With my debut novel's release this month, I'm offering everyone a preview of the novel, opening chapters released each week.
Solomon's Grave is now available for Pre-Order! Click here to order your copy now!
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The Reformed Baptist church in Hillcrest was small, but its ranks still listed over one hundred and sixteenparishioners. Most lived locally or in one of the neighboring towns. The parish’s home was a two-story saltbox on Dreyfus Road, once home to the founder of the long-closed Dreyfus Shoe Company in Millbury, and his extended family. After the prestigious clan’s heyday in the late eighteen-hundreds and early into the following century, much of the sprawling estate had been bequeathed to the town. The large square home had stayed in the grasp of one family member or another through the mid-sixties until, falling too far into disrepair, it sat vacant for years. In the nineteen-seventies, Ralph Hayden and his wife Jean recognized that the population of their small parish in the city of Worcester had reached its limit. With the backing of fellow parishioners, the aging structure in Hillcrest was purchased from a grateful legal firm who had been acting as the Dreyfus Estate’s trust company.
Two-thirds of the first and second floors were slowly refurbished into the main chapel, with the remaining area closed off and reserved as the new home of Reverend Hayden and his wife. The reconstruction had taken nearly a year and a half, a time of pot- luck suppers and other fund-raisers held by the Worcester congregation. The money was raised, the mortgage approved, and the long, careful renovations begun. Hayden, ordained ten years before but never having a parish to call his own, at last was able to retire from his twenty-two year manufacturing job at Norton Company and, in his late fifties, fulfill a dream.
Nathan had been only three when the maiden service was held. Since then, it was the only church he’d ever known until leaving for college. Its humbleness was an anchor to the town each time he returned, second only to his parents’ house.
The cab pulled onto Dreyfus Road and parked at the curb. Nathan climbed out and stretched, wishing he’d slept more. He lifted his two suitcases from the trunk before closing it, paid the fare. An old Chevrolet four-door, slightly rusted, sat in the lone parking space out front, marked with a small sign reading “Reverend Hayden.” As for the man whose name still marked both the parking sign and the top of the weekly masthead, he stood slightly bent in the doorway, watching. Nathan waved.
The man had always looked old, gaunt with thin, white hair. Nathan tried to look casual as he walked to the door. He took Reverend Hayden’s hand gingerly in greeting. The pastor may have appeared fragile, but his gaze was eternally young. Deep blue, Hayden’s eyes scanned Nathan top to bottom as he feebly returned the shake. Looking for flaws, Nathan thought, a little self-consciously.
Gesturing to the Chevy when he had his hand back, Nathan said, “I see you’re still driving that old gas-guzzler.”
Hayden waved the comment away. “Not exactly.” He moved aside to let him enter with his suitcases. “I haven’t driven in four years now, Nate, when they made me give up my license. Too afraid I might run over a flock of schoolchildren or something. I don’t know. Marcus O’Connor takes it for a short drive once a week to make sure it’s still working, God bless him. The parking spot—and the gas guzzler—are yours now.” He said this with a sly grin as he closed the door. Nathan smiled back. The pastor enjoyed instilling terror in the hearts of the children with his gruff, mess-with-me-and-you-mess-with-God personality. Being his apparent successor (there was no “April Fools” sign on the door, Nathan was relieved to notice), he now found this attitude amusing.
“What are you smiling at, Dinneck?”
Nathan’s smirk disappeared. He stammered, “Nothing. Nothing, sir. Sorry. It’s just good to be—”
But Hayden cut him off with another gesture of his thin hand, this time accompanied by a wide, slightly yellowed grin. The expression was warm.
“I’m sorry, Reverend Dinneck,” he said, moving in front of him with a pat to his arm. “Old habits die hard, and,” he coughed a little in what Nathan thought might have been a laugh, “you should have seen the look on your face.” He laughed more clearly this time, and Nathan joined him, though slightly more guarded. Old habits, he thought.
Click here to Pre-order your copy of Solomon's Grave!
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copyright 2009 by Daniel G. Keohane
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Dragon Moon Press (March 2009)
Language: English ISBN-10: 189694499X