Authors: Marata Eros,Emily Goodwin
New York Times
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2015-16 Marata Eros
Copyright © 2015-16 Emily Goodwin
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to a legitimate retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
When we had nothing, The Community gave us everything. When we were lost, Father Weston welcomed us home. For the last five years, we've been preparing for the world to end in flames. Then I was Chosen to join the other wives in the big house on the hill. And in that house, I would learn the truth.
There is no damnation. I am no savior. And the only way out of this cult is to trust the one person I've been forbidden to talk to. Kiev, Father Weston's son. But Kiev only wants one thing from me, and I must prove to him I'm not one of many blindly following his father's lies.
If I don't, I won't make it out of here alive.
My father ruined my life. Took everything from me and never looked back. For years, I've been waiting to strike, to pull his false empire from under his feet and watch him burn.
Then he chooses her as his newest Virgin Bride. She's special to him, held in higher regard, presented to the entire community as a symbol of hope, a symbol to make them keep buying his lies.
My father took everything from me. Now it's time I take everything from him. And I'm starting with her.
First Comes Love
Amazon Top 20 bestseller
A Terrible Love
New York Times
Tamara Rose Blodgett
If you do not wish to read about hard topics, or you're under the age of 18,
if you want a feel-good, sexy read, this is NOT the book for you.
One of Many
is part dark romance, part suspense thriller, and is a gritty, harrowing tale about finding love in the darkest of places. Read at your own risk.
Might contain triggers.***
Audrey and Kiev’s story is fiction, but the dangers of cults are not. If you or someone you know needs help, please check out freedomofmind.com for more information.
Please note that this book contains two sample chapters that will begin immediately after One of Many ends.
“Thanks for putting up with us!”
I push my shoulders back and stare out the window, watching raindrops roll down the thick glass. The rain is relentless, going on all day with no signs of stopping.
I focus on a large drop as it slides down the pane, getting bigger and bigger as it merges with others, bringing them in and making them part of the one. It’s one of many raindrops, but it moves down the window as if it has a mission, holding my attention. It keeps rolling, keeps getting bigger, yet there is nothing to it. It’s clear, transparent.
Which is how I feel.
Hollow. Void. Empty. The color of rain.
I turn my gaze to Mom. Tears streak down her cheeks, as nonstop as the rain outside the church. She has one hand gently holding on to her cross necklace, and the other is clutching Dad’s. I look at Dad next and think it looks as if someone ripped apart his face and stuck two different heads back together. His eyes hold back shock and disbelief that the daughter he got instead of the son he wanted has been Chosen.
I’m important. I have a role to fill.
I could save us all.
Or at least that’s what Father Weston says. He’s told us the news: he had a dream, and I was in it. That’s it. All the details I get over something that will change my life forever. Something that will tear me from The Community and put me in his house with the other wives.
I should feel something. Pride. Excitement.
. But I don’t. Maybe I haven’t processed it yet, or maybe I’m in denial. The last five years have passed in a blur, after Dad lost his job at the factory, and Mom was waiting tables at night after her day job as a teacher, to cover the bills. I was never sure how Father Weston came into our lives, but I know my parents were grateful he did.
It was fate, they all say. He saved us, put us on a path to redemption, and my parents ate his words on a silver spoon. I was fourteen at the time and held on to my beliefs. But five years of being told everything I knew was
wore on me—tore into my core and made me question everything I know.
Like the rain.
Mom’s sure the deluge is a sign of our impending end. But it’s spring. It always rains during spring.
Or does it? We’re getting more rain than normal. Or so they say. I dare not speak up. Especially now that I’ve been Chosen.
“The wedding ceremony will take place in June,” Father Weston says. He’s looking at me. At my breasts, specifically. If he’s going to be my husband,
I shouldn’t care, right
? “That gives us a month and a half to prepare.”
Mom inhales sharply, blotting her eyes with the back of her hand. I get a flash to when she’d cry out of exhaustion, too tired to get off the couch but having to work her second job in half an hour. Mascara would run down her cheeks then. It doesn’t now. Makeup isn’t needed in The Community.
“It’s such... an honor,” she says. “My daughter…” she begins, shaking her head. Despite the tears, Mom is pretty. She says I look like her, but I don’t always see it. We have the same dark brown hair, so thick it’s almost impossible to do anything with. I have her high cheekbones and full lips, but I have Dad’s aquamarine eyes.
“I agree, it is,” Father Weston says, and I can feel his gaze drilling into me. I force a smile and look at him. At my soon-to-be husband. He’s old enough to be my father. Maybe he’s the same age as my father—I don’t know.
Part of me doesn't want to know.
Despite the years between us, Father Weston is a good-looking man. He has dark hair that’s lightly peppered with gray at the temples. There's almost always a light shadow of stubble covering his strong jaw, and he’s firmly built without being muscular. His slate-blue eyes are piercing, like pewter sapphires frozen in sparkling water.
My eyes drop from his face to his chest, and it hits me that I have no idea what he looks like without clothes on. Does he have hair on his chest? I’ll find out soon enough, after our wedding. I’m a virgin, which is part of the criteria for being Chosen as a wife. It’s not that I don’t want to have sex—I do—it’s that there hasn’t been a time or place for it to happen since I’ve been here.
Dates are chaperoned. Boys and girls aren’t allowed to be alone together. My father gets to approve or deny any potential relationship I’d have, and most of the time dates are set up by parents. Though I’m almost twenty, my parents still have strict control over my life.
They won’t anymore. Now my life, my soul, my body belong to Father Weston. It’s my job to serve him, to please him, to fulfill my duty as a wife to the leader of The Community.
It’s my job to save us all.