“Without a bit of fun, the whole world turns to rot.”
Check out the audio for The Dark Below:
A Capstan Shanty, sung by Evander the Hawk in Book Three of Rogue Elegance
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Print giveaways TBA! In the meantime, keep reading for a sneak peak at Chancey’s resident rebel:
“I’m not here to play games with you, Evander.”
“No?” His voice is strained, but the smile remains plastered to his face. “But they’re so much fun.”
Emerala does her level best to ignore the suggestive glint in his eyes.
“Fine,” she relents. “You’re so fond of games, are you? Let’s play one. The rules are simple. Neither of us can lie. We’re honest with one another from here on out.”
The naked amusement on Evander’s face makes her want to slap him a second time. But he plays along, propping himself against the wall. “Aye, I’ll bite. What’s the prize?”
“There is none,” she retorts, exasperated.
His golden gaze turns sullen. “What’s the point of a game where there’s nothing to win?”
This time, she doesn’t bother to stifle her annoyance. “I’ll tell you whatever dark things you might want to know about me—a truth for a truth. That’s the reward.”
“That’s a trade,” he counters. “Not a game.”
“What are you, a wordsmith? A trade, a game, a negotiation—call it whatever the Dark Below compels you to call it. Those are the rules.” She holds out her palm flat between them, exposing the stark white line of her scar. He’d been the one to poison her back in the frozen wasteland of Ha’Rai’s Frost Forts, she’s surer of it now than ever. “No more lies, Evander. Please.”
“Fine.” His grin widens, his canines catching in the light. He looks far too eager—too keen. “I’ll go first. Truth: you’re a little bit in love with me, even now, and you hate yourself for it.”
She flounders, gaping at him across the shadows. “That’s not how you play.”
“Isn’t it?” He pushes himself off of the wall, coming several steps closer in the dark. The light throws strange shadows across his discolored face, turning him impish in the gloom. “You said ‘a truth for a truth’.”
Her bare heel stubs against a jagged edge of limestone. “I meant we’ll ask one another questions, and the other is obligated to answer truthfully.”
“Aye?” The look in his eyes reminds Emerala of a golden-eyed cat toying with a mouse. They do another two-step, him forward and her backward, and she collides into the cool stone. “I’ll phrase it as a question, then. Are you in love with me?”
Her response is too quick, too sharp. “No.”
He crows, the jubilant laugh ricocheting off the walls. “You’re breaking the rules of your own game, love.”
“It’s the truth. I can’t stand the sight of you, murderer.” She’d meant the delivery to sound barbed, cold. Instead, her voice cracks.
“If you’re going to seek out the company of black-hearted men, you’ll need to adjust your standards.”
She opens her mouth to protest but he beats her to it. “I have another question. Why do you think it is that you’re so drawn to the sea?”
She sputters indignantly. “That has nothing to do with—”
“It has everything to do with this,” he corrects, speaking over her. “The sea is changeable—unpredictable. How many lives do you think she’s swallowed beneath her waves? How many corpses of how many men line the blind depths of her waters? You want a life at sea because you crave the unknown. You like dancing toe to toe with danger.”
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