I am joining the blog tour for The Cure by Patricia Ann Bowen today, and am privileged to be able to share an extract from the book with you. Read on for a sneak peek!
TWO PEOPLE HARBORING SECRETS…
A stranger from the future comes to Paige’s cabin in rural Georgia with a treatment for her early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He bargains with the skeptical patient to give her The Cure if she’ll conduct a longitudinal study for him, proving his drug’s efficacy to a future world full of clients that need it. Faced with her dire diagnosis, he might be her only hope. She grapples with the side effects of his offer and learns to suppress her own dangerous truth: trust no one.
Seldom lucky in love, Paige finds herself competing with her best friend for his attention, knowing there can be no good end for their stolen moments of passion. Can she stay under the radar of the medical and legal communities to carry out his requests? And how will their complicated pasts bring them together physically, emotionally and professionally in a successful, if unethical, partnership?
Many lives will be changed, but at what cost… and to whom?
The following is part of the opening prelude to The Cure. It provides backstory on Paige, the story’s protagonist, and gives insights into her tendency to isolate herself both physically and emotionally.
Time Heals Only So Much
Twenty-some years ago
Paige wrapped sweet little Rose in her favorite yellow blanket and slid her lifeless body into the oversized backpack. She put on her hiking boots, carefully donned the backpack, closed the door of her apartment behind her, and walked smoothly down the two flights of stairs so as not to jostle her precious cargo. It was only a thousand meters to the woods, a little over half a mile, and few people were out and about in the town this time of day.
Rose’s weight was light on her back, just as she’d been light in her arms, suckling from her breasts. Paige entered the sparse woods, not at all like the dense pines she was used to hiking through in north Georgia. The soil here was loose and sandy. That was good. Rose’s grave would be easy to dig.
Most villages around the World War II battle sites of Normandy had escaped the recent creep of urbanization in northern France. The face of the region was farming and tourism, and maintaining a rural look fed that image to outsiders. Paige had come here to first escape from family scrutiny and medical school pressure at home, and then the gruff bustle of Paris, just one hundred fifty miles away, with no plan but to live her life with the new life inside her. She’d decided it was nobody’s business but her own.
Her pregnancy had been easy, interesting. It was one thing to study it as a med student, another to plot the growth of the child forming in her tummy from zygote to embryo to fetus. She knew from the first day she found out she was pregnant that the baby growing inside her must be a girl. She didn’t know which man in her classes was the father. There were several possibles, students and professors, and she wasn’t sure she remembered them all. She didn’t care. This baby would be hers alone.
She walked a far distance from the gravel road until she found the small clearing. There were some olive trees, one especially twisted, easy to claim as a marker among all the others. She drew her baby from the backpack and laid her on the ground beside it. Next she took out the trowel and put it on the ground next to her child.
Rose’s life had been short, only a year. Something came in the night and took her away before she said her first word, took her first steps. But her life gave meaning to Paige’s in the slice of time she’d known her, needed her. She was just becoming a real little person….
Paige knelt down on the leafy floor, covering Rose’s body with her own. This would be the last time she’d be able to share her body’s warmth with her girl. Then she touched her tiny hands. Kissed her cold cheeks. Wrapped one of her dark curls around her finger, careful not to let her own tears fall on the beautiful little face.
Her thoughts were racing toward what special thing to do next. She had no belief in prayer. It was a waste of time, exploited action in exchange for false hope. But what could she do to commemorate the moment? She wasn’t religious, but she did find solace in rituals. Her French grandmother and then her dad used to sing Frere Jacques to her when she herself was a little girl. She began to hum the tune while she cradled Rose. The words came back to her, and then more tears poured out of her swollen eyes. She’d never again see her baby’s long lashes flutter, overcome with sleep and song.
It took her a couple of hours to dig a small deep grave in the sandy soil beside the twisted olive tree. She didn’t want to hurry what came next. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the still, soundless, blanket-covered baby. A light mist was beginning to fall, and she didn’t want Rose to get wet. She wiped her hands on her jeans, wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands and lifted her daughter into her arms one last time.
“Au revoir, ma cherie, my sweet little Rose. I love you with all my heart and I will miss you every day of my life.” After one last kiss on her forehead, one on her nose, one on each cheek, she wrapped her daughter in the soft yellow coverlet she’d made for her, placed her in the tiny grave and covered her with earth and finally a thick, warm blanket of leaves.
Paige started to leave and then remembered the backpack. She returned to the grave and picked it up, empty now, like her. She took one last look at the olive tree to imprint the site indelibly in her mind. She didn’t know if she’d ever return, but just in case….
She walked back to her apartment, really just a large room with all she’d needed for the past year and a half. She made up the foldout bed she and Rose had slept in together until two days ago, brewed a cup of tea and sat in the rocking chair until she noticed it had become dark. She couldn’t stay there another night. She just couldn’t. She filled her suitcase with essentials and left everything else behind. Her rent was paid through the end of the month and she had more than enough cash and credit to get her back to the States. There was one last train passing through the village to Paris that evening, and she boarded it with moments to spare.
If that has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of The Cure here:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patricia Bowen writes novels, novellas and short stories, mostly about women with complicated lives. She’s been a copywriter, business owner, coach, marketing manager, and held corporate jobs in international business. She pens gardening articles for her local newspaper, and grants to support her local library. Her recent writing has appeared in the Table for Two anthology, The Sun magazine, and earned honourable mention in several contests. The Cure is her first full published work of fiction.
Many thanks to Patricia for sharing this extract from what I think sounds a great book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information on The Cure.