READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Starlight: A Starlight Chronicles Novella, by P.S. Malcom
Happy Sunday, Parliament Patrons and holiday ghouls! Today, you can read the first two chapters of P.S. Malcolm's upcoming novella, STARLIGHT—book 1.5 of the Starlight Chronicles series!
Starlight, by P.S. Malcolm
A treaty upholds the peaceful lands of Ersarence— who have suffered from the spilt blood of their humble goddess, Titania, which stains the hands of the ruthless Urenphians. Julian Rancewood— a small town delivery boy— wishes he could afford to save his dying mother. He never imagined a larger life for himself until he meets Adrina Hesfetter, the village seamstress's daughter. After striking a deal with the elusive King's advisor and joining the royal army, he finds himself helping to search for a missing, unknown heir. Against all odds, Adrina and Julian soon meet again within the palace walls. When Julian discovers Adrina’s fire magic— an impossibility among non-royals— they uncover a scandalous secret that will cause whispers of a Urenphian rebellion to travel through the kingdom. A thirst for revenge and a passionate romance causes the two villagers to set the events in motion which will bring down the entire Starlight Kingdom. A Starlight Chronicles Novella.
I grabbed my worn jacket from the stand and did my
best to pat out the creases. There were poor stitches every‐
where from various holes I'd tried to mend over the years, and I desperately needed a new one—but replacing any of my clothes was also my last priority right now.
Looking over my shoulder across the cramped single room I
shared with my mother, I said, “I expect to be home just before
My mother shakily sat up in her bed, the light brown sheets
gathered around her. My eyes widened with alarm.
“Don't get up—you must rest!” I nearly shouted, reaching
out to stop her and crossing the room in a couple of quick steps.
I gently coaxed her to lie back down, and she patted my arm
with her frail hands. Her blue eyes crinkled as she broke into a
“Oh Julian—my sweet boy, don’t you fuss over me,” she
replied sternly. “Don't you come home with that ghastly medi‐
cine either, you know it won't do any good!"
I grimaced, but said nothing. Mother was always telling me not to spend my hard earned coin on herbs—that they could be put to better use. There was very little money to begin within
our household and meals were scarce between us. She was
always insisting that I needed to eat more and that my bones
would grow weak and cause problems for my job as a delivery
boy; but being a delivery boy didn't require a lot of strength, as
it was rare that I ever handled a small package, let alone a heavy
one. I handled mostly letters, really.
“Just get well, Mother,” I said as I took a step back. I could
see the disappointment in her eyes—we both knew I would
come home with a pocket full of nothing but lint and a vial of
bitter tonic that only delayed the inevitable, but didn’t quell the
pain or illness entirely.
We had yet to 5nd a cure for my mother's sickness; none of
the healers in our village fully understood what was wrong
with her—and we certainly didn’t have the money for them to
spend time 5guring it out. Every day she grew weaker, her
cough grew worse, and her skin grew tighter around her frail
bones. She could barely stomach a single meal these days—
broth was about all she could keep down.
“I put some leftover broth on the bench in case you get
hungry. I'll be back soon,” I promised, and squeezed her hand
reassuringly before heading out of our creaky front door. With
a parchment in one hand 5lled with delivery instructions and a
sack slung over my other shoulder, I made my way down the
street and into the bustling village.
The village seemed livelier than usual, which was
odd because there was no special occasion in occurrence, nor
were there any reason for the excessive increase in people. I
passed many travelers: noblemen and even soldiers among the usual crowd of the township. As I passed them all I couldn't
help but wonder why they were all here. I managed to thread
through them, crossing the busiest square in our little commu‐
nity to get to the sellers stall I sought.
No matter how many orders I had, or if I had an important
nobleman waiting on me, I never did anything until I got my
mother's medicine from the local healer. The tonic he brewed
contained ginger, honey and thyme—as well as a rare 9ower
called a rochashe which sourced from the riverplains south of
here—and it was the only thing that seemed to be slowing the
e:ects of my mother's illness.
She used to be so lively before she fell ill—selling hand‐
made jams at this very same market and always telling me
bedtime stories. The smell of her cooking used to 5ll our house,
and I missed it terribly. Nowadays, she spent most of her time
resting, 5ghting fevers, chest pains and a horrendous cough that
left her weak and struggling to breathe.
Most of my pay from work went towards paying for this
medicine—and though I knew she wouldn't ever return to that
lively person she'd once been, I would do anything to keep her
alive for as long as I could.
Leon, the healer, was waiting as per usual. Our agreement
was that I would pay half price for the tonic and a quarter
percentage for the ingredients—he knew of my dire situation,
and I stopped by regularly enough that the arrangement had
worked out. As long as I paid on time, he would reserve the
herbs for the tonic. Otherwise, they went towards other medi‐
cines for other customers.
Leon's services were always in demand, and he was too
cheap to seek a scavenger, so if I didn't reserve the ingredients
in time I would have to go without the tonic, and I couldn't
a:ord to let that happen.
“Good morning, Julian,” he greeted, tipping his head at me.
“Here you go.” He held out a clear vial with a milky liquid kept
within. He handed the vial to me as I began to 5sh out the coin
from my pocket. He cleared his throat, and I paused to look at
him again. His eyes seemed . . .hesitant.
“Listen Julian,” he began, his eyes turned toward the
ground. “I have to tell you something . . . there is a competing
healer in the next town, and he's been attracting lots of busi‐
ness. I'm going to need to raise my prices to keep business going
—and I wanted to let you know in advance, seeing as . . .”
His voice trailed o:, eyeing the tonic and my hand-counted
coins. My blood ran cold, and I stood there like a statue for
several, just staring at the merchant.
“You can't be serious,” I said with my jaws clenched tightly
together, my expression twisting into a glare. “I'm a regular . .
.can't you make just one exception?”
He grimaced, turning his eyes back toward me. “I have a lot
of regulars, Julian. If I make an exception for you, everyone else
will start to complain and demand I make exceptions for them,"
he replied. His tone was apologetic, but it did nothing to
change my feelings. My 5st clenched—more out of frustration
than anything else, and sheer horror ran through my veins.
How would I a:ord to pay for the tonic? I barely made
enough as it was—I would have to 5nd more clients. Or 5nd
another job, but such was much easier said than done.
“I'm sorry, Julian. I sincerely hope you can 5gure something
out,” he said, pushing the tonic towards me. “There's a little
extra tonic in the vial today, to make up for it. I know how
important this is to you—”
I cut him o: by slamming the coins onto the counter.
“Forget it,” I muttered, turning my back on him. Nearby
customers glanced my way, but I ignored them as well as I
pocketed the tonic and turned away.
Whatever relatively good mood I'd been in when I left the
house had completely shattered to utter despair. The very
thought of how many orders were waiting for me today 5lled
me with dread. No matter how quickly I completed them, it
wouldn't make a di:erence. I would be paid the same, and I
would return home with not nearly enough payment to save my
My mother was dying.
I needed to save her.
I'd been so consumed in my thoughts as I stormed across
the square that I didn't see the angel until my chest smacked
into his. Stumbling backwards, I shook my dazed head and
spotted a re5ned royal army uniform—not polished silver
5ghting armor; but a proper, tailored uniform with medals.
Panic rushed through me.
I could only assume he was somebody important. Perhaps a
commander. Angels weren't seen very often around here—as
part of the royal army, they were always tending to their own
duties and business. Though I'd spotted a few once or twice
passing through, I'd never seen one so close—or interacted with
one for that matter.
His wings had 9ittered slightly as he swiftly regained
balance, though he'd barely stumbled in comparison to myself,
and I was left sheepishly ducking my head in apology as he
frowned at me.
“My apologies, I wasn't watching my step,” I said quickly.
He grimaced, then shook his head.
“No harm done,” he replied, eyeing me thoughtfully. His
blonde hair gleamed in the sunlight, which wasn't unusual.
Most angels gleamed or glowed in some way. He turned his
back on me and crossed to the front of a store. Stopping in front
of a wooden post, he began to hammer a notice into it. I
watched him curiously, then looked around the square at the
many travelers and nobles once more.
Another thought occurred to me—was there a ball being
planned at the palace? It didn't happen often, but it wasn’t an
impossibility. If there were such an event, it would explain the
increase in travelers and nobles passing through—not to
mention the soldiers. If there was a ball, that would be exactly
what I needed to make more money. Balls meant clothes—fancy
clothes. Which meant special, tailored orders and fast deliver‐
ies. More and more people would be looking for delivery boys—
and more deliveries is exactly what I needed right now.
The angel 5nally 5nished nailing the notice to the post and
moved onto his next spot a way down the cobblestone pathway,
thus allowing me to step closer to the post and read it.
Attention to all citizens.
The royal court is seeking new recruits for the
general army to protect the royal family in regards to a
special, upcoming occasion. Anyone who wishes to join
will be granted immediate training, and a large sum of
money for the families of all members. Those who do
well will be o!ered extended work after the course of the
event, and will be prioritized for better training, the
opportunity to receive promotions, and protection of
their families in any immediate emergency.
Please contact your nearest guard o"cer to register
Andrew Kingston, Commander of the Royal Army.
I reread the notice multiple times, thinking it over
Recruits? I highly doubted I was suited for such a thing. I could carry parcels, but wielding a sword was another thing
Still... they were oering money, and payment from the
royal family themselves had to be decent enough.
I was still heavily debating the notice after I'd walked away
to start my daily deliveries. It 9oated in my mind as I went stall
to stall, collecting parcels and goods that many nobles and
households were waiting on. Once my sack was full, I trekked
to the fancier neighborhoods and gated estates to deliver all the goods—passing them along to servants and maids in most
instances, and collecting new orders for the following day. It
continued like this as I made my way down the list, the sun
moving through the sky above me. Finally, as a late afternoon
sunset shifted the blue sky to red and pink, I reached my 5nal
The Carston Household—or rather, Sir Edward Carston
himself. He had placed an order for a shirt with an unfamiliar
seamstress. I frowned tried to 5gure out where this new seam‐
stress was. I ended up having to walk back to the village square
and ask around, but it appeared that very few other people had
heard of this seamstress.
Finally, I spoke to an elderly woman at the fruit stall who
knew who I was talking about.
“Oh, Seamstress Hesfetter,” she said brightly. “Oh yes,
she's quite talented. But rarely heard of—she specializes in
garments and clothing for the royals and their wonderful occa‐
sions. She works from her residence in the middle-class neigh‐
The elderly lady pointed me in the right direction, and I
thanked her before hurrying on my way. With luck, I could
pick up the shirt from the seamstress and have it delivered back
to Sir Carston before sundown, which might put some extra
coin in my pocket for tomorrow.
Once I knew where to go, I found the Hesfetter household
quite easily. There was a wooden sign hanging out the front
with Hesfetter Embroidery elegantly carved into it. It very
nearly blended in with all the other woodwork, but luckily I
knew to look out for signs of a shop, so I'd spotted it.
I approached the house. It was double story, with potted
plants out front, and a nicer front door than most households in
the middle-class neighborhoods usually had. I wasn't sure
whether to knock or not, but I caught a glance of a shop-like
interior through the window and decided to just enter. Pushing
the door open, a bell tinkered above me.
From behind the counter, a young girl looked up, and our
I was immediately trans5xed.
She was beautiful. Her brown hair was pulled into a loose
bun, and her green shirt bought out the color in her emerald
“Good day, Sir,” she greeted politely, standing. “How may I
I quickly regained my composure, straightening my stance.
“Yes, er—I'm here to pick up an order for House Carston.”
Her eyes lit up with recognition.
“Ah, yes! Just a moment, I'll grab it,” she said, and disap‐
peared into a room behind her. I stared at the place where
she'd disappeared for a few moments, rather entranced in the
memory of her beauty, before 5nally shaking o: the thought.
Swallowing hard, I examined the shop whilst waiting for her
to return.. There were display materials on one side of the
room, along with samples of thread. On the other were
completed shirts and gowns, robes and pants, all in various
styles and sizes. Each and every one of them was more beau‐
tiful than the last, with intricate detailing and delicately sewn
She returned with a large package wrapped in brown
“Will that be all today?” she asked, and I nodded.
“Wonderful,” she beamed. “Well, I hope it's to his liking.”
I nodded again. I couldn't seem to form words, and she let
out a single, awkward laugh as I stood there. I quickly tore my
gaze away from her as I felt the blood 9ow to my face.
“Thank you. Good day,” I said in a rush, moving quickly
towards the door. It wasn’t until I was outside once more that I
managed to focus. I could still hear the bell above the door
tinkling in my ears as I stood in the street, clutching the
What was wrong with me?
I began making my way towards Sir Carston's residence.
Seeing the sun continue to fall down, I knew I didn't have time
to waste. Thoughts of my poor, sick mother swam back into my
head. I thought of the posted army recruitment letter again—
just for a moment—but it felt like an unreachable dream. I
disregarded the thought.
In that moment, the delivery was all that mattered.
I arrived at the Carston Estate just before
sundown as I had hoped. I was escorted inside by their house‐
keeper who took the package from me.
“Very good. The master has been waiting for this,” she said
5rmly, scurrying down the hall to pass it along. I waited in their
foyer, which was stunning as always. The walls were made of
marble, and the 9oors were polished. It looked like the palace—
or at least, what I envisioned the palace to look like. I'd never
set foot near the palace, let alone inside, but I knew it certainly
didn't look like the tiny wooden shack I shared with my mother.
The housekeeper returned moments later, wearing a grim
expression. I knew before she'd even spoken to me that some‐
thing was not right.
“My deepest apologies, Julian . . . it seems the master has no
need for your services any longer. He's asked me to dismiss
My stomach dropped.
“I beg your pardon?” I replied, eyes wide. This can't be
happening. Forget the extra coin I somehow needed to come up
with—if I lost the Carston’s as a client, I wouldn't even be able
to eat! He was my highest paying client.
“Surely this is a mistake . . . may I ask why? Have I done
She glanced down the hallway nervously, then nodded,
dropping her tone.
“I understand this is not your fault, but it appears the shirt
you just delivered was for an important dinner tomorrow night
at the palace, and it's the wrong size. Sir Carston is quite . . .
particular and he doesn't handle imperfections well. It
appeared that since you delivered it, you were the most appro‐
priate person for him to blame, and so . . .”
She trailed o:. She didn't need to 5nish—I already under‐
stood what had happened. Anger boiled in my veins. This was
unfair. I had done my job properly, and yet I was being
punished. I hadn't made the shirt—it had been that unfamiliar
Gritting my teeth, I forced a weak smile at the housekeeper.
“Of course. I understand,” I said quietly. “If there is
nothing else, I guess I will take my leave.”
She gave me an apologetic nod.
“Take care, Julian.”
I stormed out of the house, my patience wearing thin. First
the medicine, and now this? I was at a loss for what to do as I
searched for who to place the blame on . . . none of this had
been my fault!
As I was exiting the estate gates, it occurred to me what I
could do to remedy this, and I decided I had no choice. In my
desperation to save my mother and rage against both the unfa‐
miliar seamstress and Sir Carston, I began my journey back to
I'd just ceased folding a stack of shirts when the
door burst open, the bell tinkering rapidly, and the man from
earlier stormed into the shop. His brown hair was tousled, as if
he'd been in a rush, and his cheeks seemed red with anger.
An unfamiliar chill ran through me, and I sucked in a
“Uh, greetings again. May I help you—?”
He stomped towards me, until he was mere inches from
where I stood, and glared at me.
“You,” he growled angrily. “You costed me my job! The
shirt I retrieved earlier was the wrong size!”
My eyes widened with alarm. Nothing like this had ever
happened before, and I was at a loss for how to handle it. For
starters, I didn't usually even run the shop—I mostly worked
out the back, organizing the threads and fabrics and helping
Mother with smaller tasks. She was the main seamstress. But at
the anger on the man's face, and the accusations he was making,
it seemed I had been the one to mess up.
“I—I—” I stammered, a million thoughts raced through my
mind. Mother would kill me if she found out I'd screwed up an
order, or taken an order, for that matter. I'd just wanted to help,
and it had sounded simple enough. I'd been practicing my
sewing too, and I was so con3dent in my ability to complete the
order, but she'd be back later this evening, and not only had I
messed up a noble's order, but I had an angry delivery boy
almost assaulting me in the shop.
“Please,” I breathed 3nally, sheer fear seizing hold of me. I
lost all my resolve and burst into tears. How was I going to 3x
Embarrassment washed through me as I desperately tried
to hide the tears as I wiped furiously at my eyes. When I 3nally
blinked the sudden outburst away, the man was no longer
glaring at me. He seemed sheepish, shrinking back from me
slightly with his hands clasped together.
“Are . . . are you okay?” he asked tentatively. “I'm sorry,
sometimes my frustration gets the better of me. I didn't mean to
scare you—I've just had a really, really tough day.”
I grimaced, pulling myself together and wrapping my arms
around my torso.
“I'm 3ne,” I replied sti4y. “I'm so sorry that I have caused
you such trouble. I can remake the shirt, if it pleases your
“He's not my . . .” he trailed o5 with a sigh. “Well, never
mind. It doesn't matter now.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why did you come here then?”
He sighed again and ran a hand through his hair.
“I don't know. I guess I just needed someone to blame, or
someone to place my frustrations onto. It's been tough lately . . .
and you messed up the order . . . but there's nothing to be done
now anyway. I've already been dismissed, and even if I deliv‐
ered a new shirt it wouldn't change anything.”
I paused for a moment, trying to think of a way to help the
man, but if he wouldn't take the shirt . . .
“How about I return the coin paid for the shirt?” I asked
3nally. It seemed like the best solution—the man had lost his
job, and I had clearly lost a customer, perhaps even caused
harm to our reputation. If I got rid of the money, maybe Mother
wouldn't notice the missing fabric, wouldn't hear of the
mistaken order, and I wouldn't have to explain myself. It made
sense that the man should receive the coin as compensation for
The man seemed taken aback.
“I . . . I couldn't . . .” he said slowly, but I could see in his
eyes how hard it was for him to refuse, how desperately he
wanted to say yes.
“Please, I insist,” I said, already moving to retrieve it from
my work station. I counted out the pieces and slid them over
the counter for him, nodding for him to take them. He hesi‐
tated, but 3nally, he did as I had asked.
“Thank you,” he said, sounding genuinely grateful as he
pocketed the pieces.
“It's no trouble at all,” I replied, then tilted my head
slightly. “I'm Adrina, by the way.”
He smiled a little.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Adrina. I'm Julian.”
He o5ered me his hand, and upon handing him mine, he
gently kissed it. A light blush heated my cheeks despite how
common of a gesture it was to greet acquaintances this way. My
skin seemed to tingle where his lips had grazed my skin.
He ran a hand through his brown hair. “I apologize again
for my behavior earlier. I was angry and acted out of line. I
should have just communicated that there had been a mistake
in the order.”
“It's 3ne.” I shook my head. “I would be upset too, so I understand,” I replied, peering around him. The sky was very
dark outside and nervousness began to 3ll my gut. “I hate to
lose your company, but my mother will be home soon. I'm
supposed to have the shop closed . . .”
His eyes widened.
“Oh, of course!” he said quickly, nodding. “Well, I wish you
well, Adrina. Perhaps we will cross paths again.
I smiled a little. “Perhaps.” I replied, walking him to the
door. He gave me a 3nal nod before bidding me farewell and
heading back out onto the street. I closed the door behind him
and secured the lock. I moved from the main shop to the back
storeroom, proceeding up the staircase to the second story
where my family lived.
My father had just 3nished cooking a chicken roast—he
was a better cook than Mother, but we never admitted it
because it would only infuriate her. I secretly loved the days
when Mother had to run errands and Father cooked instead.
I'd once tried cooking once as a young girl, when both
mother and father had been out working. I didn't know how to
start a 3re, but I didn't need to. My methods had been . . .
di!erent. However, the results had been disastrous. I'd covered
up the scorched pans—which had melded together—by
dumping them down a block down the street and let my
parents believe they had misplaced them.
I hadn't attempted to cook since.
“Good evening, Adrina,” Father greeted, the scents of
vegetables and meat following him as he carried the roast across
the room to our small, wooden dining table. Fresh 7owers sat in
a vase in the center, and a clean tablecloth had been placed.
Mother was picky.
“It looks good,” I replied, referring to all of it. I went to
wash up in the basin just as I heard the back door open and the
sound of scu4ing from downstairs. Mother had returned. I
could picture her clunking her muddy boots together just
outside the door, and moments later, the staircase began to
I quickly dipped my hands in the lavender water basin,
dried them, and returned to the table just as she was sitting
“Adrina,” she greeted, her wild brown hair a mess around
her face. She did her best to tame it, running her 3ngers
through it as Father began to slice and divvy the roast among
the three of us.
“Hello Mother,” I replied brightly, taking a seat beside her.
“How was the journey to the palace?”
She scowled, turning up her nose.
“Dreadful, as per usual,” she replied, grabbing her cutlery
and digging in before Father had even 3nished serving her. She
must have been starving from the journey. Even my stomach
rumbled after working all day, and I began eating eagerly as
well. The chicken was warm and 7avorsome in my mouth,with
a savoury taste and a hint of herbs.
“Did your horse give you trouble again?” Father asked.
Mother always borrowed a horse from the village stables.
“No, the journey was 3ne—well, except for being long and
exhausting, as always. However, it took me longer to take the
Queen's orders up at the palace because it was unexpectedly
busy—lots of nobles arriving and extra angels patrolling. They
must be planning a large event, though what it might be
My eyes widened. Perhaps it was a ball? There hadn’t
been one since before I was born, but when the reigning King
Sebastian and Queen Guinevere 3rst met, it was at the King's
courting ball. He'd been a prince back then, of course—
Father had told me stories in my childhood, of the lights and
the music, the decadent food. I'd always dreamed of
attending a royal ball myself one day. It sounded so
“Oh, banish that look, Adrina,” Mother growled coldly at
me, and my hopeful eyes dropped back to my pate. “The royals
are no better than you or I. They sit up there all day in their
opulent palace, pretending as if they hold the wellbeing of this
kingdom close to their heart. If that is so, why are there people
starving on the streets? If only Titania were still here to pull
them back in line.”
A cold feeling ran through me at the thought of what had
happened to Titania—our goddess, slain by the Urenphian god
Shade. It was the reason our kingdom had banished their kind
to another realm. Ever since, things had been peaceful . . . but I
suppose mother was right about those starving. Banishment
hadn't solved every problem our kingdom had.
I frowned, thinking back to Julian for a split second. I
supposed he didn't make a lot of coin as a delivery boy—espe‐
cially if he'd been so panicked over losing a client.
Our family, on the other hand, was lucky. I'd always been
grateful for my mother's gift of sewing, her shop, and all the
business we received.
Still, even if Mother had a point about the poorer villagers,
surely she couldn't despise the royals over such a small thing?
Not that it was an insigni3cant problem by any means, but
considering what it took to run an entire kingdom . . .they were
doing well, to my understanding. There had to be more behind
my mother's loathing.
“Why do you hate them so much, Mother?” I asked.
Father choked on his chicken.
“Adrina,” he coughed. “You mustn't say such things so
lightly aloud—if someone had overheard . . .”
I frowned at him.
“Who would overhear?” I asked, gesturing to our otherwise
“I'm just saying, if we were in public . . .” he said, dropping
his voice and giving me a stern look. “We can't a5ord to bring
that kind of attention to ourselves. It's unsightly. Your mother is
already bad enough at hiding her disapproval for them—”
“Jamie!” Mother scowled, but he ignored her glare.
“You act as if they would throw us in jail.” I rolled my eyes.
“It's not like we're starting a rebellion.”
“Words like that are all it takes to start one,” Father warned
darkly, sending shivers down my spine. “You of all people
should not be at the forefront of that.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Jamie!” Mother hissed sharply, and my father recoiled
slightly. A sudden tension 3lled the air, as if a forbidden subject
had just been breached.
I stared, wide eyed, back and forth between my parents, but
neither met my gaze. Neither one made an attempt to explain
what Father had meant. Instead, Father cleared his throat and
returned to his chicken, as if to indicate the discussion was over.
Without missing a beat Mother swiftly changed the subject.
“So, Adrina, how was the store in my absence?”
I went red before I could stop myself, and a scowl appeared
on Mother's face once more.
“The store is 3ne,” I said rather quickly, tearing my eyes
away. I knew she could read the guilt all over my face, and she
made a noise of disapproval.
“What did you do?” she asked 3rmly causing me to shrink
down into my seat.
I hesitated before answering, but I could feel Mother’s
glare digging deep into me.
“I . . . may have taken an order for someone and made a
shirt for them,” I replied carefully.
Usually, when Mother was away, I was to take orders but inform the customer of a delay, then wait for Mother to return
and work on them herself.
“You attempted an order by yourself?” Mother asked. Even
Father was staring at me now, eyes wide with shock. He knew
how protective Mother was about the shop.
“I . . . messed up a shirt,” I confessed, letting my eyes fall to
“Adrina Elaina Hesfetter!” The words shrilled throughout
the entire house. I wanted to cover my ears.
“I'm sorry!” I stammered quickly, but Mother was already
red in the face.
“How dare you try such a thing!” she cried. “Do you know
how damaging this could be for our reputation? Do you know
how lucky you are to be working in that shop with me and not
out in some forge or some bar, being run o5 your feet and cat-
called by dirty old men?”
“I know, I'm sorry,” I replied weakly, fumbling with my
hands in my lap. “It's just that I'd been practicing, and I
“Don't ever do that again,” Mother said thinly. “Do you
hear me, Adrina? You will only ever work on orders when I
allow it. You are not ready yet—am I clear?”
I nodded meekly. I knew she would react this way. All I'd
wanted was to impress her, and I'd failed—like I always did.
“Good,” she hu5ed, crossing her arms and shaking her
head. “Well, we're going to need more fabric if that’s the case.
Heavens know how much you've wasted in your venturing
downstairs . . . I'll need you to go to the stall tomorrow and buy
some more for me.”
“Yes, Mother,” I promised, eager to get back into Mother's
good graces. She nodded curtly, then o5ered me one last glance
—where she seemed to study me more intently than usual—
before excusing herself for the evening and retiring to her room.