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Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting
What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night…
Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.
But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him.
Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.
I reached out, and just before I touched the brush, the old woman grabbed my wrist. Her probing fingers seemed to be seeking something. I gasped and jerked away from her sharp nails and the coldness of her touch.
“I apologize.” I tugged at my sleeve, even though it was already down, for fear she had seen my birthmark.
Her hood shifted and her dark, snapping eyes assured me she had. But when she peered up at me with a small smile, she eased my mind.
“Have a care, please.”
Her raspy voice stunned me, as she continued to stare, examining me like I was some kind of novelty.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized again. “I want to buy the set for my mother. I have a silver coin.”
I showed it to her. Perhaps she thought me a thief like the hat seller.
“Which one suits your fancy?”
She reached underneath her cloak for something—a dagger maybe?
My pulse raced. My mind became unsteady. Defeating an old woman would be easy, unless she was a witch. I had heard tales of witches in my younger days, but I’d never paid attention. I wished I had.
I pointed. “That one, please.”
She handed me the brush first and then the mirror. I ran my finger across the vine from the bottom, feeling the curves and indentations and the fine texture of the smooth wood. Admiring its beauty, I knew Mother would be pleased.
The old woman’s eyes stayed on my covered wrists. No fear showed through them, only recognition or something else unexplainable. Before she could ask me a question, I placed the silver coin in front of her and turned to leave.
“Stop,” she said.
I gulped fear down my throat.
Have I done something wrong? What will she ask of me?
All my life, no one had asked me about my birthmarks. I hid them well.
“Yes?” I turned to her, smiling.
“Here, I have a gift for you.”
I was foolish enough to think she would give me a silver back, so I opened my hand to her. She dropped three beans in it and closed my fist. When her hand touched mine, she gasped sharply, and her eyes rolled back.
I shuddered at her expression. I wanted to run far from her, but I remained calm when no trickery played from her. But why beans? Not a bag of beans, but three shriveled, gray, speckled beans.
“Nay, thank you.”
I tried to open my hand to return them to her, but she held steady onto me. The old fool giving me beans—she must be mad. And I needed to head back to Father.
“You look like your mother. Have ’em.” Her eyes bored into mine, and then finally let go. “You’d be wise to hold these fast. A time will come when you are in need. Use them wisely.”
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Author Mary Ting
International Bestselling/Award Winning Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. She also toured with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.
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