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Insurrection Sample Chapter

Gavin

Talk to the Minister. Everyone keeps saying it, and I know they are right, but I just can’t muster the courage. Thankfully, my new status in the Haven gives me a little wiggle room to slip out of some of the more uncomfortable situations. But not everyone in the Haven is pleased with the new status I’ve attained as the revered Idol.


Julia and Carmen have given me the cold shoulder, ignoring me as they carry on running the Haven without the Minister. Luke and Ally have attempted to invite me to meetings among the Elders. Meetings I have avoided. Because I’m a coward.


Emil advised I find replacements for all of them; that my new position as the Idol of Creation should allow me to pick my own Elders. But there are so many problems with that suggestion. Mainly because it would create a sense of permanence here. And I don’t plan on sticking around much longer. The Elders also know how to run the Haven, which they have continued to do even without the Minister among them. I don’t know how to do any of this, and I don’t know who else does. Replacing them will accomplish little more than insurrection. Against me. I shudder at the thought, remembering some of Dad’s stories from his own youth and revolution.


It’s never pretty.


Neither Emil nor Drake understands. In their eyes, I have complete authority over the Haven. Or I could, if I wanted to exert it, but I don’t. What I want is for the people here to live their lives as they deserve, with no one lording over them with prophecies and firm hands.


History teaches us a lot if we pay attention to the lessons. I see several moves ahead. Removing the Elders leads to resentment. Some might even call me a tyrant and question if I’m a false idol. In no time, they will turn against me with the backing of any who doubt my position—which could end in another burning. I didn’t come here to shake up their world. I came to reach out the hand of peace. Then go home.


It’s hard to forgive the Elders. They allowed the Minister to burn me alive, to kill Pip. Especially Julia, the Medical Elder. She shoved that pill down my throat to awaken my senses but keep me weak just before they tied me to a wheel to burn. It still gives me nightmares weeks later. I’m not sure that will ever stop.


“Writing again?” Drake shuffles into the living room, rubbing sleep from his eyes.


I look up from my notebook. One of many I own now. My shelf is stacked with notebooks.

Drake’s hair is tousled from sleep, but the look still heats my blood. It’s been a couple weeks since I visited the Power stones cave. He looks better. I mean, not better better, but better. He still looks…


Living with him is a mistake. I jerk my gaze away and return it to my notebook. The forced proximity makes the air thick with tension I can never relieve. For a moment in the temple, as the chaos died down, he looked at me in a way that ignited something inside. But ever since, everything between us has been painfully friendly. Whatever I thought I saw in that moment was misread. It isn’t the first time I’ve done it. But I won’t make the same mistake I made with Liam. My first crush. My first kiss. My first horrifying rejection.


“I think it’s important to capture everything,” I say as he shuffles past me toward the kitchen.

Drake pats my shoulder, hand sliding off as he moves away. That one touch makes my stomach writhe madly.


Stop, Gavin. It’s nothing. We’re friends.


“I would expect no less from you.” Drake opens the fridge—another luxury most Havenites lack—and retrieves a piece of fruit. “What’s this?” He runs a thumb over the skin.


I turn on the sofa to watch him. The movement of his thumb over the fuzzy skin fills me with a yearning so intense it provokes a fire inside my veins. What I wouldn’t give to have him touch my skin like that. “Kiwi. Not native here. It was in an acolyte basket. I don’t know where they grow them.”


“They’re holding out on the rest of us,” he mutters, then sinks his teeth into the juicy fruit. He moans in delight, a sound that sends my head into a tailspin. “This is my new favorite thing.”

He moves toward me. I avert my gaze, certain that my face is burning. Can he tell?


Drake holds the fruit to my lips. “Try this.”


I want to refuse, pull away, create as much distance between us as possible, but when I look up at his eyes, I’m drawn in. I can’t do anything but comply. I’ve had kiwi before. It’s harder to grow in Elpis, but our gardeners create enough to keep the stock going.


Eating food that he holds in his hand feels deeply personal. But I sink my teeth in, aware of how his knuckles graze my cheek.


He lingers for a moment, watching me with a grin. “Good, right?”


I nod, wiping the juice from my chin quickly. Then I notice his hand drop. For a moment, something flickers in his eyes. He turns away, headed back toward the kitchen.


“What’s the plan today, boss?” he asks, tone changing as quickly as the subject.


“I’m not the boss.”


“Tell that to the people crowding outside the door.” Drake chuckles. “The Elders are frothing like a rabid dog to get you in a meeting with them. You know you can’t avoid this forever. Not after what you did.”


“Not all of them are eager,” I grumble.


He grabs a glass of water and drops into a chair at the table. “You have to face this, Gavin, hard as it might be.”


Drake is right. As usual, he sees me more clearly than anyone else. He might be the only person who sees me and not the Idol. Drake and Emil both.


I’ve done my best to ignore the summons from the Elders. Eating meals provided by the acolytes has helped me avoid going out at mealtime where I might encounter the Elders. A few times, I pretended not to be here when they came knocking on the door.


But the Haven is small. I started this chain of events with my display at the temple, fulfilling several of their dumb prophecies to save myself and Pip.


I wince. I couldn’t save her.


Dad would do what needed to be done, face down the Elders, and maintain the upper hand. I must be like him. Somehow.


Heaving out a sigh, I push off the sofa. “Fine. But it will be on my terms.”


I want to trust the Elders, but I know they aren’t as happy about my “coming” as the rest of the Havenites.


I am a threat to their positions. Like all leaders throughout history, they will tear me down to preserve their power.


Unless I outsmart and outmaneuver them first.

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