Chapter 7 of The Voice In The Forest! And a BUNCH of other stuff!

First things first, I screwed up!

Hi everybody! Okay, so apparently I flubbed the process of updating the file you all get for the free book with signing up for this newsletter. But… I fixed it! I’ll be honest, this likely won’t be the only time ever that I think I do something right and make a fantastic mess out of it instead. Sorry about that. I’m human and I tend to believe that I know what I’m doing after reading about HOW to do it. Sometimes, I do not. I would love to blame this on it being human to error and it takes a computer to really f*ck things up.
But I can’t. I did it. Sorry!
However, I have it on good authority you can now re download the book and get the correct file if this caused you grief. And if you can’t do that, and you’re part of my newsletter, you can email me at everly@jdarleneeverly.com and I will send you the right file. 

Now, The fun stuff!

Last week I said I would include some bonus fun things from author friends of mine, and this week I’m doing it again! I’ll list two new ones and the ones from last week right under those in case you missed them. I’m also going to remove these once the promotion is over.

The first of these is a promotion chock a block full of new releases in science fiction and fantasy. I mean… come on! It’s like a magic to-be-read list with links to get the books. It’s so easy! (I may or may not be forcing myself to pace out my buying of these because, yes, I read a whack ton of books.) I hope you find some great authors on here and maybe some books you’ve been patiently, or not so patiently – no judgement, waiting on.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/n…
The next promotion is for free books that introduce you to our worlds. For example, The Lost Chapter, the free ebook exclusive to those of you on this newsletter is in this promotion for people who want to sign up for this newsletter as well. Think of these as a free door to new universes.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/lmbpn042021/mrljfoq52i

Another is for books that are fairytale retellings or reimagining that are for sale, like The Spinning Wheel and The Spindle. No two fairytale retellings are alike, and I have a very obvious soft spot for these. 😉

https://books.bookfunnel.com/fairytalepromotion/9y45rwuvdc

The last, but certainly not the least, is a promotion for free books like all of mine in The Grimm Star Saga: First Light that are genre mash ups. Is The Grimm Star Saga: First Light series sci-fi or fantasy? In my head, it’s equally both, and these stories are all like that. Exploring new ways to tell stories within genres. I personally love stories like this, the hard to define.https://books.bookfunnel.com/mashupcentral/tpkqun3v1f

And finally, drumroll please! The next chapter.

— Reminder for the new friends getting this newsletter: first of all, HI! So glad you’re here! Secondly, this story is in the alligator swamp it’s so far in the rough, but we’re writing it together here, one chapter at a time, so you can see how the sausage is made. And when it is all done and reworked in some ways and edited in a ton of ways, I will make it available as a book. If you would like to get caught up on the story, all the previous chapters are here on the blog, and the cover is too!


The voice in the forest

Chapter 7

“Oh, Arabella, I’m so sorry. I was looking for you,” Petra said after she pulled open the door and jumped while Ara put a shaking hand to her mouth.

“Petra,” Arabella said, breathing heavily and trying to shove her nerves back down and force her heart beat to slow. “I didn’t know you were here.”

“Your mom said you were coming home. I had to come see my best friend.” She stepped back and made room for Ara to walk through.

Ara narrowed her eyes at the lie of best friend, but managed to keep a smile on her face.

“That’s nice of you to check on me. But what are you doing in here? I would have thought you would be down in the parlor or something.” Ara scanned the room and saw no signs that Petra had touched anything, so maybe she wasn’t just there to snoop.

“Well, your mother is holding court with Jameson. So…” Petra trailed off and bit her lip.

Jameson. His name made Ara swallow, hard, and she focused on keeping the smile on her face from faltering. 

“Both of you came. I appreciate the concern. But I’m doing well.” And if she wasn’t, she sure as hell wasn’t planning on telling Petra or Jameson that.

“I came looking for you because I didn’t want you to be blindsided. I know this is hard. No matter the circumstances.” Petra smiled and put on her sympathetic face.

Too bad Ara knew the sympathy was bullshit and Petra was a big fake. Fake friend, fake care, fake smile. Fake it till you make it, Ara reminded herself. Maybe she had gone about surviving being around her mother all wrong. Maybe she should have aimed for pretending to be Petra.

“Circumstances…” Ara smiled and cocked her head to the side, as if she wasn’t aware what the hell Petra was talking about.

“You know I’m sorry. It just happened. Love can’t be stopped. Neither of us ever wanted to hurt you,” Petra said, taking Ara’s hand and managing to look closer to contrite than the smugness she usually wore like a uniform. 

“Petra, honestly, it’s okay. Jameson and I clearly were not meant to work out.” Because she had standards and a cheating bastard looking to level up wasn’t up to her standards. She wasn’t about to say that to Petra though.

“When is the wedding, by the way? I haven’t heard many updates,” Ara said, taking her hand back and sitting on the edge of her bed.

“Oh, well, we haven’t set a date yet.” Petra bit her upper lip and scanned the room before focusing back on Ara with a big grin.

Ara tried to make sense out of the comment, and the look, but things with Petra stopped making sense to her a long time ago. Things with Jameson made even less sense to her. 

“So, are you going to come downstairs for dinner?” Petra asked, her face brightening back up.

“Um,” Ara said, looking down at the bandage on her hand. 

“What happened?” Petra said, her eyebrows going way up like they were going to jump off the top of her face.

“It wasn’t a big deal. I was gardening and my hand slipped. But I’m supposed to take dinner in my room.” Ara tucked her hand under her other one, as if that would hide the bandage. But she repressed the urge to shake her head at herself and undo her action. Drawing any additional attention to it probably wasn’t a good idea.

“Don’t you have gardeners so you don’t have to do that?” Petra asked.

Ara smiled and took notice of the sheer amount of jewelry Petra was wearing with her designer dress and shoes that cost thousands.

“Yes, there are gardeners, but I like it. It gives me something to do,” Ara said, trying not to laugh.

“Okay.” Petra didn’t look convinced. “Jameson and I will be staying for a while. So, we have time, but don’t spend all the time we’re here in your room or in the dirty garden.”

Petra air kissed her cheek, the strong scent of her perfume tickling Ara’s nose, and walked out of the room, forcing the maid with a tray full of dinner for Ara to step out of the way as she did.

The maid came in and set the tray down on the desk along one wall.

“I’m sorry about that. And thank you for bringing me something,” Ara said, trying to smile and apologize all at the same time.

“No thanks needed. Let me know if there’s anything else you need. Just pick up the phone and dial three.” The maid smiled with her chin held high and left Ara to her own devices. 

Dial three, like she was in a hotel. 

Ara shook her head and took a deep breath, wondering how the maid managed to remain standing so tall when she was dismissed so easily by Petra. It was still hard for Ara to do and she had dealt with the same kind of attitude from her mother her entire life.

Rubbing a hand over her face, she thought about getting something to eat, but part of her just wanted to go to sleep.

Outside, the dark of the night had enveloped the grounds, but even in the swath of sky visible through her window in the space before the trees started, no stars shown. It made the black sky seem like it was thick, like the manor was surrounded not just on every side by the trees, but on the top too. Like it was pressing down on her.

A chill ran down her spine and she focused back on the ground visible from her window. 

Through the trees, for a moment, it seemed as if she could still make out a shine on water from earlier in the day.

But there was no moon getting through. 

She leaned closer to the window and set her un-bandaged hand against the cold glass of the pane. 

Whatever was visible among the trees was gone, instead, she was left staring at the edge of the trees, only visible at all from the weak light spilling out of the many along the porches and walkways around the manor. Beyond those first branches, the night was as deep and dark as the sky.

“Oh, I need to get more sleep,” she said, rubbing her eyes with a cold thumb and finger, the chill of the window transferring through her skin. 

It helped ease the tension building in her.

Why did Petra and Jameson feel the need to come now, she wondered. 

Just after she got home didn’t seem like the best time to add the stress of dealing with them, so why did they come and why were they staying? 

More importantly, why in the hell would her mother and Trenton allow it?

She turned away from the window and ate without tasting the probably delicious meal on her tray. 

In a perfect world she would be able to come home and rest. She would be able to slowly make her way back into the world of people outside of the sickly yellow and green walls and slowly learn how to be in the world again. 

But no. She was here, in an imperfect world and surrounded by people who didn’t seem to have a second thought for what she had been through beyond their constant vigilance that it not happen again.

Ara laughed and took a drink of water. 

When she was in that place, she thought constantly about the day she would be without eyes watching her and judging her. 

In the reality all her doctors so vehemently wanted her to focus on, that day would never come. 

Tada!

I hope you find some great books and great authors you like, and I hope this latest chapter of The Voice In The Forest kept you wondering what is going to happen next. Remember, if you missed a chapter you can find all the past ones here on the blog. Also, when you go back and read it all, let me know what your thoughts are. Especially about the names and what you think is going to happen next.

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