I wouldn’t typically include peeks into families as part of my introduction to a book, but Beneath the Stars is a little different in that the families themselves are cast members–as a unit.
The James-Garner family, comprised of Maggie James and her mother Sharon, and of course, Eddie and Adrian, was built in Maggie and Eddie’s childhood in the small railroad town of Wylie, Pennsylvania. Eddie didn’t know much about family, and Sharon and Maggie taught him, through their caring nature, how to support, how to uplift, and how to allow each person to become exactly who they were meant to be.
And even once Maggie is gone, Eddie finds it hard to believe he can carry those lessons on without her at his side. But he can. He does. Sharon continues to guide from the sidelines, and he and Adrian are able to build a good life on their own–one that’s even more fulfilling with the addition of one Sid Marneaux.
In Eddie’s thirty-three years, he could not recall a moment he didn’t love Maggie James.
They didn’t share the romantic kind of love that leads to a white dress and an uncomfortable tuxedo, to family gathering to hear promises of ‘til-death-do-us-part. With Maggie and Eddie, promises were understood, unconditional. The sun rose; the sun set. Eddie loved Maggie; Maggie loved Eddie.
In the midst of that love, he agreed to free her from the nonstop heartbreak of finding a man in the dregs of Wylie’s dating pool. She hadn’t been seeking a life partner, but someone to help her become a mother. After Eddie’s donation, Adrian was born. Love led the way, and cancer came—twice—to rearrange the story.
Death would part them soon enough. Eddie would continue to love her. Sunrise; sunset.
Tonight, death was but an onlooker. Maggie took Eddie’s hand in hers. Her fingers were no longer recognizable: they were cold, skeletal, long separated from the art she used to create. “I want to give you something,” she said, turning his palm upright. She reached into the pocket strapped to the side of her wheelchair where she kept treasured items: small pictures drawn by Adrian, petals from gifted flowers, a queen of hearts card her mother had nicked from a casino in Pittsburgh.
“Maggie, no. Don’t start giving things away.”
“Get Nana—hi.” Sharon’s exhausted face filled the screen. The lift to her eyebrow seemed impatient as she waited for more information. “Yes, it’s a date.”
“I can tell. ‘Kissed by the sun?’ Really, Eddie?”
“Leave me alone; I normally date—”
“Did Maggie keep any of my secrets from you?”
“Mmm, no. Probably not.”
Eddie was grateful to have her looking out for him. For Adrian. “I’m not sure what to do with a guy who does more than grunt.”
“It’s good for you—your dating life has always given me stress.”
“You’re welcome. Is Ade sleeping okay?”
“No, he’s waking a few times a night. Screaming.” She pushed her long gray hair behind her ear. And when she looked at the screen with a tilt to her head, he saw Maggie’s face—just as he did with Adrian—only gently aged and radiant. “He doesn’t talk; he cries out, takes some hugs, and goes to sleep.”
“Shit. I haven’t slept this well since… it’s been a while. I feel guilty as hell.”
“Don’t. Get him home with you, and you’ll both settle in. If you’re lucky, this good guy will be a kid whisperer or something.”
Beneath the Stars, releases on Feb. 16, 2017, and is available for pre-order. Enter now to win a free e-book bundle and a $25 gift certificate to my publisher, Interlude Press.
You can win a free print copy by entering the giveaway at goodreads.