Ridge Lake: Book 05: Willow

Willow comes from the sewers of Taliville.  Deep in the sewers.  She and her tiny family have lived outside, in dumpsters, with rats, in alleys, attics of bars, and crowded common rooms where fifteen people try to fit into a ten by twelve space.  Her two jobs are in the category of the most dangerous: housekeeper and cook.  The former means that her skin comes in contact with harsh chemicals, sewage, disease, and rotten food.  The latter means that if she is caught outside, on the city streets, chances are she will be murdered.  Because she knows how and where to find food in the most unlikely of places.

The only thing that has kept her somewhat safe is that no one wants to touch her.  Willow is mutant.  Rainbow Blood.

Mattie, fearing for both her daughters, since Ivy has a lung disease and may not survive and Willow has a new price on her head, decides to take Ashley’s plea for help seriously and as a means of escape.  Even into a warzone.

Brogan Duncan LaBrelle has been shot.  Again.  After a possibly crippling fall out of the attic at Yugi’s, he is told he may never walk again.  No one says it.  The word.  Cripple.  But he sees the looks of pity, the dodges, the lack of reassurance.  From everyone except Rowan, Ashley, and this new woman he doesn’t even know.

His promising career in the Guard was literally shot to hell out of jealousy and spite.  Ashley’s mouth and inexperience now has him under investigative review.  On top of being lame, he is also told he may be discharged for repeatedly disobeying orders, and if found guilty, he will receive no medical assistance once the surgery to save his life is completed.

He has nowhere to go.  No means of survival outside of the Guard.  His brothers, Matthew and Pete, lost the family farm.  LaBrelle managed to make a new life for them with Mrs. Latterly, but being a cripple will prevent him from adding his back to the hard work it takes to run a farm.  As bad as it had been before he joined the Guard, in a matter of a year, all of his options for a better life shattered and now, he faces a lifetime of near starvation and helplessness.