June may be coming to an end, but we are looking forward to continuing to #ReadPrideAndBeyond all year long with upcoming spectacular 2020 reads. And we’re sharing an excerpt today from one of them! Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker is the epic conclusion to the Seafire trilogy, applauded by Tor.com for celebrating “sisterhood and queernormativity in the face of selfishness and cruelty.” In the third and final book, Caledonia Styx will risk everything–her heart, her crew, and even her life–to defeat Lir and take back the Bullet Seas once and for all.
Scroll down to read an excerpt!
“We can’t stay here long.”
“Well, at least that’s a familiar position for us.” Pisces’s voice was grim, but she was right. They’d spent so much of their lives running, the prospect of having to do it now was almost a comfort. Here, there was no city to consider, no separation between crew and ship. They would live in a state of readiness that hadn’t been possible in Cloudbreak.
They climbed up to the bridge, nodding to Folly, who was on dead watch, then continued toward the nose. There, perched on the eastward-facing rail, was a small figure. She was wrapped in a thin blanket, but the simple blue ribbon tied at the end of her long black braid gave her away.
“Hime?” Caledonia straddled the rail on one side of the girl, while Pisces did the same on the other.
In the dim light of the sun pips ringed around the deck of the Luminous, tear tracks gleamed against her moon-pale cheeks. Her eyes were pinned to a spot in the east through which friendly ships would know to sail.
“How long have you been here?” Pisces asked.
Hime shrugged her response.
“I’m sorry, Hime.” Caledonia felt her own heart twisting around Amina’s absence. “If there was something we could do, we would.”
There is. Hime’s answer was immediate. She turned to face Caledonia, her eyes shining with unshed tears, her expression a little wild. We can go back to Cloudbreak. We can search for her. Find her. Bring her back with us.
“Hime,” Pisces said in a mournful voice.
Don’t tell me we can’t. She could be hurt, trapped, dying. I can’t sit here and do nothing. Give me a ship. I’ll go back on my own and find her. She would do the same for me. Please, give me a ship.
Anger, terror, grief, it was all wrapped up in Hime’s words, and it took every bit of Caledonia’s strength to look her in the eye and say, “No.”
A quick gasp shot from Hime’s lips and her face twisted into a mask of furious sorrow. Please, she signed. I love her. Do you understand that I love her? What am I even fighting for if I don’t fight for her?
Caledonia marveled at how easily Hime said those words: I love her. It was as easy for her as it had been for Oran, and Caledonia couldn’t even start to think about saying them out loud. It left her breathless. Tears warmed her eyes and she looked to Pisces for help.
“You fight for Amina every day,” Pisces soothed. “Right now, the best thing you can do is stay right where she expects to find you.”
Hime wilted a little, the fight she’d aimed at Caledonia receding like the tide. She nodded, solemn and small once more, fresh tears slipping down her cheeks.
Caledonia felt all the fear and grief she saw in Hime’s face and wished there was a better answer than the one a captain would give. Wished she could do something other than stand in her way and tell her “no.” She wanted to apologize. She wanted to tell Hime that they would sail to Cloudbreak at first light, that they would rescue Amina and make their small family whole again. She wanted it so badly that for a moment her lungs flattened and refused to fill again.
“You should get some rest.” Caledonia’s voice was soft. “If she can get to us, she will.”
At this, Hime shook her head sharply once. I’m not leaving. Not yet.
“Then we’ll stay with you,” Pisces said, determined.
Caledonia nodded, a small spot of relief opening in her lungs. This, at least, she could do.
Hime’s lips trembled as her sisters wrapped her in their arms and turned their eyes to the same dark point on the horizon.