Hold Fast - Olivia Rigal




When I was a SEAL, I had one rule: HOLD FAST.

Those two words kept me alive through years of war, but they couldn’t save all my brothers in arms, and they couldn’t save my career.

Now I’m home, back in the world, with more nightmares and scars than ten men should have, and the only woman who can make me whole again is missing.

I don’t care where she is or who has her. There is nothing I won’t do to find her and bring her home.

To me.


I’m trapped, and there’s no way out. I need to escape this cult and leave this hell behind, but I can’t do it alone.

I knew the Church of the New Revelation was a bad idea when my mother brought me here, but I didn’t know how bad. I’m a prisoner, and this noose draws tighter around my neck every day.

There’s only one bright spot in my life, only one man who could save me. He’s the only man I’ve ever loved, but he left me behind when he enlisted all those years ago.

Sean, where are you?



Sunday Morning, 7 August 2016

Daniel’s gentle snoring wakes me early.

It’s still ten minutes before six according to the clock hanging on the rough plywood wall; five ‘til, according to the cheap digital watch that serves as our alarm clock. Not that much lost sleep. The alarm was just about to go off anyway, but still. I could have had five more minutes.

Daniel grumbles when I nudge him. He’s cute when he does that, childlike. It makes me want to take him into my arms and cuddle him. Officially he’s my husband, but in reality? Daniel’s the only child I’ll ever likely have.

“Come on, sleepyhead,” I whisper, softly ruffling his hair until he’s awake. He opens his eyes and smiles at me. The physical resemblance to his half-brother never ceases to amaze me. Twins, if twins could be born so many decades apart, and to different mothers. How can two men look so much alike, yet be so utterly different?

Daniel is kind and sweet, finding joy everywhere in the world around him. He can even find beauty in this hovel we’ve shared for five years, with its splintery floors and yellowing plastic windows.

Perhaps it’s simply time? Perhaps it’s the responsibility? His brother Emmanuel is the anointed one, after all. The Lord’s chosen prophet.

My Daniel’s face is beginning to show wrinkles, but they’re from smiling; the light in his eyes is joy. Emmanuel’s creases were born from disapproving scowls, and his eyes burn with a terrifying zeal.

Mom, how could you have ever fallen in love with Emmanuel? And how could you bring me here, make me live like this? Can’t you see how sick this place is?

“What do you say we go back to sleep and pretend to be sick?” Daniel asks with a wink, sitting up with his back to the wall.

“I wish,” I sigh. Forget five minutes. I’d love another five hours. “But I can’t. You know I can’t. Today’s a market day and I have to get ready and load the truck and…” I trail off. There’s no point in finishing my sentence. Finish my sentence? My sentence is life plus eternity. It will never be finished.

Market days are hard, but they are also a blessing. They get me out of the compound. Every Saturday and Sunday from mid-spring until late autumn, we have a booth at the open-air farmer’s market in Greenville. It’s tiny and remote, almost the last outpost of civilization before reaching the deep forests of northern Maine, but I get to speak with people.

Normal people who seem to be living normal lives. Normal people who don’t look up to a vicious, manipulative bastard who claims to have a New Revelation from The Lord. Normal people who have no need to look at the ground to avoid the wrath of a prophet and his two sons.

Normal people.

Free people.

Daniel claims that those people out there have no more freedom than we do, but I think he’s just trying to convince himself that what we have is for the best. But I know better. Daniel was born into this life. I wasn’t.

I remember life outside this compound. Life in a city, with houses and paved streets, not this cluster of drafty, converted garden sheds on a sprawling run-down farm deep in the forest. A life centered around friends and family, school and the mall. A life not built around a