This week is Thanksgiving in the US, and it kicks off the holiday season, so I wanted to give you all a gift as thanks for your support throughout the year. And since stories are what I do, your gift is a short story that grew into a short novella instead. 💕
I didn’t plan to write another Books & Broadswords story, but a throwaway line in the first story spawned this idea, and it wouldn’t leave me alone, so here we are, and I hope you enjoy it. :)
This story is twice as long as B&B, about 18k words, and rather than posting the short chapters more often, I’m planning to post slightly longer chunks once a week. Happy reading!
Wading through shin-deep snow all morning had given me plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of plans conceived in the dark, desperate hours before dawn. But I was desperate, so I trudged onward. This would work.
It had to work.
I was wearing two pairs of socks and fur-lined boots, but my toes were starting to go numb by the time the remote manor emerged from the trees. It was hard to pinpoint exactly why, but the dark stone facade felt unwelcoming in a way that made my instincts prickle. Only the brave—or foolish—would approach such a place.
Unfortunately for me, I was both.
I hitched my pack higher on my back and made my way to the entrance. A shiver that had nothing to do with the cold worked its way down my spine, but I hadn’t come this far to turn back now.
My mitten-covered fist barely made a sound on the heavy door, so it didn’t surprise me when no one answered. I knocked again, and again, and then I tried the handle.
The door opened.
“Hello!” I called through the crack. “Is anyone home? I’ve come to barter!”
Resounding silence answered me. I pushed the door open wider and tried again. “I’m just going to wait inside, if that’s okay with you.”
I stomped the snow from my boots and eased through the doorway. It felt wrong to enter someone’s house without an invitation, but for all the place appeared abandoned, it was warm.
The door closed behind me with an ominous thud. I immediately tried the handle again and the door opened. I was not trapped. I let out a slow breath and tried to get my pulse to settle.
“What are you doing in my house?” a deep voice demanded from directly behind me.…