I’ve just submitted a new book to my publisher and to celebrate, here’s the opening. It’s a Sci-Fi spanking romance set in the same world as my bestseller Chosen by the Governor.
Eyes down. No peeping. If she looked up, if she stared at him, it would be disrespectful and she was in enough trouble already.
She stood on the spot, the designated mark on the floor, and tried to imagine her toes were growing roots into the hard surface so they could anchor her feet and stop her legs from shaking.
He sat only a few paces from her, behind his raised bench and he would probably be peering down at her with those alien hawk-like eyes—but she daren’t check. To her left was the court recorder, the man who’d called out her name. To her right, the prosecutor. Another man. He was not her friend. He was her enemy.
She had a lawyer—he was located behind her and out of sight. She’d met him that morning for the first time and he kept forgetting her name. He left her with the clear impression she should plead guilty and accept her fate. He’d done nothing to help and presented her defence in a matter of minutes.
She wasn’t sure about pleading guilty but she was determined to correct one major mistake on her part. She swayed and clenched her hands together behind her back. Her wrists were cuffed.
“Zara Webb, do you have anything you wish to say to the judge before you agree or disagree with your culpability?” the clerk asked.
In the Vendu world, entering a plea came after the evidence has been presented. Then came the judge’s sentencing. She’d no clue as to what to expect; her counsel was pessimistic.
“You got drunk. You got your friends drunk,” he’d said during their short meeting. He said it with disgust and a grimace. The Vendu frowned upon drunkenness; in fact, any loss of control was a weakness.
Don’t look up—don’t make eye contact with the judge. She examined her shoes. “I wish, no, I beg the court to please let me take the blame on my own. Please don’t prosecute the others. It was my foolishness that got everyone in trouble.”
The prosecutor rose to his feet, cleared his throat and addressed the judge. The man she couldn’t see. “Sir. We, the prosecution, are willing to forgo further charges, if the Human, Zara Webb, is willing to bear the burden of their guilt.” He spoke with a scathing nasal drawl, which even in the language of the Vendu was obvious. Her fluency in the foreign tongue was excellent.
She waited. The pause dragged on.
“Very well. I will accept her guilt as collective.” The judge’s voice possessed a depth. It was the first time he’d spoken because the recorder conducted the proceedings. Zara would have liked listening to that voice in a different scenario – it had a presence.
“Be aware,” he continued, “the punishment will be greater.”
Her counsel had warned her about this possibility. However, she wanted to make amends.
“I understand, sir.”