Greetings! I wish you all the best this holiday season on behalf of the Bluestocking Belles.
Welcome to our holiday blog hop in celebration of our new collection of holiday stories, Follow Your Star Home. Be sure to check below for special sale pricing and the Blog Hop Giveaway
I offer you the gift of a story that takes place between my story in Follow Your Star Home, The Last Post, set in 1919, and A Fine Chance by Elizabeth Ellen Carter, which is set in 1922.
Toward the end of The Last Post Rosemarie loses the ring she has worn, one that she believes brought them back together while sailing to Canada.
The Last Post goes on:
They forgot about the ring and neither was present the next morning when a khaki-clad private leaned over to pick a small metal object up from the deck. “Look at that, Tommie. It’s a ring.” He turned it over in his hand. “Odd little thing, though.” He put it in his pocket.
Here’s what happened next.
Tommie Sullivan and Jamie Martin stepped off the train in Toronto, kit bags over their weary shoulders and mustering-out papers in their pockets. Jamie glanced back at the train still packed solid with returning soldiers and pointed at a bench along the track.
“Sit with me, Tommie. I want to see the boys on their way.” The train would continue on to the Prairie Provinces as soon as it was able taking men who’d been his family for four years with it.
“Not me. My mother will—” Tommie didn’t have to finish. A substantial looking woman, Mrs. Sullivan no doubt, swept down the platform calling Tommie’s name. Within moments a wave of family engulfed Jamie’s mate and began to carry him along. The group included, Jamie noticed, a shy looking blond who cast longing glances at the returning soldier. She would be the Sally-of-the-golden-hair Tommie had mooned over for five years. She waited. Lucky Tommie.
Jamie’s buddy pulled back, his mother still gripping one patched elbow as if she might lose him again. “Come with us, Jamie,” Tommie called. “Ma will have enough food for the whole regiment waiting.”
Elbow in on another man’s homecoming? Not Jamie Martin. “Get you gone, you crazy Mick. Your family’s waited long enough,” he called back. Tommie left with only the briefest of introductions and farewells.
Jamie sat on the bench and stared at the train, half tempted to climb back aboard. His folks were both gone, and no more waited for him in the old neighborhood than he would find in the West. No girl waited for him either. Maddy wrote for the first year, but the letters got farther and farther apart until they stopped just as days darkened late in 1916.
Three boys from the old unit hung out a window waving at him.
“Can’t bear to leave us Jamie-boy?” one shouted.
“He don’t have a home t’go to.” Yelled another, setting off an explosion of laughter.
“Smells too bad,” blurted another, not to be outdone.
‘Yah,” yelled the first. “Raised by wolves was our Jamie.”
A hiss of steam alerted them the train was ready to move. If he was going to jump on, now was the time. Jamie watched all but one of the men pull their heads in, but something held him to the seat. Carl Anderson waved goodbye, cupping his hands around his mouth to yell, “Don’t listen to those damn fools, Jamie. Good luck to you,” as he pulled away.
He decided to head to the old neighborhood. Old Mr. Cohen, the baker, promised him a job when he returned. Jamie thought the man would let him sleep in the storeroom off the kitchen until he could find something better. At least he hoped that was true.
Jamie lurched to his feet and hefted his kit bag over his shoulder. The platform that had been alive with reunions twenty minutes before had fallen silent. He shuffled through the depot and made his way to the trolley.
Jamie reached for a coin to pay the fare, but when he stuffed his right hand in his pocket he felt a metallic object in the depths. He had forgotten about the beat up old ring he picked up on the boat over. He paid the conductor, took a seat, and pulled out the ring.
The thing beamed brightly, even in the yellow light of the trolley ceiling. Jamie frowned. He could have sworn the ring had been dull and dented when he picked it up. He cupped his hand and it seemed to warm his fingers while the trolley bumped along past familiar landmarks, drawing him closer to home.
Home? He shook his head to clear it. He hadn’t had a true home in years, not since his mother died when he was fifteen, not unless you count the army. Now that one was gone too.
Buildings grew smaller when they passed the heart of town, and shabbier as they approached the neighborhood. They passed the laundries, tearooms, and shops of Chinatown, turned on Fisher Boulevard and his heart sped up. Family or none, this place was home.
He pressed his face to the window, noting familiar sights—a park, a library, the homes of people he knew. His stomach clenched at the sight of the public secondary school as grey and uninviting as ever, remembering the havoc he caused in those first horrid weeks after his mother left him. They put him out, and if it wasn’t for Mr. Cohen, God only knew what would have become of him. A year and a small lie about his age later he left in uniform.
He looked for Levy’s butcher shop, but found a bookstore where it should have been.
There are worse things for a neighborhood than a bookstore, he guessed. But what else has changed?
He pulled the cord at Stoddard Street, hoping and praying he would find Cohen’s Bakery around the corner where he had left it. He took a deep breath, reached in his pocket, and rubbed the ring for luck. He felt foolish at the notion, but a quick walk down the block brought him to a neatly painted storefront with the familiar sign, Samuel Cohen, Kosher Baker, in English and Hebrew above a sparkling window. He grinned. Trust Sam Cohen to keep things ship-shape. He pushed the door open to the tinkle of a bell, his heart in his throat.
“Yakov—James!” Sam Cohen, a little more grey and a bit more stout, beamed across the store. “Reva, come,” he shouted through the kitchen door. “Our war hero is home!”
Jamie wasn’t sure which shocked him more, “hero” or “home,” but he had no time to ponder it. Before he could think, Reva Cohen engulfed him in a hug, a boy ran out to alert the neighbors, and schnapps appeared from under the counter.
Soon the little shop rang with the laughter of people eager to welcome him back from war, anxious to hear his stories, and allowing him no time to answer questions. He certainly had no chance to ask Mr. Cohen about a place to stay. He reached in his pocket to finger the ring. Something about it quieted his fears and he felt his shoulders relax.
A tinkle of the bell alerted all to another newcomer, and the ring in Jamie’s pocket seemed to vibrate with the sound. He glanced over Mrs. Goldman’s shoulder to study the opening door.
Maddy stood outlined in the doorframe. She scanned the room until her eyes met his, and a radiant smile lit her face in an incandescent glow. She took a step toward him, and his feet moved without any conscious intent.
“Welcome home, Jamie,” she said.
Maddy, his heart sang. My Maddy! She may not know it yet, but in that moment he knew deep in his heart that she was his and he was truly home.
Hours later, he walked her home, stopping between every streetlight to kiss her. As they neared her parents’ house, he thought he might show her the ring, but when he reached in his pocket, he found it empty.
“What is it Jamie? Did you lose something?” she asked.
Jamie shrugged. “Just something I found. It isn’t important.” He took her hand and they faced their future together, the star ring forgotten.
The Holiday Blog Hop Giveaway!
Did you like my little story? Be sure to leave a comment here, and to follow the star to each Belle’s website to comment for more entries for our holiday prize. You can find out about the prize and link to the other websites here:
About the Follow Your Star Home~On Sale now!
Divided sweethearts seek love and forgiveness in this collection of seasonal novellas.
Forged for lovers, the Viking star ring is said to bring lovers together, no matter how far, no matter how hard.
In eight stories covering more than a thousand years, our heroes and heroines put this legend to the test. Watch the star work its magic as prodigals return home in the season of goodwill, uncertain of their welcome.
Eight original stories, more than 600 pages of diverse characters, complex relationships, and happily ever afters.
Holiday Sale price: $.99
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/2E0WbrL
- iBooks: https://apple.co/2ObkLLj
- Kobo: https://bit.ly/2E26lbw
- Nook: https://bit.ly/2y0SJbd
- Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2BY6p9t
- Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2BXHfrC
- Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2zTvJMy
- Smashwords: https://bit.ly/2zTlesL
About The Last Post
The Great War is over, but how can they marry if he can’t find her?
Love for Rosemarie Legrand gave Harry the will to go on during the horror of trench warfare. Now, army orders trap him in a camp awaiting repatriation. A bout of the Spanish flu lays him even lower, but he is determined not to leave without her. He’ll desert if he has to.
Rosemarie waits for word on her cousin’s farm where she took refuge when war reached the outskirts of Amiens. She wrote to tell him. Has he forgotten her? When the slimmest of information arrives, she sets out to find him.
Can these two lovers unite before it is too late?