In two days, Chanta is to go to The Factory. She wishes time would just stand still. Rebellious by nature, she hates her life, abhors the laws, restrictions, and rules, but what can she do?
The forbidden woods have lured Chanta since childhood. Within the dark forest, she has befriended the witch, Esadora, whom she often visits. A few days before her dreaded eighteenth birthday, she decides to visit Esadora to say goodbye to her.
Little does Chanta know the big secret that Esadora will reveal to her, or that on her birthday, her life will change forever.
Chanta looked at the calendar, dread churning her stomach, fear causing her heart to pound. The big red cross indicated her looming eighteenth birthday, a celebration she feared and didn’t want. Celebration? It was called that, but there would be no party. Merely a goodbye. That day was also her last day of school and the start of a new chapter of her life. A chapter that would be a beginning for most female students, but for her, it would be the end.
Limburgia was a male-dominated planet. Females were of little consequence. All young women at the age of eighteen, after finishing school, were sent to The Factory on the hill for two years. Each large city on Limburgia had such a Factory. A place where they trained young women and got them ready to join with the mate chosen for them at birth.
To become their slaves.
That’s how Chanta saw it. A woman was nothing. Merely a vessel to bear children, a workhorse to do all the housework, tend the gardens, the animals, and work the farm. And of course, be ready and willing whenever her mate demanded her undivided attention.
She knew who her chosen mate was. Mastaluk Shernon. And she hated him. Well, not exactly hate. She didn’t know the man, but she had seen him from afar. He was old—twenty years older than her—fat, and ugly. At least in her eyes he was. He’d already had one mate, and she had died in childbirth. After he was widowed, he had immediately applied for a new mate, drawn Chanta’s name, and had waited all this time. Why he had chosen to draw a name from the newborn list, she had no idea. There was a list of widowed women waiting for a new mate.
Chanta would not meet Mastaluk in person until she completed her two years in The Factory.
An old man.
A man with an adult child.
By the gods, I do not want this.