Lucas “Black Gage” Sinclair, so-called for the mysterious, magic scribed, black glove he wears on his left hand, is a famous pirate captain known across the lands and sea. Gage finds himself on the run from the law of the rival kingdom Athium, and his only hope of escape with his crew is through the treacherous Dark Forest; a place where magic is impotent and no one who enters comes out alive—unless Clara “The Guide” Fox braves the forest with you. Tasked with transporting a mysterious item through the forest, Gage manages to acquire Clara’s services, and as the group travels through the woods and avoids its many life-threatening dangers, Gage and Clara develop a deep connection—but all is not as it seems. They both carry dark secrets that threaten to jeopardize not only their travels but also their lives
Targeted Age Group:: Young Adult and Older (17+)
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Strangely, it was the chemistry between a pair of characters on a show I was watching that was the very first spark of inspiration. I saw potential for a uniquely complex and dynamic relationship and I thought “I’d love to write something like that, that looks fun.” Before I knew it a whole world was forming in my mind, hurdles, back stories, circumstances, motivations and beliefs – all these things that would compound down on two people to make them who they are not just to themselves but eventually each other.It started as an exercise, and then it turned into a book. (Which actually turned into two, but still working on that one!)
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
All of my stories start from my characters, I create a character and they tell me a story. As I said, a show inspired me to build my own little pair of reluctant lovers. I loved the idea of two people being equally smart, strong, and who both knew how to play power games in different ways. A suave, smart charmer vs someone who sees straight through all the pretenses. After that, they sort of just made themselves.
Watch your back, they told her. He may be handsome, he may be charming, but he’s a pirate—and beneath that? He was apparently one cold bastard.
She knew it was true too; it was a bit dark in the tavern, so at first, the most she could make out as he walked in was that he was tall and, going by his swagger, confident. He could have been anyone really, but something about how he carried himself told her this was her prospective client.
Clara took a long drag of her paper smoke in a shady corner of the tavern, hood up to obscure her face as she waited. She saw every woman almost swoon when each of them noticed him, so he was obviously attractive. Dangerous, Clara thought instantly, taking a long drink from her tankard.
It was a strange comparison to make at a first, somewhat obscured glance, but there was something about the stranger that reminded her of her home, the Dark Forest. The more beautiful anything was there, the more likely it was to kill you.
The closer he came and the more of his features she could make out, the more apt she felt the comparison was. Yet every female and even a few male eyes trailed after him as he walked in like he’d magnetized their gazes. He certainly carried an undeniable air of charm about him. She had no doubt that all Lucas “Suave” Sinclair had to do was pick which woman he wanted, and with a smile, she’d be his. Clara listened to the bar wenches giggling as he flashed them what she now saw those enticing smiles over the high collar of his long black coat with its bright silver buttons. Those smiles alone confirmed what she felt almost under her skin, a self-serving bastard with what she was willing to bet was way too pretty a face. She could imagine cunning and heartless sat well on this pirate.
Clara rolled her eyes; it eluded her how they all missed or dismissed the fact that he was trouble—it was written all over the way he moved, with that graceful ease she’d seen in predators on the prowl, hunting.
She’d grown up in a place where if your eyes weren’t on the lookout for predators, you’d be dead before the day was out; perhaps the upbringing was the advantage. This captain had rather insistently sought out “the Guide,” and his perseverance had lead him here—he wanted to offer her a job, badly apparently. His unusual persistence had admittedly intrigued her; so here they were.
Clara looked away as the captain with jet-black hair continued to make his way in her general direction. He swept past her without noticing her, instead heading to the booth behind her, sliding onto the far bench across from her good friend, Fitz.
Her friend always helped her conduct business in this manner, though few ever knew it; Clara liked her anonymity. She leaned ever so slightly to her left to peer at the small, unobtrusive mirror running down the wooden pillar to a few feet ahead of her, allowing her to sit, comfortably drinking ale, and watch the transaction taking place behind her while appearing completely uninvolved in the dealing herself.
With the mirrors assistance, she was given a spectacularly clear view of what all the swooning was about. The well-groomed dark scruff on his face framed full lips and high cheekbones. A compelling confidence in how he held himself, obvious from afar, now saturated the very air around him. He had a muscular build that that was deceptively slim, one that belied how strong he really was according to rumour, a simple grace in his every movement. His hair had that wind tossed look about it, framing a strong jaw and highlighting the devil-may-care spark behind his eyes.
Those eyes, gods they actually startled her they were so blue, cerulean almost. The colour struck her as one you might see at the heart of a glacier and without a doubt his most compelling feature, a focal point in a tan face and attire as black as his hair. He was like a shadow that encapsulated a stunning ice cave. His wanted poster didn’t do him justice. Very dangerous, she thought again, taking another swig of ale. Clara pretended to survey the tavern, as if looking for someone she was supposed to meet as she listened in on Fitz and Gage.
“You must be the famous Captain Black-Gage,” Fitz said by way of greeting, addressing him by his infamous moniker. “You’ve been making quite the commotion.”
“The price of notoriety, I’m afraid, is often being unable to go about your business quietly; are you the Guide?” he asked, eyes sizing up the man he figured to be her.
“The contact,” Fitz corrected.
No one ever liked this part; they always wanted her in person and didn’t take it well when they didn’t get that. The pirate actually laughed at the revelation, though Clara could tell like the many before him he was not pleased.
“I’m not looking to chat with a messenger boy,” he told Fitz, voice abruptly cool. Arrogant as well it seemed, not many people had the gall to call a man like Fitz a “messenger boy.” With his neatly trimmed, short blond hair, and the big earthy-brown eyes of a kindly neighbour, at just over six foot seven, Fitz was built like a stone house. Though admittedly his clean shaven face often had others mistaken him for being younger than he was, calling Fitz a “boy” was like calling a feral wolf a “puppy.”
“Tough,” Fitz replied tersely, “you talk to me or you never meet the Guide. See how far you can paddle out of shit creek on your own.”
Clara smiled. She never had to worry about anyone pushing him around. Fitz held his ground well—a quality she highly valued in both a friend and an associate. This was all standard procedure of course; everyone wanted to see if they could push a contact around to get what they wanted.
She watched as Gage put the reason for his moniker on the table, that black-gloved hand with the silver emblem that resembled some kind of gauge she’d never seen before, strange symbols and mysterious words in the place of any common measurements. Some said he wore it because he’d shaken hands with the devil to get his ship—The Grey Ghost—rumoured to be the fastest sailing any ocean. Like most rumours, Clara put little stock in any of it.
“I’ve a crew to paddle for me, and we’re good at finding what we’re looking for.”
The subtlety of the threat was not lost on anyone. The air he held about him became determined and focused; add driven to his list of attributes.
“Oh, the Guide’s heard.” Fitz laughed, careful as always to keep gender indications from the conversation. “There’s a reason you’re coming up empty.”
Clara watched Gage quickly reassess Fitz, saw him come to the conclusion that he was more or less dealing with someone who wouldn’t be easily bullied or even goaded.
“Very well, how can I persuade him to speak with me?”
“By speaking to me. What do you want?” Fitz asked, prompting Clara to listen even more carefully now.
“What does anyone who seeks the Guide want? I require his services to get through the Dark Forest,” Gage said, as if the question were not only pointless but stupid.
To be fair, Clara’s reputation was less renowned and more often relegated to myth, so who knew what it was he could have heard she could do for him? It was understandable of course, being chalked up as a myth. She didn’t just survive the trials of a forest that had claimed all others before her with a promise to take anymore who entered, but she’d made the place her home. Those who tempted such trails did so in desperation and nothing less; seeking her out for generally one reason. This meant only the desperate knew she was, in fact, very real—and who would ever believe them? So her legend grew. In short Clara could understand the masses being mostly skeptical, her existence did seem incredibly convenient.
The Dark Forest was the shortcut to end all shortcuts between two kingdoms—the divide between Ethona rulers King James and Queen Helen, and Athium, the domain of Queen Airalyn, the Scarlet Queen. It ran between the mountains, three different outs to three different cities on both sides with a three-day trek on each trail.
That “nine bind” as Fitz liked to call it, was what kept the kingdoms of Ethona and Athium from the tide of an all-out war. Queen Airalyn was a Wielder, a manipulator of the magics, and a particularly nasty, power-hungry royal. She was a firm believer in “might makes right,” so all relations with her were… strained at best. She’d attempted to invade Ethona through the forest once to gain control over the massive ore deposit that made the domain one of the richest of the twelve kingdoms.
Clara heard she’d failed quite outstandingly, and she didn’t doubt that failure had been beyond messy for Queen Airalyn’s troops. Now there was no trade between the two kingdoms, which meant good business for Clara. A tentative peace was held only because an attack from the safer but longer routes would be far too direct and therefore suicidal; both had astoundingly vigilant fortifications on the front and back of their kingdoms. The rest was covered by the Dark Forest’s many beautiful horrors, all truly wonderful deterrents to war.
“The Guide doesn’t take everyone who waves some flashy coins through the forest, Captain,” Fitz told the pirate, bringing Clara back to the current conversation.
“Rich enough to turn work down, is he?” Gage returned cheekily. He didn’t give Fitz a chance to come back with anything, seeing fit to merely continue speaking. “I need to get to Torin; my ship is docked there. It’s not the friendliest of waters, but that’s not my rush; I’ve the law on my tail.”
Clara watched his face in the mirror while grinding the end of her paper smoke on the wooden table and frowned. She prided herself on her rather uncanny ability to see the truth, or a lack thereof, in people’s words and faces. Though she saw no lies on his face, she didn’t see much truth either and that bothered her.
“So if you’ll forgive my being rude, I don’t have the time to pander to him. I have gold, he has the set of skills I require,” Gage said, looking as severe as he sounded. “Now can we deal?”
Fitz was silent, waiting for Clara to give him the yay or nay signal. She put her tankard down loud enough for him to hear, interested but unsure.
“Is it just you?” Fitz asked, getting her more information to help her make her decision.
“Me and some of my crew.”
“Five including me.”
Clara sighed quietly, that was a lot of people—scratch that—a lot of pirates. She could tell Fitz was thinking the same thing by how Gage was reacting to his expression. She watched him slide his gaze away from the table like he was thinking of a lure to draw Fitz back in.
“Fifty gold pieces a man,” he offered.
Clara nearly swallowed her tongue; that was an obscene amount of gold. Judging by his expression, he was thinking much the same, almost smugly. He must think for sure that would lock her services down. It almost was; unfortunately there were other issues Clara had to consider. It would be difficult to get five people through the forest alive and to Torin no less, the capital of Athium. Clara hated Athium; The Scarlet Queen was a paranoid tyrant who seemed to relish in filling her capitals with armed guards, and the last thing Clara wanted was to get stiffed because a random patrol collected her criminal client upon arrival, or worse, be apprehended herself for any reason. Her determination to stay a legend and avoid the attention of the more… unsavory in her unique brand of smuggling forced her to choose her clients carefully, which made work at times scarce—rock and a hard place really.
Fitz had continued on with the questions, leaving her to listen closely once more.
“And when you say the law is on your tail…?” Fitz trailed off.
“I mean other routes out of this town are, at the very least, highly inadvisable at the moment; my presence here is pushing it as it is.”
Again Clara felt at a bit of a loss as she watched his face in the mirror: no lies but no definitive truth either. She didn’t like the obscurity of Captain Black-Gage. Sure, Clara liked what she saw of him in the sense that she found it hard to resist a bastard—their company was simple, to the point, a great deal of fun, and the whole “no strings attached” thing never hurt. But this was business, and for business, bastard pirates were a spin of the wheel—it could go very well or very badly. It was a lot of gold, yes, but also more work and higher risk. Top it all off with the captain of The Grey Ghost handsome but enigmatic face and
Clara found herself feeling very much not in the mood for gambling. She was out. Clara gave Fitz the “turn job down” signal by standing and preparing to leave. She put some coin on the table that Fitz would use to pay for their drinks after he stalled the conversation long enough for her to get scarce, a little extra there for his pocket as was their arrangement. She only got a few steps away when Gage’s voice called out and stopped her cold.
“Leaving so soon? Here I was hoping you’d pull your hand out of your puppet’s arse, and we could discuss business like gentlemen.”
Clara should have kept walking, but she’d already paused a moment too long, and she could feel those eyes boring into her back now. Smart, observant—more traits to add to the list, the ones that made her the wariest thus far. She didn’t move, turning her head very slightly to better hear his next words.
“Or does the Guide have trouble speaking for himself?” Gage challenged.
“Keep walking,” Fitz told her. She could feel the tension in his voice; no one had ever made her before.
“Oh, I wouldn’t suggest it,” Gage countered, voice tinged with amusment, she could practically feel his smirk. “I may be moved to make a scene,” he told them both amiably.
“With the law on you?” Fitz snorted. “Not likely.”
“Well, not a great many people really know if the smuggling guide is man or myth.”
Clara could almost hear him shrug.
“With all the secrecy you two walk in, I assume you prefer it this way?”
Clara supposed she’d practically been screaming that with all the cloak and dagger thus far; notoriety would make her work and life harder. Clara remained motionless, looking at the door that led out of the tavern.
“I thought so. If you don’t hear me out, I have no problem outing us all; without you, I’m very likely caught anyways,” he said airily.
“We’re not the ones on the run from the law,” Fitz countered.
“Running, no—but I’m sure the law would be very interested in such an elusive and elite couple of smugglers like yourselves.”
“Who would believe you?” Fitz asked
“Do you really want to risk being scrutinized should I happen to sway someone into looking more closely at the pair of you?” Clara turned her head just a bit more to see the smile he wore was sharp enough to cut.
“I can be terribly convincing when I need to be.”
For some reason Clara could not explain, she felt her lips quirking as if to smile; it appeared they were all in check. She could already feel Fitz reaching for the short blade he kept secured to his thigh and held a hand up to signal him to wait. She didn’t much mind a fight, relished it at times even, but Clara despised killing and preferred not to unless absolutely necessary. She felt confident that they were very far from that point, and strangely he had her interest now.
Gage didn’t fail to notice the full extent of the exchange.
“Good call,” he remarked lightly. “Bad business picking fights with pirates.”
Fitz and Clara both heard the sound of a flintlock pistol hammer clicking back.
“We’re rarely averse to fighting dirty.”
Fitz eyes flickered down to the table as if he could see the gun hiding under it before glaring up coldly. “That’s because they’d never win a fair fight,” he replied cheekily, keeping all emotion from his voice.
Gage laughed as though amused by Fitz before Clara heard the sound of him ease the hammer back and return said pistol to its holster at his side. Clara turned on her heel and walked back to the table.
Gage watched her as she kept her face angled away from him to look into Fitz’s big brown eyes.
“You should go,” she said softly.
Fitz eyed her, as if questioning whether that was wise.
She felt confident that she could handle the captain; he’d already made her—the worst he could do now was attack her or try to shoot her, and she was rarely unprepared for such violence.
She nodded her assurance, and Fitz gave Gage one last untrustworthy glare.
“Bye,” Gage said dismissively, wearing a wide insolent smile.
Fitz looked like he wanted to throttle Gage, but he slid out of the booth as Clara had directed, muttering something cautionary under his breath as he left and she took up his vacated spot.
She could almost feel the pirate’s gaze, trying to peer through the shadows cast by the hood which made her features indistinct at best, a little charm she’d had a Wielder cast on the hood. However she saw the exact moment he realized that said indistinct features were distinctly feminine. His eyes darted to her chest before rebounding back to what he could see of her face.
“You’re a woman,” he said at last, sounding stunned.
Clara looked down at her chest much like he had, as if she herself had never noticed this.
“Would you look at that?” she said with exaggerated shock, “It appears I am.”
To the captain’s credit, he regained his composure quickly.
“Forgive me. One does not expect beautiful women when seeking the Guide of the Dark Forest,” he apologized, a smooth, charming smile instantly gracing his face like it was the most natural expression he wore.
Clara actually didn’t doubt that as she smirked back. She was tempted to call him out on the beautiful part when he could barely see her face, but she figured he’d just have another smooth answer ready. Same game, different plays—could she be pushed around? Or in this case, she thought, watching him begin to utilize his considerable charms, led around.
“Wow, that took you all of five seconds. Don’t waste your smiles on me, Lucas Sinclair; they won’t work.” She’d pushed back, denying him the recognition of his hard-earned alias by using his real name, something not easily found unless you had at least a few good contacts—his move.
That smile of his took on a sharper quality, not missing the slight.
“Not many people take leave to use my name, lass,” he told her.
“I’m not a fan of monikers,” she replied sweetly.
“Coming from ‘the Guide,’ I find that rather rich.” He leaned in closer and speared her with those ice-blue eyes of his, black-gloved hand sliding across the wood in a somewhat curiously stiff manner… interesting. A sly invasion of space, nice tactic; too bad it wouldn’t work.
Clara leaned in to meet him, their faces close enough to appear intimate to any casual observer.
Their nearness allowed him a better look at her eyes. For a moment he found himself at a bit of a loss, she had the kind of eyes that didn’t capture the light so much as defy it—they almost seemed to radiate a shade of green that reminded him of the storm churned waters of distant exotic shores, only darker. All else of this woman might be ugly, but the eyes at least were beautiful, he thought briefly.
“Price of notoriety, I’m afraid,” she said, somehow angling her head in such a way that the casting of shadows over her face rendered it still too obscure to make out, even as her eyes locked with his. “Even as a myth,” she added. Either some spell was at work here or this one played with shadows like an artist played with the colours on his palette.
“Indeed,” he agreed smoothly. They stayed like that for a moment; she could practically feel him weighing her out, trying to figure out how she ticked, how to best manipulate her.
“Well, you have me at something of a disadvantage, love, as I don’t know your name. May I have the pleasure?” he purred, pulling back a little to offer his bare hand.
She looked down at said hand, flicking a quick look at the other before refocusing on his face. Clara knew if she accepted and politely gave her name it was as good as telling a pirate she’d be taking him through the Dark Forest; names were a closer on a deal in her books, and she wasn’t sold just yet.
“Pleasure comes after business, Sinclair,” she told him, ignoring the offered pleasantry. She caught the frown in his brow a split second before it disappeared with a shrug and he retracted his hand.
“As you wish. Can you get me through the forest?” he asked, leaning back from her. Round One went to her it seemed.
“The issue isn’t can I; the issue is will I,” Clara told him, lacing her fingers together on the table.
“Fifty gold pieces a man is more than fair,” Gage said coolly.
“No, it’s downright generous,” she conceded to his surprise, “and, see, that’s where I get nervous.”
He raised an eyebrow at her in a silent query.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she clarified. “You need to be desperate to want to go into the Dark Forest, and your story along with your offer certainly suggests desperation.” She leaned back as well, pulling another paper-wrapped smoke from a pouch at her side and playing with it as if to amuse herself, giving off an air like just maybe he and his job offer were a waste of her time.
“But I’ve seen desperate men; you don’t strike me as one of them,” she observed, putting the rolled paper between her lips.
He moved so fast, with such natural grace, she didn’t even get the chance to flinch. He struck a match he’d pulled from the gods know where, holding the flame just before the end of the rolled tobacco before she could object. Clara’s eyes widened as he held himself perfectly still, watching her serenely. Clara narrowed her eyes at him and the gentlemanly gesture, seeing it for the veiled threat it was. He could have easily struck her before she could have thought to dodge, a showcase of his speed and precision as a fighter. It was a reminder to not write him off more than once, or to make a show of it as she just had. Slowly Clara leaned forward to close that short distance and light the end of her smoke. He waited until she gave a slight nod before pulling the match back, the acceding the fault of her arrogance towards him in guise of a polite thanks.
“Darling, pirates never let desperation show,” he told her conversationally. “We don’t wear it very well.” He didn’t blow the match out, holding it up as the flame burned, letting it inch closer and closer to his fingertips.
“No matter how hot the fire, one must know how to keep one’s cool,” he told her, holding her gaze.
Clara could see the flame in her peripheral as she too refused to break eye contact, noting he showed no sign the flame was practically licking his fingertips. A theatrical man with an iron-cast face of lies—she didn’t like him. At the same time, there was something she found…
Clara didn’t trust him as far as she could throw him of course, but she was definitely fascinated by him. Gage played the game well, and the occasional times she was forced to play it, few managed to intrigue her the way he was doing—difficult to not respect that. Dangerous, Clara thought once more with a smirk, licking her thumb and forefinger; dangerous because he made her want to gamble.
“You should treat your hand with more care,” she said, reached over to him and snuffing the flame out between her fingers. “You only have the full use of one after all.”
Gage froze for a brief moment. Yes, she’d noticed the lack of life in the hand and the odd way he maneuvered it—either it was damaged or paralyzed.
“Heard rumours, have we?” he asked, as if unconcerned by how she’d known.
“No,” she said simply, explaining no further.
“Couldn’t be blessed with it all, lass; it’d be unfair to the rest,” he said, giving her a devilishly heart-stopping smirk. The prettier they are Clara…
“I’m sure you’re still a regular gift to the world,” she said with just a trace of sarcasm, visibly irking him. “If you were straight with me, I’d take this job.”
“I have been straight with you.”
That one had been easy to see through. “Lie.”
“I assure you, lass, I’ve told you every—”
“Lie,” Clara cut him off, narrowing her eyes.
His expression steeled a bit, masking the wariness he felt creeping into him, all but in his eyes.
“I’m very good at picking up on people’s bullshit, Captain,” she explained flatly. “Care to try again?” Clara got the impression he was trying very hard not to glare.
“The details I keep to myself are strictly my business; I have confidentiality of clients to protect,” he told her somewhat coolly.
“Hmm, truth. I’m fine with that as long as it’s not anything that will get me killed, or interfere with my job.”
“It’s not.” Truth.
“Not to you, no,” he replied. Obscurity. How the hell did he do that?
He watched her face, and he must have sussed out some of her confusion from the shadows of her hood because he almost smiled when he asked, “Am I lying?”
That put her in a bit of a spot, because he wasn’t as far as she could tell. That was off-putting because she could almost always tell. Clara couldn’t say yes, and she couldn’t say no.
“Are you?” she asked instead.
“Can’t tell?” he tried again, watching her carefully.
“Think I’ve proved in spades that I can, Captain Black-Gage,” she replied, putting a mocking emphasis on his moniker. He surprised her with another of his laughs, a strangely engaging and attractive sound.
“You’re an interesting mix of blunt and coy, love, I’ll give you that.”
Clara nodded her head, accepting a compliment before moving on; she still needed more information if she was to agree.
“Any—let’s say—unwilling passengers on this journey?” she asked.
Gage raised an eyebrow. “If we go, we all go willingly,” he assured her.
“Any children?” she asked out of habit.
Gage laughed. “I hope not. Curious to see if I’m attached?” he inquired in a husky voice.
“Curious to know if you’re bringing children,” she told him coolly, “because I don’t guide anyone with children.”
“Not very fond of little ones?” he asked, feigning shock.
“Not very fond of seeing them die.” It was a sobering statement as she took a long drag on her smoke.
“No, no children,” he answered soberly, shaking his head.
Clara thought about it, letting smoke curl from her nostrils as she breathed out. She’d taken all kinds through the forest; Sinclair wouldn’t even be the first pirate, so she already knew you couldn’t trust any of them. She’d been set on passing this deal a mere few minutes ago, his face could turn on a copper piece to a canvas of grey she had trouble reading and that unnerved her. Yet now that he was presenting his case directly to her, engaging her in this dance of a conversation, she felt somewhat obligated to play the challenge till she conquered it; she loved a challenge.
All in all, as long as he kept her out of his business and let her do her job, she’d get him through the forest and make a lot of money. When it came down to it she’d just have to be careful, but when was she not? If she just assumed he was always lying she wouldn’t be surprised when he proved her right anyways
Clara examined him once more with a sweep of her eyes; he remained still under her gaze, face impassive and currently unreadable. Finally she reached up and pulled her hood back, exposing her face to him at last.
He seemed surprised by the move for a moment, then those sharp eyes swept over her to take her in. Her long red-blond hair fell just past her shoulders like gold and fire had become one flowing element, her skin spinning tales of the many days she’d spent under the sun. The planes of her face were all angles and sharp edges, like some god had fashioned an exquisite blade into flesh.
The only soft feature his gaze found was her pale pink lips, where he found his eyes pausing a moment longer than they had the rest of her, pert and full—very far from ugly. She watched him look his fill (which, though appreciative of what he saw, was surprisingly not all that lecherous) before offering her hand.
“Clara Fox,” she said.
He smiled as he took her hand and laid an unexpected kiss on the back of it. “What a lovely name,” Gage said. His eyes didn’t leave her face; he knew he had her.
Clara took comfort knowing it was on her terms.
“I take half up front and the other half when we reach Torin,” she told him, withdrawing her hand as she outlined how this transaction would work.
“When are you looking to leave?” she asked.
“Forest’s edge at first light, then.”
He nodded as he made to slide out of the booth, their business all but concluded. Clara reached out across the table and snagged him by the cuff of his coat before he could get up and walk away. He pointedly stared at the offending hand before leveling her with a cautionary glower.
“Try to cross me and you will regret it,” she warned him softly, wishing for them to be crystal clear about this.
His smirk darkened as he placed his gloved hand on the back of her wrist. Only his thumb and first two fingers curled to grasp at her, the last two digits remaining dead and unmoving.
She suddenly felt the sensation of bugs crawling over her skin and had to fight not to shiver or jerk back.
Is he a fucking Wielder? Her eyes bounced between his face and the glove sporting that strange gauge on his hand. The gauge was glowing ever so slightly, the needle that shouldn’t have moved at all flickering. That gloved hand had a damned spell on it, and though Clara had little experience with magic, even she knew it was a nasty one.
“Likewise,” he said, pulling her hand off his sleeve. He let her jerk her hand back from his grip and calmly finished getting to his feet while Clara flexed her fingers and gave her hand a shake under the table, like that would rid her of the disconcerting sensation. She realized she may have to keep a much closer eye on this pirate than she first thought she would.
“It was a pleasure, Clara.” He gave her a courteous, pointed nod of farewell and turned to face the door. He seemed to catch sight of something and froze.
Clara looked too, curious as to what had stopped him. When she saw four royal soldiers walking into the tavern she was suddenly less disconcerted by his display of magic and more cautiously amused. She heard Gage curse under his breath, a bad turn of this wanted man’s luck from what she saw. Thank the gods it wasn’t her luck.
She chuckled. “Well, that’s just unfortunate.”
About the Author:
A Canadian resident and the youngest of three siblings, Tegan O’Ryan has been an avid writer of poems and short stories since the age of eight, gradually honing her craft by slowly plucking away at each piece. An admirer of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and The Princess Bride by William Goldman, as well as a fervent reader and huge fan of cinema, O’Ryan has a particular affinity for action and adventure stories and the vivid worlds of magic and fantasy novels.
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