Colleen Houck


“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

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  • Tiger’s Destiny Alternate Ending #2

    February 1, 2014


    Tiger’s Destiny Alternate Ending #2

    This ending shares basically the same information that the book has but I really liked showing an older version of Ren and Kelsey. This was something we went back and forth on for quite some time in the editing process. This was the second ending I tried out. The third one is the one that was actually printed in the book.

    TigersDestiny_final cover 4-25

    The old man stood outside the door of a beautiful home built into the mountainside and closed his eyes for a moment enjoying the smell of pine and rain. He loved Oregon and would have liked to stay longer but alas time would not permit. The idea of not having enough time was ironic considering he wore the piece of the amulet around his neck that allowed him to leap through the years at will. Visit us digitalinnovationshow for more details.

    He was admittedly nervous about his task though he’d made sure that the people inside wouldn’t recognize him. After ringing the doorbell, he shifted his package under one arm and waited.

    Prince Alagan Dhiren Rajaram was the one to appear.

    “Can I help you?” he asked.

    The man blinked and remembered his purpose. “Package for you, sir. Sign here, please.”

    He handed off the package and with a nod and a smile of farewell Ren closed the door.

    Unable to resist, the old man gripped his amulet and shifted, reappearing in the young couples’ bedroom closet so he could watch the scene unfold. Tears filled his eyes when he saw the prince’s young wife crooning softly to her newborn son.

    Ren entered and set the package on the bed then he took his son, cradling him in his arms.

    He clicked his tongue, “Mera raja beta, you didn’t let your mom sleep enough. Is that the way for a young princeling to behave?”

    Ren touched his nose to his son’s and set him on the bed. The baby squirmed and his parents laughed when his little fists shot out of the quilt and he kicked hard.

    “What a feisty little man you are, Anik Kishan Rajaram,” Kelsey said.

    As Ren patiently wrapped his son in Kelsey’s old quilt and picked him up, baby Anik stopped fussing completely. His little body became still and his golden eyes opened and focused on his father.  Ren held out a finger and teeny fingers latched on. As father and son looked into each other’s eyes a feeling of hushed enchantment swirled around.

    Ren touched his baby’s face.

    “What is it?” Kelsey asked softly.

    “It’s…his eyes,” Ren said.

    “Are you disappointed that they aren’t blue like yours?” Kelsey queried hesitantly.

    Ren shook his head. “When Lokesh took you from the yacht, Kishan and I went looking for you.  During that time he told me that he’d had a vision of you with a little baby.”

    “Yes. I remember,” she said. “It was in the Grove of Dreams.”

    “What he didn’t tell you was that he lied to you about seeing the baby’s eyes.  In his vision your son had golden eyes.  So he thought—”

    “He must have thought that the baby was his.”

    “Yes.  All this time I believed that I had stolen his rightful place.  That his destiny was to be with you, when really Anik was always mine.  You were always meant to be mine.”

    “He never told me,” Kelsey whispered sadly.

    Ren touched Kelsey’s chin, turning her to face him.  “Do you regret it, Kelsey?”

    “Do I regret marrying you and having your baby?  Never.  Do I regret leaving him behind?  Every day. Do you think about him too?” she asked.

    “How could I not?” Ren replied. “Every time I look at our son I think of my brother.  Kishan sacrificed himself so I could have what I always wanted.  My only hope is that he somehow found a measure of happiness.”

    Kelsey nodded and picked up the mail Ren had put on the bed. She opened a fancy envelope.  “It’s from Nilima! It’s the wedding invitation. They’re getting married this summer.”

    Ren grunted.  “It took Sunil long enough.”

    “It wasn’t entirely his fault.  Nilima was stubborn.”

    “Not unlike another woman I know,” he teased.

    “Their engagement picture is beautiful.”  She handed him the picture and picked up the big box he’d placed on the bed.  “What’s this?”

    “I don’t know.  A courier just dropped it off.”

    Kelsey opened the package and pulled out a heavy, wooden box. The lock clicked open and she lifted the polished lid. Inside was a scroll perfectly encased as if the glass had been blown around it.

    “It’s the Scroll of Wisdom,” she whispered.  “The ocean teacher said we weren’t to read it until after the fifth sacrifice had been made.”

    “I’ll have to break it,” Ren said. “Here. Take the baby.”

    She bounced the baby in her arms while he gripped the cylinder inside the box. There was a snap and the tinkling of broken glass as it fell.  Carefully, Ren shook the glass away from the ancient paper and spread the pages between them.  The sheets of thick Sanskrit covered parchment quickly began to yellow around the edges. A heavy wax insignia sealed the scroll shut.

    Ren trailed his fingers over the wax insignia. “It’s my family seal—the house of Rajaram…” he said excitedly.

    Kelsey shifted the baby and smoothed the paper flat for him as Ren ran his fingertip lightly over the words.

    “Kelsey, this is a letter from Kishan.”

    “What does it say?” she asked soberly.

     

    Ren and Kelsey,

     

    I apologize for corresponding in such a dramatic fashion but I couldn’t risk either of you reading this before certain events had been set in motion.  I wouldn’t have written at all except that I wanted to dispel any worries either of you might retain over my decision to stay in the past.

     

    After you left, Durga and Damon spent many years serving all manner of people.  We built a home high in the clouds on the rocky slope of Mount Kailash.  Durga used the power of the Pearl Necklace to feed pure healing water to the five rivers of Asia—the Indus, the Sutlej, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali, and the Ganges.

     

    Our home was considered sacred to five world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Ayyavazhi, and the Bön and many made pilgrimages to worship Durga at the mountain base.  Any who attempted to climb up to our home were dispelled quickly and soon word spread that the gods protected their home and all attempts to reach us ceased.

     

    In the beginning we would descend on a cloud daily to serve as arbitrators in settling disputes for the people.  Anamika would bestow gifts of food, clothing, and healing.  If a supplicant came and told of famine or drought, we would use the Rope of Fire to travel quickly to those locations and resolve the issue.  We refused to side in wars but to the innocent Durga was a kind and benevolent goddess.

     

    Anamika and I formed a bond of friendship and respect that led to love.  We were married and had many children and grandchildren.  We aged slowly and as our posterity made their way in the world, we kept vigil on our mountainside and watched the decades pass.

     

    Eventually, the acolytes grew fewer in number and we knew that Durga and her powers were no longer needed.  We left our home and traveled, secretly helping people when we saw a need.

     

    The peoples of Asia thrived under her hands.  She inspired artists, poets, political reform, religion, and social harmony.  I am proud to have served as her companion and I am blessed that she agreed to be my wife.

     

    We have had a very long and a happy life and it would have been wrong for me to leave you thinking that I was miserable or disappointed with the choice I made.  It took me some time to learn to live without you, Kelsey, and I’ll admit that there were many times I cursed my decision to stay behind, but destiny treated me well and I have a family and a life that has enriched me and made me a better man.

     

    Speaking of family, Phet informed me that I am my own ancestor.  One of my descendants was my great, great, great grandfather which means your baby gets his eyes from me.  I’m sorry I kept that from you, bilauta.

     

    Ren, forgive me for my jealous impetuous youth.  Whatever good I have done in the world, whatever strides I have made as a man, it was because I was able to look to my brother for an example.  For what it’s worth, you would have made a great king. Treasure your time with your family for the days pass quickly.

     

    Kelsey, there is still a piece of my heart that belongs to you.  I have cherished it all these centuries.  You were the angel that saved me from a life squandered and your influence has impacted me in more ways than you know.  The warmth, kindness, and love you offered when you decided to save two lost tigers changed the course of my life.  A happy ending was promised and a happy ending was delivered. Every single day my heart swells with gratitude for you.

     

    If there is one regret that I have, it’s that I wish I could pass through the long centuries with you.  I miss you both, but I know that your lives will be full and rich.  May your love for one another continue to grow and may you find joy in the life you build together.

     

    Perhaps in another time and another place we will meet again.

     

    Kishan.

     

    As Ren pulled his wife and son close a tear trickled down the old man’s cheek. Then, as if knowing they were sad, little Anik let out a heart wrenching wail.

    Kelsey laughed and said, “I’d say he’s got a pretty good roar, wouldn’t you?”

    Ren rubbed her back and replied, “I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Rajaram.”

    With those final words, the silent observer wrapped his hand around the amulet. With a smile and a tear in his eye, he disappeared, leaving behind the carved Seal of the Rajaram Empire tucked carefully in the baby’s cradle. He didn’t know if future generations would have need of it, but if so, he believed that the creedo engraved upon it—Viveka—Wisdom, Jagarana—Vigilance, Vira—Bravery, and Anukampa—Compassion—would always be found in the heart of a Rajaram.

    This entry was posted in Bonus Material, Tiger's Destiny.

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    Colleen Houck
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.