A rebellion is rising. Her religion outlawed. As the Persians revolt against their Median overlords, seventeen-year-old Āmitis’s father attempts to betroth her to the ruthless High King of Media—Astyages—and offers her beloved desert province as a second capital. With the power to take or give life with the touch of her hand, Āmitis has the ability and desire to save herself and her people. Even if it means usurping rule from her tyrannical father to align herself with the rebellion.
As Astyages and Cyrus prepare for war, Āmitis and her people are caught in the middle. To stop the war from starting within her city, Āmitis pledges allegiance to Astyages in a dangerous, bloody plan of deception to either kill, or deliver, Astyages into Cyrus’s hands. Diving into war when summoned into the empire beyond and proving her loyalty while keeping her true intentions secret could costs the lives of those around her. Her growing feelings for Cyrus complicate her plan. If she doesn’t succeed, looming ahead may be not only her and Cyrus’s death, but the destruction of two empires ravaged by war.
The future began and ended with dreams.
Astyages, High King of Media, dreamed his daughter urinated so much it flooded his kingdom. He called for his Magi and they interpreted his dream: Her son would overthrow him. So, he married Mandane off to a Prince of Persia, whom Astyages ruled over, to keep his empire safe.
A year later, Astyages was again visited by a troubling dream.
A vine had sprung from his daughter’s womb and enveloped his empire, and that of all of Asia. Fear crept into his heart, for by this time Mandane was already with child. Horrified, he sent for her. She returned with her husband, now King of Persia, and her infant son. A great celebration ensued for the birth of Cyrus.
In secret, Astyages commanded his general to steal Cyrus away and kill him.
Ten Years Later:
Late Spring 562 B.C.
Pain shot across Āmitis’s bruised thigh and she bit back a yelp. She scowled at the curved, wooden blade in her instructor’s hand as the desert sun beat down. His long shadow stretched out and swallowed her whole. It was like a scorpion fighting a camel. Although it had a poisonous sting, it would do little to a large animal—if it wasn’t trampled first.
“Why must I fight you?” Sweat dripped from Āmitis’s dark hair and streaked through the coat of grime on her cheeks. “They get to fight each other.”
She pointed to the other side of the sand-filled, oval training courtyard where the other seven-year-old girls and boys sparred. Their wooden blades smashed together. The rapid thuds bounced off the towering walls of mud-straw and sun-dried brick.
Malach glanced over and she brushed away stinging tears. Āmitis had lost count of how many times the practice akinaka struck her. She hadn’t hit him once that day. She wanted to become the best soldier, but couldn’t see how when she only fought Malach.
Her grip tightened on the hilt. Maybe while he’s not looking…he did say to take every opportunity to strike, no matter how small.
His dark gaze returned.
Āmitis gulped and wondered if he knew what she’d been thinking.
Malach ran his fingers through his mud-brown hair, kept back by a twisted red headband. “Tell me, Āmitis, where are your brothers?”
The words bit harder than the whack of the mock blade. As if she could forget. Āmitis mumbled, “Dead.”
Born the bastard daughter of a Duke and his mistress, Jas’s mother passed her off as a boy so he’d pay for the best education. But after sixteen years, Jas is tired of the façade. But starting over in America where she can live as a female and free of her father’s name requires fast money. A lot of it. In her last stint as a boy, Jas joins her Uncle Blackbeard’s pirate crew.
She knew they were sailing for uncharted waters, but when conniving Tinker Bell strands their ship in Never Never Land, it brings changes and desires she wasn’t prepared for. It’s when a flying boy stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned knife her priorities change. Instead of treasure and a new life, it’s a cure and fairy dust to return home.
Determined to save her Uncle, Jas sets out for the island. When she and her men are captured by Peter and the Lost Boys, all seems lost until a native girl, Tiger Lily, frees Jas and offers to help. In exchange, she and the pirates must leave and never return. The girls’ dangerous journey unexpectedly leads to friendship. But there’s something Jas cannot deny—she’s falling in love with Tiger Lily and no longer wants to leave.
As talk of war between the Indians and pirates brews, Jas and Tiger Lily race to find the antidote amid interference of a psychotic Peter. Jealousy drives Jas and Peter towards their final battle and love that will tear Never Never Land apart. To survive and save the people she loves, Jas must become the pirate she was meant to be.
February 1718 – 48.95° N 6.7° E
The long bandage squeezes my breasts but I pull it tighter—until the binding digs in and pinches my skin. I’ve become used to the daily ritual, but I’ll never like it. After tucking the end of the long strip of linen in, I run my hands over my chest to make sure it’s smooth and flat. I sigh and frown at the two small slopes above a narrow waist and curved hips. My pale skin glows in contrast to the dim light of the cabin. I wish I could be tan like the rest of the crew: sun kissed and free. The ship creaks, mocking my frustration.
I sigh and resign myself to accept what will never change.
“Where did that ribbon run off to?” I pull back my tangled mess of hair as I glance around the room. Various shades of dull earth-tones stare back. Although boring and plain in here, life aboard the ship is anything but.
With the vibrant, red ribbon nowhere to be seen, I yank back the blankest on the bed.
Nothing. I stomp my foot, let out a low groan and drop to my knees to search the floorboards. The chill of the wooden plans soaks into my hands to remind me of the cold outside. My room on the quarter deck is no bigger than a matchbox, yet I’ve misplaced my last ribbon once again. Shoving up and sitting on my heels, my face scrunches. It could be anywhere.
What in the world was I doing? I know I had it last night…Ah ha! I spring up and bound to the door adjoining the Captain’s quarters and yank it open. Bright light pours through the bay windows spanning the width of the ship. The rays stretch across the room and highlight the table covered in nautical and star charts. The frayed, crimson ribbon lays on top and signals like a lighthouse to approaching ships at sea.