Details, plans, and chapter 11 of the voice in the forest

details

Hi everybody! 

I know some of you found me via my romance books, under Darlene Everly, and some of you found me via my sci-fi fantasy, under J. Darlene Everly, and I have thus far only had the exclusive novella ebook of The Lost Chapter for those of you signing up for the newsletter.

That will be changing soon!

Coming soon will be A Comfort Food Slice, a short story from Olivia’s past. It will be an exclusive ebook formatted short story that any who sign up for my newsletter will have access to.

Signing up for the newsletter already includes the story from The Grimm Star Universe, it will soon include the story from the Comfort Food Romance series, NEXT I’ll be adding an exclusive ebook story from the story universe of one of the projects I’m currently working on. 

One of my next projects will be called Heart of Cinders, in the Cinders In Midnight Glass series. I will have a prequel called Before The Fire for you all soon. I hope you like it and enjoy the series when it comes out. 

news!

The first bit of news! 

Don’t forget the third and final book in The Grimm Star Saga: First Light is coming on May 18th!

All of the books of this first trilogy will be on sale on May 18th, the ebooks priced at $0.99! Holy bananas, batman! 

The second bit of news, this Vella idea is wild, and I’m going out on a limb doing this, but I’m very excited. And I hope you all will enjoy the story if you go check it out. This is a whole new story format and process, and the learning curve is steep! But the story world is so great and I’ll hopefully be able to share more in the coming days. (Maybe a cover and a short just for you)

The last bit of news, *drumroll* I’m going to be narrating the audio for The Grimm Star trilogy! I can’t wait for all of my work to be accessible for more people.

A sneak peek of The shattered aurora

Briar

He stared out the window in the gathering room again as the ship spun in orbit around their planet. 

It was a struggle to remember to think of it as his planet, although it actually belonged more to him than some of the people who had already stepped foot on it. The underserving. The rejected. By rights, it belonged to people like him.

“Briar,” Grandpa Kason said from behind him, and he curled his shoulders in response, not wanting to hear it. “We talked about this. You’re going to have to stop and process before something happens again. I can’t keep you in here if you keep pushing your luck.”

“They shouldn’t even be there,” Briar said, ignoring Grandpa Kason, although he was sure it would mean less in his nightly delivery of food.

Grandpa Kason sighed and moved around to where Briar could see him. His mouth was turned down in a frown that aged him even more than he already was and managed to make Briar want to punch him at the same time.

“You know, it’s only my influence giving you this chance.” Grandpa Kason’s voice was hard and he narrowed his eyes as he leaned closer to Briar. “It would be a shame if you squandered it. There is still a lot of work for you to do to save our new home from the wrong sort.”

He looked past the old man to watch as the ship turned the planet out of view again and nodded.

Being left alone was something he was still getting used to, but when the door shut behind the only person who visited him other than a medic who he had to pretend to be contrite and mildly untethered for, Briar was relieved.

Tucked under the edge of the weird cubby in the tiny closet near where he set his blanket and his pillow, Briar retrieved his hidden holo. 

Keep moving forward mattered, but he kept being drawn back to the same file. He tapped at it until the recorded feeds from the spindles came up.

No matter how many times he watched as the citizens of the Wheel stepped foot on the planet for the first time, it sped up his heart rate and froze him in place.

It was beautiful and strange. 

And he still couldn’t decide if he truly did belong there, or if he thought the planet itself should have never existed.

the voice in the forest

Chapter 11

“I… I’m not imagining this?” she asked, her voice like a shadow of her normal one, the tremors in her hands not letting up. 

Everyone said this would never happen again.

They told her it was all in her mind.

Were they wrong, or was this just another symptom?

“You have no idea how much I have wondered the same thing since the kitchen when I thought you saw me.” He relaxed, his breath coming easier and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

“In the kitchen, did you, um, did you…” She wasn’t sure how to ask if he had really told off Jameson. 

“Tell that old partner of yours he was worthless? Yes.” He shook his head and stomped to a bench along the shore, sitting on it in a rigid posture that looked like he was holding himself back. 

“For some reason,” he said, his voice low and confused as he stared out at the water, “I have a strong reaction to men like him. If I had the strength, I might have struck him.”

Blackwell turned his face back to hers, his eyebrows pulled together and his eyes troubled.

“Don’t feel bad for having that reaction to Jameson. I should have.” She bit her lip, this conversation was starting to feel normal, more normal and comfortable than most of the others he had engaged in since she got home. Her hands weren’t shaking anymore.

The realness of him, the way in which they could talk about things that made sense to her and didn’t feel weighted or double sided was like a cool breeze on a hot day.

She swallowed and made her way to the bench he sat on, taking a spot at the other end of it, the well worn stone of it smooth under her hands as she gripped the edge.

Relaxing the stiff angle of his back, he looked at her and a small smile formed on his face.

“Is he really going to marry that other woman?” he asked, as if she might be hurt by the query, his voice gentle and low.

“Maybe, but that’s between them. There was a time I thought I knew them both and thought better of their characters, but now I actually do know them, and I know well enough that I was being far too generous.” She looked down at the murky water in front of them. 

The lake was clear at the edges, the pebbles and bits of leaf detritus clear under the water, but it quickly turned to a deep black tinged blue in the middle that made it seem like an entire mythical creature could have been lying in wait within it.

No matter how long she looked at the water, he kept his gaze on her, like he was drinking her in. She tucked a wild curl behind her ear and chewed on her lip. 

“Can you, um, not stare at me please?” She wanted to hide, the last time someone stared so hard at her it was under formal observation and if she could never experience it again, she would be happy.

“My apologies,” he said, turning away from her to look out at the water too.

“You said you have been in this house for as long as you can remember, can you tell me more about your situation?” Her voice stumbled on situation, unsure how to go about asking about it. 

“I am confined to the house and the grounds, but the closer I get to the fence, the further into the woods, the sicker I feel. The exception is this lake. I spend quite a lot of time here.”

There was genuine sounding affection in his voice. 

“And, you only have a last name?” This was never not going to be awkward.How was she supposed to talk with this… ghost, when she couldn’t talk to alive people without feeling like she should have been still locked up and like she would never think like them. 

Maybe she wouldn’t ever think like them, though. 

Because contrary to what she was told, contrary to what she had started to believe, he turned his melancholy smile toward her and said, “That’s all I can remember. Whatever came before this,” he gestured to himself, “is a mystery.”

“Do you think you’re a, um…” She couldn’t say the word out loud. It didn’t matter that it seemed obvious, or that she was having a very real conversation with a person she could see as clearly as anyone else, or that he answered in such human ways. The word felt like it was going to turn into a siren and call in all the doctors, her mother, and all the others who had attacked her over the years for talking about what they called her delusions.

“Yes,” he said. “I think I am a ghost. The first thing I remember was waking in the room next to yours, in a bed that was missing all the bedclothes, and wondering if my sister had woken me.”

“Sister?” she asked, leaning forward. For some reason she couldn’t name the mention of someone he was connected to, maybe from before he died, made her hopeful they could figure out his present state.

He nodded, reaching a hand toward her hair and dropping it back to his side.

“Forgive me, but your hair keeps blowing in your face.” He smiled and she tucked her hair back behind her ear.

Of course her hair would get in the way of him looking at her, she partly understood why he would want to. She was the first person who could see him. If she was in his position, she would probably stare and weep and cling to her in sheer joy.

She was weirdly relieved that he wasn’t doing that, even though it was only a theory in her head about what she would do and shouldn’t have had any bearing on her interaction with him. It did anyway.

He took a deep breath and looked down at his hands before he brought his gaze back up to hers. 

“Yes. I had a sister. And I think, but only because of the timing of my first clear thoughts after I woke up, that she was your grandmother’s mother.”

“My-” She stopped talking, her mouth formed words, lots of them, disconnected from each other and not representing any cohesive thought because her brain short circuited and nothing was processing. 

With a small nod, he pressed his mouth into a thin line.

“I have been in this state for at least ninety years.” 
Tada!
I hope you are as excited for what is to come as I am, and I hope you like the excerpt and this chapter.
As always, Thanks for reading everybody!

— Everly

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