Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love Again, a Candlelight Romance

Love is a funny thing, isn't it? It happens, and it happens, and it happens...again.

My latest release, a short story from Untreed Reads' Candlelight line of literary romance fiction, is about the kind of love that happens "again"--the kind that hits you after the teen years, after college and love and marriage and kids and kids in college. The kind that sweeps you off your feet and makes you feel like you're beginning the cycle all over again. That love.

Nearly forty years after high school, Karen attends her best friend Frida's funeral and is reacquainted with Frida's younger brother. All grown up, Karl is no longer the scrawny kid she remembers. He's now suave and incredibly handsome. When Karl takes Karen back to their childhood neighborhood, with each lending the other support while laughing together in their old playground, they realize life will go on. And, they may just be together as it does.


“Well, if it isn’t a sight for sore eyes!” the man in creased khakis
called out, letting out a hearty laugh. Was that any way to speak at a
funeral reception? She would have liked to escape, but where to? In any
case, it was too late now; she’d been spotted.

“Harvey Wisniewski,” Karen replied, whitewashing her distaste with a false smile. “It’s good to see you again. You’re looking…”

“Good is an understatement!” he interrupted, shovelling coffee cake down
his gullet. “Now, if memory serves me, you were a pudgy little lump of a
girl back in high school. Just take a look at you now! Wowza!”

Wowza? Seriously?

“Well, that was a very long time ago,” Karen replied, half-prepared to
leap over the sofa to get away from this guy. As she looked in all
directions for some mode of escape, her desperate gaze fixed on a
familiar face across the room. Her heart surged at the sight of him.
Strange, how a man always looks his best in funeral attire.

Murmuring, “Will you excuse me?” Karen manoeuvred her way around the
sofa. As she snuck away, Harvey was still rambling on about the new
television he’d just bought.

The distinguished gentleman in the fine black suit offered his palm when
she approached him. When he opened his mouth, it was only to speak her
name, “Karen.”

“Karl.” She breathed his name, slipping her hand into his. The feel of
his skin nearly made her gasp, but she quickly recovered to offer, “My
sincere condolences.”

He squeezed her fingers. “I can’t believe Frida’s gone.”

“I can’t believe how long it’s been,” Karen said, relieved to have
finally found someone whose depth of emotion matched the enormity of the
circumstance. Frida was dead. “Doesn’t it seem like just a couple years
ago we were at school together? It’s been more than thirty now. Can you
believe that? I can’t. It doesn’t seem possible. The years escape us,
don’t they? Frida was my closest, dearest friend and I’ve barely spoken
to her since…”

She’d come over to comfort Karl—lovely Karl with the kind grey eyes,
caring Karl who had just lost his sister—and now she was the one whose
cheeks streamed with tears. “Oh, I’m so embarrassed,” she cried, fishing
through her purse for a tissue that wasn’t already soaked with funeral

“It’s only natural,” he consoled, extending a handkerchief with the initials KHW stitched in the corner.

The sight of those imperfect blue letters seized Karen’s heart. “Frida
made this for you,” she stated. “She made it in Home Ec in tenth grade. I

Karl nodded. “Frida stitched it up for my fourteenth birthday.”

“I was there.” Karen burst at the sudden recollection. “I was there for that birthday, remember?”

“And I grumbled, of course, because what would a fourteen-year-old boy
want with personalized hankies?” Karl asked. He chuckled forlornly
before brightening at some mysterious thought he didn’t share.

Tracing her fingers across the stitching, Karen sniffed away the last of
this round of tears without polluting Frida’s handmade gift. She’d
rather preserve it like the Shroud of Turin than risk its ruin.
Chuckling along with Karl, she remarked, “Frida never was any good at
crafting. Mrs. Fairchild gave her a grade of C minus on this hanky.”

“I still have yours as well,” Karl said, almost abruptly, like he’d been
preparing the line and was suddenly ready to deliver it.

Reflecting back nearly forty years, she replied with a faint, “That’s
right, isn’t it? I remember I got an A plus on the assignment.” She
could still see them seated at the rows of Singer sewing machines,
recall the scent of food preparation as the other half of their class
worked at the cookers on the far end of the room, and feel Frida’s
ever-presence at her side. “It’s funny, the things you remember.”

“It doesn’t seem so long ago,” he began, staring at the yellowing scrap
of cloth between her fingers. “But I suppose it was, when you think
about it objectively.”

Mid-sentence, an elderly woman sitting stiffly across the room waved him
over. Perceiving her need for him, Karl began by saying, “Thank you for
coming. The whole family appreciates your support,” and then he shook
his head as if shaking off an old habit. “I’m sorry, Karen. I’m acting
as though you were just any well-wisher. You and Frida were practically
sisters all those years ago.”

Gulping, she nodded. Her throat burned too badly to speak.

“Don’t go far,” he went on, easing his way across the crowded room. “We’ll catch up when I’ve done my rounds.”

Love Again is a sweet romance available now from Untreed Reads, and many other distributors such as All Romance ebooks.

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