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by Diana Razif

Book One of the Death’s Bride trilogy

Copyright 2012 byDiana Razif. Published at Smashwords.

Chapter 1

Death’s Bride. The words echoed through Serah’s head like a taunt as the wrought iron gate clanged shut behind her. Every year, the town’s council sat down with all the families and determined who could spare their eldest virgin daughter, but only this year did Serah fear what her parents might say. Her slippers crunched against the dead grass, bristly like her father’s stubble, and the wind flicked her cloak back from her shoulders. Only this year did she realize just what danger she was in. But as she looked upon the face of Castle Grodin, at the far end of the winding trail—turrets dwarfed by the mountains at its back—she felt no fear. Only a smothering sadness.

Serah tugged her cloak back around her, her soft skin unprepared for winter’s sudden bite. After Mama’s illness, after Papa began spending his every evening at the tavern, she suspected that the purse buried under the floorboards had lightened too far. She offered to work in their neighbors’ fields, but Papa would have none of it. Her soft hands were worth too much to him, he’d said; she should have known then what price he sought. Not a dowry to golden-haired Tomas, or any other of the scruffy boys that wandered the town, hauling hay and watching her for far too long when she strode past, but the greatest price. The price of a Death’s Bride.

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