A Soul Reclaimed
By Shayna Grissom
Publication Date: April 1st 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Hell is divided into seven regions. The first region is designated for the purest of souls, the seventh is for the evilest. There was once a king of Hell, but the steward family has ruled for centuries.
Nora, the stepdaughter of the steward is undone when her mother and step-father take away her beloved tutor, Peter. When Nora confronts the steward and her mother, the discussion is heated and ends with the steward in inexplicable pain.
Shortly after, Nora finds herself in the Starry Wood. Peter told her of the perils within the forest, and it’s not long before the inhabitants of the wood find her.
A giant hunter named Aegis comes to Nora’s aid. He is drawn to Nora, compelled to protect her from the steward’s assassins, the giants, and the evil souls who escape the seventh region.
Together, they travel the seven layers of Hell to discover why the steward is so threatened by a teenage girl.
He assumed the corset was the culprit of my breathing problems and tried to remove it. At first, he attempted to untie it, but when the laces didn't free me from the stills, he resorted to breaking the strings. Being free of the corset helped some, but it didn't stop the hyperventilation.
A knock at the cabin door only made things worse for Aegis. "Hello, this is the second mate, Mr. Torres. Is everything all right in there?"
Aegis opened the door and brought the man in. "I can't get her to stop doing that," he said in a panic.
"What were you doing to her?" the man accused.
"What?" Aegis realized what the man thought. I was half dressed and hysterical.
"No, I didn't touch her—I thought the corset was hurting her. She was upset and started making that noise, and I didn't know what to do."
Mr. Torres swung into action. He stepped into the bathroom and produced a bag. Aegis watched him suspiciously as he held it over my mouth and nose. After several inhalations, I could breathe normally. Working intermittently with the bag, I caught my breath. The pounding in my temples was so loud all I could do was close my eyes and shield myself from daylight.
Aegis sighed in relief. "Thank you so much. I didn't know what to do." The second mate seemed confused by that statement. "You've never seen her hyperventilate? Are you newly married?"
"No, not married—I'm her escort," Aegis said.
Mr. Torres didn't seem convinced.
"I am employed by her family to take her to the third region to stay with her aunt. Normally, her mother accompanies us, but her mother was sick."
The second mate approached my bed and kneeled on the floor beside me. "Miss, is it as he says?"
"I'm so sorry," I said. "I've never done that before. It's as he says. Aegis would never do anything to hurt me."
Mr. Torres nodded in satisfaction. "It's all right. I have six girls at home, so it's an everyday occurrence in my house."
I laughed despite the looming exhaustion. "That sounds like great fun. I don't have any siblings."
"Oh, well, you're welcome to pay us a visit. Our house is the one that everyone avoids in the fourth region."
"I thought that was Abigail's bed and breakfast," I teased.
Mr. Torres laughed. "We are Abigail's ugly stepchild. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
I shook my head.
"All right. If you need me, I'll be on deck," he said.
Aegis showed the man out while thanking him profusely. He closed the door and rested his head against it. For all his worry of trackers and outlanders, it must never have occurred to him that his biggest battle would be to protect me from myself.
Shayna Grissom was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She currently resides in Seattle with her husband, two children, and her beloved pets. Shayna draws inspiration for her writings from binge-watching too many shows with far too much wine. She is a lover of the macabre, the strange, natural sciences, and films that feature vivid colors and imagery. Her favorite film director is Guillermo Del Toro, and her favorite books growing up were Anne Rice novels.
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