Magic and castles and dragons, oh my! Welcome to the YA Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop. :)
Welcome blog hoppers, to the Young Adult Faeries and Fantasy Giveaway Blog Hop! (Need to get back to the list? Click here.)
I am mainly known for my paranormal suspense series, The Claire Wiche Chronicles , but I also write YA fantasy. It’s my first love, and what I started writing many moons ago. You know, when I was twelve.
It was also the first thing I published when I started this crazy journey as an independent author. I would like to introduce you to Rosamond and Dan, the characters in my novella When Walls Can Talk.
Here is an excerpt:
Rosamond lifted her face to the morning sun, let its warmth seep into her skin. Today was her birthday, and milady gave her the entire day to do as she pleased. She planned to spend all of it as far from the castle as she could get. As far away from her memories as she could get.
Lifting her skirts, she ran across the bailey—and did a quick sidestep to avoid crashing into Nicolas, the burly captain in charge of the garrison. Strong fingers closed over one shoulder.
“Sorry, Rose. I didn’t see you.”
“Please don’t apologize, Nicolas—I know you have your hands full.” She looked up at him, worried by the lines of exhaustion that scored his face, and equally worried for their cause. “Is there any word on Prince Jaren?”
“None.” Nicolas rubbed the bridge of his nose, and his guard slipped long enough for Rosamond to see the anger, the fear, coiled in his dark brown eyes.
Prince Jaren had gone missing for three days now, and so far the patrols Nicolas sent out hourly had found no sign of him. Milady remained calm and unruffled, but Rosamond caught glimpses of the panic she hid behind her calm. That milady remembered her birthday at all made Rosamond doubly grateful. “How are you?”
Nicolas smiled, easing some of the strain.
“Better, now I’ve seen you. Lessons will have to wait, until we bring him home.”
That he didn’t add safe or alive to bringing the prince home tightened her throat. Milady would be devastated if the prince— “I know you’ll find him, Nicolas.”
“Your words to the gods ears, Rose.”
Rosamond rubbed at the calluses in her palm that even heavy gloves didn’t prevent. She resorted to wearing the lacy half-gloves she hated to keep from snagging milady’s clothing. But she knew, given her history, how those lessons eased the concern for her, so she kept any objections to herself.
“Not to worry. My sword and those blasted throwing knives aren’t going anywhere. Unfortunately.”
His smile widened, just as she intended.
“So, my girl, you have the day off from your lessons. What about your duties as milady’s favorite new lady-in-waiting?”
Rosamond blushed at the compliment.
“She gave me the entire day to myself.”
“Then you go and enjoy it.” He took her hands, his calloused grip warm and comforting. “Let the past stay in the past, where it belongs.”
Swallowing, she stared at his hands.
“I’m planning to do just that. Nicolas, I—”
“Not another thank you.” He squeezed her hands. “You’ve more than earned your place here, and I could not be more proud of who you’ve become. Take today, make it your own.” Smiling, he leaned in and whispered against her hair. “Happy birthday, Rose.”
Before she could shake her surprise, he left her, stalking the length of the bailey, his clenched fists the only giveaway of his fear for the prince. With a slower, heavier step she headed for her destination, waving at the soldiers who trained a few yards away.
The stable doors stood open, and as she approached she could hear Dan singing to the horses. His voice had deepened over the last few months to a rich, scratched velvet tone. He spent those months in constant embarrassment, his voice cracking at unexpected moments—and blushed furiously every time it betrayed him. Now she heard the voice of the man he was becoming, and she liked it, far too much.
She stepped inside, her skirts rustling on the fresh straw. Dan glanced over his shoulder, black hair tied back in a queue, and gave her a crooked smile.
“Morning, Rose. Have a seat—I’ve almost finished Lacy. She had a limp today, but we found the reason, didn’t we, Lacy?” He ran the wide brush along the bay’s flank, smooth, even strokes. “A bit early to be leaving the Duchess, isn’t it?”
Her heart skipped. He’s forgotten my birthday. She tamped down her disappointment. With everyone in the castle worried about Prince Jaren, all the extra patrols and the entire garrison stomping around the bailey, the added work for Dan and his father most likely pushed it right out of his mind.
“How would you like to spend the day with me, a picnic basket, and two horses?”
He turned, dropping the brush in a wooden box.
“And what’s the occasion?”
“Milady gave me the day off.”
“I’ll have to do some asking. Soldiers are thick on the ground today.” The same fear she saw in Nicolas flared across Dan’s face. “I saw you talking to the captain. Anything?”
“Not yet. I am sorry, Dan.” As the prince’s groom, Dan worked with him almost daily, and cared for him more than he would ever admit. “They won’t stop until they find him.”
“It’s been too long, Rose. If he’s hurt—” Anguish scraped across his voice.
He swung away from her reaching hand, shoulders hunched.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t run away.”
He grabbed Lacy’s bridle, his left foot dragging as he led her back to her stall. Rosamond watched him, tasting the horror she had felt when the prince’s new stallion attacked Dan moments after arriving at the castle. He’d gone wild, those deadly hooves breaking Dan’s leg, his left arm, and slashing open the skin over his right eye before soldiers managed to get the beast under control.
Two years of healing gave him back full use of his arm, left a long, narrow scar that cut through his right eyebrow. But the butchers who called themselves physicians set his leg wrong. By the time Dan’s father discovered it, nothing could be done.
Dan compensated for the weakness quite well, though the damp winters tired him, and she knew his leg ached more than he let on. He could still ride better than most of the cavalry, and he never lost his love for the horses in his care. Rosamond admired his courage; she’d been too scared to go near a horse for months after the attack.
“I’ve been freed.” Dan moved across the stable, graceful despite his broken gait. Smiling, the pain in his eyes gone for the moment, he lifted his hand and opened it. “Happy birthday, Rose.”
Want more? You can get it at Amazon for only $1.99. And the sequel, Danel of Black Mountain, will be coming your way in February.
And now for my dragon-inspired giveaway – leave a comment on who your favorite fantasy character is, and you will be entered to win! The winner will be announced here on the 15th.
Thanks for stopping by, and until next time – read on.
Posted on January 8, 2013, in What's happening in the world of Cate and tagged castles, Cate Dean, dragons, magic, The Claire Wiche Chronicles, When Walls Can Talk, YA Faeries & Fantasy Blog Hop, YA fantasy. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.