by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order. A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact. Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner, the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.
344 pages, Romance, fantasy, comedy
Folded between two barrels and wrapped in damp silks, Meredith woke slowly from an uncomfortable sleep. She didn’t even have the time to stretch the kinks out of her neck before she became aware of the sound that had woken her; two sets of heavy footfalls on the wooden stairs that led to her hiding place in the cargo hold of a ship.
Struck with immediate panic, she reached out for the nightgown she’d draped along the barrel next to her to dry. It was still damp, but she pulled it to her chest anyways and carefully arranged it so she could slip it over her head quickly and easily. It wouldn’t do to have someone find her in the state she was in.
The men’s voices drew nearer and their conversation became clear.
“So while you were gone I took it upon myself to do some shopping.”
“You bought all this without ever leaving the ship?”
“I know some people.”
“So, like I was saying…”
Meredith’s heart stopped in her chest as one of the barrels hiding her from view suddenly slid aside. She was halfway to lifting the shift over her head. Her body was by and large covered by a thin layer of silk, but that was all.
Her eyes met those of two men who couldn’t look more dissimilar. The one on the left wore sailor’s clothes; worn, but of decent quality. His hair was dark brown and cut short, though it had the slightest hint of a reddish tint and an unruly curl. His eyes were blue and warm like his skin which was sun-darkened probably from being on deck most of the time.
The other, the one holding the barrel, looked as if here in the cargo hold of a ship was the very last place he belonged. He was tall and well-dressed in a navy suit jacket over a pressed white shirt with a ruffled collar. His ash-blonde hair fell straight over steel grey eyes and his features were smooth and not those of a sailor or labourer, though he was tanned as if he too spent considerable time outside.
The noble-looking man’s eyes were wide, but his surprised expression was nothing compared to the shock evident on the sailor’s face.
A moment passed where nothing was said at all, and then Meredith started screaming.
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