Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Moment From KINFOLK: Excerpt from my novel

My novel Kinfolk isn't a Christmas novel by any stretch of the imagination but Christmas comes in the telling of the tale and so I thought I'd share a moment here.  It's not the merriest of Christmases for the couple.  Ben's grandfather has just passed away and both live in fear that Hu Sing's hired guns will be arriving at any moment to kill Katherine but still, Christmas is Christmas....

The excerpt:

If tomorrow was Christmas, this was Christmas Eve. He had forgotten. If he did nothing else to mark the day, he wanted to pick up a gift for Katy. “Thanks but we’ll be fine. If you’re not doing anything tonight, come over for awhile, though.”

“We’ll do that. I’ll see you then. About six?”

“That’ll do.”

His damn hip ached, a dull constant discomfort, and the pain radiated down his leg to his knee, another hot spot. After a dose of ibuprofen, he went back to the trailer to get Pop’s uniform.

“Katy, are you comin’ with me?” He wiped frost from his feet.

“Do I have to?” Dark smudges beneath her eyes gave her a pale look he didn’t like.

“No, honey, you don’t. Will you be all right alone? I’ll be as quick as I can but it’s going to be awhile. I have to go down to Siloam first and then over to Bentonville.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I invited Kenny and his wife to come over tonight but if you’d rather they didn’t, I can call him back. It’s Christmas Eve.”

Her smile lit her face. “I know. I didn’t think you did. I’m glad you asked them; it will seem more festive. I found a pork loin in Aunt Ruby’s freezer for dinner tomorrow.”

“Sounds good.”  Right now he didn’t care if he ate baked sawdust. “I’m going. Don’t go anywhere and don’t let anyone strange in the house.”

She nodded. “Take my cell phone with you--then I can call you if I need you.”

Nose wrinkled, he took the tiny phone and zipped it into his pocket. Until now, he’d hated the new fangled gadgets but it gave her a way to reach him. After a long kiss, he left.

He had driven past Wasson Funeral Home many times without thought; now he pulled into the parking lot with a leaden weight on his heart. Although it had not been in the same location, his parents had been buried from Wasson’s. Hatfields were buried from Wasson Funeral Home but Jill had been laid to rest from a funeral home in Gravette.

Visitations were seldom held on holidays and that suited him. He didn’t want Christmas to be haunted by the memory of Pop’s funeral or visitation. The viewing would be on the day after Christmas with the funeral scheduled for 10 a.m. on the following morning, the 27th at the cemetery near Gravette. Pop had planned ahead for a graveside service and the funeral home would contact both the VFW and a minister.

“Would you like to see him?”

Ben shook his head. “No, not now. I brought his clothes, though, and I’d like it if you would prepare him. I don’t want him lying around until after the holiday.”

With that task complete, he took 412 over to Fayetteville and visited the mall. Crowds thronged the hallways and shops but he found his gift for Katy. The beautiful blown glass collectible featured a pair of bluebirds poised on a heart to symbolize happiness and he hoped that it portended the future.

On the way back through Springdale and Rogers, he stopped at a flea market and found an item necessary to his plan. He paid for it and asked to store it there until he could pick it up. Then he tried to phone Katy but got no answer. Uncertain if he knew how to use the phone, he tried again without success. After two more attempts, worry gnawed at his guts like spilled acid but it was farther to home than to Bentonville so he went on. After he picked up the box with Pop’s few possessions, he headed home at high speed, spinning around the curves like a demon until Kenny pulled him over in Centerton.

“What’s your rush?” His cousin drawled.

“Katy’s supposed to be home but she doesn’t answer the phone. God damn it, I need to go.”

Kenny’s grin was broad. “No, you don’t. She’s fine. I saw her about thirty minutes ago at the Dollar General Store in Decatur. That’s really why I pulled you over; I thought you would want to know.”

Relief made him weak, then angry. “What in hell was she doing there?”

“Beats me. We exchanged pleasantries. She should be home by now.”

“Damn it!” He slapped the steering wheel with one hand. “She scared the piss out of me.”

Kenny’s eyes dropped to Ben’s dry crotch. “Oh, yeah?”

“Kiss my ass.” Their exchange of insults was a long-standing tradition. As long as the words lacked heat, no one got mad and it had always been this way.

“No, thanks. See y’all tonight.”

Tiny multi-colored lights twinkled in the living room window when he pulled up in front of the farmhouse. His wife had risked her life and scared him shitless to buy Christmas decorations. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to rage or laugh. The day had drained him, his emotions were raw and his left leg hurt. He inhaled the pleasant scent of fresh pine just as Katherine found him. Her hands circled his neck and she kissed him on the lips, slow and sweet. He locked his arms around her.

“Thanks, Katy. I needed to be kissed.”

“Was it that bad?”

“That bad and worse.” Fear for her had added to his already weighty load. “I hear you went to the Dollar Store.”

“I did.” She managed to look sheepish. “I wanted to get some things for Christmas. Don’t be angry.”

He counted to ten and his anger faded. Like him, she wanted to keep Christmas, to prevent the holiday from being associated with death. Although Pop’s holiday traditions had been sparse, he had always managed a tree and presents for Ben.

“I’m not mad, honey. I was worried, though, when you didn’t answer the phone. Until your business is settled, you need to stay close.”

“I will. I’ve got some tea made for us and you can take something for your leg.”

How she always knew when his leg hurt baffled him but her care eased his inner pain and by the time their guests arrived, he felt better. Last year, he taken Ruby to church on Christmas Eve and had dinner the next day with Pop at the nursing home. Dry turkey, overcooked peas, and tasteless pumpkin dessert had been something they’d laughed over.

“We brought a sliced ham,” Kenny announced on arrival. “I hope you two haven’t had supper.”

They hadn’t. Sliced ham sandwiches, deviled eggs, and Katy’s brownies were the first food that had tasted good in days. Christmas carols played on his stereo, one more thing carted over from the trailer. After sandwiches, he went out to check the herd with Kenny in tow, leaving the two women to talk.
Sorry! He mouthed at his wife. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders so he knew it was all right. Thought she might not like Tammie, Christmas was Christmas.

Interested? Here's the details and some buy links:


When Katherine Vaughn flees California, she returns home to her native Arkansas, a place she barely remembers. As she settles in at the family farm with her aunt, she finds herself growing closer to her late cousin's husband, Ben Hatfield. Ben is a lot more than the country bumpkin she first takes him to be and when the men who threatened her follow her to Arkansas he will rely on his skills as a former Navy SEAL to protect her.
As their feelings toward one another grow, so does the danger and in the end, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen or if anyone will be safe.
Katherine’s life is in jeopardy as she wonders if there is any hope left in her heart.
Kinfolk is a novel about the power of love and the strength of family ties

contemporary romantic suspense
Publisher: Champagne Books
Publication Date: July 4, 2011
ISBN: 9781926996332
Format: eBook
Price $5.99
Word Count: 74, 143
Now also in paperback $14.95


Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Romantic suspense
Available from
Champagne Books
ISBN: 9781926996332
July 2011

Katherine Vaughn is running away. Before she could get a divorce, her husband had run up a $300,000 debt to a high level drug dealer, and the man is now after her for the money. To hide, she left her empty Hollywood life for her late father's home in the hills of Arkansas. Moving in with her Aunt Rudy, she tried to get over her fear and restart her writing career.
Ben Hatfield is a widower. He'd married Ruby's daughter when she was his nurse as he recuperated from injuries that he'd suffered as a Navy SEAL. After her death, he stayed on, in a trailer on Ruby's farm, taking care of the place and basically living as a recluse. When he learns of Katherine's situation, he can't help but want to protect her.
This is a great romance. Nothing is rushed in the growing relationship. They slowly learn about each other and how to open up to someone again. Katherine's marriage had been a disaster as her soap opera actor husband slipping further and further into drugs. Ben's last memory of his wife was their fight just before she drove off and died in a car accident. I like the way Ms. Murphy brings them back from their pasts. They both need to start living again to be able to appreciate each other.
Ben's closest family, the grandfather who raised him and is now dying, and his police officer cousin, Kenny, are secondary characters who bring great reality to the story, especially Ben's relationship to his grandfather. The book is about romance, not sex, and Ms. Murphy does it very well. There are some love scenes but they are mild and appropriate for the book. You'll really come to care for Katherine and Ben as their personalities come through and they learn to love each other. The action at the end of the book is also very well done. This is one that I'm marking as a keeper to reread. I know you'll enjoy it.
Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Mildly sensual Reviewer: Kathy F.
June 24, 2011

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