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A cursed castle.
A tortured Prince.
Alone in eternal cold - could a determined young witch be his salvation?

PublisherBritt DeLaney
Release dateDec 18, 2020
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Britt DeLaney

Britt DeLaney lives and writes near Philadelphia. In her spare time she watches too much Netflix, eats too many Pop-Tarts, and is currently writing her ass off.

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    Bleak - Britt DeLaney


    Britt DeLaney

    Copyright 2020 Britt DeLaney

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. 


    Philadelphia, PA


    Blaze/Britt DeLaney. —1st ed.


    THE DOOR OPENED, and Stephan braced himself against the blast of icy air. He stepped back, allowing the first four members of his household staff to enter, before shutting the door behind them.

    How is he this morning? Asked a plump woman in her fifties as she removed her scarf and gloves.

    Sleeping peacefully, Madam Bloss, Stephan answered. The doctor will be arriving after luncheon today. Should he require anything for the boy, simply have it charged to the castle account.

    There’s naught wrong with the child that a week’s worth of good meals won’t cure, said Old Erna, the boy’s nanny, who, despite her seventy-seven years, was still keen of mind and had twice his energy on any given day.

    I’ll get right to work shoveling the walkway, your Highness, said Geddard, a middle-aged man who assisted Old Erna with her coat. Just as soon as the lads from the village get here.

    Join us in the kitchen for a cup of tea, said Madam Bloss to Geddard.

    Be quick about it, grumbled the cook, a man by the name of Poke. I don’t need all of you lollygagging around while I’m trying to dress the venison. Can you spare one of those lads this afternoon, Geddard? I’ve the grain and potatoes coming from the market.

    I’ll send one of them over as soon as we see to the walk, Geddard replied.

    With that, the three of them made their way toward the kitchen as Old Erna began to climb the stairs.


    She paused and looked over her shoulder. Yes, Highness?

    Ask the doctor why he hasn’t spoken. Perhaps the boy has been injured.

    He may just be working off a fright, Erna said. He’s had a rough time of it. Now he’s here with us and I’m sure it’s all very strange for him. Probably more so because he can’t leave.

    Stephan nodded his head, feeling more than a little uncomfortable. Yes, of course. Keep reassuring him. Make it clear that we will not hurt him.

    Other than keeping him a prisoner for the rest of his natural life, he thought. The boy was young—not much more than five or six years old by his estimation, though no one really knew for sure as the child was mute. He hadn’t been able to tell them a thing, not his name, not his age, not how he came to be in the castle. He was dirty, emaciated, and terrified when Stephan found him wandering the halls of the castle six days ago.

    He heard Madam Bloss laugh over something Geddard said as they all broke their fast in the kitchen. Stephan moved toward his study, when he found himself stumbling as a blur of fur darted between his legs.

    What the devil!

    He backed up in surprise at the sight of the white cat staring up at him, it’s stunning, crystal-blue eyes holding his with unnerving intelligence.

    Where did you come from? He asked. The creature must’ve darted in through the door when he opened it for the staff. A light dusting of snow glistened as it melted into its coat.

    He wondered if the cat would claw or bite him if he tried to pick it up. He gave a quick glance over his shoulder toward the kitchen and toyed with the idea of calling Geddard or Madam Bloss to deal with the animal, but that was silly. He wasn’t some helpless royal who had to be waited on hand and foot. He could certainly see to one cat.

    Here now, he crooned in a low voice. There’s a good kitty. Let’s get you back outside.

    He reached out slowly for the cat, and it was as though he’d shot at it with an arrow. His fingers came down, swiping empty air as the animal took off up the stairs, paws and claws scrabbling on the marbled tile.

    Dammit! He gave chase, pounding up the stairs after it. From somewhere behind him, he heard Madam Bloss and Geddard calling, having heard his shout.

    He reached the expansive hallway at the top of the stairs and turned left, in the direction the cat had run. There was no sign of the animal. There were eleven separate rooms in this wing, and four of them were suites with multiple chambers. It would take him a long while to search every hiding place in all of them.

    Stephan strode down the hallway until he reached the door on the right at the end. He knocked.

    Old Erna called out from the other side, bidding him enter, and he did so quickly, shutting the door behind him.

    Your pardon, Stephan said. Somehow a cat’s gotten into the castle and it’s running around loose up here. The animal appeared to be healthy, but I cannot be sure as I was unable to catch it. Best to leave the door closed until we round it up.

    A cat? Old Erna raised her brows. "What

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