This has been a crazy (and exciting) year. On top of building a new house, moving into that house, and my daughter starting Kindergarten, I also published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. For anyone who thinks that publishing a book is the last stage in the world of writing, though, that’s far from true!
Since the trilogy was published at the end of July, my writing time–which was already sparse because of my full-time wedding planning career–has greatly diminished due to the time I now spend marketing the books. Before publication, I didn’t have an author presence to nurture. There wasn’t a Raine Thomas Facebook page, Twitter account or blog. I wasn’t participating in author interviews and guest posts. I wasn’t befriending wonderful authors whose books I want to read and review.
In short, when I wasn’t coordinating a wedding or spending time with my family, I was writing.
Well, things change…and I’m delighted with how things have changed over the past four months. This is everything I’ve been striving for and more (sleep deprivation aside). Despite my other obligations, I have been writing. Book one of the Firstborn trilogy is done and in the beta-reading stage, and I’m outlining book two. I’m still on track to have the entire trilogy released by early-to-mid 2012 (fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that).
In the meantime, to celebrate completing my latest round of edits, I’m doing two things: having a sale for Becoming, which is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for just 99 cents, and posting this excerpt from book one of the Firstborn trilogy. If you missed my first teaser from the book (the prologue), please check it out here.
As always, thanks so much for your support…and I look forward to your feedback!
Being seventeen absolutely sucked.
Tate crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the grassy ground beneath her booted feet. The response to her request had been exactly what she’d expected, but that didn’t make her any less annoyed. She would be eighteen in about a month, for all holy sake. What difference did a few weeks make?
“You know why I’m saying no, Tate,” her father, Caleb, said in his level tone. “You’re not yet eighteen. Leaving the area of protection around our home would be very unsafe. You can’t bring forth your wings yet.”
She looked up at him, fighting against the instinctive pout that she knew wouldn’t help her cause. “Only because you won’t let me try,” she countered.
He gave her The Look. It was one he had mastered over the years, and she felt her shoulders hunching against it. Huffing out a sigh, she rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, fine. So I’ve tried. But that doesn’t mean I’d be helpless out there. I’d be with Quincy and Sophia, and they won’t be very far outside the area of protection. Don’t you trust Quincy?”
Her father gave her another look, this one telling her that she was losing her touch. “I certainly do trust Quincy. He brought you into this world and he would protect you to his death. Is that what you want?”
She pursed her lips in frustration. He knew she wasn’t going to say yes to that. Refusing to give up, she said, “What I want is for you to trust my ability to defend myself. I’ve been trained to do so since I was old enough to hold a weapon. I know very well that mom only trained for a few months after she transitioned to this plane before she helped you defeat Grolkinei. So I’m curious as to just when you’re going to consider me ready.”
Now, her father’s dark blue eyes seemed to take her measure. Then he acknowledged, “Well played.”
“But it doesn’t change my mind.”
“No, Tate. My answer is final.” He reached out and tugged on one of her many corkscrew curls—curls that resembled his outside of their varied colors. “You offered a sound argument. But my concern for your safety won’t ease until you’re eighteen, and even then, I’m your father. I love you and I’ll always worry about you.”
Her frown softened at the words, but the disappointment was still hard to swallow. She knew that she was ready to experience more of the world. How could he not feel the same? “You’re going to have to learn to trust my abilities at some point, Dad.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’ve lived a much more sheltered life than your mother and your aunts did, Tate. You don’t understand it yet, but you’re a much younger seventeen than they were.” His lips curved into a smile that eased the sting of his words. “When you’re really ready to leave the area of protection, you’ll understand what I’m saying. The bottom line is that you might be the oldest of all your siblings by five minutes, but you’re not the oldest of your cousins. Clara Kate and Sophia will experience certain things before you do. But that won’t make those experiences any less special for you when it’s your turn. Before you know it, we’ll be taking you and Tiege out for your first attempt at flying.”
At the mention of her twin brother, she shifted her gaze to the training paddock. Located within equal walking distance of the home she shared with her parents and her seven siblings, her Aunt Olivia and Uncle James’ home, and her Aunt Amber and Uncle Gabriel’s home, the paddock was used by all three families. Tiege was even now training with Uncle James in the use of the blessed kamas he had been given by the elders. The sickle-like weapons gleamed white in the sun as he worked through his weapon forms under their uncle’s careful eye. A number of their older siblings and cousins were also in various stages of training with her Uncle Gabriel and Aunt Amber. The younger children would be in the classroom with Aunt Olivia at this time of day.
When she opened her mouth as a thought struck her, her father said, “And no, I won’t let you go even if Tiege is with you.”
Deflated, she now did allow her face to fall into a pout. “Fine,” she huffed. She turned to stride down the slope leading to the paddock, figuring she’d work off her irritation in a contest with her brother.
She stopped and glanced back at her father. Even if he hadn’t been standing higher on the slope than she was, he was a very tall being. His sculpted Gloresti musculature combined with that height made him a very imposing figure. She had always found that comforting, however. And when he now gave her a knowing look and waved her back up the slope, she felt a layer of her irritation slide away.
Giving up, she walked over to him and allowed him to draw her into a consoling hug. He had never allowed one of his children to walk away on a harsh or angry word. Since she knew she pressed him more than any of her siblings did, she could only appreciate that.
Even if she did think he was being ridiculous and overprotective.
“I’m eager for you to find your wings, too,” he said, the sound of the words a rumble in her ear where it rested against his chest. “You’re my firstborn. I can’t wait for you to experience what it is to fly…to achieve another milestone of your existence. But it’s only a few more weeks.”
More composed now, she pulled away from the hug and caught his gaze. “I know, Dad. You’re just trying to look out for me. And I love you, too.”
This time, when she pulled away and headed toward the training paddock, he let her go.
“How did our babies suddenly get to be approaching their eighteenth birthdays?”
Caleb kept his gaze on his daughter’s retreating figure as his wife, Skye, walked up beside him and took his hand. He watched the sparkling, fluffy, knee-length skirt that Tate wore over her cargo-style pants spring up with every step, just as her multi-colored, beaded curls bounced in their high ponytail. She had the tall and curvy build of a grown female, but there were many things about her that were still achingly young.
In response to his wife’s question, he just shook his head and gave her hand a squeeze, having no answer. It did seem just yesterday that he was a neurotic mass of nerves awaiting the births of Tate and Tiege, and now here the twins were, mere weeks from learning to fly. The time had passed much too quickly, even for a being who didn’t physically age.
Tate, in particular, was growing up more quickly than he was ready for. As his firstborn child, she certainly held a special place in his heart. And her free, uninhibited spirit was so similar to her mother’s that he couldn’t help but love her all the more for it. But she worried him, too. Where her twin was content to follow the rules, she consistently bent them.
“I had the dream again.”
Now he looked down at Skye. Her light blue gaze was focused on the paddock. As usual, she wore her long, softly curling brown hair down, and it caught in the breeze, allowing the sunlight to reflect on its beautiful red and gold highlights. Her fitted, knee-length sundress was a rainbow of bright hues that formed a swirl centered right over her round belly. Their next set of twins was due in about three months. Unlike her sisters, Skye was prone to multiple births. This would be their third set of twins.
I know, he thought, knowing she would hear him with her mind since they were avowed. I had the same dream.
Upon assuming her powers on the Estilorian plane nineteen years ago, Skye had been able to dream of the future. Not everything she dreamed actually occurred, but she was accurate more often than not. After exchanging the eternally binding vows with her that avowed them, Caleb had inherited the same ability. He found it more a curse than a blessing.
Tate asked you if she could go with Quincy and Sophia, didn’t she? Skye thought.
Quincy was a long-time friend of their family and the Estilorian who had attended the births of the twenty children born to Skye and her sisters, Amber and Olivia. He was planning to take Olivia and James’ firstborn daughter, Sophia, outside the area of protection the following day. Because the levels of protection surrounding the three family homes had been strengthened over time as the families grew and the different powers of the children began to emerge, one of the resulting side effects was that wings could no longer be extended while within the enchanted area. Thus, when a child came of age, he or she had to be taken outside the area of protection to learn to fly.
Amber and Gabriel’s firstborn daughter, Clara Kate, had been able to bring forth her wings with ease after her eighteenth birthday four months ago. Caleb, Skye, James and Olivia had all been in attendance on that memorable day. It had been emotional for all of them.
Unfortunately, things hadn’t gone quite so well for Sophia.
The firstborn daughter of Olivia and James was…well, different. As a class, the Kynzesti—as the children of the daughters of Saraqael had come to be known—were tall and brunette with deep blue-green eyes and markings, tanned skin and well-defined musculature. While Sophia had the deep blue-green eyes and markings of her class, she was blonde and petite with an ivory skin tone, and was distinctly disinterested in physical exertion. Because, like her parents, she was highly intelligent and applied herself with diligence to anything required of her, she could certainly hold her own in combat if required. But she avoided it as much as possible and had to be forced to train.
So they probably shouldn’t have been surprised that her first attempt at flight went differently than Clara Kate’s. Unlike Clara Kate, who had extended her wings immediately with minimal guidance from her parents, Sophia had struggled. James and Olivia had shown their characteristic patience in trying to teach her, but Sophia just couldn’t do it. She had turned eighteen two months ago, and despite numerous ventures outside the area of protection, her flight efforts were thus far unsuccessful.
Quincy, who provided the prenatal care for Amber, Olivia and Skye whenever they were pregnant, proposed a solution to the problem. Since Skye and her sisters were all currently expecting again, Quincy was staying within the protected area in case any problems arose, so he was aware of the situation. And since he was a Corgloresti, he had particular insights into flight, something that required faith to accomplish. The Corgloresti class specialized in matters of faith.
He had suggested that Sophia’s ties to her family were preventing her from believing in her own abilities, a core element to successful flight. After quite a bit of debate, they had all finally decided to have Quincy take Sophia by herself outside the area of enchantment to see if it would provide her the right environment to fly.
Because secrets were all but impossible within such a close-knit family, word had quickly spread about the intent. Thus, Caleb hadn’t been very surprised when Tate approached him about going along with her cousin.
“I told her no, of course,” he said now in response to Skye’s question.
“And we’ll keep an eye on her tomorrow?”
“Of course. As always.”
Such concern when expressed by other parents might have seemed overprotective, he supposed, watching Tate join Tiege’s training session. Her blessed nunchucks whirled and winked in the light as the twins sparred. But then, most parents didn’t dream of the future.
The dream he shared with Skye had been recurring more and more regularly ever since Clara Kate had transitioned to the human plane not long after her eighteenth birthday. In the dream, Tate was alone and outside the area of protection. She was taken off-guard by an unseen attacker, grasped in a brutal grip while she was disoriented, and when she finally realized what was happening, her terror was devastating.
But it was the end of the dream that caused Caleb to wake up in a cold sweat with an agonized cry in his throat. It was what had his normally positive and cheerful wife looking sad and worried. And it was why they absolutely couldn’t let Tate have her way when it came to her request to venture out with Quincy and Sophia.
For they had both foreseen their firstborn daughter’s death.