Hey, everyone! I don’t know about you guys, but this week has been crazy for me. Between freelance work, carting younger siblings to music lessons, and some serious editing work to prep my own work for publication, I haven’t had much time to sit back and relax. But, all that writing time means I have some progress on my current works-in-progress.
This week’s snippet comes from Pathway of the Moon Chapter Twenty-Eight, the most recent chapter finished. In the previous chapter, Alrian was trying to convince Leo that he really was needed for the mission. This chapter, our main characters are busy preparing to leave and saying goodbye to people they love. In this particular scene, Alrian—who has been masquerading as a man for years to work in the military—discovers that her best friend, who currently serves under her as an Imperial Knight, knows a little more about her secret identity than she’d thought. He’s just kissed her, and this is the conversation that ensues.
His hands roamed higher, sliding beneath her jacket to rest at the small of her back just above her breast bindings. She stiffened. He thought she was a man. Reason reasserted itself in an icy wave. She jerked back, her chest heaving. “W-what—”
His fingers splayed against her back, and he didn’t look surprised to feel extra layers of cloth beneath her shirt. Didn’t even inquire about it. “You have to come back.”
“Brennan, I—” She cleared her throat, cheeks hot. How could she handle this in a way that wouldn’t hurt them both? That wouldn’t blow her cover? “I’m your commander, and I don’t swing that—”
“You do.” He lowered his gaze to her lips. “I know the truth, Alria.”
Her breath hitched, and she froze in his grip. He shouldn’t know that name. Where had he heard it? How could he know? How long had he known?
“I’ve known since we were starting out as soldiers.” His hands ran up and down her back, combating the sudden chill prickling across her skin.
“H-how?” She clung to his shoulders, afraid that if she let go, the world would spin out of control. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”
Guilt flashed across his face. “You were under so much stress trying to maintain your disguise in the army. And your father over-pressured you to rise through the ranks. I felt bad adding to your worries by admitting that I’d found out.”
A laugh bubbled out of her, edged with hysteria. She dropped her forehead to his chest. The laughter turned to tears. “All these years, I’ve felt like I had to lie to my b-best friend…” She hiccuped. “And y-you already knew.”
He wrapped her up in a tight hug. “I should’ve said something. But I was so scared I’d ruin everything for you that I just kept it to myself.”
She fisted his shirt in her fingers, a sob erupting from her. “I w-wish you would’ve, you Rith-forsaken fool.” A broken laugh found its way through the tears. “All these years…”
He sighed. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Her tears eased, and the hilarity of the situation sunk in. She’d been lying to him for years because she’d believed she had to. He’d known the truth for years but hadn’t said anything for fear of hurting her. And, apparently, they’d both loved the other from a distance for at least some of that time. “I-it’s okay. I’m mostly just relieved you know.”
He buried his face in the crook of her neck, his hands settling on her hips. “Now you know why you have to come back. What you have to return to.”
That’s it for this week, everyone. Feel free to share some of your own work-in-progress in the comments below! Just remember to keep all comment respectful and polite if you choose to help others out and give feedback on their posted excerpt.