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Novel Excerpt

From the novel
Twelve Months
by Steven Manchester
Published by Story Plant (2012)

Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family he loves,
a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that
keep him amused. He also thought he had time,
but that turned out not to be the case. Faced
with news that might have immediately felled most,
Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time
enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t
always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his
most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close
the circle on some of his most aching unresolved
relationships. Summoning an inner strength he
barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to
prove that twelve months is time enough to live
a life in full.

Twelve Months excerpt

Though there were empty tables up front, Vic escorted Bella and me to a darkened back room where no one else was seated. The table sat in the center of the room and was very nicely decorated. I could tell by Bella's face that it seemed peculiar to her. As we took our seats, Vic lit a candle. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
Bella started to question it, but I shrugged it off. “There must have been reservations for the other tables up front?” I suggested.
She nodded, and then noticed a man seated on a stool a few tables over. He was holding a guitar and squinting at some sheet music.
He looked over and smiled. “I hope you guys don’t mind, but I’m trying out tonight for a weekend gig at this place.”
“Oh, that’s great,” Bella said, with no idea Gary had already landed the job.
“Not a problem,” I added, acting as though I’d never spoken to the man. And through an acoustic set of love ballads, Gary was just as convincing.
Bella had no idea but the order had already been carefully spelled out – drinks first, Pinot Grigio for her; beer for me, and the itinerary would begin. Vic approached with both drinks on a small round tray. “Appetizers tonight?” he asked.
I smiled. “Why don’t we start with an order of little necks in garlic and oil?”
Vic nodded once and headed for the kitchen, while Gary swooned, “You say it best when you say nothing at all…”
Bella leaned into my ear and whispered, “How did he know I wanted white wine?”
I was into my second shrug when Vic returned to the table with a gorgeous arrangement of long stem red roses. Without a word, he placed them in front of Bella and rotated the vase until the card faced her. “Your appetizer should be out in a few minutes,” he said and strutted away again.
Gary was already on his second number when Bella plucked the card from the arrangement. It read: “Bella, I love you, forever – Don.” She looked up to find the entire restaurant staring at us.
“And always will,” I whispered when she leaned over and kissed me.
After the steaming appetizer and another round of drinks, Vic placed a silver platter before my glowing wife. It held a scrolled sheet of parchment secured by red ribbon. She looked up at him, but he never let on. She glanced over at me. “What…”
“Open it,” I said, while Gary strummed away in the background.
She did. It was the one thing she'd always wanted from me, but had never gotten – until now.

Moments of Destiny

From the moment I met you,
I knew there was a fire between us
that even hard, driving rain could never put out.

From the moment we spoke,
I knew I’d spent my entire life
in search of your deep and passionate love.

From the moment we kissed,
I knew my heart was no longer mine
and I’d finally found my future.

From the moment we laughed,
I knew there would never be enough time
to share all the things I needed to share with you.

From the moment we danced,
I knew, at last, what the phrase ‘better half’ meant
and surrendered to your gentle touch.

From the moment we walked hand-in-hand,
I knew I’d discovered my partner
and that my dreams were suddenly within reach.

From the moment we lay together,
I knew I’d made it to heaven
and thanked God for blessing me with you.

From the moment you agreed to be my wife,
I knew my journey was now worth taking,
through days of sunshine –
or nights of hard, driving rain.

As her watering eyes read the final verse, the musician stopped playing, the restaurant went silent and I went down to one knee. I opened the ring box. “Isabella,” I said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you be my wife…again?”
She never hesitated and dove into my arms. For a while, we just hugged.
“I love you so much,” she cried into my shoulder.
“I know,” I said. “But…”
She pushed away from me and looked into my eyes. “But what?”
“But I need your answer?” I said, grinning.
“Yes…the answer is YES!” she gasped and jumped back into my arms.
The crowd shared a collective sigh, and everyone was clapping when Bella and I returned to reality. It took a few moments before each table returned to its own conversation and half-eaten meals.
Chuckling, I introduced my beautiful wife to Gary, the musician. As they shook hands, Gary admitted, “I was so nervous.”
I bought the man a beer when Vic delivered two previously ordered dinners to our table. Though Bella couldn’t touch hers, I ate and listened to Gary fill the room with a soothing melody. By the time the chocolate covered strawberries arrived for dessert, Bella was emotionally spent. She grabbed me once more for a kiss. “This has been the perfect night,” she whispered.
“And for all these years…you’ve been the perfect wife, my dear.”
As we left the restaurant, another round of applause carried us to the front door. I opened it for my new fiancé – only to discover a white stretch limousine idling at the curb. She quickly turned to me. “It’s not over?”
I shook my head. “It’ll never be over for us.” As we made our way to the limo, waves of nausea threatened to drown me. This is Bella’s perfect night, I told myself, our perfect night. Whatever you do…do not throw up now!

About the author: Steven Manchester is the author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Steven’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.
To learn more about Steven, visit his website at: www.stevenmanchester.com
Twelve Months
Virtual Book Publicity
Tour Schedule

Monday, August 13
Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Tuesday, August 14
Guest blogging at Allvoices
Wednesday, August 15
Book reviewed at Book Journey
Thursday, August 16
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Friday, August 17
Book reviewed at The Coffee Pot
Monday, August 20
Book reviewed at Hanging off the Wire
Tuesday, August 21
Interviewed at Examiner
Wednesday, August 22
Guest blogging at Digital Journal
Thursday, August 23
Interviewed at Review From Here
Friday, August 24
Book reviewed at Reviews From the Heart
Tuesday, September 4
Interviewed at Blogher
Thursday, September 6
Interviewed at American Chronicle
Monday, September 10
Book reviewed at Literary R&R
Tuesday, September 11
Book spotlight at The Book Connection
Thursday, September 13
Book reviewed at Buggie 4 Book
Friday, September 14
Guest blogging at Buggie 4 Book
Monday, September 17
Interviewed at She Writes
Book reviewed at Cat’s Thoughts
Wednesday, September 19
Book reviewed at Kim the Bookworm
Friday, September 21
Interviewed at Divine Caroline
Monday, September 24
Book reviewed at Review From Here
Wednesday, September 26
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Thursday, September 27
Book reviewed at Taking it One Page at a Time
Friday, September 28
Guest blogging at Taking it One Page at a Time
Monday, October 1
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, October 2
Book reviewed at Proud Book Nerd
Wednesday, October 3
Book reviewed at Reading Between the Pages
Thursday, October 4
Book reviewed at Dive Under the Cover
Friday, October 5
Book reviewed at Book Referees
Monday, October 8
Guest blogging at Redroom
Tuesday, October 9
Book reviewed at Book Reader’s Heaven
Wednesday, October 10
Guest blogging at Book Reader’s Heaven
Thursday, October 11
Book reviewed and guest blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Interviewed at Jaffa Reads Too
Friday, October 12
Book reviewed My Devotional Thoughts
Book reviewed at Jaffa Reads Too