Friday, 16 March 2012
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from "The Mission"
Thanks so much for supporting Michelle during her spotlight week. Leave a comment here on the excerpt post today, Saturday, and Sunday and I'll pick a winner randomly to receive a mousepad from Michelle. Don't forget to leave your email so we can get in touch with you if you win. Enjoy the excerpt!
(Note for new readers who haven't met Tommy yet -- he's in a wheelchair)
"I'm sorry." Paul turned to Claire. "That was..."
"Unavoidable?" To his relief, amusement glimmered in Claire's eyes. "Poor Jennifer. She'll probably get the same treatment from all the desperate bachelors next week." She patted Paul's arm and stepped away, heading for the office. "No harm, no foul."
"I think I better have a talk with Sammy," he said, and turned down the hall. He could barely make out the silhouettes of his daughter and Tommy, outside in the bright sunshine, framed in the doorway.
"Tell you what, shorty," Tommy said as Paul drew close enough to the end of the hall to hear them speak. "You and me, we'll be partners in this, okay? We'll make a pact."
"What's a pact?" Sammy said, tipping her head back. She perched on Tommy's knees, gripping his wrists, and leaning backwards.
Paul nearly called out in a jolt of panic, but he saw the way Tommy's big hands held onto Sammy's wrists in turn, and he knew the young man wouldn't let his daughter fall.
"It's like a solemn promise. Just about as serious as one you make to God, understand?" Tommy waited until Sammy nodded.
"Okay, this pact says you and me, we're going to protect your dad from all those stupid girls who want to drag him down the aisle."
"And do what?"
Paul muffled laughter at the total confusion in his daughter's chirping voice.
"You don't want to know." Tommy's voice temporarily dropped to a sepulchral level. "And we'll get Claire to relax and go out on dates with him. That protects both of them from really stupid people who want to run their lives for them. Okay?"
"Okay." Sammy nodded. "Do you like my daddy?"
"Yeah, he's a great guy. I think he'd be good for my sister."
"When Daddy marries Miss Claire, you'll be my uncle, right?"
"Can I call you Uncle Tommy right now?"
"You bet, shorty." Tommy laughed when Sammy launched herself forward and wrapped her arms around his big, muscular neck. "Hey, I like you, too."
"Do you got a girlfriend, Uncle Tommy?"
"I... well, I'm not really sure. I had a girlfriend. I was dating a girl who lived in the dorms right over there." He gestured in the direction of the dormitories across Cane Street from the Mission. "But she's home for the summer -- she lives in Canada -- and I've got the feeling she's not coming back in the fall. She got scared last winter. Lots of bad memories."
"That's so sad." Sammy settled down on his lap, facing him again. "If you want, when I grow up, I'll be your girlfriend."
"You know, I think I'd rather have a niece." Tommy grinned, but the sunlight glanced off a suspicious wetness in his eyes that Paul could see, even standing back in the shadows of the hallway, fighting a new ache in his chest. "Me and Claire, we don't have anybody in the entire world for family. I'm gonna like being an uncle. Lots more fun." He tipped back in a wheelie, earning a squeal from Sammy, who clutched at the front of his shirt. "You know, it's like a law here in Ohio. Uncles have to give their nieces ice cream at least once a week."
"Absatively. Let's go introduce you to Joe, and see what he has in the kitchen, okay?"
Paul ducked out of the way, into the gymnasium doorway, as Tommy bumped up over the threshold and back into the building, with Sammy perched on his lap. He watched them go, blinking away ridiculous tears.
"Thank You, Lord. This was definitely the right move," he whispered.
And resolved that first thing in the morning, he'd build a ramp in that doorway.