Title: DESTINED (YA)
My forehead rested against the wooden shutters in my room as I searched for the courage to push them open. I knew what was waiting for me outside -- and gods -- I didn’t want to go through this again. But I had no choice.
My admirers were waiting.
“It’s time, Sadie.” Maia gave my shoulder a squeeze with her weathered hand. “Might as well get it over with.”
She received my weakest smile in return. I stalled by fidgeting with the tendril of chestnut hair dangling by my cheek and adjusting my favorite silver headband. Not that I could improve on Maia’s hanidwork, but it bought me a few more seconds. Rubbing my glossed lips together, I smoothed out a fold in my tunic. “Fine,” I said. But agreeing to get on with it didn’t stop my hands from shaking.
Maia backed away from the window, inching closer to the mahogany door. Preparing me to face the horde was one thing, but I didn’t allow anyone in my room when I was on display. Not Maia, not my parents, and certainly not my sisters.
Flinging the shutters apart, I was blasted with sunlight and deafening cheers. I flinched before forcing myself to smile, in spite of being repulsed by the sound of my own name. The waiting crowd launched a shower of jewels that shot toward me like driving rain. The tokens sailed past my second-story window before plummeting back to the ground for our guards to collect. I used to love the gifts; now they terrified me.