Goodreads Book Giveaway

Adrift by Elizabeth A. Reeves


by Elizabeth A. Reeves

Giveaway ends October 01, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, September 30, 2012


The seasons are starting to change here in Arizona. It's a subtle thing here. We don't get the same turn of the leaves or drastic change in the weather. Half the time the kids on Halloween are out in their shirt sleeves, no warm clothing in sight.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I look forward to it with all the ravenous enthusiasm of a person who hates the heat. Fall means that I can start spending more time outside, I can plant the winter garden, and I can start planning for the holidays, which always means Family.

Family is everything.

I know that, symbolically, fall is the time of year when everything ripens and prepares for the season of death, but isn't there a richness in getting to that point in life? I'm not there yet, but I've witnessed many people in the Falls of their lives who seem freed to become who they always should have been.

It's a season of change-- of looking forward to the still time and the rebirth to come-- a time of hearth and home and knitting by the fire. A time of homemade marshmallows and copious amounts of hot chocolate.

There is a richness and decadence in these last moments.

Poison Princess | Countown Widget

Poison Princess | Countown Widget

Friday, September 28, 2012

RavenzReviews Gives Adrift ***** on Goodreads!

's review 
Sep 27, 12

5 of 5 stars false
Read in September, 2012

I can't say enough good things about this book! Adrift is the first book in The Last Selkie series and promises to deliver with each new installment. Adrift introduces us to Meg. Meg was raised by her father after losing her mother to a drowning accident when Meg was 16 months old. Now, at 20 years old, her father suddenly dies, leaving her with nothing. Once she finds a home for her Shetland, Coal, Meg leaves the only home she's ever known with no destination in mind except the direction her car was facing when she left, east and north. Once she reaches the Canadian border, she boards a ferry and finds herself in Newfoundland; Trinity to be exact. While hiking out of town, something changes within Meg. Something, or someone, is calling to her from the ocean. The pull is so strong and having nothing left to lose, She leaps into the freezing water. Her last conscious thought is that she is drowning. When she awakens, she thinks she is in heaven. There's a young girl standing over her, bathed in golden light. She wonders, is this an angel? Taking in her surroundings, Meg realizes she is in an old cottage wearing an old long dress. She's plagued with confusion. Where am I? is her primary focus. Once outside, she surveys her surroundings further and from a distance can see a man, not much older than her. He's not overly handsome but has a certain aire about him that makes him mildly attractive. He approaches Meg and introduces himself as Devin, then wants to know who she is, where she came from and why she's in the cottage. Other than the who and the where, she is unable to give a rational explanation for how she came to be in the cottage. She further explains that she has no home or family, and nowhere to go. Devin's mother Maura has a home nearby and offers Meg room and board in exchange for help in the garden, with the chicken coop, and around the house. Not wanting to impose, Meg graciously takes Maura up on her generous offer. 

Maura reminds me of an old hippie witch who lives out in the middle of nowhere and lives off her land. I like Maura. She quickly fills the void of not having a mother. Now, Devin, he's a prickly fellow. He's often moody and unpredictable. He clearly has a problem with Meg, though at first it may seem he is a little bit jealous of her. As the story progresses, Reeves explains more in depth why Devin is the way he is. 

Meg continues to feel the pull of the ocean and is now dreaming of a man, Omyn, who lures her deeper into who she truly is. Upon realizing that they can no longer allow Meg to go on not having the answers she needs, Devin and Maura decide to tell her everything. 

Twenty years ago, the gateway between Fairie and our world was breached and Devin's father died. It was during that breach that a selkie maiden came through the gateway. Devin and Maura believe that maiden was Meg's mother and that she didn't drown but infact was unable to resist the call of the sea and went home. Meg's father must have known this because he did everything he could to keep Meg as far from the water as possible. When her father died, there was no one left to protect her from finding out who she really is, the last selkie.

This story is riveting and powerful. It is about a girl, so lost in this world, coming to terms with who and what she is. She discovers love for the first time and struggles between the two things she wants most, the man she loves and the mother she never knew. Adrift is a must read!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Avow News

I am very excited to announce that the prequel to Adrift, Avow, will be free now and forever on Amazon. I'd love to see everyone jump in and enjoy this little piece of the Last Selkie series.

A Last Selkie Short Story.

A tragic life cut short.

What could be crueler than facing death alone?

Twenty years before Adrift, a young man named Ethan Tanner found out he had a inoperable malignant brain tumor and had less than a year to live.

Impossibly, help comes in a mythical form.

Also-- if you haven't checked them out, there have been some great New Releases this week. Check out Rose Pressey's How to Date a Demon and H P Mallory's Something Witchy This Way Comes . 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Great Review from Tales of Gideon

Review of Adrift

Normally I wouldn't do another review so soon after the last, but I tore through this book and finished in record time.  As you can see from the review, that's a good thing.

Adrift (The Last Selkie, Book One) by Elizabeth A. Reeves—êêêêê stars

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book one Amazon, then decided to review it. 

Warning: There are spoilers and hints of spoilers in this review.

Meg is left bereft and alone when her father dies of cancer.  After giving away or selling everything of value, she gets in a car and heads in random direction.  After driving until she’s out of money, she finds herself in Newfoundland, on the coast.   The sea calls to her, and Meg gives herself to it.  When she wakes, she’s in a cottage with a strange woman.  Without speaking, the woman disappears.  That is just the start of the weirdness that becomes normal for Meg.

This book deals heavily with the Fae.  I always approach those books with trepidation, because it’s so easy to make the Fae into humans with pretty magic, when the old legends are so different.  I always wonder which I’m getting when I start reading.  I shouldn’t have worried in this case, because the Fae in Reeve’s story are those dark creatures of legend.  They are presented as wonderfully not-human—not evil, just not us.  The world is richly described, with care given to immerse the reader in the world.  I found the characters interesting, even the ones we only catch glimpses of. 

As for the negative, I found only a few typos, nothing too glaring.  The story itself certainly didn’t put me off.  The only real “negative” was the ending, as in, the book ended!   The end was bittersweet and set with a cliffhanger, yet was written in such a way that I felt like the story being told in Adrift (a very apt title, I’ll add)  was finished, and Meg was getting ready for a new adventure.

I dithered between four and five stars on this.  The final question was, “Would I read this story again?”  When I answered yes, I felt that it has the fifth star in my book.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Beautiful ***** Review for Adrift (Goodreads)

Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars false
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Adrift in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

Initially, I was going to rate this story 4 stars; with a bit of thought, I couldn't see any reason not to give it the full five - this sweet story left me with a contented smile on my face and a yearning to read the next installment!

For a short book, it was a large book; it was spaced well with a decent sized easy-read font. I have never felt the need to comment on such before, but I found this to be so much easier on the eye to read; I find the usual Times New Roman to be quite offensive to the eye, and this made a delightful change.

Adrift is a poignantly appropriate novel about loss and discovery, emptiness and purpose, of fact and fiction, all brought together. It is a beautiful coming of age tale, with a central theme about the conflicts about who we are; how our heritage and the decisions we make affect who we are, how the conflict between different aspects of the self can make one feel 'adrift', not belonging anywhere or to anyone.

It is easy to empathise with the protagonist, Meg, in her loss of her family and ultimately her identity. The charmingly interwoven legend of the Selkie in with the modern novel makes a wonderful backdrop for Meg's plight to discover herself and how to cope with who she is; Elizabeth Reeves manages to describe the two with seeming ease and elegance.

Reeves's style of writing seems to make the reader's eyes skip across the page, absorbing the words of the story without much thought involved, making this a lovely, easy to read novel.

I really enjoyed reading Adrift; it rates much more highly in my opinion than most other young adult novels I have read (*cough* Hunger Games *cough*), as the language is not overly simplistic and the writing style, although easy to read, is quite sophisticated and in no way patronising. It seems to be a novel written in a way that all age groups can enjoy it, without being too complex for the younger audience and without being too simplistic and silted for the older audience. A beautiful little novel; I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the sequel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Adrift: Another Wonderful ***** Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Textured....September 10, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Adrift (The Last Selkie Book One) (Kindle Edition)
This book is fun to read and engaging. But what really stood out to me was how textured it is. And how balanced.

First, about the balance: you have setting, from landlocked Oklahoma and a certain two dimensional barrenness to three-dimensional Newfoundland, or maybe it's four-dimensional. You have dry and wet. You have flat and wavy, choppy and still, trees and caves, air and water, busy and unmoving. And then you have inside and out, comfort and danger. One of the main characters traverses the two worlds with and at ease, the other is never easy. You have alive and dead, the gardens and the inevitable sea, the bright and the dark.

Second, about the texture: wet and dry, yes; but also the texture of hair, yarn, rocks, wood, seaweed, oilskin and sealskin. The texture of smells, of what the hands are doing, of sleep and wakefulness and back again. Of edgy loyalty and smooth enticement.

And all of it with an undercurrent of danger, of no simple answers, of the easy way never being the chosen way, of conflict between need for comfort and accepting comfort. And of loss, always of loss.

This book is fundamentally about loss and the toss-up between surviving loss and losing the will to survive.

While you're having your good read, you will be walking dangerously close to another world. Is it real? I wonder when I'll find out.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adrift FREE on Kindle: Sept 9th-14th

I am offering Adrift for free over the next few days on Kindle. Please download/read/review and tell your friends!

Like the new cover?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Adrift ***** Review!

Thank you for my readers who are sending me such wonderful reviews!

5.0 out of 5 stars
 If you like Twilight, you'll love Adrift September 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Meg's story pulls you in from page one and doesn't let go until you finish. It is beautifully written and makes you want to visit Newfoundland. The characters are very likeable and you grow to care for them quickly. The story shares some loose similarities with the Twilight series: YA fantasy/sci-fi/romance, supernatural beings, a beautiful nineteen year old brunette torn by having to choose between two worlds and two loves. The similarities end there, but I think that if you like the Twilight series, you'll like Adrift. I'm looking forward to Book Two!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another ***** Review for Adrift!

Knowing that I have readers is fantastic, but when those readers reach out and reward my hard work with a review? That is pure magic!

Adrift on Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing! September 3, 2012
By jaki36
Format:Kindle Edition
From the start, the story is mesmerizing. You walk with Meg through every step of her journey and feel every emotion and experience. A wonderful cast of characters with well-written dialogue and captivating story. I couldn't put it down and can't wait for Book 2!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review From Amazon *****

5.0 out of 5 stars
 wonderful! September 2, 2012
By munchk
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
As soon as I started reading Adrift I knew that I wouldn't be able to put it down until I was finished. I was right. From the very beginning I knew that I was going to enjoy this story. I really like the fact that it is all age friendly. I will be sharing it with my daughter and other family and friends. It is refreshing to find a book that you can share with your friends and family. I contacted the author as soon as I was finished and asked her when the next book in the series will be finished. Having the book downloaded to my kindle made it easy to read right away. Thank you, Elizabeth A Reeves for an amazing reading experience

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Story Box: Life, After Death

Here's another Story Box story. Remember, this is a rough draft of an unfinished project that may never actually be completed. Let me know if you think it's worth a go, and if you would like to read more.

Is there life after death? I can't help but wonder. I sat there for hours by the side of the person I loved more than I had ever loved anyone knowing that his chest wasn't going to rise and fall again, knowing that I could have prevented it. Knowing that he was dead... yet unable to face it. I was tearless and fearless for those long hours, trying to force my own breath just by will alone into the rise and fall of his chest. I expected him to reach out and stroke my hair, tell me I was beautiful, whisper that I was the only one for him. I would have been content just to hear that he had forgiven me.
But no words of comfort ever came. The doctors came and told me I would have to go and so I went, blindly. I walked home, forgetting my car, and entered my apartment. I went to the fridge, got out a can of diet soda, kicked off my shoes, pulled the clip out of my hair, and stared at a blank TV that I never noticed wasn't on. Then something snapped inside of me. I threw the full can of soda at the TV, pulled at my hair and cried and cursed, and screamed, and beat the arms of the chair in unbelieving grief.
 "It can't be!" I whispered those words, I wailed them, I screamed them. I knocked my head so hard against the wall that I fell to my knees, half-stunned. I choked on my tears, me who never cried. I dug my fingernails into my palms so far that they bled, and still I could not stop.
"Come back to me," I whispered, seeing his face before me as one haunted. "Come back to me. Hold me again."
If only I hadn't been so angry about something so stupid. If only I could have seen things his way. Then he would be alive, not an empty shell lying in the morgue. I shivered. I couldn't bear the image. Not Jonathan. Not him!
"I've got to go," I whispered. "I've got to go. I can't stay here." I twisted off my sapphire ring and stuck it into my pocket, going into a mad frenzy of stuffing all of my worldly possessions into a few bags. I left a message on his mother's machine. I couldn't be here. I'd find work somewhere. I just had to leave. I couldn't stay for the funeral. I had to get moving, going, any way I could.
I remembered the magical two weeks we had spent in Kentucky, watching horse races and acting like two lovebirds. We were just learning how to love then, now it was all gone, smashed in an instant.
"Got to go, got to go, got to go," I chanted, dragging a suitcase after me. "Damn." The car was at the hospital. I stared at his, parked in front of me. The bloody pickup. How I had hated it, the money he had wasted on it. I unlocked the door with a shaking hand and wrested it open, throwing my things into the back like a mad woman.
I stuck in the key, turned it mechanically, and was fifty miles up the freeway heading east before I realized what I was doing. There was nothing left of me, I was as dead and dry and missing as the soul of my Jonathan. My heart. My love. Oh, please, I prayed, I can't bear this.
At the same time part of my brain said, it's a long drive to Kentucky. You've got to keep in control. Don't kill yourself.
Why not? No answer for that.
So I stopped at a hotel, ate, but I wasn't hungry, lay down, but I couldn't sleep, and was on the road again in less than two hours. My head pointed me north and east and I had to go. I had no choice.
Bluegrass country. Bluegrass which never somehow looked blue until the hour I pulled into a stable yard and sat staring at a 'riders wanted' sign on the office door, the engine turned on. I mechanically turned it off, just as mechanically pulled a brush through my hair, and headed straight towards that sign.
I knocked on the door and heard a sharp. "Come in." I opened it and came face to face with a lean man with a weathered face, who looked me up and down and folded his arms like he didn't know what to think. "Kin I help you?" I hadn't heard a drawl quite like it. I wondered if it was real. I wondered if I was real. Maybe I was still dreaming.
I brought myself into clarity enough to say, "I can ride. You have a sign up for help."
He looked me up and down again, this time with more interest. "You can, can you? What kind of riding have you done?"
Jonathan's hand swept under my hair as he kissed the base of my neck, his fingers pressing urgently into me. He smiled, those brilliant blue eyes catching mine and laughing at my astonishment. He wheeled his horse, a big chestnut, away and galloped up the crest of the hill, leaving me to stare after him with the taste of him still in my mouth.
"My name is Jessica Stafford. I grew up riding and showing the family horses. Eventing is what I do best." I was amazed to hear the pride in my tone. Jonathan had laughed at me often about it.
 "Silly little girl," He said, cooling my retort with a kiss. "You're still as blue-blooded as those horses you ride."
The man offered me his hand. "I'm Dave Everhardt. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. I've actually seen you ride, though you were much younger then. You haven't shown in a while, have you?"
I shook my head. "No, it's been quite a while."
"Come away with me," Jonathan whispered. "You don't need this pressure, this competition in your life. Come with me. Start a new life. Try living off of an equine back for a few hours, will you?"
I shook off the voice in my head. "Do you want me to fill out an application or something?"
Dave shook his head. "No, I have a better idea. Why don't you ride for me? I'll see if you're what I need and we'll go from there." He paused. "If you don't already have a place to stay there's a room here with the grooms. It's nothing fancy, but..."
"Thank you," I managed. "Of course, you may not want me once you've seen me ride."
He just smiled. “Well, then. We’ll have to get you onto a horse.”
I blinked in the sunlight as he led the way to the barns. The grounds were neat and perfect in every way, professional, well kept. I was surprised that I even noticed, after all, the love of my life had died, what was it? Four days ago. Four whole days. How could that be?
It had been so long since I had been on a horse or even been near one. Everything was so familiar—the curious heads hanging over the stall doors, the soft sounds of horses going about their simple lives, the sharp odors of leather, horse sweat, and manure. Once it had been my perfume.
“You always smell like a horse,” Jonathan laughed, tugging at my hair. “If you stay here much longer you’ll start looking like one too. What are horses to people? Come on, you can’t hide yourself away with these beasts all your life.” He laughed softly, his eyes gleaming. “You’re too beautiful to waste your life. There’s so much to see.”
I blinked, Dave’s friendly face snapping back into focus. He was standing in front of a stall where a proud, dark, head was leaning out to lip a carrot from his hand. I blinked again, forcing myself to take in the details of the horse’s proud and delicate head.
“Jessica,” Dave said. “I’d like you to meet Oberon. He’s a promising colt of ours, and a good ride. Do you feel up to trying him out?”
I looked into the horse’s deep, unfathomable eye and nodded slowly. I knew I could ride this horse, just as I had always known that I could ride any horse. Well, almost any. My stomach twisted and lurched, but I ignored it, reaching out my fingers to brush the velvet muzzle of this dark colt. He was so different from Shimmer.
“I would love to ride Oberon,” I said, realizing belatedly that Dave was waiting for my answer.
He nodded, satisfied. “Dallin,” he called down the row of stalls. “Care to show this young lady the ropes? I need her out in the arena in fifteen minutes.”
A tousled dirty-blond head stuck out of one of the stalls. I saw a friendly flash of teeth in my direction as the groom, he must have been a groom, exited the stall he’d been working in. He rubbed a grubby hand against his even more grubby jeans and stuck it out. I took it almost without thinking. “Nice to meet you. I’m Dallin. You’ll be riding Oberon today?”
I nodded dumbly, aware that I should say something, but unable to open my mouth. He didn’t seem to notice. He just went into the colt’s stall and flipped a halter over his head, as if he had done it a million times, just as I had done it most of my life. He paused only to rub the colt’s neck fondly. “You’re lucky that Dave is letting you ride this horse. He’s a dream and a half, shows a lot of promise.”
“Do you ride?” It was the first thing I could think to say. My mind was still numb, I wasn’t quite sure if any of this was real.
A grin I didn’t understand crossed his face. His grin was crooked in a sun-tanned face. His eyes crinkled in the corners. He had brown eyes, so different from Jonathan’s brilliant blue.  “A little,” He answered to the question I had almost already forgotten. He led Oberon out of his stall and proceeded to snap him into the cross ties. “There’s a grooming kit here, if you’d like to help.”
“I’d love to.” I was flooded with a strange sort of relief at turning to the so familiar task. The hiss of a brush against Oberon’s dark coat was somehow soothing to me. I felt my body relax, as if it had been holding too much tension for too long and that I had come to the snapping point, only to find relief in this simple activity.
Oberon was surprisingly quiet for a young horse. He turned his head, watching either me or Dallin, nibbling a little on Dallin’s shirt, obviously very familiar with him. The colt had the fearless air of a well-treated well-bred horse. I had learned very young that not all hot bloods had to be hot, that spirit didn’t have to be expressed in bad behavior if a horse was confident and treated well.
Dallin saddled him while I watched. I noticed that the tack was nothing more than a light saddle on a light saddle pad, no extra gimmicks or side-reins. His bridle was just as simple, a generic, ordinary bridle with a generic, ordinary, snaffle bit. Oberon accepted the bit calmly, chomping on it a few times, then staring at me, almost placidly. His nostrils distended to catch my scent.
“There you are. All set.” Dallin tossed me the reins, then stood there, studying me for a second. “You look awfully familiar. Do I know you?”
Surprised, I looked up into his face. “I don’t think so. I used to ride a little. I haven’t in years.”
His face cleared and he laughed low in his throat. “Of course. You were that crazy girl with the gray horse a couple years back, weren’t you? Didn’t you run off with some young rich guy?”
I felt my throat close. “He wasn’t rich,” I croaked.
Shimmer reared up. I saw a flash of alarm cross Jonathan’s face. I laughed as I pulled Shimmer down and let her prance the last couple steps to his side. Jonathan shook his head. “Jessica, you’re going to be the death of me.”
A worried expression crossed Dallin’s face. He casually turned back to Oberon, straightening the colt’s black forelock over his even star. “Dave will be waiting. We’d best get you warming up.”

Story Box: Olympus Fallen

Here is a little excerpt from my story box of stories that I have started in the past, and may never know completion. I hope you enjoy this little piece of Olympus. Please comment and let me know if you would like to see more of this piece. Please keep in mind, that my story box stories are all first drafts!

Olympus, the golden, floating city, high above the earth, the city of wonder, of beautiful people of great power. Olympus, the mighty, the fearless, a city of joy and of scandals, of love, of hatred, of wisdom, of war. Olympus, home of the great.
In the center of the great city stood a building higher than the rest. Marble and gold, it shone in the glimmering light of the afternoon sun. Circling it, cradling it, bent majestic branches of perfumed flowers, clinging and climbing ever upwards. Columns of white circled its base. It boasted of wealth beyond imagination. This was the home of the greatest being on Olympus, the king, the leader, the ruler, a man named Zhuts.
Zhuts was a man of many things. He was a man of power, a great leader, a man of stature and knowledge. He was a man of passion, of deep hatred and deeper love. A man who never forgave a wrong, who acted without thought.
 Whether it was these passions or others, one of them being the marriage to his half-sister, Sherah, that drove him to take many wives and concubines, take them he did, in large numbers, whether against their will or no. After all, he was their king.
His actions embittered Sherah to no end. She was a beautiful woman, delicate and dark haired, with large, expressive, brown eyes. She was dainty and petite, graceful as a flitting swallow. It was her great shame that of her two sons, her only children, from her husband one was a poor cripple, destined to rule in his father’s place after his death, but without the power to become even a portion as strong and powerful as Zhuts.
His younger brother, all that a king should be, could only wait in second place, pretending not to wish for the death of his pitiful brother, once he was old enough to care, he was scarcely more than an infant.
Sherah was a woman of deep jealousy and hatred, vain of her own beauty, and well aware of the failings in her eldest child. If she discovered her husband’s infidelities the woman would suffer great pains. Executions had occurred more than once.
However, Sherah was compassionate to many of Zhuts’ illegitimate offspring. In her own way she was a gracious queen. Had she not been forced to marry her half-brother by decree of law she might have actually been happy. As it was, she busied herself in her great and beautiful gardens near the palace, surrounded by beauty and peacocks, sending her eldest son to his father’s concubines to keep him out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind.
Zhuts’ reputation with the ladies was well known by all the dwelt in Olympus. Fathers either hid their daughters, or pushed them forward. Life in the palace was no small thing for a girl, at times better than life elsewhere, if they could avoid Sherah’s wrath. Those that hid their daughters often discovered that to do such a thing would only ignite Zhuts’ interest more. No woman was sacred to the king, not even the priestesses that were sworn to their virtue. Zhuts, the great king, could not see past his own desires.
Sherah was alert the first moment she lay her eyes on Mestys. The young girl was coming into the palace to replace one of the priestesses that had recently died. She was well known in the palace, having spent her childhood there, her mother one of Sherah’s maidservants. The young Mestys had found favor in the queens eyes. In fact, it had been Sherah’s kindness that had led to Mestys’ acceptance into the orders of the palace. She had been a pretty, bright, child. The woman that bowed low before Sherah was stunning, intelligence glowing in her gray eyes.
Zhuts will destroy this one, Sherah thought to herself, even as she reached out a hand to lift the girl’s head. She felt a pang of pity for herself, and for the girl. It was only a matter of time before Zhuts caught sight of the girl, then all would be lost.
“Why does my mistress hate me so?” She heard Mestys ask one of the chambermaids not long after she had joined the service.
“She does not hate you,” The girl explained, her round, blue, eyes and gaping mouth displaying her astonishment. “It is just that you are beautiful. The beautiful ones are always taken by the master.”
Mestys’ chin went up a notch. “Not I,” she vowed. “I have taken an oath, and I will abide by it.”
Oh, child, child, Sherah mourned, turning away from the doorway with tears of compassion in her eyes. How many have said those words? She took a deep swallow of the wine that her page offered her, gracefully gliding towards her rooms, where she would suffer headaches for the rest of the day, sending her maids and priestesses in a flurry of activity around her.
After an afternoon of torment Sherah called Mestys to her. “I would have you serve as a priestess in my own parts of the house, rather than the great temple. I would keep you near to me. Your wisdom is inspiring, your face pleasant to look at. I pray that you serve me.”
Mestys clasped her mistress’ hands to her cheek. “My lady! I have dreamed that you would accept me into your service! I thought perhaps, given the chance, I would be able to make you smile.”
Sherah did smile, though with such sadness that it touched the girl’s heart. I will do my best to take that sadness away, Mestys thought to herself. She settled next to the queen and leaned towards her as a friend. “There was once,” she said in a low voice, “a famous philosopher…”
It was the first of many tales. Mestys had been a brilliant child, but in the woman it was combined with beauty, charm, and wit, in a way that made even Sherah forget her sorrows and begin to smile. She laughed gaily when Mestys told her stories, and even began to spend more and more time away from her own quarters, wandering out into the open and into the sunlight.
Zhuts noticed the difference in his wife immediately. Though he was forever taking mistresses he was well in tune to his wife’s moods and behavior. This new flush of radiance on her cheeks, this new dance of laughter in her brown eyes, the new energy in her step, they all made him delight and wonder. As a liar will suspect all of lying and a thief will suspect all of robbing him, Zhuts, in turn, suspected that Sherah had taken a lover. At first the thought made him laugh, but he soon discovered himself to be just as jealous as Sherah at her worst. She was his wife! The wife of Zhuts, the mighty, ruler of the sky! She had no business dallying with other, lesser, men, and be happier for it! The thought would not leave his head. It distracted him so that he could think of nothing else.
 He decided to sneak up upon Sherah and her lover when they trysted, while he was normally away, and to kill the man before her, demanding that she never dishonor him again. He would show her once and for all that she was his and his alone! He hid himself behind a tapestry in her parlor and waited.
As he sprang out to challenge them he found not a lover, but rather a beautiful girl that he had never seen before, full of wit and laughter, telling tales that set even the melancholy Sherah to laughing. He determined then and there, seeing the pout of her lips and the long white column of her throat as she tossed back her head to laugh, that she would be his.
Zhuts had not become great through subtlety. He, with the help of his mother, had killed his father, who had imprisoned his brothers and sisters, and taken over the throne, splitting the levels of the kingdom with his elder siblings, keeping the sky, and Olympus, for himself. He was not a subtle man. He decided what he wanted and took it, without any thought for anyone else.
Mestys scorned him openly, then she fled, then she wept, then she threatened, then she raged. He was forced to lock her up, yet he could not let her go. She fascinated him, even as she despised him, reviling him as much as she could, spitting into his face. When she learned that she was with child she threatened to kill herself, so he bound her in the darkest recesses of the castle and had her guarded by six of his most trustworthy guards to prevent her from doing herself, or her child, any harm.
Though he had acted with all precautions, the day that she was to deliver her child she was found hanging in her cell, she had wrapped her own long hair around a beam and then around her own throat. Zhuts raged, even as he sent for a midwife. He would have this child, whether the mother had ever been rightfully his or not. This baby would be his. Mestys had denied him her love, but she would not deny him their child.
The midwife whimpered in fear when she saw Mestys, still swinging from her beautiful hair, her face hideously malformed and twisted, a bitter smile of triumph on her blue lips, making even Zhuts to shudder at the joy she had taken in denying him one last thing. He had the guards cut down and laid a heavy hand on the midwife’s shoulder. “If the child lives you will never want for anything again,” He told her. “If the child dies you will wish all your days that you had never been born.”
Shaking, the midwife approached the body with a long knife. Zhuts forced himself to watch as she drew it across the woman’s swollen belly. His nostrils flared with disgust. The midwife turned, just briefly, terror in her eyes. Surely the baby was dead, just as the mother. Yet, the mother’s body was still warm, perhaps there was hope.
“Move, woman,” Zhuts hissed.
The midwife reached into Mestys body and made one last, long cut. She lifted something into the air and slapped it, once, twice, three times, so hard that Zhuts winced in sympathy. The infant in her arms gurgled once, choked, then screamed out in anger. It was a girl, perfectly formed, already beautiful, though still coated with her mother’s blood. She opened her eyes and stared straight at Zhuts. Her eyes were gray and ancient, knowing. It was as if Mestys eyes were staring out of her baby’s face.
Without thinking Zhuts turned and ran from the room. Those eyes haunted him with a remorse he had never felt in his life, not when he killed his father, not when he had killed, raped, and pursued women, killed children. None of these things had ever touched him. The baby’s eyes drove him crazy. With a yell he lifted a potted plant high over his head and sent it across the room to shatter against a pillar. He clasped his head with both his hands and ran to his rooms, bellowing for his eldest son, Haphest, to attend him.
Down in the dungeon Sherah appeared to take the infant out of the arms of the still trembling midwife. She stared down at Mestys’ body and covered the infant’s eyes. Who knew what a baby remembered about their hour of birth. “Burn her body with the honor of one of the royal family,” she commanded the guard. “She served well. She does not deserve dishonor in her death.” She looked down at the baby in her arms, then up to the midwife, who was hovering uneasily. “I will nurse this babe alongside my own son. After all, they are brother and sister. I will raise her as my own, as my daughter, but she will know of her true mother. Oh, yes, she will know.”
The midwife flinched at the ice in Sherah’s voice.
Sherah turned in the doorway, her large brown eyes hard as steel. “I forbid any of you to speak to Zhuts about the child. As far as he is to know she died down here with her mother. Do you understand? Anyone who speaks of her or what I have done here today will die by my own hand if it needs be. Have I your word?”
Wordlessly the soldiers and the midwife nodded. They had never seen Sherah like this. The woman’s soft and gentle nature were well known, this hardness and determination were new.
“I will call you Maethna,” Sherah whispered to the babe, looking into the ancient, gray, eyes. “It means ‘wisdom’.”
Chapter One

“Go away, Zeres,” Maethna hissed, pushing her brother out of the way. “You make too much noise.”
Zeres elbowed her rudely in the stomach, ignoring her retaliating slap. “Can you see him?”
“Who?” Maethna asked scornfully. “Zhuts? Not likely!”
“Then why are we here?” Zeres whined. He was used to getting his way and he had been hoping to catch a glimpse of his father.
“Well, I’m here to see Demetra,” Maethna whispered. “Sherah said that she was visiting today with her daughter. Phesperi is our age, you know.”
“Our age?” Zeres demanded. “I am many many months older than you! You were an infant still when I could walk!”
“Hush, you little ghurgol. You don’t know anything. You just bellyache and whimper all day long, like a dog. Yes, exactly like a dog. Why don’t you go tag along with Jazpallo and leave me alone?”
“Jazpallo doesn’t want me today,” Zeres sniffled. “He is taking out his chariot and does not have time to teach me to ride the kesperai today.”
“I do not wonder that he is finding ways to keep you away from him,” Maethna said scornfully. “Why don’t you go get lost in the catacombs? I don’t want you.”
“Maethna, Zeres,” Sherah called from her rooms. “Children, please come here. There are people I want you to meet. Visitors from the earth-lands.”
Maethna and Zeres ducked around the column and raced towards their mother. Sherah smiled as she saw them, her sturdy six year old son, all that his elder brother should have been, and her adopted daughter, looking more and more like her beloved mother every day.
“Children,” Sherah said pleasantly. “Your aunt, Demetra, and her daughter Phesperi, your cousin.”
Demetra was a slim, beautiful figure, with wheat-golden hair and sky blue eyes. Her daughter looked like a miniature version of herself. Both were dressed in flowing robes, their golden hair pinned back with a golden pin in the shape of a staff of wheat. Demetra smiled, and Maethna saw that her smile was the kind that would make anyone do anything to keep.
“Demetra rules over the fertile lands,” Sherah said softly. “Without her there would never be enough to eat.”
Zeres bowed and Maethna curtsied, but she kept her eyes on her aunt. So, this was a woman with power. She looked no different than any of the number of ladies that Maethna saw in any given day.
“Demetra has come to visit at my request,” Sherah said softly. “I have asked her to take you, Maethna, from Olympus and see to your schooling until you are of age.”
Maethna stared at her in astonishment. “Leave Olympus!”
“There will be girls your age there, for you to study with and become friends with. I know you have not been satisfied with having Zeres as your only companion.”
“Zeres is a wuss-pup,” Maethna said before she could help herself.
“Hey!” Zeres protested.
A smile touched Sherah’s lips. “That may be as it is or not. You will go with Demetra, though, whether gladly or in anger, and I pray that you will not feel anger towards me. I think it is to your benefit. You are a wise girl, child though you may be. Demetra has much that she can teach you.”
“I will go,” Maethna said. “Because you wish it of me. But I will return, when I am old and wise enough, and I will be with you again.”
Sherah smiled, but this time there was sadness in her eyes. “Such loyalty! You are very much like your mother! Come, my precious daughter-in-spirit, give me a kiss goodbye.”
Maethna flung herself into the queen’s arms and gave her not one, but two kisses. “You will always be my mother,” she said brokenly.
She looked at Zeres. “When I return I will be smarter than you.”
“Oh yeah?’ Zeres demanded. “Well, I’ll be stronger! And stronger is better!”
Maethna tossed her head proudly. “We shall see.”

 So, what do you think? Do you want more?