Excerpt from The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lion in the Lei Shop

by Kaye Starbird

The Lion in the Lei Shop
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 276 pages
    May 2013, 292 pages

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"Sit down, Marty." Her voice had no inflection. When she saw I was crying she said something else, but I couldn't catch what it was.

My father spoke, bending over and shouting to make himself heard.

"They're bombing Wheeler," he said. "It's not as close as it sounds." Wheeler was a nearby airfield where I went to playground nursery school. "There's nothing here at Schofield but a little artillery and a lot of grounded men, so maybe we'll be okay. We can hope for that. Stay in the closet. It's the best place there is for now." He kissed the top of my head, as he'd done in the hallway, and then he kissed the top of my mother's head, almost as though we were both his children and equally in need of reassurance. When he kissed us, I stopped crying and my mother started. As she crouched there silently, letting the tears run down her face and slide off her chin, my father put his finger against her cheek for a second and gave her a smile that wasn't quite a smile. Then he touched my cheek.

"My April and my Spring Song," he said.

April was my mother's name, and by Spring Song he meant me. He called me that sometimes.

"You'll be all right," he said. "Everything will be all right."

His voice was easy and sensible and made me feel looked-after, the way it did at the beach when a wave was coming and he'd tell me, "Here comes a big one," and we'd ride it together. So long as my father was with me, there was never anything to fear

"I have to leave you," my father said, and went out of the closet, shutting the door behind him.

"Oh, no, Lang! Not now!" My mother stopped crying as the door closed. At least, I think she stopped crying. There was no light, so I'm not positive.

"Where are you going?" she asked on a rising note.

"Out," was all my father answered.

Louder explosions rocked the closet. A roll of toilet paper tumbled off the shelf, and I jumped and hunched as though a boulder had landed in my lap. The door swung open, and in a momentary flash of half-hope I thought perhaps my father was coming back, but he didn't. I could see him headed for the stairway with his khaki uniform still unbuttoned and his shoes untied over his twisted socks.

"Father," I called, but I don't think he heard me because my mother was calling him, too, in a voice I didn't recognize, pleading with him not to go out until the bombs stopped falling.

"The planes aren't at Wheeler now," she said. "They're at Schofield. They're here!"

"I know." My father told my mother to close the door, and his words were an order, not a request. Mother obeyed without arguing, and in a brief interlude of quiet I could hear my father's footsteps clacking down the stairs and away.

I wasn't sure whose planes were flying or whose bombs were falling. I wasn't even sure what bombs were, except that they caused the noise and fear and were therefore bad. They had ruined my beautiful Sunday and drained the charm and gaiety from my mother—my lovely mother who embroidered my dresses and read me bedtime stories and played with me—shutting her into herself when I needed her most, so that I was left isolated with my own terror. Even when I couldn't see or hear her, I could sense her desperation filling the small lightless space the two of us occupied but did not share. I longed for my father.

"Where's Father gone?" I asked.

"To the company." I couldn't understand how Mother knew, because Father hadn't said he was going anywhere but out

"For how long?"

"I can't tell you."

"Why is he going to the company?" I realized the day was all wrong, but I needed help with the details. "He never goes to the company on Sunday."

Excerpted from The Lion in the Lei Shop by Kaye Starbird. Copyright © 2013 by Kaye Starbird. Excerpted by permission of Amazon Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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