Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Possum Trot

by J.L. Salter
 
Taken with a phone camera, this slightly grainy shot features a full moon over my house up on what I call “Fossil Hill”.  That hill, in prehistory, was the bank of a significant river and we’ve found hundreds of fossils — both aquatic type and some unknown form of (land-grown) fruit.
 
 
A westerly autumn view from the bottom (currently dry) bed of “Disappearing Creek” which was – in prehistory – a raging river.
 
 
 The five acres of woods directly behind our house , the widest of the logging roads … during winter.
 






Thursday, August 21, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: Mary Cope


Mary Cope
 
Website: www.marycopeauthor.com
Twitter ID: https://twitter.com/MaryCope_Author
 
 
Describe yourself in three words:
Happy
Loyal
Forgiving
 
 
Tell us a little about your latest release:
 
My story, Beautiful One, takes place in the beach community of Dana point, California and centers around Elizabeth Ryan.
Elizabeth is a beautiful, shy, naïve high school senior. Having never dated she meets the boy of her dreams, Aidan Mitchell. Despite his history of womanizing Liz is drawn to him. Soon Liz becomes the envy of all the girls on campus, when they become a couple and her dream boyfriend sweeps her off her feet and into the dating world that is all too new and strange for her. When other guys start to take notice of Liz, Aidan is troubled with fits of jealousy.
Elizabeth then meets the ruggedly handsome, Spencer Hayes and they quickly bond over their passion for music. Liz begins to struggle with the feelings that spark between them.
In the end Elizabeth finds herself torn between helping Aidan overcome his jealousy and anger and giving into what her heart truly wants.
 
What is your earliest memory?
One of my earliest and happiest memories for me was watching my mother bake bread. I remember she used to push a chair up to the counter so I could stand and watch her. Then she would hand me a little doughball and I would play with it.
 
 
What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?
The greatest moment in my life was becoming a mother. To be responsible for a precious little one is life-changing.
 
What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?
The hardest thing I've done in my life is to parent my children consistently. When my children were growing up I remember thinking to myself, it'd be so easy to "give in" and allow them to do what they want. Consistently parenting is an exhausting job, but the outcome is the reward. My children are now 23 and 19. They are a blessing to me and make me proud to be called, mom.
 
What have you learned in life so far?
How fast life goes by, and it truly is, the little things that matter the most.
 
Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?
The five people I would like to invite to dinner. Are those who have passed.
My mom.
My mother-in-law.
My father-in-law.
And, my grandparents because I never knew them.
 
 
 
Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about Mary Cope?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Christina Lorenzen "A Husband for Danna"

 
Blurb:
Off and running! In her frenzied quest to escape from a groom her father has chosen for her, Danna Rashba ‘borrows’ a limousine parked on Main Street. The last thing on her mind is finding a groom from another wedding in the backseat. What are the chances that the bride and groom from two different weddings running from the altar on the same day? The last thing Danna wants is a hostage as she tries to escape from her nuptials.
The last thing Eric Harmon wants is to be saddled with yet another spoiled, needy woman. He’s furious about this wrench in his plans, he accuses Danna of stealing. He wants to send her home in a cab as soon as they get to the nearest town, but Danna refuses. Much to Eric’s frustration, one thing after another seems to keep them tied together.
Soon the generosity of a local shopkeeper and several people in town have them mistaken for newlyweds. Danna and Eric find themselves stepping into the role as husband and wife leading them to realize they just may be each other’s ‘match’. But will Danna be able to stand up to her rigid, old fashioned father and choose her own husband?
 
 
Author:
Christina Lorenzen started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary, waitress and door to door saleswoman. Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. A Husband for Danna is Christina’s first novel. She is busy working on her next. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
 
Chapter One
 
Panting from the short dash from the church to the curb, Danna looked around wild-eyed, spotting a limo at the curb. The fact that it wasn't her bridal party's limousine didn't matter. She ran around to the driver's side and flung open the door.
The sound of her wedding gown tearing broke the silence in the big empty car. Frustrated, she shoved away the seat belt and fumbled with the ignition key. Fighting the ostentatious bulk of her gown, she wiggled her bottom into the seat. She looked up to see a whirling funnel of pink rushing toward the limousine. In the eye of the storm, a snow-white gown accentuated one very red-faced bride.
A buzzing sound filled her ears. She looked down and saw a small black box, which she recognized as an intercom, between the seats. "Step on it!" a deep male voice boomed from the back seat.
With no time to berate herself for picking an occupied getaway car, she stepped on the gas and sped away from the curb, barely glancing at the side mirror. Drive now, think later. Slapping back the ringlets threatening to spill over her eyes, she checked her mirrors. She was fast approaching the only traffic light in Shady Bridge.
She tried to push the mess she had made from her mind. Goose bumps covered her bare arms despite the unusual October heat. Seeing the light turn yellow, she stepped down hard on the gas pedal and flew through the intersection, her head jerking back and forth. She felt like a balloon as the air sailed from her lips. Apparently her momentarily crazy driving had no effect on her male passenger.
The handful of stores were behind her now, their faded old brick fronts growing smaller in her rearview mirror. Now out of the heart of town, her shoulders began to relax. She took a deep breath as she had seen her mother do countless times during her morning meditation. Even as she relaxed her tense body, she couldn't help but think about what she had done. It was as if she had been someone else — not Danna Rashba, the sensible, practical daughter.
The mix of farmhouses and Victorian homes on the outskirts of town were fading now too. Chewing her lip, she veered onto the ramp that led to Highway Three. Her mind racing, she tried to calculate how many hours she would have to drive to get far enough away from Shady Bridge. Or at least far away enough from Nagpal Singh, her husband-to-be who by now would have found out his bride had run away.
Wriggling in her seat, fighting to flatten the outrageous bustle her sister had talked her into, she cursed herself in silence. Why hadn't she grabbed her t-shirt and jeans? Sighing, she shook her head. What was done was done. At least she had thought to grab the beaded satin clutch she had picked out for the "big day." The petite bag was about the only thing she had picked out on her own. All of the other details of her wedding had been planned for her, including her husband.
Danna kept an even weight on the accelerator as she tried to decide where to go. Of course she would have been able to focus better if not for the images of her very displeased father that flashed in her mind.
Boom! Boom! She had completely forgotten about the body attached to the male voice that had spoken earlier. A low whirring noise filled the quiet car as the privacy screen opened, disrupting her plotting and planning.
A large, tanned hand tapped the driver's seat as he cleared his throat. "I think I've escaped from that mess. Take me home to pick up my vehicle. I'll settle up with you then."
Danna watched him in the rearview mirror, his eyes never looked up from the gadget in his hand. Wriggling to the right, hoping to see the face that went with the gravelly voice, she took in a dark, handsome man pounding buttons on a cell phone.
"It's dead! I don't even have the charger." He seemed oblivious to her as he tossed the phone to the floor. Obviously he had no idea who was driving him.


 

RELEASE DAY: Felicia Rogers "Emerald Street"

 



Blurb:

What if one laugh changed your world?

Raylyn Morrison, a critical care nurse for wounded soldiers, has a problem. She cares too much. Dreams haunt her. The death of her patients leaves her distraught and seeking peace. But temporary peace is not enough. She doesn’t want to leave, but she needs to. Then he comes along.

Staff Sergeant Jack Williams understands loss -- physical, emotional, and spiritual. Not only did the war take his leg, but it took his family and his desire to live. But the voice of an angel keeps him going. A voice he dreams about even after he wakes from a coma. Yet when they meet she is nothing like he expected and he wonders if he’s made mistake.

Fate destines them to be together forever, he’s sure of it, but something goes wrong and Raylyn disappears. She leaves a hole that only service can fill.

Chiapas, Mexico, is the perfect setting to forget her loss and work on her future. But when Jack reappears in her life, she worries her heart will break again. But after two years, she should be over him. Right? Do her new fears have a foundation or should she give in and allow herself to love him once more?

While residing in a country with a rich history and a tumultuous future, Jack must convince Raylyn he never stopped loving her…before it is too late.

 

 

Author:

Felicia Rogers is the author of multiple novels and novellas. When she's not writing, Felicia volunteers with the Girl Scouts of America, teaches at a local homeschooling group, hikes, and spends time with her family.

 

 

Now available on
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Excerpt:

Prologue

Machines hummed, and the floor vibrated. Oxygen dribbled into the huge pump like water dripping off a gutter. Odors of rust and elderly people assaulted her senses.

Raylyn walked the lit aisle. Hospital beds lined both walls. Sporadically, a single wail rent the air. She twisted to face the patient, only to find them fast asleep.

Checking her list against a bed label, she stopped. Lt. Robert O’Malley lay unmoving. The pale pallor of his skin wasn’t a good sign. The lieutenant had been losing blood, but the doctors were unable to ascertain the cause.

She checked his vitals, wrote the numbers down, and moved on.

The next soldier was unnamed. For privacy reasons, his family had ordered the staff to call him Johnny. He’d lost both his legs and one arm in a military excursion.

Vitals checked and documented, she moved on. Tonight all the men slept. Her feet clicked against the tile floor, breaking the silence. She reached the nurses' station and stopped.

Where was everyone?

The computer screen blinked on. Bright green letters popped up one at a time.

H-E-L-P M-E!

She stepped back. Her hand hit a clipboard, and it clattered against the counter. She twirled.

Shocked, she blinked.

The patients were out of their beds and stumbling toward her. She opened her mouth to scream, but there was no sound.

They were coming for her…

****

Raylyn woke in a cold sweat. Tendrils of the dream clung to her consciousness. She ran her hand over her face and released a sigh. Outside, a streetlight buzzed. Dogs barked.

She kicked free of the covers tangled around her legs, rolled out of bed, and stumbled to the bathroom. She put on her glasses, and stared at herself in the mirror. “Morrison, get a hold of yourself. It was just a dream. A crazy whacked-out dream, but still a dream.”

As Raylyn splashed water on her face; she gasped and adjusted the faucet. She splashed her face again, toweled-dry, and headed back to bed. The bedside clock read 2:00 a.m. She plopped on the edge of the bed, but didn’t lie back. Sleep was over. If she closed her eyes, the dream would replay until she rose. Might as well not even try.

She gathered her clothes from the closet before heading to the shower.

Dressed in scrubs, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she padded into the kitchen. The one-bedroom apartment sported decent-sized rooms and a fabulous view. From the living area, she could just make out waves striking the sandy shore. She opened the window and listened to the violent sounds.

Instead of continuing to enjoy the pleasures of the room, Raylyn grabbed a bagel and gnawed on it as she exited the front door.

Nancy Bryant, the head nurse of the severely wounded ward at Grace Community Military Hospital, would not be surprised to see her arrive before her time off ended. The one-week-on, one-week-off schedule remained only a suggestion to Raylyn. She had clocked more overtime hours than any other nurse on their floor.

Upon arrival, the parking lot was largely empty. With her key card, she buzzed herself into the building. Her footsteps echoed as she ascended the stairwell. Each floor was marked. She stopped at number five, and pushed the door open. The floor was quiet, just like in her dream.

RELEASE DAY: J.L. Salter "Hid Wounded Reb"


Blurb:
Cold secrets are finally warming up… and Kelly can feel the heat.
            Kelly is haunted by the mysterious involvement of her landlord’s ancestor with a wounded soldier in 1863, while her boyfriend researches the unsolved murder of an unidentified horseman in that same Kentucky community a few years after the Civil War. As Kelly and Mitch assist each other’s research, tantalizing discoveries seem to connect their subjects.
            Kelly’s initial assignment is to research the cemetery which started 144 years ago with the death of a battle-wounded Rebel hidden briefly in the Butler family cabin. But the actual facts are clouded with hazy family legends, including possible involvement of a second soldier — the dead man’s cavalry buddy. Mitch’s belated study of the stranger murdered at the church yard has also hit baffling snags.
            When surprising old documents surface and rekindle fading memories, the uncovered secrets could help solve both cold cases. But those investigations are hampered when Kelly harbors a terrified girl (with her own complicated secrets) who brings danger close behind.
            The exciting prequel to “Called to Arms Again”.
 
 
Author:
My newest novel is “Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold,” a screwball comedy released by Dingbat Publishing in December 2013.  My published novels (with Astraea Press) are:  “Called to Arms Again” (May 2013), “Rescued By That New Guy in Town” (Oct. 2012), and “The Overnighter’s Secrets” (May 2012).  Also released through AP are the short novellas, “Echo Taps” (June, 2013) and “Don’t Bet On It” (April, 2014).  Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among nine completed novel manuscripts.  Two more novels are under contract and likely due for release during 2014.
I’m co-author of two non-fiction monographs (about librarianship) with a royalty publisher, plus a signed chapter in another book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia.  I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests.  As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.
I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship.  I’m a decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic, at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland).
I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.
 
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
Prologue
 
March 30, 1919
 
Her worn overcoat already fastened as tightly as possible, Belva Butler’s bony fingers held the top of one lapel flap against the spot where the button was missing. With her other hand, she pulled her woolen scarf over her ears and clasped the ends against her throat.
As the sun hovered over the treetops to her right, she stood in the small graveyard. The hand-shaped stone marker bore no name, but she studied it as though she were reading. Belva remembered how she felt at sixteen, so long ago: the middle of the War Between the States. She never called it the Civil War because it was anything but civil. Brutal and horrible, it was devastating to the state, their community, her family… and to her.
Fifty-six years ago that very night was when her life first changed. Then a few years later, everything transformed again.
Without realizing, she began humming a mournful tune. Though people had mentioned this to her, she never seemed to notice. Humming that song felt as natural as breathing. A gust of wind made her shiver as she watched the sun disappear behind the highest branches of the leafless westerly trees.
Belva leaned forward slowly and placed in front of the unmarked stone a small, white blossom which she’d grown indoors on a windowsill. Though struggling to mature out of season, it was enough of a flower to suit anyone, especially here in the quiet cemetery. Nobody else would bring flowers until Decoration Day at the end of May. Her specially-grown flower, two months before anyone else, made this her private commemoration — her ritual every year on that date, weather notwithstanding.
Belva shuddered again, her frail bones aching. She exited the rusty wire gate and walked carefully over the hillside, through several gullies, along the crude line of dense cedars and oaks. At a large sinkhole, one of three near her little cottage, she paused again.
Clutching the thin coat around her neck with one hand, she reached into a coat pocket with the other. With considerable difficulty, she extracted a small, dark bundle. Belva stood there quite a while, gazing down into the deep sinkhole, seeming to calculate something. Perhaps she wondered whether she’d see another of her private annual Decoration Days.
Then she tossed in the bundle. Actually, it was more of a slow release. One might think it caressed her skin as it finally broke contact with her wrinkled fingertips… and fell to the sinkhole’s deepest part.
Another sudden gust swept away her scarf, which wafted upward slightly before settling into a different area of the pit, part way up the side nearest her. She thought about trying to retrieve it, but that would be too dangerous with the dark, the cold, and her unsteady legs. The sun was gone, leaving only a hint of orange in the western sky. Belva eyed the bright half moon and guessed just enough light remained to finish her business.
She made her way carefully to the small spring some forty yards away and lower on the slope. Everybody said the water sprang from somewhere deep below the sinkhole.
She turned over the dented metal bucket from its resting place on the small rock ledge just above the spring and filled it a bit less than halfway. Water was heavy and Belva longed for the day when her pump would be fixed. She also wished she had a heavier winter coat. She was upset at losing her warmest scarf in the sinkhole, but at least she could do something about that: she’d go back tomorrow morning and fish it out with a potato rake.
Belva trudged down the hill, past the fence-row, and over toward the southeast corner of the family property. She had hoped someday to build a proper farm house farther east toward the road, but the ground was too steep, and everybody said it would take too many wagon loads of dirt to build it up enough. It probably wouldn’t happen… not in her lifetime anyway.
By the time Belva reached her back door it was even colder. The last two days of March always seemed the bitterest.

RELEASE DAY: Maria Ann Green "In The Rearview"


Blurb:
When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.
Meagan is introduced as a typical adolescent who struggles throughout her teen years. Though she has problems, like any other teenager, hers are worse. They've pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal.
She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut following a discovery of the behavior from another friend. After starting it is apparent that there's no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn't understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn't last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.
While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process.
 
IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.
 
 
Author:
Maria Green currently lives in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel.
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
Chapter One
This is me
 
As her chin dipped down, and she noticed the soft raised skin, her heart skipped a beat. Meagan hated that an accidental glimpse still shot anxiety through her like knives. Her stomach could drop to her feet while her heart raced, all from just seeing a part of herself. It was a stupid reaction Meagan didn’t often have, but when she was already nervous about judgment it was inevitable.
She hoped against hope it wouldn’t always be that way.
Meagan was strong, she wasn’t a kid anymore, and she loved herself. It was stupid to feel such turmoil over something that was so far in the past. And it was truly overcome. But the visual, the tangible marker she could touch, the fact that her skin was marked and different forever, that’s what sent her nerves into overdrive every once in a while.
Even after all this time, it could still catch her off guard. After everything, as much as it represented her strength, it also represented the wastelands of hurt she had waded through; she tried to remember that some badges of honor weren't pretty. And hers were small enough. But just like her past, they would never go away. Life didn’t have rewind or pause buttons. There weren’t real un-dos or re-dos. Life only had the present, the here and now, and it only had a play button.
She wished so often the tiny pink reminders were easier to hide. Though they didn’t stand out too much, their placement was inconvenient. If she could take them off, she would consider it, because she always had her memories and the lessons she'd learned. There were little pink reminders inside her head as well. Those could never be removed. The rest, even if they were badges of honor, weren’t as necessary anymore.
She would always remember.
It sounded shaming, to want to hide them, but that wasn’t Meagan’s intention. She wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of who she was, but others still questioned or judged when they noticed a scar. They pried and probed about personal experiences that weren’t any of their business to be nosey about. Then they went quiet after she answered. That was the worst. Eyes averted and the subject always changed, but not until a pregnant pause passed between them first.
She absolutely despised awkward silences that followed a forced explanation.
That’s not how Meagan liked to open up.
Because that’s what it was to tell people about what had happened. It was opening herself up for examination. She had to be vulnerable and share history that wasn’t always easy to talk about when she was honest about her scars. Trust was needed in order to be comfortable in giving parts of herself away like that. Otherwise it felt wrong. But when Meagan was the one to choose on her own to share with individuals she cared about, it was only when she deemed both parties ready. It was always better if everyone was ready.
She just preferred to give the information instead of have it pulled from her. That wasn’t too tough a concept.
Because sometimes when it was demanded or requested of her before she was ready, somehow Meagan felt violated. She loved herself, she was proud of who she was despite what she’d faced, so she never lied about how she got her scars. Even if she was unprepared and surprised by the questioning, or reluctant to answer, she always told the truth. But it felt like betraying herself, violating her own security, when she gave out the information before she was ready.


RELEASE DAY: Kimber Leigh Wheaton "Stolen Moon"

 
Blurb:
Katarina ~ a Royal Knight bound by honor and duty who steals a powerful relic from a sorcerer in a desperate attempt to save her kingdom from the clutches of a madman.
Ethan ~ a mercenary leader trapped between his growing attraction to Katarina and his responsibility to protect his friends from the evil pursuing her.
Zebulon ~ a malicious sorcerer waging war as though it's a game, caring nothing for the lives he destroys in his quest for power.
Drawn together by a moonstone medallion—an indestructible relic with immense magical power.
Katarina steals the medallion from Zebulon and flees in the dead of night. Together with Ethan and his mercenaries, she struggles to stay one step ahead of the sorcerer and his minions in a race against time to save her homeland. Fierce battles, ravenous monsters, and bloodthirsty brigands—those are no surprise. But Katarina never dreamed her greatest obstacle could be falling in love.
 
 
Author:
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a YA author with a soft spot for sweet romance and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and four cats. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states. Her family enjoys travel, anime, & are video game fanatics. Watch for book 1.5 in the Light Chronicles series, coming soon.
 
 
Now available on
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Excerpt:
Chapter One
Pirates
 
Life on the run is nothing like the adventures I read as a child. By now I should be swinging my sword, slaying brigands with a handsome hero at my side. After a victorious battle, he'd sweep me into his arms, his passionate kisses leaving me breathless. We'd continue our quest, confident that good always conquers evil. Everything would be black and white, no doubts, no regrets.
Waves crash against the schooner drawing me from my reverie, the ship and my empty stomach roiling under the onslaught. I stand at the bow, forcing my heavy eyes to stare at the first slivers of morning sunlight. Glistening orange and yellow rays paint a beautiful picture across the vast sky, a bitter mockery of the darkness engulfing my heart. The weathered teak of the ship's railing bites into my hands, scraping against the abused skin. After a week of standing here every night gripping this wooden rail, it should be smoother, worn down from my restless movement.
The ship lurches as it crests a large wave, and I clutch the railing when I stumble. Splinters dig into my palms. It seems the only thing being worn down is my skin. Feet shuffle and scrape across the deck behind me. A frigid blast of air whips across the ship, snapping the sails. Hunching over the railing, I drag my hood up, shivering until the wind dies down. Nearby murmurs and quiet snickers shock my heartbeat into a rapid staccato, though I manage to swallow the gasp threatening to escape my throat. The crew has gathered behind me, their approach muffled by the howling wind.
"She don't look so tough," a male voice mutters.
His voice is joined by several others, whispering low enough that I can only make out a few words. My gaze never leaves the black expanse of water while I strain to hear them over the crashing waves. The unsavory crew is trying to convince themselves I'm not the terror Captain Harris made me out to be. Creaking planks signal the movement of the men as they creep closer. My pulse races. Creak. I swallow around the lump in my throat.
"I dunno. She got a sword," another sailor says, louder than the rest. "Why she got a sword if she can't use it?"
Creak. A shiver races up my arm as I grasp the icy metal hilt of my sword. The men scuttle backward but they don't leave. Conspiring whispers start up again. They are so close I can smell the foul stench of their unwashed bodies. Fresh water is a premium on the open sea, bathing a luxury reserved for the captain alone.
"Harris done said she's a Royal Knight," a sailor insists.
"Why believe him? He just wants her for hisself."
The ship lurches again. Salty water flies up into the air around me, stinging my eyes. I stumble, tripping over my own two feet as my hands scrape along the railing. My knee slams into the unforgiving wooden planks, sharp pain searing up my leg. I pull myself back to my feet, not sparing a glance for the snickering men behind me. My arms shake as I lean against the rail, fighting exhaustion. It seems my fatigue has caught up with me. I haven't slept more than a few hours since we set sail seven days ago. With any luck I can sneak in a nap this afternoon, once I'm sure my mother and two sisters are safe from harm. I'm so tired my eyes ache.
"She's wearin' the Royal Insignia!" Gil says, his squeaky voice my only defender. "She gots it on her clothes, her sword and dagger, oh and on her armor too."
A ragged sigh rattles through me, my breath a white wisp in the cold, damp air. I try to ignore the scheming crew. This isn't the first time I've heard such whispers. Though it is the first time they've crept this close to me. Ignoring them is the best thing I can do as long as it remains talk. These merchant sailors are cowards like any bullies. As long as they have me to torment, they'll leave my family alone. I hope. An icy gust of wind grabs at my long blond hair, sending it flying around my body.