Matt Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series has been through the emotional ringer. I recently added to his distress. Luckily, he has his wife, Eva, and his son, David, to help him. Here’s an excerpt from my newest novel, Dearest Mother and Dad. It’s a standalone piece of historical fiction about Matt’s father, Orrin Connor, who was a minor character in my Series.
Standing alone in the middle of his parents’ living room, Matt Connor rubbed the back of his crew cut. Where do I start? Framed family pictures consumed every space on the walls. He couldn’t tell what color the wallpaper was. Knickknacks gathered dust and cluttered the end tables, china cabinet, curios cabinets, shelves, and the hutch. What am I supposed to do with all of this bric-a-brac? He had so many questions, and he’d just buried the man who always had the answers.
His wife, Eva, and their seventeen-year-old son, David, were going to help him clean and prep the house to sell. The money would go into David’s college fund. Matt didn’t know what he’d do without Eva and David; they gave him solace after his parents’ deaths.
David burst through the front door, balancing a stack of flattened packing boxes, a roll of tape, and Sunday’s thick Kalamazoo Gazette. “Where do you want to start?” he asked his father, dumping his armload onto the living room carpet.
“Well,” Matt replied, “we can donate the books to the library and then the collectables and clothes to the Salvation Army.”
“That’s a good start.” Eva joined them from the kitchen. “I’ll call the women’s shelter to see what they need.”
For the next week, the Connor family packed and delivered items to various nonprofit charity sites around town. By the end of the week, when the house had been virtually emptied, Matt and David carried up from the basement two worn-out cardboard boxes labeled “Orrin’s stuff” in Matt’s father’s tidy cursive. They set the boxes in the middle of the empty living room floor. Eva had just returned, carrying in a large pizza and a six-pack of Coke.
David relieved her of the Cokes. “Last two boxes,” he informed her.
Sitting on the floor, they ate their dinner. In between bites, David rummaged inside the first box. He pulled out a thick stack of faded envelopes held together by a pale pink ribbon.
“These are dated 1952,” David said.
“Really?” Matt leaned over the other box. He picked up a picture of a General pinning a medal on what appeared to be his then-eighteen-year-old father, Orrin Connor, during the Korean War.
“Grandpa got a medal?” David asked. “For what?”
Eva opened the top letter as Matt stared at the photo. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Dad never talked about his experiences in Korea.”
“He was a corpsman,” Eva said, glancing at the letter.
“What’s a corpsman?” David asked.
“Like a medic,” she replied. “These are letters he mailed to his parents.”
“Wow,” David said. “Let’s read some. I don’t know much about that war.”
Eva looked at Matt. “Are you up for this?”
Matt nodded and leaned back against the bare wall. “I’d like to know more, too.”
…come back next week for an excerpt from Chapter One…
Preorder your copy of Dearest Mother and Dad
Release Date: May 21, 2020
“One hundred and twenty Marines wounded. Eighteen dead. All for one lousy hill.”
Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.
“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”
Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.