J is for Judgment
Because today’s excerpt is much longer than usual, I will skip most of the introduction. Simply put, the heterosexual citizens of Bastia are put on public trial for the sin–and crime–of loving the opposite gender. Clissa, a young adult poised for marriage and entrance into high-society living in Bastia, instead throws it all away to kiss a boy she loves.
After all, she was born that way.
“Clissa, daughter of Lystel,” Altrea commanded. “You are young, and this is your first offense. If you confess your sins to us, your punishment will be light. If you obstruct justice, we will teach you a terrible lesson about what it means to violate the Commandments of Basti.”
Love, the principal Commandment Clissa had recited every year of religious instruction. Or did love not apply to people who had broken the law? Hadn’t Basti taught the first principle, love for all?
“Did you commit the sin of fornication?”
Another cry rose from the crowd, and two more ushers escorted a limp man from the room. Clissa raised her chin. She did not want to answer, but she did not want to be beaten until she fell onto the floor. The dignity of remaining standing mattered more than small, useless acts of resistance. “No,” she declared before either guard could raise a baton. “I did not.”
Altrea frowned at her. “Basti punishes all liars,” she chastised.
“I did not,” Clissa repeated, “fornicate.” She paused before emphasizing the clinical, distasteful word Altrea used to describe what had been beautiful. The guard on her left whacked the back of Clissa’s head so hard her ears rang. She lurched forward, heaving, and gave thanks because she had no food in her stomach.
“Show some respect!” he hissed.
“Did you commit the sin of sodomy?” Altrea demanded.
Clissa hesitated. Truth be told, she didn’t know what “sodomy” meant, except it represented the root of evil and Basti had proclaimed it unforgivable. “No,” she said, but her voice wavered in a way it had not the first time.
“Did you commit the sin of vaginal penetration?”
The lurid, titillating detail sent several Assembly members into a whispering frenzy. Clissa threw her head back, refusing to let Altrea and the Bastil intimidate her. Altrea preached love every Sunday. Didn’t she see the hypocrisy? Where was the love in the eyes of the Assembly who had gathered today to judge her? They wanted to turn what happened with Destral into something ugly? She would show them ugly.
“I did not commit the sin of vaginal penetration. Since Destral has no vagina, unlike you, he had nothing for me to penetrate.”
Clissa fell to the ground from the blows of her guards’ batons, and she passed into darkness as the shrieks rose to a fever pitch. She did not hear Altrea’s decree after the crowd had been brought back to silence.
“We, the Bastil, are appalled at your crimes as well as your lack of remorse. Although we intended to show you leniency as a first-time offender and the daughter of the House of Lys, we have no choice but to save your soul. You will finish the remainder of your prison sentence and be sent for reeducation.”
Becoming Clissine (Bastia, Book 1)
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 met once. She must marry a woman, according to the decrees of Bastian law.
Caught between a desire to “get along” and the growing awareness he is “het” and is attracted to Clissa, her childhood friend, 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, condemn relationships between a man and a woman? Will her growing feelings for Destral cost her everything her parents have worked hard to give her?
After a mad attempt to subvert Bastian authority, 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 threatened by her very identity, must make her choice. Will Bastian authority break her, or will she find a way to break free? Can true love overcome a harsh regime?
*Warning: Contains scenes with corporal punishment.*