Friday, August 05, 2011

Wings of Promise; Angel Sister

Wings of Promise

Book two in the Alaskan Skies Series

By Bonnie Leon

Her spunk has always gotten her through tough times. But does she have what it takes to go the distance?

"Bonnie Leon takes the reader on a wild ride through Alaska, a place I've always wanted to visit. Now I feel as if I have. The characters flew off the pages." —Lena Nelson Dooley

From Chapter One – December 1937

Helen immersed the plate in rinse water, and then handed it to Kate. "It's such a shame Paul couldn't join us today." She turned to Kate. "How does he feel about being a bush doctor?"

"He's excited. But it's been awhile since he did any doctoring, so he's kind of nervous."

"Why did he give up his practice in San Francisco?" Muriel asked.

The muscles in Kate's stomach tightened at the question. She'd wondered the same thing, but the topic was off limits. "I don't know," she said as nonchalantly as she could manage. "He doesn't talk about it. And I don't want to pry."

"I'm so happy for you two. I think it's wonderful that you've found each other," Muriel said. "When I met Terrence, I knew right away that he was the one for me."

Kate smiled. "I'm sure Paul's the one. He hasn't proposed yet, but I hope he will. When we were making plans to get together for Christmas, he mentioned talking about our future."

"I'll bet it won't take him long to ask you," Helen said.

Kate ran a towel over the plate. "I hope you're right."

"How do you feel about being a flying hospital?" Muriel asked, gathering up the napkins.

"I'm thrilled. I'll love working with Paul. And there's such a need for a doctor. I think it will be wonderful."

Helen dunked a cup into soapy water, and then glanced toward the front room. "I'm so glad Mike came tonight. He's not been himself since . . . well, since you two—"

"I know. But he seems fine now. Maybe we can still be friends."

"I'm sure he hopes so too. He seems pretty comfortable tonight."

Mike stepped through the kitchen door. "Almost done in here?"

Helen untied her apron. "We're nearly finished."

"Good. It's time to open gifts. I think I have one under the tree." He winked at Kate.

What had come over him? He'd been morose since her refusal, and now all of a sudden he was his old charming self? Maybe he'd accepted things as they were and was ready to move on. He could have stayed mad, but that wasn't like Mike. He was a good man, and hopefully they'd resume their friendship.

With the kitchen sparkling clean, the women joined the men in the front room.

"I was thinking it would be nice to sing some carols," Helen said. She settled on the divan beside Albert and patted his thigh.

"How about `Jingle Bells'?" Albert said.

Remembering her own rendition of the song, when she'd flown packages into the villages the previous year, Kate nodded and wondered if she ought to teach the group. They'd get a kick out of it.

Before she could say anything, Albert began, "Dashing o'er the snow in a one horse open sleigh . . ."

When the song came to an end, Mike said, "How about the new one that's out, `Winter Wonderland'?"

"They've been playing it over and over on the radio," Muriel said. "I love it."

Soon everyone was singing the new melody. After that, Helen insisted on a religious carol, and then it was time to open gifts.

Albert handed out two packages to each person, explaining they were from him and Helen. One was a canister of assorted homemade candies and the other a knitted muffler.

Kate wrapped her deep green scarf around her neck and then took a bite of fudge. "Thank you so much. You know how much I love candy, and the muffler's beautiful."

"I wish we could have done more, but with things slow at the store . . . Well, you know how it is."

"Thought we were coming out of the depression," Terrence said. "But it looks like we've plunged right back into it."

"Everything will work out." Helen leaned against Albert and smiled at him, her love for her husband, even after all their years together, evident.

Kate's gifts were next. She'd managed to purchase several hand-carved pieces of ivory from Joe Turchik. He'd offered to give them to her but at her insistence had finally accepted

A token payment. She handed them out and watched while everyone unwrapped their gift.

Helen held up a delicate mother seal with a baby at its side. "Oh, this is lovely. Where did you get it?"

"You remember the Turchiks—Nena was with me when my plane went down."

"Yes, of course. Such nice people." Helen ran a fingertip across the seal.

"Joe Turchik made these."

"Is he a native?" Terrence asked, studying his plump walrus.

"Yes. Eskimo," Mike said, as he unwrapped a native man holding a spear.

"Whenever I'm in Kotzebue, I stay with them. They're good friends. Although I doubt Nena will ever fly with me again after what happened."

"It's a miracle—the both of you surviving that terrible crash," Muriel said.

"Please tell Joe how much we love his work and thank him for us." Helen studied her ivory seals. "I'll write a letter so you can take it to him on your next run north."

The rest of the gifts were opened, all except one. It was from Mike, for Kate. The package was small. Kate couldn't imagine what it could be. Everyone watched as she carefully removed the Christmas paper. "I know you didn't wrap this yourself. It's much too nice," she teased.

"I did." He gave her a tender look. "Only the best for the best."

With the paper removed, Kate held a small box in her hands. She was suddenly afraid. What if Mike had decided to do something foolish? Her hands trembled slightly as she
lifted the lid. When she looked inside surprise radiated through her. "Oh, Mike!" She lifted out a tiny gold airplane attached to a gold chain. The words Fearless Kate were inscribed in red on the plane's side. "It's beautiful!" She held it up in the light and tears sprang to her eyes. "It's my plane."

He smiled broadly. "Thought you'd like something to remember it by."

"I love it. Where did you get it?"

"You're not the only one who knows an artist." Mike winked. "I'll help you put it on."

Kate draped the chain around her neck and let Mike hook the clasp. His hand rested on her neck for a moment.

Choosing to ignore the gesture, Kate studied her tiny plane, and then let it drop against her chest. "Thank you. It's a wonderful gift." She wanted to hug him but didn't dare. Instead, she looked into his quiet blue eyes and said, "I'll cherish it always."

Available at, and fine book stores everywhere.

Do Not Reproduce without permission.



Ann H. Gabhart

"This book will leave you changed as it uncovers family secrets and draws you into the days following the first World War and the Great Depression. It will astound you how the characters persevere while making difficult decisions amidst heartache, and their determination to make it through the toughest of hard times."—RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars Top Pick

"Like a Kentucky summer, Angel Sister starts slow and easy but by the end roars along, leaving the reader breathless and wanting more. What a jewel of a story. Reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird." – Lauraine Snelling, bestselling author of the Red River Series

During a sultry Kentucky summer, Kate Merritt struggles to keep her family together. Defeated by the Great Depression, her father slips into alcoholism, her mother is in denial, and her sisters are blissfully unaware of their plight. Who could imagine that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what the Merritts need?

Chapter Excerpt

"Me? An angel? Far from it. Just ask anybody," Kate said with a laugh as she squatted down in front of the steps.

The little girl pulled her faded red dress down over her knees as though she wanted to hide as much of her small body as she could from Kate. Little bare feet crusted with dirt stuck out below her dress. The child pushed her dark curly hair back from her face and dropped her chin down on her knees to wait for whatever Kate was going to say next. Tear streaks ran down her cheeks, but she wasn't crying now. Kate had never seen the child before. "Are you lost, sweetie?" Kate asked.

"No." The child mashed her mouth together and tears filled her dark chocolate brown eyes and overflowed to slide down her cheeks. She didn't bother wiping them away as she stared up at Kate with a mixture of fear and hope. "You have to be an angel. Please."

"Why do I have to be an angel?" Kate moved over to sit down beside the child. She started to put her arm around her, but then stopped. She didn't want to frighten the little girl.

"Because my mommy said that if I sat here and didn't cry an angel would come take care of me and love me and bring me something to eat. I tried really hard. Just like I promised Mommy." The little girl looked down at her feet. After a few seconds she went on in a tiny, sad voice. "But I couldn't keep all the tears in. They just came out."

"Where is your mommy?" Kate asked softly.

"She left. With Daddy. She had to." The little girl pulled her dress down farther over her knees until the hem touched the top of her feet. She curled her toes under as if to hide them too.

"Why did she have to?"

"Because of the baby in her tummy. Daddy, he's gonna' find work and then they're coming back for me. But Daddy said this looked like a good place. He said it had gardens and apple trees and two churches. Most places only have one. They kept Kenton because he's sick. Nobody wants a sick boy. I told them I might be sick too, but they said the angel wouldn't care. That she'd make me feel better. They're coming back for me. Mommy promised."

The little girl looked up at Kate as if she needed Kate to say it was true, so Kate did. "Then they will as soon as they can."

The little girl let out a long breath and scooted closer to Kate. "Can I touch you or will my hand go right through you? You know like a ghost. I've never seen an angel before."

"You can touch me. I'm not a real angel. Those you might not be able to touch." Kate put her arm around the child and drew her close against her. Her shoulders felt very bony under her dress. "My name's Kate. What's your name?"

"Lorena Birdsong. Mommy told me to say my name every morning when I get up and every night when I go to bed and that wherever she is she'll be saying it too. My name. Lorena Birdsong." The little girl looked up at Kate. Her lips trembled a little and she blinked her eyes very fast before she went on. "Names are very important, you know. Mommy told me never to forget that."

"Your mommy is right." Kate squeezed her shoulders a little.

The little girl shifted a little to the side and pulled a piece of paper out from under her leg. "She wrote it down for me so that when I start school, I'll spell it right." She ran her finger over the writing on the paper before she held it out for Kate to see. "That and the day I was born."

"Lorena Birdsong. June 1, 1931," Kate read. "That's a very pretty name."

"Thank you." Lorena lovingly folded the paper and held it over her heart for a moment before stuffing it under her leg again.

"Do people call you Lori for short?" Kate said.

"Nobody but my brother, Kenton. He does sometime." The little girl looked very sad again. "I didn't get to tell him goodbye. He's been coughing so bad that he was really tired and he went to sleep. Mommy tried to wake him up, but he was too sleepy. She said she'd tell him for me. He's six."

"And you're five."

"This many." Lorena held up one hand with her fingers spread apart. "I had a birthday."

"I know. It was on your piece of paper."

"We were in the car. We don't have a house."

Kate thought of the people she'd seen going through Rosey Corner in the last few months. Mostly men alone on foot, but some families in cars. Her father said the men were trying to find work, but there wasn't any work to find in Rosey Corner. So they passed on through. He said they were going to the cities where at least they'd be able to find a soup kitchen.

"Are you hungry?" Kate asked Lorena.

Lorena licked her lips and nodded her head. "And thirsty. Do angels carry food in their wings?" She tried to peer around behind Kate.

"I'm not an angel, sweetie. No wings for sure." Kate looked at the jar of jam she was holding and wished for a spoon. Still the jam would taste better with a biscuit and some milk. "But I know where we can get something for you to eat. Come on."

Angel Sister is available online at, or and other on-line booksellers or at bookstores everywhere.

Bestselling author of several novels, Ann H. Gabhart was inspired to write Angel Sister in part by the many stories her mother and aunts told her of growing up in small town Kentucky during the 1930s. Visit Ann's website - or Ann's Blog -

Copyright ©2011 by Ann H. Gabhart

Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-0-8007-3381-0

All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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