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When Night Awakens

By Ken Paiva

Christmas Eve, the Ardennes Forest. The Battle of the Bulge is raging.

The tides of war are turning against Germany, and the Americans are pitted against a desperate enemy.

The small town of Eschdorf Luxembourg is currently under German control.

While the residents are gathered in the town hall, members of the SS pull them out for interrogation.

Andre Verhoeven is a town elder. He is also the uncle of Elise Lambert, a young woman about to give birth to her first child.

Concerned by what is happening, Andre believes it best to relocate to their family farmhouse, in the woods nearby.

They set out in the deep snow and freezing temperatures, avoiding German soldiers as American patrols infiltrate the woods.

Private William Conley is nineteen. He becomes separated from his unit, and lost in the cold and the snow.

As he tries to navigate his way back, Conley thinks about his girl back home, Helen Kincaid, and the many memorable family Christmases past.

His path crosses a wounded German soldier, Eric Mueller, whom he takes prisoner as a means to get himself oriented.

They make their way to a barn to warm up, but shortly after arriving, Elise enters about to give birth. The two form an uneasy alliance to bring life, not death, into the world.
But as the fighting leads desperate men from both sides to the vicinity, the area around the barn becomes a killing field and Conley and Mueller find it increasingly difficult to maintain the barn as a shelter for Elise.

For men who have little to lose, like Hauptmann Peter Decker, the German officer tasked with holding the town of Eschdorf from the Americans, with dwindling forces; Private Stephen Ryan, the trigger-happy, blood-thirsty GI, looking to kill every German in his path to avenge the loss of his patrol group; and Gestapo Lieutenant Adolf Wolf, looking to make a name for himself in the Fuhrer’s circle, the barn and its occupants become pawns in a deadly game.

And when a patrol is sent out to find Conley’s missing unit, what they encounter in the cold dark woods is anybody’s guess.

Through it all, Rene, Elise’s husband, risks death and the bitter cold to find his wife and baby daughter, on a Christmas night like no other.

Based on a real battle for a real town, When Night Awakens is a story of hope during a dark time, and the power of love over hatred.

Ken Paiva is a debut author and is a voracious historical reader, who has spent 30 years in the Engineering Field, working in diverse project areas ranging from nuclear submarines in defense, to Proton Beam Radiation Therapy in medical science, to Production Monitoring and Control Systems in the Industrial arena. He resides in Massachusetts with his wife of 26 years, daughter and their Golden Retriever.

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