Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. Readers have the chance to jump from one author to another who share hooks from their current WIP (work in progress) or any previously published book.
Sometimes chocolate is better than a golden ring.
Etta Bannon must endure another Christmas at the Indian Residential School for girls. With her heart heavy for home that is a two-day train ride away, all she has is the stolen moments with her beau to look forward to, but even the boy she cares deeply about cannot erase her longing for her family.
Charlie Shawanda is also stuck at the Indian Residential School for boys. Only a mere jog away from Etta, he longs to make their last Christmas at the school special before they graduate in the spring and go their separate ways. But what he truly years for is to call Etta his very own.
When a golden opportunity arises for Charlie to show his love, he must make a tough decision–endure the cruel punishment of the strap or miss out on a chance to tell Etta how he truly feels and maybe lose her forever.
Genre(s): Young adult, contemporary romance.
Heat Rating: Level 1
Publication Date: December 11, 2020
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Etta and Beatrice reached the laundry room, where gray bags full of dirty clothes from the boys’ school yards away waited for them. The stale smell of must lingered under Etta’s nose. She reached for the first bag and dumped a pile of pants onto the wooden table used for sorting.
“Were you checking yourself out for Charlie?” Beatrice giggled. She pushed at her cat’s eye glasses that forever slipped down her beak-like nose.
Since they were safely tucked away from the prying ears of the apostolic sisters, Etta also let the giggle in her throat burst free at the mention of Charlie’s name, as it always did, even when the awful lonesomeness clung to her heart like the icicles hanging from the eavestrough of the three-story brick school. “What do you think?”
“He’s the finest there is.” A trace of wistfulness lingered in Beatrice’s words.
Etta began rifling through the pants pockets. Maybe a boy had left Beatrice a note. It’d be a great surprise and something to make her best friend smile. Beatrice was too kind and sweet to go unnoticed. But the two notes Etta unearthed were for the other girls, which she quickly stuffed into the pouch of her smock to hand to them afterward.
When she came to Charlie’s pants, her shriveled heart puffed back to its normal shape. If only they could see each other, instead of hiding what they shared. But getting too close to a boy was a sin, according to Sister Maria, something Etta turned her nose up at. Mom had told her she could hold hands and kiss.
She dug inside the front pocket. Her fingers touched a slip of paper. Quickly, she peeled out the note and opened it. Charlie’s perfect penmanship the priests demanded—and the same for the sisters—popped off the paper.
Hey, Etta, I’ll see you at choir practice tonight. I tried to take the laundry over, but Ronald had the chore for today. He wouldn’t give it up even for my lard.
Etta bit down on her lower lip and giggled. Every boy wanted to deliver the laundry. Trading for lard was as precious as gold, because it was all they got to spread on their black bread in the morning, even if the white, greasy portions were barely enough to cover a whole slice.
Then there was the porridge they ate every single day for breakfast. Another trade-off for the boys. The brown sugar in the big pot always sank to the bottom, so those first in line got stuck with the plain, lumpy yuck while the ones in the back savored the scrumptious taste of the sweet, brown, gooey stuff.
I’ll be sure to walk extra slow on Saturday. We can sneak off behind Green’s. Charlie.
Her pulse points quickened. Two days she’d have to wait to be alone with Charlie. While she continued to sort the laundry, his big ebony eyes, luscious mounds of black hair slicked into a pompadour, and dimple-baring smile clung to her brain.