Winter Holiday Round Up: Secret Light by Z.A. Maxfield

Rafe Colman likes his life. He has a nice home, a good job, and a wonderful dog. But he’s exhausted by living a lie. When his home is vandalized because of his perceived German ancestry, he can’t even share the irony with friends.

Officer Ben Morgan falls for Rafe’s dog first, but it isn’t long before he’s giving her owner the eye. He thinks they have more in common than the search for Rafe’s vandals, and he’s willing to take a chance and find out.

If life in 1955 is tough on a cop in the closet, it’s even tougher on a refugee who’s desperate to hide his roots and fit in. Rafe knows from tragic experience how vicious prejudice can be. Every second with Ben is stolen, every kiss fraught with danger.

When Ben’s partner threatens to ruin everything, Rafe and Ben have to fight to protect what they have, in Secret Light…

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A light tap on the door brought his attention back to the present. He hauled himself up and followed his excited dog to the foyer. She was surely thinking, At last, here’s someone who will give me the attention I deserve.

“Ruhig, Mooki.” He opened the door a crack and found Officer Morgan there, hatless, dressed in a suit and tie.

“Officer Morgan. This is a surprise.” Rafe stepped back to let him in, and Mooki went berserk, circling their ankles and nearly tripping them up.

“Good evening, Mr. Colman. I thought I’d stop by to see how you’re doing.” Morgan fidgeted with his keys. He had competent-looking hands with square fingers. For a moment, Rafe got lost looking at the fine hairs on the backs of his knuckles.

“Please come in.” Rafe backed out of the way. Morgan had seemed larger in his uniform—but even without it, his was an intimidating presence. “What can I do for you?”

“This isn’t an official call or anything. I wanted to let you know the detectives have a possible lead on this. Probably nothing will come of it, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

“I see. No matter. Damage done.” Rafe motioned his visitor toward the kitchen, where he planned to retrieve another beer. His bottle opener was still on the counter, and he picked it up, holding it thoughtfully before speaking. Should he offer something? Was that proper? “Would you care for some refreshment? I was about to have another beer.”

“Thank you. That would be just great.” Morgan lifted a hand to his tie but asked permission before he loosened it. “May I? I’ve just come from taking my mother to mass.”

“Make yourself comfortable. You took your mother to church? What a gentleman. You must make her very proud.”

“She’s an old-fashioned girl.” He shrugged off the compliment. Ben stuffed his tie into his pocket and took a beer—served in a glass with the perfect amount of foam. “She doesn’t like to go without family. After my father died…”

“You go every Saturday night?” Ben nodded. Rafe couldn’t help but smile. “You are a very good son, Officer Morgan.”

“Please, call me Ben. I see you were able to begin the cleanup process.”

“Ah, yes. Thanks to fine police investigation, they completed the insurance report on Thursday and gave me permission to have things hauled away. I am apparently covered for arson.”

“I’m glad.”

“I believe your partner thought I did it myself.”

Ben stopped in the act of bringing his glass to his lips. “You think?”

“My brand-new car was elsewhere when my garage burned. I don’t blame him, but he isn’t a very subtle man.”

“No. He’s not. I’m sorry about that.”

“I did point out that if I wanted sympathy, I’d hardly put heil Hitler on the door.”

“Well, now…” Ben smiled. “You could be a spy of some sort.”

“You may laugh, but there was a time I passionately wanted to spy for the US against Germany. I had the language; I was familiar with the countries involved.”

“But you said your heart…?”

“Yes. I didn’t even know I had a problem, actually, until they told me. I rarely suffer from it. Occasional shortness of breath and palpitations, which I’d always attributed to overexertion or nerves. I was far too young to serve as a spy, but I imagined myself in the role. Then the war ended.”

“You might have made a good spy.”

“I would have been a great spy. I’m an excellent liar.” Before Rafe had a chance to regret saying that to a police officer, he changed the subject. “Follow me if you’d like more comfortable seating.”

About Z.A.:
Z.A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

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