Title: OF NIGHT AND STONE
Category/Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 95,000
My main character would prefer to live in:
There’s an unending winter inside of me. Dead sticks of my soul that once were green. And so I turn my face to the sun, raise my cheeks to the heat, and pray for the thaw to come. For my soul to blossom again. I chase the summertime, the hot nights and fireworks, the lush trees and cool water, sunsets of fire, and lazy days filled with sweet memories of you. It was always summer when you were here. And so here I’ll stay, to worship the sun.
When seventeen-year-old Elisabeth Pierce lays her mother’s ashes to rest amidst Bell Hall’s centuries of dust, she’s determined to honor her mother’s final wish to leave the crumbling castle undisturbed forever — even though her fanatical historian father has other plans. Convinced the castle is the final resting place for England’s infamous Lost Princes, he begins a massive excavation on the grounds. Elisabeth wants nothing to do with her father’s quest — until a skittering echo from deep within the castle walls leads her to a hidden tunnel… and Bell Hall’s darkest secret.
Deep beneath the castle, Richard of York, Lost Prince of England, has lived frozen in time for 500 years, bewitched to remain in darkness until his stolen kingdom is restored. Elisabeth can’t give Richard his kingdom, but she can try to free him from his spellbound prison. If only he’d let her. Even as their secret friendship blooms into something more, Richard refuses to attempt escape, for fear of breaking the spell and perishing in the world of light.
As her father digs closer to unearthing England’s greatest secret, Elisabeth must find a way to rescue an unwilling Richard from his prison of night — betraying her mother’s last wishes to leave Bell Hall undisturbed — or abandon Richard in the darkness, destroying his future, and her heart, forever.
First 250 words:
England. Present Day.
Every stone in this damn castle looks the same. The walls practically crumble beneath my touch as I trip down the corridor, my dying phone a flicker against the darkness. Too bad GPS can’t help me now.
Words carved in the stone whisper at the stroke of my fingertips, the hiss of forgotten history. I should have stayed in bed. But a dim glow edging the stained glass had woken me, hinting of daylight, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Because today is the day.
Six hundred years of stagnant air catches in my throat as I rush through the gloom, the corridor stretching on like the Grand Canyon. Cold sweat beads in the deep scar that slicks along my hairline, dripping like blood, and memories best locked away ooze into the shadows with me.
Blood and flame and nighttime sky. Her hand, so still.
My feet falter in the darkness. I lean my cheek against the powdery stone, breathe in its dank perfume. Those memories don’t belong here. I’d crossed an ocean to leave them behind, to lay her to rest. To help her find peace at last.
My phone dips, its weak light dropping onto the small wooden box clutched in my other arm. Oval-shaped and carved into a blooming rose on top. Too light to believe there’s anything in it at all.
“You’re home, Momma,” I whisper to the box.
After all this time… I’m here without her.
And I can’t find a damn light switch.