My first solo novel, Ein, is a fantasy novel about a mid-caste girl whose life is turned on its ear. As Einan is reaching the end of her religious education she is confronted with the choice of what to do with her future. Before she can decide, Einan is mistaken for someone else and kidnapped.
Ein is a story about motherhood, love, the struggle between good and evil, and the ongoing sexual lives of women after becoming parents.
Genre: Fantasy. Erotic scenes.
In love with a girl from school and the man hired to torture her, Einan is sent reeling when she thinks them dead. Destitute, she finds herself responsible for protecting children left uncared for in the wake of the Cedesian War.
Poor children are disappearing all over the city. While struggling to keep them safe, Ein accidentally sparks a rebellion. Will love find her again in the chaos, or will she die a martyr?
Warning: Dark themes, kink.
I awoke to noise and light. Voices barked words I didn’t understand. Rough hands forced me into a wooden chair and I was bound with ropes that cut into my skin. I shut my mouth hard as bile rose.
Pale men were everywhere – six…eight? I shook with fear and the residual cold from outdoors. Cedesians. Tales of their dark magic rose to mind, unbidden. I caught a stray fume of the drug they had used on me and I gagged. Twice I swallowed back the foul mess, but then I lost control and vomited, mostly missing my clothing but making a mess of the floor. Several men cried out in disgust. A blow connected and my head snapped to the side. I whimpered my fear and pain. My usual bravery had been left in Seraiya’s bed. Seraiya. The memory of hearing her cry out made my heart falter.
What did they want from me? I focused on the sea of middle-aged men with milky skin and yellow hair. They wore the nose rings of Cedesian soldiers. All of them regarded me with hard-eyed glares that threatened brutality. Young girls, alone, got raped – that’s what my mother had taught me. They weren’t looking at me like that though, were they? How would I know?
In contrast to the frightening men, the room was cozy, with pretty carpeting and fine décor. It made for an unlikely prison and reminded me of the home where I had grown up, before the trading routes became complicated. A fire crackled in the nearby hearth and a tidy kitchen was visible from where I was tied. Although the room was obviously the living quarters of a modestly affluent family, its conventionality made the situation more sinister. Like evil had found me in my own house. I could imagine a tidy housewife being surprised to find us in her sitting room.
Would they avoid making me bleed, to spare the carpeting? I stifled a sick laugh.
The odor of the drug swept over me again, making my stomach roil. I drifted in and out of consciousness as the men took turns yelling at me.
Yoel, help me.
Through the haze I vaguely recall babbling that I didn’t understand them – that I wasn’t trying to be difficult. The ropes hurt. The fog was lifting. I began to imagine the ways they would kill me. I gave up trying to communicate and stared at the candleholder that hung from the ceiling above me. Not a trace of dust. The candles were burning low and hot wax dripped on my face and shoulders from time to time. The noise eventually stopped. There was a commotion that sounded like a door opening and greetings in Cedez. I knew that much of the language, at least.
So tired. I gathered some energy and hazarded a glance. A young man I had not yet seen was staring down at me with amused eyes. His dark brown hair and rosy complexion gave me hope that this one, at least, would speak proper Gutrian.
“Hello, little one,” he drawled, smiling slowly.
Stupidly, I was so relieved that he spoke my language, I almost smiled back at him. Almost.
My world burst in a blaze of stars – he’d slapped me. My face burned. When he followed the slap with untying me, fear tightened my limbs. A cruel hand tangled in my hair, he yanked me to my feet and dragged me through the house and down a set of stairs.
The candle he’d brought revealed a cellar. However, instead of food stores, there was only a low table and chair, and an old mattress against the wall.
Before I had a chance to gather my wits, he’d rebound my wrists and attached the rope to a hook in the ceiling. The wide sleeves of my nightshirt pooled around my shoulders. In consternation I realized that in this position the hem of the shirt barely covered my bottom. I felt horribly vulnerable, nauseous and cold. I couldn’t think of a way to get free. My arms and face hurt. A large number of the men had crowded into the room, their cold eyes trained on me. There was a pitiful whimpering in the room, and I clamped my jaws shut when I realized it was me.
The Gutrian man looked surprised I’d stopped.
Knowing it was futile, I tugged at the ropes as though they might give way. My bare feet were aching with the cold oozing up from dirt floor and I shifted from foot to foot, trying to get warm. The men had stopped addressing me, but spoke animatedly among themselves. I wished I knew what they were saying, or maybe I was better off not knowing.
After at least an hour, exhausted, I began to hang painfully from my arms as long as I could to rest my legs. I let my head hang down, tangled hair obscuring my vision. I prayed to Yoel, even knowing that there were likely many people that needed Her more, right then. I was too tired to be unselfish. Tears leaked from my eyes, and streamed down my cheeks to dribble onto my neck.
What felt like hours after that, the tenor of the voices changed then quieted. A big hand came to my hair and jerked my head back. I squeezed my eyes closed and thought a silent prayer as I cowered from a blow…that never landed. I peeked.
The young man who had slapped me was studying me. The others had left the room. We were almost of an age. I avoided his eyes, looking instead at his chest. He was a powerfully built man with a stocky frame, about a head taller than me if we both stood flat-footed. His presence and air of command made him seem much larger. How dare he try to intimidate a small, helpless girl? Men like this were what was wrong with Gutria. I glared at him. His expression moved quickly from cold detachment to bemusement. Then his impersonal mask fell back into place and he gave his head a vague shake.
What was I doing? Stupid. This wasn’t a game. This man could rape or murder me, or both. I regarded him again from the veil of my lashes, shrinking back as far as my hair in his grasped allowed.
He asked me a question in a big, growling voice. His bright blue eyes were piercing. Heat emanated from his body. This was the closest I’d ever been to a strange man and I wasn’t decent. Handsome wasn’t a quality I would have wished for in a captor. It was confusing. One often thought of evil as being ugly. Beautiful evil was almost an affront to every story I’d been told as a child. I could tell he was used to menacing people. I tried to ignore the stirring of arousal – what was wrong with me? There was no saying what he might do. We were alone.
“I don’t understand you,” I whispered.