With 2019 in full swing, I can concentrate on my upcoming publishing schedule, including the launch of a new series, The Flyght Series! FIRST FLYGHT is due to publish in September! The Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and Nook preorders are all set, and the Amazon pre-order will be available on June 10th. So let's reveal the first chapter today!
And now the first chapter of FIRST FLYGHT…
**Please note that there is profanity in this excerpt.
There they are.
I gasp and cover my lips with the tips of my fingers. I’m in luck. They’re still here! I giggle through a light breath and do a little dance when no one is passing by. I’m a lucky, lucky woman, and I’m rarely this lucky, so their availability must be preordained.
Let’s not even get into how gorgeous they are. I could die just from looking at them. The curves, the height. Mmm-mmm.
Yes, Vivian. You so deserve these. You’ve worked hard for the last six years, and these? These have been waiting at the end of the long haul.
I pull back from the window and pass my index finger over my bottom lip as I consider the practicality of spending so much money on something so frivolous. I am, after all, my mother’s daughter, and I would be nowhere in life if I didn’t pinch every credit until it bled. “Bleed those credits dry” is our family motto.
But I’ve been so good. I haven’t missed a day of graduate school in six years. I’ve passed every final, nailed every lab. I’ve never once screwed up a business plan, failed to calculate a profit-and-loss statement correctly, or mixed up an edible mushroom with its poisonous lookalike. I have succeeded because I’ve worked hard.
Through the shop window, Heidi, whom I’ve known since pre-specialty school, waves and catches me drooling. Her smile is bright, and my heart dances at the possibility of a good chit-chat too. I’ve had my nose stuck in a book for far too long.
Yes, I will get them.
The door to the boutique opens as I come near, and cool, conditioned air, wafts over me as I enter the store. It’s always warm on Ossun — warm, sunny, and just the right amount of precipitation too. Our engineers are the best in the system.
“Vivian! It’s so great to see you.” Heidi’s Portuguese accent is to die for, while mine, mixed with Japanese and English, is too dull.
We lean in and kiss each other on the cheek. Her beautiful blond hair is wrapped up with a silk scarf, and she smells like sandalwood. I hope I don’t smell awful from my commute on the train.
“It’s great to see you, too. How have you been?” Let’s be polite and hear from Heidi first.
“Fantastic. Business has been strong since I got these hot and trendy designers to sign on with me.” She gestures to a couch, and we sit next to each other, Heidi leaning in to confide in me. This is a posture I know well. “To be honest, my boyfriend is being a total asshole…”
And so it begins, Heidi’s long-winded confessional. Her number two boyfriend lost his job, so she moved on to a new one who has a better family, her parents’ home became infested with mice last month, and she’s been stuck running the store non-stop because her main manager has run off to Rio to pursue a potential wife. I listen to each sad tale, offer advice, and nod my head where warranted. I expected this to happen before I walked in the door, so I’m not surprised, though I am dismayed, when my quick detour turns into an hour of listening to someone else’s problems. A good chit-chat? What was I thinking?
Heidi takes a deep breath and places her hand on my arm. “Now tell me all about what’s going on with you! I saw you eyeing the Bomba-Farias in the window.” She raises her eyebrows suggestively, and I grin and lower my eyes.
“Well, you know. Graduation is coming up…”
“Congratulations!” She croons, folding her hands against her chest. “Six years? You did the second specialty?”
I nod as I lean back into the couch. “Finance and Hydroculture.”
She whistles. “Your parents must be so proud.”
“I think they’re happy that retirement is less than a year away.” In just a month, the family business will be mine, I’ll transition to full-time status, and then my parents will retire into Sakata City where they can eat out every night, go to museums every day, and travel whenever they want to. They deserve it.
“Don’t sell yourself short,” she says, reaching over to squeeze my arm. “I’m sure they’re proud of you.”
“Oh thanks,” I say, waving the compliment away. “It’s nothing.”
My parents are typical Ossun parents — they love me, but they also want the best for me. They want me settled into the business, married to a husband, maybe two, and having lots of daughters to hand down the land to. It’s our way.
“Goodness, look at the time. I shouldn’t keep you from your evening,” she says with a smile, and I do my best to hide my disappointment behind my ersatz grin. I guess she really didn’t want to know “all about what’s going on with me.”
“Anyway,” I say, changing the subject, “I’ve been eyeing those heels in the window for six months. I figured it was time for me to indulge.”
“Absolutely. I think I already have your size on file so let me get you a pair of those gorgeous heels. Bomba-Farias are worth every credit,” she sings as she heads into her storeroom.
I fidget while I wait for Heidi to return. Brush some lint off my dark, denim jeans, run my fingers through my ragged hair, wonder why I didn’t put on any makeup this morning. Well, I had planned to just run into town to drop off my final paper of the year, the one that they make you hand in in person with an accompanying interview. What I hadn’t planned on was going shopping afterward.
My foot bounces as I tip over my wristlet and check the time. I should be on the next train home. I have so much work to do. So, so much. I’m in the middle of designing two new systems — one hydroponics and the other aquaponics — for the greens we produce, I have to decide on a filtration and supplemental system for the water used in the rice fields, and there are staffing issues I have to work out. Thank goodness my brother, Tomu, has been handling the finances and will continue for another six months. It’ll take me months to get up to speed on everything related to the harvest, processing, and distribution.
At least I would be done listening to his whining soon enough. I’m sick to death of him. He can go off and do whatever new business he has cooked up, and he can get off my back. If I have to listen to him complain one more time about how I get “everything in this family,” I’m going to deck him. He didn’t just go to school for six years, studying from before the sun was up until it went down again, not dating, not having a social life. He didn’t go to school at all.
Fucking lazy-ass son of a bitch.
I take a deep breath as Heidi appears from the back storage room, a box in her hands.
She kneels down next to me. “You look ready to pull the ears off a minkfox,” she says, opening the box.
I sigh as I flick my wristlet on again, tipping my hand over to let it project to my ocular implant. My appointment calendar with tasks for the farm is completely booked for the next five months.
“I’m just a little busy…” My voice trails off as she pulls the shoes from the box. My stomach flutters and wow. They are breath-taking. The most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen. “Oh my.”
“Handcrafted, Vivian. The best in the Duo Systems. The designers grow all of their leather to exacting specifications in the lab, then it’s hand-dyed. I’ve never seen a flaw in any pair I’ve ordered from them. Once you put them on, you’ll be hooked for life.”
The color is such a deep red it’s almost purple, and it shifts in the light as if it’s alive. The toe comes to a perfect point, and the eight-centimeter heels scream to be worn through the streets. Show me off! Put me on and dance across the pavement!
I slip my feet out of my comfortable around-town shoes and grimace at my toes. I haven’t had time to paint my toenails in months, but at least they’re clean and short. I’m on my feet too much though, and my heels are a disaster.
Heidi doesn’t flinch. She knows me and what I’ve been going through. She wouldn’t dare judge especially since she can get this sale from me. The heels slide on, and my feet sing.
“Ah, you have the right feet for these, the right height.”
When we both stand up, I tower over Heidi, and she’s wearing heels. I was ‘blessed’ with tall genes from my father’s side of the family. He dips his head when walking through doorways.
“Hot damn,” I breathe out, stepping to the mirror and looking at the shoes. They are incredible and entirely inappropriate for me. When and where am I going to wear these?
Wait, Vivian. I’ll wear them to graduation and the graduates’ ball. And then, hopefully, I’ll wear them on dates too when I’m finally registered as available for marriage. Sure, I’ll be expected to wear a kimono for most of my official outings, but I can wear dresses on dates.
My heart beats way up in my throat as I consider the possibilities for dating. No one of my stature would dare divide up her holdings between multiple husbands. One husband is enough. Two, tops. But meeting men has never been my strong suit. It’s been ages since I last dated. Can I even do it?
I look at myself in the mirror and assess the damage school has brought. I’m skinnier and softer than I used to be which is not a good look for someone as tall as me. Lots of walking to and from classes and to and from trains has kept my calves in shape, but my arms need muscle. My face is thin, and my hair is lackluster. But the shoes bring my whole body to life.
I must have them.
“What do you think?” Heidi asks as I walk a circle around the couch.
“I think… I think I’ll take them.” A smile brightens my face.
“Excellent! That was my easiest sale of the week,” she says, laughing and winking at me.
I flash forward to graduation day, me walking in these beauties, getting my diploma and hearing my name called for the honor roll. I worked my tail off for that one moment. I hope it was all worth it.
As I sit down, I access my wristlet, and my bank account while I’m slipping back on my wholly inadequate old shoes. Bye-bye hard earned credi…t..s…
My face heats to inferno levels, and my heart races as I stop to access it again.
Zero? How is this possible?
I swallow hard watching Heidi package up my shoes. My lines of credit, which are small and I only use in an emergency, are fine, but my bank account is completely tapped out. I scroll through the transaction report, my fingers massaging the air through the projection. Is Hecate down? Has it been hacked? I can’t remember the last time there was a problem with Hecate and the duonet, so… Fuck. There it is. All seven thousand, six hundred and thirty-two of my credits withdrawn earlier today.
I jump to my feet. “Ummmm.” My mouth dries as I sift through my options. Buy the shoes on credit? Come back later?
Shit. I’ve been robbed.
“Heidi, something’s come up, and I have to go.” I rush up to her at the counter and place my hands on the shoebox, trying to gain strength from their awesomeness. “I… I can’t buy the shoes today.”
I can’t believe it, but tears fill my eyes.
No, from frustration.
Heidi’s face falls, and her brows knit with concern. “Oh no. Is everything okay? What happened? I saw you on your wristlet.”
“I have to go… It’s my… my parents.” I lie because I don’t know what else to do. “Hopefully I’ll be back.”
I turn and book it from the boutique, calling over my shoulder, “I’m so sorry!”
Sound intriguing? I'll post the second chapter next month! And you can pre-order FIRST FLYGHT now for only 99¢ everywhere but Amazon (because Amazon does not allow pre-order of more than 90 days).
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