what a week, updates, and chapter 24 of the voice in the forest


SO, let’s make a checklist of what’s coming and what has changed, shall we?

Darlene Everly: Sweet LGBTQIA romance pen name

Cupcake Queens — Out now
Brewed Anew — Coming February 2022

J. Darlene Everly: Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal pen name

Crossroad Inn — Out now on Vella and Coming soon on Patreon

Heart of Cinders — Coming October 2021!!!!
Before the Fire, prequel exclusive — Coming soon!!!
Everly Stories:YouTube and Patreon — Coming Soon!!!!

When I have more to share, you know I will. But in the mean time, here is another chapter of our story.

the voice in the forest

Chapter 24

“Why is my name in your book?” I asked, my voice a hushed, wavering trail of air. 

“I… I think I knew an Arabella. I think…” He paused and shook his head, staring off into space like he could find the answer if he looked hard enough. “I wish I could remember. It’s like the memory is right there, waiting for me to just reach out and grab it. But for some reason, I can’t get a grip on it.”

“Maybe we should take a break?” I tilted my head and tried not to let the sadness that washed over me swamp me. After my time at the hospital, and all the years of people telling me that my memories were wrong, his lack of hold on his made my own wounds fresh.

“No, why would we do that?” His eyes widened and his brows went up, real shock playing across his face. 

Blinking, it took me a moment to adjust to the fact that he didn’t want to stop for even a moment. 

“Sometimes when I have trouble remembering something, I focus on something else entirely, distracting myself, and it comes to me. I just thought maybe we should try it.” 

“Oh. No, I don’t think we should give up yet.”

He bent to the box, pulling out more pieces of paper and books.A chill ran down my back and up my arms, leaving me holding onto my knees with a white knuckle grip.

I wanted to come up here. I did. So why was something inside me starting to scream for us to go? The small of my back, the hairs along the bottom of my scalp, and even the nerves running through my legs, all started to tingle like I was already running. “Montgomery,” I said, my voice not sounding like my own.

He didn’t answer, he didn’t even seem to hear me.

“Blackwell,” I tried again.

“Yes?” He looked up at me, and his eyes grew as big as my fist.

A second later, I was face down on the planks of the attic, my face pressed tight against the dust covered wood. Montgomery was half on my back, and boxes were falling all around us.

I covered my head with my hands, the sharp corners of a box with something heavy inside, slamming into the back of my hand a moment later.

On my back, Montgomery grunted as something hit him. What seemed to take forever, but was probably only a minute or two, finally stopped.

But I didn’t know what it was, exactly. Finally, the weight of Montgomery pressed to my back, eased, and he lifted my shoulders.

Looking around us, I took in the boxes and bags, their contents spilled all around us and dust thick in the air.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

Montgomery rubbed his shoulder and gave me a wry smile.

“I’m fine. It’s weird that I still feel pain even thought I know I can’t actually be hurt.” He shook his head and rolled his shoulder while I narrowed my eyes at him.

“For a second…” He looked off into the attic, his eyes searching all around us. “Nevermind. We should get out of here for today before more falls on our heads.

Standing up and reaching out a hand to me, he smiled, all the far away cast to his eyes disappearing as he did.

I grabbed his hand and pulled myself up, brushing off my backside.

“Do you want to take some of this down with us?” Although, as I turned in a circle, it would be hard to even find what we were looking at before, everything was buried in stuff.

“No. That’s okay.” He smiled and took a deep breath. “If I want to look at more, I can come back. You probably need to eat something anyway.”

Following after him was more difficult than it was before. I had to pick my way through the mess we made even before we got to the tracks between walls of boxes.

“Maybe I could convince Mom and Trenton that we should clean out the attic and I could spend more time up here.” Even as I suggested it, looking at the giant space and the hundreds of lifetimes worth of stuff packed in up here made it seem impossible.

“Your Mother would probably want to sell it all,” Montgomery muttered.

I laughed, unable to stop myself, because he wasn’t wrong. And even though my knee jerk reaction to almost anything Mom wanted to do was to be against it, in this one thing I had to agree. There was way too much crap shoved up here just collecting cobwebs.

As I laughed, Jameson’s head popped up from the stairwell.

The sound died in my mouth just as my amusement died in my heart.

“What are you laughing at?” he asked, as if he had any business asking me anything. 

“Do you see the mess back there?” I pointed behind me in the vague direction of where we were, unsure if he could see anything, but I didn’t wait for him to comment. “Well, I jumped because of a spider, I was laughing at myself.”

He smiled, trying on that charming look his face wore so well and made me want to punch him.

“What are you doing up here, Jameson?” I kept moving, heading in his direction even though I might regret getting closer to him and his scrutiny.

“There was a big noise, I thought maybe there were pests up here so I thought I would check.”

“Nope. No pests, just me and dust.” I squeezed past him, not letting the fact he was trying to block the way so completely corner me up here.

“So, what were you doing up here?” I rolled my eyes, my back to him, as I made my way down the steps. He had to ask the one question I really didn’t want him looking at too closely.

“Someone should try and learn the history of this big old house.” It was as good an excuse as I could come up with, and it helped that it was true. Especially in light of my mom’s terrible ideas for renovations. Although what I could do to stop her, I didn’t have the faintest idea yet.

“You should have just asked Petra, she has a bunch of stuff on the house,” Jameson said.

Whirling around, I almost slammed into his chest and looked up at him on the stair above me. “Petra has stuff on the house? Why?” My words were slow and careful, like I was defusing a bomb, because I may as well have been. Whatever the reason for her interest, it wasn’t good.

“Um…” Jameson looked past me like he was trying to figure out a way to walk through the walls to avoid me.But behind him, Montgomery raised his brows and frowned at the back of Jameson’s head before he made eye contact with me, lifted his chin high and nodded.Then he did walk through the wall.

“Well, Jameson? What could Petra and you possibly want this the history of the house?” This time my voice was caustic with mock naïveté. He was an idiot in so many ways, but he heard something in my words that made him shuffle his feet and look all around before he opened his mouth.
Ta da!
As always, happy reading!

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