Skip to main content

Excerpt - Things Left Unspoken: A Novel by Eva Marie Everson

Things Left Unspoken
by
Eva Marie Everson


Every family--and every house--has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.

Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation? Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Chapter 1

It snowed the day we buried Uncle Jim. Not the kind of snow that flurries about your face or drives itself sideways, turning the world into a blinding sheet of white. This was angels dancing on air.

When the first flake touched my cheek I felt the icy wet kiss and looked up, past the rows of granite markers—some shiny as silver and others cracked and gray—and into a fortress of old oaks, Spanish moss dripping from barren limbs. Another flake landed on my eyelashes. I batted them, then raised my gloved hand to brush it away.

I looked at my mother, who caught my movement. We sat shoulder to shoulder in the front row of chairs reserved for the family, as though we were aristocrats who’d managed to snag the best seats at the opera. Our eyes locked as she reached for my hand, then squeezed.

I took a deep breath and looked away. The pain of loss in her eyes was too much; especially at this moment, with Great-uncle Jim not six feet away, entombed by polished cherry and cold white satin.

A gust of wind blew against my back, and I glanced toward the open sky nearly white with the cold. I lifted my chin, and the breeze skipped on my shoulder and tickled my ear. “I’m not there . . .”

“Hmm?” My voice was barely audible, but my mother turned and gave me a harsh look.

“Jo-Lynn.” She whispered my name in admonishment, as though I were a child, then nodded toward the youthful pastor who stood shivering on the other side of the casket, reading from a book of prayers. He’d never once laid eyes on Uncle Jim; other than speaking recitations, there wasn’t much else he could say.
••
Uncle Jim had never been one for going to church. For the life of me I couldn’t remember a single time I’d seen him sitting in one of the hard pews at Upper Creek Primitive Baptist Church or standing rigid with a hymnal spread against his open palms. But I’d heard him talking to God in the fields behind the big house; listened in the cool of the evenings as he sang, “In the sweet by and by . . .” while rocking in one of the front porch rockers that lined the wraparound of the old Victorian he and Aunt Stella called home.

He wasn’t a “religious” man, but his prayers before dinner were more like conversations with the Almighty than “grace.”

“Most beloved heavenly Father,” he would begin, then he would thank God for every single item on the table, for the hands that prepared them (typically Aunt Stella’s), and for those who would be blessed by them. “Keep our bodies healthy for thy service on earth and purified for thy kingdom in heaven.”

I remember raising my head ever so slightly, peeking through one eye at him. His ruddy face and drooping jowls quivered. His eyes were squeezed shut; tiny slits behind black-rimmed glasses. His hair, dark blond and thinning, shimmered in the glow from the overhead kitchen light.

At the big house, breakfast, lunch, and dinner were eaten in the kitchen. We never ate in the formal dining room, though it was certainly laid out, ready for guests. Uncle Jim said it was just a waste of space, and if he’d built the house, he would have left off that room. Growing up, I imagined that if I’d built the house, I’d use it for every meal.

My great-grandparents—Aunt Stella’s mother and father—had built the house before they married in the late 1800s. It was 1896, to be exact, when my grandmother came to live here as a bride at sixteen to her dashing “older” groom, ten years her senior. As the story goes, he met her, fell in love with her, married her against the wishes of her family, and then carried her over the threshold of this sprawling two-story with tucked-away rooms, long hallways, and an honest-to-goodness brick well on the back porch. Still to this day one can drop an old wooden bucket down into its depths and then, using a beat-up, long-handled tin dipper, sip of something so sweet and clean it almost doesn’t seem real. Liquid heaven, Uncle Jim used to call it.

In the early days, beyond the rose-covered trellises on the back porch, perfect rows of vegetables for canning and freezing were planted, both for our family and for neighbors in need when there was abundance. Standing behind the small garden was the farm. It extended alongside the highway that ran beside the left side of the house. The crops stretched toward the horizon and out of sight, interrupted only by the leaning of an old barn, the rise of a tin silo, or the deliberate movement of a John Deere tractor.

But those days were long gone. That was a time when everything seemed to be about life and living. These past few decades, the earth hasn’t been tilled or loved. No planting, no praying for rain, no harvesting. Nothing to show for what had been except the gray of the packed soil and an occasional twig rising up from out of the ground, a remnant of the last crop. Of what my great-grandparents had built, only the big house remained, and it was a part of the remnant of what had at one time been a thriving farm in Cottonwood, Georgia.
••
I blinked several times and brushed away those memories of life. There was too much heartache in the moment to allow myself to remain within them. Now was a time to reflect on death and dying. I could sit here and commiserate, and no one would be the wiser as to the depths into which I was falling. But I knew . . . I knew that when the funeral was over—when the casket had been lowered into the ground and the last clump of dirt had been patted down and the clusters of floral arrangements had been placed strategically about the mound—I’d see that old, proud house filled with family and friends eating fine Southern cooking off Chinet plates, reminiscing about the time Uncle Jim did thus and such and then throwing back their heads and bellowing at their memories.

But I . . . I would move about the house I had loved my whole life, touching old photographs—their frames caked with dust—seeking a flicker of solitude where I could grieve in my own way for the man I’d loved more like a great-grandfather than a great-uncle. A man who, it seemed, was always right where I needed him to be.

Except now. When I needed him most.


Buy from Christianbook.com
Buy from Amazon.com

Comments

  1. Thank you Camy! It means so much to me that someone of your talent would spotlight my work.

    I love you! (Did you know you are my favorite Asian writer? :))

    Eva Marie Everson
    Author
    Things Left Unspoken

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Laura’s Apricot Shell Shawl knitting pattern

I usually have a knitting project in mind when I write it into one of my books, but Laura’s apricot-colored shawl just kind of appeared upon the page as I was writing the first scene of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , and it surprised even me. I immediately went to my yarn stash to find a yarn for it, and I searched through my antique knitting books to find some stitch patterns. I made her an elegant wool shawl she could wear at home. The shawl ended up tagging along with Laura into the next book, Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner , where it imparts some comfort to her in her trying circumstances. The two stitch patterns are both from the same book, The Lady’s Assistant, volume 2 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, published in 1842 . A couple excessively clever and creative knitters might have knit these patterns in the Regency era, but they would have only passed them around by word of mouth or scribbled “recipes” to friends or family, and it wouldn’t have been widely use

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Keriah’s Pyrennees Shawl knitting pattern w/ @knitpicks Palette

Why I knit this shawl: I wanted to knit the sunset-colored shawl Keriah was wearing in chapter 5 of my book, Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 2: Berserker , so I looked for an antique pattern that might have been used during the Regency era. This one caught my eye, even though it was published in a knitting book a few decades later than the Regency era. The Spider-Net border pattern was most definitely in use in the Regency period, but it’s also remotely possible that the Alice-Maud stitch and the lacy border stitch patterns were also in use during the Regency, being passed on from knitter to knitter via hand-written receipts, by verbal instruction, or with knitted sampler squares (like how many Shetland lace patterns and Bavarian cable patterns were shared). My/Keriah’s version of this shawl would have been lacy but warm because it is knit with fingering yarn on small needles. Since Keriah was cold, I think she would have grabbed this shawl rather than something more elegant and airy.

Narrow Escape contest for January!

I’m so excited because my January Love Inspired Suspense, Narrow Escape , is now available! Here’s the back cover blurb: KIDNAPPED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT Arissa Tiong and her three-year-old niece are snatched off the street by members of a notorious drug gang. Having lost her police officer brother to a drug bust gone bad, Arissa knows the danger she's in. But she has no idea why they want her. Desperate to protect the little girl, Arissa escapes and runs straight to Nathan Fischer. She knows the handsome, weary former narcotics cop hasn't told her everything about the night that ended her brother's life and Nathan's career. But he's all that stands between her and dangerous thugs who are after something she doesn't even know she has. This is the 4th book in my Sonoma series , but each book is stand-alone. The hero is Nathan Fischer, who had a minor role in the 3rd book, Stalker in the Shadows . To celebrate, I’m giving away 10 copies of Narrow Escape ! Her

New contest!

I haven’t had a contest since October! Here’s new one just in time for Christmas. I’m picking 3 winners to each be able to choose 10 books from my Christian book list! And yes, that list includes my books! 1) You get one entry into the contest when you sign up for my email newsletter at http://www.camytang.com/ . If you already belong to my email newsletter, let me know! 2) You get a second entry into the contest if you Like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CamyTangAuthor . If you already Like my Facebook page, let me know! 3) You get a third entry into the contest if you join my Goodreads group: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/49078 . If you already belong to my Goodreads group, let me know! 4) You get a fourth entry into the contest if you follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/camytang . If you already follow me on Twitter, let me know! 5) You get extra entries into the contest if you get someone else to join my email newsletter. Just email camy {at] c

Toilet seat cover

Captain’s Log, Supplemental Update August 2008: I wrote up the pattern for this with "improvements"! Here's the link to my No Cold Bums toilet seat cover ! Okay, remember a few days ago I was complaining about the cold toilet seat in my bathroom? Well, I decided to knit a seat cover. Not a lid cover, but a seat cover. I went online and couldn’t find anything for the seat, just one pattern for the lid by Feminitz.com . However, I took her pattern for the inside edge of the lid cover and modified it to make a seat cover. Here it is! It’s really ugly stitch-wise because originally I made it too small and had to extend it a couple inches on each side. I figured I’d be the one staring at it, so who cared if the extension wasn’t perfectly invisible? I used acrylic yarn since, well, that’s what I had, and also because it’s easy to wash. I’ll probably have to wash this cover every week or so, but it’s easy to take off—I made ties which you can see near the back of the seat. And

Chinese Take-Out and Sushi for One

Captain’s Log, Supplemental My agent sent me an article from Publisher’s Weekly that discussed this incident: Chinese Take-Out Spawns Christian Controversy And here’s also a blog post that talks about it in more detail: The Fighting 44s This is Soong-Chan Rah’s blog: The PCS blog In sum: Apparently Zondervan (yes, my publisher), who has partnered with Youth Specialties, had put out a youth leaders skit that had stereotypical Asian dialogue, which offended many Christian Asian Americans. In response to the outcry, Zondervan/Youth Specialities put out a sincere apology and is not only freezing the remaining stock of the book, but also reprinting it and replacing the copies people have already bought. I am very proud of my publisher for how they have handled this situation. The skit writers have also issued a public apology . (I feel sorry for them, because they were only trying to write a funny skit, not stir up this maelstrom of internet controversy. I’ve been in youth work long enou

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduc

Wasabi Wednesday – Year of the Rat mug

Captain's Log, Stardate 01.09.2008 Get free short stories and info on exclusive book giveaways when you subscribe to my newsletter! The winner of Abandoned Identity by Tamara Tilley is Amanda Congratulations! Blog book giveaway: To enter to win today’s book, leave a comment on this blog post, giving your name and saying you want to enter. International readers are welcome to enter! Please leave a WORKING email address or website where I can contact you (please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail.com--or something like that to prevent spammers from trolling for your email address). Please make sure your email address works—I’ve had several winners where my email to them bounced and I couldn’t get hold of them. It is the winner’s responsibility to check to see if you won and to email me if you haven’t yet heard from me. You have a week to comment--I'll pick a name out of a hat on Wednesday, January 16th. (BTW, you can post a comment and NOT enter, too.) Doing s

I’m a Book of the Year winner!

Captain's Log, Stardate 09.22.2008 I won first place in the Debut Author category of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards! Here are all the winners! Debut Author Sushi for One? (Camy Tang) Zondervan, editor Sue Brower Bayou Justice (Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll) In Between (Jenny B. Jones) Contemporary Novella Finally Home in Missouri Memories anthology (Deborah Raney) Barbour Publishing, editor Susan Downs Moonlight & Mistletoe in A Big Apple Christmas anthology (Carrie Turansky) Remaking of Moe McKenna in Race to the Altar anthology (Gloria Clover) Historical Novella Love Notes in Love Letters Anthology (Mary Davis) Barbour Publishing, editor Rebecca Germany Beyond the Memories in Missouri Memories anthology (DiAnn Mills) The Spinster & The Tycoon in The Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner anthology (Vickie McDonough) Lits Splitting Harriet (Tamara Leigh) Multnomah Books, editor Julee Schwarzb