An excerpt of When a Friend Dies Without Saying Goodbye at Suzannejenkins.com
Vashti lived next door when we moved from the mid-west to Philadelphia in the late 70’s. She had a master’s degree in sociology, graduating from Drexel shortly after we met. She spent her life helping people in the neighborhood. Also active in church, she only had to hear about a family in need to spring into action. We had so much in common; crafting antiquing, junking. She taught me the fine art of trash picking, and I still have some of the treasures we found. We stayed in touch periodically for all those years, long after I left Philadelphia. When her Christmas card didn’t show up this year, a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was confirmed when I googled her name and the obituary popped up.
Vashti was on my mind while I wrote my new book, Bittersweets-Terry and Alex, included in the new steamy romance boxed set, Love on Fire. Bittersweets grew out of my love for Philadelphia. My protagonist, Terry Kovac lives in the house at the top of Mount Pleasant Avenue where I lived with my young family in the late seventies. The view of Alden Manor in the distance, the concert pianist practicing Rachmaninoff every morning, the young lovers having an after-midnight argument on the way to the K bus, all true. The Acme grocery store around the corner, the used furniture stores, tea shop, bookstores on Germantown Avenue, were my haunts almost forty years ago.
When I close my eyes, I can hear the train coming up the hill, stopping at the Allen’s Lane station. If I looked out the corner of the round window that was really in our bedroom, and not Terry’s living room, I could see my husband trudging up that hill with his briefcase.
Our days there were short-lived; a year after we’d arrived, my husband was transferred to Manhattan, and we moved to New Jersey. But I never forgot that brief, glorious time. My wonderful next-door neighbor, who remained a friend until her death in August was my first African-American friend. After being raised in white Dearborn, Michigan, it was a privilege and an honor to know her. I cried when I wrote the stories about the Mount Airy neighborhood, the camaraderie there unmatched. I longed to tell her, but it was too late.
Read an excerpt of Bittersweets – Terry and Alex here.
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A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins divides her time between the west Michigan lakeshore, the Brandywine River Valley, and the mountains of Southern California, traveling across country with her husband, Jim and dog Oscar in an RV, to visit their children and grandchilden on different coasts.
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