In the Shadow of a Wish
by Maci Aurora
Publication date: April 26th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
In the Kingdom of Kaloma, women are forced to marry by the age of 26. It’s the law.
In the remote village of Sevens, at the northernmost point of the kingdom, there lives an impoverished family with four daughters and a son. Without the means to make love matches, the daughters are trapped by their circumstances.
When one daughter discovers a golden key deep in the Whitling Woods, it may have the power to change everything…
Auri Fareview, practical and realistic, does what she can to serve her family. When she finds a golden key that could be the answer she needs to save her sisters from the unjust Kaloma Marriage Laws, she discovers the treasure might be more than she bargained for. Enchanted, it doesn’t just come with a price attached, it’s also home to an imprisoned god, who wreaks havoc on her body, her heart, and her soul. And those aren’t practical matters. He has the power to break her.
Nixus Uraiahs has lost track of how long he’s been imprisoned by the spell on the key. There have been six key-keepers, all of whom have failed to break the spell to free him, and Nix knows he’s the reason why they haven’t. So, he will hold this 7th key-keeper accountable to the bargain of the spell: three wishes and a price for each. There’s no hope in her freeing him, however. Nix knows she’ll be like all the key-keepers who came before her. Except Auri approaches her wishes differently than any of the others, and Nix begins to see her as more than just a key-keeper. She intrigues him, proving her strength, surprising him, and enchanting him. Though he’s entrapped by the enchantment placed on the key, Nix realizes his heart is at risk of being captured by the seventh key-keeper. That is a risk he can’t afford to take knowing his villainy is just a single wish away.
“The Spelled Ribbon”
“You love your family?”
“Fervently.” She started walking again.
He knew he shouldn’t but asked anyway, “Would you tell me about them?” He followed her, a few steps behind.
“What would you like to know?”
Everything, he thought, but didn’t give it the substance of his voice. “Your parents?”
“Scarlett and Tomas Fareview.”
“They must be amazing.”
“Why would you say that.”
Flustered, Nix turned to smell a flower. “Well…” He stretched the sound, trying to find a reason that didn’t start with because you’re amazing, which would sound like a lie, and ended up saying, “You are unique.”
She grinned. “Unique. I like it. Yes. They are amazing. They met, fell in love, and settled in Sevens. That’s the village where we live.”
“You smile when you talk about them.”
“Well, they are… my life,” she said and continued walking. “I have three older sisters. Jessamine is the oldest, then Tarley and Brinna.” She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. It was a different kind of smile, unguarded. He could see it was because she was talking about her family. “Then me. And I have one brother, Mattias. He’s the youngest.”
“And how old is Mattias as the youngest?”
He considered the state of her skirt and boots when he’d met her. “And you all live together in Sevens?”
“How old is your oldest sister?”
“And no one has left?” Nix thought this strange.
She shook her head and continued walking. “It isn’t because we are opposed to the idea, but with respect to marriage, none of us want anything less than what our parents have. Our parents adore one another. The other factor is that living in Sevens—and my parents’ refusal to leave it—has made it difficult to meet anyone and to make a living to find the means to leave.” She stopped under an archway where peach roses grew over to the other side, reaching out to touch one.
Nixus noticed a red ribbon tied around her wrist. It would have seemed an insignificant trifle, except it was wrapped with a swirl of golden magic. “What is this?” He reached out and touched the ribbon with a finger. The magic kissed his skin with a warm caress. Positive magic as opposed to the alternative, which heightened Nix’s curiosity.
Auri looked surprised by his touch, her eyes jumping from where he’d touched her to his face. That blush he liked worked its own magic against her skin, and she grabbed ahold of her wrist. “This? A gift from my mother. Just a ribbon. She gave each of us one.” She paused, then added, “We don’t have a lot of extra, not with seven of us. It’s just a ribbon–”
“It appears to be more than that–”
She tilted her head, and her brows bunched. “What do you mean?”
Nix could tell she didn’t know it was spelled, and just by looking at it, he couldn’t tell what it was for. As far as he knew, Auri’s mother had taken it to a local witch who’d cast a protection spell for each of her children. He didn’t remark on the magic and instead said, “It’s obviously very important to you. That makes it a very special ribbon.”
She smiled, looking away, and twisted the ribbon around her wrist. “Yes. You’re right.” She started back down the path.
Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.
Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.
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