Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)
"They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken."
Viola, a child sold to pay her father's debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves' trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.
The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman's rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.
What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?
"Are you sure you're doing it right, Seven?"
Seven scrunched her face, concentrating hard. "I'm doing it just like he showed us, Three. See?" She attempted to snatch the purse.
Three patted the oversized waistcoat Master Velvet had given him.
"I could still feel it. So you're doing something wrong."
Frustration mounting, Seven tried again, doing exactly as Master Velvet had taught them. Walk toward the mark. Bump into him. Dip two fingers into his pocket to hook the purse. Apologize to the mark and touch him with my free hand. Hide the purse in my palm and hurry away.
He shook his head. "That time, too. I can feel you pulling the purse out when you move away. Maybe you need to do it faster."
"I can't do it faster, Three. Not yet, at least." Seven clenched her fists in frustration.
He held up a hand. "It's okay, Seven. Give it time. You'll get it."
"Here." She threw him the bulging, cloth-stuffed purse. "Let me try again." Even as she tugged the purse free, the look on Three's face told her she'd failed.
Her friend shrugged. "Still felt it."
Seven ground her teeth. Master Velvet said this is supposed to be easy. So why can't I get it right?
Three tugged the vest over his head. "Let's give the bump a break for a moment." He pulled a dun-colored cloak around his shoulders. "What say we give the snatch a try?"
Seven nodded. The snatch required timing and dexterity, but she'd grown adept at it. She walked toward Three, brushed against his cloak, and lifted the purse from the hidden pocket, all without breaking stride.
Three's eyes widened. "Damn, Seven. I didn't feel a thing!"
She beamed. "Well, at least there's one thing I'm good at."
Master Velvet strode up behind her and took her small, muddy hands. "You've got good finger-work, tyro." He ran his calloused hands over her fingers. "They're quick and nimble. With the right training, you could become quite the purse collector."
"Thank you, Master Velvet." She flushed at his praise. It was the first full compliment she'd ever heard pass his lips.
"Keep it up, Seven. Three." With a nod, he moved to the next pair of tyros.
Three slapped her on the shoulder. "Look at that! You're getting there."
"Yeah. Now if only I could get the bump down properly." She held out her arms. "Here, give me the vest and cloak. You've got to practice, too."
As Three passed her the clothing, Twelve's shout echoed through the Menagerie. "Damn it! You're doing it wrong, you stupid sack of shite."
Two met Twelve's glare without a trace of fear. "How in the Keeper's name can I be doing it wrong, Twelve?" Two was taller than Twelve, though not as broad. "I'm standing here in this vest. You’re supposed to be pulling the damned purse."
"Well…" Twelve faltered, his face reddening. With a snarl, he threw the purse in Two's face and stormed off.
Three snorted. "Looks like he's not doing much better than you are, Seven."
Seven glared at her friend. "That's not saying much for me, you know. With those fat sausage fingers, he can barely fit his hands in the pocket."
"There you go." He gave her a broad grin. "You've got the advantage, at least over him. Just give it time and you'll get better at it."
She rolled her eyes. "Well, let's see how good you are."
"I'll bet you a peach I can do the bump better than you."
"Creative, gritty, and beautifully dark...fantasy addicts will love it!" -- Peter Story, author of Things Grak Hates -- http://peterjstory.com/
"The fantasy world has a compelling new antihero…the Hunter will terrify and captivate you." - Eve A Floriste, author of Fresh Cut
I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist--words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I'm also a freelance writer, abook lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.
Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle--it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!