Word Count: 95,000
Genre: YA Fantasy
When seventeen-year-old Elisabeth Bell Pierce adds her mother's ashes to the centuries of dust at Bell Hall, she's afraid the secrets of her mother's mysterious past have been lost forever.
In the crumbling English castle that was her mother's childhood home, Elisabeth searches for a connection to her mother, a path through her grief, and the source of the creeping noises that echo through the stone walls each night.
While Elisabeth gets lost in the gloomy corridors, her father, fanatical historian Dr. Harrison Pierce, excavates the grounds in his quest to find England's infamous Lost Princes -- a search that violates her mother's final, unexplained wishes to leave Bell Hall undisturbed forever.
Hiding from the grief she can't escape, and her dad's attempts to enlist her in his quest, Elisabeth stumbles upon a concealed tunnel -- where a familiar creeping echo leads her to Bell Hall's darkest secret.
Deep beneath the castle, Richard of York, Lost Prince of England, has waited faithfully for over 500 years, bewitched to live in darkness until his stolen kingdom is restored. In Richard's arms, Elisabeth finds relief from her grief -- and forges a connection with her mother she never expected.
But as her father digs closer to unearthing England's Lost Prince, and revealing him to the world, Elisabeth must figure out a way to rescue Richard from his spellbound prison, or find the strength to hide him forever in darkness, and walk her path of grief alone — because not everything that's lost wants to be found.
First 250 Words:
He faltered at the edge of the darkness. The twisting stone staircase plunged into the earth, his mother's footsteps echoing from the void. His brother's steady hands closed over his shoulders.
"Trust in her," his brother said, and nudged him down the stairs.
The sounds of the castle above faded with each step. When he came to a halt, the darkness swallowed him.
"Come, child," his mother urged, her voice repeating in endless echoes against the black stone walls.
He stumbled into the comfort of her arms, and she crushed him to her chest, kissing his hair, his eyes, his cheeks, his fingers. Cradling his face in her hands, she whispered in his ear.
"War is upon us, little one, and I must go now to keep you safe. Be as the blackest coal, make the darkness your friend, and you shall be safe until I come for you again."
She knelt and slipped a rough cord over his head, fingers brushing his tear-streaked cheeks. He clutched at the string, felt down its rough edges, and found a metal ring, cold against his fingers. His mother held it with him and it warmed under her touch.
"Hold to this tightly, it will bring us together again. Remember, little one, time to love mattereth not. Wait for me. I will come for you again; rest safe in my promise."
He lifted his face to the darkness. "I will wait, Mother. I swear it."
She kissed his head and pushed him gently into the underground night.