Shannon here: Normandie Fischer shares insight into her real life romance, plus an excerpt from her Romantic Suspense title, Two From Isaac’s House. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for one e-book copy and one print for two winners. Deadline: May 20th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Normandie:
Wandering into Blessings by Normandie Fischer
Some of us wander the wilderness long enough to make more mistakes than we like to remember and then must live with their consequences. My story is not unique. I was one who flailed without an anchor and chose badly, marrying for all the wrong reasons. By the time I met the Lord at age 27, I was well on the way to regret, which meant years on my knees, praying for a marriage that ended abruptly when my husband of 23 years decamped.
The good news is that God’s not absent as we flail around in the messes we helped make. And sometimes the outcome we’d prayed to avoid turns out to be His blessing when He restores the years the canker worm has devoured.
I received that sort of happy ever after at an age when many would have considered me over the hill and too old for romance. But, honey, I wasn’t.
The story of my later-in-life romance begins years before I actually met Michael. Shortly after my children’s father left, the Lord offered me an opportunity that would change my life. My aunt, who’d taught me to sail and given me access to a library filled with books, needed care as her dementia worsened. The Lord used this circumstance to bless her and to bless my son and me, but it also isolated me. I longed for more. And then, one day, a friend suggested I step out and try what was then a new form of meeting people—online dating.
At first I was encouraged by the number of men on Christian sites who supposedly shared my interests, but I discovered very early that a whole lot of them lied. By the time frog after frog had failed to morph into a prince, I was discouraged and told God I’d give Him one more chance. After that, I planned to resign myself (and try to be happy and content in my resigned state) to being one of the old ladies, along with my elderly aunt and my mama, at our NC home.
That time my search for a “tall, Christian sailor” turned up a widower from California. Well, I was not interested in hauling us to California, but a friendship with a sailor? Sure.
He made me laugh. He was smart, incredibly so, and I found that attractive. I began to dream, but because of all those frogs, I insisted we meet early on in the game. I had a friend who lived in the same neck of the CA woods, which gave me a destination, and I flew out. Michael waited for me at the bottom of the escalator at the Oakland airport, a rose in his hand.
A month later, Michael came to visit us in North Carolina, and we took my little sharpie sailing on Core Sound. Michael is a true renaissance man: an engineer by profession, he can do anything he puts his mind to, and writing me beautiful letters that made me laugh and cry did the trick. He handed me three different cards while we were sailing that day, each one coming closer to the point, until the last, which accompanied the ring.
It was too soon. I was too frightened of making another mistake. But when I prayed about it, God said, “Hang onto the hem of this man’s coat, and I will bless you.”
With pulsing blood that sounded like gongs clanging, I told the Lord, “If that wasn’t You, I’m in big trouble.”
I can tell you from the perspective of almost 15 years of marriage that God was the matchmaker. He has blessed me, and not only me. Michael took on both me and my auntie, who moved to CA with me and lived with us for the next two years before she died. And during that time, she accepted the Lord at one of the weekly prayer meetings I held in our home. Michael became a step-father to my two children, a true grandfather to my two grandbabies, and he brought our sailboat from Mexico to NC so we can take care of my mama in the place she built for her old age.
So, here’s my testimony to romance: it’s never too late to trust God to give you the very best.
Excerpt Two from Isaac’s House—by Normandie Fischer
From Chapter 21: Rina
Rain pelted the convent windows the next morning, depressing expectations for a day by the lake. But at exactly ten o’clock, an undaunted Tony arrived, armed with a big beach umbrella. “I’ve got two waterproof ponchos, a couple of blankets, and a basket of food packed by a friendly restaurateur.”
She glanced from him to the downpour sloshing into the street. “We can’t go out in this.” She felt soggy just looking at it.
“Why not? It’s a warm rain, there’s no lightning, so the worst that can happen is a little soaking. Besides, it’s slowing to a drizzle. It’ll probably stop by the time we get to the lake. Wear a hat and bring a change of clothes.”
She must have been mad. But she dashed upstairs to gather her things.
He held the big umbrella as he escorted her to the car. After stowing her bag on the back seat, he climbed in and rubbed the drips off his face with a towel. “Where’s the hat?”
“In my pocket.”
“Doing you a lot of good.” He put the car in gear.
“I thought you’d ordered blue skies.”
The wipers slapped from side to side, sloshing raindrops off the glass. He swept a hand in their direction. “I was going to, until I decided this would be more fun.”
“We’ll have the beach to ourselves. We have great food, great company. What more could you want?”
“Imagination, my girl, a little imagination.”
The smile he turned her way held enough heat that she forgot the chill—and almost everything else—before Hilda’s words came to mind. “Remember I told you that one of the boarders thought a Libyan had broken in and entered my room by mistake?”
“She found out he couldn’t have done it, so she wondered if maybe it could be tied to my knowing you, because you seem to be friends with all those Palestinians.”
His knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. “I shouldn’t be anywhere near you. You shouldn’t be seen with me.”
“But you said that man is gone. Surely it’s safe now.”
His sigh was long and deep. “I certainly hope so.”
So did she. “Let’s just enjoy the day and worry about him later.”
He gave her a quick smile. “I intend to.”
Lago Trasimeno lay nestled in the middle of the mountains, today gray water surrounded by grayer hillsides, the only color relief a light brown sand and the bright red blanket Tony carried out to spread over a tarp under the large black umbrella. A few houses half-hid among trees on the slopes, but any inhabitants were snug indoors. Boats from Passignano sat tucked in the harbor, and mists shrouded the lake’s far reaches.
While Tony set up camp, she watched from the car, enjoying the patter on the roof—and the car’s dry interior. When he called, she raced for cover, carrying one of the baskets of food and ducking under the umbrella.
He uncorked a bottle of white Orvietto. “Wine?”
She held out a hand to stop the flow. “That’s plenty, thanks.”
He dug into the hamper and, with a flourish, served cheese, bread, prosciutto, and grapes. “There’s some fattening stuff for dessert, too.”
“I’ve never picnicked like this, water in front and above.” She bit into a grape, juice squirting into and out of her mouth.
He wiped his cheek where the grape juice had hit and licked his lips.
They ate in a comfortable silence, watching the rain drip off the umbrella, until Tony surprised her with a question. “Do you like sounds?” He paused, waiting, but she didn’t know how to answer. “Close your eyes and listen. The rain as it hits the umbrella, the taut nylon, then the water. Next, quieter now, as it meets the sand.”
She stared at him. His eyes had the same intensity she’d seen in Jason’s right before he told her he had to go home or they’d both regret it. Her breath caught, and she looked away.
“Close them. Listen.”
Unable to do anything else, she obeyed.
The rain plopped in the stillness between them. The tension grew but a different kind of tension, this one focused on sound, until each became distinct, visceral, as she pictured separate drops, separate textures.
Opening her eyes, she slid out her hand and let the water trickle off her fingers. It created a small hole in the sand, filled the hole, drained, filled it again. As she controlled the flow, the drips rippled puddles and formed minute craters in the sand.
A yearning rose in her, and she smiled shyly at him. He released a sigh, reached toward her, and then suddenly withdrew his hand.
“We’d better get going,” he said, gathering their things.
Her last thought was reprieve. Her first, she banished.
The drive back to Perugia felt heavy, pregnant with emotions she didn’t understand. When he parked and walked around to open her door, he helped her out, paused, and then whispered something that sounded like “I’m sorry. I must.”
And then his fingers traced her cheek, glanced over her lips, and she just stood there, mesmerized. The tingling in her skin felt like fire dancing around her. His head lowered, his lips followed the path of his fingers, and she tasted something akin to magic.
For the very first time in her life.
His lips finally eased their tormenting caresses. Hers felt bereft when he broke away.
“Come,” he said, leading her to the convent door. He had to turn her so she’d enter when Monica opened the door. But he didn’t speak again. And neither did she.
She lay in bed that night and remembered his touch, his fingertips brushing skin, his lips resting gently on hers, prodding them, releasing a moan in her. She was sure he’d heard it. Her breath quickened as she imagined his lips pressing and his tongue invading.
“My God, what am I doing?”
God didn’t answer.
Tony had moved them beyond fun today, beyond laughter. He had touched a place deep within her as she’d listened to those sounds and watched the raindrops, a place she’d never known existed. She’d never even imagined that depth of sensory involvement just from listening.
“Stop that,” she whispered to the dark. “You’re going home in a few months. Besides, you don’t even know him, not really.”
But after that picnic, her heart disagreed. She felt as if she knew him better than she knew anyone. Jason had never, ever made her flesh—or her mind—yearn like this, had never asked her to hear or see or feel like this.
She beat her fist on the pillow. “It doesn’t matter. I love Jason, and he loves me. He loves me.”
As she lay there with her eyes closed, she remembered Acie’s dream, her prophetic dream of them on a blanket in the rain near the water. Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes as she listened to the unquiet night. Amazing how much one could hear, as if the silence weren’t silent at all.
About Noramdie: Normandie Fischer studied sculpture in Italy before receiving a BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Her books, which have garnered numerous awards, include her Carolina Coast stories: Becalmed, Heavy Weather, Twilight Christmas, and Sailing out of Darkness. From Fire into Fire and Two from Isaac’s House—a Romantic Times Top Pick—form the beginning of her Isaac’s House series. A lifelong sailor, Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, sailing home to North Carolina in 2011 to take care of her mother. They have four children, two grandchildren, and an aussiedoodle named Rhion.
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About the book – Two from Issac’s House:
Inheritance? Check. Solo trip before getting married? Check. Dangerous hot guy she shouldn’t get involved with in a thousand years? Oh, honey, that’s a check.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Purchase now: Two from Isaacs House
Question for Readers:
Two from Isaac’s House and Sailing out of Darkness both take us to Italy. What setting would make you want to pick up a book? If you could choose to take a year’s sabbatical in some other country without worrying about cost, where would you go?
Come back May 16th for Dawn Cahill!