Hi, everyone 🙂 Look at me blogging AGAIN 🙂 I’m so proud 🙂
But this is technically cheating because I’m just copying and pasting a preview of my book. I actually posted a preview from Part 1 a few months ago on a different site that I’ve been using to put out other stories, and I feel like it’s only fair to give a preview from Part 2, as well. Since I posted the first preview elsewhere, I’m posting the second here to again be fair.
(PS, you can preview the snippet from Part 1 here 🙂 )
As a note, if you do read the Part 1 preview, some things have changed in it since, and I’m sure some things will change below, too, before this gets publish. (If it gets published 🙂 🙂 🙂 ). Please keep that in mind as you read, and I apologize in advance for any awkward parts you may stumble upon. Until the day it hits the press, it’ll be a work in progress 🙂
Okay, here’s the preview now 🙂 Enjoy Ch. 187 of Earth-side with no context whatsoever 🙂 If for some reason you want to know more about the book or have feedback (whether bad or good), please let me know in the comments section below, or via email/social media.
Love you all, and thank you for your time and support ❤
I put my all into it, then retreated to watch the mountainside crack, crumble, and roll.
“Wow,” Nadesa breathed next to me, her arms crossed under her chest. “You definitely mastered Enforcement. Even my punches never caused a landslide.”
A slight smile broke onto her lips as she compared us in her head.
“Yeah. Great job,” she concluded, her silent analysis done.
“Thanks,” I replied, pleased to finally beat her at something.
I unstrapped my gloves and slid them off, moving to my bag for water. Even with Enforcement, I still could break bones, so I always wore protection just in case. I set them aside to drink, taking an extra-long swig since we hadn’t paused for hours, and once satisfied, I turned back to her.
“What next?” I asked with a sigh, stretching my arms over my head.
She furrowed her brow.
“You’ve been odd.”
I frowned at her calling me out. She was right. I had been odd. All I wanted was to train until able to kick the crap out of Kaeta, then hunt him down and physically do so. But even while pushing myself past my limits and struggling daily through her intense regimens, I still had the feeling I never would. Yeah… It seemed like, no matter what, Kaeta would always be better—which was fine. I didn’t want to be stronger than him, anyway. I just wanted to be good enough to knock him around for revenge, then move on. But that also seemed impossible, so I was getting down. Plus, we were banned from further pursuit, so even if I did improve…
“Sorry,” I mumbled, trying not to drag her into my drama. “Just a lot going on, that’s all.”
Pity suddenly washed over her.
“Talk to me. Your experience was traumatizing, and you shouldn’t bottle it up.”
I stared blankly ahead, pondering. Was it really? Even though we were betrayed, no one died, so was there really a reason to hurt?
“Fine,” I sighed, relenting to her intensely concerned gaze. “I’m just mad Kaeta beat me so easily, and I’m pushing myself to match him. But I can’t help feeling like I’m too late—like I missed the chance to equal him long ago and will never catch up now that he’s so far ahead. Also, even if I do catch up, I’m still not allowed to search. They won’t let me on the mission since it’s technically an assassination…”
Vexed, my throat clenched and lips trembled. After calming a bit, I continued.
“I’m not in Stealth, so obviously, I can’t join. And truthfully, I hate the thought of him dying, so I wouldn’t want to join, anyway. I want to go alone and only find him if he won’t be killed. He may have left, but it was out of his control. I saw his face, and his eyes said he didn’t want to go—like he was trying to speak but couldn’t. Really. I know him, and that was distress. But Ischyros won’t listen, which makes me so mad. All I want is to knock some sense into him because I think it’ll make him remember who he is and come home, but I can’t. So, I’m just bitter now, doing everything bitterly because of it.”
Done unpacking my baggage and scared to see her thoughts, I watched my right foot draw circles in the grass, each sweeping pass sticking the thick blades to the damp dirt.
“I understand,” she answered softly, almost pained.
I finally glanced up. She was staring into the distance, her brows lifted in tragic sorrow, and I was shocked to see her so vulnerable.
“But why can’t you just go?”
She looked at me with a whole new expression of curiosity, and surprised by the sudden change, I wondered if she went a little crazy somewhere in life.
“Because they’d never let me. And I wouldn’t even know where to start if they did since no one knows where he is. I mean, Laraya can’t even sense him, so he’s probably still in Hell Territory—or even Hell itself, for all we know. I can’t go either of those places, and even if I could—or if I found him here—I’d never be able to fight and win. He took me down with just a touch, and I didn’t even see it coming. How on Earth could I manage to attack first?”
Nadesa nodded, then yanked the bronze chain she always wore off her neck.
“Not to be tacky, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
She smiled softly, and I stared at the amulet I never knew dangled at its end, gorgeously engraved with five emerald-encrusted hawthorn blossoms.
“What?” I asked, not getting why she thought I could do the absurd and find Kaeta.
She laughed and clasped her hands behind her back, gazing into the distance again.
“First off, anyone can do anything no matter what. Abilities, restrictions, and limits are all mental, and with enough effort, everyone can achieve everything. So, never think you can’t match Kaeta. If you consistently try hard enough and refuse to give up, you can.
“Second, know that it’s okay to like people, want romance, and chase the ones who got away. Seeking love doesn’t make you weak. Loving others is the hardest thing to do and takes more strength than anything—especially when times are tough, like now with Kaeta. Loving him despite this mess shows the true remarkability of your strength. Most people would just hate him forever because that’s easier—simpler for our brains to justify and thus a quicker way to heal our hearts. But you? Syonae, you understand one of the deepest meanings of love that most people never grasp—one usually God only shows. Mercy. Forgiveness despite the ability to punish—”
“Oh, but I still want to punish him. I just don’t want him to die.”
She laughed at my correction.
“I know, but death is punishment for treason. So simply wanting to slap him around, bring him home, and give him another chance is mercy. And mercy only comes from love. When you truly love someone, you understand they may err and go easy on them when they do, scolding them in a kind, healthy way that shows they’re still cared for despite it and can have a second chance to do better if they wish. That’s exactly how you’re treating Kaeta now, and it’s commendable. You should be proud.
“But also remember that being allowed to like others, chase romance, and show mercy doesn’t mean you need a significant other or need to be in love—or need to forgive. You can love a boy, but you never need him. As much as you hate imagining it, you’re your own person without Kaeta, and if he never returns or you never chase, you’ll get over him and be happy with someone else—or even with no one at all, simply enjoying yourself before finding new love.
“Take it from me, someone who put way too much into way too many people. No matter how deeply you adore someone, there’s always another you can love the same. And also take it from me that, in the end, there’s no one who will love you the way you love yourself. So never lose your identity to affection. All the boys in the world can be replaced, but your identity can’t. So don’t think you need a man or can’t exist alone. You only ever need yourself and exist alone from the second you’re born until the second you die, no matter who’s by your side.
“And while you can like Kaeta and chase him down and rough him up, if it doesn’t work out, it is what it is. Don’t get depressed and feel like you lost part of yourself by losing him. You didn’t. All your pieces are always in you, and there’s never anything external you need to complete yourself. God makes us whole from the start, so losing Kaeta doesn’t mean losing you. You’re simply losing a source of pleasure, which, as I said, is replaceable.
“Anyway, on to my actual story… In my early 20’s, something similar happened to me. My Black Ops partner disappeared, and everyone swore he defected to Hell. I was so mad and constantly told I couldn’t do anything about it, but I didn’t care and decided to find him, anyway. You know me. I’m not much of a rule follower…
“Well, as I left, my mother stopped me and gave me this pendant. She used to wear it as a broach, and I always wondered what it was. But she finally explained that it’s a Crataegus strength heirloom, blessed to vastly increase the beholder’s power as long as their intentions are pure. Each generation’s chosen one receives it, and she picked me for mine. She was sick and didn’t have much longer, so she had to give it soon, anyway.
“She handed it over without a word about where I was going, but I knew she knew. Most mothers somehow know what’s going on with their kids… No matter, I put it on this chain and wore it since. I was terrified to find my partner, but this amulet… Not only did it give me physical strength, but it also did something psychological, easing my fears about breaking the law and lifting my mental cages to let me achieve something solo. I ended up finding him and beating him to a pulp, which was a great turning point for us, and I think Kaeta needs the same tough love. So, I’m giving this to you, especially since I technically don’t have kids of my own.”
She held it out again.
“Technically?” I asked, confused by what she meant.
Her head dropped.
“It’s complicated. I can’t see them, and they don’t want to see me. So we act like we don’t exist, but it’s fine. That’s how they want it, and as long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Anyway, I’m passing this to you, so please take it.”
She looked up again, and I reached out and grabbed it, moved by the pain in her soul. Mothers were so strong… To be carelessly tattered by the life they created—silently enduring unthinkable heartache all so their little ones could thrive… Hands down, they were the strongest.
“Thanks, Nadesa. I really appreciate this, and I’ll wear it every day until I have someone of my own to pass it to.”
At that, I clasped it around my neck. It was an inch in diameter and heavier than expected, so I tucked it in my training shirt to keep it out of the way, just like her.
“You’re welcome,” she said with a smile, her silky, straight bob blowing in the breeze. “Now, go get Kaeta. You don’t need instructions for that. It works if it’s on. Find him, and teach him a lesson.”
She started off, and I watched her fade, totally awed.