Goodbye Noel by Nike Chillemi
In Goodbye Noel by Nike Chillemi, the first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies? Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5!
Long Island, New York
Late December, 1946
Katrina wanted to throw Detective Daltry into a snow bank. The nerve of him, barging into their house twice in two days, demanding she bundle the baby up and take him into the cold. How could that man not recall their harrowing, nighttime drive through the storm of the decade? She tossed her hair back over her shoulder, and with great difficulty held her tongue.
Momma apparently had no such reservations. “Detective, what you are doing is very wrong.”
Katrina came up beside her mother, to show a united front. “This is outrageous.” Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms over her chest. She hated the tone of her voice, but this baby wasn’t a ping-pong ball to be batted back and forth as the detective moved forward with his murder case.
He ignored her and continued addressing her mother.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He removed his fedora. “Chief Ferguson has already made the necessary phone calls and arrangements have been made. I must take Leslie Janos Bauer with me to the home of his aunt in Bay Shore. The chief would prefer your daughter come along in an official capacity as a nurse. It’s up to her, but I have to take the baby.”
Momma’s face flushed beet-red, a sure sign she’d become enraged. “This is not good for him… this hustle from place to place.”
“With all due respect, ma’am, a child belongs with his family, if at all possible.” The detective took a step toward Katrina. “Now, will you please fetch the baby.” It wasn’t a request.
Katrina made sure she stood tall. “Yes, I’ll get Leslie.” She clenched her fists at her side and jutted her chin. “This is disgraceful. You are using this infant to solve your murder case. Perhaps your own tragic life experience clouds your judgment?”
His mouth fell open and he took a step back.
“If you have it within your heart, give me one minute. I’ll get him ready and get my coat and boots on.” Without giving him a chance to reply, Katrina turned and stormed up the stairs.
Leslie lay sleeping in the baby-doll cradle Poppa had made for her when she was a little girl. Poppa had that kind of talent. He could make anything. In her heart she knew, he’d figured it would be her baby’s bassinet. At least now, it had a real purpose. She ran a finger over the hand carved leaves in the headboard.
“Milachku, time to wake up.” She took the infant into her arms inhaling the smell of baby, sweeter than the most expensive imported perfume.
Leslie yawned and she snuggled her nose in the soft folds of skin between his head and shoulder, kissing his neck. He cooed, so safe in her arms.
She brought him to her heart, holding him, rocking him and spoke softly to her reflection in the mirror above her bureau. “Fat chance I’ll ever walk down the aisle or have a family of my own with the man shortage since the war.” Something deep in the core of her female-self rebelled, a throbbing turbulence, from which deep hunger erupted.
She stroked Leslie’s cheek and made a funny face. The softness of his skin melted her heart.
He smiled at her and kicked.
“I’m so sorry. I promised I’d protect you and I can’t.” She forced a smile and made clucking noises.
He grabbed her hair and yanked.
“Ouch.” She laughed, removing strands of her hair from his little fist.
A tear escaped and ran down the side of her cheek. “I can do this.” She lifted her chin, sucked in a long breath, wrapped Leslie in a heavy quilt, and picked up his tote bag.
Nike, is there any secret that your heroine Katrina might tell on you?
Something a lot of people don’t know is that I had a professional life BCFW (before Christian fiction writing) in the bridal manufacturing industry. Katrina gets a real big kick out of that because she’s such a fashionista…and her mom is too. I’m a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. I’ve traveled to bridal fairs in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, and Las Vegas, and of course in my hometown, New York, NY. In that world, I’d hear the term fashionista bandied about. They’d say, “Oh, she’s such a fashionista.” So, I thought, why not crime fictionista? I titled my blog Crime Fictionista and I’ve also been called by that moniker a time or two. Katrina is tickled by that as well.
Why did you write GOODBYE NOEL?
I wrote it to give hope. The story is set at the close of WWII, a time when the nation was recovering from the devestating losses of that war. And yet, it is a time of great courage and optimism in America. I love this period in American history. The people of that time were a get up and go generation. They strove to make something of themselves and of this nation. I hope my characters reflect the spirit of that era. Right now this country is facing a very difficult time. I pray this story transmits a little bit of the can do spirit of an earlier era. I think in many ways we are standing on the shoulders of giants. If we will look back and take a page of out their book we might do better than what we’re doing now.
Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. BURNING HEARTS is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, published by Desert Breeze. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series was released in December, 2011. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/