Hello, Dear Readers! I have been busy on the homefront as most are at this time of year. Putting in the fall garden, launching into the homeschool season with four kiddos, and a spate of illness and injury in my usually healthy family. Nevertheless, I have sneaked time with Book 4 and 5, filling in those plot holes and building a cohesive, satisfying conclusion to Valor and Erianna's tale in book 4, and Trent and his lady in book 5. (Have I yet mentioned that book 5 is written from the perspectives of Trent and his lady? If not, surprise!)
I thank you all for showing my books love these past months and telling your friends to read them. All three books are now available on Kindle Unlimited, and I'm pleased to report that as of today, a record of 10k+ pages have been read across the series! By my calculations, that translates to 30 books read (a record for my beloved series)! Thank you, thank you.
As a small treat, I'm sharing the Prologue to the next book. As we have all hoped for her, though still working through the emotions of the past year, Erianna is in a much better place and looking forward to things ahead by putting things in the past to rest...
By E. L. Cross
© Erin L. Cross 2021. All rights reserved.
✦ Prologue ✦
Strands of hair whip across my face as I stand at the foot of Leer’s grave. I take my time this morning, lingering in the mists that hover over the snowy ground. I thought that today would undo me. I already told Lorennt that I needed the day to myself. But as I stand over the graves, I only feel a sadness for what was lost and what could have been. I do not lay in the dirt or plead with the Almighty to reunite me with them as I did days after Leer’s funeral.
I breathe deep the morning air, letting my sadness be felt to its fullest. But there is less depth to it than there once was. I feel like I have lost some of the woman that I was when I was married to Leer. I am not all of that version of myself anymore. Leer’s wife has faded too.
The woman I am in this moment is tied to the land of the living. My gaze drifts away from the graveyard back to the castle. The elaborate structure with its robust walls and fanciful spires beckons me inside to greet the new day among my friends.
The chasm has grown so wide between Leer, Illyanna and I that holding on to the past no longer makes sense. I am grasping at memories that cannot be with me in the present.
It is time to let go.
I walk between their graves for the last time and make my final goodbyes. The memories that were once bright feel dull compared to the life around me. When I woke in the middle of last night, I sought the Almighty. I was completely honest and entrusted Him with all that I was thinking and feeling. After a time, my words ran out. I became still. He did not reveal all of my steps like I hoped, but He showed me the next one. And I have perfect peace about it.
It is time.
The castle is just stirring awake when I return. Servants move about the great hall preparing it for the day. I take my breakfast in my room leaving the courtly responsibilities to Lorennt.
The first step in letting go will be the hardest. My rooms are a shrine to Leer and Illyanna. Everything is exactly as it was the day Leer and I left for the coast.
But I cannot live like this anymore.
I know the bedroom will be the easiest, so that is where I begin. There is nothing much in here I want to bring with me. It all evokes memories of Leer. This was his room before it was ours, and in spite of many playful threats to him, I never made good on redecorating it from the austere style he preferred. I toss my favorite pillow from the bed into a trunk in the foyer. That is all.
Moving into the parlor is much more difficult. I shed a few tears over the chess board still missing some pieces. I forgot where I hid them. But the chess board will stay. I refuse to recreate this space in my new room. Illyanna’s empty cradle sits in a corner near the brazier. The table near the couch holds the book Leer was reading. One of my hair ribbons marks the page he left off on. I vaguely remember him reading to me those last few days. When I read the sentences on that page I hear his voice. I lift the worn leather cover on the book once more, but force myself to close it. To let go.
The bookshelf is mine through and through. Half the volumes on it I stole from Valor’s room. I stack the piles of books into the trunk and drag the shelf to the foyer. I collect an assortment of other random things from the parlor and add them to the pile.
The dressing room is the hardest.
I take my time sorting through our belongings. Leer’s clothing, some I embellished for him, provokes more memories than I can rightly keep at bay. I sit down in the middle of the room holding his red tunic, letting it all wash over me.
Nev finds me huddled on the floor in a teary mess. “I came to see how you fare. Lorennt said you had trunks sent up.”
“I am moving into my old room down the hall. It is time,” I tell her, reminding myself for the hundredth time today, though with less certainty than I felt earlier.
“That seems wise. Would you like some help?”
I shake my head. “I thank you, but this is something I need to do.”
Nev strokes my head, then lowers herself to the floor simply being with me so that I do not have to face this task alone.
Finally, I resume packing. It is necessary. My heart has known for awhile what it wants, though out of respect for my family and Leer, I shall still comport myself as his widow. But deep down, I have let him go and anxiously await the return of another.