Author Jina Bacarr stops by for our sixth day of the 12 Days of Christmas with a blog post about an inspiring Christmas in Italy and an excerpt of her new release A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
O’Casey Brothers in Arms 1
He is a U.S Army captain, a battle-weary soldier who has lost his faith.
She is a nun, her life dedicated to God.
Together they are going to commit an act the civilized world will not tolerate.
They are about to fall in love.
A Soldier’s Italian Christmas is a story of the heart.
When I lived in Italy, I always enjoyed the spirit of Christmas and the Nativity scene. It’s a time when the chocolate flows like wine and the holiday spirit is everywhere. I’ll never forget when I found myself playing hostess at the U.S. Army Service Club to two nuns and several excited little boys from the local orphanage. I paired them up with Army and Air Force servicemen from the base. It was amazing how the soldiers took to the Italian kids even though they couldn’t understand a word.
Things got crazy when a little boy got lost and the men sent out a search party. When a sergeant found him hiding under the piano, a loud cheer went up. Each soldier had a grin on his face. I’ll never forget those smiles.
It was a melancholy moment when the nuns clapped their hands and the little boys lined up. Time to leave. That night I took a busload of soldiers to Midnight Mass in an ancient church in Pisa. It was Christmas Eve. We had mugs of hot chocolate and cookies I baked and boy, was it cold! I’ll never forget the spiritual joy of seeing these men (many of them combat veterans) rediscover their faith in that medieval church with its high ceilings and hard wooden pews. A coming home for some, a new beginning for others.
A Soldier’s Italian Christmas is about one such soldier who lost his faith in a different war when the Nazis fought hard to keep the Allies from reaching Rome. Captain Mack O’Casey makes a wrong turn and finds himself in a small bombed-out village where he meets a beautiful young nun, Sister Angelina. Their story will break your heart when they realize they’re falling in love but that love can never be. There’s also a mystery (I love archaeology so this is no surprise) about the lost Cross of Saint Cecelia and the brutal Nazi major who will stop at nothing to get it.
But most of all, it’s a love story about two people who come together on this holiest of holidays and how faith helps them overcome their greatest fears. Mack and Sister Angelina take us back to a time when the whole world held its breath as these brave men and women fought for freedom.
And a soldier and a nun dared to fall in love…
Excerpt from Chapter One of A Soldier’s Italian Christmas
He edged closer to the door, taking his time, knowing a barrage of bullets could be waiting for them on the other side, cracking their skulls open with sharpshooter precision. Or deadly explosive traps that could blow their legs off.
He nodded to his sergeant to cover him. His heart pounded in his ears. It never got easy staring the enemy in the eye, but it didn’t do any damn good to stand out here waiting to be picked off like wild turkeys. He kicked the door open and did a clean sweep of the courtyard when a cold chill stopped him.
He froze. Someone had a gun aimed at his back. His instinct never failed.
“Don’t move,” said a low, sultry voice in Italian. “I know how to use this.”
For chrissakes, a female.
“We mean you no harm,” Mack said in English, hoping to gain her confidence. She couldn’t see him in the dark. “We’re Americans, not Germans.”
“American?” Her voice changed. “Oh, thank God,” she said in English.
Mack turned around slowly and saw a young woman holding a gun on him. She bent down and turned up the wick on the lantern sitting on the ground and light flooded the small courtyard. He didn’t breathe until he was certain she wouldn’t shoot him. Dark, beautiful eyes flecked with amber sucked the fatigue right out of him. Flashing with a wildness that surprised him, she never flinched. Looking him over with intense scrutiny, she waved the lantern up and down his body. Over his boots, his uniform, the silver bars on his shoulders, and then his face. Her eyes locked with his, her lips parted. Full lips rendered her face with an exotic aura that held him transfixed. The girl was a beauty. Creamy complexion with a straight nose tipped at a perfect angle, expressive dark brows crossed in thought. She clenched her jaw, but her gaze never wavered. An absolute show of power on her part. It was clear she was relieved to see him, but she didn’t trust him.
“I thought this village was deserted,” he said, taking a moment to return her scrutiny. Dressed in a man’s dark clothes and heavy jacket, he noticed mud clinging to her boots and the knees of her trousers with a torn cuff. A navy blue beret fit snugly over her head. Curly wisps of silky brown hair escaped onto her cheeks, making him wish he could smooth them back with his fingers. Kiss her cheek. “My sergeant and I have been walking for miles since the Nazi big guns cut us off from our unit.”
Satisfied he was telling the truth, she said, “We’ve been holed up here praying the Allies would come.”
As she spoke, half a dozen little boys raced out from the shadows and crowded around her. Mack smiled. Round, cherub faces, black unruly hair. They reminded him of his brothers back home in Brooklyn when they were kids. The oldest boy couldn’t have been more than ten, the youngest about three. What surprised him was how clean their hands and faces were. Most children he’d seen in Naples since landing near Salerno were dirty and barefoot.
A familiar itch up crawled his backside. First, the shining cross in the sky. Now a beautiful woman with a brood of scrappy angels. What holy place had he stumbled into?
“Are you alone?” he asked, wondering where her husband was. Most likely fighting in the North. Ever since the devastating Allied losses at Bari, most partisans had fled into the hills. By the looks of the destruction, the village had been under attack for weeks.
“No, Sister Benedetto and I stayed behind to care for the children when the town was evacuated.”
“You’re in danger. The Germans have fortified this whole area with armed defense. Barbed wire and mines.”
“We are never truly alone, Captain. We have God to protect us.”
“And now the U.S. Fifth Army, Signorina.”
She lowered her chin, but her eyes looked directly at him. “I am called Sister Angelina.”
Buy link for Amazon: http://amzn.to/1bcVMwG
Vine video link: https://t.co/VmOOFx3FJq
For our fifth day of the 12th Days of Christmas, author Carol DeVaney stops by the blog today to answer some questions, talk books and share an excerpt of