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The Brightest Star

$4.00
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Never owe the Night Guild: a lesson Jarl learned from his father too late, one that will cost his family everything. 

The Brightest Star is a prequel novella to the Queen of Thieves series...

 

(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)


The Brightest Star

$4.00
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CRACK!

Jarl screamed as Father’s pinky finger snapped. A moment later, Father screamed, too. Fury and pain and despair and hopelessness echoed in that sound. He was a big, strong man, but the ugly, scar-faced man who held his left hand fast was bigger and stronger. Father thrashed to pull his hand free. In vain.

“That message clear enough for you?” The man with the three scars down his left cheek loomed over Father. His face, as rough as dried mortar, creased into a snarling sneer. “Or maybe I break another just to be sure you get it. What do you think, Rutt?”

“Definitely break another one,” came the voice from behind Jarl. The voice that belonged to the man whose thick, hairy right arm wrapped around Jarl’s waist and held him off the ground. Jarl had tried his best to break free—kicking and struggling and spitting—but he wasn’t as strong as Father. He’d tried to lift heavier rocks and beams and wheelbarrows, but he just wasn’t. “Or maybe we just break one of the kid’s, eh, Mosh?”

“No!” Father couldn’t break free, but he could shout. And shout he did. “There is no need!” He turned on the scar-faced Mosh, a plea in his eyes and his voice. “Y-You’ll get your money, I swear it!”

“Said that last time, didn’t you?” Mosh growled down at Father in a way that set Jarl’s stomach lurching. He’d seen that look—right before Crasser and Benth started punching each other, and didn’t stop until Mason Hilip and the others dragged Crasser away. Benth didn’t get up again.

Jarl was terrified Mosh would punch Father until he couldn’t get up, either. And so he kicked and squirmed and spat harder. With all his strength, he fought to break free. What he’d do once he got out of Rutt’s grip, he didn’t know. But he had to try. Had to help Father.

“Stop that, you!” The words were accompanied by a sharp cuff on the back of Jarl’s head.

Jarl’s struggles ceased instantly; the world spun in such violent circles he felt sick, and his arms and legs lost all strength. The tears he’d been fighting to hold back sprang to his eyes now. They blurred his already hazy vision and did nothing to stop the spinning.

“I swear it!” Father’s gasp sounded distant through the ringing in Jarl’s ears. Sounded terrified and desperate, too, in a way that made Jarl terrified and desperate. “By the Swordsman, I swear that you will have what I owe you! Just please, leave the boy alone.”

“Leave the boy alone,” came Rutt’s parroting, mocking voice. Another hard blow struck the back of Jarl’s head and set the world swirling even more ferociously.

“Enough!” Mosh barked. “There’s no need for us to hurt the boy. This time.”

Through the blur of his tears and the haze filling his vision, Jarl heard another crack of finger bones, followed by another scream from Father. Heat rose in Jarl’s chest and cheeks—anger, panic, worry, and despair all churned together—but his arms and legs ignored his commands to resume their struggles.

Suddenly, he was falling. Falling through the spinning, blurred world he could barely make out, falling for an eternity that ended abruptly on hard ground. His legs crumpled beneath him, his knees striking stone, and his chest and face hit in succession. Darkness filled his spinning vision, and the voices sounded so distant, so faint he could barely hear the words. The terrible, growling words Mosh barked at Father, and Father’s fearful response.

“You have until tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?!”

“Tomorrow.”

A cry of pain, though no crack this time.

“Tomorrow, I swear it!”

“And in full.”

“Yes, in full.”

“Even one copper bit’s missing—”

“It’ll all be there.”

“On the boy’s life, it’d better be.”

“It will be!”

“Better be, or his life’s ours. Big lad like that’ll make a halfway decent Bloodbear in time.”

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