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Earlier this year I reviewed Amber Argyle's Witch Song, and since I especially liked the first chapter of the book, I thought I would give you a little excerpt of it...
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Brusenna's straw-colored hair felt as hot as a sun-baked rock. She was sticky with sweat that trickled down her spine and made her simple dress cling to her. Her every instinct urged her to run from the glares that stung like angry wasps. She had already put off her trip to the market for too long.
The merchant finished wrapping the spools of thread in crinkling brown paper. "Twelve upice," Bommer said sourly.
A ridiculous price, no doubt made worse by the drought. Had Brusenna been anyone else, she could have bartered it down to half that. Even though the villagers only suspected, it was enough. Careful not to touch her, the man's hand swallowed the coins she dropped in it. She wondered what marvelous things he ate to flesh out his skin that way. Things like the honey-sweetened cakes she could still smell in her clothes long after she'd left the marketplace.
As Bommer mumbled and counted his money, Brusenna gathered the packages tightly to her chest and hurried away. She hadn't gone five steps when a heavy hand clamped down on her shoulder. Fear shot through her veins like a thousand nettles. Here, no one ever touched her.
With a wince, she craned her neck back to see the merchant looming over her. "You tryin' to cheat me, chanter?"
This close, the smell of his stale body odor hit her hard. She swallowed the urge to gag. Her mind worked furiously. She'd counted twice. "I gave you twelve," she managed.
He yanked her around, grabbing her other arm and bringing her face next to his. She cringed as his large paunch pressed against her. Somewhere, a baby squalled. "You think I can't count?"
Brusenna tried to answer, but her mouth locked up. She should have been more careful. She should have stayed until he had finished counting her coins, but she had been too eager to escape. He shook her, his dirty nails digging into her skin. Her packages tumbled from her hands and hit the ground.
Taking shallow breaths and arching away from him, she squirmed, desperate to be free. "Please," she said, finally finding her voice. "Let me go!"
He laughed, his eyes gleaming with pleasure. "No, I don't think so. Not this time. You know what the punishment is for stealing?"
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Make sure to keep an eye out this month - I just may have a giveaway coming that includes this book...