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Hope and Honor
Book 3 in the Soul Seeker Series...
Release date: January 15, 2018
Here's an excerpt...
A brief explanation: Early in the book, the Rathjens, Rick and Riley, ask Mel to accompany them to a paramilitary group called New Dawn. It is located in the mountains east of 3 Peaks. When they arrive, she finds she is not able to go into the meeting hall because she is a female - which is how women are referred to at New Dawn. Consequently, she waits for the Rathjens outside where she encounters Kimber.
A few minutes later, the last of the stragglers enter the hall. I notice one man in particular. His fair hair and sturdy build speak of Scandinavian heritage. He holds the hand of a little boy with blond hair and bright blue eyes. The man stops at the top of the stairs, gives me a fleeting glance and calls over his shoulder, "You wait here for us, girl. Don't go wandering off."
He and the boy enter the hall. I stand and look for the person he spoke to. It would be nice to indulge in some girl talk while I'm waiting. So far, I've seen none of my gender. Are they all hiding in their little log cabins? Down at the creek scrubbing their dirty clothes on washboards? Kneading homemade bread?
My peripheral vision catches sight of a sudden movement. I walk down the steps and turn right until I reach the edge of the building. I peek around the corner and see a little girl pressed against the rough siding. Her dark hair is braided. Her jeans and jacket are too big and look like boy clothes. Her gaze is fixed on the ground. Her thumb is in her mouth.
I take a step toward her and smile. "Hi. Are you waiting for your dad?"
I take a step closer, trying not to spook her. "I'm Mel. What's your name?"
Without removing her thumb, she mumbles something unintelligible. I take a step close and squat down until we're eye level.
"I didn't quite get your name. Maybe if you take your thumb out of your mouth it will work better."
She lifts her head and I'm looking into eyes identical to those of the little blond boy. Bright and blue. My heart breaks when I look into her soul. It's a soft shade of pink with streaks of pale blue and it's bisected with a jagged black line. This little girl has experienced a severe trauma.
"I think I saw your dad and brother go into the hall. Am I right?"
She nods. The thumb comes out of her mouth. "Papa and Gunner."
"Can you tell me your name again, sweetie?"
"Do people call you Kim?"
She shakes her head. "Nope. People call me Kimber, 'cause that's my name."
"Got it," I say. "Hey, Kimber, how about you keep me company until the meeting is over. I've got nobody to talk to and I'm lonesome. We could go sit on the stairs and wait together."
"Not there. No females. We can sit on the bench, though."
She takes my hand and leads me to a rickety bench set a few yards in front of the porch railing. We sit in companionable silence for a few minutes. I'm dying to know more about this little girl, but don't want to bombard her with questions.
She pats the sleeve of my down jacket. "Your coat is pretty."
"Thanks." I look at her thin denim jacket. "Are you warm enough?"
I unzip my jacket, slide my left arm out, wrap it around her, pull her close and zip us up in it. Her little body is chilled. I want to bitch slap her father.
"Now we're like two snug bugs in a rug," I say.
She giggles. "You're funny."
"How old are you, Kimber?"
"And your brother?"
"Gunner's five too."
"No way," I say. "You're twins?"
"Uh huh. But we don't look alike 'cause he's a boy and I'm a girl."
"Your eyes look exactly alike."
"Oh, yeah, people say that all the time."
"Guess what?" I say.
"I'm a twin too."
I reach into the neck of my sweater and pull out the silver twin heart pendant, a birthday gift from bio dad, Steve.
I hold it out so she can see it. "See the two hearts, how they're linked together? It means your heart will always be connected to Gunner's heart."
"Really?" She touches the pendant with her index finger. "Is your heart connected to your twin?"
The innocence of her question causes my eyes to fill with tears. "Yes, we're still connected."
"Does she live with you?"
"She lives in my heart."
She persists. "But where does she really live?"
How do I explain death to a five-year-old girl? How do I tell her about Hope, about our soul connection? I can't think of a way, so I chicken out.
"She lives far away." Not exactly the truth, but not exactly a lie either. Call me the queen of denial.
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