Her old way of life ended tragically; Leah hopes her new one won't end the same. The Wrath of Leah, a novella by G. E. Stills. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at:
Leah's home has been burned to the ground and a man she once loved has killed her mother. She is taken to a new world, held captive and tortured by a ruthless sorcerer. Jan helps her escape and takes her to his village. The people there look to her for salvation. How can she, a simple woman from Earth with no special abilities, possibly live up to their expectations?
Word Count: 23500
Pages to Print: 80
Crossing the clearing between her house and the barn where she kept her horses, Leah glanced around. Tall pines surrounded the clearing containing the buildings. Only a slight breeze whispering through the pine needles disturbed the early morning silence. She loved the silence and the solitude her remote location in the mountains provided. The last of the snow had melted away and the first tiny sprigs that would grow to be a riot of beautiful wildflowers had pushed up from the ground to the right of her wooden cabin.
It’s so much different here than in the town fifteen miles away, where I spent my first twenty years.
Leah stepped into her cabin and poured a cup of coffee. As she sat at the table with her hands wrapped around the steaming cup, she thought back to her high school days and specifically, Mike. For two years, they’d dated and made plans for the future, like going to college together. Maybe even living together. Reaching up, she twirled a lock of her chestnut-colored hair, wondering what it would look like next week when she had it cut to off to shoulder length.
Her memories turned once more to Mike. He was an only child and lived with his parents half a mile from her house. She remembered the day as if it had happened yesterday. Mike was supposed to call that Saturday morning and together they would make plans for the senior dance. He didn’t call. By midafternoon, she tired of waiting and called him. The phone rang and rang.
I was worried. He never broke a promise before. The next day, she borrowed her mom’s car and drove to his house. It was vacant. Glancing through the curtainless window, she saw that the room was bare. The front door was unlocked. She strolled through the empty house in disbelief.
She searched, using every means she could think to locate them. Nothing—not a single clue, as if they had dropped off the face of the Earth. She was crushed. The boy who owned her heart had simply vanished.
A few months later, her dad died, killed in a car accident. The two most important men in her life had been ripped away from her in less than six months. She graduated from high school, but delayed entering college. Instead, she moved here to the cabin her parents owned. Pleasant memories from her childhood surrounded her. She begged her mom to come with her, but she refused, remaining behind to work at her job. Her mother, in turn, expressed deep concern that her daughter would be living in the mountains alone.
“I need time to think, to grieve,” Leah explained. “I’ll go to college soon.”
It was still hard for her to fathom—three years had passed. She would be twenty-one next month. She took a sip of coffee. I kept my promise, Mom. I’m enrolled in college. I start this fall.
The crunch of gravel jerked her from her melancholy thoughts and alerted her of visitors. Leah strolled toward the door and answered at the knock. Her mother, Janice, stood framed in the doorway.
“I would’ve called, but I just had to see the expression on your face.”
Leah moved back to let her mother in. “What’s going on, Mom?”
Janice stepped to the side and Leah saw for the first time her mother hadn’t come alone. Her jaw dropped and her knees wobbled when she saw him. His piercing blue eyes, wavy black hair and great physique left no doubt. “Mike?”
“One and the same,” he said.
She wanted to rush into his arms, and at the same time wanted to beat on his chest for never having contacted her over the years.
“I answered the door this morning,” her mother explained, “and there he was.”
Leah stumbled back and sat in her easy chair heavily. “Where have you been?”
“Away! That’s all you can say?”
“Don’t I get a hug and a kiss?”
She wanted to. She wanted to fly into his arms, but at the same time displeasure with his response held her back. “Not until you can give me a better answer for where you’ve been the last three years.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Her displeasure was escalating into anger. He was avoiding her question. “Try me.” Again, she heard the crunch of gravel. Now who?
Car doors slammed and a burly man darkened the doorway. She could see there were two others behind him.
“About time,” Mike snapped.
She glanced at Janice, who looked just as surprised as she felt. She looked up at Mike, waiting for an explanation. His eyes had taken on an iciness that sent a shiver racing through her.
“We got here as quickly as possible, Lothar,” the first man said.
Lothar? Who’s Lothar?
“Is that the bitch?” the man asked, indicating her.
Anger having come to full bloom, Leah sprang to her feet. “I don’t know who you are, but I didn’t invite you into my house and I won’t be called names. Get out! All of you get out. Mike, who are these men?”
He ignored her question. “That’s her, Olaf. The other one is her mother. Secure them both.”
Olaf and one of the men surged at her. The other man angled off toward her mother. Leah fought like a tigress, but the strength and size of the men quickly prevailed. In a short time, plastic ties secured her arms and legs. Olaf ripped a piece from her now-buttonless blouse and shoved it in her mouth, cutting off her swearing. He stood behind her, holding her down in the chair. She glared at Mike for a moment and glanced at her mom. Her arms and legs were also bound.
“We’ll take the witch with us. What about this one?” the man holding her mother asked.
Mike directed his gaze at her. In a voice cold enough to freeze a bonfire, he said, “She’s of no further use. Kill her.”
Leah struggled, attempting to rise, but Olaf held her in place. She watched the third man draw a wicked-looking knife and plunge it into her mother’s heart while holding his hand over her mouth to keep her silent. After twisting it several times, he pulled it free. Leah watched in shock until her mother’s wild bucking and twisting stopped. A spreading stain of blood spread over her green blouse as the older woman twitched. Her head bobbed, and she was gone.
Callously, the man wiped the blade clean on her mother’s clothes.
The gag in her mouth muffled Leah’s choking sobs. Tears stung her eyes. She closed them, attempting in vain to shut out the awful sight of her mother being murdered. Pain lanced through her heart.