Title: Burning Bridges
Author: Anne Krist
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Not your typical “secret baby” book! This Southern romance packs in the emotion.
Letters delivered decades late send shock waves through Sara Richards’s world. Nothing is the same, especially her memories of Paul, a man to whom she'd given her heart years before. Now, sharing her secrets and mending her mistakes of the past means putting her life back together while crossing burning bridges. It will be the hardest thing Sara’s ever done.
“I thought it would be you. Have you read the letters?”
“No. What happened, do you know?” Scattered on the table, the three packets drew her gaze and she stared as though trying to read their meaning through the sealed paper.
“Only what the Department of Navy letter said. Some bags of mail were lost. I suppose if I weren’t still receiving part of Dad’s retirement, they wouldn’t have found me.”
Sara closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. “I mean, do you know what happened to the rest of the letters?”
“What?” There was no mistaking the naked fear in her mother’s voice.
“The envelopes are numbered. I have twenty-eight through thirty. What do you think happened to the others?” Tension radiated through her shoulders and neck. Her mother was about to say something she didn’t want to hear, she knew it.
“Sara, you have to understand, Dad and I only wanted what was best for you. You were a child, a high school senior with a wonderful future in front of you. You’d been accepted at William and Mary. The last thing you needed was to get mixed up with a sailor who would love you and leave you. Which, I might add, is exactly what he did.”
Sara could barely suck air into her lungs. Her fingers whitened with the hold she had on the phone cord. “What did you do, Mother?”
“More than anything, we didn’t want you hurt.” Moments passed. “Your father made the decision, but I was in favor of it, I want you to know that. He’s not here, so if you’re going to get mad, I suppose it will have to be at me.” She ended with a sigh. “After—that man—left Virginia Beach, we determined it would be best for you to make a clean break. We never had any doubt that he was wrong for you. So, we intercepted the letters.”
The blood drained from Sara’s face and she pulled over a chair. If she didn’t sit she’d fall. “You did what? How could you do that?” Her voice broke.
“You put your letters in the mailbox and I took them out after you left for school. And his…”
All too well, Sara remembered days of rushing into the house to sort through the stack of mail on the hall table, never finding a letter from Paul. Each day with no news added a stone to her wall of doubt that he loved her and depleted her store of faith that he’d stand by her.
Sara moaned. “Do you know what you did with your meddling?”
“Sara, you were seventeen, a child. Do you know what that means? He could have gone to jail. Your father was in favor of going to his commanding officer—even to the police. It was fortunate for your friend that his ship left.”
Sara envisioned her mother sitting alone in her living room. About this time each afternoon, a gin and tonic sat on the table beside her. She’d wear a skirt and blouse and her hair and make-up would be flawless. Sara also didn’t doubt that her mother’s posture was rigid and that her thumb rubbed the tips of her index and middle fingers. Those were indications her mother’s emotions—anger, frustration, fear, whatever—were threatening to override her normal control. Today she deserved every terrible, panicky feeling she was experiencing.
Mary Ellen sighed. “Try to see it from our point of view. You were a good girl with a good future. He destroyed all of that in a matter of weeks. You were our responsibility and we protected you the best way we knew how.”
“Yes, protected you. We loved you more than anything on earth.” She quieted, as though considering the next bit. “He died in service to his country. That was at least an honorable thing.”
A sob broke from Sara.
Her mother softened her tone. “I have no doubt he might have been a good man, but not for you, and not at that time. I don’t regret ending the relationship, whatever else happened.”
“I can’t believe you did this. I don’t even know what to say to you.” A headache inched its way forward to throb behind her eyes. She used her free hand to block the light coming through the kitchen windows. “The horrid things I thought about him, the certainty I had that he’d forgotten me…all wrong. I mailed the first letters from school. I wish I’d kept on doing that and asked him to write me at Cindy’s house. Who knows what might have happened?”
“Sara, it’s been so long. I thought you’d be able to understand after all this time, but maybe I was wrong. Put the whole episode with that man behind you, darling. Just throw those letters out. What difference could they possibly make now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Darling? We shouldn’t talk about this over the phone. I can be there in a few minutes and then—”
Sara’s eyes shot open. “No! I may never forgive you for this, Mother. In fact, I’m hanging up before I say something I probably shouldn’t.”
“Sara, let me—”
Sara pressed the end icon and dropped her phone onto the table. Vaulting from the chair, she paced around the kitchen table. Squared stopped eating and turned to watch, his Siamese-blue eyes following her path. In agitation, she picked up the letter from the Navy, glanced unseeing at the words then tossed it back. Stomping to the sink, she poured a glass of water, then drank it all without taking a breath. Finally, she turned and stared at Paul’s envelopes.
Share a holiday family tradition:
When I was growing up we always went to midnight Mass. I loved the candlelight, singing carols before Mass started, and the promise of the birth of God’s son when I saw the empty manger in the nativity scene before Mass and the baby Jesus in the manger after Mass. Even as a teen and later as an adult, the peace and happiness of midnight Mass does its magic!
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
The story takes place during the Christmas season, with a wedding just before New Year. It’s a story of second chances and finding a stronger and renewed love, and a promise of forgiveness and happiness to come. To me, it’s a perfect book for the season!
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Runs December 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on January 4.
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex.
After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website. And all three offer some of the best romance you can find! Also, once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.
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