The bridge was gone.
Karina sat down on a rock at the edge of the Continental River. She was tired. And sore. And now this. “What do we do?”
Tristan squatted by the riverbank, staring at the other side. He tilted his face toward the mid-afternoon sun. “River’s shallow enough here to cross without a bridge.”
“But the water’s freezing!”
He shrugged. “We can take off our shoes and stockings. You can also remove whatever clothes you’d like to keep dry.”
She scowled, not bothering to respond—especially when he smirked. “When we’re on the other side, our footwear will be dry, and the stockings will warm our feet quickly.”
He couldn’t be serious, could he?
“It will not be that bad, child.” Dom nuzzled her shoulder with his nose.
Tristan knelt to remove his shoes. Karina pursed her lips, biting back derisive comments. She was thankful for the warm sun. Back in Calliope, the snow would begin to melt as green grass poked through the winter-hardened earth. The Ice Plains never melted, though. The cold northern oceans kept the top iced over year-round.
She sighed as she unlaced her dusty boots. They tied their shoes together and slung them around their necks. Tristan grabbed Dom’s reins and then nodded to Karina. “Ready?”
He stepped into the river. The rushing water only came up to his knees, which wasn’t too bad for him since he had rolled up his pant legs.
Karina looked down at her formfitting leather pants. No way to roll them up. She sucked in a breath of determination. Oh, well, they needed a good washing anyway. At the riverbank, she stuck a toe in the water, then yanked it back out. “It’s too cold!”
Tristan smirked. “You’ll live.”
She took a defiant step into the water. The cold seeped into her skin— like tiny needles stabbing her over and over. “If I make it out of this alive,” she muttered, “I’m sending the Aletheian army after you for making me do this.”
“What was that?” Tristan glanced over his shoulder.
“Nothing.” She slid one foot in front of the other. “Nothing at all. This is great. Really. I—”
Something slimy slid around her ankle—and wrenched her into the water.
Other Books in the Series
About the Author
Whether she’s wielding a fantasy author’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone #SHINEBeyond their circumstances! Her fantasy novels are available on Amazon.
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all-around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . . You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or at her website.
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