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Freehaven Chapter One Excerpt


Hello, Dear Readers!


It's been such a fun, wild ride creating the world of The Reaper Trilogy for you, and I cannot wait to share FREEHAVEN, the final installment releasing on November 19th! Below is the very first sneak peek at Chapter One, and I hope you enjoy it!


WARNING: If you haven't EVERHAVEN and NEWHAVEN, books one and two of THE REAPER TRILOGY yet, then proceed with caution because there be spoilers ahead!



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CHAPTER 1

Abbie


The sun never sets here, because there is no sun. The Beneath is bathed in a constant, dull red glow that never fades unless a storm is coming—a storm of Ivan’s making. There is no day, no night, no reprieve.


Only misery.


Though it has only been a single night for me, I wonder how long it’s been for my friends and family back home. Time moves differently in the Beneath than on the surface, so has it been a couple days, a week, or a month at this point? Who knows.


Though it’s only been a day, I miss them fiercely. My friends, my mom, my half sister.


And my love, Preston.


Likely, none of them even remember where I am. Ivan had made sure their memories would never lead them back here. So, I can’t help but wonder where they think I am now. Do they think I’m dead? At least they’re safe. Away from here. That’s the only thing that brings me comfort.


I wake up—a loosely used term, as I was hardly able to fall asleep in the first place—and frown at the bed. The mattress is soft, the sheets silky, and that almost makes me angry. Like I’m the calf being pampered and slowly fattened up for slaughter in my penthouse room of the Red Tower.


But then, if Ivan slaughtered me, he’d have no reaper. So maybe all this, my overly large, ornate room—and everything in it—is all simply a means to try to get me to like him. To make me more compliant.


As if that’s even a possibility.


Regardless, I know Ivan will be summoning me soon, because it’s meant to be my first day of training. Soon it will be my first day of reaping too, and I feel the sting of fresh bile at the back of my throat as I think about my upcoming duties, about being forced to take dozens—or hundreds or even thousands—of lives.


I look forward to neither training nor reaping, though I’m sure Ivan is very much looking forward to both. Which means he’ll be wasting no time today.


As though on cue, a hooded guardian appears in my room, like a shimmering mirage standing right next to my bed, holding a tray, and I squeak and jump at the sudden intrusion, pulling the silky sheets tighter around my body. The guardian says nothing. I notice it has some strange scarring down its arms, three pink and puckered rows of symbols that had been carved into flesh. It just sets the tray on my nightstand and disappears in a blink.


“Thanks for knocking,” I mutter once it’s gone, now thoroughly awake. I lean over to peek at my nightstand and see that the tray holds breakfast. Just like a regular, human breakfast: eggs, orange juice, fruit, bacon, capped off with a white rose in a glass vase on the side.

Ivan really is trying to butter me up.


I pick up the glass full of orange juice and study it.


Now that I’m a full reaper, I’m immortal, which means I don’t technically need food or sleep to survive anymore. But as Ivan explained, I was mortal so recently, I’ll still have human urges for a while—probably decades—including the urges to sleep and eat, and he wants me to feel comfortable here.


Or so he says.


Immortal. How am I, Abbie Walters, immortal? How am I trapped in a hellish underworld with a psycho king with a god complex for all eternity? How am I expected to reap souls?

It’s like my life is not my own anymore and I’m watching some awful, dark horror movie play out instead. We weren’t allowed to watch movies like that in Everhaven, and part of me understands why now. Because they’re disturbing, just like my current reality.


CRUNCH!


I look down and my hand is dripping orange juice, the glass shattered to dust. Miraculously, I’m not bleeding. Apparently, as a reaper, I also have far more strength and thicker skin—literally—than I ever did as a human. I’ll have to remember that.


After I dry my hand, I stare down my breakfast. But I soon realize I’m too anxious about today to eat anything. So, I ignore the tray and pad over to the marble laden bathroom where I survey the toiletries Ivan had provided—he’d thought of everything, down to toothbrush and toothpaste, those familiar human comforts—and I get to work washing my face and brushing my teeth and wondering where the water coming out of the curved, sleek metal faucet comes from. Is it mystical, magic water? Should I even be drinking it? Nothing in this place makes sense to me.


Once finished, I slide on the purple robe Ivan had gifted me, hung inside a large wardrobe. I’d prefer not to wear it, considering its source. But my only other option is the soiled, blood-stained clothes I arrived here in—covered in Deputy’s blood and reaper blood alike—so it seems there really is no other option. Probably by design.


After donning the robe, I stare at myself in the full-length mirror in the room. The mirror itself is too ornate for my taste, like everything in here, and its frame is embossed with unfamiliar symbols; the most prominent one is like a slanted cross with a needle eye loop on top. But I don’t know its meaning and I don’t care; I’m more focused on the fact that I can barely recognize my reflection. My hair is shiny with nary a split end in sight, the dark circles under my eyes gone. My skin seems dewier, my cheeks pinker, even my lips appear slightly fuller and redder, as though the reaper energy coursing through my veins gave me a full makeover.


My heart leaps into my throat as the elevator dings, and Ivan walks in, wearing a high-collared, black jacket lined with silver and red. I swear he somehow manages to look younger every day, and I find myself wondering what age he was before he stopped aging. He couldn’t have been all that much older than me judging by his looks now—maybe a few years older, like early twenties. Unless his current looks are just an illusion because he certainly didn’t look this good the first time I met him, back before Everhaven crumbled. His shrewd, dark eyes scan the room before settling back on me.


“You didn’t eat,” he observes, gesturing to my tray on the nightstand still piled high with breakfast goods.


“Wasn’t hungry,” I reply.


“But you wore your cloak.”


I shrug nonchalantly. “Seems I have no other options.”


“By design, my dear.”


I knew it. But at least he admits it.


I bristle at him calling me my dear, but I don’t bother protesting out loud. Pick your battles wisely, my father would tell me. Instead, I say, “So, where are we doing this training?”

Ivan smiles a tight smile that doesn’t reach his eyes, though they never seem to. It’s then that a notice a deep bit of scar tissue just above his left ear, about an inch long, jagged and dark and half-hidden by his short sideburns. I wonder where he’d gotten it, but don’t ask.


“Come,” he says simply, waving a hand before clasping both behind his back. With not much choice, I follow him into the elevator, staying as far to the opposite wall as I can without disappearing into it. Ivan doesn’t move toward me nor look at me, instead keeping his chin held high and even, shoulders square, hands clasped behind his back like a soldier standing at attention, waiting for orders. The elevator slows its descent and then the doors ding open, and I follow him out in the hallway, down the grand staircase, and finally, out into the middle of the dusty, dull red street outside. Once out in the relative open—aside from the high-rise buildings rising up on both sides of us like twisted monoliths—he finally turns to face me.


Suddenly nervous over what he’s about to make me do, I begin blurting random questions. “You’ve demonstrated the ability to teleport people anywhere within the Beneath and even Newhaven. So, why are we taking elevators and stairs?”


He studies me for a long, drawn-out moment before replying, “Because what’s the fun in that? Besides,” he taps his thigh, “sometimes it’s nice to give the legs a stretch. Now, shall we?”


“Shall we what?”


I look around for some indication of what’s about to happen, but at the moment, nothing is stirring. My brows furrow, and once again words begin to just tumble out. “So, how do I reap a soul? You said before that I’d have to want somebody dead in order to reap. How would I want someone dead? Who am I going to practice on?”


Ivan grins wide at that, showing too many overly white teeth as he speaks. “Me.”




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