Now Available – CHRISTMAS in ’45 (excerpt included)

I’m very happy to announce the arrival of my 12th novel and my first Christmas novel. It’s available now on Kindle ebook and in paperback.

One reviewer said “This is a wonderful story to read together as a family in the month of December.”

Another reviewer said: “This is an outstanding novel in many ways.”

Another reviewer said: “I found this book to be so emotional … this novel is absolutely a must read for anyone who enjoys an outstanding books.”

Below is chapter one. I hope you’ll check out the link above. This is also a great Christmas gift for the reader in your family. Thanks for the support.

EXCERPT – CHAPTER 1 – Christmas Eve ’44

Roberta soared through the house. Room to room. Kitchen. Dining room. Living room. Laughing as she squeezed a wooden spoon in her hand, cross ways, like she pushed the wing of an airplane into the stratosphere. Her mouth hummed a steady rumble of an engine in flight, and she kept one pace ahead of Trigger, the terrier, nipping and barking at her heels in playful delight.
“Hmmmmm. Whooosh!”
She sailed past her mother’s ear like a gale force wind, nearly causing her mother to spill a pot of raw eggnog she balanced in her hands.
“Roberta! Be careful!”
“Whooooo … Trigger. To the tree. Climb to the star of the tree. That’s what planes do. They soar to the stars.”
She jumped on top of a stool next to the Christmas tree and reached as high as she could until the make-believe, wooden spoon plane zigzagged past the star on top of the medium-sized cut pine.
“Mom! Can I have a string of popcorn?”
“No. Don’t touch the tree. The Dwyers are coming over tonight.”
“Can I have just a little?”
“Not one kernel.”
“Roberta. I’m busy here.”
“So am I. I’m learning to fly like daddy. Do you think he’ll send me a real model airplane for Christmas?”
“We’ll see if he got word to Santa.”
“Mom, I don’t believe in Santa.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because airplanes fly for real, but reindeer can’t fly.”
“Christmas magic makes them fly. This is the season for miracles, Roberta.”
“Mom, only planes fly. And birds.”
“What about wooden spoons?”
“Mom! It’s the only thing I got. I don’t have a real model airplane. Remember how daddy used to fly our silverware around the table during dinner.”
Roberta made another flyover through the kitchen.
“I never appreciated that.”
“I did. It proves that anything can fly if you wish it.”
“So then reindeer can fly?”
“No, Mom. Don’t be silly.” She flew past the tree and plopped onto the sofa knee first, arms resting on the back of the cushion, and looked out the picture window into the snowy evening to watch flurries sparkling in the lights. “Can I please take a string of popcorn off the tree?”
“Mom …”
“Roberta, stop whining.”
“Mom …”
“Mom. There’s someone coming to the door. They’re wearing uniforms.”
A loud sound echoed from the kitchen. A metal banging. Roberta twirled around but couldn’t see what happened. Her mother said nothing, and the air in the room seemed to pause for a second, like the marrow of the moment had been sucked dry, like life was stiff and brittle.
Knock. Three of them. Bare knuckled on the wood. Roberta ran to the door and flung it open. In front of her stood two men, who looked like daddy, three-buttoned brown jacket. Stripes on both arms which formed an A without the cross bar. Shiny small colored squares clung to the left breast of both of the airmen. And a bird, with wings spread right above the shiny squares. Roberta almost jumped into one of their arms thinking that … But the face didn’t match. She stared for a moment. Puzzled. She had never seen a uniform like this around there. Only the photos of daddy. The two men, standing shoulder to shoulder, removed their caps and placed them under their left arms. They wore no expressions, and Roberta thought they didn’t look friendly. Why would they be here on Christmas Eve? One spoke.
“Is your mother home?”
“Yes, she—”
Roberta felt her mother’s hand on her arm. There was a tug, a quick one, pulling Roberta backward. She glanced up and saw her mother holding a dish towel nearly covering her face. Her voice cracked.
“Roberta. Go upstairs.”
“Mom, what’s going on?”
“Go upstairs.” She pushed her backwards, and almost tripped over Trigger. Roberta scooped the dog into her arms and ran up the stairs like her mother said. But not the whole way. She stopped halfway at the landing, curious, lost in the eyes of the two men staring glumly at her mother, who leaned against the door frame.
“Mrs. Ares?”
That’s all they said. She collapsed on the floor to her knees, the dish towel covering her entire face, but it couldn’t muffle the sounds of the weeping. Loud. Wailing. Each audible breath like a pin prick in Roberta’s ear, telling her of trouble, but not explaining it. Roberta’s chest constricted like she was suffocating, and she cried too, for her mother, for her acquaintance with grief which visited her for the first time in the form of two soldiers. She held Trigger in a full body hug and waited for answers.
The two men squatted. Each putting one of their hands on the grieving mother’s shoulders. The wind whipped through the open door. Whisks of snow blew into the living room and disappeared as droplets against the warm air. Roberta heard words. Whispers. They were like breaths of the winter wind, sailing from tree to tree, informing the forest of the incoming storm. Prepare. The attack awaits. Ready the wings. You’ll need them to fly to safety.
After a few moments, frozen in fear, courage rose and she spoke once.
The grieving wife let out a sigh, and turned towards her daughter. She reached for her, motioning for her to come. Roberta released Trigger onto the steps, and she ran to her and felt a hug like no other. It had nothing to do with I love you or Goodnight; this was a hug of intensity. The tears mingled into her brown hair, and they held each other. Trigger whimpered in the middle of them.
“What’s wrong?”
Her mother stood and grabbed Roberta’s arm. She walked her into the living room. The two airmen closed the door and followed.
“Here, please sit.”
“No, ma’am. It’s alright.”
“Please. Have a seat. Could I get you some spiced cider?”
“No, ma’am. We could come back if it would be better. We’re so sorry to intrude on Christmas Eve.”
“No, please. Sit.”
She motioned to the sofa, and the two men sat in tandem. Mother sat across from them on a swivel, high-back chair with Roberta on her lap.
“Roberta.” Her mother had collected herself and spoke in a strong voice. “These men came with some bad news about your father. He has died, Roberta. In the war. I’m so sorry.”
Died. The word had meaning. Some. It meant he would never come back. He would never cross the lake back to her. That’s what he had called it. She remembered. The lake. But she had lived without him for two years already. He was always far away, and now too he was far away. It didn’t feel different. Or real. But she saw her mother’s tears. Those were real. She remembered them from the funeral of Grandpa Newsom last year, and he never visited them again. Though they had visited the cemetery a time or two. She recalled the large stone with the words carved into it. Would daddy have a stone like that? Is that where I will visit him, beside Grandpa Newsom? No, it can’t be. I don’t want to visit Daddy there. Daddy promised me he’d come back. He would bring me an airplane. Not a real one. A model one. That looked just like the one he flew. Her thoughts formed into a question, which she asked to the two men.
“Is Daddy still across the lake?”
They didn’t understand.
“Can you tell me what happened?” her mother asked.
“In front of the child?”
“Just tell us.”
“Very well, ma’am.”
There were many words she didn’t understand. Died kept ringing in her ears. She thought of her daddy taking her down to the lake, right across the street, and telling her what it would be like. Plane went down. She heard that. And she knew what happened when a plane crashed. She was far away from the conversation when she heard her name.
“Roberta, her name is Roberta.”
“Roberta,” spoke one of the officers, “your daddy is a hero. I have something for you.” He unpinned the wings from his jacket and reached across a coffee table to hand it to her. “Here. Take this. These wings will keep alive the memories of your father. Allow them to fly. Never hide them. Know that your father was a hero.”
“Did my daddy have wings, too?”
“That’s right, sweetheart. Wings of angels. Now you both have them.”
Her mother could barely speak. She mouthed a “thank you” under her breath.
“Is there anything we can do for you, ma’am?”
“No, thank you.”
“You won’t be alone here?”
“No, we have friends and family coming. Thank you.”
“Our sincere condolences to you and your daughter. From all accounts, your husband was an honorable and good man.”
“Yes, yes he was.”
The men left. The two sat dazed staring into the fire. Her mother told her to take a string of popcorn off the tree. Roberta did, and she munched on the kernels as she stared at the metal airplane pin in her hand.

Released October 1 – Available now.

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