By- K. Williams
Expected Publication Date- April 27th, 2015
Published By- Booktrope Publishing
Blue Honor tracks four tightly twining families during the American Civil War. Each member is asked to sacrifice more than their share to see friends and loved ones through the terrible times. The only certainty they have is that nothing will be the same.
Emily Conrad is the bookish daughter of a wealthy dairy family from Vermont. Her indulgent father has educated her and bred ideas that aren’t acceptable to her more urbane mother, who thinks Emily needs to settle down with her longtime friend and town philanderer Evan Howell. The outbreak of war frees Emily from these expectations for a time, but a stranger soon arrives after the guns begin to blaze, threatening her plans more than societal conventions ever could.
Devoted to the young woman who healed her wounds, Henrietta has become part of the Conrad family, hoping that she may one day see her husband and son again. As a runaway slave, she’s been lucky enough to find this slice of peace in Vermont, but the return of Evan Howell and the man he brings with him portends great change that might see her locked back in irons, if not executed for what she’s done.
Evan isn’t as bad as his reputation has made him out to be. He knows his chum Emily will make the best doctor Vermont has ever seen, and he knows he’s not the man to marry her. With a little manipulation, he convinces his commanding officer, Lieutenant Joseph Maynard, to take leave with him and see the beauty of the north. He just doesn’t let on it’s not hillsides and streams he’s setting the man up for.
Joseph has both power and privilege as the son of a Baltimore lawyer, but neither can guarantee him the things he wants in life. His commission in the army is likely to lead to death, a sacrifice he was willing to make to end slavery in the States—that was until he saw Emily Conrad. Torn between duty and desire, Joseph struggles to stay standing for that which he once held strong convictions. War weary, they all march on to duty…
Through the halls of his barracks, Michael stalked to his room. He found a nearly empty and quiet hall. One of the other cadets came from the washroom, eyeing him, surprised he was there. He reached his door and entered, slamming it shut behind him.
“Mike?” A voice called to him from the bunk.
“Sorry, Marcus. Go back to sleep,” Michael said.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Marcus yawned. “Good, ‘cause I don’t think I can stay awake anyway.”
Michael lit a candle. Wishing it illuminated his heart. Though he knew his sister supported him, it was still him against the world. He thought resignation was the best solution, but his heart broke at the very idea of throwing up the sponge.
Going to his dresser, he picked up an envelope left on the top. With renewed energy, he tore the letter into several pieces and threw them into a wastebasket. He never sent the letter to his commander, and the guilt galled when he had to lie to his mother and father.
For his own sake, Michael no longer wavered on his decision. He knew the truth, and nobody, not even his mother, was to take that away from him. He told himself his mother merely feared for him, and never intended to cause pain.
Shaking his head at his reflection in the mirror that hung above his chest of drawers, Michael regretted his hasty words, but only for not expressing himself in a collected manner that proved his point. Many mornings he set a basin there and shaved his face, which still barely had a hint of a beard. After only a year, the face he now saw in the reflection no longer belonged to a boy. He saw a man, clean shaven as he might be. As a man, his duty was
to defend his beliefs and be of use.
“I won’t stand here and watch when there’s work to do. I’m a soldier now, and this is my duty,” he whispered to his reflection.
“Talking to yourself now?” Marcus grumbled half asleep.
Michael snickered, removing his hat and jacket. He hung them up.
“Yeah,” Michael admitted.
“Did you go see that pretty sister of yours?”
“Yeah,” he said, going to the bunks. “But, I won’t see them anymore. I’m staying here.”
“Well that’s grand. I’m glad,” Marcus said, unconvinced.
“Nothing. Do you think Miss Conrad would like a man like me? I can go with them in your place,” he said, laying back.
Michael stared, shocked he asked him such a thing. Of course Emily did not like him. She never liked men like him. Men like him expected her to be a flower they tucked in their buttonhole a few times a week, lay with and have wait on them like a second mother. He thought more on the subject, and had no idea what men she did like, but certainly he was not Marcus. He would laugh at her ideas and call her pretty, keep her in a cage in their parlor.
“Why not?” Marcus challenged with a grin.
“I don’t know. She likes men like Cadet Howell,” Michael sat on his bed.
“They gonna get married like you said?”
“If my Mama has her way.” Michael sighed and looked out the window beside the bed.
“Too bad you left her there. Now, your mother’s gonna live her life,” Marcus said.
Michael laughed. “Not Em. She’s got her head full of ideas.”
“Evan’s a lucky man, anyway,” Marcus said after a pause.
“You’ve no idea,” Michael said, spying the moonlight on the tree outside.
“I think I do. He’s graduating this year. I heard he’s going to join the Potomac down in Virginia.”
“Where did you hear that?” he asked, pulling off his boots.
“From him. He says that’s where his friend Maynard went. Made his captain ask for him directly. I bet he’s gonna get in the practice with him—get rich, too,” Marcus said.
“Joe Maynard?” Michael sounded distracted. He unbuttoned his shirt, removed the collar, and undid the cuffs.
“Yeah, the rich kid,” Marcus scoffed.
“We’re all rich,” Michael countered. He thought about Joe Maynard and his infallible reputation at The Point. He would give anything to be like him, so resolute and so respected.
“Most, but not like him. I bet Emily’d like him. All the girls like him,” Marcus said.
Michael laughed. “Probably, Marcus. Probably.” He doubted it. Emily hated dandies, too.
“So you’re staying?”
“Good. You can sleep on that bed over there then and watch my back when this thing falls on our heads,” Marcus said.
“Sure Marcus,” Michael said, lying down. His eyes lifted to the window, and he prayed for Emily. He begged the powers that be to let her live her own life and love who she wanted to love. “What did you have for dinner tonight?”
“Wasn’t bad. Spit roasted chicken—served with roasted potatoes. They held the side of roasted manipulation for you,” Marcus murmured.
“Aw, Mark. She isn’t all that bad. She’s just scared,” Michael defended his mother.
“My mama’s scared too, but she ain’t runnin’ down here to rescue me. We’re all scared. We might die soon, Mike. You know that?” Marcus said.
Michael remained silent.
“Rich kids or not, we can all die at the end of a ready rifle,” Marcus continued.
“It hasn’t happened yet.” Michael tried to dismiss those words.
“It will. I feel it,” Marcus’s voice shook.
That night edged along slowly, the longest in the memory of both Conrad children to date. Michael remained at school. The patriarchs and Emily long since returned home. Each man at The Point faced the reality of his position, being called to service in war, and the clawing possibility of never returning. The well-meaning gestures that were strewn along the path to this moment had done no more than sever Conrad bonds.
Michael and the other cadets of the West Point Military Academy found themselves swept up in the greatest turmoil of the 1860s. With Lincoln’s election came the forewarned secession of the South. The United States of America dissolved. The Northern Unionists and their allies prepared to preserve the Union, and the South readied to achieve their goal despite them.
The South planned its own republic, in its own image, and refused to relinquish its goals. All around, men mobilized for war and others rallied. For Southern or Northern will, men were to fight and die. They chose their side, Blue or Gray.
Nearly ready to accept his commission, Michael observed the portrait of Robert E. Lee being drawn from the wall.
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she continues to reside, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and work in the arts.
K attended the State University of New York at Morrisville, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany (home of the New York State Writer’s Institute) gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art.
Currently, K has completed the MALS program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is working on the novels of the Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies. Excerpts of these and more writings can be found at: www.bluehonor.com
*** Giveaway ***