A fae marriage is binding… but what if Stella doesn’t remember marrying them?
Traveling on the orphan bus for months after the war took her parents, Stella would give anything for a home, and when she’s finally picked, she thinks she’s found a place to call her own.
At school, she’s one of many from the orphan bus, and she’s determined to make a go of it, but all too soon she’s a pawn in a game with too many players, all of whom covet her for their own selfish reasons, not for who she is.
This fae town has forgotten secrets, and Stella is one of them. Now that she’s resurfaced, the guys she married as a child want her back even as they resent her for upending their plans. Left behind years ago, she was safe, but now she’s a weakness they can’t afford and a love interest they don’t want.
So when she’s offered an out, Stella must decide. Cut all ties with the guys she married and walk away? Or take her place in the Starbound Court as Consort and fight at the side of guys she can’t stand?
♥”Orphan Lost” is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance. This novel is a Slow Burn due to the age of the protagonist. A relationship with multiple love interests will develop over a planned series.♥
The Texas summer sun was harsh and high in the sky but, tucked into the shade of the trees that overhung my school’s playground equipment, I was protected from the searing heat. The reading nook I’d created, in behind the screened-off base of the big climbing frame had become my hideout, a place where I could curl up with an exciting graphic novel or daydream for hours, comfortably hidden away from the world. So far, I was well on my way to achieving my goal of reading every ElfQuest issue again over the summer, relishing Cutter and Leetah’s courtship and wishing for the day when that type of courtship would be mine.
When footsteps sounded on the sand on the other side of the big climbing frame, I sat perfectly still, and held my breath. I had worked out how to avoid being discovered. Every now and then someone would cut through the schoolyard to get down to the beach. If I didn’t want my reading time being interrupted, I just had to keep quiet and wait for them to keep going. Except this time, they didn’t.
Some teenage guys were talking, their voices low and heated.
“You don’t even know her,” one protested, voice cracking. “She’s, like, four years older than you.”
A second voice, deeper and morose. “I told you. It’s an arranged marriage thing. Mom negotiated with her family; that’s why we’re here, to sign the contracts.”
I leaned forward, my long braid brushing against the wooden frame as I tilted my head to hear better, graphic novels and elven realms forgotten. An arranged marriage? Did they actually happen in real life? I had to admit it; I was a snoop. And a sucker for a chance to hear about the real thing.
A third voice broke in, hot-tempered, pitched high with youth and emotion, “The whole thing’s insane! We need to think of some way you can get out of it. Like, if you get married to someone else first. That would stop the arranged marriage from going ahead.”
The glum voice scoffed. “Sure! But I’ll still be married, and I’ll still have to look at that person every day for the rest of eternity. I don’t want to get married. Not yet, at least.”
As I listened, totally invested in the drama of it all, there was a noise from the platform above me and something fell from it, dropping onto my shoulder. I jerked, shaking my arm violently and hoping it was only a spider, even as I strained to hear more. Whatever it was fell onto my pants, and I caught a glimpse of a raised tail.
I squealed, leaping away on my hands and knees, scattering all my books and sending the comics flying. Texas had the worst creepy crawlies I’d seen in all the places we’d lived. And military brats see a lot. I twisted around and scuttled backwards away from where I’d been sitting, heaving a few breaths in and out in reaction. Once I’d double checked that it was gone, I let out a deep breath and leaned back on my arms, letting my legs relax straight out in front of me, thankful I hadn’t been stung. Then I realized the talking had stopped. There was the sound of sand grating on metal above me, then a teenaged boy dropped down from the equipment, landing beside me in a crouch before standing up to rock back onto his heels and stare down at me, crossing his arms.
I stared back.
He was cute, albeit in a gangly, unfinished way, his dark skin contrasting with his unusual eyes: one was green and the other was blue. His hair was tamed in a series of tight braids, the ends curling under his ears, glinting with beads.
“Scorpion,” I blurted out, flushing and looking down at my ragged denim-covered knees. I picked at one of the holes, well-earned by climbing a particularly recalcitrant grapefruit tree. How was I supposed to have known grapefruit trees had thorns?
“Were you listening in on us?” he asked, leaning closer, although he didn’t sound particularly angry. When he spoke, I could tell that this was the glum one, the one facing an arranged marriage. I tilted my head to look sideways up at him, but before I could answer, sand was kicked up as three other guys ran around from the other side of the climbing frame and surrounded me, their postures aggressive.
“I wasn’t planning to,” I mumbled, looking down after darting a glance at the others. I didn’t dare look up again, just blushed harder than I’d ever blushed before. They were older, 14 or 15 maybe, and all of them were cute. “I’ve been here for hours.”
One of the guys, wild-haired and with bright blue eyes, knelt and started gathering up my comics and books. “You could have said something,” he chided.
I fell to my hands and knees and scrambled to gather the rest of my things myself, before he could reach them. “I was hoping you’d leave,” I muttered at him.
“Truth,” one of the other guys said, his voice breaking again.
“Huh,” said the glum guy, putting his hands on his hips and squaring his stance. “Well, if you were listening, do you have any ideas about what we were talking about? About how I can get out of this marriage? You’re human: what would you do if this was you?”
A shiver ran up my spine, but I shot him a side glare. “Human? So are you.”
He shook his head, braids brushing his jaw. “No. We’re fae.”
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