Thursday, April 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Lightning Sealed

Today's Throwback is Lightning Sealed. It is book 2 in the Lucent Series. You can find your copy HERE

Chapter 1

There was not very much fight in me anymore. I’d given up wrestling with the voices. Lately, it was better to come out to the gardens near Rebekah’s grave, lie down on the grass, and just let myself drown in them. Allow the gates to open. Feel myself tumble in the undercurrent, happy to drown. Happy to let go. There was a time when I could control them—allow Colby’s touch to make them still. That was until Torrent returned. Sanctum’s presence amplified it all. They weren’t just voices, as I’d convinced everyone around me. They were disembodied souls seeking the same thing I was—peace. These unrelenting souls wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me eat. Even a glass of water seemed to contain the lives of thousands and I was swallowing them whole. I knew exactly what needed to be done. It was so simple and so damned difficult. The Fray was not their destiny. The Almighty never intended His children to float around aimlessly for eternity. But even the Almighty required help sometimes. And there I was, His hand, refusing to help. I knew the toll it was taking on me and Colby. I could see it in her eyes, the way they’d lost some of their sparkle, their luster for life. She watched me—a mild panic in her gasp when I disappeared from her line of sight. She’d taken to eating only when I ate, which was next to never. She hadn’t slept more than a few hours in weeks. Her cries when she did sleep were for me, for us. That was when I couldn’t stand to be near her—the time when she needed me most. She wrestled with the sheets as though they were me, or who I used to be. She should’ve given up on me a long time ago. And I should’ve let her. I was hurting her, but I didn’t know how to stop it. There was nothing more I wanted in life than for it all to stop. “If this is your idea of a battle plan, then we are verifiably screwed.” I shielded my eyes from the blaring sun and looked at the man, once the boy, who was once my brother. I guessed, technically, he was still my brother. He looked the same for the most part. His grooming habits had changed, which might have been the only improvement. He was the dingy one of the family. My mom always had to beg him to take a shower. My parents had called here and there to check on me, but I’d left out Torrent’s presence. They had enough to worry about without adding him to the mix. I was weaker with him around—more fragile. It pissed me off to no end. I would have to tell them eventually. I didn’t want to see any more of their pain. “I thought you were the almighty Sanctum, Warlord Supreme. You said I was just the weapon.” He canted his head at me and then plopped down beside me on the grass. I hated him. I needed him. We needed him. “Please. We are all the weapons. Plus, a few guns never hurt anyone.” His voice was shrouded in filth, like he talked to me through a sheet of mud. “If you’re looking to get guns from me, you’re not looking in the right place.” There were still some things I knew about my brother. A title doesn’t change the root of who someone is. When he turned his face away from me, he was rolling his eyes.“Don’t roll your eyes at me.” I joked, but didn’t recognize my own voice. “The great and powerful Eidolon wishes me to mind my manners. Sorry, brother. It’s in my veins not to mind my manners. It’s so easy to be—nasty.” My mind drifted to Collin. I knew he worried about us—about me. He was our column in a crumbling mansion. It was hard enough for Collin to handle Colby, now he had to handle Sanctum as well. “Do you have a plan or did you come out here to annoy me to death? Wait, is that your plan—annoy the Synod to death? That sounds like a decent plan, but in reality, Colby has already tried it. It just makes them extra pissy.” His silence buzzed in my ears. The voices quelled a bit in his presence, not silent like when Colby was around, but muted, like he’d thrown a wet blanket over them. I’d never tell him that. He might stay longer—or leave earlier. We were stuck between the devil and the witches in a battle that I thought no one would actually win. I’d known for a while. I’d strategized the efforts. No matter which path we took, someone was going to get hurt. And the guilt anchoring my soul pulled me further into the depths by the second. By not travelling to Paraiso, I was denying my privilege and duty. Denying a calling directly from the source. Those souls were stuck in the Fray. It was an ungraspable area between time and space, where hours didn’t tick by and the sun neither rose nor set. Everything was gray—floating and out of reach. They were imprisoned and I was the key. “I hear them too, you know. Of course, I want to drag them down to hell. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch—like having to wear one of those sweaters Gran used to make us for Christmas. But their cries—at least they would have some resolution, even if I dragged them to the pit. They’d surely shut the hell up.” I kicked his leg. I meant it to hurt him, but a good breeze could’ve done more damage. “Sounds like empathy—maybe pity?” He snorted. “Don’t forget, brother. I am not like you. I am evil to the core. You can twist my motives all you want, but there is no real good left in me.” The clouds concurred, rolling in with their grief and grayness. It was my turn to roll my eyes. “There was once some good in you.” “Once—maybe. Not anymore. It was eaten away. You were enlightened by your gifts. I was plagued by mine. It’s a give and take world, Theo. When something is given to you— sometimes it’s taken from someone else.”There were questions burning in me, and I thought there was no better time to ask. “When did you know? Why did you know so soon and it took me forever?” For a long time, he looked to the sky and ground his jaw back and forth. It made me think he was making up a lie or figuring out a way to smooth over the truth. “Because I sought it. I peeled away the layers and allowed the darkness to filter through. It was there all along. I just had to let it loose. Plus, I wasn’t clouded by love and Colby.” I corrected him. “Love and Colby aren’t separate. They are the same.” Torrent crinkled up his nose in what looked like disgust. He got up to leave, but I stopped him. If I could restore the Resin, there was a possibility I could revive goodness into the shell of a man standing next to me. “I don’t even know how to get them from the Fray—even if I wanted to.” “How do you flash?” His back was still turned to me. “Same as the rest of them. I picture the place I want to go and then go. But this is different—I think.” “The Fray is just another place, except it’s not tangible. And time doesn’t move there like it does here.” He chortled. “You’ve never been there, brother. How would you know?” “The stories.” He flicked a piece of grass at me. “Come on. You and I both know that stories are nothing more than gossip. Some of it is sanded and some of it is bloated. Either way, none of it is even close to the truth.” Torrent knew how to dismantle my bones from the inside out. All I had relied on were stories. But his words weren’t bloated at all. They needled my chest. I had no idea what the Fray was about because I’d never surrendered to the pull. I was still fighting an unwinnable battle. The tug to do what I was born to do wasn’t just a little pull anymore—it reached down into my chest and dragged me with it, demanding I heed the call. I had to know a little about what I was doing before I was lost myself—except there would be no hope of ever returning for me. “Have you told her yet?” As though her name, even the thought of her name, wasn’t enough to tether me here, I felt the Earth buckle beneath me, settling me in place. I never should’ve told her. Minute by minute I regretted going after her, seeking her out in Brazil, though she’d told me to stay far away. It was me this time that should’ve stayed away from her. She wasn’t like me. She could live without me. I couldn’t live without her safe. “I’ll take your silence as a no.” “You can take it as none of your business.” He chuckled. It wasn’t the laugh I remembered. This laugh was laced with venom. “Ahh, Theo, but you see, it is my business. Who do you think is going to watch over her in your absence? The Viking?” Under Colby’s influence, everyone involved gradually started calling Collin ‘The Viking.’ I thought he liked it more than he let on. The way I thought he liked Colby more than he let on. In fact, I was betting everything on it. “Collin can handle it. He was a Guardian once.” “Yeah, because guarding books is the same as guarding Colby. He’d lose her before he even knew he was supposed to watch over her.” “I guess you think I’m supposed to trust you with her?” He snorted. “The last thing I think you should do is trust anyone. Besides, she’s not a puppy you leave for boarding.” Trust—it was a word I couldn’t count on anymore. The only people I trusted were me and Colby. Scratch that, just Colby. There were blips of time where my thoughts were so tightly fused with those in the Fray that I was already lost. “Do us all a favor and don’t just disappear on her. No one wants to deal with that drama. I came for the fight, not for the antics or the drama,” he offered. “I’ve never needed you before and I don’t need you now.” He patted my shoulder before flashing away and said, “Yeah. Sure you don’t.

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