Fiction Fest: Last free peek at Paul Mark Tag’s ‘How Much Do You Love Me?’

How Much do you love me 2x3 WEBAuthor Paul Mark Tag made a career as a research scientist before turning his full-time efforts to writing novels. “How Much Do You Love Me?” is his latest novel and is a departure from the weather-related novels he wrote previously.

Instead of the tempestuous circumstances Mother Nature unleashes, Tag opted to take on the tempestuous nature of an interracial romance set against the backdrop of World War II.

“Category 5,” “Prophecy,” and “White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy” are among Tag’s previous books. “How Much Do You Love Me?” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

From the author: During the tumult of the anti-Japanese frenzy that follows Pearl Harbor, Keiko Tanaka and her Caucasian boyfriend, James Armstrong, decide to marry. Knowing that the idea of their marriage will create a furor, they make their announcement jointly (at a Christmas dinner) to the two families (the Tanakas farm land is owned by the Armstrongs). The following sequence occurs after James has made the announcement. Isamu and Akemi are Keiko’s parents; Harrison and Barbara are James’; Misaki is Keiko’s twin sister.

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James continued. “Keiko and I know how surprised you must be to hear this news.” All eyes returned to the speaker. “We thought long and hard about the best way to tell you. We chose Christmas Day so that you will always associate it with me and Keiko, to our happiness.”

At this point, Keiko thought she should stand as well. She reached across the table with her left hand and took his right, rotating her hand in his parents’ direction. Surely, they would appreciate his sincerity when they saw this beautiful symbol [author’s note: engagement ring] of his affection. She tried to gauge their reaction. She saw surprise, but not shock. So far, so good!

Keiko felt her face flush, and she knew why. She struggled to look to her right, toward the one person at the table whose approval was paramount. What she saw was not what she had hoped for. Isamu’s mouth hung open, and it looked like he was squinting. His color was gone. Fear gripped Keiko’s heart. She turned farther to try to assess her mother’s reaction. Unfortunately, because Akemi was looking at her husband, Keiko saw only her profile.

Hoping for better news at the opposite end of the table, Keiko turned to her left again. As she did so, Harrison and Barbara Armstrong switched their gaze from James to her. Compared to Keiko’s father, their complexions appeared more normal. The younger children at the table didn’t seem to know what to make of the situation. Their heads whipped back and forth from one adult to another, trying to make sense of what was obviously something quite unusual.

And then, Misaki came through. Across the table, next to James, the quiet of the room was broken by one set of hands clapping. Misaki promised that she would support me, and here she is. Perhaps concluding that if Keiko’s twin sister thought that this proclamation was worth applause, the rest of the children clapped as well.

Regrettably, Keiko saw that none of the adults was joining this spontaneous display of approval. Isamu’s back had straightened, and he was staring down the table, at no one in particular. Akemi bowed her head. Keiko hoped that James’s parents had chosen not to clap with the children so as not to embarrass their other adult guests. When the kids realized that those whose opinions at the table counted most were not participating, the applause petered out.

Keiko and James had figured that this could happen. James turned first toward his parents and then toward the Tanakas. “Mom, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka, I want you to know…” He spoke directly to Isamu. “Mr. Tanaka, please. I love your daughter more than anything. I promise you that I will take care of her, every bit as well as you have. You have my word.”

Keiko noticed the chirp of a bird outside the window. She wondered if anyone else did, the senses of those at the table seemingly muffled by the tension filling the room. Keiko decided it was time for her to speak, and she turned to her right. “Papa, Mama.” Tears began to flow. “Papa, please look at me.” Another moment. “Papa, please.” A bit of color had returned to Isamu’s face, and he lifted his head to face his daughter.

Keiko sniffled and struggled to contain her emotions. With her left hand still in James’s and wet with perspiration, she wiped at her face with her right. “Papa, I love James and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I need your blessing.” Another beat of silence. “Mama?”