This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
It was the sound of the crowd that Matilda remembered most from the day her father died. They did not scream in outrage at his pain, nor gasp in horror, even as he flailed in desperate agony and his face turned the sickening color of a day old bruise. No, they cheered. They laughed. They cursed him; all while he slowly choked on the hangman’s noose, many of them fully aware that the criminal’s four children were among them, watching, helpless, as their only parent was dying.
It was a messy execution. His neck did not snap as it should have. Instead, he suffocated slowly, agonizingly slowly. Matilda and her brothers cried and screamed their father’s name, desperate to be heard over the jeers of the blood thirsty crowd until their throats were raw and aching. The twins, Rolland and Rhys, at only eleven, hurled themselves brazenly at the crowd, throwing punches and kicks as hard as they could and screeching like wild animals. Jasper, the eldest of their brood at thirteen, stood with their tiniest member, Matilda. They stood shoulder to shoulder; staring blankly at their father’s violently twitching limbs. Jasper clasped her hand so tightly it hurt, as if he were afraid she might join the twins in their fight, although she made no move to.
She looked around at all the people around her, glaring at them. She could feel her chest burn with pure, fiery hatred. Their eyes had this odd glint to them as they watched her father die and their grinning mouths seemed to be filled with razor sharp teeth. They were monsters…monsters…every last one. She was only seven years old and yet, at that moment, she was filled with an overwhelming desire to plunge a knife into each of their bellies. A feral desperate cry suddenly rang out through the air. She crouched down low with her hands over her ears to block out the hideous sound. She did not realize until much later that the scream had come from her own mouth.
The men Rolland and Rhys attacked finally chased the children off like they were a bunch of feral cats. They never saw their father’s feet stop kicking.
That night, they returned home to their empty hovel. It was so strange, the silence of the place. It was so deathly quiet; all they could hear was the familiar scurrying of the ever present rats. Their father was a thief to be sure, but when he was with his children and not full of wine, he was a kindly, warm man with a laugh that practically shook the house. He was always humming or singing a drinking song very badly, always talking. The man never shut up. Now, without him there, the house felt as dead as he was. None of the children could bear to even look towards the little chair by the hearth where their father usually sat.
They huddled around a dying fire. Rolland and Rhys nursed their swollen, bruised faces while Jasper ladled lukewarm soup into dirty old bowls. He hadn’t said a word since their Father was led up to the gallows, so when he finally did speak, the sound startled Matilda.
“Eat what I give you. Don’t ask for another bowl. We have to make this last as long as we can.” He said softly, his voice cracking.
“What are we going to do, Jasper?” Matilda cried. Big tears dripped down her dust covered face.
Jasper eased himself down onto the floor with his sister and brothers and rested his head against the stone wall behind him. A tired smile tweaked the corners of his bow shaped mouth, though the expression did not touch his dark brown eyes. “We do just as Father did.” He shrugged. “We’ll take what we need.”
“And Wha’?” Rolland slurred through his swollen mouth, “Hang like ’em too?”
“I don’t wanna die!” Rhys began sobbing pathetically. Bloody snot dripped from his busted nose.
Jasper remained eerily calm. “No one is going to die.” He sighed. “He got caught. We won’t. I’ll make sure of that.” A gurgle echoed in the tiny space. Jasper’s gaunt cheeks flushed and he busied himself with poking the last embers in the fire to muffle out the sounds of the his empty belly. He had made no move to fill his own bowl. It would later prove to be the first of many nights he would go hungry for their sake. “Besides, it will only be temporary. Once we’re old enough to get apprenticeships, we won’t have to steal anymore.”
“What about me?” Matilda asked, eagerly. She did not want to be just another mouth to feed. She wanted to help.
Jasper looked at her in a strange, pitying way. “We’ll marry you off to someone nice and rich, don’t you worry.” He smiled. His eyes peered into hers for a long moment, before he turned away and went back to tending the fire.
Of course, everything he said, everything he promised, would turn out to be nothing but lies.
Alani Foreigner: I absolutely loved how you created this story. It isn't like the other cliché stories I've ever read. I had just started reading it yesterday and just had to finish it. The main characters are grotesquely awesome and I fell in love with them. If you're into fantasy and stuff I can guarantee that ...
Alex Rushmer: Chapter One: Not much is happening in this chapter, but I was absolutely fascinated by the depth of your character development. I love how you just sat there with the reader and explored Eddward. Usually, that sort of thing gets boring very fast, but this was actually really cool! He's so unique ...
annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...
JONANNA: As an avid reader it is not often I say that about a book. The plot is what was different and the twists where unexpected. This book is defiantly a page turner and enjoyable read. I can't wait to reread this novel after a little editing to finish off the shine on this wonderful novel.
Stephen Warner: To start off, I am thoroughly impressed. The writing style is somewhat unique, and the plot seemed to move at a nice and steady pace. However, I was not expecting this to be a vampire book! I am usually not one for novels about vampires, but I was pleasantly surprised! You wrote with such grace a...
Shweta Somwanshi: I just chose to read this out of nowhere and now I can't stop. Hats off to the author who made the reader swoon away with words so beautifully! I loved how I was able to imagine everything so explicitly because the writing was simple and easily comprehensive with a touch of complexity somewhere b...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
maewilde25: I am so in love with this story!!! captivated me till the very end, there wasn't a dull moment. Didn't particularly enjoy the lay out and some bits of info was missing along with how a 21 year old man amassed so much wealth that needed to be explained other than that and a few spelling errors, th...
daneliacapote116: This was one of my favorites! When you start reading you want to continue I can't wait for the rest of the novel!! The characters where awesome! Everything was great. I encourage you to read this novel, your going to love it it and want to read it more and more !!
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
Giuliana Cassetta: My face is full of tears, I never cried like now with a book or even a movie. I loved every single chapter. I truly don't know what to say, I'm out of words and my eyes hurt from crying. Such an bittersweet story, it's so wonderful. One of my favorites for sure. Keep it up!