Sunday, October 11, 2015
The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster
The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster
Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope…
If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith.
Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar.
Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind?
Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart.
It could kill her.
My eyelids refused to part. It was as though someone had knitted them together. The ground was hard beneath my back and cold. Drawing a shallow breath, I lifted a hand. My fingers brushed smooth flesh over hard muscles. Shock pried my lids apart. Blinking rapidly, I looked around. Thick gray fog sat on the market like a soggy, unwashed blanket.
“You should run before this fog clears,” said an urgent voice.
I spun, so quickly that my neck crunched. A tall hunter knelt beside me, his thickly muscled shoulders straining against his cloak. His feathered hood fell to the tip of his nose. Unsightly scars formed a cruel beard across his cheeks. Despite their ugliness, I reached for his hood.
The tall hunter jerked to his feet like a spring had shot up beneath him. “What part of run don’t you understand?”
I scooted back. Hunters did not show mercy. A few could be bribed to turn a blind eye, but most believed too strongly in their duty to bargain. That duty was to see to it that the exiles remained loyal to Celo, the ruler of Aramith. Celo had stripped our ancestors of their immortal birthright and condemned their souls to human flesh for joining his brother, Charr, in a failed rebellion.
“Did my Mom send you?” I said. “Forget your mom. Rose isn’t leaving here alive. Lefu wants her dead, today.” Rage washed over me, snuffing out fear. I scrambled to my feet. “Tell my dad if he wants Mom dead to come do it himself.” His full lips twitched. “Joshua said you were stubborn. He did not say you were stupid.” My bones turned to jelly. “Joshua sent you?”
“Yes, to bind your hands and feet.” Hope curdled inside me like sour milk. I took a step back, opening my eyes wide to ward off tears. “Then why are you telling me to run?” “Think of it as a friendly gesture.” “No one who bears the Hunter’s mark is my friend. All you and the exiles want is to see me dead so you can receive your precious immortal birthright.” The tall hunter closed the distance between us. My stomach dropped as he hedged me in with broad shoulders, but I craned my neck until my head touched my back. He shifted his head upward, but not before I spotted gray pupils. They were a beautiful, soft gray that left me strangely lightheaded. “If I’m not a friend, then what am I?” he said. “I—I’m not sure.” “And yet here you stand, arguing. At this rate, you’ll have to cast another fog just to get to the gate.”
I blinked. “I can’t cast fog.” “I know. I just figured you’d gotten your hands on some whillio root.” “I don’t even know what that is,” I said. “Maybe ... Joshua did it. He is hydrokinetic.”
The tall hunter’s lips tipped in disapproval, revealing blunt white teeth. “Your love
for that idiot is going to put you on Azure’s altar with a dagger through the heart.” I lifted my chin. “Trusting you could do the same.” “True, but I’m not asking you to trust me. I am asking you to run, which you seem completely incapable of doing. Your legs do work, right?” “They work just fine, you—” “Hush!” The tall hunter’s head swiveled to the left and then to the right as quick as a whip. I started to speak, but he pressed a long tanned finger to my lips. “Run,” he said through clenched teeth.
Without waiting to see if I would obey, he walked away. Fear poked holes in my bladder as he stepped into the thick fog. My throbbing bladder almost gave out when a snarling voice close by let out a curse. I dropped to my hands and knees.
Kerr-Ann Dempster lives in Michigan where she is often found with her nose in a book, knee-deep in snow, and online fan-girling over fictional characters and fellow authors. She is a graduate of Loyola University, Chicago where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. After working in Visual Communications and as a Flight Attendant, Kerr-Ann decided that life was best spent being happy. With that in mind, she published her first novel, Beneath Scarlett Valley, in August 2014. She then published her second novel, The Reluctant Sacrifice, in August 2015.
To learn more about Kerr-Ann, connect with her on: Instagram (author.kerr), Twitter (@annk3rr), Facebook and Goodreads. If you live in Michigan, you may also find her in line at Moomers purchasing homemade ice cream.