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Waiting for Lily Bloom - Jericha Kingston

James Bloom has prayed three years for rain and five years for a wife. His dreams are demolished on Palm Sunday, 1935, when a catastrophic dust storm hits Oklahoma, and his neighbor’s niece has to ride out the storm at his house—overnight. The next day, he’s forced to marry her, an East coast city girl who can’t speak. Could this be God’s plan?
Condemned to a future married to a stranger in the dusty Oklahoma wasteland, Lily Driggers longs for her home. Yet somehow, her new husband is the only one who understands her silence.
As Easter approaches, Lily and James wonder if there is hope after the storm.

She looked to the front porch where James stood, his face leached of color.
“Walk toward me as fast as you can.” His voice cracked. “Now, Lily.”
What? The bully was at it again, this time issuing orders. She sighed and stepped off her rung on the fence. Mr. Bloom was about to learn she didn’t obey tyrants. She released the top plank and would’ve turned to go, but something in his voice startled her.
“Don’t look back, Lily. I’m begging you. Come to me.”
She glared at him.
His face crumpled, and he bounded off the porch and ran toward her.
The beast was chasing her! And he looked…crazed. No. Terrified. The only other time she’d seen such a look was when—
Everything turned red. She was enveloped in a cloud. Fine dust stung her eyes and throat, choking her. She gasped, inhaled dirt, and coughed. Her mouth snapped shut, sand grinding between her teeth. She closed her eyes and hid her face behind the flimsy sleeve of her dress, protecting her nose and mouth. But it was no use.
Shaking. The earth was shaking. Wind gusted, shrieked and moaned, almost as loud as her racing heart. Would it burst right through her chest? What’s happened? Is this a tornado?
Wind-driven sheets of dust blasted into her flesh like piercing needles. She tasted dirt, smelled dirt, cried dirt.
“Lily, grab the fence.” James coughed and sputtered. “The fence!”
She tripped over her own feet to reach the corral and latch on. She clung there, wind and dust swirling around her, lifting her braid up into the air. Please, God, help me!


James rose and walked to the window. The storm raged on. He’d seen dust storms in his life, but never the likes of that cloud wall. It was like a great partition, separating heaven from hell. Saved from lost. And he was on the wrong side. He swallowed, watching the destruction blow past, taking his dreams with it. Had he done something he shouldn’t? Had he failed to do something he should’ve? Surely this was the judgment of God.
Were his friends and neighbors spared? Many were going hungry already, had babies to feed. Only God knew how many were affected.
A faint cry reached his ears. Was that…did he hear Fitz? Myrtle? He strained, listening for his horses, but the wind roared, swallowing the calls of its captives. He gripped the window sill. If the animals survived, it’d be a miracle.
What can I do, Lord? If the storm continues, I’m finished. The land would be devastated. What if he lost Dad’s farm? He rubbed a shaking hand over his eyelids.
He walked back to Lily. Her hair gleamed. Thick, dark lashes rested against her pale cheeks. She’d curled her feet up in the chair and turned to her side. The quilt was pulled up to her chin. Her head tilted forward slightly, completely relaxed in sleep. Even breaths. In and out. Calm in the destruction. A picture of peace and beauty as his world blew away.




Where to purchase Waiting for Lily Bloom:

Character interview

Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Lily. I'm 28. I'm mute.
Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there?
I lived with my father in Savannah, Georgia a week ago, but I came to visit my aunt and uncle in Oklahoma, and unwillingly became a resident. And a wife. And a foster mother.
What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know?
I'm too curious, which often lands me in the worst predicaments!
Name two things would you hate people to know about you?
First, how difficult it is for me to forgive.  Second, if I could talk, I'd feel guilty voicing the unkind thoughts in my heart. 
Tell us about your special lady/bloke. What makes her/him special? 
James is kind and brave. He risked his life to save mine.
The first time you saw her/him, what did you think? Did you like her/him immediately, or did she/he have to grow on you?
Grow on me? He infuriated me! He threw me over his shoulder like a sack of wheat! 
What would he/she hate people to know about her?
That he threw me over his shoulder like a sack of wheat.
What is your favourite thing to eat and drink?
Miss Washington's ham biscuits and cinnamon apples.
If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why?
My fists, because they work well. 

And now some silly questions. I presume you mean me, and not Lily :)

Pepsi or coke
Ginger Ale
tea or coffee
Decaf green tea
elephant or tiger
roast dinner or burger and chips (fries for our US readers)
Must I choose? Both sound lovely.
classical music or pop
Either, depending on my mood.
sunrise or sunset
walk or run
chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers)



Thanks so much for interviewing me, Clare! I've enjoyed it!
Peter Mallett said…
I enjoyed reading the interviews and the samplings from the book.
I'm so glad, Peter. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind comments!

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