Hallie Delaroe would much rather curl up with a good book than go on dangerous adventures. And romance? No, thank you. So she's less than thrilled when she starts hearing the voice of Sayune, a mysterious fae, begging for her help escaping from the Horrid Witch's prison. With her long-latent magic powers awakening, Hallie is the only one who can see or hear Sayune — but can she trust him?
I've known L.C. Ireland for several years now. In 2018, we co-organized an anthology of clean fantasy novellas that had disabled protagonists called A Different Kind of Hero. When I decided to organize this bundle, including a book of hers was a no-brainer. All of her books are wonderful. – Emily Martha Sorensen
"Delta thinks she is prepared to do whatever it takes to save her family but when she makes a bargain with the Witch, she must give up her soul as collateral and kill someone in order to get it back. Poor, sweet Delta gets three days to complete her task but can she really go through with it? She wants to save her family but will she be able to live with spilling innocent blood? Can you compare the value of one life against another? Just when I thought I knew where the book was going, I was thrown for a loop. Twice."– Amazon review
"Awesome read. Well written with a great plot and characters. I was engrossed from start to finish. There are elements of magic, romance, humour and adventure. The world building is fantastic. I loved Horrid, the first book in the series, and I think this one [Harbor] is better yet! Each book continues the story of the Delaroe sisters and the secrets they discover in the world around them."– Amazon review
"You are clever to have found me," the witch said. "I will consider a deal. Fortunately, you have something I want very much indeed."
My heart fluttered nervously. Could she tell that I had a ruby in my pocket? Was that what she wanted?
"You have a soul."
"That's an awfully high price to pay."
She wanted my soul? Forget this. I should run. But what would happen if I did? She might have killed me before I crossed the threshold. Or, worse, she could have just let me run and waited for her curse to kill me at midnight like it had killed my sisters. If I didn't stop her, the curse would claim my other three sisters, as well. Were their lives worth my soul?
"I have come to make a deal," I said again.
"A deal," the old hag chuckled. "Deals happen to be my specialty. What is it you want from me in exchange for your soul?"
As if she didn't already know.
I opened my mouth to speak, but she held up a finger to silence me. "Think very carefully about your request. Words are powerful. I can only give you exactly what you ask for."
I considered how I could word what I wanted. My original idea of "make all of this stop" seemed foolish now. I needed to be more specific. My voice shook when I spoke. "I want you to release us from your curse."
"My younger sisters. Avery, Bailey, and Lucy. And me, as well."
She cocked her head, considering. "You ask a lot of a tired old lady."
I scowled at her.
She cackled. "Very well. But be warned: the price I ask may be more than you are willing to pay."
"I'll do anything to save them." I remembered the sensation of Hallie's hand in mine, growing cold as she faded away.
"To save them? Or to save yourself?"
I clenched my jaw and said nothing. Yes, I had included myself in our deal. I would not be made ashamed of my sense of self-preservation.
The witch clucked her tongue. She looked amused, which made me unreasonably angry. What right did she have to find my predicament amusing?
"Your life and the lives of your younger sisters will be spared—" I caught my breath in a little gasp of relief, which only made her smile wider. "If you can complete a simple task for me."
One task. That couldn't be so bad.
I struggled to find my voice. "What is this task?"
The witch reached into the folds of her cloak and withdrew a jeweled dagger. I stepped away.
"This isn't for you," she said. "This dagger is meant for another. There is a certain someone I want you to take care of."
"You want me to… kill someone?"
The witch smiled that obnoxious smile of hers.
I had never hurt anyone before, except maybe one of my sisters in a wrestling match. But never on purpose and never with the intent to kill.
"One life for four," she said. "It seems a fair trade to me."
My eyes lingered on the dagger's blade. It seemed to glow in the semi-darkness of the cavernous room. I couldn't imagine holding that thing in my hands, sinking it into another's flesh. Perhaps the witch was right. Perhaps this was too high a price to pay.
But then I thought of my sisters, the ones who remained, full of fear at their inevitable futures — counting down the days until they ceased to exist, lost like a whisper in a crowd. My sisters were innocent. They didn't deserve this fate. And neither did I.
I held out my hand for the knife. "Who do you want me to kill?" I asked.