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Cradle the Light

Book I, Warring Hearts Trilogy

Cradle the Light by Vicki Gaia
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Claire O’Neill is an American artist determined to live life on her own terms. The bohemian life of an artist is what she images for herself, refusing to follow in her mother's footsteps, a life less lived when Katherine O'Neill chose marriage over her career as a poet. Richard Hart, ace saboteur, is weary of fighting the war. His war experience has affected him emotionally and mentally, and he is wary of getting into a relationship, or trusting in a girl's heart. Richard is asked by Leslie Havens, a friend and colleague, to befriend Claire and to show her around London. Unbeknownst to Richard, Leslie also has asked Claire to date Richard, and to report on Richard's mental condition. Richard prefers to keep to himself. Well, that will not do, not with his condition. Leslie has another reason to introduce him to Claire. She might be the breath of air Richard needs to heal. At the same time, Claire befriends Samuel Jamieson, a poet who had a questionable relationship with Katherine before Claire was born. Samuel’s fixation on Claire makes Richard question Samuel's motives. But, Claire shakes it off as jealousy, for Samuel is more than nice to her, introducing her to London's art community. A well-known poet, Samuel is the only connection Claire has to her mother's past. He understands Claire's passion for her art and how relationships can get in the way of an emerging talent. Sparks fly between Richard and Claire, and love comes to them unexpectedly at the worst possible time. Claire struggles with the mystery surrounding her mother’s death, and with learning to trust in her talent and in a man's love. Richard struggles with the issues of trust and the betrayal that sent him to prison. Claire lives with her father, Jack O'Neill. Jack's motive for moving to war-torn London is to be near Lady Gwen Albert, a friend of his deceased wife. Engaged to marry another man, Jack is determined to win Gwen's love. Jack and Gwen are confronted with old memories that create unexpected consequences in their relationship. Their relationship interweaves with the ghost of Katherine and Claire's memories of her mother. The London Blitz, the smoldering ruins and devastation of war threaten to tear people apart. When the scenes shift to San Francisco, the relationships take more twists and turns, with hopes that the human spirit will triumph.
Awe-Struck Publishing; June 2006
261 pages; ISBN 9781587495625
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Title: Cradle the Light
Author: Vicki Gaia
Across the river, billowing smoke curled upwards while blinding white lights flashed across the horizon. They watched the bombs drop, bright spots of orange and red flares. The air crackled around them. Richard released his hold and moved to her side. He leaned his back against the railing to look her over. “I’m glad I saw you when I did. Rather take my chances on the street than be stuck in a closed in space with strangers.” Claire noticed a shudder ripple across his chest. She wondered about his scar and what haunted him. Small signs of discontent revealed -- his hands fidgeted if not holding a cigarette, his eyes shone less than bright, and his smile was bestowed from the heavens, it was so rare. Richard broke through her reverie. “You were far away just now. What were you thinking?” “Wondering how you got your scar.” “It was long ago, far, far away.” The sardonic edge to his voice irritated Claire, but she chose to ignore it. “May I touch it?” There, a slight change in his face, a tense clench of his jaw. So, he didn’t like to be touched, but Claire lifted her hand and ran her finger across the puckered skin. She imagined kissing it, the roughness pleasing on her lips. “Does it hurt?” “It’s numb.” She kept her hand on his cheek. “When I study your face, I see immense sadness.” “You make me sound morbid.” “I’m an artist. I study faces.” She laughed at his sour mouth and removed her hand. He stepped back and bumped into the railing. She smiled to ease his discomfort. “I don’t mean it as an insult. I find your face fascinating. Would you pose for me? I’d love to sketch you.” Richard opened his mouth, and closed it. She rendered him speechless, and she found this amusing. “I called my friend’s father, the one who works for the MOI," he said. "He’ll see you tomorrow if you’re interested.” “Yes, yes, how wonderful. That’s swell of you to help me out. How can I thank you?” “Let me take you out.” “Ah, that’s a bit of a problem.” “You have a boyfriend?” “Oh, no, but I'd rather stay unfettered.” Now he laughed a deep resonance from his chest. “Unfettered is an unusual word to use.” “My art comes first, and everything else takes a back seat. This doesn’t go over too well with the boys I’ve dated.” “I’m not a boy. I can handle it.” This was certainly the case, and Claire wondered if she could handle Richard. His maleness exuded from every pore, his posture controlled, and his eyes ever alert. “Let’s make it during the day. How about Thursday?” he suggested. Unfazed by the absurdity of being asked out in the middle of a raid, she agreed. “Where are you going to take me?” “It’s a surprise. I’ll pick you up around eleven.” They continued to watch the fireworks from the bridge. Richard combed back the golden tips of his hair with a quick flick of his hand, his eyes a kaleidoscope of greens and blues, depending on the catch of the light. A dangerous man to allow into her life, she wanted no messiness to complicate things, determined to keep a strict control on her emotions. Marriage and motherhood drained a girl’s creativity, and rendered her life useless. Claire vowed to remain single, and avoid the same pitfalls that befell her mother. Yet, Leslie counted on her to befriend Richard. Richard rested his hand on her shoulder. Anyone seeing them from the bridge would think they were lovers. She’d go on one date. She could find out what she must by remaining friends.
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