September 23, 2019

SHIFT Launches Today!

Happy book birthday to Shift!

*toots party horn and tosses confetti*

I’m not generally the excitable type. When my daughter was born, I was excited (okay, and exhausted), but not emotional and weepy like the actors on TV. The day we signed for our new house, I’m sure I smiled a lot. The knowledge that I had to unpack a ginormous moving truck in the Florida August heat was never far from my mind, however.

Today, the fifth book in my Estilorian series hits the virtual shelves on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think you’ll be able to get me out of the clouds.

By now my readers know that Shift continues the stories of the firstborn children of the main characters in my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. With that trilogy just having passed its one-year book anniversary, it seems only fitting to celebrate with Shift‘s “birthday.” Each one of these books is a labor of love, so seeing them released out into the hands of readers makes me more emotional than just about anything else could.

Joining me in the promotion of Shift‘s release is a team of amazing writers and bloggers. I’m so fortunate to have each of them involved in the blog tour running from today until 9/1. Together with the great team at YA Bound, I have the pleasure of working with the following blogs:

Sarah’s Books and Life – August 24th
Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street – August 24th
Writing, Stuff and Nonsense – August 24th
**Bookmarks and Bookshelves – August 27th
**Bound 2 Astound – August 27th
**Every Free Chance Book Reviews – August 27th
**Fiction Freak – August 27th
**Hardcover Life – August 27th
**Kissed by Ink – August 27th
The Bibliophile’s Corner – August 27th
**The Book Hookup – August 27th
**A Bibliophile’s Thoughts on Books – August 28th
**I Heart YA Books – August 28th
Indie Writer’s Review – August 28th
**Letters Inside Out – August 28th
**Turning the Pages – August 28th
**A Dream within a Dream – August 29th
**Book Briefs – August 29th
**Books Beside my Bed – August 29th
**Crossroad Reviews – August 29th
TeamNerd Reviews – August 29th
**A Diary of a Book Addict – August 30th
Bethany’s Writing Journey – August 30th
**Ed and Ems Reviews – August 30th
Jess’s Book Blog – August 30th
Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands – August 30th
**Read, Write and Read Some More – August 30th
**Step into Fiction – August 30th
**Comfort Books – August 31st
Dream Reads – August 31st
**Leisure Reads – August 31st
**Nori’s Closet – August 31st
**Bengal Reads – September 1st
Finding Bliss – September 1st
**Jessy’s Bookends – September 1st
**Read-a-holicz – September 1st
**Reader Girls – September 1st
**Designates a YA Bound tour blog

I’m so thankful to everyone participating in the launch, even those who do so indirectly. Authors and readers who retweet, share on Facebook, pin on Pinterest, “Like” the book on Amazon and agree with the tags…every little bit helps! Thanks so much to everyone for the awesome support.

As a way to celebrate Shift‘s release, I’m hosting a giveaway of one signed copy of Defy, one signed copy of Shift, and a necklace inspired by Sophia, the main heroine in Shift. Check it out!

You can enter here or on many of the blogs above, particularly those participating in the YA Bound tour. I hope to hear from you once you’ve had a chance to check out Shift. If you’re backlogged, you can always add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads. For now, I’m off to sweep up some confetti!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prepping for SHIFT’s Release: an All New Teaser Tuesday!

We’re in the final countdown to the release of Shift this coming Friday! It’s only appropriate that I set the stage with an all-new teaser for your reading pleasure. Oh…and the book trailer debuted last week! I’ll include it here, too.

As always, thanks so much for the support. Happy reading!

Excerpt: Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2)

Chapter 1

Quincy started down the hill as soon as Sophia loped away. He had seen Olivia’s grimace when she stood up after speaking with her daughter. As both a friend and the Estilorian who served as the obstetrician for Olivia and her sisters, Amber and Skye, he was concerned by her obvious discomfort.

“Do you need any assistance, Olivia?” he asked.

He stopped a couple of feet from her, studying her for physiological indicators of how she felt. He knew that these last days before the projected due date were particularly wearying on the expectant mother. Her energy and abilities weakened as she prepared for the birth. It was one of the reasons that Olivia and her sisters had remained behind when their firstborn children recently ventured away from the protected homeland.

Her pupils and breathing were normal now, he was pleased to note.

“I sure do,” she answered with a grin. “Can you get Sophia to quit skipping out on her training sessions?”

His lips twitched. “Are you sure you don’t have something less challenging for me? Maybe a previously unknown pain, or a dire threat to your person I could possibly avert?”

“I can hear you,” Sophia called out.

The irritation in her voice had Quincy grimacing. “Sorry,” he said loudly toward the open door of the house. Then, more quietly, he said, “Oops.”

Olivia smiled and waved it off. “Sophia deserves the knock. She’s terrible about participating in the training sessions and she knows it.” Her voice rose in volume when she added, “I’ll never let her leave home again if she doesn’t start taking this more seriously.”

“Yeah, yeah…I get it,” Sophia replied in a grumble.

Quincy shook his head. “Well, let me know if you experience any signs of the baby’s impending arrival, okay? If you’d be more comfortable with me sticking around here instead of joining the others at the waterfall, I’d be happy to.”

“You’re very sweet, Quincy. Thanks.” She once again ran a hand over her belly. “But I think we’re still okay for now.”

“All right. Then I’ll go wait for Sophia and the others near the training paddock. You know how to find me if you need me.”

“Absolutely.” Olivia smiled and turned to walk back into the house. “And if you happen to give Sophia another lecture on the importance of learning to defend herself in hopes it might penetrate her hard head, I wouldn’t mind a bit.”

“Sure thing,” he said.

As he walked toward the training paddock, he considered Olivia’s concern for Sophia’s well-being. It very closely mirrored his own. He clearly remembered the challenges he and Sophia faced together in their pursuit of Tate all those weeks ago. Sophia had nearly been killed. The fear and anguish he’d experienced while treating her injuries surely reflected what Olivia would have felt in his place.

Why wouldn’t it? he mused now. After all, they both loved her.

He supposed the biggest difference was that Sophia didn’t have any idea how he felt about her. And he had yet to figure out how to change that.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Want more? Check out the amazing trailer by Flatline Films!

SHIFT Cover Reveal and Launch Date Announced!

One of the most fun parts about being an indie author is working on a book’s cover. Unlike traditionally published texts, indie books allow the author to either design the cover themselves or hire a cover designer and then approve the final product.

As for me, my book cover designs would look like they’d been drawn by a two-year-old, so I work with the brilliant Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design. I absolutely <3 her! If you missed Devan’s great tips about cover design, please see my post here. All I know is that a good cover designer can take a tiny seed of an idea and make it blossom. Devan has definitely done that for me.

Her latest creation is the cover for Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2). The book will be launched on Friday, August 24th. I’d like to take a moment to thank the following folks for participating in today’s cover reveal:

Bethany Lopez

DreamReads

I Read Indie Book Blog

IndieWritersReview

Jess’s Book Blog

Lisa M. Wood

Magnet4Books

Sarah’s Books and Life

TeamNerd Reviews

The Bibliophile’s Corner

Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street

Zoe’s Corner

Go and follow all of them if you aren’t already! They’re all amazing writers and bloggers. I’ll also mention that the wonderful team at YA Bound is working with me on a blog tour for Shift‘s release. Some of these blogs will also feature the cover reveal today, and will be participating in the tour between 8/27 and 9/1.

http://bookmarksbookshelves.blogspot.co.uk/ ~ http://Hardcoverlife.blogspot.com ~ http://bound2astound.blogspot.com ~ http://everyfreechancebookreviews.blogspot.com/ ~ http://kissedbyink.com ~ http://thebookhookup.com ~ www.fiction-freak.blogspot.com ~ http://www.lettersinsideout.net ~ http://www.angelafristoe.blogspot.com ~ http://bibliophilesthoughtsonbooks.blogspot.com/ ~ http://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/ ~ http://www.crossroadreviews.com ~ http://adreamwithindream.blogspot.com
~ http://bookbriefs.blogspot.com ~ www.booksbesidemybed.com ~ http://edandemreviews.blogspot.com/ ~ http://adiaryofabookaddict.blogspot.com/ ~ http://stepintofiction.blogspot.com ~ http://readwriteandreadsomemore.blogspot.co.uk/ ~ http://paigebradish1996.blogspot.com/ ~ http://www.leisurereads.com ~ http://noriscloset.blogspot.com/ ~ http://read-a-holicz.blogspot.com
~ http://www.readergirlsblog.com ~ http://jessysbookends.blogspot.com ~ http://www.bengalreads.com

And now for the big reveal! First, the teaser…then, the cover:

Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2)

Having the ability to shapeshift, Sophia is familiar with change. But even she feels the rising tension in her homeland.

A shadowy male and deadly beast reside in their midst. The births of the newest Kynzesti loom. Hostile Mercesti continue to hunt for the Elder Scroll, and a traumatized female is too afraid to use her abilities to stop them.

Topping off Sophia’s stress is Quincy, the male she’s convinced can’t stand her. She rues the loss of their friendship, but can’t figure out how to move past it. She’ll soon learn, however, that mending that rift bears more significance than she ever imagined.

The search for the Elder Scroll takes on unexpected urgency, and Sophia finds herself in a race across the mainland. To stop the Mercesti led by Eirik, she and her companions must get past their differences and unite against them. If they don’t, Eirik will acquire the immense power he seeks, and two of the beings Sophia loves most will die.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Devan has truly outdone herself. Please stay tuned over the next few weeks for more teasers from both Shift and the last book in the Firstborn Trilogy, Elder.

For now, please tell me what you think about the cover!

Teaser Tuesday: SHIFT (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the aftermath of my two-week blog tour for the release of Defy, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve finished the first draft of Shift. It was remarkably challenging trying to write this book while getting Defy ready for publication and then promoting it, but somehow I managed! Next on the agenda will be the first round of edits, followed by an outline for Elder.

All in a day’s work, right?

Oh…one other item of note is that my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, is now free on Amazon. If you haven’t already read it and would like to do so, you can download it here. If you’ve already read it, thank you so much! I hope that you’ll leave a review on Amazon (for this story and any other books you’ve read, for that matter!). :) It’s the best promotion an author can get. Thanks so much to everyone who has already done so.

For now, I wanted to give my Estilorian fans a little hint of what’s to come in the next Firstborn installment. I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome your comments!

Excerpt from Chapter One of Shift (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the form of the panther, Sophia stalked her target. The forest provided many shaded and grassy nooks, and Domino was an admirable opponent. The three-year-old panther could remain still for hours. His spotted fur also gave him excellent camouflage. Thus, Sophia used her heightened sense of smell to find him.

When she got within springing distance, she lowered into a crouch, her back legs digging into the ground for better purchase. Then she pounced.

Domino sensed her the moment she left the ground. He shifted to accept her weight as she tackled him. Her paws wrapped around his torso. Then she opened her powerful jaw and went for the soft part of his neck.

He quickly flipped their positions, using his greater strength to dump her onto her back. Her feline instincts had her wrenching herself to right her center of gravity. This resulted in them taking a long, tangled tumble down the side of a grassy hill.

At the base of the hill rested several of Domino’s siblings. They watched for only a moment before leaping into the fray.

“Sophia!”

She froze, her ear caught between Domino’s teeth. Rolling her eyes in the direction of her mother’s voice, she tried to ignore the heavy weight of Domino’s haunches where they rested on her right side. The panthers around her also grew still, hearing the maternal censuring tone and paying it heed.

Busted, Sophia thought.

Teaser Tuesday: Excerpt, Title Release and a Totally-Free Download

Along with a new teaser, I have some exciting news to share with my Estilorian fans: The Prophecy is FREE today on Amazon (more about this below), and the titles of the books of the upcoming Firstborn trilogy have been set! Deciding on book titles is a challenge, but a fun one. After much deliberation, the final titles will be (drum roll please…):

Defy, Shift and Elder.

What do you think? Do the titles succeed at capturing your attention?

I’m having so much fun writing this trilogy! Defy introduces Zachariah, a complex character that I suspect will reluctantly grumble his way into the hearts of many. Shift brings back Quincy, a beloved character we met in Foretold whose story I felt needed to be told. And Elder ultimately concludes Ini-herit’s story, begun in the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy.

Want to know more about the Firstborn trilogy? You got it! Here are three brief synopses for you:

Defy
As her eighteenth birthday approaches, Tate knows she’s ready to experience more of the world outside of her protected homeland. Her parents, Skye and Caleb, however, refuse to allow it. When Tate takes her future into her own hands, she’ll learn that defying them will lead to disastrous and deadly consequences.

Shift
Being different from her Kynzesti kin has never sat well with Sophia, even if she does enjoy the unique ability to shapeshift. When she discovers just why she’s so different, she feels like an even bigger freak. Only if she changes her mindset about herself and her abilities will she have a chance to help stop a Mercesti plot involving a powerful artifact called the Elder Scroll.

Elder
The daughter of the Gloresti elder and firstborn of the Kynzesti class, Clara Kate knows she has a lot of responsibility to shoulder at her young age. As the situation with the Mercesti hunting the Elder Scroll grows more dire, C.K.’s abilities are put to the test. She’ll find out if she has what it takes to be a leader…and whether she can help another elder finally learn to love.

Hopefully this gives you more of an idea of what to expect in the new trilogy. Now…the teaser! Below is the beginning of Chapter Two of Defy. You’ll learn a bit more about Quincy and his relationship with the Kynzesti—the children of the Daughters of Saraqael. If you missed my earlier teasers, you might want to read the prologue and Chapter One first.

And speaking of Quincy, if you haven’t already checked out my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, it’s currently FREE on Amazon for today only! This is the story of Saraqael’s quest to save the human woman he loves…and his best friend, Quincy, is right in the middle of it. Please download it if you’d like a taste of the Estilorians! In the meantime, I leave you with this teaser, and look forward to your comments.

 

Kynzesti DEFY: Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy
Chapter 2

The following day, Tate visited Quincy in the clinic attached to the cottage he kept not far from the training paddock. Although each of the families had gladly offered him room in one of their homes, he insisted that he didn’t want to impose. Plus, although the homes were relatively close to each other, the cottage was a nice central location that made it easier for him to get to any of the expecting mothers he was assisting. And since it was a fully stocked clinic, the fact that it was located near the training paddock was helpful, too. Aunt Amber and Uncle Gabriel weren’t always around when someone needed healing.

Tate privately thought that Quincy preferred the solitude over trying to get any peace in a houseful of other beings, something she could well understand.

Right now, she wandered around the clinic while Quincy stocked a satchel with every conceivable kind of medical implement. The sunlight coming in through the two windows in the room glinted on his blond hair as he leaned intently over the satchel resting on one of the examination tables in the center of the room. Although he usually wore his hair short, it was presently long enough that there was a noticeable curl to it. It nearly touched the neckline of his black tank top. She personally liked the way the longer hairstyle complemented the lines of his handsome face, though she knew he’d be changing back to the shorter style before too long.

When he turned again to one of the many cabinets lining the walls, the sun also gleamed on the silver markings lining his broad shoulders and the backs of his muscular arms. The markings were a result of his transitions to the human plane. As a Corgloresti, he was a harvester of human souls, the only way full Estilorians had to reproduce, since Estilorian females didn’t have the same reproductive systems as humans. As far as Tate knew, Quincy was the most successful Corgloresti in history at bringing souls over through the very complicated Corgloresti Embrace.

He’d never failed.

As he pulled a glass container from the cabinet and started unscrewing the lid, Tate let out a snort of laughter. “Do you really think you’ll need tongue depressors to teach Sophia to fly?”

His silver eyes narrowed and shifted briefly to her. “Don’t give me a hard time right now. You already know how stressed I am about this.”

She did know. Over the years, Quincy had become a very dear friend. And she had long ago reasoned out how he felt about her cousin. She knew he was quite nervous over the prospect of being alone with her for an extended period of time. Even if she hadn’t had a second power that allowed her to see the truth of any matter, his uncommonly jerky mannerisms as he packed his satchel and the more pronounced accent in his words certainly would have tipped her off.

“You know,” she casually pointed out, “if I went with you, I’m sure it would be less stressful for you.”

He replaced the tongue depressors and lifted a container of cotton balls, giving it a thoughtful study. Tate bit her lip against another laugh even as he shook out a few fluffy balls and absently replied, “Nice try.”

“It’s true,” she insisted. “I could serve as a buffer for you so you wouldn’t be forced to try and make conversation with Sophia.” She paused to watch him fumble with the lid as he tried to screw it back on the container. Then she pointed out, “I’m sure she’ll look especially pretty today.”

“Sophia isn’t pretty,” he said in an affronted tone. He was so flustered that he dropped the jar. Fortunately, it hit an area rug and didn’t shatter, though it did roll across the floor toward the open window where Tate stood. Quincy cursed and shook his head at himself as he hurried after the container.

Tate laughed again and bent to help him pick up the displaced cotton balls. “Okay, okay. I’m sure she’ll look gorgeous, breathtaking and heart-stopping, then.”

He caught her gaze and some of the tension in his shoulders eased. One corner of his mouth rose. “Well, that’s a slightly more accurate description, at least. Though you did leave out spectacular and magnificent.”

“I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Sighing, he walked to the trash can to throw away the cotton balls that had escaped the jar. Then he secured the lid and put the container away. “I’m pathetic.”

“A completely lost cause.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “Why did I suggest this again?”

“Because you’re hopelessly in love with my cousin and don’t want to see her fail at this,” she answered, running her finger idly along the frame of the painting hanging on the wall between the windows. The painting had been done by Sophia’s twelve-year-old sister, Leigh, and depicted the family of panthers that lived within the area of protection.

“Oh. Right.”

Empathizing with him, she walked over and rubbed his upper arm. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come along?”

“Well, that would certainly make things easier for me in one respect,” he admitted, giving her an appreciative grin. “But it would get me into all kinds of trouble with your father. You know him, right? Big guy? Handy with a sword? Deadly glare when he’s angry?”

Her lips twitched despite the fact that she knew her attempts to convince Quincy to take her along with him and Sophia weren’t going to succeed. “Yeah, yeah. Well, I believe in you, Quincy. I know that if anyone can help Sophia discover the faith she needs to learn to extend her wings, it’ll be you.”

He sighed again. “Thanks, Tate. No pressure, though.”

The Prophecy (An Estilorian Short Story)

The Prophecy, an Estilorian short story for young adults

When I started writing the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, I had a clear-cut plan. I wanted to write three YA books following three sisters. The books had to be different from anything else available…not conforming to any particular paranormal or fantasy trends, but falling enough within the fantasy genre for readers to enjoy and connect with them.

And, of course, they would include romance and happy endings. (You know me by now, right?).

That was as far as my plans went at the time. Write the books, make sure they could each stand alone, then publish them. By the end of July of this year, those goals were achieved.

Since then, the response to the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy has been overwhelming. I’m both thrilled and deeply humbled when readers reach out to me via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail to tell me how much they enjoyed the books. And it was the resounding response to the first trilogy that cemented the idea of continuing the stories of the Estilorians.

By the time the first review came in for Becoming, I had begun the outline for book one of the upcoming Firstborn trilogy. I had so enjoyed writing about the Estilorians that I definitely wanted to continue the series. Once the positive reviews came in, I knew it was the right path to take.

Books take time to write, however. I was now not only working full-time as a wedding planner and trying to balance that with my family time, but I was promoting my books during every possible free moment. Writing the next trilogy would take some doing.

How would I keep my readers engaged?

It was my husband who suggested writing an Estilorian short story. In truth, I have no idea where the thought came from, as he hasn’t read a short story since it was required of him in high school. Nevertheless, it struck me as brilliant, and (more importantly) very doable.

So I got to work. Fortunately, I had the foresight to ask fans of the Estilorian novels what characters they liked and what story lines they would enjoy seeing expanded upon in future books. The most common response was that readers wanted to know the story of Saraqael and Kate, the couple who really started it all.

I couldn’t think of a better topic for a short story. Thus, as soon as I finished the first draft of book one of the Firstborn trilogy, I went to work on a short story that features part of the tale of Saraqael and Kate. Titled The Prophecy, the short story serves as a narrative bridge between the Daughters of Saraqael and Firstborn trilogies.

If you missed the teaser last week, please check it out! The Prophecy is now available for the Kindle at Amazon.com.

For more insights on The Prophecy, please visit these wonderful blogs featuring interviews about the short story launch: The Book Hookup and Sarah’s Books & Life Blog (which, ahem, also features a giveaway for a signed copy of Becoming!).

Thanks again to all of you for your support, and I hope you enjoy the first Estilorian short story!

New Short Story and Four Months of Thanks

Four months ago almost to the day, I sat in front of the computer with my husband. We had just spent two months preparing the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy for publication. After trudging down the long road of traditional publishing, attempting and failing to catch the attention of literary agents, I had decided to take the plunge into the world of indie publishing.

But reality hit as we sat in front of that computer screen. With a click of the mouse, Becoming would be uploaded to Smashwords, followed by uploads to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There was really no turning back once we did this.

We exchanged looks. We grinned like idiots. And we clicked PUBLISH. Then I’m pretty sure we indulged in an adult beverage or two to celebrate, never thinking we had made the wrong decision.

So…here I sit, four months later, once again in front of the computer. And I’m giving my books their four-month check-up. Have I now changed my mind, you might ask? Did I make the right choice in choosing to self-publish?

It’s interesting. Everyone has a different measure of success. For some, you’re not successful unless you’re accepted and published by a traditional publisher and your books appear on the shelves of the local bookstore. For others, the only true measure of success might involve books being on The New York Times Bestseller List.

Personally, I think a writer’s success begins the moment she puts a pen to the page. That’s the moment where she’s committing to telling her story, the moment where her soul starts seeping onto the page. Her success grows with each written word, and blossoms once those words are shared with others.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve engaged with a couple of very talented writers who were brought low by disappointments in their careers. One had just received a rejection by a literary agent and the other felt that no one wanted to hear what she had to say, nearly giving up writing altogether. Fortunately, both rebounded from their individual setbacks. To me, they’re both successful just for writing and persevering.

In using this particular yard stick, the Daughters of Saraqael books have certainly been successful. But is just being complete and published works enough to consider these indie-pubbed books a “success?” Some would argue no.

Thus, since I’m doing my four-month check-up here, I’ll mention that to date, the books have exceeded 5,500 sales. Becoming has reached #15 on Amazon’s Kindle Bestseller list in the Romance/Fantasy & Futuristic category. This past weekend, it was at #715 overall in Paid Kindle Books–a category that contains hundreds of thousands of titles.

To say I’m grateful to my readers would be the understatement of the year, but especially in the week of Thanksgiving, I absolutely have to say it: thank you!

Thank you to everyone who has bought my books. A special thanks goes out to everyone who has also supported me and my work via blog posts, tweeting or Facebooking, liking and/or reviewing on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and rating and reviewing on Goodreads. Every single effort has contributed to the success over the past four months, and there aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.

Also, here at the mark of the four-month anniversary of the publication of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, I’m pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of my first Estilorian short story, The Prophecy. This coming Monday, November 28th, The Prophecy will be made available for free download via Smashwords, followed by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When the Daughters of Saraqael books were first released, one of the most common things I heard was that readers wanted to hear more about Saraqael and Kate. So when I decided to release short stories between writing the books in the forthcoming Firstborn trilogy, I balanced this popular reader request with a tie-in to the new books. The Prophecy centers on Saraqael’s quest and also includes his best friend, Quincy, one of the central characters in the Firstborn trilogy.

Without further ado, I leave you with another resounding thanks, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and presenting you with a teaser for The Prophecy, coming soon to e-readers near you…

 
THE PROPHECY

“I love her, Quincy.”

Looking up from the medical journal in front of him, Quincy blinked and caught the gaze of his best friend, Saraqael. He reasoned he had been distracted by his studies, because he surely hadn’t heard correctly. “What was that?”

Saraqael grinned, a very rare thing to see on the Estilorian plane. “You heard me. And I would appreciate you keeping this to yourself. Try not to let the Orculesti or Wymzesti get into your head. They will certainly try to stop me.”

Quincy let his hand slide from the pages of the journal to the top of his well-worn table, his studies forgotten. “You mean…the female you met on the human plane?”

“Yes. Her name is Kate. And I need your help.”

“My help?”

Quincy knew he sounded ridiculous, echoing everything his friend said. But this made no sense. Estilorians didn’t fall in love. Estilorians, in point of fact, barely knew what it meant to like. Ever since the nine Estilorian elders had joined together to create a separate plane of existence from humanity more than two millennia ago, the understanding and experiencing of emotions among Estilorians had greatly diminished. Now, the only emotions generally exhibited were negative, such as jealousy, anger, competitiveness and fear.

Only the Corgloresti class had the ability to transition between the Estilorian and human planes. As members of this class, Quincy and Saraqael both now understood the dramatic differences between emotional humans and their own kind. Like Saraqael, Quincy had crossed the planes only twice so far because he was so young—just over two centuries. But it had been enough for him to understand the dire results of the elders’ choice. It hadn’t been known that Estilorians were inherently unemotional beings until it was too late.

So to hear that Saraqael thought himself in love…well, it confounded him.

Because Quincy’s quarters weren’t very large, Saraqael walked four paces and then turned and strode the other way as he paced in front of the table. He ran his hand through his dark hair in a way that seemed to communicate agitation or impatience. Corgloresti were trained in how to interpret body language to aid them in their time on the human plane, since they were largely unable to experience emotion themselves. While some of what he had learned from his Estilorian teachers had been a bit off, Quincy’s experiences among humans during his first two transitions gave him confidence in his interpretation of his friend’s behavior.

“Yes, I need your help, my friend,” Saraqael said now as he paced. “You have trained in the human medical sciences so that you can assume the form of a physician on the human plane. You know that I chose to focus on human theology in my studies, which is of little use to me now. I am in need of a solution to save Kate’s life, and I have nowhere else to turn.”

“Saraqael…” Quincy trailed off, uncertain what to say. Eventually, he hazarded, “We were trained not to become attached to those we choose to Embrace. Though I know it has proven challenging for the two of us, most Corgloresti distance themselves as a matter of instinct.” Again, he hesitated, watching his friend pace. “Do you really believe that she will unquestionably accept the fact that you are a non-human being with exceptional powers and the ability to fly? A being that can live for centuries without aging?”

“Yes.”

That gave Quincy pause. Despite his friend’s conviction, he felt compelled to point out, “You know once you mark a human soul for transitioning into an Estilorian form that you are the only one who can Embrace it. And if you do, her soul will retain none of its human awareness once it is brought over here. Including any memories of you.”

“There must be a way.”

Before Quincy could respond, Saraqael abruptly stopped pacing. He braced his hands on the table and leaned closer to Quincy, his silver eyes flashing with something indefinable.

“Kate is unlike any being I have ever met, Quincy. She has the most amazing smile. Just the sight of it does things to me that—well, you cannot even imagine. Although her body is frail, her courage is unsurpassed. She is kind and giving. She is intelligent and good-humored. When she sings, I swear the birds stop to listen in envy. And her faith…well, she has at least as much as you, and you have more than anyone I have ever known. I need that faith right now, Quincy.”

He may have been inexperienced with emotions, but Quincy understood the tone of his friend’s voice. He noticed the light sheen of moisture that accompanied his friend’s intense gaze. And he knew he couldn’t ignore either.

Nodding, he said, “Okay. Tell me what her human doctors have shared with you.”