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Winner’s Announced!

Ashley Long, Desiree, Ashley Chen, Krystal Larson, and Lioness. These are the five winners of an eBook copy of A Father’s Love. I need Ashley Chen and Desiree to contact me at Lorhainne@LorhainneEckhart.com and let me know your email address. If I don’t hear from you by February 10, two alternate winners will be selected.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by to leave a comment. A Father’s Love is now available in print for 3.99.

This Giveaway is International for Young Adult Books only and runs from January 27 – 31.  I’ll be giving away my new release, A Father’s Love, illustrated by Vancouver Island Artist Sherrill Welz. There will be five winners, and each will receive an eBook copy of this Young Adult Adventure, A Father’s Love, in your choice of eBook format.

As part of this Young Adult Giveaway Hop I’ve included the first few pages of A Father’s Love.

The Gift – December 24, 1926

“Make sure you and Rose are back before sundown.”

Fourteen-year-old David Lattimer couldn’t contain his excitement, no more than he could hold back a big toothy grin as he waved to his father outside their four-room log cabin. Smoke drifted neatly from the stovepipe into the chilly island air.

David trudged through the damp underbrush wearing three pairs of thick wool socks in his father’s old, loose leather boots. Rose, his ten-year-old sister, dogged his heals as she did every day. Her pigtails stuck out from under the ridiculous wool green hat he’d swear had been a cast off from the poor box. Rose was a tiny sprite of a girl, with freckles and brown eyes, wearing his old brown coat over his too small overalls. She had to roll up the pant legs and stuff the edges into her black boots, which did come from the poor box, to be able to wear them.

Rose skipped ahead of David, swinging her arms.

“Rose, stay behind me. The path’s too narrow up here, and you’re going to be soaked before I find the goose.” He expected her to whine, complain and to argue. However, she surprised the heck out of him when she obediently pulled in behind him on the narrow path in the thick forest, filled with old fir and cedar, on the forty acre parcel owned by his family near Cameron Lake, on Vancouver Island.

David’s longish hair drooped in front of his eyes. He yanked off one of his red wool mitten with his teeth and tucked his thick brown hair under his dark wool cap. He knew it was time for a haircut when his mother teased he was beginning to look like a girl.

Over his left shoulder, David cradled the Winchester ten-gauge single load shotgun. The one bequeathed from Grandfather George. He took his role as big brother seriously, making sure the gun wasn’t pointed at Rose.

David grinned; he still couldn’t believe his father’s surprise this morning. This year, David got to hunt the Christmas Goose. A tradition passed down by his grandfather to his father. He patted his right pocket, double checking the ten spare shell casings were still where he’d put them.

“How far do we have to walk? And where are we going to find the goose?” Rose had such a high-pitched voice, at times chattering non-stop, his poor ears ached from listening to her rattle on. If he didn’t answer her, she’d keep asking.

“We’ll head down towards Cameron Lake. That’s where Dad and I saw a flock of winter geese the other day.”

“But that’s an hour away.” Rose trailed behind, her voice squeaked like a wagon wheel that needed greasing. David was tempted to tell her to go home. But he wanted a goose and knew his father would be angry if Rose went home alone.

“Would you stop complaining? You didn’t have to come.” David walked faster because he knew that’d really piss her off.

A tightly packed snowball slammed into the back of his head, causing David to stumble. He spun around and glared at his stubborn little sister. What stung more, his head or pride, David wasn’t sure. Short, tough and determined, described Rose to a tee. Her lips scrunched up and she looked like a mad little bee. David knew, first hand, her fiery temper would lead her, head on, into a scrap. Why, just last week she sucker punched him with a solid jab to the bridge of his nose and he’d swear he’d bled like a stuck pig. But then, she’d caught him off guard, entirely by surprise, which was a low blow. Even his parents had been furious, but then they didn’t know he’d goaded her by laughing at the silly nickname. The boys at school had cat-called Rose “Sweepy” over and over. And that was all because Mama waved goodbye to Rose, calling her “Sweet Pea” in front of the town kids.

Nevertheless, his daddy drilled into him some hard honourable lessons; no matter what, you don’t hit a girl, ever. Right now he wanted to shoot a goose, not scrap with Rose. So, David swallowed his pride and nearly choked on the hard lump burning his throat. What he did do, was walk faster still. Let her run.

“David, slow down, you’re going too fast. David, aren’t you going to answer me?”

David whipped around so fast Rose bumped into him. “No Rose! Stop it. I’m not going to fight with you. All I want is to find the geese, shoot one and go home. That’s it, and if you’re going to keep talking, you’re gonna scare them away, so be quiet.” He didn’t wait for a response. David hurried through the brush staying on the same familiar trail winding its way down to the lake. To Rose’s credit, she didn’t argue. She let out a huff, closed her mouth and dogged David’s heels again.

They strode lower into the valley. The air was damper, heavier with mist. He knew they were close to the lake. A thick mix of fir, cedar and alder trees surrounded them, forming an umbrella overhead. The overgrown path, which had most likely been created by antelope and deer, led down to their water source. David patted the twin fir. This was the lower part of the trail right before the open grove, not far from the lake.

A glimmer of black flashed from the corner of his eye. He sucked a breath, and then another, before it registered in his head what it was. But by then, his heart had already slammed his throat shut, choking off any reasonable sound while his back broke out in a cold prickly sweat. “Get up a tree!” David somehow managed to croak out the panicked words in a low scratchy voice, sounding nothing like his, even to his own ears.

David swiveled his head between a bundled up Rose, standing frozen as a mouse, and the curious bear cub. Her mouth gaped, her big eyes filling with fear, a poison which raised the hair on the back of David’s neck.

“Back away move slowly toward the tree, hurry, Rose.” She didn’t move. David backed away from the cub and stepped on Rose’s foot. Her breath wheezed, maybe that’s what knocked some sense into her. She grabbed his arm with a shaky hand and moved.

A second cub wandered from behind an old cedar. Rose stumbled. “Get up, Rose.” And she did, just as David somehow boosted her up, so she could grab the first branch. She’d just scampered onto the branch when a low growl split the icy air and crashed through the underbrush. David didn’t know how he did it, but somehow he leaped six feet up onto the first thick branch. Planting his hand on Rose’s butt, he shoved hard. “Faster, go, Rose go! She’s right behind us!”

Reach, pull, step. One foot after the other, he climbed each thick branch of this Douglas Fir. Rose was quick and appeared to fly up the tree as she grabbed a branch, pushed off, grabbed the next, higher and higher, until they climbed more than halfway up that old growth tree. And when David glanced down his blood turned to ice as he stared at the steel shotgun in the dirt, right where Mama Bear circled in fury. She growled and pawed at the base of the tree, while her cubs wandered behind her.

“David, is it a black bear?”

“Yes, dang it. And she’s not happy.”

Rose dangled on the branch above him. She was breathing heavily, like she’d raced up a mountain. David held onto the branch above him and glanced up. Her large, innocent eyes pleaded for him to do something. They had to be about a hundred feet up, high enough to be safe unless mama decided to come after them.

“What are a black bear and her cubs doing out this time of year? Aren’t they supposed to be hibernating?”

The bear continued to charge, crazed, her wispy snarl short and rough, as she dug and clawed at the ground, circling the tree.

“David, is she going to climb up here? What are we going to do?” Rose perched on the branch above him.

“I don’t know.” David was abrupt.

Rose began to whimper above him. David couldn’t console her; he had enough to do holding himself together. Tears burned his eyes, and his throat throbbed with something thick and gooey. How long would it be before their father would come looking for them? He hoped it’d be soon; except his stomach sank with the realization that Dad wouldn’t start looking until sundown. Then how far would he get in the dark? It was cold. Neither was prepared for this. How would they survive a night in this old fir tree?

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