Bizarre rituals on a remote island in Maine.
My crazy neighbor lying naked in the produce section of a grocery store.
The sting of a knife as it slices through my flesh.
Now I know why they say life is never easy.
The soft touch of Tria’s hand against my chest is the only thing that keeps me going, but there are consequences. As a fighter, I should be able to deal with anything life throws at me, but there is one circumstance I simply can’t handle.
I only have one coping mechanism: a tube around my arm and a needle in my vein.
TRAPPED on GOODREADS
Excerpt Reveal #2
Okay, maybe not everybody, but there had to be about fifty people milling around the trees. Some of them were setting up some kind of structure—the fucking altar, I guessed—in the center of the trees. It looked like it could have doubled as an OBGYN’s examination table. Others were walking near the tree line and placing flat stones around the perimeter of the clearing or lighting small fires around the area. As soon as all the rocks were placed, people were ushered to certain stones by two older women wearing dresses similar to the one Nikki had been wearing but with a lot less beadwork. There were only a few colorful lines down the sleeves. One of them with dark, narrow eyes came close and peered up at me.
“You the one with Demetria?” Her sour face made it clear she didn’t want me here. Her dry lips smashed together repeatedly as she spoke, making me wonder if you could actually grind wheat into flour between them. She had long gray hair in a braid that touched the back of her waist and skin that was wrinkled into layers around her face and neck.
I nodded, and she grabbed hold of my elbow tightly enough for me to feel it through my jacket. She hauled me over to the far side of the clearing and pointed to one of the rocks on the ground.
“Stand behind it,” she said.
When I had my feet in the exact position she wanted, she nodded once and started toward the next person.
“What am I supposed to do?” I asked her.
She turned her narrow eyes back to me and then glanced up and down my body once.
“Keep your dick to yourself,” she replied as she walked off.
“Nice,” I muttered under my breath.
I looked down at my feet and noticed there was a little shape painted on the top of the rock. It might have been a fish of some sort though the drawing reminded me of hieroglyphics more than an actual picture. Whatever it was, it had a swimmy little tail at the back end of it.
It occurred to me that it might be a sperm, and I took a step back from the rock.
Two young women approached me, and as I looked back and forth between them, I wondered if I was seeing double. They both looked exactly alike and were dressed in identical outfits. The clothing was similar to the dresses Nikki and the older women wore but were separate pants and shirts with beading on the sleeves and shoulders.
“So you’re the one, huh?” The vision on the left spoke.
They both eyed me up and down.
“Well, I can see why she likes him.” The one on the right giggled.
“Can I help you?” I questioned. I was not in the mood for any further bullshit at this point.
The one on the left held out her hand.
“I’m Helen,” she said. “And this is Heather. We’re Keith and Demetria’s sisters.”
“Oh…right.” I shouldn’t have been surprised since I did remember Tria saying that there were two girls in the family she grew up with. If I remembered right, she said they were a year apart, but they could have passed for twins. “I’m Liam.”
“You really shouldn’t be here,” Helen said. “You’re interfering with our life. You ought to leave Demmy alone.”
“Well, I won’t,” I responded.
Helen turned on her heel and walked away, and I could see the slight curve of her stomach in the light from the fires and wondered if Tria knew her “sister” was pregnant. I was left with Heather still looking me over, and it was starting to piss me off. I put my hands on my hips and just waited until she looked at my face again. She narrowed her eyes a little and took a step closer.
“You’re taking care of her, aren’t you?” she asked quietly. “I mean—you’re going to be good to her, right?”
Taken aback, I looked at her and blinked a few times before I realized what she meant.
“Yeah,” I told her. “I’ll take care of Tria.”
“Good,” she responded before she turned and followed her sister toward one of the fires. They leaned together, spoke in whispered voices, and then nodded to each other.
Everyone else seemed to be taking places around the center table. Through the canopy of evergreen foliage, the moon shone from the clearing sky, only partially obstructed by thin clouds. The tree trunks around us were covered in pale green ribbons, strung with feathers like some kind of natural streamers all over them. The two older women walked in a slow circle around the group—reaching out and touching the feathers hanging from the trees as they went. They made multiple trips around, and as they moved, everyone edged closer toward the center.
Tria moved in behind one of the women and hung seashells at the end of each of the feathered ribbons. The next trip around the circle, the two women knocked their long, wrinkled fingers against the shells and made them chime softly into the night air.
Movement from the far side of the circle caught my attention, and I saw an ancient man with one leg and a crutch to steady himself move slowly into the center of the group. He looked around the circle, taking in the face of each person as he went. When he got to me, his eyes lingered a little longer, and I thought I saw them narrow slightly before he continued to Steven, who stood a few feet to my left.
So this would be Leo—the council leader. This was the man who raised Tria when her own father was killed and the father of Keith, Helen, and Heather. Knowing he was the leader of the group and the father of multiple children, I wondered if he would take the first turn at Nikki once her husband was done with her.
My stomach churned, and the two old women began to chant.
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