by Janeal Falor
Plot Summary:Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.
Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.
Book Excerpt:The judge stands and looks, not at the Grand Chancellor like I'm expecting, but right at me. His eyes wide. “Dead.” The masses let out a cry. Some fall to their seats. Dead? How can he be dead? He's supposed to lord over me, not die. Can I really be free of him? My chest lightens.
Someone tugs on my arm. Cynthia. She forces me to drink the brew I avoided earlier. Then another. With shaking hands, she drinks one herself and helps me to my chair. Everything goes abnormally silent. The soothing concoction already sweeping through me. I grow distant from myself. The scene before me further away than ever.
The Envadi bends to the ground, his fingers swirling in the dirt. His lips move with words, but they don't carry, even in the silence. Once they stop, he brushes the dirt off and stares straight at me. Even from my distant state, goosebumps raise on my arms.
“Citizens.” The Grand Chancellor's voice draws my gaze. He stands, face void of expression. “We will all mourn the loss of Chancellor Thomas. He was a rising star, fated to leave his potential unfulfilled.” He pauses. “As our tournament rules dictate, Envadi Zade now becomes Master of all Chancellor Thomas had.” He holds his hand out to the Envadi. “Chancellor Zade.”
The Envadi is still watching me. He nods his head.
Suddenly, Father is yelling from the Grand Chancellor's box. “You will not have her!”
The words take a moment to find me through the muffle my world has become. As the significance of his words take hold, the field becomes splotched with black. I blink a few times. The whole world darkens.