An extract from Searching for Gertrude by D.E. Haggerty
Growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do.
Gertrude continued to cry and hiccup in his arms. With his right hand, he smoothed her blonde curls while shushing her and murmuring nonsensical words into her ear. When her breaths became less erratic, he loosened his arms from around her before grabbing her hand and tugging her towards her parents. Avi and Rosa Liebster stood at the top of the stairs leading into their townhouse and watched them approach.
Rudolf didn’t bother greeting them. “What’s going on?”
Avi Liebster turned sad eyes on him. “Rudolf, my son, we can’t stay. You know this. Deep in your heart, you know this.”
Words escaped him. He couldn’t lie to the man who he had always known would be his father-in-law. There wasn’t a moment of his life in which he didn’t know Gertrude would be his wife. Until now. Now, she was leaving. Without him. No, not without him. “I’ll come with you.” He turned to rush down the stairs intent on packing up his life. A hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“You know that’s not possible.” The hand on his shoulder squeezed before dropping away. “Stay. Get an education. Become the man you are meant to become. You and Gertrude have time. When the time is right, you can join us.”
“Gertrude can stay with my family until …” His words petered out. Avi shook his head. He tried to implore Rosa with his eyes, but she turned away. “We can get married. She’ll be safe with me.” His desperate plea was met with silence.
“Rudolf!” The sound of his father’s voice startled him.
“Go,” Avi whispered.
He turned to Gertrude. “I…” Words failed him. What could he possibly say to make things better? His eyes stung, and he took a deep breath before trying again. “I’ll come for you.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. “No matter what. I’ll find you, and we’ll be reunited.”
She flung herself at him, and he caught her in his arms. Sobs wracked her body with such force, he could barely hold on. He tightened his arms around her and leaned against the wrought iron handrail of the stairs to steady himself. He took a deep breath and brought her honeysuckle smell into his lungs.
“Rudolf.” His father’s voice came to him from one step below him. He turned to his father and watched as he nodded to the man standing behind him.
“It’s time,” Avi Liebster whispered the words before gently untangling his daughter from Rudolf’s arms. His arms felt empty as Gertrude was pulled from him. Would they ever feel anything but empty from this moment forward?
D.E. Haggerty in her own words
I grew-up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances, to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Searching for Gertrude is my twelfth book
A Bite of... D.E. Haggerty
Question 1: Sweet or savoury? When you are heading for that midnight snack are you looking for cake or cheese? Tell us your secret craving
Oh gosh, can I choose both? I love a glass of wine with some cheese (the Netherlands, where I live, makes awesome cheese), but I also won’t pass up chocolate. Covered milk chocolate Oreos and peanut butter cups won’t survive more than seconds on the shelves in my pantry.
Question 2: If you had to choose the three people whose influence on your life and writing was greatest, who would they be? One author. One inspirational person. One person who just loves the heck out of you.
Author: Janet Evanovich is my choice for writer who had the greatest influence on my writing. I write funny murder mysteries (amongst other things), and her writing is just fun as all get out, but there’s mystery and suspense as well. She combines the three with perfection. I’m still striving for just okay (and not trite!) when mixing the three.
Inspirational person: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Supreme Court justice is my legal hero. Every time she writes a dissenting opinion, I’m inspired by her strength to do the right thing despite political pressure or the pressure to conform. She’s my hero!
One person who loves the heck out of me: This is an easy one – my husband. He is super supportive of my writing to the point that he told me to quit working and just write full-time. Gotta love that! He’s also a beta reader and cover designer as well as shoulder to cry on when nasty reviews come in. I love the heck out of him, too!
Question 3: What achievement are you most proud of? And what makes you cringe just thinking about it?
Every time I’ve finished writing a novel, I’ve been amazingly proud. It may not seem like much of an achievement, but I’m terrified each time I begin a new novel – convinced I won’t be able to finish it or the plot holes will be the size of a planet or the characters will refuse to talk to me.
I cringe when I think of the first novel I published. I haven’t looked at it for a while, but the writing is pretty cringe-worthy. I keep claiming I’m going to take it off the shelves – maybe it’s time I do.
You can find D.E. Haggerty on Goodreads and Twitter. 'Searching For Gertrude' and her other books can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.