I haven’t posted a teaser in awhile, so I thought I’d post something from the new and
hopefully much improved version on Chapter 2. The previous version was pretty much complete filler, so my goal this time around was to introduce the religious background – which will be crucial later on – as well as flesh out Calanthe’s cousin, Euthalia, and Calanthe’s mother.
This scene features her mother. They’ve just come out of their morning prayers (a daily ritual in Nilea) and are discussing Calanthe leaving for court in a week’s time:
The sun was bright when we stepped back outside. I felt my mother’s touch on my arm as we walked. I looked up at her.
“You can’t let yourself drift off like that,” she told me. “You must focus. People at court are going to talk, far more than they do here, and with far more malicious intent. You’re going to have to play the game, better than them, if you expect to survive.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this warning – I’d heard the same thing for years from other girls at school whose sisters were at court – but it was the first time my mother had said anything like that to me.
“Why are you sending me into that snake pit?” I asked. “I’m not ready for this.”
“I know,” she said, squeezing my shoulder. “And I’m sorry for that. I wish I’d prepared you better, but I’d always hoped that there wouldn’t be any need for such preparation. I think my own wishful thinking made me selfish, wanting to keep you my little girl forever.” She dropped her arm back to her side. My shoulder tingled from where she’d touched it, like the ghost of her hand was still there. She hadn’t shown me that much affection in years.
“I spent some time at court when I was your age,” she continued. “In fact, that’s where I met your father. Of course, it wasn’t as bad then as it is now…”
A breeze toyed with a strand of hair that had come loose from my hastily done knot. I pushed it behind my ear.
“I can’t really give you any advice. Court is unpredictable, something that you need to navigate for yourself.”
We turned down a narrow alley, shade from the sprawling mansions on either side of us providing a respite from the increasingly hot sun. We stopped on the stoop to our own, my mother making no move toward the door.
“All I can tell you is that you’ll find allies in the most unexpected of places. And, that you should trust no one.”
And with that, it’s back to work for me. I’m almost done revising this chapter, and I’m so excited to be jumping back in. Happy Tuesday, everyone!