Cover Reveal/ A Study in Shifters

A Study In Shifters
Majanka Verstraete
(The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #1)
Publication date: June 26th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Marisol Holmes may be the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s hard to live up to the family name when only one mistake can spell your downfall. After trusting the wrong guy in a case gone totally wrong, Marisol convinces the Conclave, an underground organization of detectives solving supernatural cases, to give her a last chance to prove her worth, and maybe even heal her broken heart

After all, as a half-blood jaguar shifter, Marisol is uniquely qualified to solve this murder—and every scrap of evidence points toward the culprit being a fellow jaguar shifter. But is one of her own people involved, or is this all a ploy to kick Marisol’s mother off the shifter throne?

Then Marisol discovers her best friend, Roan, is missing, and maybe the killer’s next target. The stakes just got higher than political intrigue. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Marisol’s ex-boyfriend-turned-nemesis, Mannix, starts leaving sinister clues for her. Marisol fears this case might be far more personal than she could’ve imagined.

It’s time for Marisol to prove her worth, or her people could fall into chaos while her best friend loses his life.

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Author Bio:

Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majanka’s novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels. At MHB, Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES.

When she’s not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series she’s addicted to.

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Book Blitz/ A Sheikh For Christmas

A Sheikh for Christmas
Leslie North
(All I Want for Christmas is…, #1)
Publication date: December 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

It may be cold outside, but the snow begins to melt when an unlikely couple comes together during the Holidays…

Christmas is right around the corner, but after creating a society scandal, New York heiress Melody Hascall-Ebons has nowhere to turn. Cut off by her family for running away with an actor—who turned out to be using her for publicity—Mel is penniless, homeless, and disgraced. There’s only one place to go, and that’s back to the fiancé she ditched. But instead of her ex, she finds his friend Daveed Rafik. The handsome military translator disarms Mel with his easy smile and surprising sympathy. But as she struggles to get her life on track, the last thing Mel needs is to fall into the strong arms of her ex-fiancé’s best friend.

Counter-terrorism expert Sheikh Daveed Rafik has spent his career dealing with delicate and dangerous situations, but none of them compares to Melody Hascall-Ebons. He’s supposed to be helping his friend Murphy find his missing sister, not consoling the spoiled rich girl who dumped their buddy Heath. But the more he learns about Melody, the more he likes. With her unexpected intelligence and distinctive beauty, Melody calls to him in powerful ways. But when the woman he is arranged to marry shows up, Daveed’s highly organized life suddenly gets very complicated.

The streets of New York are steeped in holiday cheer, but can Daveed and Melody thaw the ice around their hearts enough to make room for love?

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EXCERPT:

Melody watched him walk away beneath her damp lashes. She’d never really paid much attention to Daveed before. He’d been one of Heath’s friends and always hanging around the periphery of their group, but had sort of kept to himself. Now, though, he’d come to her aid in her hour of need—or more like day of desperation—and a girl couldn’t ignore such chivalry.

As the silence between them grew more awkward by the second, she got up and wandered over to the table, which was covered by papers and post-it notes. Daveed didn’t look up at her at all, so she finally pulled out a chair and sat, forcing a tremulous smile. “What are you doing”

“Huh?” Daveed glanced up at her with a frown, as if just then remembering she was still there. “Oh, making lists. It’s how I keep track of everything I’ve got going on and my responsibilities.”

“Oh.” She picked up one yellow square and squinted at this illegible scrawl before she snatched it away from her.

“Please, don’t touch anything. These are all very important.”

“Right.” She’d never been big on lists or organization herself. Her mother had always had a social secretary to take care of most things for her and when that failed, then Melody preferred to “wing it.” For her life was all about spontaneity, but then again, given how this whole situation with Jefferson Hanks had turned out, maybe planning and consideration was the way to go. While Daveed said nothing more, scowling down at his notes again, she studied him more. Honestly, she really didn’t know the guy very well. From what Heath had told her, Daveed Rafik had served alongside him and their other friend, Murphy Coen, in the Middle East. Melody had always thought of Daveed as a sort of an Arabic James Bond type from the way Heath had bragged about the guy. He graduated Yale at the top of his class, spoke five languages fluently, and thwarted terrorists in a single bound, all without firing a single weapon.

Now, however, as he wrote furiously, his dark brows knit in concentration, she took her first real look at the guy. She’s noticed when he’d first answered the door that he was tall and well-muscled. As she sat beside him at the table, his dark brown hair curled above the collar of his white button-down shirt and reflected hints of gold beneath the lights. Yep. He was gorgeous, no doubt about it. If you went for the romance-novel cover sheikh type. Which she didn’t, at least not up to this point.

 

Author Bio:

Leslie North is the pen name for a critically-acclaimed author of women’s contemporary romance and fiction. The anonymity gives her the perfect opportunity to paint with her full artistic palette, especially in the romance and erotic fantasy genres.

The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren’t afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east.

Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie.

She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don’t hesitate to contact her via e-mail: leslie@leslienorthbooks.com.

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To celebrate my oh-so-hot “All I want for Christmas is…” series I’m doing an awesome giveaway. If you #preorder book one “A Sheikh for Christmas” you’ll enter a draw to #win a brand NEW #Kindle, with every single one of my books ever AND my yet-to-be-released ‘Sharif Sheikhs Series’!

That’s right! You’ll be the first person to read my latest series (three heart-stopping HOT Sheikh romances) a month before anyone else! All you have to do is pre-order “A Sheikh For Christmas” using the link below and forward your email receipt toleslie@leslienorthbooks.com!

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Book Blitz/ The Upside of Falling Down

The Upside of Falling Down
Rebekah Crane
(Skyscape)
Publication date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

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EXCERPT:

My composure cracks when I’m safely tucked in a stall in the bathroom. Everything shifts, my real need coming into focus, like a caged bird that knows it doesn’t want to live behind bars anymore.

I need to get out of here.

How can I see my dad and not love him? What is wrong with me? Everything I thought would happen hasn’t.

I press my sweaty head against the cool stall door. I wish I could be who Stephen wants me to be, a fearless girl willing to fight through this. More importantly, I wish I could be who my dad wants me to be. Clementine Haas. But I can’t. To go home with him like this would mean that every day he’ll wake up and want Clementine there, and instead, every day it will be me—whoever I am. We’ll both live in a constant state of disappointment.

I can save him from that.

I come out of the stall, focusing on myself in the mirror.

“Jane,” I say to my reflection. “I’m Jane.”

Stephen surely won’t help me get out of here. He wants to keep me safe in the hospital, which is still surrounded by camera crews and reporters. But there’s another way.

The hallway is clear of my dad and Stephen when I poke my head out from the bathroom. My heart races as I walk swiftly away from my room and toward the staircase at the other end of the hall. Once the door closes behind me, and I’m safely tucked out of sight in the stairwell, a moment of relief comes, but it’s brief.

The railing keeps me steady as I make my way down the steps and onto the first floor. My legs are weak, slow, but it’s not an option to stop at this point. Stop and I get caught. Move and I might find freedom.

In the courtyard, Kieran sits at the table where I left him, his feet up on the bench, a book in his hands. I check out the cover. It’s clearly a romance novel.

“You like romance novels, too,” I say. “We have something in common. Though I wouldn’t peg you as a romantic.”

“I’m full of surprises.” He squints in the sunlight. “I’ve never understood why guys go for fast cars and guns when these books have fast women and sex.”

“Honesty again. That’s a good thing.”

Kieran dog-ears the page he’s on and closes the book, setting it down on the table. “You ran away from the dare.”

“I didn’t run away.” I take back my seat. “I had to do something.”

“What was that?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m ready now.”

“Are you sure, Jane?”

Kieran is just full of good questions, but debating the answer with myself would take too much time.

“Jane Middleton,” I say, holding out my hand. “That’s my last name.”

“Very royal sounding.” He places his warm hand in mine and says, “Kieran O’Connell. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Very Irish sounding, Kieran O’Connell.”

“Half-Irish, on my mother’s side.”

“And your dad?” I ask.

“Technically, he’s British, but he’s more asshole than anything.”

“Honesty again.” I reach for the last container of Jell-O on his tray. “I’m ready for my dare. Spoon, please.”

Kieran holds one up but doesn’t hand it over. “Are you sure you want to do this, Jane? It’s pig and cow parts.”

This is so much more than Jell-O. This is my life he’s holding in front of me.

“Where’s Waterville?” I ask, pointing to his hat.

“South of here a few hours.”

“Is it by Cork?” I ask, remembering the map and trying to sound like I know a thing or two.

“Not exactly. A bit more west.”

“Is that where you live?”

“For the summer months.”

I point to his T-shirt. “Then you go back to Trinity College?”

“Yep.”

“And where is that?”

“It’s in Dublin.” Kieran looks at me oddly. “Have you not heard of Trinity College?”

“Of course, I have. I just forgot for a second. It’s in Dublin. Right.”

“What about you?” he asks. “Are you on break from college as well?”

The question throws me. I have no idea if Clementine is in college. But I’m also not sure it matters. The part of me that keeps searching for Clementine needs a break. Jane can be whoever she wants. “Yeah, sure,” I say.

“What are you studying?”

“Undecided,” I say quickly. “You?”

Kieran rolls his eyes. “Business.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

“Not everything in life can be happy, Jane.”

The spoon rests in Kieran’s hand. No, sometimes life beats you down. Sometimes life deserts you, and your only choice is to find another path. “Are you going to give me that spoon or what?”

“You know, you don’t have to do this,” he says. His blue eyes hold mine. He knows this is more than just Jell-O, too. That’s what a dare does. It taunts you to take a different direction, to do something you never thought you could do, to jump, knowing that a million consequences could be on the other side of that dare, but that if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder. And sometimes wondering is worse than consequences.

“I’m doing it,” I say. And I shovel a spoonful of pig and cow parts into my mouth.

Kieran sits back, a broad grin growing on his face. When I’ve eaten the container clean, he claps.

“I wasn’t sure you had it in you.”

I have to choke down the last bits of Jell-O, then I put my empty container on the tray with his, only partly satisfied.

“Why are you here?” I ask. “It can’t possibly be for pig and cow parts.”

“I come up to volunteer. Help out my fellow man and all. The food is just an added bonus.”

“That’s nice of you.”

“People need help,” Kieran says coolly. “It’s the least I can do.”

“People do need help,” I agree. “And now it’s my turn.”

“For what?”

“Truth or dare?” I say.

A glimmer comes to Kieran’s eyes. “That’s my line of questioning.”

“It’s not fair that I answer the question and you don’t.”

“Life isn’t fair, Jane. It’s all Jell-O, remember.”

I lean across the table. “Are you chicken or something?”

My confidence is surprising. Kieran seems to bring out something natural in me, or maybe he brings out more faith that the girl I was is still with me, just waiting to come out. Our eyes are fixed on each other’s. Kieran crosses his arms over his chest.

The clucking starts first. Then I start to flap my arms like chicken wings. Kieran glances around at all the other tables, and then he starts to laugh.

“OK. OK.” He holds up his hands in surrender.

But as soon as the clucking stops, someone drops an entire tray of dishes onto the concrete sidewalk. They break with a loud crash. I startle, freezing in my seat. It chokes the breath right out of me. A head rush comes on so suddenly that I’m worried I’ll faint right in front of him. Blood sinks to my feet. My hands go clammy. I start to sweat.

“Are you OK, Jane?”

Kieran talks, but I can’t see him. My head rests in my hands. Sound reverberates through me, and an intense pain creeps up behind my eyes. For a second, I swear I feel someone grab my hand. I expect to see fingers intertwined with mine, but they’re gone, and I’m left with a horrible empty feeling inside my chest.

“Are you OK?” Kieran asks again.

“I’m fine.” If I faint, this is over. With ragged breath and shaking hands that he can’t see under the table, I say, “Truth or dare, Kieran?”

“We don’t have to do this.”

“Truth or dare?” I say again more forcefully.

Kieran shakes his head. “It’s a Catch-22. Neither is easy. They both have consequences.”

“Do I have to start clucking again?”

He pauses for too long, and then he says, “Fine. Dare.”

The blood returns to my hands and head. The sweat dries on my forehead. This time, my voice doesn’t shake as I speak.

“I dare you to get me the hell out of here.”

 

Author Bio:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

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Book Blitz/ The Last of the Firedrakes

The Last of the Firedrakes
Farah Oomerbhoy
(The Avalonia Chronicles #1)
Publication date: August 15th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.

Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

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**Grab it for only 99¢! For a limited time only!**

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EXCERPT:

For a second that felt like a lifetime, everything stopped; I felt like I was floating in nothingness. Then I blinked, and, when I finally opened my eyes and focused again through the tears, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I found myself standing at the mouth of a small cave situated on a hill and overlooking a quiet, moonlit valley. On my left, a dark forest stretched out as far as the eye could see, treetops glistening silver in the light of the full moon. The hills around us undulated into wildflower-filled meadows that lay sleeping in the dewy night.

Far down in the valley, I could see a little village, its lights twinkling in the distance. To my right, a waterfall splashed playfully into a small river that ran down into a lake, next to which the little village was built. The moon here was fuller and larger than I had ever seen it, and the night sky was awash with a fantastic array of glittering stars.

Had I passed through the tapestry? Where was I?

I looked around, disbelief clouding my judgment. I was still trying to get my bearings after that strange moment when I had been inside the tapestry and nowhere at the same time. It gave me a funny feeling, as though I had been lifted out of my own consciousness and then put back into my body.

A warm breeze brushed past my face and played with my hair. Gone were the cloudy grey mist and the cold, nipping wind of the English countryside. I drew in a sharp breath—the air was crisp and clear, sweet smelling, and fresh. The moonlit valley was filled with fruit trees, wildflowers, and rolling meadows.

“How did we come here? Where are we?” I asked, still confused.

“You really are ignorant,” said Oblek, glancing at me. “I take it your uncle didn’t tell you anything?”

I shook my head and looked down. Oblek had tied my hands with a rope he had with him while I was still dazed and looking around. It was humiliating, and the rough ropes cut into my wrists, rubbing them raw every time he pulled me forward.

I had to find some way out of this. And, at the moment, the only thing I could do was discover more about where I was. Then, when I got an opportunity, I could escape and find my way back up to the cave on the hill, where we had arrived out of the tapestry.

But then what?

Christopher was probably dead, and Aunt Arianna would doubtless blame me for everything since I had disappeared at the same time. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t really want to go back, and, now that my adoptive parents were dead, I had nothing to return to.

I was starting to panic. I had nowhere to go, and my mind was imagining an array of horrible outcomes of my kidnapping. My palms had become sweaty, and my racing heart was thundering in my chest as I half-walked and half-ran, desperately trying to keep up with Oblek’s giant strides.

“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded with my kidnapper.

But Lord Oblek said nothing. He didn’t even look at me. He just kept walking ahead and dragging me along behind him, with no more explanations as to what he was planning to do with me.

I was terrified, and I had no idea if I was going to survive this. But I tried to be brave. Maybe I could talk my way out of this?

“You do know that this is called kidnapping?” I said, trying to reason with Oblek.

He didn’t bother to answer.

“What will happen to me now?” I squeaked, my voice breaking, as I tried not to cry.

“Queen Morgana will decide what is to be done with you,” said Oblek, finally.

Queen Morgana! The woman from my dream? It was not possible that this, too, was a coincidence. It must be the same Morgana, the one who had tried to kill my real mother.

Who the hell was she?

Suddenly all of this seemed extremely scary. I hoped that I was still dreaming and that there was no way I had actually traveled through a magical tapestry into some strange land. It all seemed very exciting in books. But actually being kidnapped and then hauled around like an animal, traveling deep into a land I knew nothing about, was not my idea of fun.

I had to get away from this horrible man, and fast.

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Author Bio:

Farah Oomerbhoy is a young adult writer with a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. Her debut novel, The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of The Avalonia Chronicles started on Wattpad where it received a Watty Award in 2015 and over 1.5 million reads. Since publication, The Last of the Firedrakes has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, become a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards and become an international bestseller. Farah lives with her family in Mumbai, India where she can be found checking for magical portals in every closet.

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Cover Reveal/ That Thing Formely Known as my Life

That Thing Formerly Known As My Life
Sally Johnson
Publication date: July 2016
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

A cross-country move wasn’t exactly what McKinley had in mind for her senior trip, but leave it to her parents to up and move to Rhode Island. Her senior year was supposed to be awesome, but when she ticks off popular cheerleader Taylor, it goes from bad to worse.

The only good thing about moving is the mysterious, Camaro-driving, all-around-likeable Nick Phelan. But that mysterious thing that makes him so likeable is also making McKinley suspicious.

Nick hides secrets. McKinley harbors doubts. Taylor bares her teeth. But dealing with moving and Taylor is nothing compared to the biggest secret of all.

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Author Bio:

I grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I went to college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I suffered a bad case of culture shock that first year. But I survived and went on to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in English. While at college, I met and married my husband, Steve, and then we relocated to Las Vegas. I have lived in Las Vegas ever since and love it! Except for the hot summers, so I’m really thankful for AC. We have added four children and a dog to our family.

I have wanted to write books since I was twelve years old. It’s a good way to put my over-active imagination to use. Now that it’s *ahem* many years later, my dream has come true and I am a published author. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

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Book Blitz/ Queen of Always

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QueenOFAlways

Queen of Always by Sherry D. Ficklin (Stolen Empire #3)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: September 15th 2015
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Synopsis:

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN If her time at court has taught Catherine anything, it’s that there is no room for weakness in Imperial Russia. With the Empress’ health failing and rumors of a change in the line of succession, her place in the royal line is once more in jeopardy. Tormented by her sadistic husband and his venomous mistress, Catherine must once more walk the fine line between pleasure and politics—between scandal and survival.

When her young son becomes the target of those rebelling against Peter’s reign, Catherine will have to rise up to protect herself, her child, and her nation from his unstable and potentially catastrophic rule. This means putting herself at odds with the most dangerous man she’s ever known, trusting those who once proved to be her enemies, and turning a nation against its sovereign. In the ultimate battle for the crown, new alliances will be forged, loyalties will be tested, and blood will be shed.

Don’t miss this breathtaking conclusion to the Stolen Empire series!

Queen of Always is a YA historical fiction based on the life of young Catherine the Great. Fans of the hit TV show REIGN will devour this scandalous glimpse into the life of one of the most dynamic women in history.

SherryFicklin

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs. She is the author of over a dozen novels ranging from contemporary romance to science fiction. In her spare time she co-hosts the Pop Lit Divas radio show and is a contributor for Fangirlish.com.

You can see more about Sherry and her books at her official website, sherryficklin.com

Author links:

http://sherryficklin.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sherry.ficklin
https://twitter.com/authorsherry https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4153170.Sherry_D_Ficklin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24894733-queen-of-always?ac=1

Purchase:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Always-Stolen-Empire-Novel/dp/1634221419/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441981711&sr=1-1&keywords=Queen+of+Always

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/queen-of-always-sherry-d-ficklin/1122360699?ean=2940152043785

QueenOfcovers

bookexcerpt

“I have done dreadful things, Dash. I have made mistakes that I will never be able to atone for, and I have allowed myself to be selfish in ways you might never understand.” The bitter memory of sprinkling the poison in the Empress’ tea floats into my mind. I think of every lie I’ve told, of every misstep I’ve made. “I’m not proud of my choices, but neither would I retract a single one,” I say finally.

“Sometimes, the only choices you have are horrible choices,” she says. “But you must still choose.”

I glance at her, admiring her quiet fortitude. She is, in so many ways, like Rina. So wise for her years. Wise and kind and good.

“You are a good soul, Dashka. I wish I were as good.”

She shakes her head, “Don’t say that, Your Grace. You are a good soul as well. Not innocent as or naive as I, but nevertheless good. You will be a good queen.”

“I hope so,” I mutter around another bite. There’s a cup of what looks like pitch black tea. I pick it up, examining the contents. It smells burnt somehow. “What on earth is this?”

She nods to it, “That’s a new drink the cook thought you might enjoy. It’s called coffee. It can be bitter so there is cream you can add to it. She says it’s all the rage at French Court.”

“Coffee? Odd.” I take a sip and nearly gag. It’s strong, so much more bitter and heavy than tea, but, still…

I take another sip.

“It’s quite good, I think.” I say, admiring the warmth of the cup in my hand.

Dashka beams. “I thought you’d enjoy it.”

As we begin the tedious process of dressing and grooming, I sip on the beverage, asking for a second cup soon after the first. Soon I feel my heart speed up, my face flushes, and I feel more awake and alive than I’ve felt in weeks. I let my mind drift. Someday, sooner than later, I will be queen. What sort of queen do I want to be? I know I will have to decide. Will I be loyal? Faithful? Will I be kind or courageous? Will I be content sitting quietly, or will I stand boldly against those who oppose me?

Suddenly, things seem very clear.

“It’s the coffee,” Dashka smirks.

Somehow, I think it’s more than just that.

 

 

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