"A lyrical story of the healing power of love ~ it will capture your heart."Today, Virginia is sharing with us an excerpt from her book Greta's Grace. Hope you enjoy!
Greta’s Grace, a story of two families in crisis, a rocky mother-daughter relationship, and a second chance at love, set on a small Wisconsin town on the Lake Michigan shore.
by Virginia McCullough
Genre: Women's Fiction/Family Saga/Romance
Buy now: AMAZON
Professional speaker, Lindsey Foster is faced with losing her only child, Greta, when Greta is diagnosed with cancer. Desperate to be closer to her during this crisis, Lindsey heads to Simon’s Point, Wisconsin, where Greta lives. Although Lindsey finds her greatest joy from inspiring her audiences with the healing power of women’s stories, her heart aches over her inability to heal her emotionally distant relationship with her daughter.
Divorced from Greta’s blustery dad, Brian, Lindsey is drawn to him now as they share their fears about Greta. She never expects to experience the drama of becoming involved with her ex-husband or to confront the dilemma of another man falling for her, especially Sam, her son-in-law’s widowed father. But Sam, quiet and reflective, offers more than friendship and becomes her refuge in this time of crisis.
With her willingness to do anything to make her daughter happy, Lindsey makes questionable decisions and keeps secrets from Greta, causing more heartbreak. Feeling exiled once again, Lindsey faces choices that will define her future—and her relationship with her daughter. But will Lindsey ever receive Greta’s Grace?
EXCERPT: (Lindsey Foster has just learned that Greta, her 26-year-old newly married daughter has Hodgkin’s disease. Lindsey has decided to temporarily move to Simon’s Point, Wisconsin to be support Greta during this crisis, even though this mother and daughter aren’t close. Greta’s husband, Jake Iverson, and his father, Sam, own an inn and rental cottages.)
Despite the twists and turns, the footpath through the woods was easy to follow. I shivered as I grabbed the collar of my jacket and pulled it tighter around my neck, all the while wishing for a thick scarf to protect me from the damp wind blowing off Lake Michigan. Marianne, the desk clerk at the Iverson Inn, had given me directions to Sam’s workshop, so I’d headed down a path behind the café and the tennis courts before it veered off into the woods along the shore.
I shoved my cold hands deeper into my coat pockets. How I could be so poorly prepared for the biting cold of an upper mid-west February? I’d endured raw Chicago winters all my life, after all. But the nature of my work as a professional speaker had led to the habit of dressing for short jaunts between airports or parking lots and hotel check-in desks. Walks in the woods weren’t part of my typical day.
The faint sound of piano music filtering through the trees caught me by surprise. As I continued on the path the lilting melody became louder, and more unlikely yet, recognizable. I could match only a handful of classical pieces with their composers, but this Chopin waltz happened to be one of them. Greta had leapt and twirled to its rhythms in ballet class when she was perhaps seven, certainly no more than eight.
The memory flowed through me in one heartbreaking piece. In my mind’s eye I saw myself sitting with a dozen or so other mothers in a row of folding chairs, each of us fixing our gaze on our own miniature ballerina in the sea of black leotards and pink tights moving in a wave across the floor. I felt lightheaded as the image sharpened. Even in the woods, I could almost smell the damp and slightly sweaty scents that filled the air in that old dance studio.
When the path took a sharp turn the workshop appeared. Through the open door I saw Sam bent over a piece of wood stretched across two sawhorses. I froze in place and watched him tap his fingers back and forth over it, as if playing the Chopin piece on a keyboard.
He appeared completely absorbed in the rhythms of the music. If he suddenly saw me, he might be embarrassed and wonder how long I’d been standing there watching him. I made a quick decision to call out to him and when he glanced up I said, “I hate to interrupt a man so deep in concentration. Should I come back later?”
He smiled broadly. “No, no, you’re not interrupting.” He reached behind him and flipped off the radio, abruptly silencing Chopin. “Jake said you’d be looking for me.”
Sam’s long narrow face with its high forehead and slightly receding hairline struck me as more pleasant than handsome, but he had the appealing lanky build of a long-distance runner. As I approached him, though, his dark blue eyes threatened to completely disarm me. They communicated such kindness that I had to focus somewhere else. I’d been trying so hard to stay strong, and knew I couldn’t handle looking into a face capable of revealing such empathy.
With effort, I kept my voice casual and light. “I can’t resist asking what you’re going to do with that piece of wood you’re, uh, examining so carefully.”
Sam tapped the wood a few times. “It’s going to be two storage-locker doors in the boat I’m building.” In a soft voice, he added. “But that’s not important now. Why don’t you and I go take a look at one of our cottages? I imagine you want to make your plans.”
Sam grabbed his gloves and led the way up another narrow path along a crescent-shaped cove, where the dull gray of Lake Michigan matched the color of the smoky bank of clouds hanging heavy in the afternoon sky. I tried to fall into rhythm behind Sam’s sure steps and match the crunch and squeak of his boots as he left footprints ahead of me on the hard-packed snow. But my steps were awkward and kept me a frustrating half-beat behind.
“I understand why you want to come up here and stay for a while,” he said. “Greta must be pleased to know you’ll be nearby.”
“We didn’t talk for long, of course, but she warned me not to disrupt my life too much. She assured me she had many people to help her...blah, blah, blah.”
Sam laughed softly and turned his head halfway around. “Words…those were only words she felt obligated to say.”
Since we were talking about Greta, I couldn’t be certain Sam was right, but I didn’t expect him to understand my daughter’s ambivalence about me.
“Before I even see the cottage, Sam, I want you to know that I insist on paying the full seasonal rent. I’ll probably stay here all summer. No favors just because—”
“I know, I know,” Sam interrupted, “just because we’re family and our Greta is in trouble, blah, blah, blah.”
Sam’s mimicking tone amused me and coaxed a smile to my face. I hadn’t found much to smile about in the last couple of weeks.
Then I saw it and drew in a quick breath. “Oh my—how lovely it is.”
Painted white with cranberry trim on the windows and porch, the square frame cottage looked like a present wrapped in white tissue and tied with red ribbon. And someone’s loving hands had tucked it under the protective branches of pines and white birches. “Thank you, Sam, thank you so much.”
He glanced down at me, smiling. “I’m kind of partial to the little place myself. I call it the Christmas Cottage.”…
Buy now at AMAZON to get your copy of this top women's fiction beach read for 2014!
A lifelong writer, Virginia McCullough has written over 100 nonfiction books and has been a ghostwriter/editor for doctors, lawyers, speakers, and other professionals. Greta’s Grace is her third novel, and is available in digital and print editions on Amazon.
You can find Virginia's other books online at www.VirginiaMcCullough.com or Amazon
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