Book Title: Building Celebration house (Book 1 of The Celebration House Trilogy)
Author: Annette Drake
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: March 1, 2017
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she learns she has a new skill: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her health failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s ghostly occupants, especially Major Tom Gentry, the handsome Civil War soldier who died 100 years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Will Carrie finish restoring the celebration house or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
Carrie Hansen checked her watch a third time. She yawned and rubbed her eyes. How much longer was this office visit going to take? After working a twelve-hour night shift, she’d come straight here from the hospital. She wanted to go home.
Glancing around the small exam room, Carrie wondered what the name of the shade of beige paint was that covered the walls. Sit and Wait Off-white, she thought, or maybe, Calm-down Cream. She refused to sit on the exam table with its crinkly paper. She’d sat on enough crinkly paper, so she occupied one of the two office chairs in the corner and stared at a poster that listed the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Fatigue? Check. Shortness of breath? You betcha. Swollen legs and ankles? Yep again. Damn. She had almost all of those symptoms.
When Dr. Henry Lionel, her cardiologist, entered the small exam room, his nurse, Beth Kozera, came with him. Carrie knew both providers well. Beth sat in the chair next to her. Dr. Lionel pulled up the rolling stool he usually perched on during their frequent visits.
Carrie’s pulse quickened; they never both came in during an office visit.
Dr. Lionel took off his eyeglasses and cleaned them with his tie, stalling.
Carrie blurted, “It’s bad, isn’t it?”
Neither nurse nor doctor said anything for a minute. Dr. Lionel put his eyeglasses back on and sighed. “It is, Carrie. I can show you the images from the echocardiogram, but here’s what matters: your ejection fraction has dropped again. Now, we estimate it’s about twenty percent. It was sixty after the transplant. The symptoms you report – fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty lying flat – all point to one answer. Your new heart is failing.”
Carrie nodded. “I was afraid of that. What do we do now?”
“We contact the transplant team and work you up for another heart. At your age, you’re a strong candidate.”
“What’s Plan B?” Carrie interrupted.
“There isn’t one. We can adjust your medications, but it’s another transplant or…”
Carrie finished his sentence. “Or I die.”
Silence filled the small room.
“How long?” she asked.
He looked at her over his glasses and smiled. “C’mon, Carrie. You and I both have been asked that question time and time again by patients’ families. We both know there’s no answer. This is overwhelming news. Take some time. Talk to your parents.”
Carrie grimaced. “I lost my dad last year, just before I got sick. Now this. I’m not sure how much more news my mom and sister can take.”
“You need time to process this,” Beth said.
Carrie squeezed Beth’s hand. “Thank you. You’ve always been so kind to me. But maybe time is the one thing I don’t have.”
“We’ll start the process of getting you back on the transplant list today. I’ll call the surgeon myself,” Dr. Lionel said.
Carrie shook her head. “No. No. I won’t go through that again. I can’t. I’ve had enough of hospitals and doctors and surgery to last me – well, the rest of my life. No more.”
After she left the doctor’s office, Carrie returned to her small apartment. She shed her clothes and crawled into bed. Six hours later, when she awoke, she brewed a cup of tea and turned on her computer to comb through all the websites she’d already visited, looking for a kernel of good news. National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, CardioSmart, and WomenHeart. Nothing.
She opened one of her favorite pages, IHeartOldHouses.com. She loved looking at the historic properties for sale. She clicked on the listing for Missouri and saw a new advertisement. Four bedroom, one bath, Greek Revival. A “project” home.
Carrie chuckled and clicked on the property. She scrolled through the photos that showed a home clearly in disrepair. When she saw the façade of the house, she gasped.
“Oh my God! I know this house.”
Carrie mapped it. Yep. It was on the same road where her grandmother’s home had been. That house was gone now, lost to land developers who had bulldozed it and turned the rolling farmland into another subdivision. But this house… this house needed saving. And so did she.
Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
She makes her home in Washington state. A member of the Romance Writers of America, Annette loves ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.