Book Three in the Trilogy is well on its way to completion. I'm aiming for a release before December. Here's a fun sample. Note: contains spoilers to Books One and Two.
Davide sat under a brilliant moon on the balcony of his third story bedroom and watched the night flight of the eagles. He followed their dark shapes soaring above the wild-flower field beyond the manicured lawns of the Childress Estate. They reached the lawn and circled several times, obviously aware of him. He waved and they dived toward his balcony. The larger Bald Eagle landed first, near his feet, and then the smaller one next to it. Davide grinned and waited for the shift.
Within milliseconds, the eagles morphed into Roth and Rainey Beowolf, his parents. The exhilarated look on his mother's face made Davide pat the chair next to him. "Take a seat, Mom, and tell me about the flight."
For the next half hour, Davide listened to his mother's enraptured descriptions. He never tired of her enthusiasm. Finally, she rose and reached a hand toward her husband. "If we don't leave soon, I'm going to bore Davide to tears."
"Never," Davide responded, his voice sounding bittersweet. His mother placed her hand gently on his cheek and his father patted his shoulder.
His mother changed the subject. "Zoe isn't coming to your birthday party this year, either."
"When did you find out?" Davide frowned.
"Fawn called earlier today and told me."
"What country is her tour group in?"
"She's in Spain--Barcelona; soon to leave for Madrid."
"I haven't seen her in two years. She used to attend every party."
"Did the two of you have a falling out?" Roth asked.
"If we did, then I don't know about it."
Roth shook his head. "I know you've said you've tried calling her."
"Yes, several times, and left voicemails. I've sent her emails, too. She only responded to a handful of emails saying how busy she is. It's not like her."
Roth patted his shoulder again. "Keep trying, son. We'll see you in the morning."
"Okay, Dad." Davide watched his parents lower their heads to speak the Prayer of Secrecy that would shift them back into eagles. They flapped powerful wings and lifted skyward. Davide watched their ascent and disappearance behind low clouds. He blew a breath and rubbed his temples, thinking about Zoe. The strange attitude the past two years of his best friend baffled and depressed him. They had grown up together. Zoe had even babysat him when she was a teenager. He remembered fondly the pillow fight wars they often found themselves in. God, he missed her.
Davide caught sight of his parents zipping in and out of the clouds, diving and chasing one another. To take his mind off Zoe, he remembered the first time his mother had shifted. He had been ten years old and for ten years she'd faithfully followed his dad's instructions. His father had taught that the key to shifting rested in focus. Shortly before her first shift, he remembered seeing his mother in tears. He'd walked past the cracked library door and heard the desperation in her voice. "Roth, I'm a failure. I'll never be able to soar with you."
"Souier, you cannot give up. If it's meant to happen, it will."
His mother had sobbed and Davide had peeked beyond the door to see his father gently kissing her tears away.
He also remembered his mother bursting into his room a few days after the crying incident and exclaiming, "I did it, Davide!" She'd rushed back out and he'd run behind her while she'd searched the house for his father. She'd found him in the surveillance room talking to Johnson, one of the many bodyguards employed by Hank Childress to protect his family. When she'd burst into the room looking like a wild woman, both Roth and Johnson had rushed toward her.
Davide grinned, remembering how she'd thrown her arms around his father's neck and started kissing him passionately. His father hadn't known the reason for her joyfulness, but he'd participated wholeheartedly in the kiss. When she'd pulled away, she'd repeated her words to Davide, "I did it!"
In this scene, Fawn talks to her friend Rainey on the phone and then meets up with Wade for a tour of his ranch.
Fawn sat on the side of her bed and perused her surroundings. Being tucked off the kitchen and secluded from the rest of the house suited her just fine. She smiled. Tonight, she'd slip out the kitchen door and shapeshift into—she pondered only a second—a feral horse. Feral herds roamed the area and the thought of running with them ran goose bumps up her arms.
Lying on her bed, she retrieved her cell phone and called her friend Rainey.
Rainey answered immediately, "Hey Fawn, you've got a special ring on my phone."
"Yeah, and what's that?"
"A dolphin's chatter, of course."
Fawn laughed. "So Roth told you how much I love the species, but I've never received an assignment…" Her voice trailed, and she finished, "…you know what I mean." Fawn and her friend always refrained from going into details about shapeshifting while communicating via phone or internet.
"Yeah, I know," Rainey agreed. "So, how's the new assignment? You're in a beautiful area. With Roth hovering like a mother hen and insisting I rest, I've been reading about the Four-Corners region of the U.S."
"Well, I agree with Roth, you're as big as a house with that baby. You need to take it easy."
"Jeez, thanks Fawn, being as big as a house is just what I wanted to hear." Rainey pretended to be offended, and then laughed.
"Our little prince is going to make his debut soon and his mother doesn't need to be exhausted from lab work." Fawn knew Rainey understood the deeper meaning to her reference to "prince". The entire prophesy of the Great Prince was known only to a few humans and shapelings.
"You're right, of course. So, tell me about your new digs."
"I have a room away from the rest of the house which makes it nice for night escapes."
"Oh, I'm glad to hear that. What about the family?"
"Not exactly what I expected. Mr. Spencer doesn't talk much. And I don't think I'm what he expected either. For a minute, I thought he was going to tell me to catch the next hopper back to Denver."
"Well, Fawn, you're not exactly the matronly looking type. Goodness, I used to be so jealous when I thought you and Roth were having an affair. You're flat-out gorgeous."
"Rainey, I am not gorgeous. I'm just a hardworking—" She refrained from saying the word shapeling. "—girl, doing her best to complete her latest—" She refrained from saying, mission. "—job."
"Whatever," Rainey chuckled. So tell me, what's Mr. Spencer like? Is he a handsome cowboy?"
"Rainey, you are incorrigible. He's a…rough cowboy. According to human standards of handsome, I'd say he's average. The co-Princes said he was in the car accident that killed his wife, so maybe that's where he got the scar running down his jaw alongside his ear. It actually doesn't detract from his looks. His eyes are a lovely shade of green, he's tall and lean—probably 6'2", and wears typical cowboy garb: Levis, chambray shirt, boots, big belt buckle. His hair is brown with blond sun streaks. He…
"Whoa girl, for someone who doesn't pay attention to looks, I'd say you're paying a lot of attention."
"Rainey, you asked me and I'm just telling you what you want to know."
"Okay, okay. Tell me about the child."
"She's seven, small for her age. When I first arrived she was having issues—wanted the voices in her head to stop."
"Oh, my. What happened?"
"Actually, Rainey, I'm not sure if she was trying to get attention, or really hearing something. I sat beside her until she calmed down. She seems to be in her own little world."
"I can relate to that. I grew up in my own world believing my mother didn't love me. How wrong I was."
"Zoe's mother is dead and it appears she's never recovered."
"That poor child; I'm glad you're there for her."
"Well, things have sure started with a bang. I better run. Mr. Spencer said he'd show me around the ranch."
"Okay, Fawn. Call if you need anything. Talk to you later."
Fawn entered the small bathroom in her bedroom and pulled a brush through her straight, shoulder-length hair, pulling it into a pony tail. She splashed water on her face, pinched her cheeks, and returned to the kitchen. Wade sat at a small drop leaf table positioned in the center of the room, sipping a cup of coffee.
"Hello Mr. Spen…Wade. How is Zoe?"
"She's sleeping now. This would be a good time to show you around. Would you like a cup of coffee? I think there's tea if you prefer."
Wade started to rise.
"No, please don't get up. I see the pot. I'll get it myself." Fawn lifted a cup from the cup-tree. She poured a cup of the blackest coffee she'd ever seen. "Do you have flavored creamer?" she asked.
"Ah…no. We've got real cream in the fridge. I'll get it for you."
"No, no. I'll get it." Fawn walked to the refrigerator next to the back door. The many cartons of creamer were easy to spot in the well-stocked jumble of items.
"Zoe likes cream on her cereal," Wade offered as explanation. "Sometimes that's all she'll eat so we go through a lot of it. Sugar's on the counter." He pointed back toward the coffee pot.
"Thanks, just cream is fine."
An uncomfortable silence settled.
"Well, why don't we take our coffees and I'll show you around the ranch?"
"I'd like that."
I've written about thirty percent of the next book in the Shapeling Trilogy. This story continues with Davide as the focus. Here's a small snippet. I've had to keep it small because I don't want to give too much away.
Wade lifted on his elbow and gazed at his beautiful wife. A shaft of moonlight caressed her face and he bent to kiss her cheek. She lifted her eyelids and turned her head until her mouth touched his. "I love you," she whispered.
Brushing his lips gently from her mouth to her ear, he responded, "And I love you more than life." Smoothing his hand through her coal black hair, he reveled in its silkiness. In that shaft of moonlight they lost themselves to a lovers' realm begun twenty-five years earlier.
Hours later, pink sunlight filtered through the curtains above their bed and Wade trailed the tip of his finger down Fawn's cheek. He felt a tear. "What is it, love? Something's bothering you. I've felt it for awhile, but I've been waiting until you're ready to talk. Does it have anything to do with a mission?"
Fawn sniffed and nodded. She turned her head to look into her husband's emerald eyes. "The mission was…was…Zoe's mission."
"Honey, that was years ago."
"I know. Wade, I'm worried about Zoe.
I've been waiting on pins and needles to find out the winners in the Seventh Annual Literary Harvest Writing Contest sponsored by Central Oregon Writers Guild. When I received an email that said I was one of them, I did my happy dance (kind of a twist, hip hop, tango mix--really dorky). I'll be reading my entry, along with the other winners, at a Guild sponsored event on October 14. The info can be found in a link on my "About Me/Calendar" page.
The next great thing that happened: Hampton Reviews gave Fawn, Book Two in the Shapeling Trilogy, a 5-star review. The reviewer (Fallawolf) said some very nice things. Here's what she said about the ending of the story: Fawn is a fantastic story with a beautiful ending that brought tears to my eyes.
It made me want to cry knowing that someone else enjoyed the ending as much as I did. As for Book Three: Davide: Prince, I'm well into the writing and lovin' these characters. They've been whispering their story for weeks and I'm writing it as fast as I can.
Next month I go to the Book Fair in Central Point, Oregon to sell and sign books. This is a first for me.