Chapter 50 of The Voice In The Forest

Important Question

SO… This little nutty butter, hot mess, real dirty rough draft that I’m writing here for you has already had some of the kinds of major changes that are usual for me as I write my notebooks full of first drafts.

That was always going to be part of this process I’m afraid.

By opening up my brain to you all, you were inevitably going to be forced to deal with the proverbial “disappearing horse” problem that I always go through in a rough draft.

Sometimes, things change mid stream.

For this one, I have another thing to change I think.

How do you all feel about the characters names?

Montgomery has never really hit the right note for me.

In the final version of this book, there will be sex scenes that I am leaving out of this newsletter and blog rough draft because I don’t know everyone’s ages. Well. I wrote one the other day and… Montgomery was a challenge in that scene.

Now, I’m not saying I can’t make it work if you all love it, but… it’s a lot.

So, I’m leaving it up to you.

Will his name remain Montgomery, or should I change it to Stefan?

The other question is, how are we feeling about Arabella/Ara?

And if you think I should change her name too, do you have any suggestions because this one is hard for me for some reason.

Part of me thought about doing Anastasia and Ann because Anastasia means resurrection, but does it ring a little too 50 Shades? Because I REALLY don’t want to head down that lane of the highway.

The Voice In The Forest

Chapter 50

Taking a seat in Henry’s office, the noise of the people still reveling after the death of my mother in this same house made it through the thick walls as a low humming that managed to worm its way into my veins.

My ears, my mind, my body, and my very blood responded to their clarion call to the anger and sorrow boiling through me. It all made for wave after wave of feelings I wasn’t prepared to answer in any meaningful way so instead I found myself sitting next to Montgomery, squeezing his hand tighter and tighter in mine with every passing second of continued noise.

Somewhere in my throat, the need to scream rose as Henry bustled around the room, oblivious of my inner struggle even as Montgomery ran his thumb along the back of my hand in a soothing gesture, his face full of careful sympathy.

Henry finally took a seat behind his desk, pushing glasses further up his nose as he stared down at the document in his hand, his lips pressed together. Everything about him gave the air of what I imagined a storied professor at a prestigious university would.

It didn’t help my nerves, or the rising panic my anger was causing to eddy at the shores of my ability to think and to focus.

“What?” Montgomery shouted and I cringed as I jumped after some time that I was only vaguely aware that Henry was filling with words.

The sound of his voice should have distracted me from the lower sounds of the merriment I hated, instead it made me focus all the more.

But if Montgomery was yelling and staring aghast at Henry, then I should be hearing what he had to say.

“Sorry, Henry,” I said, coughing into my fist to clear the scream from my throat as I shook my head, “What did you say?”

He gave me a pained smile as he lowered the papers in front of him and looked at me through his glasses.

“Are you sure you want to be in here right now?” He asked, his voice careful and tentative in a way that made me bite my bottom lip to keep the emotions rioting within me at bay.

No matter what was happening in the rest of the house, I couldn’t allow myself to break while I was in here.

My mother was gone, but that didn’t mean I felt safe to interact with Montgomery in front of anyone. Let alone Henry who I didn’t really know and therefore couldn’t trust what his reaction would be to the real story of me.

“Yes,” I said, surprising myself, and by the looks on their faces—both the men in the room with me, with the strength of my voice.

Just to add to the sense of conviction I hoped he understood, I nodded.

Henry sighed, but he focused back on the pages in front of him and began to read out a long litany of legalese gobbledygook.

The only thing I was able to make out of what he was saying, and there were a lot of words, no matter how hard I tried to parse through it all—was the word condition.

“Wait,” I said, raising my hand palm out to him when I recognized another word, ‘marriage.’ It took me a moment to breathe just to keep asking the question screaming in my head.

Even though it was a delay, to his credit, Henry allowed me to to quiet the wild siren in my head and speak.

Finally, I lowered my hand and looked into his eyes.

Open and ready, his expression didn’t suggest he was struggling with the contents of the pages in front of him nearly as much as I was.

Meanwhile, the circling of Montgomery’s thumb on the back of my hand stilled, his entire body gone as still as if he was as dead as his body. 

I could read nothing from his face either, neither one of them giving me any indication of whether the nightmares playing out in my mind were founded in reality or not.

“Did…” I swallowed and tried again, my voice barely a whisper, “Did you just say that gaining my full inheritance is contingent on me marrying?”

“Either that, or you will need to be seen monthly by a,” he paused to cough into a fist, his face twisting for a moment, “doctor to be given a full clearance on your mental health for a year. At the end of that year, you either need to be married or have that doctor sign off on your fitness and you will inherit it all. If not, the house will be put into a trust to go to any suitable heirs that may come.”

“A doctor…” just saying it made the hairs on the nape of my neck stand on end—doctors like the ones at the hospital—I couldn’t do that, “Or marriage.”


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