Book #2 now has a name: THE LOST SWALLOW. I’m now 20% into the manuscript, and with other writing projects out of the way (two Historical Romances set in Dark Ages Britain and Scotland), I can now focus my attention on my Epic Fantasy Romance series once more (happy dance!).
Naturally … I’m excited about THE LOST SWALLOW.
The first installment, RULED BY SHADOWS, was a coming of age story about a young woman who must face her greatest fears in order to save her world. It’s an epic journey, both physically and emotionally. However, this tale is darker. It’s about a renewal of hope, of redemption. Lilia (the heroine of Book #1) starts off fragile and gains strength as the story progresses whereas the heroine of Book #2, Mira is more streetwise. Her story is more about a lost soul finding her purpose.
Orphaned, Mira starts life scrounging a living on the streets of Veldoras before the Queen of Thûn plucks her out of the gutter and gives her the chance of a new life. Only such generosity comes at a price …
Here’s a sneak peek at the PROLOGUE to give you an idea what’s coming. Enjoy!
THE GIRL DUG her hand into the mud, her fingers fastening around a small, round object. The slimy river silt gave up its treasures reluctantly, and made an obscene sucking sound as she pulled her find free.
Mira straightened up, her bare feet sinking into the cold mud. She held the caked object aloft, squinting at it in the bright noon light. Disappointment pricked at her when she wiped away the grime to find a smooth, pale-pink surface underneath. It was a seashell, a pretty conch, but not something that would earn her a meal.
The shell wouldn’t even buy her a crumb of bread.
Mira’s stomach growled, reminding her that she needed to find something she could barter for food—enough to take the edge off the hunger that clawed at her belly and made her legs tremble underneath her.
Inhaling deeply, Mira stuffed the shell into the pocket of her filthy leather vest and looked about her. She stood up to her ankles in sludge, around five feet from the edge of the Brinewater Canal, the sun glinting on the dark river flats. A hump-backed bridge made of pitted grey stone reared to her left. The Bridge of the North Wind was a good spot for mudlarking, for this was one of the richer areas of the city—and wealthy folk crossing the bridge might accidently drop something valuable into the mud.
Mira wasn’t alone here. A scattering of other Mudlarks—children who combed the riverbed at low-tide looking for treasures—picked through the mud around her. Like Mira, they were a scrawny, filthy bunch; clad in rags with eyes too big for their thin faces.
Mira sighed. Standing here feeling sorry for herself wouldn’t buy her a hot meal. She was about to bend down once more, when she spied the roof of a gilded carriage as it rumbled onto the Bridge of the North Wind.
She watched its passage, her gaze tracking it across the bridge’s arch … and when the carriage stopped half-way, a smile stretched across Mira’s face.
A nobleman had come for some easy entertainment.
She watched two individuals—a young man and woman—climb out of the carriage. They made a fine couple: he was tall with long black hair, a dashing cape hanging from his broad shoulders; and she was slender with hair the color of gold, wearing a becoming jade dress.
Mira stared at the woman, transfixed; she looked like a princess from one of the stories her mother had told her. It seemed like a lifetime ago, those nights when Mira’s mother would sit next to her by the fire and tell her tales of ladies and lords, warriors and enchanters, and great adventures. Both Mira’s parents had died, taken by the Grey Ravage four years earlier. Now, at the age of ten, Mira survived by scavenging a living on the streets and waterways of Veldoras.
The man sauntered to the edge of the bridge and cast a smirk over his shoulder at his companion, beckoning her to him.
Smiling coyly, the young woman approached the walled side of the bridge. She looked down, her gaze sweeping over the collection of urchins picking through the mud below, and her pretty nose wrinkled. The stench of the canal at low-tide, the eye-watering odor of rotting weed and refuse, was a smell that offended many of the citizens of ‘The City of Tides’ as Veldoras was known. However, Mira had lived amongst the stench for so long now that she barely noticed it.
The man dug into the pocket of his jerkin and pulled something forth, before leaning out over the edge of the bridge. “Children,” he cried out, grinning. “Come give us some sport!”
And with that, he flicked the object he held high into the air and watched it plummet toward the muddy flats below.
Mira watched it to, caught the glimmer of yellow that told her he had just thrown a gold talent, and felt her empty belly contract.
A gold talent was a fortune, enough to buy her food for a week.
Time slowed. Desperation soared within Mira when she realized that she was not standing where the coin would fall. Rowan, a weedy boy of her age, had been scavenging directly under the bridge would catch it. Realizing his good fortune, Rowan let out a whoop and reached out his thin arms toward the coin, his face screwing up in concentration.
Mira dove for him.
Rowan caught the talent, an instant before Mira collided with him. The two of them went down in a tangle of limbs.
“No!” Rowan wailed. “It’s mine!”
But Mira ignored him—so deep was her desperation that all she could think about was the hot soup, the fresh bread, and the wedges of salty cheese that gold talent could buy her. She didn’t care about Rowan, or about the other Mudlarks.
No one needed that money as much as she did.
Rowan fought her, his limbs flailing, but one vicious, bony knee to the belly brought him down. She heard the boy’s breath rush out of him, as he sank into the mud. Then, she pried the coin out of his hand.
A moment later, she was on her feet and running as fast as her trembling legs could carry her. The sucking mud slowed her down but a few strides took her to the banks of the canal, and the row of mildewed stone steps that led up to the embankment above.
Her foot hit the first step and she heard a howl behind her, followed by a string of filthy curses.
Rowan was coming after her.
Hope you enjoyed the preview of THE LOST SWALLOW. There will also be a cover reveal for the novel coming soon!