Cover Reveal: TOGETHER WE ROT
Cover reveal! In Together We Rot, a teen girl looking for the truth about her missing mother forms a reluctant alliance with her former best friend…in exchange for hiding him from his cult-leading family.
Wil Greene’s mom has been missing for over a year, and the police are ready to call the case closed—they claim she skipped town and you can’t find a woman who wants to disappear. But she knows her mom wouldn’t just leave…and she knows the family of her former best friend, Elwood Clarke, has something to do with it.
Elwood has been counting down the days until his 18th birthday—in dread. It marks leaving school and joining his pastor father in dedicating his life to their congregation, the Garden of Adam. But when he comes home after one night of after a final goodbye with his friends, already self-flagellating for the sins of drinking and disobeying his father, he discovers his path is not as virtuous as he thought. He’s not his father’s successor, but his sacrifice. For the woods he’s grown up with are thirsty, and must be paid in blood.
Now on the run from a family that wants him dead, he turns to the only one who will believe him: Wil. Together, they form a reluctant partnership; she’ll help him hide if he helps her find evidence that his family killed her mother. But in the end they dig up more secrets than they bargained for, unraveling decades of dark cult dealings in their town, led by the Clarke family.
And there’s a reason they need Elwood’s blood for their satanic rituals. Something inhuman is growing inside of him. Everywhere he goes, the plants come alive and the forest calls to him, and Wil isn’t sure if she can save the boy she can’t help but love.
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The shadow focuses, the shape clearing into a boy. He runs toward me, his green eyes wide, all my fear reflected back in him tenfold. His hair is whipped wild, a deep chestnut brown.
All my fear, all my numbness twists and turns in my gut, boiling into a sharp hatred. Elwood Clarke.
I shake my vulnerability off with the snow. No one can see me like this. Especially not him. Why is he here? The thought flutters briefly through my mind, rushing past like the wind. Why isn’t he back at the party?
“What the hell?” I snap, hoping he doesn’t catch the hitch in my voice. I wait for him to hear me, for his eyes to land on me for the second time tonight, but they don’t. They’re blurry and unfocused, trained on something beyond me. He breathes in noisily, his legs moving for dear life.
My hatred ebbs for a moment, giving way to confusion.
Elwood nearly mows me over but stops dead in his tracks. The terror dials back on his face and a strange hope takes its place. “W-Wil?”
“What the hell do you want?” I snarl.
You’d think I tased him by the way he jumps. He stands there, whipping around like something might leap out any second and sink its teeth into his neck. God. I ease myself up, running my fingers along my legs.
I gawk at him, soaking in everything I missed. His skin is scraped from branches, and he’s shivering profusely. His fingers are a raw, blistering shade of red, and his lips are tinged blue.
I clear my throat, purposefully looking away. Mom’s image is carved into my mind; it takes everything to keep my voice level. “I know why I’m out here, but what about you? What’s your excuse?”
He looks out in the shadows again, and then lurches back toward me, snatching my arm. “It’s”—he shakes his head. “We need to go.”
“We are not going anywhere.” I yank my hand back, throwing a skeptical look over his shoulder. Nothing. No glowing red eyes, no sharp glint of a knife. His fear is contagious, sinking into me even after I try to swat it away. Maybe it’s all the cuts on his skin. The blood is enough to make me squeamish. But I won’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me tremble.
“You don’t understand.”
I steady myself. It’s easier said than done. My body acts on muscle memory; my traitorous arms long to wrap around him, my traitorous face keeps wanting to go soft. Thank God for my iron will.
“You’re right,” I bite through my teeth, “I don’t understand.”
Frustration wears differently on his skin. Mine manifests in clenched teeth and quivering fists. His is a quiet beast, built less on rage and more on desperation. A shiver works through him, his eyes wide. “Please. I’ll explain later. My family is—” But he doesn’t get to finish.
A sound breaks through the night: several feet wading through the snow, their boots crunching hard against the ice. Elwood’s body stiffens, freezing to stone. He doesn’t so much as breathe. He grimaces, and I watch his eyes bulge from their sockets. The darkness shields the strangers in the distance, but each step forward places them closer.
“My family,” he mouths.
Here in the shadows of the forest, the words feel heavier. They strip what little air is left from my lungs. Flashlights tear ribbons through the darkness. Light catches in the space beyond my shoulder, a perfect spotlight on the bark. Elwood doesn’t need to say anything. We need to go now.