A year ago today, Across the Formidable Sea became available for purchase on Amazon. In the year since it’s earned 22 reviews on Amazon with an average 4.6 stars. On Goodreads, it has 30 and an average 4.37. It’s been purchased over 500 times in more than 3 countries. My words. My ideas. It’s surreal and completely humbling, but it’s also exciting and worth celebrating! It’s my book birthday, and you’re all invited to the party.
Here are the two ways I’m celebrating:
The first: the ATFS ebook is FREE to download on Amazon today, and the paperback price has been reduced to $6.99. This deal is only active until April 1st, so if you’ve been waiting to grab a copy, today is the day to do it!
The second: I’ve decided to share the prologue to the sequel with you today to say thank you for supporting me and for following along on this journey. I’m grateful from the very bottom of my heart to have the opportunity to pursue my longest held dream.
So, without further ado, a peek into the forthcoming sequel to Across the Formidable Sea.
In a browning sea of grass, underneath a fading cottonwood tree whose remaining leaves were tinged with gold, Laura Elliott-Stratford knelt at her father’s grave.
Some knotty vine had begun to gnarl around the headstone’s smooth marble edge, and Laura pried it away carefully, biting down on her lip. She traced her fingers along his name. “Hello, Papa,” she whispered. “It’s been a while.”
His stone stood alone, unaccompanied by family or friends. It made Laura’s heart swell with regret, and she promised herself that one day she would be here too, that he wouldn’t always be alone. Duncan Elliott, 1879-1914.
“I miss you terribly,” she said, her eyes burning with tears. “It never gets better, Papa. It never gets easier.”
A sob rose up in her throat and she suppressed it with a painful swallow, afraid of drawing attention. “I—I’m sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t been. I don’t know if you know… Papa, I’m just not sure of anything. She took me away. I should have stayed, but I didn’t fight hard enough.”
A breeze blew through the cemetery, pushing Laura’s untied hair from her shoulder. If she closed her eyes, she could believe he was comforting her. She could believe he understood. She took a deep, shuddering breath.
“I’m home now,” she said. “I needed to be close to you. But Mama and I… I think we understand each other. I think you would be happy about that.”
Her throat and lungs felt full of shards of ragged glass. Being there, seeing his name, remembering how real and physical he had once been, hurt her as much as it healed. “The truth is, Papa, I don’t know what you would say. I can only guess now. And it’s hard. Your voice… it fades sometimes.”
Like a shadow, Laura felt Jeremy’s presence a respectful distance behind her. She hadn’t been ready to introduce them yet. She peeked over her shoulder and saw him lingering by a mausoleum, raven-like against the amber foliage in his black coat and hat. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and he studied the engravings on the fine, obviously expensive gravesite.
“I want to believe you’d approve,” Laura whispered. “I want to believe you’d think I’d made the right choice.”
A tear slipped down her cheek, tracking down her neck and pooling in the hollow of her collarbone.
“I’m going to New York, but I won’t be far,” she said. “I’ll be back. I want to call on Thomas, and some of your friends from the firm. I don’t want to be so far from you again.”
The marble slab she faced was silent, and another sob wrenched through her body, this one savage and unstoppable. Her body was so heavy; she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to stand, wasn’t sure if she’d be able to leave. There was a song she had forgotten, a haunting tune she hadn’t allowed herself to remember. I am stretched on your grave, it said, and will lie there forever. The song keened from some deep, primal part of herself, reverberating deafeningly in her mind like a newly struck gong. She could lie here forever. She could fall asleep and let winter arrive; bury her under a blanket of snow. It felt new again, the loss. How could she go on? How had she managed all these years without him?
A leather-gloved hand pressed gently into her shoulder.
She turned and buried her damp face in Jeremy’s neck, letting him circle his arms around her waist. He was warm, solid, real. His familiar smell washed over her, slowing her broken breaths. His hand curled in the hair at the nape of her neck, and he pulled back slightly to kiss her forehead, soft as a breath. “It’s all right, Laura,” he whispered. “You’re home.”
She nodded, a last ragged sob ripping through her. It could have been hours that they knelt there, holding each other against the cool nip of autumn’s first wind. Maybe it was minutes. But slowly, the sharp pain in Laura’s chest began to fade to a dull ache. She gripped Jeremy’s forearms and looked up at him, his amber eyes the same shade as the leaves above. “Let’s go home,” she said.