Becoming Clissine (Bastia, Book One)
What if heterosexuality were a crime?
Betrothed at birth to the daughter of one of the most prominent Houses in the totalitarian theocracy of Bastia, soon-to-be-college-graduate Clissa isn't sure whether she is ready to undergo the Mar. Once she becomes the Nur, or the submissive partner, to her betrothed she will have to submit all major decisions of her life to the beautiful Helaine whom she has only met once. She must marry a woman, according to the decrees of Bastian law.
Caught between his desire to "get along" and the growing awareness that he is "het" and is attracted to Clissa, Destral kisses her one day as they study in their college library. Shocked at the feelings the kiss awakens, Clissa begins to question everything she has been taught. Did Basti, their deity, really decree that it was sinful for a man to be with a woman? Will her growing feelings for Destral cost her everything that her parents have worked hard to give her?
In a mad attempt to subvert Bastian authority, Clissa and Destral run away to find the Het Pride, a group that preaches tolerance, equality, and peace. Z, their leader, promises that one day hets will achieve equality and freedom. When the Bastian police capture or kills most of the Het Pride, however, Clissa is assigned to new parents for "reeducation" in the doctrine of Bastia. Her new parents are given one mandate: Bring her back to rightness with Basti.
Clissa, lost in a system that is threatened by her very identity, must make her choice. Will she be broken by Bastian authority, or will she find a way to break free? Can true love overcome a harsh regime?
“Clissa, daughter of Lystel, you may rise.” Altrea, Head Dis of the Bastil, frowned at the gasps and murmurs of the crowd. The Bastil, the high council of twelve respected representatives, six women and six men, oversaw the far-reaching implementation and enforcement of Bastian law.
A small but wiry young woman struggled against the chains shackling her legs and arms, glowering from beneath heavy locks of black hair. The usual glossy tresses fell across her face, partially obscuring her long nose, thickly curving eyebrows, and enormous dark brown eyes ringed with dark lashes. The pale, smooth skin was marred by a myriad of cuts and bruises in various stages of healing.
“Lystel?” One of the seated audience members whispered to another. “No, that can’t be right,” another responded. “Not the House of Lys.” “That’s their daughter? The one betrothed to the daughter of Tre?” Altrea nodded to her assistant, who rose and clanged the heavy, copper bell. Gong, gong, gong. The metallic reverberations swept through the room, deafening all ears. Altrea rose to her feet. Clissa shuffled in place, the black-coated chains clanking with each movement. Her left eye itched, and her uncombed hair fell every which way. She squinted with her right eye, ducking her head so her straggly hair would fall over the swollen left one. She had been beaten until her back refused to straighten, but if the Head Dis of the Bastil stood, so did everyone else. Even those who rejected her authority.
“Assistant! Read the charges against Clissa, daughter of Lystel.”
Somewhere in the crowd the Dis and Nur of Lys, Lystel and Methra, watched the proceedings. They had forgone their usual seats of honor in favor of anonymity. Although children from a few other well-known Houses had children run afoul of the Bastil, none theirs Dises were as prominent as the House of Lys—or as vocal in their opposition to leniency for criminals. Would Lystel ever be able to overcome her shame? Had Clissa ruined their House forever?
The bell-ringer unrolled an elegant parchment scroll. The Bastil held with tradition. In recent generations, electronic and technological improvements had changed life in everyday Bastia, but not within the walls of the Bastil. Here, court scribes took notes in shorthand while using quill- and-ink pens. In fact, all Bastian children visited the Bastil to learn about their history.
The bell-ringer read from the list. “Fornication. Sodomy. Heterosexuality.” The hall rocked with outraged gasps. “Vaginal penetration.”
Clissa recalled, against her will, Destral’s soft, tender lips brushing against her neck. There had been no “vaginal penetration,” but how could she explain what had happened without condemning herself? No one would listen, anyway. They had already made up their minds.
Trailer: Becoming Clissine