Love’s Brilliant Wreckage

Love's Brilliant Wreckage book cover Love’s Brilliant Wreckage

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The first time she stepped into the pages of a book, she delivered a baby boy.
When graduate student nurse Annie Faraday enters books to deliver babies, she blames the illusions on multiple stresses. Her fiancé fights in the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater; her family is falling apart; and her boss, who is also her future father-in-law, controls whether she graduates from nursing school.
Now, with the end of the war within tantalizing reach, and the return of her beloved Jimmy, she can no longer find excuses for her visions. She must dig deep into her family’s unspeakable past to discover whether she’s traveling into an alternate world, or following the trail of insanity blazed by her mother. Which is real?

Excerpt:

Friday, March 16, 1945

THE FIRST TIME I ENTERED the pages of a book and interacted with the people inside happened on a Friday. I remembered because it was the day before St. Patrick’s Day, 1945, and already I worried about my father celebrating early. Mike Faraday embraced any holiday, official or made up, as an excuse to get drunk and blame anyone else for his troubles.

I glanced around my employer’s office. He wouldn’t return from lunch for a half-hour. Normally, I worked a half-day on Fridays, but Dr. Smith had asked me to stay because too many in our small town of Elmwood suffered from influenza.

I’d pulled the files for his afternoon patients. Nothing remained for me to do but seek out a few minutes of peace, a state I’d not experienced in three-and-a-half years.

That’s all I wanted. Peace.

From my purse, I withdrew the book I’d brought from home and opened its well-worn cover to the page I’d marked with an old envelope. My fingers smoothed a bent corner and rested on the text. I pinched the bridge of my nose with my other hand to erase exhaustion and worry.

The words blurred, and I squinted to bring them into focus. A high-pitched buzzing filled my head.

The lights died.

I stared upward and gasped at the black, black sky and trillions of stars strewn across it. I could see to the end of the Milky Way.

The buzzing droned to a stop.

• • •

I stood on a dirt trail, a sharp wind drilling into me and stirring long grasses. Apart from the wind, nothing moved; no animals, no birds, no creatures of any kind.

As I turned to get my bearings, a man and woman, a few yards away, emerged from the darkness.

“Can you help me?” the woman sobbed. She was young, barely out of her teens. Her advanced pregnancy and the possessiveness in the young man at her side proclaimed her no longer a maid.

“When do you expect?” I asked. I glanced around and spotted a dilapidated shed nearby. Motioning to the man, I led them into its shelter and steered the woman onto the ground. Her companion produced a rough blanket for her to sit on.

“It’s time.” The girl settled, her back against one of the three walls of the open air shed. She grimaced, and stroked the bulge of her stomach.

I knelt at her side, my heart skipping, my mouth dry. I knew how to help, I’d trained as a nurse for three years, but this would be my first solo delivery.

“Bring the light closer,” I asked the man, noting the dim light of the lantern he carried. To the girl I said, “You’re going to be okay.”

The girl nodded, then a contraction took hold, doubling her over. She cried out, startling a chicken that roosted in a corner.

I glanced at my watch to time the labor pains, but the instrument was gone. Snagged on something? I remembered fastening it this morning—

I needn’t have bothered keeping track. The girl’s pains came one on top of another in increasing waves. No more than a half hour later by my guess, I delivered a squalling, healthy baby boy.

The girl’s face shone as she touched the infant nestled on her breast. The man knelt at her side. A rooster crowed, and the sun crept over the horizon . . .

• • •

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