Home > If Stars Were Wishes (Wish #4)

If Stars Were Wishes (Wish #4)
Author: Audrey Carlan

 

To all the mothers, sisters, and daughters…

Live your life the way you wish.

 

 

NOTE TO READERS

 

Hello new friends,

This book needs a warning label. It’s by far the hardest story I’ve ever had to tell. Catori is not your everyday heroine. She’s a real woman with hopes, dreams, and wishes that she’s determined to achieve, even while facing an incredible amount of adversity.

When I set out to write the Wish series, I was hyper focused on telling the stories of Suda Kaye, Evie, and later Isabeau. You can read each of their complex stories What the Heart Wants, To Catch a Dream, and On the Sweet Side, on their own individually, before, or even after this title. I had never planned to write their mother’s journey but Catori was adamant. She plagued my muse until I sat down and put my fingers to the keys. If Stars Were Wishes is the result.

Her story is not one of a happily ever after you find in most romance novels or even women’s fiction titles. It’s messy, complicated, and unusual to say the least. Many of you may not like her. I’ll bet some of you want to bail on the book because of some of the choices she makes. I hope you don’t and can find the strength within you to see it through.

I can’t help but recall a bible verse that spoke to me when I was younger that I feel fits this experience more than any other.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Honestly that phrase says it all.

Catori is human. She is as selfish as she is selfless. I urge you to read through to the end before casting judgement. There are many reasons why people do the things they do. Some of us can’t comprehend them, others have them hidden as part of our deepest, darkest desires. Catori lives out every moment to the fullest. Makes decisions on a whim and accepts the repercussions and sacrifice of each choice she makes with dignity.

This story is designed to mimic a real person’s life. You will find joy, laughter, sadness, sorrow, grief, hate, love, respect, hope, and sacrifice. Time moves very quickly and often skips ahead but I promise you never miss anything important.

If you make it to the end, I think you also find peace, as Catori eventually does too. If anything, you’re about to read and experience an intense adventure. I’m smiling right now thinking about it.

 

With all my love to the moon, to the stars, and beyond.

Audrey

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

When I was a child, everything around me seemed so large, infinite and imposing. I grew up on a Native American reservation three hours south of Pueblo, Colorado. I was raised by a Comanche elder. Our ancestors founded this land, fought for it, spilled their blood, and died to keep it. I’ve had eighteen years to appreciate its splendor. Soak up its many gifts and secrets. Dance with the ghosts of our people under the full moon, appreciating all that they sacrificed for us. And yet, I can’t avoid the siren’s call of the big, wide-open world.

Unlike my mother, Topsannah, a half-Comanche, half-Navajo tribeswoman, I wanted desperately to leave the reservation. Adventure out into the great unknown and experience everything the creator had to offer…before it was too late.

At eighteen, I finally had my chance, and I was going to grip that opportunity with everything in me. Knowing my time on this Earth would be short did not sway my wanderlust in the least. Rather, it fueled the fire inside me to eat up every experience I could.

I watched my mother, her arms full of my folded clothing, slowly walk from the dresser to the giant suitcase my parents had gifted me when I graduated high school. It was big enough to hold everything I held dear, aside from my parents.

As my father reminded me when I told them I wanted to travel the world, “Your journey is not ours. It is not up to us to decide your future. If it is the world you crave, seek it.”

Despite the fact that I knew I had their support, I still worried about my mother’s failing health. The cancer was eating her alive, but she never let it prevent her from living how she chose. And my mother enjoyed nothing more than being on the reservation, communing with her people, and raising a child. She spent her days cooking, tending to her hobbies, and sharing time with my father. These things brought her great joy. I could appreciate wanting to be with my father Tahsuda. Not only was he a man we both adored, he lived solely to give us a good life. He was highly respected and honored by our people and served them well. My father was the true north of our small family unit. Home was wherever he existed.

“You have enough money?” My mother’s voice was tinged with worry.

“Yes. You know I do.” I smiled and sat next to the suitcase where she was refolding my clothing and placing it neatly inside. I reached for her hand and she clasped mine within both of hers.

“You are my only child.” Her voice shook.

She needed not remind me of this fact. Mother had wanted many children. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. A complication during my birth forced them to make the medical decision to perform a hysterectomy. She was only twenty years old at the time.

“Pia.” I used the Comanche word for mother. “I’m going to be fine. I’ll be with the dancing unit throughout my travels. I won’t be alone.”

She closed her pretty dark eyes and I waited while she composed herself. My mother was a beautiful woman. High, rounded cheekbones. Light toasted brown skin with zero blemishes or markings of any kind. Pretty pink lips and deep, coal-colored eyes that I swore could see straight through to my soul. Her hair was impressively long, black, and fell into two perfectly crafted braids that fell down the sides of her face and reached past her chest. I grew my hair exactly like hers because I’d always believed it looked like silky black sheets of satin, especially when she wore it down—something she didn’t do very often. Though I did. My hair was gorgeous and everywhere I went I was complimented on it. Besides, it was a gift from my mother, father, and the Creator. A recognizable token of the Native American heritage I was proud of. From top to toe, I was an exact replica of my parents. From the hair, to the high cheekbones, to the dark eyes and my mother’s curves, I’d hit the gene pool lottery.

“And if you get a cold?”

I pressed my lips together in order to not laugh out loud. “Then I’ll seek medical attention and medicine as needed.” I squeezed her hands. “Pia, you have to trust me to take care of myself. This is my path. My time to experience the world. You and ahpʉ have prepared me for this my entire life.”

She inhaled as her gaze fell to mine. “When you start to feel the sickness inside, peta,” she used the word for “daughter” in our tongue, “you must come home. Let ahpʉ and our people take care of you.”

I closed my eyes and pressed my lips together trying not to let my fate anger me. I’d had years of practice fighting against the sorrow and fury of my destiny. Ever since I was little girl, I’d known my time was limited. My mother read it in the stars when I was born, just like her mother did with her. Even though it was verified through modern medical analysis that we all carried the same genetic condition, both women had a unique ability to glean bits and pieces of the future through their study of the night sky. Some of the other tribes believed in this talent, others did not.

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