Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Way Home by Nhys Glover (Excerpt)

Present Day, Leconfield, Yorkshire, ENGLAND
Cassie Grant stared down into the back garden from her upstairs bedroom window. It was dusk on an Indian summer evening in September. The heat hung heavy in the air and the scent of night blooming jasmine was overwhelming. Such a plant was as out of place in the English countryside as the hot, humid air.
She rested her bare head against the cool wood of the window frame. It still felt strange to have nothing separating her bare skin from the environment, but her baldness would soon be a thing of the past. She’d finally completed the last of the six rounds of chemo, and from all reports, her hair should start to grow back soon. In a way, she was grateful that she’d gone through her treatment during the warmer months of the year. Her head would have really felt the cold in winter, although, she would have gotten away with a beanie then to disguise her baldness more easily. There were pluses and minuses for everything, she guessed.
At least she was still alive. At least she had a roof over her head and no worries about how she’d support herself during her treatment and recuperation. It was funny how such simple concerns had become so important, as important as survival itself.
If Fran’s grandmother hadn’t offered her a home, she didn’t know what would have happened to her. With no real family of her own and no money coming in to pay the rent, Cassie had been in a bad way after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’d even played with the idea of trying to work through the surgery and follow-up chemo to make ends meet.
However, her boss had been firm. No one needed to see a receptionist at a high-priced spa looking sick and bald, even if she did get a wig that looked natural. Better to leave quietly. No, she hadn’t been with them long enough to accrue sick leave, and they couldn’t promise her she’d have a job when she was ready to come back to work, but they’d try. She was popular with the staff and clients she was told. They wished her well and would miss her.
Cassie still didn’t know exactly how Marnie had found out about her situation. She hadn’t been in touch with the old lady, except for Christmas cards, since Fran had died over two years ago.
The pain in the centre of her chest started up again. It always did that when she thought of her childhood friend. They’d been close for so many years. She’d spent every school holiday at Grange End from the time she was eight. That was when her parents and older brother had died in a car crash. Her aunt Beth had taken her in, but with three kids of her own and no real familial interest, it had been a relief to have Cassie gone for half term and term breaks.
And Marnie had always made her feel welcome because she knew what it was like not to have parents. Her mother had died in childbirth, her father in World War II and the man she’d married straight out of University hadn’t hung around long, either. Marnie knew how important extended families could be.
Something drew Cassie’s attention down to the garden.
There was someone there – a man, a uniformed man, leaning against the big oak tree that stood in the middle of the small, walled garden. She could see his relaxed body quite clearly through the leafy branches, as the bough closest to the house had been cut short years ago to protect the windows. There was a thin trail of smoke rising from the end of the cigarette in his hand.
Who could it be? It wasn’t unusual to see uniformed men around the area. The Defence School of Transport was located just across at the old RAF base. They trained all branches of the armed forces in driving skills there.
But no one would ever think to come this far off base and climb the high wall that surrounded the garden just to smoke a cigarette against that tree. Maybe the gate was left open. Marnie was getting forgetful these days.
Why would anyone come into their garden uninvited even if the gate were open? It wasn’t like the heritage-listed farmhouse was close to civilisation. The farm and its outbuildings, all converted into private residences these days, were the only habitation for a half mile in any direction.
The Way Home
Those who see the ghostly figure of the WWII fighter pilot in the English farmhouse garden at Grange End are destined to die within a week of that sighting. But when Cassie Grant not only sees the Polish flying ace in the garden but talks to him in her bedroom, it’s clear that something more than a prediction of death is at work here.
Hawk has been waiting for something at Grange End for nearly 70 years and from the first moment he sees the fragile beauty at the upper window he realises what it is – Cassie!
But is he there to accompany her to the other side when her time is up or is his increasingly corporeal presence meant for something else? When the enemy of the past becomes the enemy of the present, Hawk is determined to save Cassie from her untimely death, even if he has to cross the boundaries between Life and Afterlife to do it.
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Genre - Historical  Romance
Rating – PG
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