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Authors: Darien Gee

Friendship Bread

BOOK: Friendship Bread
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Friendship Bread
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

As of press time, the URLs displayed in this book link or refer to existing websites on the Internet. Random House, Inc., is not responsible for, and should not be deemed to endorse or recommend, any website other than its own or any content available on the Internet (including without limitation at any website, blog page, information page) that is not created by Random House. The author, similarly, cannot be responsible for third party material.

While all reasonable care has been taken during the preparation of this book, its recipes and the preparation and baking instructions contained herein, neither the publisher nor the author can accept responsibility for any consequences arising from the use thereof or from the information contained therein.

Copyright © 2011 by Gee & Co., LLC

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Gee, Darien.
Friendship bread : a novel / Darien Gee.
p. cm.
eISBN: 978-0-345-52536-9
1. Sisters—Fiction. 2. Female friendship—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3611.I5834F75 2011
813′.6—dc22   2010048268

www.ballantinebooks.com

v3.1

Acknowledgments

The following people have helped make the town of Avalon and its wonderful residents a reality:

Patricia Wood, a good friend and fellow author who was so enthusiastic about
Friendship Bread
that she introduced me to her agent; her husband and first mate, Gordon Wood, who read the novel and (very neatly, in Adobe) annotated pages with useful comments; the Wirth family (Greg, Tina, Amelia, Eli, Masie), who gave us our first bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter and later read Leon’s passage to make sure I didn’t mess up the heavens or at least how one would view them; artist Mary Spears, whose friendship (and cooking) have been a true gift, for which I am very thankful, and her hubby, Phil Slott, who always knows the right thing to say. My dear friend Nancy Martin’s friendship is the basis of my books and this one especially—we are blessed when people whom we least expect become good friends. Her keen eye and honest emotional response to my novels have helped me become a better writer. Mary Embry keeps
me grounded so I can do what I love, never doubting for a second that I can do it.

Darien Gee/Mia King friends and fans stepped up to help with reading an early draft of the novel, providing lots of helpful feedback: Anne Alesauskas, Kari Andersen, Linda Bass, RoxAnn Batovsky, Robin Blankenship, Susan Buetow, Linda Buron, Philip Carmichael, Kelli Jo Calvert, Bertha Chang, Traci Clark, Maria Cogar, Kelli Curtin, Jacqueline Graves, Elaine Huntzinger, Chris Hijirida, Marcia Hodge, Patricia Hopkins, Layla Johnston, Gaby Lapus, Wilma Lee, John Martin, Shannon Martin, Sharon McNally, Megan McNealy, Rose Milligan, Elaine Monteleone, Becky Muehling, Holly Nakfoor, Melissa Nichols, Kari Noel, Vanessa Primer, Vickie Sheridan, Val Stark, Jan Terry, Amanda Villagomez, Kathryn Wilkie, Philip Yau.

Writing a novel, of course, is only half the battle. Publication is another matter, the not-so-simple act of putting all the pieces together so that readers may have another good book to savor and keep on their shelves. Big hugs to Dorian Karchmar and her wonderful team at William Morris Endeavor who have championed the book here, there, and around the world: Rayhané Sanders, Laura Bonner, Raffaella De Angelis, Michelle Feehan, Tracy Fisher, Rachel McGhee, Margaret Riley.

At Ballantine/Random House, my heartfelt thanks to publisher Libby McGuire and my lovely editor, Linda Marrow. I know the sales and marketing teams worked hard to share their enthusiasm for this book, and I’m grateful for the many reads and editorial suggestions by Linda and senior editor Dana Isaacson. Junessa Viloria makes sure we’re all connected (since I am literally an ocean away) and the copy editorial team including Penelope Haynes and Angela Pica have cast a careful eye over the manuscript. Thank you all.

My appreciation to Lawrence Hsu, Monika Wiatr Kwon, Neil Morris, and Matthew Pearce, who have helped in countless ways.

My never-ending gratitude to Mia King readers who told me to keep writing so they could keep reading.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family—the Hsus and the Gees—and my own little clan: my husband, Darrin Gee, and our
three kids—Maya, Eric, and Luke. I love you all, and yes, this is what Mama was spending all her time doing (“You’re writing
again
? Are you ever going to be done?”). To answer that, I hope not. I love what I do, and it’s my wish that we all find—and do—the things that make our hearts sing.

 

Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Contents
PROLOGUE

Leon Ydara, 81
Amateur Astronomer

Leon adjusts the 25mm Plossl eyepiece and swings his scope toward the heavens. It’s a clear night, perfect for stargazing, with a moon so bright it’s actually interfering with his night vision. He slips in the moon filter at 9mm and takes another look. Mare Crisium is simply beautiful.

Next he turns the scope toward the horizon, toward the crescent-shaped face of Venus. Then Mars in the southern sky. He can see the Cassini division between the rings of Saturn. Pleiades, the Orion Nebula. A satellite blinks across his field of view, typical at this time of year.

Leon stands back to change the eyepieces, taking his time to put everything back in its proper box. That’s the problem with beginning astronomers. They get so excited by what’s in the sky that they shove spare filters into their pockets, not wanting to lose a minute of time at the risk of missing something. But it can damage the lenses, and then what have you got?

There’s a chill in the air. He buttons up his coat slowly, his fingers stiff. Old age is hard on the joints. Standing over his homemade Dobsonian telescope makes his back hurt, so when Leon gets tired he simply sits down on the lawn chair and takes out his binoculars.

Most people don’t realize that you don’t need an expensive telescope to see the night sky. A lot of backyard astronomers rely on only two things: a dark night and their eyes. You don’t need much else to see the best show in the world.

It was Marta who first turned him on to stargazing. They were at a party, each with different dates, each bored out of their mind. He found her outside, down the lawn from the party, staring up at the sky. Her russet-red hair tumbled down her back as she tipped back her head, her lips slightly parted as she breathed in the night air. Even in the waning night Leon could see her skin, clear and pale as moonlight.

“The Milky Way,” she said softly, pointing. He didn’t know her name, but looked up anyway. “Ursa Major—the Big Dipper. Ursa Minor—the Little Dipper.” Her finger trailed across the sky. “Orion’s Belt.” Three stars in a row.

It was winter 1962. Six months later they were married, her ring a constellation of three diamonds. Their only child, a girl they named Rosa, came one year later. She had her father’s dark hair and her mother’s fine features, their pride and joy.

Leon lifts the binoculars to his eyes. He should probably invest in a 10 × 50 pair, something with a broader angle of view and better optics, but he can’t let this pair go. Marta gave it to him for their first anniversary, and it means something to him to know that she held and looked through these very same lenses.

Over the years they’ve seen a lot. Planets, stars, comets, meteor shows, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae. The birth of their daughter, three miscarriages, four moves, numerous job promotions, the loss of both sets of parents.

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