Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Twenty-four year old book worm and blogger Zoe Graves was looking forward to the fourth and final instalment of her favourite book saga – The Augustin Chronicles. The evening was meant to be spent in line at the local bookstore with hundreds of other fans, getting the book, maybe even meeting the author, and ultimately spending the night with the dreamiest hero of them all, Lucien de Forest and the love of his life Noomi Augustin.
But somewhere someone thought otherwise.
Confused and hurt after a mugging by the bookstore, Zoe is somehow transported to another world, and suddenly finds herself in a snow-covered landscape witnessing a bloody fight far away from the English summer, and is left to rely on the help from the rather reluctant Matis, who just happen to be out to kill none other than Zoe’s favourite hero and heroine, Lucien and Noomi.
Although convinced she might be in some sort of limbo or maybe even in a coma, Zoe figures that her role in the story is to prevent Matis from killing her all-time favourite fictional couple.
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His eyes were dark, so very dark, and the equally dark hair, although some of it was braided, didn’t look girly or weird at all. Well, maybe a little weird, seeing as men like him usually only existed in the fantasy books Zoe read and not in the real world. She gaped at the sort of Mohawk the tight braids along the sides of his head and the loose hair on top created.
He squinted. “Stop following me,” he said, practically biting at her. “I don’t have time to save odd damsels in distress.” He picked up a couple of dead rabbits from the ground, turned back around and walked away.
Zoe didn’t move. She could hardly feel her feet anymore. “But what about your cloak?” she yelled after him. “Don’t you need it?”
“Keep it.” He waved a hand in the air and kept up a determined walk on the path that led up to the top of a small hill.
Behind Zoe there was a small piece of forestland. Although she couldn’t be sure, she didn’t imagine anyone lived there. Besides, she wasn’t going back to those dead soldiers, not even to just walk past them. She couldn’t stomach the smell. Everywhere she looked, all that she saw were big black mountains far away in the horizon and the big orangey white sky sending down all that snow.
It was then that Zoe realised that she’d continued her pursuit of the man. She didn’t have any choice really. She’d never been much of an outdoor person, and she wouldn’t last an hour under these conditions.
“You’re still following me,” the man suddenly said. His back was still turned, but he had stopped at the top of the hill. “Even if you’re keeping your distance, you are still following me.” He turned his head and looked at her over his shoulder. “Like a damn cat,” he added, sending her a tired glance.
“But maybe my home is in that direction,” Zoe argued. She was out of breath and her dry throat was killing her. “You did tell me to go home. Maybe that is what I’m doing?”
“But it isn’t, though, is it? You said you were lost.”
“Why won’t you help me?” She’d finally climbed the hill, panting like she was completely out of shape, which she actually wasn’t thanks to Jason. Down there, by the foot of the hill, there was a small cluster of houses that didn’t exactly warrant the description of a village. It was just a few houses pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Wherever that was?
The man glanced at her casually and then suddenly did a double take. The brow curled up and suddenly without any warning, he grabbed her cheeks with both hands and tilted back her head.
Zoe tried to pull away, but found that she didn’t have the strength to fight. Instead, she felt a burning sensation behind her eyes, the very eyes that the man kept staring into.
“Your eyes are green?” he said, looking at her accusingly.
She didn’t know how to respond to that. Her nostrils flared and the cold tore at the insides of her nose. What she wouldn’t give for some warm clothes, a roaring fireplace and some hot chocolate. Oh, and that man out of her face. There was a strange familiar charm to his face, but still, he was a cold-blooded killer who was staring at her funnily.
“Is that a common thing where you’re from?” He let go of her while eyeing her suspiciously.
“I-I guess it’s not that uncommon. Why?”
He shook his head. “What’s your name?” He turned around and started to walk down the hill as if he didn’t really care about the answer to his question. But he kept peering back over his shoulder, his eyes squinted, exuding something resembling surprise.
“Zoe. What’s yours?” She followed him, feeling accepted somehow, and it was such a relief that her chin started to wobble.
He nodded and then stopped peering over his shoulder. “I’m Matis,” he said.
Zoe swallowed and fought hard to keep the tears at bay. “It’s nice to meet you, Matis.”
He stopped abruptly and turned. “Is that it?” he said. But before Zoe had a chance to say anything, he made a low grumbling sound, something resembling an ironic scoff, and then continued marching away.
Zoe was confused. “Um, does that mean you’ll help me?” She had to yell it after him, his long strides making the gap between them grow quickly.
“I’ll get you thawed up,” he yelled back, sounding annoyed again. “And get you into some other clothes, something a bit more seasonally appropriate.”
“Oh my god, you don’t know how happy that makes me.”
“You do know that I’m a killer, don’t you? You saw me kill those soldiers. If I were you, I wouldn’t be so fast to rejoice.”
“It’s either death by you or by hypothermia, and I figured you’d have killed me by now if you wanted to.”
Matis scoffed and then shrugged as if she had a point.
“Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m already dead and in some sort of purgatory or limbo. Or maybe I’ve just lost my mind.”
“Wonderful,” Matis exclaimed sarcastically, apparently not really paying too much attention to her. Zoe couldn’t be sure, but he actually seemed offended somehow.
Introvert, creative, awkward.
Neel Kay lives with her husband and two kids in rural surroundings in the south of Denmark, not far from the German border. She’s a trained milliner, studied English at university, and now works a day job as a web editor. But she’s been writing always.
Love coffee, scarves and sea views. Oh, and butt-kicking heroines who know how to swing a sword and aren’t afraid to get a little dirty.