Just so you know . . .
Both The Vance Legacy and Dark Legacy are available for digital download from the Kindle Store at Amazon.com.
Also, you can read a preview for each on my site or on my Goodreads page.
Follow me on Goodread.com and Amazon.com
From my To Read Shelf:
The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden. I read and enjoyedSugar by Bernice McFadden last year. A talented and thought provoking author, I am anxious to read this new novel. This book is to be published in the spring of 2016.
Land of Shadows: A Medieval Mystery by Priscilla Royal
This book was recommended by S.K. Penman, an author whoes books I love . I also love reading about MedievalEurope so I'm pretty sure I will enjoy Priscilla Royal's mysteries. There are several. This is book #3.
A Voice in the Wind
I read Francine Rivers before and was somewhat familiar with her style. A Voice in the Wind begins with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and progresses very slowly at first. It isn’t until you are somewhere in the middle of the book, before you realize why the author took so much time and effort on characterization. Though this story takes place in the first century, you meet people you already know in terms of character. I will not here dwell on the characters, because it the characters that carry this story forward toward its shocking end.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I have uploaded a short love story entitled, Love Letters. This is the story of a love that never dies. Enjoy!
Richard Sheridan was once a robust and handsome man, great in stature and personality. His congenial character won him many friends and ladies fancy. Now at seventy-five his tall frame was hunched with age. His hearing had started to diminish some ten years earlier and was now almost completely gone. His body was weak and riddled with the common ailments of the aged.
Rick, as he was called in his younger years, had just loss his wife of forty years and was having a very difficult time moving past his grief. He sits in a wheel chair placed in front of a large picture window of the solarium in the Alden Elder Care Center, which has been Rick’s home for more than a year now. His day nurse, Miss Jean, comes in to check his vitals as she does every day. Rick offers no resistance and places his left arm in Miss Jean’s capable hands. When she is finished marking his chart she turns to get a better look at her patient. “Mr. Sheridan, your blood pressure is a little high today. What’s going on with you? Is something bothering you, Mr. Sheridan?”
Rick doesn’t answer and Miss Jean is not really expecting an answer anyway. He doesn’t want to tell her that he is upset because today is the first day that he hasn’t been able to picture his wife Lola. Even when he couldn’t remember where he was or even his own name, he could picture Lola. Her face, soft and smooth with big brown eyes was always smiling in the gaze of his mind’s eye, but not today. Today he could see nothing. He just couldn’t remember what she looked like.
It was early May and as Rick looked out of the window over the manicured lawns of the nursing home, he could see the lush green grass, and rose bushes that decorated the landscape. The flowers had not yet opened their delicate petals to full bloom. An odd feeling came over him. He knew that the rose held some special significance to him but he just couldn’t remember what. He spent the day sitting in his wheel chair sulking in his private dilemma until he was finally helped to bed.
At his comfortable home in East Mt. Airy, Rick and Lola’s only daughter Denise was struggling with her own grief. She and her mother were closer than the average mother and daughter. Even though she was seventy at the time of her passing, she had been blessed with a youthful spirit. Denise never saw her mother as old. She was beautiful, stylish, and still vivacious. Lola had refused to accept the limitation that society placed on the elderly. She was her own woman right up until her last breath. Because Lola’s death was sudden and completely unexpected, it hit Denise like a sledge hammer.
Though she knew that her father was also suffering Denise needed time to deal with her own grief before she could even hope to comfort her father. Now she was faced with the task of cleaning out her parent’s home to make it ready for sale. Large crates were scattered about the house in almost every room. She decided early that the furniture would be sold as part of the estate but the walls must be cleared of all pictures, some of which had hung on those walls most of her life. She needed to empty every drawer, cupboard, and closet in the house. She had taken to the task like a robot, moving quickly with little thought, and almost no emotion. It was the only way she could get it all done.
Now in the master bedroom Denise began to pack her mother’s clothes and toiletries. As she picked up a small bottle of Red Door, her mother’s favorite fragrance, she felt her resolve begin to crack and fall away like the pieces of a shattered mirror. She sank down onto the bed, tears flowing freely as she gave into her grief. How would they go on without her, she wondered even as she knew that they would go on without Lola. After all, Denise knew that death was an integral part of life. There was an end to everything and life was no exception.
She no longer tried to stifle her grief but let her tears flow, praying that time would heal her wounds just a little sooner. Denise didn’t know how long she had been crying but when she stopped she felt as if she had managed to crawl from beneath a huge burden. She went to the bathroom and washed her face, straightened her back, pushing her shoulders back and setting her mind to finishing the task at hand.
Once the toiletries had been packed away, she began to clear the night tables. Her father’s night table was nearly empty and very much what she expected. She found a few Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, a recent issue of Jet Magazine and an old copy of The Heart of Darkness. The manicure kit that she’d given him for his birthday when she was just a kid was still neatly placed in its leather case as if it had never been used.
Her mother’s bedside table was quite different. It was more than a little cluttered. It was filled with old greeting cards, personal medications, small photo brag books and a host of other mementoes. In the bottom drawer Denise found some old letters. They were tied neatly together with an old satin ribbon. Denise got the strangest feeling when she picked up the bundle of letters. She felt as if she were entering a place where she didn’t belong. Spurred on by pure curiosity Denise took the first letter from its crumbling envelope and began to read:
July 24, 1960. My Dearest Lola: It has rained for four days straight and I feel as if I will never see the sun again or feel the warmth of its rays touch my face. Seeing you, is the only thing I look forward to and I am counting the minutes until I can hold you in my arms again and kiss your sweet lips.
The thought of you is all that keeps me going. Both day and night I reminisce about our last time together as I pray that we will be together again very soon.
Please do not change, my sweet, and do not give up on me. I promise to come back to you as soon as I am able. Yours Only, Panda.
“Panda!” Denise said aloud. “Who the hell is Panda?” She quickly removed the second letter and began to read. All of the letters expressed the love and devotion of Panda. Some of them were just poems or love sonnets. She checked the outside of the envelopes again and they were all addressed to her mother with no return address. At first she assumed that the letters must be from her father but the more she read the more suspicious she became. By the time Denise opened the tenth letter she was convinced that the letters were definitely not written by her father. She had a hard time believing that her father would ever call himself Panda.
What kind of name was Panda anyway? She didn’t remember ever hearing about someone named Panda. And she certainly didn’t remember her parents ever being apart so that they would need to communicate through letters. Her parents hadn’t even met until after her father had served in the military.
Denise took the bundle of letters and tied them together again with that same fragile piece of ribbon and stuffed them into her bag to take home with her. That night after Denise had put her own children to bed and her husband was fast asleep, she resumed reading the letters. There were twenty-four letters of love. When at last she read the final letter she was convinced that her mother had had an affair with someone named Panda.
Her emotions spun in all directions. She was at first outraged. How could Lola have done such an awful thing? But as quickly as the thought came to her it was replaced with doubt. No, she thought. There must be another explanation. Mother would never cheat on her father, but who was Panda? Did her father even know Panda?
The next day Denise told her husband Martin about the letters. “What do you think I should do, Martin?”
Martin took a long sip from his coffee mug and was thoughtful for a moment. Denise waited impatiently. Finally, he said, “Nothing! Lola has passed on, let her secret pass too.”
“Martin,” Denise was agitated. “We don’t even know that this is a secret. Just because I didn’t know about it, doesn’t make it a secret. Maybe Panda isn’t a man at all. What if Panda is a woman?”
Martin didn’t answer right away. He finished his breakfast, grabbed his jacket and briefcase, and headed for the door.
“Martin,” Denise said again.
“Look honey, you asked me for my opinion and I gave it to you. I think that you should let this go. Forget you ever heard of Panda.” With that, he was out of the door.
Despite Martin’s advice, Panda was all Denise could think about. Even at work she was unable to concentrate. She thought even if her mother had an affair back in 1960, that was over forty years ago. What could it matter now? Her parent’s marriage had obviously survived the affair and her father could hardly feel betrayed after so many years. Besides there wasn’t much he cared about these days anyway. Denise made up her mind that she would ask her father if he knew anyone named Panda. Even if Rick knew Panda, he might not remember him or her.
That evening Denise went to visit with her father right after work. By the time she arrived, it was near six in the evening and the sun had just begun to set. She found Rick sitting in his wheel chair facing the window in the solarium as usual.
“Hey Dad,” she said as she bent to kiss his cheek. “It’s getting dark outside Dad. Why are you facing the window? Would you like me to turn you around so you can watch television?”
“Na,” he said rather gruffly. “There isn’t anything on that tube worth watching.”
Denise knew right away that something was wrong. “What’s wrong? Did something happen? Are you not feeling well?”
“Oh, stop fussing, I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine. Don’t lie to me Dad. I can tell when something is bothering you.”
He was quiet for a moment. Then he whispered, “I can’t picture her.”
“Your mother. I can’t see her face anymore. I’ve been sitting here for two days trying to remember what she looked like and I can’t picture her. It just won’t come to me. I can’t remember what she looked like.”
Denise watched her father’s agony. “It will come back to you Dad. Just give it time.”
“You don’t understand baby. I need to see her face. It’s the only thing that makes me happy.”
Denise stared at her father both marveling at the love he still felt for her mother and overwhelmed with the sadness of knowing that he will never really see her again. She reached into her bag and took out her wallet. She handed Rick a small photo that had been taken only a couple of years ago. Rick took one look at the photo and then pressed it to his chest as his glazed eyes welled with new tears.
“Thank you,” he said softly.
“Dad, we’ve got lots of photos. You’ll always be able to look at Mom’s face in photos.”
“I know that but I just wanted to remember her. I wanted to close my eyes and see her just the way she was when she was my Poo Bear and I was her Panda Bear.”
“Panda?” Denise said. “Mom called you Panda?”
“Yeah, but that was years ago, long before you were born.”
Denise burst into laughter which quickly turned into sobs as she realized how ridiculous she was to think that her mother would ever have an affair. She reached into her bag again and brought out the letters. “Dad, you mean to tell me that you wrote all of these letters?” she asked as she handed the bundle to him.
Rick smiled as he took the bundle of letters from his daughter. “I can’t believe your mother saved all of these letters. His joy was written all over his face and he continued to smile.
“Dad, I was angry when I found those letters. I thought Mom had an affair with someone named Panda.”
Rick threw his head back as he laughed hysterically. It was a hardy laugh, deep and strong the way he used to laugh before illness and age had weakened his body. Suddenly there was no trace of the weak shaky voice which Denise had become accustomed to lately. He leaned forward and took his daughter’s hand, pulling her to him. He kissed her cheek and gave her a strong embrace. “You brought me happiness today, Nicey. Thank you.”
“Oh Dad, you know that you’re welcome. It’s good to see you happy for a change.”
They sat quietly for a few moments, each consumed with their own memories of Lola.
“Dad, you know the reason you’re here at Alden was because you needed round the clock care and Mom just couldn’t do it.”
“I know, honey.”
“She put you here because she wanted you to be close so she could visit whenever she wanted. She didn’t want to have to travel too far.”
“Yes, I know that too.”
“Well, what would you say about moving in with Martin and me and the kids. You know that Martin and I can afford a full time nurse and God knows we have the room.”
“I’d say when do we leave?”
They both laughed again.
“It will take me a couple of days to make things ready for you. We’ll need to get your room ready and hire a nurse.”
“It’s alright Denise. I’m not going anywhere. Whenever you and Martin are ready, I’ll be waiting.”
“Oh Dad, I can’t tell you how good it is to see you smile again.”
She kissed him again on the cheek and prepared to leave. She suddenly stopped and turned to face her father again. “Hey, why were you and Mom writing letters in the first place?”
“It was kind of a game, something your mother started because she thought it would keep life in our marriage. We were young and stupid, crazy in love and she decided that we would take on nick-names and pretend that we were in different cities. We’d send a letter at least once a month. So you see it really was like she was having an affair with this guy named Panda. I pretended to be in the military stationed in Viet Nam and she was my sweetheart waiting for me here in the states. Sometimes we would even plan a rendezvous and take a room in one of the expensive hotels down town. We kept the game going for two years but once you were born there wasn’t much time for playing games anymore.”
“Why did the letters smell like roses?”
Rick had forgotten about the roses until the second Denise mentioned them. “I use to put rose petals in the envelopes before I mailed the letters.” He smiled to himself realizing that another piece to his mystery was solved. The smile became even broader when he remembered how excited Lola was every time she got a letter from Panda.
“You know your mother was right. That silly little game of hers did keep our marriage fresh and new for a long time. It might not be a bad idea if you and Martin started writing letters.”
“Maybe not letter writing but I’d be a fool if I didn’t look at you and Mom’s marriage as a shining example of how to make a marriage work.”