Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all well. It has been a busy week around here. I am taking a short break from Strife before I tackle revisions, so I’ve been working on finishing Forever Night. Shanti’s novella should be available on Amazon sometime next month. Aside from writing, it finally feels like spring here, so we’ve been hanging out in the yard a lot more and getting the garden whipped into shape.
On Facebook, the lovely Jennifer asked for another sneak peek at Strife, and since I am all about making my readers happy (except when I’m making you cry and wanting to throw your e-readers against the wall, that is… ) I am happy to oblige.
This is from chapter five of Strife. Things have started getting crazy for the team(s) and it’s definitely having an effect on Molly. Something kinda huge happened the night before, and now Molly is dealing with the fallout.
* * *
I went into my backyard, started pacing back and forth, trying to quiet the darkness inside me, trying to stop the way I felt wrong in my own skin, trying to stop hating the fact that I existed at all. Cursed the fact that I would be alive forever, and I’d have to keep dealing with shit like this.
I kept pacing. It was one of those things. I’d always had a lot of nervous energy. Pacing wasn’t uncommon. But now, being back, having whatever this was inside me messing with me, affecting my powers, I found myself doing it more, almost unable to stop once I got started. And when I was stressed out, which was more and more common, I got into this almost unstoppable pacing pattern, as if my body couldn’t handle the insanity happening inside it, needed some way to try to let off some steam.
I heard cars pull out of the driveway. I focused for a moment, realized that the only ones left were Nain and my parents. I heard the back door open, and glanced that way to see Nain and my parents standing on the back porch, watching me as I paced between my garage and the end of my yard.
I knew how insane it looked. A lot of the time, it helped me get under control. I had enough power flowing through me just then that I could have destroyed just about anything. And that was the problem. I didn’t want to go out when I was like this. Too much danger of losing control, of an innocent getting hurt if I couldn’t hold it together.
I was full, nearly overflowing with power. It had grown steadily since I’d seen myself on television, fed by my anger, my fear, my pain. I was so full, it hurt. I clenched my teeth, glanced around for something to let it out on, away from everyone. Nain and my parents continued to watch me.
There was a large norway maple across the street, and I focused on it, snarled and unleashed the overflow of power. It hit the tree full blast, and the tree gave a loud, sickening screech as it split, fell over. It landed in the empty lot, one of several.
It hurt to have the power, it hurt just as much to release it. I bent double, trying to get my breath, trying to wait the pain out. Nain walked over to me, crouched in front of me. He stayed, watching me as it felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside. I looked up and met his eyes.
“That tree was a fucking asshole. It had it coming,” he said, very seriously, and I couldn’t help it. I laughed, just a little, shoving him away from me as I stood up. I heard my parents walk back into the house, closing the back door behind them, leaving Nain and me alone in the yard. I stepped away from him, holding my head, trying to massage away the headache. Trade one pain for another. Kind of the story of my life.
I headed toward the back porch and plopped down on one of he steps. Nain sat next to me, and I felt a mixture of relief and irritation that he was staying.
“Do you need anything?”
I shook my head, stared down at my feet as I willed the pain to stop.
“Did you have any idea that was happening last night?” Voice a low rumble, rage flowing from him.
I shook my head. “Not really.” Didn’t feel like explaining it just then.
We sat in silence for a few minutes. “What do you think set it off?” he asked. “Was it that shit with Brennan the other day?”
I shook my head. “It wasn’t just that,” I said. “It was everything. Everything we went over with Jones yesterday, meeting with the vamp queen, who refuses to join us, by the way. Brennan, you, the stress of never being alone. Just… everything. I’m exhausted,” I said, and I hated the weakness in my voice. Waved it away. “Not that it matters.”
“It matters,” he said. “We need to find a way to fix this. You can’t keep going on this way.”
The back door opened, and we both turned and watched my parents step onto the back porch. “We may have an idea,” Tisiphone said.
“What?” I asked, standing up. Nain stood up as well, stayed beside me.
“We think you should have Asclepias look at you,” Hades said.
“No. Not a chance in hell,” I said. One of the dogs came, sat near me. I saw that it was Courtney, and I gave her an absent-minded scratch behind the ear.
“Who’s Asclepias?” Nain asked.
“Healer god,” Hades said. “One who joined our side during the war and also came and healed the shifters from the plague sent by the Nosoi.”
“An Aether healer immortal,” I said, emphasizing the “Aether” part and sharing a glance with Nain.
He got it, nodded once and crossed his arms over his chest. He had about as high an opinion of the immortals as I did, after seeing more than a little of what they’d done to me when I’d opened my mind to him.
“An Aether god who doesn’t care at all for politics, Mollis,” Tisiphone chided, and I almost laughed, hearing her mom voice.
“Yeah? So he says. Everyone has a price. Everyone has a point at which they decide someone isn’t worth saving. Not a chance in hell am I letting any of them know what’s going on with me.”
“Did you see yourself today? It’s kind of obvious something’s wrong with you,” Hades said, glaring at me. “Do you really think none of them saw it? Aphrodite is in town trying to see Hephaestus. Apollo is around too, because his sister is here. Trust me: they know.”
“But they don’t know that whole story and I’m sure the hell not letting them learn more than they already know,” I said, glaring right back at my father. “Are you nuts? Why in the hell would you trust any of them, ever? Especially knowing what I am and what I can do to them?”
I glanced at my mother, who was looking like she was ready to beg me, then glanced back at my father and Nain just in time to see them exchanging a look.
“Molls. Just let the fucking healer god look at you,” Nain said after a few moments.
“Did he tell you to say that?” I demanded.
He glared at me. “Have you ever known me to give a shit about what anyone tells me? I don’t care about what he wants,” he said. “But this is something you need. And if he betrays you, then you end him, because you can.”
I felt the horror from both of my parents at his last statement. They both genuinely liked Asclepias. I did too. Didn’t mean I trusted him.
“Do this thing. You can’t fix it until you know. And I’ll be here and I swear I’ll watch him every second.”
I met his eyes.
Just do it, Molls. If he blabs about what’s happening with you, I’ll help you hunt his ass down. But this isn’t solving itself and if they think he can help, you should see what he says. Nain’s voice in my mind.
I hate this, I thought at him.
I know. But you know as well as I do that we have to figure this out to prevent it from happening again. It could have been a lot worse. Next time it might be.
I watched him for a moment, looked away. “Fine,” I said, shaking my head. “Bring him here.”
* * *
So, yeah. That’s that. 🙂
Thanks for reading! Have a lovely weekend, all!