To give you a little update, I’m in the process of editing the second draft and this weekend (EECK!) the manuscript will be shipped off to my wonderful beta readers. Once I gather their feedback and edit again, it will head out to the true editor (June 1!). I can’t believe that less than a year ago I sat in a hotel room and had my first conversation with Amelia…it is just crazy.
But, let’s get down to business! This is your first look at Duty Bound – enjoy!!!
We were sitting at the kitchen table, in a rare moment where my father had left his study and seemed lucid, and I couldn’t stop fidgeting with my coffee cup as I tried to hold his gaze and “be the adult” I thought already was. It would have helped if the questions he asked were rational, or if his too-long dark hair wasn’t sticking up in every direction. If the glasses he shouldn’t need if he used his powers weren’t smudged and his eyes weren’t wide and looking a little too wild. I knew this look and where our conversation was headed before I even answered, but I also knew it was time. I had played my part. I made sure he ate, I got good enough grades to get scholarships and more than anything, suffered through his endless rants about how it didn’t matter what he’d said 18 years ago, that I wasn’t going to marry the Prince and that “they could never have me.”
I tried to speak softly, but firmly. I felt like I was the one talking to their child. “Dad, I did listen to you. I’ve heard everything you’ve said. But, I have to do this. No matter what happens, I know that I have this time – just three years – to myself. I’m going to be near Cole, so I’ll still have family close.”
I winced as he slammed his palm on the wooden tabletop. “Don’t you talk to me about him!”
I sighed, and tried to put my hand over his, cursing myself for bringing up Cole and aggravating the situation further. “I know, Dad. But I just want you to know I won’t be alone. I’ll make friends — human friends. It will be everything you ever wanted for me.”
“No, Amelia,” he said, sounding defeated. “This is nothing I wanted for you. I wanted to go away from here. I wanted to take you far, far away from here. But I…I just…couldn’t.” I watched his pupils dilate and the flash of green that meant he was losing control again.
“They are watching, Amelia. They are always watching. They can’t believe it; they can’t believe you have what they want,” he said.
He was looking around the room, as if King Julian’s Hunters were right there listening behind the pantry door. I couldn’t take it when he got like this, when he started begging. “They’ll leave you alone, you know that, right? You just have to try a little harder to convince them. You have to stay in control, Amelia.”
I had grown to hate the word “control” more than probably anything in the world. I was a constant failure at it, and that one word was the source of almost every argument my father and I had ever had. Taking a deep breath, I tried to placate him, to stop his hands from shaking as his emotions rose and the pressure in the room grew. It was a struggle to maintain my own power as it fed off of his and my emotions rose in reaction to the despair I heard in my father’s voice. I had long-accepted his eccentricities but it wasn’t often his anger gave way to fear, as it was doing now.
“It’s OK, Dad. I’m going to be OK. I’ll do everything you taught me. I won’t use my power. I’ll stay under the radar. I’m going to be fine, Dad, do you believe me?” His fingers tightened on mine as he nodded, a little too franticly, standing and yanking me in for a rare hug.
The weight of my lies was a stone on my chest as I tried to relish our short embrace. I was going to Brighton to experience a normal life —that part was true — but I was also going to try to figure out exactly who I was. I never believed I could get out of the betrothal, but at least I could go in prepared — something my father refused to do for me. I would find someone to explain what being an Elder meant and how to control the power that was growing faster than I knew how to handle.
(This is unedited and subject to change)