Hey, everybody! This is a wonderful opportunity to win my book, The Blacksmith King. I'm being hosted today on the blog Homeschool Authors. Simply click on the following link to enter the contest in order to get a chance to win! You can also read a little about me and what my book is about. http://homeschoolauthors.blogspot.com/2014/01/interview-with-brooke-barenfanger.html
Hurry up and enter! There aren't very many entries right now so the chances are great that you'll win if you enter. To encourage entries I've posted the prologue to The Blacksmith King below.
Lighting flashed outside of the window. Thunder boomed and crashed all around the little house. A little house resembling the eye of the storm. But the small girl in her bed didn’t know that. The thunder sounded like a giant’s footfalls. The lighting was a giant’s lamp. After the loudest crash of the thunder she had ever heard in all of her almost eight years the little girl ran from her room. Her parent’s slept in the room right across from hers. At another crash of thunder, Lila screamed, “Daddy! Daddy!”
The reassuring sound of her parent’s familiar voices drifted from their room. After hurling open the door, Lila flew across the room and into the safe haven of her daddy’s arms. He sat in a chair by the bed. He had a worried expression on his handsome face as he looked from his wife, who was lying on the bed, down at his daughter. Lila’s mother had her hands on her extended belly.
“Charles,” the lady said softly “Take Lila with you. I don’t want her to hear me when the birth pangs become stronger.”
Charles took the small white hand that lay upon her stomach. “I don’t want to leave you here alone, Naomi.”
“God is with me.”
The word was forced out as excruciating pain took over Naomi’s body. Lila looked on helplessly. Babies were supposed to come this way. Her mother had told her that. But it sure was hard to see Mama suffer so. Charles unexpectedly swept up his little girl. “Put on your heaviest coat and boots.” He ordered as he carried her back to her room and sat her down on her quilted bedspread. “It’s going to be all right, honey.”
Charles kissed Lila’s forehead. What he told her did not stop her fears, but Lila did as her father said and prepared to go out into the rain-laden night.
The horse was liquid speed beneath Lila’s small body. Moving so fast nothing could be seen. But even speed cannot outrace rain. Lila thought. She had never been so wet. Every dry place she once had was soaked with the cold rainwater. Daddy seems afraid. Lila thought with concern. She had never seen him afraid before. Every muscle was taut on his body. His breath was labored and his hands held the reins of the horse tightly. When they finally reached their destination, Lila wasn’t sure how long the ride had lasted. It could have been an hour or five minutes. She knew where she was, though. She was at her uncle’s house. He was the doctor. Lila stayed on the horse as her father dismounted quickly and ran toward the door. The pounding the thing received must have rivaled the pounding that other expectant fathers had surely given it before. Lila shivered in the saddle. After an eternity passed, the door opened. Charles had to shout to be heard above the thundering of the rain. “Naomi’s having contractions. It’s too early, Will! You have to come now!”
Charles stood in the doorway as his brother disappeared into the house and reappeared quickly. The doctor had a black slicker on to match his black bag and hat. When he saw Lila, he called for his wife.
“Mable! Come quickly!”
Will calmly walked over to Lila and picked her up. After depositing her into the arms of a rather sleepy-eyed aunt, he went into the barn for a horse. Charles took his distraught daughter into his arms and stroked her wet hair.
“I will be back for you tomorrow, honey. You will have a new brother or sister then. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.”
Lila clung to him. “I love you, Daddy.” Charles pulled back and looked into Lila’s big green eyes, so much like his. His heart melted a little at the childish trust and love he saw there.
“I love you too,” He whispered before he kissed her forehead. Then he rose and walked toward the barn after the doctor. The big red barn was cheerful to look at in the daytime, but now, in the dark, it looked to Lila as if it were a giant’s house. Lila glanced up at her aunt. Fear swept over her the little girl’s features.
“Will Mama be all right?”
Her aunt looked down at her shivering niece and hurriedly swept her inside to get her warm and dry. She did not answer the question.
Lila’s much older cousins were soon surrounding her. Opal and Ruth were there first. Then Jennifer. They smothered her with hugs and warmth and love. They put her into a warm cotton nightgown that was just a little bit big on her. Mable presented Lila with a warm cup of steaming hot chocolate. They heated her up so well Lila could barely remember she had been cold, but she remembered. Remembered her mother’s pain and her father’s tense body. Lila snuggled up next to her aunt after they warmed her up so well. Usually, staying over at her cousin’s house would be a treat. But now … all Lila wanted was her own home, her own room, and her own bed. She couldn’t fall asleep so she thought of some of her best memories. Mama and Daddy had just told her about the baby. A week later she and Mama had been in their favorite spot …the meadow…
“Mama! Look what I found!”
“What a pretty rose, Lila.”
“Will the baby like flowers?”
“Oh, yes, I’m sure.”
“Will she have red hair like you and me?”
“You will have to ask God.”
“Will she be a boy or a girl? I want a girl.”
Her mother smiled and tucked the rose behind Lila’s ear.
“Whatever God gives us.”
Lila picked all different sorts of flowers while her mother made daisy chains. The bright sun came down red-hot on their heads. Someone passing by might have mistaken them for faeries. They had gone swimming later. The field contained a lake as well as flowers. When they climbed out of the water, they lay on a red and white checkered blanket and talked of Lila’s upcoming birthday. The sun had quickly dried them out again. They both went home with a bunch of flowers for home and a new memory for their hearts. Lila had asked one more question on their way back. “Will she have freckles?”
Mama had laughed.
“I’m sure she will. Your brother and you certainly do. But only God knows.”
Only God knows… only God knows…only God knows…it echoed in Lila’s mind. She restlessly got out of bed. Her aunt’s soft breathing told Lila that she was asleep. The rain had long since stopped. Lila opened the window. The moon was silvery white against the sky. “God,” Lila whispered into the early morning air “Mama needs some help. Can You please help her? Mama says only You know. Just help her while she has the babies. Thank you. Amen.” Lila stared up at the stars. Mama had always said that they looked like tiny lighthouses lighting the way for sailors lost within the black spaces. Slowly, Lila became aware of a rather lovely sound. I say slowly because the sound rather faded upward instead of fading away. It was a sound as natural and lovely as the stars. That is why Lila did not notice it at first. Somebody was whistling. It was a sad, melancholy sort of tune. Lila looked around for the whistler. Then she saw him. The man stood on the top of Uncle Will’s barn. He had a cane in one hand. He used his other hand to pull out a pocket watch. It glinted gold in the moonlight. His and Lila’s eyes met as surely as those sailors would find the lighthouses in the sky. He smiled a bit and bowed, never taking his eyes from hers. His black skin looked odd. She had never seen a black man before. His eyes though…they glowed blue. Such a blue Lila had only seen at twilight. Suddenly, the bed behind her creaked. Lila whirled about to find her aunt with her feet on the carpet beside the bed.
“Good morning, dear,” Aunt Mable said in a still-waking-up voice. Lila turned toward the window once more but saw nobody on the roof. In the horizon the sun awoke as sleepily as Aunt Mable did. A slight breeze stirred Lila’s tangled red curls. She wondered if she had dreamed the black man on the barn roof with eyes that were the color of the twilight.
Lila sat eating breakfast with her cousins when her uncle returned. His face was grim. Aunt Mable took in his expression and her own smile of greeting faded.
“Will? What happened? Naomi and the baby are they—“
“They’re fine.” Uncle Will said cutting her off. “It was a good delivery. She had twins.”
The initial joy of the good news was cut short by his still grim face. Jennifer spoke then. A confused frown marred her usually smooth brow.
“What…what is wrong then, Daddy?”
The man sat down then spoke slowly as if it pained him greatly. He seemed to have aged overnight. There were tears in his eyes as he spoke. “Charles…was coming to get Lila after Naomi gave birth safely about two hours ago.”
Two hours? That seemed like a very long time indeed. From Lila’s house to Uncle Will’s house was only about the span of ten minutes. And that was walking.
“He was on Copper. You know how spooked that horse can get. Copper threw him…”
“Is he hurt?” Opal asked.
“Oh, how I wish it were only that.” Uncle Will said in a broken sounding whisper.
“You can’t mean—”Aunt Mable stopped speaking as tears choked her voice.
“No. It can’t be!” Opal cried.
“His head hit a rock,” Uncle Will continued. “By the time I got there…it was too late. Charles was already gone.”
The girls were starting to cry. Lila didn’t understand. Her trembling, girlish voice could barely be heard above the sobs. “Uncle Will, where is my daddy?” Will looked with compassion at his little niece and could not answer her. Her life would be altered forever. Lila would never see her father again.