Release date: August 7, 2015
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,
who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.
Happy Saturday everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Evanthia’s Gift! I have an extract to share today.
Anastacia beamed with joy as she stepped out of the taxicab, cradling her precious newborn child in her arms. The air was heavy with humidity, and the heat was oppressive—typical July weather in New York City. She hastened into her building to get the child away from the blaring noise of the passing traffic, as well as the lingering smell of exhaust. Her friend, Stavros, paid the cab driver and walked in behind her.
“We are home Sophia mou.” She lovingly brushed her finger across her daughter’s cheek.
Stavros unlocked the door to the apartment, helping Anastacia inside and onto the couch. He took the baby from her arms and care- fully placed her in a white wicker bassinet, covered with layers of white lace and pink bows.
Even after spending several days in the hospital, Anastacia was still tired. The birth had not been an easy one, and adding to her stress were thoughts of juggling a career along with single motherhood.
“Thank you Stavros. I don’t know what I would do without you and Soula,” Ana told him.
“You know Soula will be storming through that door any second.”
Stavros laughed, shaking his head as he thought of his wife.
“Yes, I imagine she will and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sit
with me a minute until she comes.”
He sat down beside her.
“I know I keep saying it,” she continued, “but I appreciate you and
Soula standing by me all these months. I couldn’t have wished for better friends. When we were in school you would tell me about your Soula back home and I never dreamed she would become my closest friend.”
“Ah, yes. I missed her and I chewed your ear off.” Stavros relaxed back into the taupe cushions of the sofa. “It was good to have you to talk to about her. Friendship goes both ways, Ana, and you have always been the kindest of friends to us.”
“You’re a good man, Stavros. I would listen to you and think, ‘Someday I want to be adored by someone the way Stavros loves Soula.’ Sometimes you want something so much you are blind to what is real and what is not,” she murmured regretfully.
Stavros slid over to the other end of the couch and took Ana’s hands in his. “Everything good will come to you—believe me.”
Ana smiled unconvincingly, and nodded. “I am grateful for so much. My beautiful baby and two wonderful friends.”
She looked up when she heard the sound of the creaking door. Soula burst in, her arms flung open with excitement to welcome Ana home. Always full of energy and enthusiasm, the tall slender blonde with the sparkling green eyes picked up the baby.
“Ftou sou, ftou sou,” she pretend spat, as she made the sign of the cross over the baby, a common Greek gesture to keep evil away. Soula pinned a Byzantine icon onto the bassinet. Dangling from the pin was an evil eye.
“I see the baby?” asked Konstantinos, the two and a half year old standing beside Soula and pulling on her skirt. Tall for his age, the boy peeked over the edge of the bassinet with large expressive eyes that were rimmed with thick, dark lashes.
“Come, Konstantinos, but be very careful not to lean on the Effie Kammenou
bassinet,” Soula instructed her son. “Is Sophia not the most beautiful little girl?”
“I’m big. I take care of Sophia.” He rubbed her arm gently and kissed her tiny, delicate hand.
“You will, just like you will take care of the new baby your mamá will have soon,” Ana said. She rose from the couch to pat Soula’s expanding belly and then bent down to wrap her arms around Kostas, kissing his plump, little cheek.
“Stavros, come take a picture of the children. Sit on the couch Kostas, and Theía Ana will let you hold Sophia.”
Ana took a seat next to Konstantinos and carefully placed Sophia in his lap, mindful to fully support the infant.
“Love you Sophia mou,” Kostas told her.
Soula clasped her hands together as if in prayer. “Oh, Ana, look at them. They will grow up together and someday they will fall in love.”
“Soula! They are babies. When they grow up, a long time from now, they will decide who to fall in love with.”
“No, I tell you this is why God put us together. We will be one family. I know these things,” she insisted.
“I love you, Soula. There is no one like you in the world. But these are modern times and when our children are adults they will make their own decisions.”
“As long as they marry Greeks,” Soula maintained, with a wave of her hand.
“Yes, because that worked out so well for me,” Ana said, her voice laced with sarcasm.
Soula sighed, “Oh, Ana mou. I’m sorry. Do you think Jimmy— Ugh, I want to spit when I say his name. Do you think he knows about Sophia? I was afraid he would find out and bring you trouble. I want all that to be behind you.”
“It is behind me. Sophia has my name, not his. His name is not on the birth certificate. He is to never have a claim on her. I don’t know where he is and I don’t care. I only know that Uncle Tasso said he would Evanthia’s Gift
never bother me again.” She shook her head as if to scold herself. “I’ve troubled so many people. I disappointed my parents and myself. But more than anything I worry how this will affect my child. How will I ever be able to trust my judgment again? How did I let this happen?”
“You fell in love. With the wrong man, yes, but you learned from it. We learn from our mistakes, Ana.”
“Yes, but will my daughter pay for my mistakes? I will never fail Sophia; she will always be my first priority. She’s all that matters to me now.”
“Come, let’s get you in bed. You didn’t have an easy time of it and you need your rest.” Soula turned to her husband. “Stavros, take Kostas home and tell Aunt Litsa to come when she is ready.”
Soula walked with Anastacia to her bedroom. She got her bedclothes out and helped Anastacia change into them. Soula wheeled the bassinet from the living room to the foot of the bed, reaching in to straighten Sophia’s covers.
“Thank you, Soula. You’ve done enough for me. Go home now. You need to rest also. Aunt Litsa will stay the night and help me.”
“I will check on you in the morning.” Soula left as a weary Anasta- cia crawled into bed.
Ana’s mind wandered as she began to drift into slumber. Coming to the States had been her dream, but dreams didn’t always turn out the way you expected.
She was grateful, though, to have a supportive family. Her Uncle Tasso owned the apartment building and with his help she was able to stay in her apartment after throwing out and divorcing her philan- dering husband. Her eyelids were as heavy as ten-pound weights but thinking of Jimmy kept her awake. Just days after catching her husband in an act of infidelity that had her reeling, she’d been hit with another blow. She learned she was pregnant. She wanted no connection to him and needed to be rid of him and the humiliation that went with it. But now, because of her child, she would be connected to him forever.
Well, not if I can help it.