Cage of Deceit
by Jennifer Anne Davis
(Reign of Secrets #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Jennifer Anne Davis’ best-selling True Reign series captivated readers from the very first page. Now, get ready to become entangled in the follow-up series, Reign of Secrets. In this new series, follow Allyssa, the daughter of the beloved Emperor Darmik and Empress Rema— and find out what happens after happily ever after.
Seventeen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.
Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.
Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.
Running along the edge of the rooftop, Allyssa kept an eye on the man below. He was three blocks ahead of her as he sprinted down the street, clutching a bag of coins. Allyssa jumped the two-foot gap to the adjacent rooftop, not wanting to lose sight of the thief. He slowed and turned a corner into an alleyway. With any luck, he’d hide there and she could catch him by surprise.
Allyssa couldn’t believe she was the one running on rooftops after him. Grevik had insisted only she could do such a thing because she was smaller, lighter, and more agile. She suspected her friend was just too much of a pansy to do it himself.
There was one more building to go. Unfortunately, the next one was much further away. If she had to guess, it was a good eight to ten feet. Keeping her breathing steady, she steeled her resolve and ran a bit quicker. She pumped her legs faster and faster, the edge of the rooftop rapidly approaching. Twenty feet to go. Why did she agree to this? Focus, she scolded herself. Now was not the time to think about it. Ten feet to go. Here goes nothing.
Her right boot hit the edge of the roof. Using all her strength, she pushed off, flying through the moonlit night. Her arms waved and her legs ran on air as she hurtled toward the adjacent rooftop landing with a jolt. Starting to fall forward, she tucked her head, rolled onto her back, and somersaulted. Crouching low, her heart beat frantically. Blimey. A smile burst on her face. That was fun. Not that she was about to do it again, though.
Jumping to her feet, she glanced over the edge of the two-story building, searching for the thief. Sure enough, he was right below, hiding in the alley. Allyssa pulled out her dagger and slid onto her stomach. Peering over the side, she carefully aimed her weapon at him. As long as the thief stood still, striking him would be relatively simple. She counted to three and threw her knife, watching it zoom down thirty feet and whack the man dead center in his right shoulder. He screamed, dropping the bag of coins as he looked frantically about for his attacker. The hilt was facing straight up and hopefully wouldn’t give away her position.
If only Grevik would hurry and catch up. Shortly after they had started pursuing the thief, a rowdy crowd of about twenty men spilled out from a tavern, blocking the street as a fight broke out. Since Allyssa and Grevik didn’t want to lose the thief, he told her to climb the building so she could follow him. She hoped Grevik had made it through the crowd without incident.
Standing, she scanned the adjacent streets, not finding her friend anywhere in sight. The thief still stood in the alleyway, not making an attempt to run. It was up to her then. She climbed down the ladder attached to the side of the building. Taking a deep breath, she stalked around the corner.
The man stood in the middle of the dark alley, clutching his shoulder. “Stay back or I’ll gut you!” he screamed.
“Funny coming from an injured lowlife who steals,” she answered, trying to use a deep voice.
The man laughed. “Go back home where you belong, little girl,” he said, shaking his head.
“That’s no way to speak to someone who’s about to wallop you.” She plucked her knives free and held them low. “Now give me the bag of coins you stole from the baker and maybe, just maybe, I won’t kill you.”
The man yanked the dagger out of his shoulder, stifling a scream. When his head tilted up, his eyes gleamed with malice. Based upon the way he held his body, prepared to fight, he had to have some skill. Nothing she couldn’t handle, though. Not wanting to risk the weapon cutting her, she threw her knife at the dagger he held, hitting it hard enough that he dropped it, the metal clanging on the stone street.
“What are you waiting for? Scared?” the man taunted.
Allyssa meandered toward him as she tossed her cape behind her shoulders, freeing her arms and legs. “Yes,” she whispered when she was only three feet away. “I am scared. Scared I’ll kill you when you really deserve to be rotting in a jail cell.” And with that, she spun and kicked his head, sending him to the ground. Much faster than she expected, he sprang to his feet and swung his fist at her. She stepped out of the way and was about to hit him when he punched her cheek. Stars exploded across her vision. Blasted. That would leave a mark.
“You did not just hit me,” Allyssa said, seething with rage.
The man had the audacity to laugh at her. She flung her last knife into his thigh. He screamed. Wimp. Using a front kick, she struck his chest and he went flying to the ground. Just for good measure, and because he’d hit her face of all places, she went over and kicked his groin. He had the decency to curl into a ball and surrender.
A man ran into the alley behind her. She spun around and came face to face with her friend, Grevik. “It’s about time you showed up.” She smiled sweetly at him. “You missed all the fun.”
He went over to the man lying on the ground, making sure he was knocked out cold. “While you were jumping over rooftops like a gazelle, I was stuck in that brawl outside the Snakeskin Tavern.” He stood and turned to face her. “I can’t believe you took this man on without me, Lilly.”
The first time she met Grevik all those years ago, she’d told him her name was Lilly so he wouldn’t suspect her true identity.
“I couldn’t wait for you,” she said with a shrug. Now that she could see Grevik in the moonlight, she noticed his knuckles were cut and bleeding. “Are you all right?” she asked, pointing to his hands, hoping he hadn’t broken a bone.
He nodded. “It was easier to punch a few of the drunks to make my way through the brawl.” Grevik scanned the rooftop. “I guess we can add jumping buildings to your ever-growing list of skills.”
“It was bloody fun,” she said, unable to suppress her smile.
Grevik shook his head. “You’re unbelievable. Only you would think leaping through the air thirty feet off the ground over alleys is fun.”
“You told me to do it so we wouldn’t lose the thief.” She picked up her daggers and sheathed them.
“Blame it on me,” he teased, wrapping his arm around her shoulder, tugging her closer to him. Allyssa stiffened before forcing herself to relax. This was the sort of thing friends did. “Come on,” he said. “We need to drop this bloke off to my contact in the City Guard so I can go home. It’s later than usual, and I don’t want Mum to wake up and find me gone.”
“I need to go home, too,” Allyssa said. If she didn’t arrive before daylight, she would be in severe trouble.
What do you feel about the number '13'?
When I was in high school, the first date I had with my now husband, was on Friday the thirteenth! So instead of being freaked out over the number, I love it!!
What's the best thing that happened after your book was published?
I love receiving messages from my readers telling me that my book has touched their lives. There’s nothing better than that!
Do you read reviews of your books?
Always. I want to know what my readers think. If they liked the story, I want to know why so I can make sure I keep doing it!! However, if there was a problem or something they didn’t like, I want to know so I don’t make the same mistake twice!
What is your best or most unforgettable moment with a fan?
I had a girl come up to me, in tears, saying that my book helped her get through some stuff she was dealing with personally. (My book deals with sexual assault, so hearing that I helped someone is beyond words.)
Share us one embarrassing moment you've had.
There’s been so many . . . how to choose only one?
Favorite color? Blue
Favorite movie? Pride and Prejudice
Favorite ice cream flavor? Mint Chip
Favorite song? Christina Perri, A Thousand Years
Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
- Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box. This will include 3 specially chosen young adult print novels, bookmarks, swag, and awesomeness.