“For the sake of foreign relations and maybe even the future of world peace, do you mind being married to me in the eyes of a small village in Kandahar Province?”
The penpal romance between Army Captain Gus MacBride and yarn spinner Lucy Parmenter is tender, complicated and may be doomed by her secrets. Their intimate phone calls, emails and funny-sexy shared passion for knitting can continue as long as he’s thousands of miles away, in Afghanistan, and she’s secluded at a shelter for abused women in the Crossroads Cove high in the mountains of North Carolina.
But something’s going on in the deep forests next door, behind the haunted, abandoned 1920’s village known as Free Wheeler. Where Gus’s own whimsical grandfather once manufactured fantastically decorated bicycles, a roving band of strangers are pilfering small, odd items from local yards and, to Lucy’s horror, shaving swaths of wool off her beautiful ewes.
When Gus’s sister, Tal, confirms that the band is a small group of traumatized military veterans she and her fiance, Dr. Doug Firth, have taken underwing, Lucy is horrified. Her fear of strangers–men–tells her nothing but trouble can come from letting them camp in the community.
And yet . . . their inability to cope with the outside world is painfully familiar to her, and her perspective shifts with the news that the group includes two women and a heroic service dog who’s dealing with his own brand of PTSD. In fact, he’s the one “extracting” items from people’s yards.
Doug’s joke about the Cove being inhabited by a “beastie” similar to the mischievous “rockycockers” of his native Scotland sends the Crossroads Cafe’s young dishwasher and gullible amateur scientist, Larry, on a search of the woods around Free Wheeler. Larry’s mishaps–and the worry that he’ll expose the veterans–pull Lucy into the situation, whether she likes it or not.
Determined to recast the frightening troop of strangers, she focuses on their love for the apple pies Tal, employing her family’s food charms, has used to win their trust. Lucy dubs them The Apple Pie Knights. But can she save them from themselves?
And, when Gus decides it’s time to come home on leave soon to meet his beloved penpal and pretend “wife” in person, Lucy knows that her challenges are only beginning.
The Apple Pie Knights is a 14,000 word short story publishing this week in ebook for 99 cents! It leads directly into the opening of Gus and Lucy’s novel, The Kitchen Charmer, coming later this fall. If you haven’t read Lucy’s story, The Yarn Spinner, it’s a 99 cent short, as well.
AND if you want to read an excerpt of the Knights, you can get one in the back of novella, Where The Foxgloves Bloom, which is free all week at Kindle.
Thanks for your patience, and happy reading!