Chapter 47 of The Voice In The Forest

don’t stop me now

Hi Everyone!

Did I just quote Queen?

Yes, yes I did.

Am I channeling a little Freddie to help me get through this last week before school starts?

Honestly, I think we should all borrow a little energy from proof that sirens exist, Freddie Mercury, far more often.

But, what does this mean?!

It means that I have finally returned to the social medias (yes, plural, long story) so keep an eye out for Everly Stories on Instagram, or J. Darlene Everly or Everly books groups on Facebook, or Everly_Stories over on Tik Tok.

Those are my socials, and for now I have no plan to join twitter or these books, sorry if that’s your platform. I only have my personal twitter and I’m keeping it separate.

Part of the reason I had to get some distance from socials for a while was burn out, part of it was time, and HUGE part of it was a mistake I made in crossing the streams between my personal and professional socials and the large problem it caused.

Don’t be like me. Don’t cross the streams!

You would think I would have learned that lesson from the Ghostbusters.

Alas, I did not.

we’re so close


When I tell you we are so close to getting Brewed Anew in your hands…

This book is so cute.

Shane and Marcus need to be little figures I can put in my pocket and carry around with me.

Also, whooooo boy, book 5 is…

I don’t know if everyone is ready for this, to be honest.

After everything we’ve all been through with Cinder, Tristan, Gus, Jacquetta, General Pace, and Rathmoreland this book might give some people a heart attack.

Plus, book 6 is right around the corner….

Wow. That’s… I’m going to freak out a little bit when I get the final edits for book 6 and know that the story will be over soon…

I might be freaking out right now.

Oh, that’s right!

Don’t worry, all. I still need to write the Dragon Queen story that’s a companion to this series.

Keep an eye out for everything coming out!

And have you picked up Cultivating Marigold?

What did you think?

For now, this chapter of our little hot mess first draft story is one I wrote out of order and one some of you have already seen. I did a quick little adjustment to it, but we finally met this scene and caught up with ourselves!

the voice in the forest

Chapter 47

Was it real? 

This weight on my shoulders?

Far beyond the black wool of my dress, the way it felt along my arms, the frigid air itself was thick and heavy along my skin.

Even the words of the clergyman who spoke about going home and made metaphors that my mother wouldn’t have understood, fell on my ears as hard as an old growth tree slamming into the ground.

But the one thing where I found the light wasn’t in the low gray clouds or the false sniffles around me of the gathered mourners. 

No. It was in the hand that rested on mine and the arm supporting my back.

It didn’t matter that the rest of the people present at my mother’s graveside couldn’t see him crouched down next to my chair.

Because I could.

And his presence, the fact that I knew he was there only for me, meant that even as the stones of the day, the weight of everyone and everything happening around me settled down upon my head, he was there to help me carry it. Just as he had been for the last three days as mother’s death was ruled an accidental drowning and preparations were made.

“Don’t respond to me,” Montgomery whispered in my ear, his voice a salve for the wounds my mother caused that would never heal now. “But as soon as you want, just say you’re tired and if you add a touch to your head with it I’ll make some kind of distraction.”

The thought of him making a distraction, a phantom something happening at my mother’s funeral as everyone looked on made me bite my lip to hold in laughter. 

Wildly inappropriate laughter. 

Maybe, if I did laugh, mother would come back to haunt me and I could have the kind of conversations with her I wanted to.

Hell, maybe if that happened she would finally believe me when I said that what I saw was real and sending me to the hospital and the doctors for all those years was a mistake.

Although, her relenting even then was unlikely.

I sighed and leaned further into Montgomery’s embrace. 

How was I supposed to mourn for the loss of someone, someone I did love, when every time I thought about them at all what I remembered first was all the ways in which they hurt me? All the ways in which they targeted me for pain for their own reasons because of who I was and something I couldn’t change?

For most of my life I hated myself and believed myself to be someone to be ashamed of because of my mother. How was I supposed to mourn the end of that influence?

The answer, at least for me in that moment, was that I didn’t mourn that part of her or our past. I couldn’t. I was happy to be without it.

But… I couldn’t stop mourning the mother I had for a such a short time as a small child. I couldn’t help but miss the way I wanted us to be. The mother I hoped she would still be one day.

Now, all of that possibility, all the ways in which I could make that real in my life and all the things we needed to talk through were gone.

Shaking my head and looking down at Montgomery’s hand on mine, I realized they weren’t gone.

They were in a silver casket with mother of pearl inlay festooned in more flowers than most weddings and about to be lowered into the ground of the woods near the manor.

All of it was so close, I could still stand and reach out to touch it, but it was now so far beyond the grasp of anyone in this world.

Maybe I should have allowed them to bury her in the family crypt. Especially since she died on this property.

But I wanted my mother to have her own place. And she loved this house. For all the wrong reasons, but she loved it just the same. 

For some reason, I didn’t think I could have handled doing this, being here for my mother, without Montgomery with me.

And we knew, this was the only place we could make that happen.

He had yet to leave my side since I found her body in the lake, even though his body was currently in a cooled truck with investigators near the lake and was about to be reinterred himself as soon as they got all the answers from it they wanted.

What they could possibly need to glean from his long dead body, I had no idea.

But he was taking a risk in being here for me when I was little more than a stunned stone for the last three days. Neither of us were sure if his physical remains were the key to his continued presence, and we needed to find out.

Somehow, I needed to be able to let him make that choice without falling apart. I just needed to bury my mother first.

“Why?” I whispered under my breath, staring at a white rose that dipped low out of the arrangement on top of the casket.

“Your mother loved you, in her way,” Trenton whispered on the other side of me, nodding his head and wiping away a tear with the hanky in his hand he wrapped and rewrapped around his fingers.

“But why did she do this?” It was the same question I kept asking him, and the one he had no answer to.

He took in a shuddering, shaky breath and squeezed his eyes shut. He looked like a man who was fighting to stay conscious after receiving a mortal wound.

“She didn’t intend to,” he said, a touch too loud. 

I nodded, although I wasn’t sure I believed him.

For Trenton, believing that she didn’t intend to get blind drunk, a detail of her condition we only learned after the fact and why her death was so quickly ruled an accident, and wander into the lake in the middle of the night to drown after screaming and running from the house was some kind of security blanket, some kind of help.

But I couldn’t see it that way. 

Not that I understood why I wasn’t able to go along with him.

I just wasn’t.

Whether she intended to drown, I didn’t know.

But my mother had never, not one time since she moved into the manor, been out into the woods as far as I knew. Let alone on her own.

After screaming…

Something made her go out there.

And something made her do it while she was so intoxicated according to her blood alcohol level, it was shocking she could stand. 

The only thing I knew to be out in the forest, was the lake.

For some reason, that lake, the same one that Montgomery was drawn to over and over again, and his coffin was inexplicably submerged in, kept popping into my mind and coming up as important to the people in my world and the manor itself in ways that I still didn’t know. It felt like the lake itself was holding secrets in tight fists.

Hidden by the sunglasses I wore to avoid some of the people present around me, I looked to Montgomery and studied the curve of his jaw.

No matter how monumental this was, how hard it was to lose my mother, I needed to get back to the search to understand what happened to him.

Even though I didn’t want to lose him too, the echo of his still mysterious death, mourning the death of my mother, and the little we knew of his life so far, made me think maybe there was a connection.

I just needed to find it.

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