Theo sat on the bench across from the cemetery and pulled his jacket close to his chest. The service for his old friend had ended an hour ago, but he would wait. After everyone left, Theo would go into the Friedhof, place his single rose atop the freshly turned soil, and say goodbye.
Now he sat in the cold and felt old. Life was such a temporary place, and he knew he could not wait any longer to do what needed to be done. He had to write down all he’d put away years ago, memories buried somewhere deep in a private place. He needed to reach beyond the comfort of these new days and unwrap the terrible; the hurt and anguish, of love, found then lost, and all the regrets locked away but never forgotten.
Twenty years later and a continent away, family secrets revealed to Rick Dahlman demand he control his disbelief and anguish as he travels to Europe to unravel over thirty years of lies and deceit, a journey steeped in history. In a quest to find answers to his identity he will meet the classic, elegant Anna.
As Rick demands answers to his very existence from ghosts of the past, his emotional resolve is blindsided by the beautiful, headstrong Karlotta. Lost in a whirlpool of passion and desire so strong only their love and the surprising answers Rick finds in Theo’s diary will guide them to the awakening of a new life.
And so begins Theo’s Diary. The reminiscence of love and pain, war and regret . . . A life that spans two world wars, two continents, and almost ninety-one years. In his simple way, Theo will share the good and the bad, dreams and devastation, relationships so filled with passion you will stop and draw in a breath, just to slow time. And lives will be changed.
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I am really excited about my new book. I have picked a scene from the diary, an excerpt to share; just a bit, a tease, for a love like this cannot be rushed.
Over the next few weeks I will share more, but for now, I hope you enjoy.
Theo is a soldier in the German army. Although wounded many times, he is given a chance to go home for the first time since the war started three years earlier. These are his words.
In late April of 1917, orders came down that all soldiers were to return to the area where they were born. Why? I never found out. At least, Joseph was given a reason why he had to take Mary, who was about to give birth to our Lord and go to Bethlehem. But I certainly did not argue; it really didn’t matter.Würzburg was not that far from Oberweinhausen.
We arrived in Würzburg and were sent to barracks on the south side of the city. No one knew why we were here. I recognized a few men I had met on the train, but no one from home. The atmosphere was not good, so much tension and concern among the troops. I did not involve myself as I was told I could go home, to Oberweinhausen, and I was overjoyed at the thought of seeing all my relatives and old friends if any friends were still there.
I was lucky. I found a man with a wagon who lived in Karlstal, and he was more than glad to give me a ride. This was more than luck, for my home lie just on the other side of the river.
As I walked across the bridge over the Main, my thoughts raced back to my Oma and my childhood, to the many times she cautioned me to be careful as I hung over the railing wishing I was a bird… able to fly off into the sky, or a big fish that could swim all the way to the Rhine and beyond. I closed my eyes and breathed the scent of my birthplace. My God, it was so good to be home.
I passed under the arched Tür, down the cobblestone street toward home, to the Main Gasse and our house, saying hello to those I met on the street, some I had known all my life. But I saw only older residents of the town, I did not see many young people until I saw her. I think I stopped dead in my tracks. I do remember thinking she was as bright and shiny as the spring day, her curly blonde hair dancing about her shoulders like ribbons on a May Pole as she ran up the side street. I also remember thinking no bird’s tune could sound any more delightful than the song she sang, and as I listened and watched I knew I had to talk to her.
“Guten Tag, Fräulein. Was für ein schöner Tag.” How stupid! I am sure now that we both knew it was a beautiful day, but I couldn't think of anything else to say at that moment. Then she smiled and said.
“Theo? Theo Dahlman? Ist es Ihnen wirklich?”
All I could do was stare at her as she asked if it were really me. She knew me, but for the life of me, I did not know who she was.
“Emma, ich bin Emma Meyer.”
I could not believe it. When I left Oberweinhausen three years before, the Emma I knew was nothing but a bean pole, all legs, and pigtails. The woman who stood before me now was more than beautiful. And at that moment, she reached out and stole my heart.
“Mrs. McCall, please. This is Dr. Richard Hampton.” His voice was cold and precise.
“This is Mrs. McCall.”
“I’ve just been told you have my son. Just what in the hell is going on here? Who are you and why is David with you?”
“Don’t you yell at me, Dr. Hampton. Your first question might be to ask if David is all right.”
“What do you mean? Is David hurt?”
“No, David is fine, he’s—”
“What’s your game, lady? How did you get your hands on my son?”
Michael slammed down the phone, her hand shaking so badly she missed and hit the table as she threw the receiver back into place. He was just what she had pictured; a rude, neglectful father, with a short fuse. The phone rang again. She let it ring three times before picking up the receiver.
“Did you hang up on me?”
“You’re damn right I did, and if you don’t stop yelling at me, I’ll hang up again.” She took a deep breath, and then continued. “Your son is okay. He’s sleeping now, in case you would like to know. And did you know he planned to go to Los Angeles today? That his itinerary included catching the ferry to San Francisco, and then a bus to Los Angeles; did you know he planned to do this, by himself?”
Again, she did not wait for an answer. “But he needed help. He walked to Sausalito to save money, but then he wandered around town most of the morning because he did not know what to do next. That was before he almost got hit by a car, before he finally got up enough courage to ask me for directions to Los Angeles. Do you understand what I just said? David was leaving town, to spend the day at his grandma’s house, although he doesn’t have the slightest idea where she lives, only someplace in L.A., and that grandmas like to have their grandkids visit, that they love to hug them. Those are your son’s exact words, Doctor.” Michael stopped talking and waited for his response, but there wasn’t one, and his silence was more unnerving than the shouting as she waited for him to say something, anything.
Dr. Hampton tried to comprehend what she was saying about David running away. He didn’t understand. She said David was trying to get on a bus to Los Angeles. This was crazy. Why would he want to do something like that? Everything was fine this morning, at least he’d thought so, or was it?
He was using the phone in the hall outside the O.R., and it was impossible to hear. He shouted into the phone and said, “Please don’t hang up on me. I am not shouting at you. I just can’t hear very well.”
“I’m not going to hang up. I just need you to come get your son.”
After giving him her address, she replaced the receiver, gently this time. Michael went into the bedroom and gazed at the sleeping child. He had turned onto his side and pulled the coverlet around his shoulders, safely tucked away as the sun hid behind rolling clouds that promised rain.
Twenty minutes later, Michael heard the car pull into the drive. She waited for a pounding on the door, but the knock was light. Had she actually thought he would break down the door and demand his son?
Michael opened the door, again surprised. She had expected a larger image of David, but Dr. Richard Hampton was as dark as David was fair, tall and distinguished looking; well-dressed but not overdone, just stiff and starched as if he had been forty-something since birth. His hand rested midair, ready to knock again, his broad shoulders square, feet slightly apart. She couldn’t help but stare at his strong chin, a full mouth, now tight and grim and piercing eyes the color of midnight. Michael had thought David handsome, but his father’s features were almost perfect.
The hair on the back of her neck stood up as his eyes held hers for an instant. He searched her face, as though reaching for her thoughts then moved on, down to her bare feet, before lifting his eyes to study her again with an accusing look, a look she recognized as a declaration of war.
Michael stood back and lifted her chin, a subtle invitation for him to come in. It had started to rain, and as she closed the door the room came alive with shadows, quiet spectators that circled around them as they continued their silence. She turned on the light, filling the room with a glow that removed the shadows but not the tension.
His voice was steady, uncompromising yet calm. “Where is my son?”
Michael pointed to the bedroom door. “He’s still asleep. Dr. Hampton, you probably think this is none of my business, but when I think of David trying to do this again—”
His hawk-like eyes narrowed, cutting her off. His voice was soft, yet held an undertone just short of polite dismissal. “You’re right, Mrs. McCall, this is none of your business. Now, if you will show me where you have my son, I’d like to take David home.”
“Of course,” she said, surprised, although pleased at how nonchalant she sounded. Bastard, she said to herself. She was furious. What right did he have to talk to her like that? Her only concern was for the boy.
She opened the bedroom door, walked to the table by the side of the bed and turned on the lamp. Dr. Hampton followed, and as the light outlined his son, the change in his expression surprised Michael. His dark eyes softened, and a tender smile replaced the grim set of his mouth as he gently gathered the sleeping boy into his arms. Holding him close to his chest, the doctor buried his head in the hollow of David’s neck.
Feeling like an intruder, Michael left the room and realized she had made a mistake. He was not what she had first thought. She had assumed his relationship with his son was anything but strong and had placed all the blame on the father. Rather than seeking a rational explanation she had simply passed judgment on a man she knew nothing about, but the scene she had just witnessed proved her wrong.
Michael sat on the sofa and wondered again why she had not let Mary come and get the boy. Why had she gotten involved in something that was clearly not her concern?
David and his father talked about ten minutes, their voices low, words muffled, and then they came into the living room,
“David, thank Mrs. McCall for helping you.”
David looked up at his father and smiled, his blue eyes sparkling with love and admiration. Walking over to Michael, he said, “Thanks for helping me, and for lunch. My dad says we’re gonna go to Los Angeles to see Grandma together. And you know what? Maybe you could come to my house for lunch. What do you think?”
Michael looked over the boy’s head to his father, who offered no indication of what he thought of his son’s invitation. Dr. Hampton just stood there watching her intently, his face a blank, although she believed she saw a faint smile beginning to form over his closed lips.
“We’ll see. You take care of yourself, okay?” She dropped to her knee, pulling his shirt together at the collar, softly patting his chest. Running her fingers through his hair, Michael looked up at the father. “David, let me give you my phone number, and if you want, you can call me sometime. Any time,” she added.
She went to the antique desk, wrote her name and number on a piece of paper and handed it to David, who had moved to her side. He put the paper in his jeans and threw his arms around her waist and hugged her tightly.
“Come on David, it’s time to go.” Dr. Hampton held his hand out to the boy.
The rain had stopped. Michael waved goodbye to David as his father helped him into the car. She turned to go inside when the doctor called her name. He moved from the side of the car to the porch and stood beside her.
“Mrs. McCall, I haven’t gotten the whole story yet, but from what David has told me, I owe you an apology. Actually, I owe you more than that. He has never done anything like this, ever. I’m just starting to realize what could have happened to him if he’d asked some nutcase for help instead of you.”
He ran his hand through dark, wavy hair, that half-smile again playing at the corner of his mouth. However, his eyes were serious when he said, “I love my son, Mrs. McCall and I am truly thankful he met someone like you.”
Before Michael could reply, Richard got into his car and drove off.
Come Hear the Whisper of Time
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