May was Eric's book birthday. If you don't have a copy yet make sure that you snag it since the price has been lowered to 99¢.
I re-read these books about every 3 months to make sure that the current project doesn't stray too far from what I'd originally written. There's a rule (and you know how I feel about those) that a story is supposed to open with action to grab your interest. Before you jump into bed with Eric & Ginny and she's accosted by his identical twin brother, the first 1,000 words of Eric sets up the chaos of keeping track of five teenagers. Many times, I look back on it wondering what I could've done better.
The copy below is an attempt at a rewrite. I likely won't use it as it's skewed too much towards Ross and Daveigh, but I figured it was worth a share... Happy reading!
Steam billowed off the top of Ross Cavanaugh’s morning cup of coffee. He blew across the rim, taking a small sip before placing the to-go lid on the mug, and double checked that his keys and wallet were in his pockets. His footfalls were soft across the kitchen tile. Ross stopped behind the low-slung chair where his younger daughter sat in the sunroom watching the day break through the long windows. The filter hummed to life and light began dancing off the ripples in the pool outside, refracting contrast colors.
Ross covered his mouth as he yawned and then touched her pajama-clad shoulder.
“I can still go.” She made a move to get up, but his firm hand stopped her.
He didn’t play favorites by any means, but of any his children, Ross gave Daveigh a fraction more leeway. The girl was up with the rooster each morning and had her barn boots pulled on before the other four’s feet hit the floor. If Ross was unwilling to follow through on his promise to Daveigh, she’d dress and drive down the road without reservation to do her chores. Despite their agreement, Ross counted on the fact that Daveigh was the most likely of the five to come home first from the party last night. And he’d been right. Letting her shake off this moment of responsibility was a rarity that she should be allowed to enjoy. From now on things were going to get tougher, not only for Daveigh, but for everyone.
Up until last night, Ross thought that the hardest trials and tribulations of raising a child to eighteen were behind him. The kids were all out for a final hoorah before their high school graduation this afternoon when his wife, Rose, hit him with news that he’d believed they’d skated past hearing.
“The lot of them may have given me more white streaks, but the color here is not from a bottle.” Rose pointed a manicured finger at her long blonde hair, commenting on her age.
They’d run the gamut of emotions. It hadn’t been pretty, but after the initial shock, cooler head were prevailing.
Uncontrollable as children tended to be, Ross was proud of his two daughters and three sons and satisfied with the no-nonsense way that they’d raised those five babies. He gave credit to Rose. It’s not easy keeping five kites flying at once. Hold the string too tight and it flounders. Give the line too much slack and you never know where you’ll be chasing off to or what tree you’re going to be climbing to get the kite back unscathed. He’d like to see any other mother manage as well as his wife had.
Rose’s sleep was broken in the same fitful way that defined their home in the quints’ infancy. Ross had hoped that daybreak would bring them some solace. But, of course, they’d woken to find only four of the five quints in their rooms this morning. Brier’s absence threw Rose for a loop, especially since these kids were about to learn one of life’s biggest lessons.
Ross wasn’t one to abandon a situation, however, he’d agreed to muck out the stalls and feed the horses for Daveigh and he prided himself on always been a man of his word. If he didn’t practice what he preached then what kind of example was he showing to his progeny? He left through the back porch door and saw Rose inspecting the back garden outside the quints rooms. She shook her head, touching her temple. Lord, he did not envy her this morning.
Ross stopped putting anything past the quints long ago. They’d been proving people wrong since the day they were born. Rose managed to keep those little buns in the oven for thirty-two weeks. Grandchildren were her father's dying wish. He wanted someone to carry on his legacy.
After six years of trying, Rose and Ross agreed to fertility treatments figuring that maybe they’d wind up with twins.
What they got was a commonly referred to as “a pair, a spare”. Sonograms revealed another spare. And, yes, a third as well; a set of identical twin boys and three more babies. Told to expect only one a girl, Ross had already decided not to underestimate his children. When a second daughter—whom they’d spent months referring to as Davy—popped out as baby number four, displacing the twins birth order with her grand entrance, he just wasn’t surprised.
Ross got into his truck and turned the engine over. Before he drove to the other side of the sprawling Texas ranch, he looked up at the impressive Tudor timbers. Rose inherited this property, known as Kingsbrier, from her oil-rich father. The house was low to the horizon with wide wings of off either side of main house. The enormous pool hid behind the left wing. The architect built the back of the right wing into a rolling hill so that from behind it looked to be only one story. This was where the quint’s rooms lay. Those immaculate gardens Rose was inspecting earlier were planted with intention. Lush green grass cut off at grove of dense trees. Spaced across the acreage, where Ross was off to, were a horse stable, several out buildings for storage, and residences once used to house occasional staff members.
It was only that they lived on this plot of land that the Kingsbrier Quintuplets weren’t referred to as Cavanaugh. Ross didn't care one iota that his progeny were better known by his wife's maiden name. Kingsbrier was a windfall Ross had little need of himself. He was a self-made man in the construction business. Ross told Rose’s daddy that he had no interested in her fortune. So the bulk would fall to the quints when they turn twenty-five, seven years from now.
Ross did his best to instill a work ethic in these kids. They were about to get cut off and have to figure out life's hard knocks on their own. Forge their own path or fall and be trampled. Then learn to pick themselves up, brush the dust off, and keep going.
But this morning, it was anyone’s guess what would happen when his five eighteen-year-olds, about to leave the nest, realized that it wasn’t going to stay empty.
©2018 Jody Kaye
Eric (The Kingsbrier Quintuplets no.1) ©2016 Jody Kaye
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a creation of the Author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, establishments, event or locales is coincidental... That's right, I made it all up!
This excerpt is taken from an uncorrected proof. Mistakes are possible... In other words, I'm human too.