With the death of Eliana, Briar had hoped the danger for her and her friends had passed, but killing a Goddess comes with consequences.
As Briar struggles to deal with her new life and responsibilities as conduit, Bastianna rallies others to try to destroy everything she is working for. A group of fanatics, known as Believers, want Briar to pay for her sins. Meanwhile, Eliana’s father Ivian wanders the earth as a fallen God. When he joins the Believers, lured by their promise of revenge, everyone Briar loves is in danger.
Will her new powers of Conduit be enough to keep them safe? Can Briar once again defeat a God?
Early morning sun streamed into the nearly empty window display of Briar’s old shop. The only thing remaining was a book stand, the FOR SALE sign balanced precariously in its metal arms. Now, there would be a new inhabitant. Red lettering announced the building had sold.
Her once beloved shop was going to sell coffee, just like half the other buildings in Wesvik. She’d boxed the stock up, shoving first editions into her linen closet while she did her best not to cry in front of Lillia. She didn’t think she could handle the sympathy.
Briar watched the retreating figures of the buyer and agent. She’d signed the papers and the loss had carved a hole in the pit of her stomach. She tried to remember what she’d gained. She could have any book deal she wanted now. She was the conduit, though she still hadn’t figured out exactly what that would mean except filtering people’s sadness and grief.
Lillia and Fauna urged her to accept her new role. There was nothing to run from. Her new power and position were not an enemy to defeat, they were part of her. But she also saw the way Lillia looked at her sometimes, the way her eyes took in Briar’s flawless skin, the slight glow that emanated beneath it. She felt other, even further apart from everyone else than she had been before.
Soren told her to do whatever she wanted. He whispered it when the others weren’t listening, reminding her that she hadn’t chosen this, that she could still pick the path of her life. She didn’t owe anyone anything. But every nerve beneath her skin told her she did.
New magic spread out, a web through the world, reaching into the beyond, and she could always feel the Gods, just a pull away. She pressed her forehead to the cool glass then she stepped away. She couldn’t run the bookshop. She couldn’t let the women who worked there deal with the constant barrage of people wanting things: help for sick kids, help with their bills, but mostly they just wanted to see if she was real, to see if the Gods had truly returned.
She sighed and turned, leaving the shop behind, and wiped her tears. Speaking of coffee, she could use some caffeine. She’d barely slept the night before, dreading the morning, but now it was done. There were only a few blocks between her store and her favorite coffee shop. She pulled her collar up before she ordered and tried not to make eye contact.
Coffee in hand, Briar found a spot outside. She stretched into the rays of the sun like a cat, and pulled out her phone, barely noticing the footsteps that approached, assuming some stranger wanted something. She glanced up, a quip ready on her tongue, and her heart skipped a beat.
Bastianna sank into the seat across from her, smiling sweetly.
“What do you want?” She’d seen her on TV, on social media. Bastianna’s face seemed to be everywhere these days, constantly calling Briar a murderer. She was nothing but a sad fraud, but that didn’t keep the followers, Believers as they called themselves, from flocking to her.
“Things are bad between us, Briar.”
The world’s largest understatement. “Do you think it’s because I’m fucking Lillia or because you’re a psychopath trying to kill me? I’ve been debating it.”
A muscle in Bastianna’s jaw twitched at the mention of Lillia but her smile stayed plastered on. She opened her mouth to talk but Briar held up a hand, cutting her off.
“And it’s so odd, you’re constantly saying I killed the Gods, that you’re a true believer, blah, blah, blah, but I’m the conduit. The Gods come at my beck and call. Makes you a little hard to believe.”
“Are you done?”
A man stared at them from the next table. Good. Briar was glad to have witnesses. She caught his eye for just a moment before turning back to Bastianna. “She doesn’t mention you, you know. Though when would she have time? And I’m sure you know how delicious she is.” Bastianna’s smile finally died and Briar smirked in its wake. “Definitely not an easy person to lose, but I’d imagine you’re used to people leaving you. You’ve got abandonment issues written all over you.”
“I wanted to talk about Ivian.” Sparks flared at Bastianna’s fingertips and Briar wished she would try something, right now in the crowded street, full of witnesses.
“Why? As far as I can tell he’s waiting out his time.” At least, that’s what she hoped. Ivian was a fallen God, his punishment older than time itself. The finer points of what being a fallen God meant were hazy. But it seemed he had two choices: atonement or death. She couldn’t see how he could atone for trying to kill her, for nearly killing Evaria. Not unless he was about to pop out and take down Bastianna, which she’d really like to see.
“He’s contacted me. I won’t tell you where he is.”
“I bet I could make you.”
“Is that a threat? From the conduit?” She clucked her tongue. “Anyway, he’d like to talk, and I think you owe him that since you murdered his daughter.”
NineStar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/sympathy-for-the-gods/
Meet the Author
Tallie Rose lives in Charleston, SC with two kids, five cats, two goldfish, and one dog. She spends her spare time thrifting, watching bad TV, and reading books.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
- About the Author
- Posts in the Past