Just Another Camp NaNoWriMo Runaway

It’s May: the month of my birth AND a the month I spend jumping every time someone says the date because I think they’re talking about my May. The fact that it’s May also means that April – and subsequently, Camp NaNoWriMo – is over.

So, how did I do?

Let’s put in this way: LOL.

I didn’t even come close to hitting my 30k word goal.

That said, I did write. A lot, in fact.

For starters, I made a solid start on The Wind and the Horizon, the sequel to The Star and the Ocean. In the first half of the month I was able to get the prologue and first nine chapters drafted, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. I also managed to write two one-shot short stories that I’m making exclusively accessible for my mailing list subscribers (speaking of which, have you subscribed yet?)

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my progress.

How about you? If you participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, how did you finish? If you didn’t go to camp, tell me about what you’re working on right now!

Ko-Fi May

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I see that got your attention.

Seriously though, I do want to take a few moments to talk about sex. Sex in my books, to be more specific.

But first, let me back up a little.

I’ve already mentioned that I have the rest of The Starborn Series outlined and have jumped head-first into the second book. Even though it’s still a long way off, I can’t help but think about my plans for when the series is actually finished.

I know I’d like to publish and I’m still kind of leaning towards going indie (I’m a control freak PLUS I think these books might be a bit too niche for the traditional scene). To do that, all of the stories in the series will eventually need updates and revisions, not just because I will have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t but I’d also like to give people who’ve already read the story a reason to invest in an official copy (think extra/extended scenes, corrections, etc.)

I was thinking about all of this just the other day when a good friend slid into my DMs and asked me the question I’ve been struggling with the most:

When I do finally publish The Starborn Series, will I keep the sex scenes?

If you’ve read The Star and the Ocean on my blog (the Wattpad Edition is the SFW version of the story) you know that, while there isn’t a lot of on-the-page sex, there is some. Those scenes also leave very little to the imagination.
I’ve honestly been conflicted about this for a while. On a personal level I feel those scenes (the quasi-infamous “camping scene” in particular) are important: sex-having women loving women deserve to see sex-on-the-page from our own perspective. The camping scene is also a pivotal part of May’s healing.

But what does it do to the overall story?

I get a lot of comments about how fluffy TSATO is (heads up: book two won’t be nearly as fluffy. If that’s what you’re on board for, I apologize in advance) and, on occasion, I’ve seen some people trying to categorize it as a romance. But it’s not; TSATO and, ultimately entire The Starborn Series, is a fantasy story with a queer romance secondary-plot.

Does the sex distract from that? Personally I don’t think so, but perhaps I’m too close to it to be able to tell for sure.

And then there’s that bit about my audience.

I’ve never really been able to figure out what age category TSATO is for. The main characters range from their mid-twenties (May, one of the youngest, is 24) to mid-thirties. By default I believe that disqualifies it as Young Adult.

But it doesn’t quite feel like it fits in the New Adult category either. Yes, May and Em are the right ages, but at least anecdotally a lot of people have come to associate NA stories with sex – and lots of it. While there is sex in TSATO, I don’t feel it’s so central to the plot that it should influence how the story is perceived any more than I think the romantic elements should.

So where does that leave me?

Here’s the thing: for these characters sex is, at least in some small way, part of their relationship dynamic. I think it’s important for queer, sex-having, female-identifying people to see their sexuality represented in a way that is healthy and not just as a fetish. May and Em are consenting adults. Neither of them are virgins when they come together. They care deeply for one another. Sex for them is part of their human experience and how they connect with each other.

But does it have a place in this story?

This is the question I’m left with. I know what I want my answer to be is, but every time I think about it I waffle.

So I pose the question to you, dear reader:


I’d also love to read your thoughts (be they about the sex in TSATO or books in general) in the comments!

TSATO News and Sequel Status!

One of these days I’ll do a blog post that isn’t just an update about the state of things I’m working on…

But today is not that day!

This morning I woke up and I checked my stats like I always do (it’s become a bit of a routine…) and was met with a huge surprise on Wattpad. You see, lately The Star and the Ocean has been hovering pretty consistently around the #130s with regards to overall ranking in the fantasy category. As far as I was concerned, it would have been amazing just to break the top 100!

So imagine my shock and excitement when I opened the app and saw that TSATO had skyrocketed to #28 overnight! The story is even sitting on the Fantasy Hot List right now, which is simply mind-blowing!

I don’t know how it long it will last, but still indescribably grateful for the pick-up and exposure this story is getting lately.

It’s with this in mind that I’m happy to say I’ve officially started writing the sequel! I’ll be tackling the majority of the writing next month during Camp NaNoWriMo (more on that soon!) but it feels really good to have all of the outlining behind me. I’ve missed Em and May and it’s so exciting to get back to writing them after a few months away!

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The Star and the Ocean: Epilogue

[Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter]

It was the chill in the bed that woke Priva up.

Groggy and bewildered, she glanced around the room and found it empty. The other side of the bed was still made up. She had spent the night alone.

“What now?” she grumbled, dragging herself out of bed.

She pulled on a sweater and made her way down the hallway. The room Rue and Connor shared was empty too, soft morning light streaming in through the windows. Priva zoned out for a moment, watching the lazy dance of dust motes through the golden rays and listening to the sounds of life coming from the kitchen.

Downstairs she found the couple buzzing around preparing breakfast. Their bright-eyed toddler, Gaten, was already happily babbling away from his chair at the table.

“Oh, Priva!” Rue gasped, catching sight of her out of the corner of her eye. “I’m sorry, did we wake you up?”

“Nah,” Priva said with a shake of her head. She could feel the bed-headed disarray of her kinky black hair as she moved – she must have looked as tired as she felt. “Have either of you seen Jeremy yet this morning?”

Rue and Connor exchanged a glance.

“No, why?” Connor asked slowly, poking at the eggs he was working on in his frying pan.

Priva frowned, knowing they were already thinking the same thing she was. “He didn’t come to bed last night.”

Connor sighed and pulled the pan off the burner. “Do you want me to check?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Priva waved him off. “I’ve got it.”

With slightly more intent, she marched off toward the study – the misleadingly elegant name the friends had given to the basement den. Before she even reached the door, she knew her assumptions were correct. She pushed in without knocking, smothering her urge to barge in swinging.

“Please tell me you weren’t down here all night,” she huffed, arms crossed.

Jeremy peered up at her over the screen of his laptop. He sat on the floor, stacks of papers and notes strewn around him in every direction. If the chaos didn’t give away his long hours spent in the study, the dark circles beneath his eyes.

“Why?” he asked. “What time is it?”

Morning.” Priva assumed her inflection would be dangerous enough she needn’t explain why that was a problem. Still, this was Jeremy she was talking to.

“You have to see this,” he told her, ignoring her comments altogether. Priva narrowed her eyes, glaring in a way that would make any normal person fear for their safety.

Behind her, footsteps padded down the stairs.

“Jeremy, is everything alri- ah, fuck. C’mon, dude. What are you doing?” Connor glanced around the room, surveying the mess in dismay.

“I’ve found something.” Jeremy beckoned them over with obvious excitement. “Seriously, you guys have to come see this.”

Priva rolled her eyes at Connor, who sighed.

“We’ve been over this,” he said gently. “We’re not doing this anymore.”

“Independent aerial suspension and self-propelled flight,” Jeremy barreled on as if Connor hadn’t spoken. He waved a manila folder over his head before flicking it across the room. It skidded to a stop at Connor’s feet. “Projected energy shielding and energy manipulation. Sound familiar?”

Connor raised an eyebrow and bent to collect the folder. While he flipped through its contents, Priva rubbed her temples.

“What are you getting at, J?”

Jeremy didn’t answer. He watched Connor expectantly, his expression tense.

“You think it’s a Wish?” Connor asked.

“When have we ever seen a Wish that can do all that?” Jeremy chided, looking as fed-up as Priva felt.

“Jeremy.” Her voice was laced with caution. She didn’t want to have to say it. After all this time she didn’t think she’d have to. And yet, here they were, still having the same ridiculous conversation.

“This is different and you both know it,” Jeremy snatched his notebook from beside him and jumped up from the floor. “According to reports she was spotted three days ago using all of these abilities in an attack somewhere in a remote mountain town.”

“Who?” Connor held up a grainy printed photo of two women in matching uniforms – one petite with short waves of rose gold hair and the other icy-skinned with alarmingly blue eyes and silver hair. “One of these girls?”

Jeremy tapped the ghostly-looking woman earnestly. “Her.”

“Does that look like Audrey to you?” Priva snapped. The air seemed to be sucked from the room as soon as she said it. She instantly regretted her tone but she was tired of this conspiratorial nonsense – the woman was dead.

“How else do you explain it?” Jeremy growled back.

Connor glanced between them anxiously. “Maybe she’s another Starborn.”

“Seriously?” Jeremy rounded on him. “You know the Stars would never allow another mess like that to happen again. Welkin would be dead. Or whatever the Star equivalent of dead is.”

Priva bristled. “Well, it’s certainly more plausible than-”

“Guys?” Rue’s voice cut in from upstairs. Connor jerked, instinctively picking up on the lilt of concern in his partner’s voice.

Together the three darted up to the main floor to find Rue peeking between the blinds of the front room, Gaten tucked protectively in her arms.

“What’s wrong, love?” Connor hurried to her side. He leaned forward to see what she was looking at. His blood ran cold.

“What is it?” Priva shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. It was clear something was very wrong.

Before either of them could answer there came a heavy pounding on the door. The four friends looked to one another, eyes wide and fearful.

“It’s them,” Connor murmured, striding over to the door.

“What?” Priva hissed, her skin prickling with apprehension.

“We’re not due for a check-in,” Jeremy whispered what they already knew. His eyes darted to the basement stairs and back again.

Another round of pounding shook the door. Gaten whimpered in his mother’s arms.

Connor cleared his throat and turned the lock; it was against the rules not to answer it. On the stoop stood a veritable team of Loyal agents, including their regular liaison and, to everyone’s surprise, Melanie. Rue and Priva shared a worried glance with one another. If the unscheduled visit wasn’t cause enough for concern, Melanie’s presence certainly was.

“Move,” she barked, pushing passed Connor into the house. She still had her motorcycle helmet tucked beneath her arm.

“What’s going on?” Jeremy demanded, more forcefully than any of the others would have dared.

Melanie turned on the spot and faced them all with an arresting air.

“There has been a development,” she announced, her voice dripping with barely contained displeasure. “And you four are going to help us get to the bottom of it.

As subtly as possible, Connor met Jeremy’s gaze.

Before resuming to give Melanie his undivided attention, his mind flitted to a thought that only moments ago he wouldn’t have dared believe to be true.

Perhaps Jeremy had been onto something after all.

And if he was, it didn’t bode well for them.

The rest of the Loyal contingent stormed inside, shutting out the rest of the world with a slam of the door.

No, this didn’t bode well at all.

[The end of Book One! Ready for more? The sequel, The Wind and the Horizon, is currently updating on Wednesdays and Fridays!]

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Nine

[Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter]

“Em?” May called incredulously, scrambling to her feet. “Em!”

Chest deep in the water, the figure turned.

Yes, it was her.

Em’s face, twisted with anguish, fell as she froze. Motionless, she let the waves nudge her closer to shore. Time came to a standstill as they gazed at one another in disbelief.

Em let out an elated cry. She pushed forward, spreading her arms so that the water before her parted into a clear path. Her bare feet slapped against the sandy sea floor as she ran back to the beach. Soaring across the last few strides, Em caught May in her arms and whirled her around joyously.

“You came!” she crowed, crushing herself into May with unbridled joy.

May was soaked and breathless and yet it was the single greatest embrace she had ever experienced.

“What are you doing here?” She pulled back so she could look Em in the face. She could hardly believe she was really there. “I thought you’d be long gone by now!”

Em took May’s face in her hands, scanning her features as though memorizing every freckle and contour.

“Welkin didn’t want me going to back to Omea so I begged them to let me at least wait here until morning. It was a long shot but I thought, just maybe, you’d come. But morning was getting close and I was having a hard time keeping it together, so…” Em gestured back to the ocean, looking somewhat ashamed.

“Oh, Emmy,” May breathed, feeling guilty. “I’m sorry.”

“What for?” Em replied with an incredulous laugh. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I told you I wanted to give us a shot and then I just left you-”

May silenced her with a deep kiss. She didn’t care about apologies right now.

Breaking away, the last thing she wanted to do was stop but she needed to see Em’s eyes.

“Em, I Iove you,” she said. Her words rang clear and steady. “I should have told you and I couldn’t stand knowing that I let you leave without saying it.”

Under her hands, Em begin to tremble.

“Fuck,” she whispered, her voice catching. “I wanted to say it first.”

It was May’s turn to laugh. “Yeah, I think Kai has words for you about that.”

“Ah, shit,” Em mumbled before pressing another kiss – harder, more desperate – against May’s lips. “I love you. Holy fuck, I love you so much.”

Just like the first time their lips met on the beach, the pair tangled themselves up in one another, savouring the warmth and security they found in the other’s arms. A sense of calm spread through May like dye dripped into water and at last she started to feel whole again.

“May,” Em whispered, burrowing her face into the crook of May’s neck. “There’s so much I needed to tell you. I was such a fucking coward, I should have just talked to you.”

“It’s alright,” May insisted. “I overheard you and Welkin talking the other night and…” She sighed. “I was afraid to bring it up too.”

Em leaned back, surveying her carefully.

“Welkin knew I wouldn’t be able to stay on the island forever,” she said quietly. “They knew I’d have to leave sooner or later. I wanted to ask you to come with me but I felt like that wouldn’t be fair.”

“Well, I’m here,” May chuckled softly. “And you are not leaving without me.”

A smile broke out across Em’s face, even though her eyes looked sad. “It’s a big decision, Maybe. It won’t always be safe.”

May shrugged. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told Welkin – I don’t care. We’re an us. I don’t want to do this without you. Besides, I think we might have more in common than either of us realized.”

Em cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

May told her about her parents’ confession – that her biological parents had been hunted for reasons related to the Stars and that their last desperate move had been to keep her hidden and safe.

“I think…” she hesitated. “I might be a Wish, Em.”

For a moment, Em’s gaze grew unfocused as she stared past May into nothing, the wheels of her mind turning.

“Of course!” she cried suddenly, slapping her forehead. “That makes so much sense!”

“It does?” May asked. A big part of her had assumed Em would find a logical way to discredit the theory – May really hadn’t been expecting this reaction. “How do you figure?”

“Wishes are marked by gifts – unique talents that make them stand out.” Em waved her hands animatedly as if it might help illustrate what she was saying. “Jeremy had a perfect eidetic memory. Connor was ridiculously strong. They’re never markers that couldn’t necessarily be explained away but are always just enough to draw attention. That’s how Audrey and the others used to track down other Wishes.”

May fidget awkwardly. “So, what would my gift be?”

Em gaped at her. “You’re kidding, right? You instantly pick up new skills, learn things super fast. I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out myself!”

It was a perspective May hadn’t considered. She had always learned things easily; it wasn’t something that really stood out to her. But to think it might have had something to do with the Stars all along… May felt like she was going to have to sit down.

“We’ll have to run it by Welkin. They’ll be able to help us figure it out,” Em said confidently.

May’s stomach turned.

“When did you last see Welkin?” she asked.

“Just after we left your place.” Em looked a bit uneasy. “They told me to wait here until morning and then took off. Why?”

With a heavy sigh, May laid her hands on Em’s shoulders. “Welkin met Kai and I on the way up here. Before they could tell us very much these two lights came down from they sky. Welkin told us to go… Em, I think they might have been other Stars. I’m not sure what happened.”

Em’s face went blank. The news seemed to hit her hard.

“The lights were definitely Stars,” she choked in a voice that was suddenly quite hoarse. “Welkin knew they were in trouble, I just didn’t think…” She trailed off and brought herself down to sit in the sand.

May followed Em’s lead and sat beside her. While Em stared numbly out across the ocean, May took her hand and traced her thumb across the back of it.

“Emmy?” she ventured gently. “Is there anything we can do to help them?”

It took a moment for Em to come back down to Earth. She closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose and shook her head.

“I don’t… No. No, I don’t think so. The best thing either of us can do now is lay low and stay out of trouble.”

May gave her hand a squeeze, kissing her cheek to reassure her. Em turned, her expression serious.

“Are you sure you want to do this, May?” she asked. Voicing the question looked like it hurt her. “Life out there… With me, it isn’t going to be easy. I can’t promise you safety and I just…” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I don’t want you to have any regrets.”

With a soft smile, May leaned in and kissed her again. Her lips met Em’s in a way that was slow and tender; the kind of kiss that said so much, overflowing with love without need for words. When she pulled away she rested her head on Em’s shoulder, the two of them hushed as the sun began to rise.

“Look, there. Do you see that?” May pointed out across the water to the space where the stars faded into the seemingly endless expanse of ocean before them.

Em squinted. If there was something out there, she didn’t see it.

“What are you pointing at?” she asked. “The horizon?”

May grinned up at her.

“Exactly.” she nestled close to Em’s ear and whispered as though sharing a secret.

“Where the sea and the sky meet – that’s us. Let’s find out where it goes.”

[Read Next Chapter]

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Eight

[Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter]

There was a great deal of yelling in the van.

“What the fuck was that?” Kai yelped, barely managing to keep the steering wheel steady in his white-knuckled grip. “What just happened back there?”

“I don’t know!” May agonized. Her whole body vibrated anxiously. “I think those were other Stars but…”

But she didn’t know what more to say, so she said nothing.

The rest of the drive to the north shore was quiet and tense. Kai checked the rearview mirror obsessively as he drove. May wanted to tell him to stop, that the Stars they had witnessed weren’t going to come after them like they were in some high speed pursuit. But the truth was she didn’t know that for sure either.

As the docks rolled into view, there was a palpable sense of relief from both of them.

Kai parked the van and ran his hands through his hair. “Holy shit, we made it.” He looked straight-faced at May. “I think this has been the longest day of my life.”

“Tell me about it,” she grumbled, opening the door and peering around before sliding out.

It was late now and she knew she’d have to wait until morning to purchase a ticket. Her heart sank – every minute on the island marked an unknowable expanse in the distance between her and Em. But what other choice did she have? Kai kept close by her side as they walked to the shipping office while May scrounged through the bills she had on hand, double and triple checking that she had enough.

“As long as the price hasn’t changed in the last couple of weeks I should be fine,” she confirmed, tucking the cash safely away. Kai was busy reading a board that listed the fares and schedules for various destinations and didn’t answer right away.

“Uh, Maybe?” He said at last, pointing up to where Mondova was listed with a grimace. “We’ve got a problem.”

She looked up to where he pointed and almost burst into tears. With the last 24 hours feeling more like days, she had forgotten that she and Em had only just arrived back on Hoku that morning. She had also forgotten the ship to the mainland only stopped on the north shore a couple of times each week. It would be three days before she would be able to leave.

“I…” May looked around helplessly. “I guess I’ll have to figure something else out. I’m sure I can find a place to stay until then.” Another wave of misery washed over her as her mind went to Em’s tent, only to remember that it hadn’t been among the things she grabbed during their hasty departure from Tenna.

“Don’t be dumb, May,” Kai scolded, putting an arm over her shoulder and steering her back towards the van. “I’m not going to leave you up here on your own. We can sleep in the van and figure everything out in the morning. I’ll even let you have the back seat, I don’t mind crashing in the driver’s seat. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

May stopped, lip quivering, and looked up at her brother through glassy eyes.

“Oh no,” he said, taking a step back. “Don’t you start that now.”

But how could she not? The tears came fast and without shame. She threw her arms around him and sobbed into his shoulder. Kai sighed and hugged her back.

“You’ve done so much for me,” she blubbered. “I don’t know what I did to deserve all this but thank you. Thank you so much.”

“You’re family, Maybe,” he replied, smiling down at her. “And I told you I’ve always got your back.”

They left the van windows open a crack to let in the fresh air and the sound of waves breaking on the shore. May rummaged through the pack and found something for Kai to snack on and one of Em’s sweatshirts for herself. While Kai ripped into the bag of trail mix, she pulled up the hood and breathed in the scent of Em that still lingered in the fibers. It was the closest thing she was going to get to feeling Em on her skin for a while and she savoured it.

Stretching out across the seats, May watched her brother as he ate, gazing absentmindedly out the window.

“Will you tell them I’m sorry?” she asked.


“Mama and Papa. Ora, Omi – will you tell them?”

“You have nothing to be sorry about, Maybe. You’re just doing what you’ve got to do.” Kai wriggled around in his seat until he was facing her as best he could. “It might take a bit of time but they’ll figure it out. We all love you, this won’t change that.”

May pursed her lips and stared up at the ceiling, willing herself not to cry. She didn’t trust herself to speak so she simply nodded instead.

Kai fell asleep easily enough, draped back across his reclined seat as though it were a hammock. May wasn’t sure how long she lay there, eyes closed, listening to her brother’s peaceful breathing and yet completely awake. She couldn’t get her mind to stop running through everything – the day, what she hadn’t said, and the journey ahead of her – long enough for sleep to catch up to her.

The night was old when she finally decided to give up. Moving quietly, she crept from the van and closed the door gently behind her. For the first time she was glad Kai had ignored her nagging to replace the burnt out interior light. With no real destination in mind she wandered to the water, making her way down the shoreline and away from the docks until she found a relatively secluded spot to sit and think.

She watched the water lap a few paces from where she dug her toes into the sand. Her eyes followed the tide backwards out to the ocean and horizon. How much time had she spent staring out across this vast expanse, wondering what lay beyond? All of the great and adventurous stories she had imagined for her nephew’s benefit paled in comparison to what she was about to do. For all of the times she had wondered if she would ever be brave enough to seek an adventure of her own, now she was doubtless. This was something she had to do.

The sky was pristine and clear. Even with the lights of town behind her, May could still see countless winking stars spilled across the heavens. To look at them made her uneasy, for she knew them now to be as dangerous as they were beautiful. There was so much about the Stars – their world and their rules – that was still a mystery to her. She wasn’t too proud to admit she was in over her head but at the same time, she wasn’t afraid; whatever she found herself up against now had to be worth it. She could feel it.

A sound of splashing in the water caught her attention. May squinted through the darkness, trying to see what was thrashing about in the surf. She heard gasping breaths in the night. Though sparse, what little light there was available glinted off what May realized was wet and shining alabaster skin.

Her heart leapt to her throat.

It was her.

It was Em.

[Read Next Chapter]

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Seven

[Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter]

Kai’s van shook as it raced along Hoku’s central road. The old junker was unaccustomed to these kinds of speeds. May placed a hand on the dashboard, willing it to keep it together at least long enough to deliver them safely to the north shore.

She had no idea where Em and Welkin would have gone, so she fell back on the only path she knew.

“I’ll get a ticket to Mondova and figure out how to get back to Tenna,” she explained to her brother while he concentrated on the dark road, gripping the steering wheel. “Dom might have an idea of where to look.”

“This is the guy you worked with in the mountains?” He asked.

“Yeah, the forest spirit.”

“Right, right.”

Along the way May had done her best to tell Kai everything, right from the beginning when she first learned Em’s truth for herself. The pale, anxious look on his face told her he was having a hard time with it all but she loved him for trying.

“You’re going to be safe out there, right?” He stole nervous glances her way. “These Loyal people, what’s going to happen if they find you?”

“They aren’t even looking for me,” she assured him. “It’s Em they’re after now. I mean, at least I think so.”

“And what about when you find her? If they’re looking for her they might find you too and then what? Guilty by association?”

May knew he was making a point – a good one, at that – but she was hung up on the part about finding Em. A flurry of hope rose inside of her and she smiled in spite of herself.

“I’m serious, Maybe!” her brother balked at the sight of her sly grin. “I won’t be able to live with myself if-FUCK.”

Kai hit the brakes, jerking the wheel violently. The van skidded sideways before lurching to a stop. May didn’t even realize she screaming until she ran out of breath.

“What are you doing?” She cried, clutching at her chest.

“Look!” He pointed out May’s window to the center of the road in the direction they had been travelling.

Even in the darkness, Welkin seemed to glitter. Like an apparition, their brilliance sparked to life as they stepped into the crescent of light from the van’s headlights. The Star stopped there, stark shadows contouring the features of their beautiful, heartbroken face.

May’s heart was in her throat as she fumbled with her seatbelt and spilled out the door. Behind her, Kai called out but she was only thinking of one thing.

She paused just arm’s reach before Welkin.

“Where is she?” May demanded. She couldn’t tell if she was relieved or furious at the sight of the Star’s face.

Welkin gazed into the woods just off the roadside, their eyes heavy with sadness.

“Welkin!” May shouted now. “Where is Em?”

“She’s safe,” Welkin responded, voice uneven. “For now at least.”

“I need to go her,” May said.

“I know.”

“Are you here to stop me?”

Welkin closed their eyes. Their grief was so raw that May wondered for the first time if it was possible for a Star to shed tears.

“No, May. I’m not here to stop you. There may not be much that I’ve done right, but I know I wasn’t wrong about the two of you.”

May bit her lip. “Then tell me how to find her, please.”

“I came to apologize.” Welkin carried on as if they hadn’t heard a word. Perhaps they hadn’t; they seemed so lost in emotion it was hard to tell how aware the Star really was. “For everything. It seems all I’ve done is meddle and now…” they forced a sad smile. “Well, now look where it’s gotten us.”

“I don’t understand,” May crept closer. She wondered if Welkin needed help. She reached out a hand. “Meddled how?”

“I just want her to be safe; to be happy.” Again they ignored her. “She never should have existed and she certainly wasn’t supposed to get a second chance. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone.”

The Star placed a slender hand at the centre of their chest and closed their eyes. “My kind don’t understand the foolishness that comes with falling.”

“Falling?” May ventured. By now Kai had worked up the courage to come and stand at her side. He stared up at Welkin in open-mouthed wonder.

“Before you go, I need you to understand what you’re risking by chasing after my daughter,” Welkin’s golden eyes were open again and staring May down with a crushing intensity. “If you leave this island now your life will never be the same.”

May took a deep breath. “I know.”

Yes, she knew. From the moment she had first looked into Em’s diamond eyes, she had known.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.”


A flash.

The sky filled with light, a powerful force of air pushing down and swirling around the three of them as they gaped around for the source of the commotion. Descending from the sky were two bodies of light. Formless as they were, May knew they had to be other Stars.

Welkin turned, eyes wide and cloak billowing.

“Go!” they cried. “Right now. Find her and tell her I’m sorry. Keep each other safe.”

May gaped with an unnamed terror.


“Now, May!”

Kai’s hand enclosed around her wrist. He dragged her back to the still-running van, heaving her into the passenger seat and slamming the door before she had time to react. He dashed to his side and leapt in, slamming the gas pedal to the floor. The van squeal passed Welkin so fast all May saw was a golden blur through her window.

Frantically she rolled it down and hung out over the pane just in time to see the Star devoured in a wall of blinding light.

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Six

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“A what?” Kai asked. He sounded scared.

“A Wish!” May turned to her mother. “ Am I a Wish?”

Her mother looked to her husband again and frowned with confusion. “Sweetheart, I don’t know what that means.”

May shook her head in frustration. “A Wish. You know, people who were born when their parents wished for it on the missing wishing star?”

“May, we told you – they didn’t give us much to go on.” Her father kept his tone soothing. “And we believed them when they said not knowing would keep us safe. We don’t even know who was after them or what happened after they took them. All we know was that the Stars followed suit and, when they did, we told them to leave and never return. They promised to never let anything like that happen here again.”

Out of the corner of her eye, May saw her mother press a hand to her mouth and turn her face away. She saw the way her eyes glistened.

May exhaled and sat back. Her mind was reaching in so many different directions at the same time and, through it all, the ache in her heart still refused to be ignored. All she wanted was Em – to tell her what she had learned and know what she thought of it all.

“Em was just trying to stay safe too.” May gazed up at the ceiling and imagined the tapestry of stars laid out just beyond it. “You just told her leave without even giving her a chance. And…” her heart clenched. “She did. She left.”

She was supposed to stay. We can’t be an ‘us’ when she’s not here.

Her mother draped a careful arm over her daughter’s shoulder.

“I know it must be hard to understand right now, May,” she tried to reason. “But it’s for the best that’s she’s gone.”

“What?” May cried, pulling herself out from in between her parents to stand before them; furious. “No, it’s not. I don’t care what you think you know about her or the Stars but you are wrong. Em is wonderful and she was so good to me. I…” Tears burned her eyes, falling freely. “I love her. I love her so much.”

The only sound in the room was May’s weeping. She sobbed and shook, indifferent to what her family must have thought of her in that moment; that heartbeat in the night.

A pair of arms – her father’s – encircled her.

“I’m sorry, Maybe,” he told her. “I’m sorry this has happened to you again.”

May pulled back and looked at her father through tear-reddened eyes. “Again?”

He shifted uneasily.

“I’m sorry that someone you… care about has disappointed you.”

It felt like someone punched her right in the stomach. He didn’t have to say it, her name haunted the room like a spectre; Mila.

“No,” Kai stepped up. He had been so quiet May had almost forgotten he was there. “This is nothing like Mila.” There was almost something forbidden about saying that name out loud, and by defying it Kai seemed to break the spell. “This is completely different.”

May let out a sad, pathetic laugh. She was already starting to have her doubts.

“How?” She asked.

Kai frowned. “Because unlike Mila, Em loves you back.”

She whirled to face him. “What?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” her brother groaned, incredulous. “She didn’t tell you?”

May didn’t respond., Her brain wasn’t doing what it was supposed to and she wasn’t sure how to fix it. Kai shook her head.

“That brat,” he muttered and turned toward the door. “Okay, come on. We’ve got to go.”

“Go where?” His mother cried, shooting up from the couch.

Kai paused and looked back at them with a blank look.

“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” he admitted and pointed at his sister. “But you love her and she loves you and I refuse to sit here and watch you spend another how many years being broken-hearted and miserable when you could have just been happy instead.”

Heart swelling, May looked at her brother in disbelief. Without realizing it, a smile began to creep across her face.

“Kai, it is too dangerous for her out there!” their mother protested.

“Ma, it’s her life,” he replied. “You did what you promised and you kept her safe all this time. Let her figure out the rest.” He looked May straight in the eye, holding her gaze with such intensity  she forgot to breath. “What do you want to do, Maybe?”

Like a shot of electricity to her heart, May felt shocked back to life. Her body was alight with complete and undeniable purpose. She turned to her parents and clutched their hands tightly.

“You need to know that I love you both. But he’s right.”

May was both excited and breathless.

“I have to go find Em.”

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Five

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May wasn’t sure how she came to find herself sitting on her couch. She also wasn’t sure she cared.

She didn’t feel much of anything. Every inch of her was numb, her nerves frayed past the point of being useful.

Her parents and brother hovered around, their voices buzzing like static. She found herself wishing they would leave, although she wasn’t sure why.

“Maybe?” Her mother crouched before her, speaking gently. “Sweetheart, are you listening?”

No, she wasn’t listening. Whatever they had been talking about fell into the gaping emptiness inside of her.

“I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but this is for the best.” Another gentle voice; her father’s. The weight of him easing down onto the couch beside her. She moved her head, swaying it vaguely somewhere between a shake and a nod.

“You two need to tell us what the hell just happened.” The severity in Kai’s voice was what truly brought May back to the present. Slowly, she looked up to where he stood by the door, arms crossed and his expression stern.

Their mother sighed, casting an uneasy glance back at May’s vacant expression.

“Kai, I don’t think now’s the best time-”

“Now’s the perfect time,” Kai interrupted. He turned to his sister. “You too. What the fuck is going on?”

Oh, thought May. Right. I remember now…

Em was gone.

She inhaled sharply, as if she was suddenly coming back to life after dancing near death. Reality stung.

“Is it true, May?” her mother asked, placing a hand gently on her daughter’s knee. “Is Em the Star’s daughter?”

May looked at her mother, watching her silently for a moment. It was still so foreign to hear her speak of the Stars at all, let alone with so much familiarity. She nodded slowly and looked away.

“It’s a long story.”

“Can someone please explain what you’re both talking about?” Kai griped as he began to pace. “What do you mean by Stars?”

Their mother licked her lips, staying her patience.

“You know what we’re talking about, Kai,” she replied. “You’ve heard the legends.”

“About the cosmic forces that map out the destinies of every life on Earth?” he snarked. “Sure.”

He was scoffing; he thought they were being facetious and threw it right back at them. But his parents gave him the same look they had been giving him his whole life – the one that told him enough was enough.

“You can’t be serious,” he laughed, but not like he meant it; like he needed someone to let him in on the joke. When no one did, his face fell. He looked to his sister. “Maybe?”

She shrugged. The last thing she felt like doing at that moment was having this conversation. “You were there tonight, Kai. How else are you going to explain what you saw?”

“How long have you known, May?” asked her father.

May’s eyes flickered up to his. She was struck by the peculiar notion that suddenly she didn’t care whether or not he was proud of her anymore.

“A long time,” she answered. She watched the surprise flicker across her father’s face, heard her mother’s sharp inhale. May touched the tips of her fingers to her lips and recalled the way Em’s had felt pressed up against them. Desperate and soft; a perfect fit on May’s mouth.

She closed her eyes against rising tears, not wanting to believe that frantic moment on the beach might have been the last kiss they’d have between them.

“You chased them away,” she said, voice low and words slow. She didn’t want to crumble in front of them. “You made her leave.”

The hitch in her throat betrayed her anyway.

“Darling, you don’t understand.” Her mother pulled herself from her knees and settled close beside her daughter. She took May’s hands in her own and held them tight against her heart. “We were keeping you safe.”

Anger flared through the sadness and May tried to pull her hands out of her mother’s grip.

“Em isn’t dangerous,” she snapped, tears beginning to fall. “You don’t know her like I do, she wouldn’t do anything-”

“The Stars are dangerous, May,” her father cut in.

“They’re not.”

“They are for you.”

At this, May started. “What is that supposed to mean?”

She looked to Kai but he looked just as suspicious as she felt.

Their mother sighed and looked to her husband in defeat. “We have spent your entire life trying to keep you away from all that.”

“Away from what?” A hint of fear trembled inside of May. She was on the precipice of something, this much she knew.

Her father rubbed his face with his palm, looking uneasy.

“You’ve both heard the stories of the mainlanders who ravaged the island all those years ago,” he said, almost pleadingly as though begging for his children to understand. Kai tensed, his eyes flicking quickly to May and then away. “They were looking for your parents, May.”

She froze. “Why?”

“We’ve not sure, sweetheart,” her mother replied, running her fingers lovingly through May’s hair the way she had when she was just a girl. “We never knew for certain – they didn’t want us know, said it would keep us all safer in the long run. All we knew for sure was it had something to do with the Stars.”

“And they wanted to make sure nothing happened to you,” her father continued. He sat on the edge of the low coffee table so he could look May in the eye. “It was very, very important to them. They begged us to keep you safe when you were born, and we -” he took her face in his hands gently and smiled “- we were happy to.”

May couldn’t meet his soft, paternal gaze. She searched her mind ardently, trying to piece together what her parents were saying. Em’s voice telling her the story of how the Loyals had hunted down and destroyed any trace of stolen wishes made on the fallen star.

She gasped, the only truth that made sense hanging over her like a ghost.

“I’m a Wish.”

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The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Fifty-Four

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Em and May looked across the beach to find Kai and their parents standing by his van, shock and horror written all over their faces. Theirs had been the other voices that cried out at the sight of Kane being thrown from the treehouse. Em’s heart fell at the sight of her pack, the strap clutched in Kai’s white-knuckled fist. She had completely forgotten.

“Get away from her!” May’s mother cried, stumbling across the sand to her daughter.

“Wait!” Em gasped, reaching out just as she pulled May to her feet and away.

“Are you alright?” May’s mother fussed, brushing May’s hair from her face and looking for any sign of trauma. “Did she hurt you?”

May tried to pull away. “Mama, no. She was trying to protect me.”

Her father rushed over and planted himself between his family and Em who was shakily trying to stand.

“What are you?” Kai asked, awestruck.

Before Em could answer a blinding flash struck the sand between them, floating light forming a glowing silhouette. The moment their feet hit the ground, the Star made straight for Em, scattering residual starlight like glitter caught in the wind.

“Emanthy, what happened?” they asked, pulling her off the ground and into a tight embrace. “Are you hurt?”

Em buried her face in Welkin’s cloak and shook her head, clinging to them.

“I’m sorry!” she wailed, voice muffled. “I couldn’t stop myself.”

A look of fear – so brief and minute – flashed across Welkin’s face. They held Em close and still, careful not to let her see.

“What did you do, Emanthy?”

“I hurt him.” Her words were quiet and ashamed. “Kane. He went after May and I lost control and I…” she dissolved into a fresh wave of tears.

Welkin’s golden eyes flicked upwards, toward the night sky. They said nothing, but they didn’t have to; the distraught look said everything. There was trouble churning somewhere up above.

“I should have known,” May’s mother growled. Everyone turned to her in surprise, save for Welkin who only looked at her with resignation. “I knew there was something wrong with that girl the moment I laid eyes on her. I should have known she had something to do with your kind.”

“Does a promise not mean anything to you?” Her husband shouted, brandishing his finger in Welkin’s direction like a weapon. “You aren’t supposed to be here!”

“I know,” Welkin admitted, holding a hand out like a peace offering. “But, please understand – she is my daughter and she is in danger. I needed a place where she could be safe. What better place than one without magic?”

There was an exchange of puzzled glances between May’s parents before her father found his voice and shot back. “You put our family – our entire island – at risk to save your kin? How very considerate of you.”

Welkin cringed with guilt.

“How does a Star come to have a daughter anyway?” May’s mother balked, suspicious for certain but with a hint of genuine curiosity.

May gaped, staring at her parents with her mouth hanging with shock.

“What is going on?” May demanded, looking between her parents and the Star. “How do you know each other? And how do you two know about the Stars?”

Her mother pulled her in closer and glared at Welkin dangerously.

“You need to leave,” she said. “Both of you. Now.”

“Wait,” Em gasped, snapping out of her pitiful daze. “I can’t leave.”

She tried to step forward, reaching out for May but Welkin held her back.

“She’s right, Emanthy,” Welkin said, their voice tight with regret. “I’m sorry but we have to go.”

May was gripped with panic, her breath hitching at the realization of what Welkin was saying.

“No.” She struggled against her mother’s grip. “Wait, no you can’t-”

A sound at a pitch so high it was barely audible split the sky. While May and her family glanced around for the source, Em and Welkin gasped and flinched, both looking fearfully up at the sky. May was reminded of the night she had found Em ‘listening’ to the Stars and realized that there was something the two were hearing that the rest of them weren’t privy to.

“I’m truly sorry, girls,” Welkin agonized. Usually so dauntless, it was uncharacteristic for the Star to show so much desperate emotion. May couldn’t help but be disturbed by it. “But we’re out of time. We’ll figure something out, Emanthy but for now we need to go!”

May met Em’s frantic gaze, certain that their hearts were racing in tandem. With a quick and violent pull, Em rushed forward and out of Welkin’s grasp. May followed her lead, wrenching herself away from her mother’s fingers and stumbling toward Em.

The met in the middle and clung to one another as though their lives depended on never letting go.

“Don’t go,” May gasped, wrapping her arms around Em. The fear of what she had witnessed minutes ago, the troubling question of whether she could dare leave the island again – it had all faded like a dream in the first blinking moments of wakefulness. All May knew now was that she was in danger of losing Em for reasons she didn’t even completely understand, and that was all she needed to realize exactly what she wanted.

It took great effort for Em to pry May back far enough to look her in the eye. They each held their breath, searching for the right thing to say among so many things still left unsaid.

“You can’t go,” May sobbed, tears obscuring her vision. “We’re us.”

A soft and devastated sound escaped Em’s throat. Unable to speak, she pressed her lips to May’s and kissed her.

All around them a brightness encroached. When it touched Em, she began to glow. Her light grew steadily and she became weightless in May’s arms, tugged slowly backwards gently by an invisible force.

Welkin was nothing more than a glowing mass rising above the beach, their essence pulling Em up to join them.

“Em, no!” May cried, her grasp on Em giving way. “Please!”

Everything was so bright. Em opened her mouth, began to call something out to May when suddenly the world was engulfed in a blinding whiteness.

When night returned to the beach, May and her family stood stunned and alone.

Em and Welkin were gone.

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