This is a sneak peek at my new short story for the upcoming anthology, Ink and Incantations. You can already pre-order the anthology in time for its release on August 4. Look for more news coming soon, including our cover reveal next week!
My short story is a stand-alone adventure that takes place before the events of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts (Divine Warriors #1). I hope you will enjoy this fun tale about what happened when Riwenne went to buy a book for her fifteenth birthday.
Riwenne & the Haunted Bookstore
“Don’t dawdle on the way to the store,” the head matron lectured me. “Don’t buy anything inappropriate. And don’t skip or you’ll scuff your shoes. You need to be back in time for dinner.”
I nodded to each one of the instructions like I was taking them seriously, but I was only half-listening. Anything to get me out the door.
“And no penny dreadfuls,” the head matron added. “Those things are trash and fill your head with nonsense. No student of mine shall ever be swayed by those outrageous stories.”
I bobbed my head. “Yes, head matron.”
The teachers at school didn’t know how many of the cheap pamphlets we traded around the dorms. Penny dreadfuls were easy to afford and lots of fun, with pictures and bold headlines like, “The Killer of Crystal Street Strikes Again!” I stuck them inside my textbooks so I could read them during class without being caught. My best friend and roommate, Nexita, would yell at me for not paying attention in class, but she read them after me. We whispered about our favorite stories in the dark after lights out.
But I wasn’t going to waste my money on little pamphlets today. Not when I could buy a whole, proper book.
Since we were still in school, we didn’t have much money to spend. But today was my birthday, and I was fifteen, practically an adult. As a special present, the head matron had given me enough money to buy a book and told me I could go alone to the shops to pick it out. This was going to be the best day ever!
The head matron looked me over a final time to make sure that my gray frock was clean and my pink hair was neatly plaited. “You represent our school,” she said again, pointing to the crest embroidered on the front of my blouse. “Don’t do anything that would reflect badly on us.”
I nodded, and she finally let me go. It took everything I had not to jump off the front steps and run down the street. Keeping my back straight and my head high, I walked sedately for half a block until I was sure that the matron couldn’t see me any longer.
Then I skipped a few times and twirled around a lamppost. I was free!