Wolfsbane’s Daughter, a novella companion piece to Craving Beauty V.1 is coming out this next month on February 25th! Meantime, I’ve started working on Volume 2 of Craving Beauty! Here’s a sneak peak of what I’ve got so far…
Enclosed in near absolute darkness made the hours crawl past and after the Prince left her to dwell in her hopeless situation, her mind was beginning to betray her. Had it only been a few hours since he left her alone with none but the echoing howls of her fellow beastly prisoners for company? For a moment she found herself retracing her steps, trying to grasp hold of something real and bright in the confines of her dungeon.
In her mind she could clearly see her nephew, Wyll’s scarred face and the brightness in his beautiful blue eyes, as she passed him off to Wolfsbane and his daughter Resha for safekeeping. The journey she made into the lost city was too dangerous for her to carry him. She was forced to brave the terror of the unnatural wolves as they gave chase up to the castle gates. She could still see the giant doors and remembered the crippling loss of hope she felt upon entering. Her skin still prickled at the memory of that first awful night, when the beast appeared, snarling and clawing after her flesh. It was impossible to fathom how much her perception of her beast and the castle’s mysterious inhabitants would change in one season. Vynasha was just beginning to understand how much they had changed her.
When the wind whispered her name she thought the ghosts of the castle had found their way to the lower levels and stood eagerly to listen. When the voice called out to her again, however, she turned wildly to find its source.
“Where are you?” she begged.
“Over here, Ashes…” Grendall’s voice replied. When he did not appear he added, “I am in the cell next to yours. Come toward my voice. Some of the stone is looser here.”
She jumped when the rocks shifted and pushed out onto the floor to her right. She crawled quickly over to the dim blue light peeking its way through the lower portion of the wall. “I see you!” she exclaimed, happier than she had expected to be. She could not name the elation she felt upon seeing that familiar glow and pushed her hand into the hole until her light clashed and blended with his.
“I cannot reach you,” he grumbled weakly.
“Wait, let me try,” she said and, leaning down, barely grazed the tip of her middle finger to one of his. She smiled when he whispered, “Thank you…”
“For what?” she dared to ask. Her emotions were so uneven, so mad she did not trust her voice not to betray her. Had Grendall heard everything the Prince said?
“For coming back with me,” he replied. “After what you saw, I did not know if you would.”
Vynasha shut her eyes and pressed her cheek to the chilled stone. “I’m glad you came for me,” she confessed and then after a pause added, “What happened, Grendall? Why didn’t you tell me you were my beast? Who were the changelings that found me beneath the falls? How did the Prince discover us?” It took everything she had not to ask him why one of the wolves wore her brother’s face. After seeing the way he attacked them, she wasn’t sure how he would react. And she needed him now, more than ever before, in a way she had never needed before.
He sighed heavily and she counted his baited breaths before he answered, “I confess much of the latter part was a blur, but I will tell you what I can. I was afraid to touch you again after…after what happened. Rrolthoz did not go down without partially ripping my chest to shreds. And then all I could think of, even in that form, was you. I had to make sure you made it safely out. I couldn’t control myself when I caught scent of those wolves. You must understand that my time as the beast is different and I tend to think by instinct instead of my mind. After I brought you back here, the beast was unwilling to let me change forms. I don’t think he believed I could protect you. When I reclaimed my true shape, I barely had time to heal you. I thought I was too late…” His words, which had withered significantly since he began his confession, tapered off into silence at the end.
Vynasha felt his fingers twitch and grow limp against hers and she strained to grasp hold of him, until the rock grazed skin. “Grendall? Are you alright?” She pressed her ear tightly to the rock near where her arm extended through the hole, until she was stretched along the filthy floor. A breath escaped her chest the instant she heard him breathing heavily, in and out.
to be continued…