Book Title: Holding Court
Author: K.C. Held
Release Date: March. 1, 2016
Genre: YA Mystery
Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.
For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.
The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…
I’ve just entered the main hallway on the ground floor when I hear voices coming from somewhere down the wide stone hall in front of me. I would know one of the voices anywhere. It belongs to none other than Prince Charming himself, Grayson Chandler. Without thinking, I duck into an alcove to my left that holds a suit of armor. I’m trying to squeeze between the suit and the wall when my elbow bumps the handle of the ax held aloft by the armored glove. The ax drops forward, there’s a loud grating sound, and the little circle of stone I’m standing on starts to turn.
An opening appears in the wall behind me and I give a yelp of surprise and panic when I realize I’ve triggered some sort of secret entranceway. The stone circle grinds to a stop and I find myself in total darkness. I stand still for a second, trying to get my bearings, then put my hands out and take a step forward, feeling for something solid in the darkness around me. I turn slowly until my fingers come into contact with the suit of armor. I shift slightly to my left and run my hands over the rough stone wall to the side of the alcove, searching for a light switch or a doorknob or something that will either help me figure out where I am or get me the hell out. I reach higher on the wall, and my hand brushes against something that feels like a post set inside a metal bracket. I run my fingers along the post until I find a small knob at the top. I hold my breath and twist the knob.
There’s a soft click and a wall sconce flares to life. I step back from the sudden glare and stumble over something lying on the floor behind me. I do a kind of hopping chicken dance as I try to regain my balance but end up landing on my elbow on the hard stone floor. My eyes fill with tears from the sharp pain in my arm and I lie there for a second trying to decide if my elbow is broken or just missing the top layer of skin. Once I determine it’s bloody but functional, I sit up, and that’s when I see the girl lying on the floor staring up at me.
“Oh, jeez, I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to step on you, I had no idea anyone was in here. Um…are you okay?” She doesn’t say anything, just stares at me with these bulgy bloodshot eyes, and then I notice the chain wrapped around her throat, biting into her skin. “Oh, crap. You’re dead, aren’t you?”
When she doesn’t answer, I reach a finger out and touch her forehead. She doesn’t respond. I let out a whimper and scramble backward. And then I hear something in the passageway behind me. Something that sounds like heavy breathing.
I stand up and throw myself at the suit of armor. “Help!” I scream. “Someone get me out of here!” I run my fingers over the stone wall again, searching for a mechanism that will open the secret entranceway. I hear a scraping sound behind me and I scream again. I grab for the ax, desperate for something to protect myself from whoever, or whatever, is in the passageway behind me. Instead of coming free, the ax tips forward and the circle of stone begins to move again.
I’m still screaming when I find myself back in the main hallway, face to face with Grayson Chandler and a guy holding a very large sword. Before I can stop to think, I throw myself at Grayson, burying my face in the folds of his billowy white shirt.
“Grayson! Oh my God, there’s a girl in there. And she’s dead!”
K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.
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Giveaway Information: Contest ends March 18, 2016
One (1) winner will receive Holding Court swag pack containing a magnetic prophecy kit, signed bookplate, coloring postcard with stacked coloring pencil, and a bookmark.