Title: Night Witch Reborn: Natalya
Author: Heidi Vanlandingham
Genre: Fantasy romance
Natalya Volkov’s dream is to fly, but when she’s killed in a plane crash defending Mother Russia, the Norse goddess Freyja gives her a second chance at life—for a price. For immortality, she must hunt down the most powerful man in Europe or give up the man she loves.
Romani-Jew, Mikhail Abramovich has known hardship. He escaped a Nazi camp, became a Resistance soldier, and the love of his life died in his arms. Yet, when Natalya miraculously returns to life; he is plunged into a world that is no longer black and white.
Is the hunt for Hitler and immortality worth giving up everything they have ever known and loved?
Mikhail stared out the three large windows, the blanket of night giving the outside world an ominous emptiness.
Andrei rose from where he sat at the conference table and walked toward them. “You are late, my friend.”
Mikhail pulled his gaze away from the wall of windows and grabbed Andrei’s outstretched hand. “It was a bit difficult finding a boat willing to bring us across the river at this time of night.”
“You’re lucky you found anyone to bring you across at all. The Luftwaffe bomb everything on the river. Our supply line is severed, and we have no way to bring in reinforcements for our soldiers. The Germans have been ruthless in their advance.”
Mikhail shifted Julek in his arms until he was able to pull out the documents he’d traveled through enemy lines for and handed then to Andrei. “These are the plans for the German offensive, code name Operation Blue. General Zhukov needs to see these and plan his attacks accordingly to keep the Germans out of Stalin.” He hesitated, holding himself completely still as his gaze moved back to the windows. At the far end of the room, a door opened, and two men walked in. The light dimmed and, from a distance, he heard Andrei’s voice asking him if he was all right, but he couldn’t respond.
Mikhail stepped back and ran into Adela who let out a tiny squeak, helping to break the spell holding him in its grip. “It’s coming,” he whispered and took another step back. Just then something large slammed through the windows. Chaos exploded around them as someone screamed in agony then abruptly stopped.
In an instant, Mikhail turned and shoved Adela from the room and tried to follow her but was slammed from behind. With the last of his strength, he threw Julek through the doorway. Crawling, he almost made it to the hallway when he crumpled to the floor, darkness filling his mind. Refusing to give in, he shoved it away.
He turned his head to find the crumpled remains of a plane lying part-way in the room. He heard a low groan somewhere close by and crawled over to where it came from. Despite the pain in his back and shoulder, he started picking up and tossing debris to one side. Underneath, lay Andrei—blood everywhere. A gurgling noise came from his friend’s throat. He gave a single cough, then nothing.
“Andrei?” Mikhail felt for a pulse but his friend was gone. Reaching down, he uncurled his friend’s fingers and pulled the crystal from his hand, securing it in his jacket pocket once again. With awkward, jerking movements, he stood and the light came back on, dimly flickering. The wall of windows was now filled with the plane, which was almost smashed beyond recognition, but he would recognize this aircraft anywhere. It was the small biplane the 588th Night Bomber regiment flew each night. It was the biplane his Talya flew.
He rushed to the first cockpit and cried out. Inside lay the pilot, her beautiful face marred by a single scratch on one cheek; otherwise, she was unblemished and perfect. His Talya. He climbed over the broken plywood and pulled Natalya from the plane, making it as far as the wall when he slid to the ground, holding her against his chest.
“Natalya? Open your eyes…stay with me, liybimaya.” He held his breath when her eyes moved beneath her closed lids. Finally, her eyes opened as she stared up at him and tried to smile. She raised one hand and cupped his cheek.
“Liybimaya—my love,” she whispered than coughed. Her hand dropped back onto her stomach. “I will always love you, Misha.” She continued to stare into his face and slowly let out one final breath.
“No, Talya! You can’t leave me—I need you,” he sobbed and pulled her to his chest, his heart shattering into a thousand pieces.
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What’s your favorite thing about the fall season:
I love the crisp, cool air, the smells of everything fall, the excitement of football games, and knowing Christmas is right around the corner.
What inspired you to write this story:
While writing WWII, Heart of the Soldier, my grandparent’s love story (with a few embellishments from my grandmother), I read an article about an amazing group of Russian pilots—all women. They flew in crop duster plywood and canvas biplanes, performing daring, heart-stopping maneuvers, and terrifying the Nazi Front. I had to write their story but wanted to create my own world. Each heroine represents a real Night Witch.
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Heidi Vanlandingham writes action-packed stories that take place in war-torn Europe, otherworldly magical realms, and the Wild West. Her love of history finds its way into every book with enjoyably diverse characters, and every relationship is filled with a little sweet, a little heartbreak, and lots of love. Heidi’s stories transport the reader to a different place and time for understanding, compassion, and most of all, love.
Growing up in Oklahoma and living one year in Belgium gave Heidi a unique perspective regarding different cultures. She still lives in Oklahoma with her husband and youngest son. Her oldest son is in the autism spectrum and is working toward his own dreams. Heidi’s favorite things in life are laughter, paranormal romance books, music, and long road trips.
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