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Daughter of the Sun, Aumelan Book One, Chapter Ten. YA Dystopian Fantasy.
Daughter of the Sun

Aumelan series

Book one

Chapter Ten

Chad laced his fingers with Becca’s as they stepped from the elite housing tunnel of the East Side into the secluded entry of his home. Three large globes lit their way, set into an arched ceiling of tiled amber.

         Heavy rollers rumbled along their tracks as his father slid the oak door to their abode open. Senses heightened by the Death Ceremony, the cherished memory of the installment of the door hit him. How many hours, nights, dreams, had Chad spent in the foyer as he sat and marveled at the beautiful addition from above? Only when he was allowed to observe his father’s duties did he discover what a momentous event for his people it had been. Trade had begun with the People of the Sun, and a flood of revenue ensued. Manufacturers grasped the opportunity to work with the new materials and tools. Medical advancements leapt to unbelievable levels. Life had changed.

         He glanced at Becca’s blank stare, and his thoughts rushed back to the present.

         And yet life remains as fragile as ever.

         Squeezing her hand, he followed his father over the threshold. The white dominating Mathis’s hair lost luster as they left the entry’s bright glow. Thick locks brushed at the beads of status attached to his right shoulder.

         A mix of baked salmon and detergent wafted to Chad as they stepped into the receiving room. The salmon he had expected, but detergent?

         He glanced around for the source of the bitter smell. Nobody was in the foyer, other than them. Halls on each side of the staircase appeared empty.

         Mathis called for his server. “Murray, come.”

         “He is in your room, Master Mathis. He is readying your pack.”

         Wide brown eyes peered around the balusters as Dae’s older sister, Losette, leaned back and sat on her heels. Several strands of brown hair curled around her tall forehead and stole attention from her lack of lashes. Her doughy cheeks pouched as she blew a stream of air through her full lips. She scratched her chin as her bottom plopped against the floor.

         Mathis eyed her and then clasped his hands, squaring his shoulders.

         Chad licked his lips to bite back his grin and turned to close the door. How long will he wait on her this time? As he thought about it, he had to give his father credit concerning Losette. Though most respected when a mind wasn’t right, few Keepers kept such servers in their household. Farming communities teemed with the simple but free workers. Then again, it only proved his worthiness as Leading Father of Mastery to accept the challenge to deal with her.

         Becca lay against Chad’s chest and closed her eyes. He pulled her into a tight embrace and kissed her silky hair. How he wished he could erase the past few days.

         His father shuffled his feet and sighed. “Losette, attend to the ceremonial items.”

         She rolled to the side, pushing herself to a stand, and her long braid slid from her back. It sank into the bucket of cleaning solution. Soapy water soaked her backside as she walked to him.

         As she removed the beads and golden sash, he added the next steps of his instruction. “Hold them far from you so they don’t get wet and place them with the other ceremonial items.”

         She held them at arm’s length until they safely hung in the cabinet.

         Mathis cocked his eye as he glanced at Chad and Becca. “Styne should be here. We have matters to discuss.”

         Becca turned her head to face him. “He went straight home. Tyro’s with him.”

         He grunted and slid out of his jacket with Losette’s help. “Has your slunk reached the age of service under the beam? If so, she’s old enough to mate.”

         Becca nodded, but Chad grimaced. “Only by a few months,” he said.

         His father shuffled across the floor to the stairs. Grasping the marble banister, he climbed a few steps. “I can have Rawkin contact you and arrange for a suitable partner to be delivered. One eager to consummate given that it’s to serve in a Leading Father’s home. Cost shouldn’t be an issue, given Aaron’s securities.”

         “The Bennetts have gifted one already, Mr. Aumelan,” she said. “And Rawkin offered one of his runners from Litrel.”

         He nodded. “I suggest partnering her soon. To the older of the two. She could have difficulty coping, and a more mature mate will help her settle. You don’t need an emotional slunk maid to deal with.”

         A squeal pierced the air, and Chad squinted to dispel the ring in his ears. Becca jolted, and Mathis paused on the stairs. All eyes turned to Losette.

         The corners of her mouth pressed into her cheeks, and her face turned bright red. “Morett is getting a mate?” Her body dipped as she swayed with merriment, and her high-pitched giggle rang as she scrunched Mathis’s jacket in her fists. “He will join with her in her bed. And then a child will come!”

         Chad cleared his throat, and Becca pinched her lips together. Mathis’s voice boomed as to be heard over her exclamations. “Losette, mind the jacket!”

         Her gaze dropped to the garment in her hands. A tight twist creased the bodice and cuffs together. The cheery smile remained as she looked at him and bobbed her head in acknowledgment.

         He growled. “Hang it in the laundry to be pressed and attend to the meal.”

         She whirled around and pranced down the hall, knocking over the bucket beside the balustrade. Suds road the spillage. “She is even younger than me.”

         A silent chuckle breezed past Chad’s lips. All Chamber maids are younger than you at the time of partnering. As soon as the thought formed, his humor mellowed. Losette. You will never know a mate.

         “It’s time we partner Dae, Father. She’s well into bearing age.”

         Tara’s words oozed over Chad like lava, and he scowled at his sister on the top stair. When had she entered the scene? Her obvious pleasure at his reaction showed in the smirk on her face.

         Mathis glanced her way and tugged on the rail as he continued his ascent. “No need to flood the household with unnecessary male slunks. They require a strong keep and duties often call me elsewhere.”

         She cocked her chin. “And we all know Chad’s never around.”

         Chad tempered his response, and it blew through his nostrils.

         Mathis seemed to ignore the comment. “When Murray’s filled his purpose, we’ll seek out a suitable replacement and consider a mating.” He stepped onto the second-floor landing and smoothed his hand across his chest. “I’ll be returning to Litrel. If I’m needed, Rawkin will be available to relay a message.” He glanced toward his bedchamber. “Murray, come.”

         Quick steps patted from behind Tara, and the slight man appeared. The senior server cast his gaze downward. Kneeling before his Keeper, he placed his hands on the floor and lowered his head. The neckline of his smock fell to the side and his gnarled hand quickly righted it.

         “I trust things are in order for my departure.”

         The servant spoke with a rasp in his soft voice, and if Chad hadn’t known better, he would have thought he had a cold. “All is completed as you commanded.”

         “Murray, rise.” Mathis took a labored breath and flexed his shoulder. “Have Dae help you deposit the items at the entrance.” He paused and scanned the man. “And have her do something with your clothing. You look like a knapsack.”

         “Yes, Master.”

         Chad blinked his gaze to the star-like crystals suspended from the foyer ceiling. “Dae’s in penitence.”

         Tara’s thin brows furled. “Dae? In penitence?”

         “I will perform the duty, Master.” Murray scurried down the hall, and Mathis called after him.

         “Have Iolet help you. She’s old enough to begin carrying a burden.”

         “Of course, Master, thank you.”

         Tara descended the marble stairs, her bobbed hair swaying with her stride. The tip-tap of her heels chimed along the golden veins in the rock while her trouser cuffs brushed the top of her pointed toes.

         Chad stroked Becca’s back, his brow furrowed at his sister. “Styne could use some company right now, Tara. He was there for you when Mother passed. It’s the least you can do.”

         Her narrow nose wrinkled and blue eyes squinted. “I didn’t attend this ceremony for a reason. And I didn’t ask him for any attention back then. I handled it on my own. He can do the same.” She turned toward the left stairwell. “Iolet needs to hurry with her duties. I require a drink.” Her hips swayed with her long strides as she disappeared into the den.

         Chad sighed. “I’ll go see if I can convince him to join us. He can’t refuse company forever.”

         “Tyro’s with him.” Becca nestled within his arms. “Just hold me,” she whispered. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

         Resting his cheek on her soft hair, he closed his eyes. “Without me, your parents would still be alive.”

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