familiar energy signature.”
“Wouldn’t my elder sister Inge be better suited to this task? She’s seen the artifact and must have known more about it than all of us. Shouldn’t she be the one to find it for you?”
The Keeper exchanged a look with one of her guards and the dryad looked away with chagrin. “They weren’t told?”
“No, Keeper. There wasn’t time.”
“I wasn’t told what?” Maia’s gut sank as the silence stretched.
“Your elder sister was put to death for colluding with the Dark Druid.”
Maia gaped. They’d killed her sister because the man they called the Dark Druid seduced her into showing him what he wanted? So it was Inge’s fault? That’s hardly fair. Maia hadn’t particularly liked her elder sister, but she hadn’t wished her dead. Anger simmered, but she recognized these people were far more powerful than she could fight. They still had control for the time being.
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