TITLE: All That Remains
GENRE: YA fantasy
Murder is commonplace for seventeen-year-old assassin Lea Saldana, until her entire family is slaughtered in one night. When she discovers her boyfriend’s family are the traitors, there’s only one thing to do: kill them all. But when her estranged uncle—the only person who can find the traitors—is kidnapped, Lea must choose between killing her rivals, or saving all that remains of her family.
When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to be a courtesan. I didn’t know what it meant, but courtesans owned all the beautiful things I could imagine: embroidered dresses and makeup and feathered half-masks. My oldest brother Rafeo said they spent their nights at balls and parties entertaining the nobles.
Rafeo was only trying to protect my innocence, but he simply encouraged me. I wanted their life of beauty and luxury, not one of blood and death.
Mother hadn’t been happy. My confession was more proof I wasn’t the daughter she wanted, I wasn’t the proud Saldana girl-child she deserved. After that, I stopped telling my mother what I found beautiful, like gold thread embroidery, silk dresses and feather half-masks, and instead focused on things she found beautiful: knives and poisons and masks crafted from bone.
Now, I squatted quietly on the roof of a bordello, cloak pulled around my body, bone-mask secured against my face. Below me, a man stumbled across the flagstones like a drunkard.
The man bumped into a barrel. He removed his expensive leather hat with elegant stitches and dunked his head, the rainwater darkening his silk collar. He shook his hair like a shaggy dog, the water flashing in the light of the sweet-smelling oil lanterns outside the bordello.
It wasn’t as if courtesans actually lived that life of beauty and romance. Their art and skills made everything seem pleasant and lovely, when truthfully there was darkness in their world, too. Even if it was concealed by rouge and paints.