Read our interview with Mrs. Archer Kay Leah HERE
Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.
When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family–a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.
Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…
Before she could make another foolish mistake, Aeley rushed from the room. The night was nothing like she had planned and not what she needed.
Aeley did not stop. The sound of heavy boots pounded the stone floor behind her.
The steps slowed as Mayr caught up. "Seriously, that's it?" he asked. "That's how you thought you'd get out of that?"
"I have something to do."
Mayr snorted. "Right, just as much as I believe it, I'm sure." He poked her hand. "Just as much as I know this thing isn't nothing. You went almost white when you read it. What's it say?"
"It says you need to mind your own."
"Aren't you just the joy of the Four Goddesses?"
"No. Unless you're going to tell me what this is, you don't get to use my first name. It's Head Guard if you're going to just lie to me."
Aeley stopped in the middle of the corridor and sighed.
"I'm not giving this up so you can stop with the sighing and the huffing, and don't even begin stamping your foot." Wrapping one hand around her elbow, Mayr's tender grip helped keep her steady. "I've known you since we were kids. Don't make me steal that thing. I know something's wrong and you're being stubborn. Again."
She considered her options. It was better if no one else knew what was happening. To have received the summons in front of her guests was humiliating enough. She did not have to share the details.
But Mayr was not a guest. He already knew the truth of what had happened in Oly Valley. He had been there by her side, making sure she returned home alive. What harm could there be in telling him the fight was not yet over?
I owe him that much. And he didn't say a word in front of anyone. He could've, but he didn't. He deserves to know. "Come on." Aeley pulled him through the halls to her study and pushed him into the room before slamming the door. On the way to her desk, she tossed the scroll at him.
"What? You're going to make me read it?"
"Always something," Aeley grumbled and spun around. "They want me to go there, to Council, to watch him receive his ultimate judgment. They'd said I wouldn't."
Mayr leaned against the wall. "No, they said you possibly wouldn't. You slipped in that extra—"
He threw up his hands. "Fine. If it bothers you that much, don't go."
"I can't," Aeley said resignedly. "The Councilmen are expecting me to be there to help them put Allon away permanently. He's a danger to everyone. His men caused so much damage. I hear some of the children they captured are still terrified. That isn't how I want things to be. We can't disappoint them and let him off easily."
"So then go."
"I don't want to."
"Ae, choose one." His tone softened as he approached her. "I'll back you on any decision, but you're going to have to choose one. Either you're the perfect Tract Steward or you hide. Of course, if you hide, Allon wins, and then what good is your superiority?"
Part of her wanted to throw the decanter at his head. Just when she thought he was being sweet, he hit her with the blunt truth.
"Don't say it. You hate me."
"You have no idea," Aeley muttered.
About the author:
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Ontario, Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, it has been this diversity that has inspired Archer’s love of toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and crazy situations.
Archer started writing stories at age six and became “that kid” with their nose in the books and a pen in their hand, pursuing the challenges of writing novels at age thirteen and conquering the dread of poetry at fifteen. Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged.
When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek who has too many hobbies, keeping busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along, especially if it is in technological form. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.