Broken Bite

The first Tale of the Eight Kingdoms, Undone, is now on early release through Totally Bound! As such, it seems like a good time to give you all a taste of Tighe’s story – enjoy!

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Chapter One

“It’s over between us, whatever it was that we had.”

The Summer air was bright, but the beauty of the day did nothing to soften the words that Tighe had come to say to his lover. Blinking, shaken, Nuala stared back at him with something shimmering in her eyes, maybe almost-tears, not quite. “Tighe, you don’t mean it. You can’t!”

“I do.”

“But I love you!”

“You don’t.” He watched her for a long moment, daring her to speak. She said nothing, and he shrugged, almost smiling. They always say nothing. He reached out to the curve of her cheek. “You might want to or wish you did. You don’t. Why would you say you do when you don’t?” He pulled back his hand and shrugged again. “Goodbye, Nuala.”

“Tighe!”

He walked away and didn’t turn back to face her. She would be watching for him to do just that, for any sign that he would give in and return to her. But I won’t, Nuala. Over between us, he’d said, and he’d meant it. She had come to him years ago seeking the secrets and the strangeness of the son of her mistress, her queen. She had been so sure of her own beauty, her own charm, that she had been laughing and unafraid, at least at first. There had been no worry in her when she’d met his eyes.

She had been unafraid until she had learned the truth. Until she knew what it was he was really seeing, the secret heart of her, essence and echo. Fear had grown from that seed, had hidden a no behind every yes. I saw everything you are, Nuala. Ever since you have been pulling away, and now—

The lie had been in her voice. He hadn’t even needed to look at her to see the truth, but it was right there, right in front of him. The only lie he couldn’t forgive. So now it’s over, and in a day or a month or a year of Summer time, she’ll be healed of me, while I go on forgetting how to forget.

He could keep no one. He would be alone without her, as he had been alone before. I knew it would happen. Already he was missing her. If only there was someone else…but who would bother? He had grown famous in Summer, and for a while it had seemed as if he’d never have a shortage of partners. There were so many eager to try their luck. But luck wasn’t with him—or them.

It occurred to him that it might be time to leave Summer again, wander out of the hidden kingdoms of the west and travel into the gray, to seek some other secret world—the silk lands, the dream lands, the Yaksha kingdom or the ships of the middle sea. But that was running away, and he knew it.

Instead, he walked around the front of the palace, entered the great gates and strode through the gleam of the entrance hall looking for his mother. She was in her throne room, alone in her high seat and smiling. Even when she looked up and saw him she was smiling, not a flicker of distress. It was disturbing.

Not since the first time he had met her, a boy of twelve, had she failed to react to the peering curse of his glance. Now all he saw in her was softness and a loving glow. “I thought you should know. Nuala won’t be happy for a while.”

“You left her? Tighe.” She sighed.

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