Hear the first chapter of the audiobook for Comfort And Joy by Karin Kallmaker @Kallmaker on this episode of Book Clips, the mini podcast that gives listeners a taste of a book.
Home for the holidays from service in the Middle East, Milla expects Mom’s good food and the bliss of a quiet, peaceful hometown Christmas. Romance is not on her mind, but after a chance meeting with a woman unlike any she’s ever known before, she is thinking of the future for the first time since enlisting.
Unabridged and read by the author.
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Transcript for Today’s Show
Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
you were listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book [Music] romance and chocolate Inc presents comforting joy a holiday romance written and read by Karen call maker chapter one one thing Mila appreciated about cemeteries was that people left you alone she pulled off her gloves to enjoy the cool whisper of the powder find snow against her fingertips skiers called it champagne so soft and light that falling in it was almost fun Gracie had like skiing though she’d only gone once there was a funeral under way not far from where she squatted next – Gracie’s headstone that was tough a funeral on Christmas Eve two people had walked past her on their way to the surface but given her a wide berth she thought it was probably out of respect for this setting realistically it might also be that they were disquieted by her desert army fatigues they weren’t what folks were used to seeing in snow-covered Ohio Gracie and she had officially parted ways when Mila had decided to enlist Gracie couldn’t stand the thought of a military thug for a girlfriend that a four-year enlistment was the only way Mila would ever see a college education hadn’t mattered for Gracie her her part Mila couldn’t stand the thought of a drug addict for a girlfriend and Gracie’s using had gone from once in a while to parties to almost every day though they each thought their own reason was the better one it still added up to its over two years of living in the pipe flying without wings and if gossip were to be believed selling love to pay the dealer had wasted Gracie to nothing the last photograph of her posted on her Facebook page had been taken about three months before the news of her death it had shown an unsmiling Gracie as powdery and crumbling as the snow Mila was sifting through her fingers the blare of a horn and the sound of screeching tires brought her head up there were no noises of impact or further alarm so she forced herself to relax near the trees and iron fencing she could see the streetlights on the busy Boulevard wrapped in candy cane stripes it was hard believe she was home Youngstown Ohio wasn’t a big city but it wasn’t a small town either so it tried to be both it succeeded about as well as anything did when you couldn’t make up your mind Bagram aerospace had been jammed up with dignitaries arriving to visit troops for the holidays and she’d nearly missed her connecting flight out of Kuwait thankfully she’d slept like a baby for five hours and managed to wake up for the double-time race to make the transport from Andrews to Letterkenny Army Depot she spared a kind thought for the glorified bus drivers who’d held the flight so that she and five other grunts would be on the ground in Pennsylvania in the wee morning hours of Christmas Eve it had been a short rough flight in gusting winter winds but nothing like a chopper ride in a sandstorm she’d been met at Letterkenny by Judy her buddy Brent’s mom who had brought hot coffee and an Egg McMuffin at four o’clock in the morning real eggs even fast food had tasted like heaven her stomach still on Afghanistan time had been super pleased about every bite Judy was the source of Brent’s big brown eyes and his funky high-pitched laugh the oversized feet and hands must come from his dad she’d happily driven Milla on up to Youngstown listening for the hours of the drive to every last detail Milla could think to share about her son especially how he spent nearly all of his time safe inside the base at Bagram and it was mostly true signal course sometimes went out into the field to troubleshoot broken equipment but it was usually not in anything like combat conditions it wasn’t as if Milla was going to tell Judy that her son was in danger every day it was all relative and Judy didn’t need to worry more than she already did yes ma’am she’d solemnly sworn he wore his st. George medal every day ma’am Mila had told her about Brandt’s mishap with a steak knife while trying to prove he could juggle Judy had been delighted to learn he’d taken in a stray kitten that the unit had named booga and she thanked Mila over and over for the drive as if Mila was the one spending gas money in ours on Christmas Eve driving a stranger to Ohio and herself all the way back to Harrisburg Judy be late getting her Christmas Eve dinner in the oven but she driven away all smiles and going out Merry Christmas and God bless she and Brent had been buddies since basic training taken to each other on site they’ve not told each other the obvious until the day don’t-ask-don’t-tell had been repealed and even then it was with a shrug their whole unit new shoe and brent were queer and nobody cared guns weren’t loaded with rainbow bullets and respect was earned when equipment worked ahead of schedule and kept on working no matter what other people did to it and a story she realized her hands had clinched in the snow leaving harsh breaks in the blanket of white perfection she breasts away the indentations and told herself to call her brother he could pick her up at the Denny’s where Judy had dropped her off it was just a couple of blocks a few minutes for her to get back there a cup of hot real coffee would be great right about now her brother was hiding her at his place until the service at st. Christine’s tonight everyone was in on it but the parents she was one of three soldiers home for the holidays all the moms were going to win a door prize and tonight she’d go to bed with a stomach full of the best apple pie on the planet covered by the roses and angels quilt her grandmother had made for a ten year old Milla that other world of sand and misery would be far away and she didn’t have to go back for four whole weeks maybe not even then given the last conversation she’d had with her staff sergeant the dull thuds of slamming car doors brought her to her feet the funeral was over hadn’t been a long one and no one seemed to be in tears the priest in his robes wasn’t lingering beyond a few handshakes and the half-dozen mourners were likewise walking quickly to their cars most folks probably had other places to be on Christmas Eve and had likely already had their fill of the bitter winter she was loving the feel of the cold wind blowing past her ears and her cheeks getting red and the tip of her nose going a little numb Bagram was a sweatbox for most of the year and the only reason anyone zipped their jackets was due to dust not cold she pulled the damp air into her lungs and sinuses good as a drug after months and months were two inches of rain past four normal being alive to feel the cold and the damp and the tickle of light snow against her eyelashes it had to be a better sensation than anything Gracie had felt utter snorting or shooting up where had Gracie been trying to go sure that there were lots of places nicer than Youngstown but there were some real holes in the world maybe you had to see places like shebar and de Mer Dodd to appreciate broken streets and dirty sidewalks on the drunk on the corner cussing you out for not having spare change maybe if Gracie had appreciated the miracle of indoor plumbing the way Miele now did she wouldn’t have used the pipe to get someplace else she hadn’t understood Gracie then she didn’t understand her now when she’d heard that Gracie had overdosed on a coke heroin cocktail she’d been sad but not surprised Gracie hadn’t wanted to be safe and hadn’t wanted Milla’s love still there was a sore spot on the side when she thought about Gracie she had so many other sore places big ones compared to it but the closer to home she’d gotten the more this one had hurt when Judy’s route to the Denny’s had passed the cemetery it seemed like she ought to pay her respects well respects had been paid chill and her fingers was in danger of meeting up with the sad chill in her heart time to find a warmer happier place to be you have been listening to book clips check out the show notes for the synopsis and buy links for this book if you are interested in showcasing your novel then check out the show notes for more information