In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.
Evanthia’s Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.
Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.
Sophia was seated at the edge of a worn leather chair with her eyes fixed on Dean, tears streaming down her cheeks. Ignoring the sting from the cuts and bruises on her forehead and nose, the soreness on the left side of her body, and the sharp pains coming from her casted arm, she gently gripped her husband’s hand, hoping her touch would will him into consciousness.
Not twenty-four hours ago, they were having the time of their lives—reconnecting with old friends, dancing, and maybe drinking a little too much. Which is why Sophia took the keys from Dean and insisted she drive home.
Their joyful night came to a crashing end when a bright light reflecting from her side view mirror blinded Sophia. It was as though everything after that happened in slow motion—the sound of crunching metal and screeching tires, a surreal feeling that the car may have flipped over and over, and the shattering of breaking glass when a car struck theirs, slamming into the passenger door where Dean was seated.
When their vehicle came to a sudden halt, Sophia found that the car had not turned over as she thought, yet somewhere in her confused and disoriented mind, it had registered that they must have spun around.
Clouds of white surrounded Sophia and she screamed out to Dean, afraid he was unconscious or severely injured from the impact the car had taken.
Her door flung open. “Sophia, I have to get you out of the car. Help is on its way.”
“Dino! Help Dino!” Sophia desperately pleaded, not sure to whom she was speaking to. It was so dark and she was blinded by fear.
Slapping away the airbags obstructing her view, she called out to her husband. “Dino! Talk to me. Say something.”
Struggling to open his eyes, Dean groaned, but his lids remained closed.
Michael, who had been following in the car behind, could see that metal from the car had compressed around the lower half of Dean’s body and, without help, he would not be able to pull him from the wreckage.
Sophia reached for Dean, but Michael stopped her.
“It’s better not to touch him until the EMTs get here.”
Panic-stricken after watching the erratic driver crash into her brother’s door, Demi helped Sophia out of the car and clung to her.
Within minutes, the dark road was polluted with flashing lights and the sound of blaring sirens. Rescuers came swiftly, assessing the situation quickly deciding to rely on the ‘Jaws of Life’ to cut Dean out of the car. Another medic came to Sophia’s aid, placing her arm in a splint and tending to the open gashes on her face and arm.
“Forget about me! Take care of my husband,” she demanded, her voice strained from fear.
“Your husband is in good hands.” The female medic looked up after she finished wrapping Sophia’s arm. “They’re about to load him into the ambulance now, ma’am.”
“Take me to him.”
The uniformed woman guided Sophia to where Dean was strapped on a stretcher and about to be lifted into the back end of an ambulance. Too many people surrounded him, making it impossible for Sophia to get close.
Movement, noise, lights, and voices shouting commands—it was all happening at lightening speed, yet at the same time the moment seemed to drag on forever. Sophia became agitated. There was too much fasaria around her. Her yiayiá would say that when there was too much noise and commotion. It was the first word that came to mind as witnesses dramatically recounted the accident, mangled cars were pulled onto flatbeds, and police officers gave the drunk driver, who had sped across three lanes before hitting them, a breathalyzer test. The son of a bitch didn’t look as though he had a scratch on him, and Sophia’s Dino was—she didn’t want to think about what his condition was. She just needed to get to him, but no one would let her.
“Ma’am, we have another ambulance for you if you’ll come with me.”
Sophia pushed away from the EMT. “I don’t need one. I want to go with my husband.”
“That’s not possible, ma’am.”
“You’re hurt,” Demi said. “You need to go with them.”
“I want to stay with you. Michael, drive me to the hospital. I want to be there when Dino arrives.”
“We’ll follow along behind the ambulance you’re in,” Michael said. “You’re in shock, Sophia and you need to be examined. Let’s be on the safe side.”
Leaning over the hospital bed, Sophia prayed. “Please, God, don’t take him from me now,” Sophia begged in an inaudible whisper. “Dino, oh, my Dino.” She bent over him and caressed his cheek. “Don’t leave me. Not after all we’ve been through. Squeeze my hand. Move your eyes. Give me a sign that you’re still with me. Anything.”
Comforting arms wrapped around Sophia. “Sweetie, you need to take a break. Get some sleep. I’ll stay with my brother.”
She turned to look at Demi, collapsed into sobs, and shook her head. “No. What if he wakes up and I’m not here?” Sophia’s face grew pale and her lower lip quivered. “Or what if—”
“Don’t say it,” Demi ordered. “Don’t even think it.” Demi wrapped her arms around Sophia. “The doctor said he’ll be unconscious for a while. If anything changes, I’ll call you.”
Sophia pulled away and shook her head. “I can’t.”
“If you don’t, I’ll get your doctor in here to order you to go home and rest. Your body took quite a beating also. You can’t help Dean if you don’t take care of yourself.” Turning Sophia by the shoulders to face the entrance to the room, Demi said, “Look. Everyone is here. Any one of them will be happy to take you home. I’ll stay with my brother until you get back.”
Sophia waved weakly, her heart melting at the sight of them. In the doorway stood Amy, Mindy, and Donna. They were there when she needed them—always at her side without question—her oldest and dearest friends. The Honey Hill Girls were loyal to the core.
Effie is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.
Her debut novel, EVANTHIA’S GIFT, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her recent interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the book.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
Member of Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association & Romance Writers of America
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