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February 21, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Charlene Sands

My father was an Italian born, American who became a decorated WWII Army sergeant. Hard as nails when it came to politics and his love for our country, he met my mother in New York right before the war and told her on their first date that he was going to marry her.

And while on a three-day Army leave, he did marry her and they shared a binding heartfelt love that endured many hardships. My father would often say that while he was in the trenches in the Philippines, he never feared for his life. He always knew that he would be coming home and that he’d successfully dodged many bullets, but the one injury he had trouble withstanding was the loneliness that constantly surrounded him. The separation from my mother seemed almost unbearable.

And shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary and a lifetime of devoted love, my father passed on leaving us with many stories and beautiful memories. No one could make a person laugh harder than my father. He had a flair for storytelling that kept everyone in his presence, enthralled.

And after my mother passed on, I retrieved his little black book, this binder that I’d always wanted for myself. In it, there were more than two-dozen poems my father had penned to my mother while serving time in the Army. Written in his own hand and dated, these poems are his legacy to our family.

This was one of two poems that we read at mom’s eulogy that speak of their separation at that time.

Dated: April 29, 1941
Two days we’ve been apart, my love
Two days that seemed like ages
Two days of loneliness I’ve known
In slow and painful stages.

Two days of rain, of dismal fog
Of clouds up in the blue
Two days. Two nights. I’ve been like this
Without the love from you.

Two days, two weeks, or centuries
It really does not matter
For soon will come the moment when
All of my woes will scatter

I’ve served my time in loneliness
And now at liberty
I’ll fly right over to your side
And give my love to thee.

My father was an intelligent man with a quick-wit and a sweetly sentimental side that he would always show his family. Sadly, he never saw me publish my first book. He never knew of my writing success. But I remedied that from book one. His name appears in all my stories in some shape or form, concealed in unique ways as a tribute to my love for him.
He’s always with me.

Charlene Sands
RENEGADE WIFE is on sale now!
Heiress Beware 6/06
Bunking Down with the Boss 8/06
Abducted at the Altar 9/06
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I’m in Love with the Month of February

February 20, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

by Gina Black

It’s true. I love the month of February. This is no recent crush, or fling; my feelings for this month run deep and true and began when I was about four. That was when I realized I would be four-and-a-half in February. This, of course, was ever so much older and more sophisticated than just plain four. And the fact that I’d get there sooner than my best friend, Sally, was even better.

A few years later–maybe I was six or seven–I discovered February had only twenty-eight days, and sometimes even twenty-nine. My admiration for the month went up. I always liked what was different, cheering for the underdog, or just enjoying what didn’t fit the mold because I never fit the mold either. February and I had a lot in common.

When I was twelve or thirteen, now living in Los Angeles, I noticed a pattern. In February there’s a sudden unexpected week when the rain goes away, the clouds clear, and its glorious shorts-and-sandals weather. Okay, so sometimes this happens in late January instead, but most often it’s in February. With this realization the flush of infatuation was upon me.

Love blossomed when several years later, I got married in February. At the time, I thought chance led me and the DH to tie the knot then, but now I’m not so sure. I think February was working its romantic magic on me, and the proof lies in the fact that we’ve had twenty-four anniversaries since then–and they all fall in February!!

Of course Valentine’s Day makes February an easy-to-love month. Who doesn’t adore chocolate and Valentines made with red construction paper hearts and white paper doilies? Some of my fondest memories of my mother involve these sorts of holiday arts and crafts. And, of course, I have a wonderful stash of homemade love notes from my children. On the early Valentines the words were scrawled so carefully, later printed in Klingon, and then in Japanese.

Still with all this, it’s only recently I’ve come to realize how much I count on February. After the stress and bluster of the winter holidays, February is the month when I notice the days visibly getting longer, bringing with them the promise of spring and summer. Along with that sudden burst of joyous weather, Valentine’s day chocolate, anniversary lobster, and becoming coff-and-a-half, February has always been there for me.

It’s definitely true love. February and I were meant for each other.

Gina’s book, The Raven’s Revenge, is competing for a publishing contract in the American Title II contest put on by Romantic Times and Dorchester Publishing. Voting is on now! For more information, log onto the Romantic Times website. Or, visit Gina’s contest blog.

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Love Is Timeless

February 19, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Rebecca Forster

I am not old, nor am I young. I am not calculating, nor am I a sentimental fool. I like to think that I am a woman of my time. Yet, as my father lay dying, surrounded by machines, tended by nurses, visited by doctors, I learned a lesson in love that is timeless.

My father had been ill for a very long while. He bore his illness with great dignity, thanking those who cared for him and often caused him pain. He never gave up hope that he would get well, he never abandoned his faith that God would watch out for him. Through the months and years of his sickness, my mother nursed him. She wore herself to a frazzle yet never complained. I saw her exhaust herself as she moved him from bed to wheelchair and back again. She slept on a couch near the hospital bed in their living room for more days than I can count. I thought she was crazy. I thought she would die before him and for what?

When I found the answer to that question, I was humbled beyond words.

In his last days, my father was barely lucid. He was in pain. He was medicated. He was dying. Yet, everyday my mother was there by his side. She held his hand. She brought his favorite aftershave. She combed his hair and spoke to him kindly and gently as she had for over fifty years of their marriage.

I came to visit when I could and one evening I walked in to the intensive care unit to find my father had taken a turn for the worse. The nurses were sticking tubes in him. My mother stood quietly in the corner of the room watching, her face expressionless. Suddenly a nurse called to my father, trying to determine if he could hear her.

“Can you hear me?” She hollered. My father’s eyes fluttered.

“Do you know who that is?” The nurse hollered again and this time she indicated my mother.

My father’s eyes flickered. They rested on my mother’s face. Without hesitation, with the greatest affection, with the voice of a young man, he gently answered.

“That’s my girlfriend.”

I had to look away or I would have cried. Now I knew why my mother cared for my father so diligently. I knew why he cared for her all the years before that. Because she was his girlfriend. Because he loved her and she loved him and in all the world there is nothing more precious than that. When he died he left that love behind so I know that, while my mother may be lonely, she is never alone.

Rebecca Forster

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A Change of Heart

February 18, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Paris Taylor

I had no intention of going out that night. I never did when I came home for the summer break. Who would remember me and much less, I could hardly recognize the people I grew up with anymore. I’d left this town behind when I was seventeen. In my opinion, there never was anything here for me.

So why I had a change of heart, I’ll never know but as my brother headed out the door I heard myself saying. “Mind if I come, too?”

For the next few hours I stood in a smoky bar wondering what on earth had provoked me to be here when instead I could have been curled up in bed with a good romance. I was totally bored and totally right about my decision to move away.

He doesn’t look like he’s from here, I thought as I watched three men walk in. There was just something about the way he carried himself that caught my eye. That’s the only way I can explain why an evening that was moving in painful slow motion, suddenly wasn’t nearly long enough. Through the smoke, and the people jammed together like herring in a net, I wondered, would I get to meet him?

Our eyes touched for just an instant. It was a start. With a little squirming through the crowd, just maybe. He was speaking to my brother’s friend the next time our eyes connected. I had found my opportunity. The band was blasting. Far too loud for such a small bar. Our conversation was reduced to snippets. Brief sound bites that left me wishing I had one of those fresh breath strips.

“From here?”

“Yeah. You?”

(From here, really?!) “Years ago.”

“Visiting, huh?”

(Melting.) “Uh-huh.”

“You do?”


“You do?”

“Dentist. Stop by. Need some marketing.”


“Why not.”

What often seems like a great plan the night before, just isn’t in the morning. To do or not to do. That is the question. Drive by. Have a look. And keeping driving. Go for a skate on your blades and just kind of show up. Tussled and casual.

“There’s a hole in my schedule, it hardly ever happens but I have a few minutes. Come on.”

Ohmigod. He wears shirts and ties and the way those pants drape. Was that a giggle? Are those girls laughing at me? He’s done this before. I’m such a bimbo.

“What do you think?” He passed me a photo of a case.

(Does it matter?) “Lovely. Great smile.” My fingers brushed his as I passed it back.

I floated out, my baggy shorts drooping behind me. He had said he was going to the Salmon Dinner, hadn’t he? I had tickets and time. Time to clean up, do my hair, apply my make-up and go with my family to the dinner. My family? What could I be thinking? They’d watch my every move. Impossible!

Try eating over-cooked salmon when your throat is dry and your heart is pounding like a jack-hammer and there are seven hundred people eating with you, none of whom the one you’re looking for. Until you’re on the way out the door and you see him.

A meeting of the eyes.

“How was dinner?”

“Long. The speeches, I mean.” Such a nice, warm laugh.

“I didn’t think you were here.”

“Me, either. You, I mean. I knew I was here. I didn’t think you were.” Oh boy.

“We’re going across the street, there’s a band. See you there?”

Maybe it was the way he held my hand that night. Maybe it was the way his warm, brown eyes sent tremors of anticipation through my body. And just maybe it was because I had red-hair and he had a soft spot for red-heads.

It’s really hard to say.

But one thing I do know. There are times in your life when moving home is the right thing to do. The only thing to do.

“What are you doing, hon?”

“Reading my horoscope,” I said.

“What? You believe that stuff?” He took my hand and gently brushed his fingers over the platinum band accenting my lightly tanned skin.

“Nah. If I believed that stuff, I’d be incredibly wealthy and living on an exotic island by now.”

“Come here.” He laughed again, deep and rumbly, and held me in his arms.

“How stupid is that?” I said as I tossed the book into the trash.

The End.

Paris Taylor currently lives in Grand Falls-Windsor, on the exotic island of Newfoundland, Canada, where she manages a busy, dental office by day and writes romance by night. She considers herself terribly fortunate to have such a bountiful life.

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A Magical Proposal

February 17, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

By Lori Pyne

My husband, Chris, had no idea how challenging it would be for a romantic and creative soul to be involved with a logical and practical gal. I can still remember his expression of horror as I sat there with a calendar before me and discussed the dates that would work for our wedding. I explained that I had checked the schedules of our parents and siblings and had narrowed our choices down to three dates. I then told him why I liked a date a year and a half in the future. I asked what he thought.

He stated that we could not discuss a wedding date since he had not proposed yet.

Worried that I had read the situation wrong, I was relieved to confirm that he did want to get married. I did not understand what the problem was. He had a year and a half to propose.

He protested that I had eliminated any suspense or surprise. Everyone would be waiting. He could not just take me out to a nice dinner and propose. He would have to do something unexpected.

I shrugged, said do your best, and turned my mind to wedding planning.

My husband’s best turned out to be incredible. He spent months plotting and planning. Long after our discussion, he had everything in place.

As a surprise for his mother while she was visiting, Chris arranged for a magician friend to procure a number of tickets for the Magic Castle, a private magician’s club in Hollywood. He then had all of my girlfriends call me and ask what I was doing Friday evening. Each then gushed that she had always wanted to go to the Magic Castle. I knew we had extra tickets so I kept inviting friends to join us.

His mother’s face was priceless when we pulled up to the Magic Castle. She had wanted to go since hearing about it from our friend. After enjoying a few smaller shows and performances, our group of fifteen decided to see the show in the largest room. I was disappointed when the room filled before we got in the door. Everyone decided to wait for the next performance.

Our group filled the first two rows of the next performance. I whispered to my husband that this magician was known for taking assistants from the audience and that we would have to make sure that the magician tapped Chris’ mother. The girlfriends, who overheard my comment, agreed with my idea and we chatted about how to draw the magician’s attention. I never noticed that my normally gregarious guy was mute.

Throughout the performance, the magician picked many of our group to assist in his magic. I was very disappointed when he finished his act and had not pulled Chris’ mother on stage.

As the clapping slowed, the magician announced that he had one last bit of magic to perform and needed a special lady to help him. I squealed and pointed to my future mother-in-law. Even as he stood in front of me with his hand extended, I kept pointing to her. I was shoved on stage by my friends. Once there, I fell into the role. I pointed, examined and marveled as the magician took an ordinary sheet of paper and cut it with ordinary scissors into a row of connected heart. I gasped when the hearts burst into flames revealing a slender chain on which an object dangled.

The magician revealed that the object was a ring, turned to me and asked me to marry him. I stood on the stage with my jaw agape as he explained to the audience that he was not proposing for himself but for the gentleman in the front row.

To thundering applause, my future husband leapt onto the stage and bowed. The magician clasped him on the back and handed him the ring. Chris then pulled me to his chest and gave me a fierce hug.

I pulled myself from his arms and pointed to the ground. Before the roomful of people, he knelt in front of me and asked me to be his wife.

I burst into tears.

I do not remember leaving the stage. The next thing I remember was being congratulated by friends as we all stood in hallway. After minutes of hugs and tears, the magician stood beside me and said that as I had not said yes to either of them, he figured he was still in the running.


I spun towards Chris and said, “Yes.”

I explained to the grinning magician that I had to go with the guy who knew how to create real magic.

Lori Pyne
OCC/RWA Book Buyers Best Contest Coordinator

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