Shannon here: C. Kevin Thompson shares how he and his wife met, along with how his character’ meet, and an excerpt from his Supernatural/Mystery/Suspense novel, The Letters. Just a head’s up, Kevin’s book was published by the company I’m now partnering in. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Two books up for grabs for two winners. A paperback copy – US only and an e-book copy will include US and international. Deadline: July 24th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kevin:
- How did you and your wife meet?
That’s an interesting question. We were in high school and had the same PE class period. The year was 1977. Cindy was in 9th grade, and I was in 10th. I was chosen to help her do handstands (this was back in the day of the “President’s Physical Fitness Award” program). I finally got up the nerve to ask her out. We went to the movies and saw American Graffiti. Seems so long ago now.
I drove up in my 1971 Mach I Mustang, which I had just purchased used with my own money, and got out. My mother got out of the passenger seat, walked around, got behind the wheel, and drove away. I was big stuff with my learner’s permit and my fire engine red sports car. Cindy was impressed. J We dated for a few weeks, but then she dumped me because, and I quote, “I was too nice.” Yeah…as you can imagine, she has not lived that down yet. When I’m accused of being not so nice, I remind her that I don’t want to get dumped again. Ha!
Three years later, a friend of mine and I went to the local bowling alley, and Cindy was there with a couple of her friends. We had no idea either one was going to be there. We talked for most of the night, and when I left, I placed a note on her car, telling her she “threw a nice gutter ball.” A week or so passed, and then I received a call from her on my birthday (She still remembered!). We talked, but I was hesitant to ask her out again, so she asked me if I had any plans for the upcoming Friday night.
I didn’t. The girlfriend I had dated for two years in-between had dumped me that summer (I was starting to get a bit of a complex, you know?). I had dated a few other girls, but frankly, I wasn’t up for more rejection, so I pretty much stayed to myself. However, when Cindy asked me out, I agreed. By this time, I had graduated the year before and was working full-time, and she was a senior in HS. Ironically, right after I hung up with Cindy, my other girlfriend who had dumped me that summer called and asked me out as well. I told her I already had other plans, and that was that.
Cindy and I went to the football game that Friday night. Afterwards, we went to Pizza Hut. When our pizza arrived, I attempted to be a gentlemen. I used the spatula to cut the deep dish pizza completely so I could scoop up a slice and place it on her plate. In doing so, the spatula slid sideways, and my hand knocked over her full glass of unsweet tea. It went straight into her lap.
I must have apologized a hundred times. She assured me it was okay. She had on jeans. They would dry. However, I just knew she was going to dump me again. “He’s not only too nice, he’s a klutz.” But she was true to her word, and nine months later, we got married. We both were eighteen. In 2021, we’ll be celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary. Apparently, being nice has its perks after all.
- How did Rachel and Gordon meet in The Letters?
Rachel Hamar (“Ramah” spelled backwards, by the way) had a tough life living in a small town in West Virginia. Her mother, Dorothy, was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with several other maladies. Dorothy didn’t believe it, though, and she never gave up on her notion that she could talk to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Her husband, Elmore, who was a hot head and not a Christian, believed that little tidbit of information qualified her for the nut house all by itself.
Rachel met a boy in high school named Billy. Billy Baldwin. She was a freshman. Billy was older (Where have we heard that before?…But that is where the similarities end.) Unbeknownst to the young couple, the Hamars and the Baldwins had a history that made the Hatfields and McCoys seem minor by comparison. When Elmore found out Rachel was dating a boy without them knowing about it, that was bad enough.
When he found out the boy was a Baldwin, it was unacceptable. When he found out Rachel was pregnant with Billy’s child, it became a major problem, and in the argument that ensued, Elmore lost his cool and beat up Billy—who had pulled a gun on Elmore to defend Rachel. The subsequent injuries caused Billy to die right there in the meadow. This event sent Elmore “up the river,” and with Dorothy having been just committed to a psychiatric hospital in Cincinnati, it made Rachel a ward of the state.
Fast forward twenty years later, and Rachel finds herself in New York City, living with her longtime, childhood friend, Joanie Harrington. They’re barely making ends meet between the two of them, and Rachel’s about to call it quits on life because she just got laid off from her job as a bank teller…on the twentieth anniversary of Billy’s death, no less. Her emptiness from losing the love of her life has finally taken its toll.
Rachel has another part-time job, though, and it is through that job she finds out about another banking position coming open. She applies, and when she walks into the office to sit down and take part in the interview, the branch manager sitting next to her just happens to be the man who had innocently bought her meal yesterday at work before she went on shift. It was just a kind (HE WAS BEING NICE!) gesture done in a Pay-It-Forward kind of way.
Because he becomes her boss, she’s adamant that she live by the motto her and Joanie swore to years ago: Never get your honey where you make your money. However, as Rachel and Gordon get to know each other more, and as the letters—which are the focal point of the story—continue to invade Rachel’s life, these two points of emphasis—the story of Rachel and Gordon AND the story of the letters—intertwine in a way only God could manage (and that’s all I’m telling…I don’t want to give everything away).
Here’s an excerpt I really like from the story of Rachel and Gordon. It’s the restaurant scene, and besides the scenes involving the letters, is probably my favorite:
Setting: Christmas Season: Tuesday, Dec. 23
Santorino’s Italian Grill Manhattan, NY
Business was sluggish for a Tuesday night before Christmas. I thought things would have been hopping. People needing to eat while they did last minute shopping. Tourists celebrating with relatives. Others who lived here just wanting a break from the routine of cooking.
That’s my motto during the holidays. “No cooking.”
Well, that was my motto every day, actually. I hate to cook. But on my salary and with my bills, who could afford to eat out? Even with an employee’s discount?
That was why I worked two jobs. Why I decided to work tonight. I was offered the night off, but since the restaurant was closed Christmas Day, I figured I’d switch.
I lost out on the deal. Twice. Lost out on the amount of tips I would have usually earned on a Thursday night as well as the night off.
Story of my life.
And now that Joanie was gone, I may have to give up my Sunday and Monday nights and work at the restaurant. And if I couldn’t find a cheaper place to live, then I’d have to pull a Joanie and get a third job.
And officially have no life left to live.
I walked around and asked the few patrons in my section if they wished to have their drinks refilled or look at the dessert menu. While I was pouring some man a cup of coffee, our hostess walked by me and let out a little squeal like she’d just won the lottery.
“What is it, Robin?” I looked behind her—
“Hello, Miss Hamar.”
“Gordon. What are you doing here?”
He wrinkled his face. One eyebrow lowered. “This is a restaurant, correct?”
“Yes, but why here?”
He leaned in close, his face a few inches away but turned slightly so that his mouth was next to my ear. “I hear they have excellent eggplant parmesan here. I also heard their waitresses are the best looking in Manhattan.” Straightening his stance, he gave me a quick wink and followed Robin to his table.
In my section.
He chose my section.
Or did Robin assign him to that table?
I watched Robin seat Gordon, hand him a menu, and tell him about the specials.
When she headed my direction, I spun around and walked beside her. “Did you seat him at that table, or did he request my section?”
Robin giggled. “Yes.”
“Yes! He requested your section, and I sat him at that table. When I saw how he looked around for you when he requested your section, I made sure I gave him the most private table you had.”
“Girl! That man is wearing a Hugo Boss. Don’t let him get away.”
“What’s a Hugo Boss?”
“Don’t you know anything about fashion? Hugo Boss is a very expensive brand of suits for men. Not the most expensive, but that suit probably set him back eight hundred bucks.”
I looked down at my new shoes. From the sale rack at Weston’s Department Store.
Robin started to laugh.
“Hey, girl, you probably should close your mouth before you start drooling on the floor.”
“I just bought these.” I lifted my foot. “For eight hundred dollars, I could buy like…forty pairs of these. And still have leftover money.”
“That’s why I said don’t let that one get away. If the outside speaks for anything on the inside, don’t be a fool.”
“But he’s my boss. At the bank. Don’t you think that’ll make things a little awkward?”
“Honey, if that man can afford a Hugo Boss, he doesn’t need you to work.”
Don’t get your honey where you make your money…
But you can send your honey off to work to make the money, right?
I took a deep breath and kept repeating that as I walked up to his table.
About Kevin: KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more? The second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available! The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are now available: Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen! Book 5, A Pulse of Time, is coming summer 2020! And, his newest standalone novel, The Letters, is now available in both e-book and paperback!
Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever. Learn more & connect:
About the book – The Letters
Rachel Hamar—a Manhattan bank teller—lives nothing close to a Manhattan lifestyle. Residing in Washington Heights, NY, the only thing keeping her in The Big Apple is her mother—a long-time patient in a local psychiatric hospital. It’s December 2014, and the twentieth anniversary of her high school sweetheart’s tragic death. She’s not sure how much more heartache she can endure, especially after being told earlier in the day she no longer has a job at the bank. A casualty of downsizing.
In the midst of spiraling depression, Rachel receives a mysterious letter in the mail. When she opens it, she becomes cautious and skeptical of its contents and discards it as a mistake, concluding it’s simply addressed incorrectly or a postal worker’s faux pas in the midst of a busy Christmas season. But another letter arrives the next day. And another the day after that. Before long, she is in possession of several letters. Each one more puzzling than the last.
Thinking that someone may be playing a cruel game, she contacts the police, and this propels Rachel and the two detectives into one of the most bizarre cases they’ve ever encountered. Is it a friend’s cruel joke? Is it some stalker’s perverse idea of manipulation? Or is it something more?
Question for Readers: Cindy and I are going through a huge spiritual awakening right now. Having been together for almost forty years since we started dating that second time, we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We’ve faced a great deal of adversity with health issues as well. Through it all, though, God has been faithful to us, even when our faithfulness to Him hasn’t been where it should have been. Yet, during this pandemic, things changed for us. The urgency of God’s Word has been paramount. This episode gave us some time to reflect on God’s Word in a way that is definitely refreshing and uplifting as well as challenging. The Sermon on the Mount has been on my mind now for almost a year, and I see so clearly now how Jesus’s sermon is the hub to and from which everything flows for us as believers pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven. What passages of scripture have resonated with you during these days of shut downs and sheltering in place? And why do they mean so much more now than they did before all this COVID-19 mayhem started?