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House of Light, Book 3 - Save the Light

House of Light, Book 3 - Save the Light

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Synopsis

"If I thought the house with lights that never turned off was strange, I can't tell what I'm thinking now. A helicopter? I mean, yeah, things have been beyond weird lately but, we haven't seen a helicopter in a decade. And I sure as heck am questioning my trust in Chuck and Gretchen. Who are they?"

Sample - Save the Light

As Chuck uttered, "Saw the light," Gretchen felt her heart stammer. With lightning-quick reflexes, she pressed a button hidden in her pocket, and without looking back at Onnie, Petra, or Hugh's stunned faces, she grabbed her children and bolted for the staircase. She hadn't even reached the first step before the cool air hit her face, and she knew what she had to do. She'd grown to care for them deeply, but the game was over, and it was time now to move on. Her stomach twisted at the thought of leaving her companions behind, but she squared her shoulders and kept running.

Gretchen and Chuck held hands, the calluses of his hand interlocking with the softness of hers. The familiarity of their connection gave her strength and courage, a reminder of the bond they had formed since their mission began. They had created two children as a part of their cover, a family connected by a love they had never openly admitted to each other. Now Gretchen hoped that love would be enough to protect them in their hour of need.

Gretchen could feel a deep dread swell up in her chest as she glanced around the shadows and perceived something sinister lurking nearby. She quickly pushed her children ahead of their father, her heart pounding in anticipation of what was to come.

The family huddled together for warmth, the chill of the predawn air creeping up their spines. Chuck wrapped his arm around his wife's waist, his gaze sweeping over the rest of them. The others stood in a huddle of confusion on the porch, the only sound the faint whispering of the wind.

A rising hum broke the tranquil peace, and soon the whirring sound became unmistakable. Gretchen's family froze, their faces tense with fear as the sound grew louder, and a blinding orange light lit up the sky. A second later, they felt the earth shake beneath their feet as the helicopter descended. The family members scrambled, racing to the chopper as the uniformed occupants beckoned them inside. Even though their hearts were racing, Gretchen knew that from that moment on, there was no turning back.

Gretchen glanced at the faces of the children, now pale and wide-eyed with terror, as Chuck tightened his grip around their tiny bodies. Seconds ticked by like hours as they zoomed up into the sky, leaving people she had come to care for gazing up in shock. Gretchen's heart raced, her chest aching with the urge to turn back and save them all.

Gretchen looked out the window of the small helicopter as it rose steadily above their home. The dark roof of their house, the vegetable patch where they grew their own food, and the small pond where they caught fish were all growing smaller and smaller. She felt a heavy sadness in her chest, but also a strange peace knowing that no matter what happened, she and her family were at least safe from the danger of attacks by the locals.

The fear of the unknown hovered in the air, palpable and heavy, but as Chuck extended his strong hand out to her, all her worries seemed to drift away. He caressed her chin and mouthed the three words that allayed all her fears. I love you. Gretchen's mouth turned into a tender smile, and she felt warmth in her chest despite the icy wind blowing around them. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, but she held them back.

No matter what happened, she was sure of one thing: She had found love and safety in the most unlikely placesβ€”in the shadow of fear. At least they were in this together. Unfortunately, all of this meant that she and Chuck would have to again, face her father.

She had no idea what lay ahead, but she knew that she and Chuck could get through anything β€” as long as they stuck together.

Gretchen and Chuck kept their children close between them as the chopper lifted over the evergreens and descended minutes later, and she knew that whatever happened next, she'd remain strong for them.

The helicopter hovered in the air before setting down in a clearing, sending a billowing cloud of snow crystals into the air. A stern-looking man wearing a service uniform stepped forward and waited for them. The smell of diesel fumes clung to the air as Gretchen, her children, and Chuck climbed out of the helicopter.

Gretchen's stomach dropped as she realized that this was it β€” they were really back. She turned and looked at Chuck, who was standing stoically beside her. He silently offered her his hand, which she took with a small smile of understanding before they walked forward together toward the large man in front of them.

It was Gretchen's father β€” General Charles Harris.

Gretchen and Chuck had expected this but seeing him again after so long was still disconcerting. Despite his age, he was still an imposing figure, his face stern and hard.

"Welcome back," he said, his voice gruff yet somehow relieved at the same time. Gretchen could only stare in response, her emotions mixed between astonishment, fear, and happiness.

Chuck stepped forward and spoke with surprising confidence. "We understood our mission, sir," he began. "But we would like to negotiate the terms of our service."

Gretchen's father nodded slowly as if considering Chuck's words for a moment before finally replying.

"Very well," he said in a level tone. "Let us talk."

Then he eyed the guards, tilted his head to the bunker door, and said, "Give them security clearance level two."

"Father?"

"Later, Gretchen. It’s just a precaution to bring you in again," Harris said, then turned his back on her.

Chuck placed a hand on the center of her back and nodded at her to follow along.

The guards escorted them to the bunker as Gretchen, and Chuck walked together in silence. All around them was darkness β€” the only light coming from the occasional guard at their side.

They finally arrived at a large steel door, which opened with a hiss of air. Gretchen stepped inside first, squinting her eyes in an attempt to adjust them to the light.

Vixxie said, "Mom-my?"

"Hush now. Don't you worry, darling. You'll be in a warm bed soon."

Inside was a long hallway lined with doors on either side β€” each labeled with different access levels and security clearance codes that Gretchen couldn't decipher.

After what felt like hours of walking down the seemingly endless hallway, they finally reached the end, where two armed guards stood waiting for them outside an unmarked door. Harris waited inside, seated behind a large steel desk covered in old paper maps and documents he had been studying intently when they entered.

He looked up at them and motioned for them to have a seat.

"Father, I need to get the children down. Vixxie's old enough to remember..." Gretchen said.

"You shouldn't have taken them with you in the first place," Harris said.

But before Gretchen could react, Chuck said, "That'll be enough of that, right now. Sir."

To her surprise, her father eyed her husband.

It was a rare standoff no one ever attempted with her father, and if she were honest, she wasn't sure who would win.

Harris was silent as he leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. "You knew the risks. Yet, you took them. And you failed."

Chuck held onto his sleeping son over his shoulder but still managed to pound one fist against the desk softly and said, "We didn't fail, sir. We were right there. We had them this close and...by your own orders, ones I disagreed with..."

Harris took a deep breath and nodded, blowing it out slowly, ending the conversation. "And now, what do we do with them? You knew the consequences."

"Father, please don't." Gretchen sucked in a breath and reacted before she thought it through. "You can't exterminate them. Dad...Dad, listen. There's a baby. There are children. Onnie and Monty...all of them...they're perfect. They just needed a little more time. I'm begging you. Please don't do this."

"Emotion and desperation don't suit you, Gretchen."

But before she could say another word, the office door opened behind them, and three guards came inside.

Chuck was already on his feet and held their son in one arm, his other hand on his weapon, "Don't touch her," he warned the guards. "We'll go on our own. Just don't touch my family."

"No dramatics, Agent." Harris walked around the desk. "No one's going to hurt my daughter or her family."

Chuck stepped between Harris and Gretchen with fire in his eyes. "That's what you said last time, sir," he growled through gritted teeth. "I'm sure you can understand why I don't trust a word you say!"

Harris cleared his throat. "Guards, show them to a family suite. We'll discuss the mission in the morning."

Chuck nudged Gretchen toward the door, and she could feel his hand shaking in silent rage. But one word from her father stopped her in her tracks momentarily.

"Gretchen, I am sorry about what happened to your brother."

Gretchen didn't look back. She swallowed the pain and shook her head as hot tears burned a trail down her frozen cheeks. "And what about Mother? Are you sorry about that, too?"Β 

Then she felt Chuck kiss the top of her head, which alone gave her the courage to take the next step.

What are Cozy Apocalypse Books?

  • No gratuitous violence or sex scenes
  • No foul language
  • No weaponry lists or zombie gore

Main Tropes

  • Survival After the Fall
  • Forming New Family Bonds
  • Thriving After the End
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