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Fighting the Storm

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The Storm Breaks

Alex Collins and Etan Griffith thought love, hard work, and magic protected them from the end of the world.

Until heartbreak struck much closer to home.

Picking up the pieces brings new friends and new challenges. Threats unseen and unexpected.

Will the power of family bring them all through, together?

An excerpt from Fighting the Storm:

Etan didn’t have to look at Alex to know he was biting his tongue, dying to say something. He could feel how tense Alex’s leg was against his own, could just about hear his agitation.

“What are you wanting to say, Alex?”

“I don’t want to be an asshole, but if we have to set you up as a prophet, that’s what we need to do. I hated what happened in Maple Ridge and everywhere else. But we can’t have gone through so much hell to get here and let everything fall apart again. If people will follow the Great Prophet Etan and that lets us survive, then that’s who you need to be.”

Etan did groan then, closing his eyes for a second. Not only because this was what he’d been afraid of. Because the words and the ideas sounded true.

They felt true, no matter how much he might dislike them.

“I don’t know if I can agree to that, not right now. I have no idea how to do any of this, much less create a new religion. I’m scared to death of making a hard situation worse.”

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Chapter 1
Chapter 1 Alex Collins stepped outside the white cinderblock walls of the Wolf Branch cannery, wiping a couple of hours’ worth of maintenance gunk from his hands. His breath rose in a white plume, a lot like the wood smoke rising from houses and buildings all around him. Aside from those plumes, the town spread out silent and still below where he stood. His curly red hair was longer than it had been for a while, brushing his shoulders. His full winter beard would be ready for a springtime trim once warm weather finally arrived. He breathed deep, taking in the warm, homey scent of burning wood. What he affectionately called the original means of heating with stored solar energy. That comforting smell and the quiet would have been unimaginable to him only a few short years ago, when he still lived in Chicago. The community garden and greenhouse that Alex and nearly everyone in Wolf Branch had worked so hard to get going still held the remains of an unusually late snow. The curved roof of the greenhouse shed just like it was supposed to, leaving a nearly waist-deep drift all around its edges. The garden waited for planting, flat except for a few leftover stands of kale standing defiant and tall. The greenhouse already held seedlings started a few weeks ago and a few rows of spring greens. Alex could see bright yellow, pink, and other shades from flowers they managed to grow all year long through the transparent sides. Those traces of color always made him smile. Some were for practical purposes, like the edible nasturtium and medicinal herbs. But the flowers grown just because they were pretty were Alex’s favorites. The red brick school towering three stories to his right was as empty as the parking lot, waiting for safer conditions to start regular classes. Most of the school-aged kids in Wolf Branch lived in town, close enough to walk to school. Several of them would be descending on the cannery shortly with their parents in tow, most on foot. Carpool lanes and school buses were in the past. The solid thunk of a door closing behind him, followed by footsteps on the concrete floor of the cannery made Alex smile again. A warm hand grabbed his. “And you accuse me of liking the cold.” Alex turned into the embrace of his husband Etan. Four months and more than the usual amount of troubled hours passing hadn’t dulled his pleasure in those two words. My husband. “Cold outside is one thing,” Alex said. “You’re the one who wants to see your breath in the bedroom.” “Easier to warm up in there. When will everyone get here?” “Any time now. I think everything inside is ready for spring. Shouldn’t be any more surprises.” Etan leaned back and smiled, but his green eyes were sad. That sorrow lifted more and more often now, sometimes for days at a time. Finding bits of shattered glass and grime behind a storage cabinet earlier that morning - remnants of the attack that had taken the life of Etan’s father - had brought the sorrow back full force for both of them. “I can deal with the things I expect to see every day, you know?” Etan said. “It’s the things I don’t expect that get me.” Alex couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the steep, curving road going past the cannery. A darker patch of pavement, rougher and not quite level, marked the spot where his father-in-law had lost his life. And quite likely saved everyone else’s. Both men turned at the unusual sound of an engine, the faint electric hum clear in the quiet. A small brown truck that used to be part of the town’s fleet headed up toward the cannery. A group of adults and older teenagers had been out hunting that morning, taking advantage of the growing population of deer around Wolf Branch. Humans who could no longer go to a grocery store provided the balance wolves had two hundred years before. “There’s our distraction for the day,” Etan said. “Better get ready.”

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