Margaret from Maine
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
The end of Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy’s conscious life is ushered in by a flash of light on a plain in Afghanistan. While he languishes in a veterans’ hospital, Thomas’s devoted wife, Margaret, is raising their son on a dairy farm in rural Maine. She receives an invitation to Washington, DC, to meet the President of the United States as he signs a bill in support of wounded veterans with war veteran and West Point graduate Charlie King as her appointed escort. Charlie and Margaret’s shared circumstances inspire them to confide in one another. Suddenly, the pair creates a private world all their own, leaving the effects of war behind them. Margaret’s vows to her husband linger, raising a series of harrowing choice.
We are stop #4 on the
MARGARET FROM Scavenger Hunt. If
you haven’t read Parts I, II, or III, visit those first. I promise you won’t
want to miss how MAINE Margaret and Charlie met.
To read the previous installments, visit:
Part #1 ~ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
Part #2 ~ Passionate Encounters
Part #3 ~ A Tale of Many Book Reviews
She glanced across the airplane aisle at Charlie King. He looked up—he had been reading the Boston Globe’s sports page—and met her eye. He smiled. It was a good smile, full and genuine, with a single dimple on his left cheek.
“I’m not much of a flier,” he said. “I never liked it much.” “I don’t mind it. It’s not my favorite thing, but it’s okay.” “How old is Gordon? He’s six?”
“My friend’s son is. I figured they were about the same age. What grade is he in?”
“First grade. I thought about holding him back a year . . . he’s a little young for his class . . . but then I figured the socialization would be good for him. He likes it well enough.”
“It must be fun for him, living on a farm.”
“He likes the animals. But not the cows so much. He thinks they’re too big. I like the farm for him, though. And I like cows, as odd as that sounds.”
Margaret watched Charlie smile. He put the paper down on his lap.
“So are you with the Obama administration?” she asked. “I’m sorry. I don’t know your official capacity.”
“I suppose I am,” he said. “I’ve just been posted to West Africa with the Foreign Service. I’m in Washington to do language and cultural training.”
“How wonderful. That’s the diplomatic corps, isn’t it?” “Yes.”
“ And you served in the military as well. Army?”
“Yes. I went to West Point, the whole nine yards. Now I’ve decided I’d rather push a pen than a sword. That’s the little phrase I’ve been using for shorthand.”
“How did you end up escorting me to Washington?”
“I volunteered for it, actually. I have a brother who is in a vegetative state. My family lives in Iowa, and he jumped into a quarry and landed on rocks. Summertime, swimming, you know. He broke his back.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“He was a young kid, too. He was my older brother. So I’ve been interested in this bill. It won’t do much for my brother, but it will help other people in these circumstances. And I have to say, I respect what your husband did in Afghanistan. I read the report of his injury.”
“Thank you,” she said. “It took a lot of courage.” “Did it?” she asked.
He looked at her. She wasn’t sure why she made such comments, but it wasn’t the first time she had done so. She did, in fact, believe her husband, Tom, had acted bravely, but she did not see it in quite the same light as others wanted to see it. Although he had had a patriotic reaction after 9/11, he had also gone into the service for a salary. It had made financial sense, and she found it unsettling to hear other people attribute patriotic reasons for his service. For his heroism. She knew her husband—saw him bracketed by his son on one side, his father on the other—and she did not believe he would have acted courageously for a concept as vague as patriotism. No, it made perfect sense that he would raise his arms and try to protect a fellow soldier, but that had nothing to do with God and Country and flag waving. It had more to do, she long ago decided, with his innate decency, his willingness to rise out of bed at four thirty in the morning on the coldest day of the year to milk his cows, to treat them tenderly, to chip ice off their drinking water while his hands and cheeks turned bright red. Thomas had always acted kindly, gently, and he could no more have ignored the man behind him, fleeing for safety himself, than he could have ignored a broken-down vehicle on his way to town or a cow floundering in a muddy rut. He did what was in front of him, and the irony was that he had no strong political impulse, but he would stand up and take a bullet for any human being in need of his protection. So was it bravery, she wondered, or simply the fate his character brought about? She was not sure the distinction mattered anymore, and she only thought of it when others commented on his actions.
“Yes, I believe it did,” Charlie King answered simply. “I admire his bravery.”
“Well, thank you.”
“Have you been to Washington?” “Only once, for the medal ceremony.”
“I find it a little exhausting to live there. Everyone has some sort of game going. It’s probably always been that way, but it seems worse these days. All these political winds.”
He nodded. He turned a little to face her. She liked the way he talked, the intent way he had of holding her eyes with his own.
Scavenger Hunt: To read the next part of the story, visit Books, Books, the magical fruit
Joseph Monninger is the author of Eternal on the Water and The World as We Know It, as well as several award-winning young-adult novels. A professor of English literature, he lives in New Hampshire. Visit him online at http://joemonninger.com
To see the complete tour schedule, reviews, and Scavenger Hunt stops, click the tour banner below.