Darkness, Light, and Chapter 35 of The Voice In The Forest

Update

Hi everybody! 

How are you? Have you caught up to book 3, Heart of Midnight? Are you ready for news of the later books? Or?

Okay, well, you’re getting updates anyway. ha!

Book 4, After Midnight Strikes, will be out May 31st! Yay! 

Book 5, will be out in the fall, and book 6 will be out this year as well.

Now, I know that seems like the end of the story, but I will also soon be writing another connected book. This one will tell the story of Tristan’s parents during the last war and the story of the making of the Obsidian Palace and some of the Dragon King lore.

When I finish the story, I will give it to all of you wonderful people for free just for subscribing to the newsletter. So, good news!

I love being able to deliver some good news.

Let’s turn to some of the darker stuff.

Darkness

For anyone who has read any of my books, it is obvious that I often delve into dark themes and explore dark subjects. It should come as no surprise to most of you if you’ve read Heart of Cinders that I have experienced some of what she has at the hands of her brother.

This didn’t come from anyone still in my family, but it was something I lived with at one point.

So, I say all that to tell you this, there has been some recent discourse on the interwebs that an author who writes about it must condone it or is even celebrating it. That isn’t true.

Often, and this comes from knowing a lot of authors, and from my own experience as a writer, we use our work, our stories, worlds, characters, and even our word choice as ways to explore things we don’t understand, or things we understand better than anyone should have to.

Light

Part of the reason I tell the stories I do, the way I do, with a little match of hopeful light always burning in the dark, is because of my experience in that midnight place.

And, personally, I think that more people need to read of people who have stared into the darkness and either made it their own, learned to laugh because they become more dangerous than it will ever be, or learn to shine so bright they obliterate its power.

I hope my characters are one, or more, of the above.

Now, let’s get to another chapter of our hot mess first draft of The Voice In The Forest.

The Voice in the Forest

Chapter 35

“Can I get you anything else?” Henry asked, placing the still mostly full cup of tea down on the tray next to my mostly uneaten soup.

“No, thank you,” I said, my voice weak and grating, my head pounding with the effort to speak.

“Okay, I’ll come back and check on you.” His eyes softened and he reached out a hand to grasp mine, Montgomery moving his out of the way and leaning back before Henry made contact. Montgomery’s hand felt no less human, no less alive than Henry’s did when it wrapped around mine.

Henry sighed and shook his head. 

“This shouldn’t have happened.” He bit his lip and tucked a piece of my hair behind my ear while Montgomery stiffened and narrowed his eyes at Henry. “You’re too important to this place, to its future. If there’s anything you need at night from here on out, please ask me.”

I tried to nod, but it sent shooting pain through my brain and I squeezed my eyes shut tight.

With a rub on the back of my hand with his thumb, Henry let go of me and stood up, taking the tray with him as he sighed.

At the door, he turned and looked at me, the bright light from the hallway piercing through the low, twilight quality in the office with just the green reading lamp on the desk lit.

“Just be careful, please,” he said, and stepped out, closing the door behind him.

Montgomery moved back into position in front of me, taking the space Henry and his attempt to feed me had taken up.

“I should have been here,” he said for the thousandth time.

“Not your fault.” I sounded terrible, but he had to hear me. Someone else might come in at any moment, and this was my chance to make him stop saying it.

“Yes, it was.” He put his forehead down on our clasped hands, a shudder running through him that made me want to wrap him up and hug him, comfort him, which was stupid and was impossible when I was so messed up.

“Ara,” he said, looking up at me, his eyes reflecting my own pain back at me like he felt it with me, “If I was here like I should have been, not outside, then I could have stopped whoever did this.”

“Given yourself away.” I couldn’t manage the entire sentence, I could barely manage the three words I shoved out of my moth to get my point across.

“Or, at least we would know who did it.” He returned his head to our hands, and I wanted to reach out with my other hand and tangle my fingers in his hair. 

Someone wanted me dead. That was the only explanation. But…

“No sense.” 

Montgomery looked back up at me, leaning closer and placing a hand on my cheek.

“You’re right,” he said, his voice as tender as his touch, “it makes no sense that anyone would want to hurt you.”

I closed my eyes and allowed my head to relax against his hand which soothed the ache in my brain.

He moved, positioned himself without jostling me, one little bit at a time, until he supported my half upright position with his body, allowing every piece of me to relax for the first time since I was pushed down the stairs.

Once I was there, wrapped in his arms, the shooting jabs in my head alleviated enough for me to think.

What did I know?

Someone tried to kill me by shoving me down the stairs, which wasn’t a plan, it was a spur of the moment taking advantage of me wandering through the house alone, at night, in the dark.

Who could have done it?

Anyone in the house. But who would want to?

Not because I was too good to be hated like Montgomery seemed to think, although he knew better. More than most. The same thing happened to him. Everyone seemed to love him from all the accounts, but he still died.

In my case, I was starting to think that the only person who loved me was Montgomery, and the only other people who even mildly cared were Henry and Trenton. 

My mother wouldn’t have tried to kill me, though. That was too messy. Too many people would feel entitled to investigate, gawk, theorize about our family. She would hate every second of it.

Petra?

No, she didn’t care enough one way or the other.

Jameson was just as unlikely, if not more so. Too self absorbed to put himself out to even try, and with an ego far too large to ever think that I didn’t want him. He was more likely to invite me to an empty room with him while Petra slept than push me down the stairs.

So who did it?

There were so many servants in the house, I had yet to meet most of them. But none of them could possibly develop the kind of animosity toward me required to do such a thing.

Among all the people gathered in the house, the only one I could rely on to be completely safe, the only one I knew wouldn’t hurt me and would never try to kill me, wasn’t alive.

“Montgomery?” I asked, my voice almost gone as sleep tugged at the edges of my brain, the thinking it through already sapping me of all my energy.

“Yes, Ara?” He ran a hand along my cheek in a caress that made it even easier to let my eyes slip shut and almost fall asleep before I answered.

“Love you.”
Tada!
I knew I didn’t trust anyone in this house other than Montgomery, the ghost, and maybe Ara…. Maybe.
As always, happy reading everybody!

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