DAUGHTERS OF SARAQAEL TRILOGY, BOOK 1
YOUNG ADULT FANTASY ROMANCE
Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.
As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.
To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.
Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.
Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.
The blow to her head hurt more than just Amber’s pride, especially because she should have seen it coming. She had expected her opponent to follow the jumping inside crescent kick with a jumping toe kick, but he changed it up on her, throwing in a roundhouse combo that shoved her off-balance and sent her straight to the ground.
Get your head on straight, Hopkins, she thought, irritated with herself for being distracted enough to take the hit.
Springing back up, she bounced on the balls of her feet and once again faced her opponent. Ignoring the noise and spectacle around her, she focused exclusively on the battle at hand. This time, when her opponent came in with a spear-hand strike, she countered with a high block, then used her forward momentum to step in close and take him down with a double leg sweep.
At the instructor’s command, Amber immediately straightened rather than following the move with her finishing strike. She reached down to help her sparring partner, Timothy Mason, to his feet. He grasped her hand much as he had many other times over their years practicing together. Because they were about the same height, they were often paired together for sparring.
“Good job, Hopkins,” their instructor, Mr. Jenkins, said. “Keep that up, you just might take the trophy at nationals next month.”
Amber bowed, as did her fellow black belts, as the class was dismissed. Collecting her gear and slinging her well-worn equipment bag over her shoulder, she made her way to the front of the karate center. Catching the proud gaze of Mrs. B—as she and her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel Reid, called their guardian, Clara Burke—she felt a flush heat her cheeks.
“That was excellent work, Little Star,” Mrs. B said, using the nickname she had given Amber several years ago.
“Thanks,” Amber said, shifting her bag uncomfortably over the praise. Then she ventured, “Since I’m all sweaty, I probably shouldn’t be going to get my hair done.”
“Nonsense.” Mrs. B’s humored expression told Amber that her guardian was on to her. “Lulu will shampoo your hair. I want to do this for you. You only get one end-of-the-year pool party when you’re about to graduate high school, after all.”
While Amber knew quite well that there were worse things in life to endure than spending half the day at a beauty salon, she was rather hard-pressed to think of any at that moment. Despite her qualms, she soon found herself shepherded into Mrs. B’s car and driven to her guardian’s favored salon.
Within the hour, she sat in a chair undergoing what was to her a very foreign—and very female—ritual. A fuchsia smock covered the shorts and T-shirt she had changed into, and her hair, having already been snipped and trimmed into what she was assured was a flattering style that didn’t remove too much length, was now covered in some kind of goop she had been told would “bring out her natural highlights.” The steady hum of a hair appliance and the chatter of female voices buzzed around her ears as the sharp and pungent scents of permanent and highlighting solutions assaulted her nose.
She still couldn’t believe she had agreed to this. Mrs. B sprang it on her before the haze of sleep had cleared her brain, and Amber figured that had a good deal to do with it.
“It’s time for me to give you your graduation present, Little Star,” Mrs. B had said that morning as Amber downed her usual breakfast of orange juice.
“Present?” Amber echoed as though this was an unheard of concept.
“Yes, indeed. Gabriel isn’t the only one who can acknowledge the hard work you put toward passing your final exams. I’d like to take you to the salon for a nice haircut before the pool party.”
“Aw, come on, Mrs. B.” She felt her shoulders hunch in discomfort.
“Don’t give me any nonsense, child,” Mrs. B responded calmly as she sipped her morning tea and read the paper. She was ever the educated southern lady when she spoke, and she made sure her charges modeled themselves accordingly. If nothing else, it had gotten Amber straight A’s in English. “You are absolutely deserving of my praise and recognition. I don’t want to hear a word otherwise.”
It was eerie how Mrs. B got straight to the heart of the matter. Amber had frowned into her juice glass and wished futilely that Gabriel was already awake, then looked through her eyelashes at the woman who had raised her since she was twelve.
Sunlight streamed through the kitchen window and gleamed across Mrs. B’s reading glasses. The years had been kind despite the hardships she had faced. Sure, there was now a bit of gray sprinkled in her hair that hadn’t been there six years ago, but she otherwise appeared much as she had the day Amber first trudged through her door. Indeed, her constancy was one of the biggest gifts Amber had ever received, and all she ever wanted.
She supposed accepting a gra