When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge to escape the influenza of 1918, there’s enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran, Geoff Chambers.
Geoff makes it clear that he isn’t too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted amputee, pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.
But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively. Though, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.
As they exited the back door, snow drifted slantwise across the landscape making it seem as if heaven was sprinkling white confetti over the lodge. Geoff gripped his walking stick in one hand and the rifle in the other. She carried an axe and a saw. All in all, they were well prepared and well armed.
“I’m not taking any chances.” Geoff plunged his walking stick into the snow. “There was a black bear nosing around a day ago.”
“Wonder if he likes strawberry cake?” She giggled.
The beast trotted out from snow-dusted fronds.
Geoff pointed his stick at the dog. “I swear, if that animal knocks me over.”
“You’ll swear regardless if he knocks you down or not.” She bent over and brushed snowflakes off her pet.
“No use drying him with your hand.” Geoff balanced on his wooden staff and eyed the beast suspiciously. “He’s going to get wet with this snow.”
“We could bring him inside for the night.” She held her breath hoping for agreement. “Absolutely not. The porch is sufficient for a wild dog.”
She stopped petting the canine and found the fir tree she had spotted previously. As the saw’s teeth cut into the bark, the scent of evergreen wafted to her nose reminding her of carolers and candle lights.
“Now it smells like Christmas.” She breathed deeply and continued with the saw. Back and forth. Back and forth. Her arm ached. Back and forth. Her arm burned. Back and forth. Fortunately, the fir collapsed onto the trail.
“Tim-ber,” Geoff called like a seasoned lumberjack.
Grabbing the trunk, she dragged the tree through the snow with her non-sawing arm. “Good thing it’s not much bigger or it would be dragging you.” He tried to match her pace. His wooden shoes packed the snow leaving a trail.
When they reached the porch, she handed him a hammer. “You can nail the planks on for a stand. I’ll hold the tree. I already smell like pancake syrup.”
“That’s not the only thing you smell of.” Clink. Clink. Clink.
“Wet dog?” She leaned in to sniff her hands.
“Summer garden.” Clink. Clink. “I noticed your perfume in the house. I like it.”
Heat flooded her face. His flattery made her feel as tall as the oldest pines. “I opened an early Christmas gift from my mom. She sent a sachet of sweet pea and gardenia.” He stood the tree on its stand. “It’s nice.”
The tree or her fragrance? She grabbed hold of the trunk and headed for the stairs. “What would be really nice is the scent of warm beast.”
Geoff clutched the hammer in his hand like a weapon. “That’s not on my Christmas list.”
But it was on hers.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. Barb is published in Biblical fiction where she enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her stories. Barb ventures into Christian Historical fiction in 2020 with “Until June.” Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books at http://www.barbarambritton.com/books.html.
1. Why this book? What inspired you to write it?
Until June is my only novel that has a Christmas scene. My Biblical fiction is set before Christ’s birth.
I came up with the story for “Until June” while on an Alaskan cruise excursion. I visited the Taku Glacier Lodge outside of Juneau and heard the history of the lodge. At one time, a WWI veteran and his caregiver lived at the lodge. The pair was shut off from society when the Taku River froze in winter. I thought, a man and a woman alone in a lodge? My novel was born.
2. What is your favourite Christmas carol/song and why?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is my favourite carol. I like how it tells us to remember Christ right out of the gate. And states that Christ will save us from Satan’s power. This year, who doesn’t need comfort and joy? I like the refrain because Jesus gives us true comfort and joy.
3. What is the best Christmas present you ever received and who was it from?
I am blanking on this one. I received lots of gifts that I remember when I was a child: the banana-seat bicycle, a doll whose hair grew, a western town that my dad spent hours gluing together. As I grew older and got married, I bought gifts for my boys and husband. I enjoy giving gifts better than receiving them. My best gifts are writing books and tools to help craft great stories. I have the best gift of all, and that is Jesus.