Huntsmen And Hoods is coming in November in the Academy of Spells And Wishes Anthollogy. You can add it on Goodreads now (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47900930-huntsmen-and-hoods). Pre-order will be up shortly - you can join my Reader Group or Mailing list for updates!
Huntsmen And Hoods is part of my upcoming Grimm Academy series. It is m/f fairy tale retelling academy without any bully romance themes.
Please note: This excerpt is subject to change. Copyright 2019 Laura Greenwood.
One look at my schedule and I know I made the right choice coming here. Not that I got to choose. My fate won me a place, and my parents pushed me towards it. I can be bitter about it if I want to be, but I prefer to take this for what it is, an opportunity to become what I've always wanted to be.
Leaves crunch under my feet as I make my way down the path which leads to the Huntsmen's training ground. Excitement bubbles up within me, teemed with nerves as I try and prepare myself for the refusal I'm probably going to get. They don't let women in very often. There have been three, ever. I've studied everything about them in the hopes that I can add my name to that list.
Shouts fill the air, along with the thud of arrows hitting their targets and the stench of horses. I breathe it all in. I'm going to make this my life at Grimm Academy. I don't want dancing lessons and learning how to sew like the other girls here. It just doesn't fit with my personality.
"Are you lost?"
I look up to find a man leaning against the nearest tree, his arms crossed and an air of arrogance around him. I can take him down a notch or two given the chance.
"I want to see the head Huntsman," I say firmly, staring straight at the man and not giving in.
"You're a woman."
"I noticed. I still want to see him," I insist.
"Have you got a message? I can take it?" He pushes away from the tree and walks towards me.
"Then what are you doing here?"
"That's none of your business," I insist. "Are you going to take me to where I need to be?" I raise an eyebrow, refusing to let my discomfort show. I'm not going to let him get the upper hand just because I'm a woman.
"Sure. But only so I can see you get ripped to shreds," he admits.
I chuckle. "Trust me, that's not going to happen."
"Ah. You want to be a Huntsman then." He gives me a knowing smirk that I choose to ignore.
"I don't want to be a Huntsman, I'm going to be one," I stress.
"You've got the cockiness of one, that's for sure."
"It's just confidence," I counter. "I know what I'm good at, and I'll make sure that everyone else does too," I point out. "Which way?"
"I'll take you. That way, you won't be bothered by anyone else thinking you're lost."
"If I'm not mistaken, I'd think you were warming up to me," I quip.
"Maybe I am. I might be in need of a partner with the ability to actually get stuff done."
"What happened to your last one?" As little as I want to admit it, walking and talking to him is actually helping, and I'm quite enjoying his company. Though I'm not in any hurry to admit it to him.
"He had an unfortunate hunting accident." There's a flippant note in his voice that I'm not entirely sure is fitting with what he's saying.
"Are you trying to say you had him killed?" I ask. "That's not a good way to approach finding a new partner."
He chuckles. "No, he really did have a hunting accident. He fell off his horse and broke a leg."
"Pity." And shows just how easy a time of it I'll have. I won't be doing any falling off horses in my time here.
"Do you have a name?"
"Doesn't everyone?" I throw back.
"Clearly you've never talked to Rumplestiltskin," he mutters.
A half-smile spreads over my face. "That's true. I've heard he can be a tricksy one."
"That's one way of putting it. That man is always up to no good." He stares off into the distance, almost as if he's remembering something. I wonder if Rumplestiltskin is supposed to be part of his fate. It's always a miller's girl in the tales I've heard, but that doesn't mean anything. The academy would be very empty if only the most common fate is the only one that can happen.
"Any tips you can give me for meeting the head Huntsman?" I ask, partly to change the subject, and partly because I can do with tips. While everyone knows about the Huntsmen and what they do, there's no real information on how to become one, or what it's like. I'm walking in blind knowing nothing more than that this is what I want.
"Oh no, that's not how it works if you want to be one of us." Amusement shines through every word.
"It was worth a try." I shrug. This isn't going to set me back at all. I'm still going to get what I want, even if that's mostly because I'm just determined to make it happen that way.
"I suppose it is. He'll certainly like your tenacity." He thinks for a moment. "Just don't backchat him too much, and you'll be fine."
"What makes you think I'll even try do that?" I ask, turning slightly so I can flutter my eyelashes at him.
He chuckles. "Don't do that, either. He'll hate it."
"I don't mind, but only because I know you're doing it to get what you want, and not to try and get me to ask you to prom."
I scoff. "As if I'd do that."
"Not the prom kind of girl?"
"Would I be coming to the Huntsmen if I was?" That's an obvious question on his part, and I don't like giving obvious answers.
"I'll give you that one. We're here, by the way." He gestures to a hut with a big oak door. "You still haven't told me your name."
"You're right, I haven't."
"Are you going to?" He waits patiently, clearly expecting an answer.
"That's a mouthful." He looks at me just like everyone does when they hear my name for the first time. They expect one of those preppy princesses that are up in the castle primping and preening, obsessed with their looks.
"That's why everyone calls me Red." I don't wait for him to respond and knock on the door, putting all my energy into it.
The door swings open seconds later, and I know I'm in the right place.