Monday, October 11, 2010

Excerpts from Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Colleen Houck gave me permission to post these excerpts from her next book Tiger's Voyage. I hope you enjoy! I know I can't wait to get my hands on this book!


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage


He patted my arm and after considering a moment, said, “One of my sons once caught a small bird with an injured wing. He longed to care for it and keep it for a pet. One day he brought his bird to me. It was dead and he asked me why this had happened. After questioning him, I found out that the bird had flapped its wings. His care had helped the bird to heal. My son panicked and caught the bird before it flew away. He held it so tightly it suffocated.
“Sometimes, those things that are the most precious to us are taken or leave. The bird may have chosen to stay with my son or may have flown away. Either of those events would have led to a happier conclusion, the bird would have been happy regardless, and even though my son would have been sad about the bird leaving, he would have remembered it with a smile as he thought about it living a good life in the forest. But instead, my son was devastated by the death of his pet and had a very hard time recovering from the experience.”
“So you are saying to let him go.”
“What I’m saying is…you will be happier if he is happy. The bird’s wings could have been clipped and he could have been forced to stay with my son but then my son would never know if the bird would have chosen to stay with him.”


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

He picked up the chip which was the size of a grain of rice and placed it in the tip of the needle. When he pinched my skin, I squeezed my eyes shut and drew in a tight breath through my teeth as he found the right spot. I felt a warm hand take mine and Kishan said, “Squeeze as hard as you need to, Kells.”
Mr. Kadam slowly inserted the needle. It hurt. It felt like he was shoving one of my grandma’s giant knitting needles through my hand. I squeezed Kishan’s hand and started breathing fast. Seconds ticked by which felt like minutes. I heard Mr. Kadam say he had to go a little deeper. I couldn’t bite back the whimper of pain and wiggled in my chair as he twisted the needle and pushed it deeper. My ears started ringing and the voices became thick. I was going to faint. I never thought of myself as wimpy, but needles, I realized, make me sick. I was about to keel over, but then I opened my eyes and looked at Ren.
He was watching me with concern. When he saw that I’d opened my eyes, he smiled my favorite lopsided grin, the sweet expression he used only with me, and for just a moment the pain disappeared. For that brief instant, I allowed myself to believe he was still mine, and that he loved me. Everyone else in the room vanished and it was just me and him.
I wished that I could touch his face and brush back his silky black hair or trace the arch of his eyebrow. I stared into his handsome face and let those feelings overwhelm me and in that fleeting time I felt the ghost of our emotional connection.
It was just a mere whisper, like a scent on the breeze that blows past you too quickly, bringing with it a memory of something you can’t quite grasp. I wasn’t sure if it was a trick of the light, a flicker of something real, or something I fabricated, but it captured all of my attention. My entire being was focused on Ren, to the point that when Mr. Kadam pulled out the needle and replaced it with a cotton ball, I realized that I’d dropped Kishan’s hand completely.


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

He smiled and pressed a kiss on the back of my hand. We walked another couple hours and held hands the entire time. Kishan was quiet. I reflected again on the differences between him and Ren. Ren was always talking or writing. He liked to think out loud. He said that not communicating was the most frustrating thing about being a tiger.
In Oregon, when we were together, he’d bombard me with questions and comments right after he became a man in the morning. He’d answer questions I’d long forgotten, and talk about things he’d been thinking about all afternoon and couldn’t tell me.
Kishan was the opposite. He was still, silent. He liked to just be, just feel, just experience the things around him. When he drank a root beer float, for example, he delighted in the experience and gave one hundred percent of his attention to it. He soaked in his environment and was happy keeping to himself. I was comfortable with both men. I could appreciate the quiet and the nature more with Kishan. But with Ren near, I was so busy talking with him and, I’ll admit, staring at him that everything else around him diminished.


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

I rushed up to the garden. “Hello, Phet! It’s so nice to see you, too!”
Phet’s arm was stretched out to a little lettuce plant. He crooked his arm, peered at me from under it, and cackled with delight. “Ah! My flower grows hardy and strong.”
He stood up, dusted off his hands, and embraced me. A small puff of dust floated up into the air. He adjusted his robe and shook it out. Clumps of rich, fertile dirt fell off the front where he’d been kneeling.
Phet was about the same height as me but his back was hunched, probably due to age, so he appeared shorter. I could clearly see the shining bald spot gleaming in the center of his wiry bird’s nest of unruly grey hair. He looked around me at Kishan’s hiking boots and let his gaze travel slowly up Kishan’s tall frame until his shrewd eyes stopped at Kishan’s face.
“Considerably sized man travels by you.” He took a step and stood toe to toe with Kishan, put his hands on Kishan’s shoulders, and tilted his head up as he peered into Kishan’s golden eyes. Kishan patiently withstood Phet’s scrutiny. “Ah, I see. Deep eyes. Many colors there. The father of many.”
Phet turned around and picked up his garden tools while I stared at Kishan with a surprised expression, and mouthed, “The father of many?”
Kishan shifted uncomfortably. Color flooded his neck and he turned away to assist Phet. As we walked to the hut, I elbowed him and whispered, “Hey, so what do you think he meant by that?”
“I don’t know, Kells. I just met the guy. Maybe he’s crazy.”
He was speaking nervously as if he was trying to hide something. I pressed, “What? What is it?”
“Nothing. Drop it please.”
“No. Wait a minute. You’re not already a father, are you? Did you and Yesubai—”
“No!”
“Huh. I’ve never seen you look so disconcerted before. There’s something you’re not telling me. Well, doesn’t matter. I’ll weasel it out of you sooner or later.”
He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I eat weasels for breakfast.”


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

I sat in the jungle with my back against a tree. I was tired of running away from emotional turmoil. The reasonable part of my brain told me that Ren most likely had a perfectly legitimate reason for purposefully forgetting me. But there was another side that doubted him and that voice screamed louder. It hurt. If someone had asked me before he was taken if I trusted Ren, I would have said yes. I trusted him absolutely, one hundred percent. There was no question in my mind that he was sincere.
But. A negative voice picked away at me, telling me that I wasn’t really right for him anyway and that I should have expected this. It said that I never deserved him in the first place and that it was only a matter of time before I lost him. I’d always considered him too good to be true. I never wanted to be right but there it was. The fact that he took himself out of the picture made it worse. Much worse. How could I have been so wrong about him? I was naive. I wasn’t the first girl to have her heart broken and I wouldn’t be the last. I’d trusted him. I believed his professions of love.


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

We’d planned to swim the next morning and I headed to the pool to find Randi sunning herself in a tiny red bikini held together with thin gold chains. I mentally groaned in disgust. Kishan and I would have to swim later. I turned to exit but she’d spotted me.
“Oh, there you are! I’m so glad you’re here. Can you be a dear and ask that serving woman, Nilima, to come here? There are some personal things I need delivered to my room.”
“Nilima is not a serving girl.”
She waved her hand in the air and flipped over on her back then started going into great detail about a certain kind of lotion she must have. Wow. Her top barely covered her heaving bosom. It was much too perfect to be real. I wonder how much something like that costs. What if one pops? I giggled.
“It’s not funny,” she languished. “If you cared about your skin at all, you would understand that I need to have that lotion. It would be so much easier to have blotchy, uneven skin like yours. Why, no one even expects you to look pretty. You don’t have the same pressure that I do. Wrinkles might not matter to you, but they do to me.”
Kishan strolled into the room and leaned over to kiss my cheek.
“Kelsey would look beautiful in wrinkles.”


Excerpt From Tiger’s Voyage

“I only wish he was, dragon,” Kishan added. “It’s a terrible curse too. It weakens a man to the point of death, but perhaps it won’t affect you in the same way.”
“What…what do you mean?” the dragon asked.
“It makes you fall in love. With her.” Ren tossed his head towards me while my face registered shock.
The automatically suspicious dragon narrowed his eyes and peered at me, as if trying to glean the truth from my expression.
“She’s already tried to work her wiles on you, hasn’t she?” Ren suggested.
The dragon stammered, “Well, no. Not…exactly.”
Kishan spoke up, “Did she make you feel guilty? Make you want to improve yourself? That’s part of what she does. Before you know it, you’ve lost yourself to her. You’re not the same man you used to be.”
“Now wait just a minute!” I threatened.
“See?” Ren interrupted. “She doesn’t want to be exposed. Believe me. If you keep that Scarf you will soon be besotted with her. She’ll have you giving up whatever is most precious to you.”
“She wouldn’t.”
“That’s what she does,” Kishan said. “Oh, you won’t notice it at the time and you’ll even thank her for it. She’ll make you think it’s your idea and she’ll have you eating out of her hand in no time. Just wait. Can you feel it now? It’s already eating away at you, isn’t it? Festering in your gut?”
Ren elbowed Kishan. “She’s probably already got her hooks in him. See? He’s squirming under her gaze already. He’s been making bad agreements ever since he came back into the room. He shouldn’t have been left alone with her.”
Kishan replied, “Yes, you’re right. But it’s a classic mistake. Anyone could have made it, even a dragon.” He sighed, “Well, she’s drained us of all of our resources so I guess she’ll be happy enough to move on to her next victim.”
The dragon swallowed dryly and darted a glance at me then laughed shakily. “You three had me…had me going for a minute there, but I don’t believe you. You’re fabricating this whole thing.”
“Are we?”

4 comments:

  1. Wow!! Are those really excerpts from Tiger's Voyage? Woah..!! Will there be any more excerpts coming soon, do you know?

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  2. awesome :) love your blog, especially the name! my friend calls me tifferz all the time lol!
    - tiffany

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  3. I absolutely loved the first two books, and the excerpts from Tiger's Voyage just sound absolutely amazing!!! I cant wait for it to come out in November!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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  4. OMG! I cant wait to read the book now!!!

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