If you’re just like us, then you’re probably thinking about rereading the After series for the 500th time. But you’re going to want to clear some space on your bookshelf (or Kindle) because our favorite Wattpad queen Anna Todd is blessing us with another book series. Cosmopolitan has all the exclusive info on her upcoming big release, and you won’t want to miss a second of it.
That’s right, Todd is back and she’s ready to release The Falling, the first book in the Brightest Star trilogy, which is set to come out on July 5, 2022. It follows 20-year-old Karina as she falls in love with someone at the local army base in her town. But while she’s able to fix everything else in her life, she might not be able to fix him like she originally hopes.
Here are all the deets about The Falling from Frayed Pages x Wattpad Books:
While you’re probably itching to preorder this book (which you definitely should ASAP), you’re also going to want to check out the book’s cover reveal, above, and this exclusive excerpt that Cosmo is premiering for the very first time!
An Excerpt From The Falling: A Brightest Stars Novel
By Anna Todd
I woke up with my cell phone on my chest. It felt like the heat was on. I checked the time: almost four in the morning. I had to be up at eight so I could run to the grocery store, get gas, and be ready for work by ten. Thinking of my to-do list was stressing me out in the middle of the night, making my brain too awake to go right back to sleep. I rolled my T-shirt up, turned my fan on high, and lay back down, letting the cool air fill the room and brush across my skin.
Opening Facebook on my phone, I went to Elodie’s friends list and typed in Kael’s name. Nothing came up, so I searched for him again. I changed my search to “Mikael Martin” and found a profile with fewer than one hundred friends, which seemed odd to me but made sense for what I knew of him so far. I didn’t talk to 99 percent of the people I was “friends” with, but I still had almost a thousand. That seemed excessive, having a thousand people I never spoke to have access to me.
His profile picture was a group shot of Kael with three other soldiers. They were all dressed in ACUs and standing next to a big tank. Kael was grinning in the picture, maybe even laughing—that’s how bright his smile was. It was weird to see him like that, his arm around one of the guys. Maybe this was his level ten smile that I had been wondering about? I zoomed in on it. My stomach tingled. I went back to his profile, but apart from his profile picture and Fort Benning, Georgia, I couldn’t get any information from his page at all. Everything was private. I almost asked to be his friend, but it felt stalkerish to send him a Facebook request while he was sleeping on a chair in my living room.
I clicked out of his profile and threw my phone to the empty side of the bed and sat up. It was so hot in my room that I was starting to think Elodie might have accidently turned on the heat, instead of the air, again. My throat was dry. I could feel sweat on the back of my neck when I tied up my thick, curly hair.
Kael and Elodie both would be sleeping in the living room, so I made sure I was quiet when I walked down the hallway and into the kitchen. I knew the floor plan of my house so well, I could easily navigate every inch in the darkness with only a little guidance from the night-light plugged into the kitchen outlet.
I grabbed the jug of water out of the fridge and chugged it until I couldn’t anymore and my throat burned from the cold. Every night when I was a kid, my mom had brought me a cup of ice water to help me sleep. I stopped craving it a few months ago but still kept a jug in the fridge, just in case the need for that comfort returned. I closed the fridge and almost screamed when I saw Kael sitting at the kitchen table.
“Shit, you scared me.” I wiped my wet lips with the back of my hand. “Sorry if I woke you up. It’s so hot in here.”
“I was up.”
I took a step closer to him and it took his eyes raking down my body, down my rolled T-shirt to my stomach and my exposed thighs to realize I was barely dressed. It was dark in the room but he could definitely see at least the outline of my body. I pulled my shirt down, attempting to undo the knot I had tied at the hem.
“Why are you up? Were you just sitting here in the dark?”
Kael’s head tilted just a bit, like he was confused by what I was saying, and he looked down at my legs. I immediately felt a wave of insecurity, thinking about the dips of cellulite peppered across my thighs. He looked back up at my face.
“Can I have some of that water?” he asked.
I flushed, wondering how the hell I hadn’t noticed him sitting there as I made my way to my fridge and chugged water out of a plastic gallon jug.
I nodded and opened the refrigerator door. “It’s just tap water. I buy one of these”—I held up the jug labeled Spring Water—“every once in a while and just refill it with tap water. So, it’s not actually spring water.”
“I can handle tap water.”
His sarcasm surprised me. I smiled at him and he smiled back—also a surprise. He took the container from my hand and lifted it to his mouth without touching his lips. I hadn’t been able to see what he was wearing, or not wearing in this case. He had taken his uniform jacket and tan T-shirt off, and camo pants hung so low on his waist that they revealed briefs I could almost read the label of but knew I shouldn’t try to. I looked back at his face as he took another drink.
“So why are you up? Getting used to the time difference?” I asked.
He handed back the jug and I took another swig. I was still hot but the kitchen was much cooler than my bedroom. The cold tile felt good under my feet. I checked the thermostat just inside the living room, near the hallway. It was set to seventy, and it felt like seventy in here, just not in my room. Was I getting sick? I couldn’t afford to—literally.
“I don’t sleep much,” Kael finally answered.
I sat across from him at the dark wood kitchen table.
“Because of where you just were?”
“Not your father’s house,” he said with a hint of irony but with no trace of humor in his face. Not in the strong, straightforward set of his jaw. Not in his cloudy eyes that were bloodshot from not sleeping.
“Ha-ha.” I rolled my eyes, trying to stop my brain from imagining him in Afghanistan.
“War, of course.” His eyes were on his hands now, not my face. He licked at his lips, allowing a small laugh to escape. “I wonder if I’ll just be saying that my whole life, you know, like the Vietnam vets I meet at the VA hospital. Still telling stories from fifty years ago.”
My stomach started to ache thinking about this quiet young man in a war zone, being woken up by shells or rockets or whatever terror he went through, while I complained and whined to myself over unimportant things and the little miseries of my life. Perspective was a bracing slap across the face.
“I guess it’s weird being back here.” He sighed. “Like I’m not sure what to do with myself.”
Between his honesty and the vulnerability cast across his face, I thought I might be having this conversation in a dream. It was like I could read his mind and feel his pain, even though he was doing a good job trying to conceal it. I was an expert in avoidance and could spot emotional masking on the dot.
“Do you have to go back?” I asked, hoping he would say no.
In my mind, an alarm was blaring, screeching to warn me, or maybe Kael, of how I was starting to feel about him. I had known him for less than forty-eight hours, yet I wanted to protect him, to keep him from going back there. To just make sure he didn’t get lost…in any of the ways one could. A list ran through my head as we stared at one another for minutes that felt like an hour. Why did I even care? I took his face in, wanting to keep a copy of the way his eyes were steady, not darting all over, his lips were half open, words hesitating to escape. His focus went to the wall behind me. I felt like he was reading my mind, detecting sympathy that might be easily construed as pity. I didn’t pity him. I just felt…I couldn’t make sense of what exactly I was feeling. When it came to Kael and the army, it was none of my business. He knew what he had signed up for. But that was the logical side of my brain; I knew I felt otherwise. I was lying to myself about the consequence of serving, like signing up made it okay, and that emotion turned my stomach.
“I don’t know yet,” he responded, and we both fell silent.
“I hope you don’t.” The words were out before I could care how they sounded.
I hated the idea of Kael at war, so far from here. Hiding in the darkness of sandpits, building makeshift posts only to have them destroyed by rockets in the middle of the night. My entire body got angry when I thought about his life there, so many people’s lives lived and lost there. Part of me felt like I was betraying my childhood, my family lineage of soldiers and airmen, but I guess I wasn’t as patriotic as I was expected to be. Not if this is what it meant. I had never been, and neither had my mother. You couldn’t convince either of us that violence would ever be the solution to anything, no matter what the issue was.
Kael’s head rested on his bent hand. His eyes were fluttering closed.
“I want…to stay here,” he whispered, barely coherent.
My whole body heaved. This military life was so unfair sometimes. I wanted to ask Kael if he felt like this was his purpose in life, or what made him join the army?
Everyone had their reasons, but what were his? Was he like most of the young soldiers I knew? Had he been persuaded to join by the poverty around him and the promise of a steady paycheck and health insurance?
“I really—” I started to say, but his eyes were fully closed. I stared at him in the dark and watched his face relax feature by feature. His eyes stopped swirling behind his eyelids, and I felt myself drawn to sleep as I watched him unwind before my eyes. I drifted off, not caring that I was away from my bed.
© Anna Todd, 2022
The Falling, by Anna Todd, will be released on July 5, 2022. To preorder the book, click on the retailer of your choice:
Amazon IndieBound Barnes & Noble Indigo Books-A-Million Wattpad
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