She must choose between love and duty…

 

A captivating tale of love and duty as the last princess of Meigen searches for her true purpose amidst conflict and betrayal.

It is 626AD, and the ancient Kingdom of Meigen is left vulnerable to neighboring Saxons. To unite the kingdoms and bring peace, Princess Alena must enter into a royal marital alliance. But when the handsome physician, Sherwin, befalls her, matters become complicated. Torn between obligations to her young son and country, she faces a difficult decision. Will Alena obey the king’s orders, or choose to follow her heart?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Rachel James

Alena dropped the pot and pressed her hand to her chest. The bowl shattered on the floor, and the kitchen grew silent.

“Princess?”

She squinted hard to shut out the pain, but it was too intense.

“Just breathe, Alena. Try not to panic.”

That was the problem—she could not do either.

Strong arms picked her up and rushed her out of the smoky room and into her chamber. Gradually, her lungs filled with air, and the tightness eased. She opened her eyes and exhaled.

“Thank ye, Orvin,” she said to the manservant, “but I had it under control.” She pushed herself up with her elbows, only to be pushed back down again.

“Nay, Princess, rest here a while. Yer duties can wait.”

She frowned. The servants might understand, but the King did not. The Feast would commence shortly, and she needed to finish the table arrangements. “Tell ye what, fetch Tristan for me, he could assist.”

Orvin quirked an eyebrow. “Yer four-year-old laddie will not be able to help if ye have another attack.”

“Oh, he’s stronger than ye think. Now,” she rose to her feet and flashed him her sweetest smile, “off ye go.”

She gave him little time to protest, and shooed him out the door. She smiled to herself. The palace servants meant well even if they were overprotective at times.

She moved toward the window and inhaled the fresh air. Something wasn’t right. She sensed it. She’d have to be careful around the fires this eventide. Mayhap Tristan could fetch the items from the kitchen. Still, the Great Hall would not be much better with the meat roasting on spits.

“Mama, are ye well?”

She spun around at the sound of her son’s voice. “Oh, there ye are, laddie.” Alena took his tiny hand and placed in her own. “I wondered if ye’d help me this night. My chest is a wee bit troublesome.”

The little boy’s eyes grew wider. “Will it be a secret, like last time?”

She laughed. “Aye, ye’re not to inform the king or he might get cross.”

Tristan scratched his head. “How about Orvin—can we tell him?”

“I should think so…”

He let out a whistle. “Grand, I’m not verra good at keeping secrets from everybody.”

“Well then, shall we be going? I’ll need ye to help with flowers to begin with.”

“But that’s lassie work.”

Alena ruffled his hair. “The lifting is a man’s task, is it not?”

“Aye, I s’pose.”

They made their way down to the kitchen, now a hive of activity. The guests were to arrive shortly, and her father-in-law was sure to be worked-up.

“There ye are, Princess. The master is in a frightful mood. Ye’d best keep out of his way.”

Alena glanced up at the cook who was arm deep in bread dough. “Where is he?”

“Prowling the Great Hall as we speak.”

Dread filled her. “Is he angry with me?”

“I do not doubt it, although what about I’ve nay idea.”

She chewed her lip. Like it or not, she had to take the arrangements into the hall. If the King saw someone else doing her job, he’d be seething. But if she went in now…. She sighed. She’d have to face his wrath, either way.

She knelt down to Tristan’s level. “Ye stay here, do not let the King see you. Am I clear?”

“Aye, Mama.”

Her hand trembling, she picked up a bough of holly and ivy and headed for the Great Hall. Just before reaching the large oak doors, she remembered her hair. Alena dropped the decorations and quickly pinned up her fair-rose locks and covered them with a delicate veil. That was close.

She had hoped for an inconspicuous entrance. However, the smoke coming from the central spits caused her coughing to return. She tugged the material down over her nose and mouth.

She sensed his presence even before she turned around. “Sire,” she sputtered in-between coughs.

The man, hunched over the fire, appeared far older than his years.

“Why are ye not ready?”

She shuddered at his cold demeanor. “I-I thought ye wanted me to attend to the decor…”

“’Tis too late,” he whispered.

She sucked in her breath. “I’m sorry, sire. I was delayed…”

The King rose slowly and turned to face her. “Get changed. Ye need to look yer best.”

Alena frowned. What was he up to? He usually wanted her to blend in the background, not dress to impress. “Aye, sire, of course.”

“Make certain the boy is present also.”

She froze. “Tristan? Surely ye do not wish him at the Feast?”

“Ye question yer king?”

“Nay, sire.” She lifted her skirts, bobbed a half-hearted curtsy, and fled the room. She passed by the traveling minstrels and other servants bringing food in for the banquet. She didn’t have much time to get herself prepared.

She popped her head round the kitchen door. “Tristan. Come with me, please.”

Orvin followed behind Tristan. “Worry not, Princess. I’ll see to the decorations.”

Alena patted the sturdy man’s shoulders. “Thank ye, Orvin. What would we do without ye?”

The manservant grinned, revealing a mouth with missing teeth. “I’d hate to think. Will ye want Elsha to assist ye?”

“If she can be spared—the King has requested I make an effort, for some reason or another.”

Orvin nodded. “Aye, because of our visitors from Angularem.”

Alena halted. “And, pray tell, what consequence am I to them?”

Orvin shifted his feet and gazed at the ground.

“Orvin?”

He glanced up at her. “I know not for sure, although I overheard something about an alliance…through marriage.”

Alena stood, dumbfounded. “But I have been a widow for not even a year. I still officially mourn.”

“Aye, as do we, Princess. But the Saxon’s threat to invade Meigen increases daily. Our Kingdom will do well with a strong alliance.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Ye side with the king on this?”

“Surely ye’d be happier elsewhere.”

She swallowed. Mayhap even an unhappy marriage would be better than the predicament she found herself in at the moment.

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Amanda Running Scared

Someone wants her dead… But why?

 
When Amanda Vanderbilt is attacked at a party, she hides in a cowboy’s horse trailer to elude the masked man suddenly stalking her relentlessly.

Bruce Palmer is on a mission to pick up horses for his boss across country in Seattle. A loner, he wants nothing to do with the pretty blonde he finds stowed away.

But like it or not, he’s been lassoed into the mess, and it’s now his duty to protect her.

Who is the masked man and why is he chasing them in a semi?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Georgina Sellwood

 

Run! Get away!

The man’s hands bit into Amanda Vanderbilt’s upper arms as she struggled and spat at his face, to no avail. The man wore a ski mask, but the opening around his eyes let her see the shape and color of them and how his thick, black eyebrows met above the bridge of his nose.

“Shut up and come with me,” her attacker growled. Her face stung where he’d hit her.

At the back of the garden, no one at the party would hear her. To scream was useless. Tears of frustration ran down her face as dance music floated on the wind.

“Let me go,” she yelled in desperation. What else could she do? She’d tried all the defensive moves she knew—kicking, biting, spitting, and there was only one thing left. She would have to hurt him.

She lifted her knee high and hard. The man fell like a stone, groaning and holding himself. Her blouse ripped as he grabbed at her on his way down.

“I’ll find you, Amanda. You can’t hide. I know where you and the doctor lived and I know you are living with your mother now,” he yelled.

The light from a street lamp shone through a gap in the hedge. She dove and crawled through the hole on hands and knees. Branches scraped her arms as dew from the grass ruined her clothes. She hobbled out of the hedge and struggled to cross the dark lawn on her broken shoe.

Was he coming? The hedge shook behind her. She gained her balance and hobbled on.

When she made it to the sidewalk, the broken heel of her Italian sandal clattered on the pavement. Her hand trembled when she raised her arm as she hailed an approaching New York cab. Thank heavens, it’d just pulled out of a driveway two doors away.

Footsteps pounded the ground behind her.

When the car stopped, she dove into the sanctuary of the backseat, holding the ripped pieces of her yellow silk blouse together. “Go,” she screamed, slamming the door and locking it.

Her breath came in ragged gasps while her head spun. The scent of citrus cologne lingered in the enclosed space, making her want to gag.

She met the cabbie’s wide-eyed stare in the rearview mirror. “Are you all right, lady?”

All right? Far from it. Who was that man who’d attacked her at the party? Kneeing him had given her the seconds she’d needed to get away. Her heart thudded against her ribs, and terror still gnawed at her nerves.

A week ago, she’d received the party invitation from a friend.

“Who’s that from?” her mother had asked, nodding at the scented, pink paper Amanda held in her right hand.

“Karin Rockefeller.”

“Well, surely you’re not going to refuse another one. You have to stop sitting around here moping and start getting out again. Brad was killed two years ago, and it’s time you get over it.”

Pain had stabbed Amanda’s heart after her mother’s insensitive remark. Depression had descended like a shroud, enveloping her. Didn’t her mother realize how much it hurt to lose her husband and move into her parent’s house with her three-year-old toddler, Monica? She had felt like a dog coming back with its tail between its legs. Did anyone her age return home to their mother?

She’d been in a fog of pain for—was it really two years?

She knew she had to make the effort. Get out and be active again. Karin’s party would be a good place to start. She wouldn’t know too many people there, and she wouldn’t have to put up with the gazes full of pity that she hated so much.

“You’re right, Mother. I’ll e-mail her today and accept.”

“Good. We’ll leave Monica with Consuela and I’ll take you to Fifth Avenue to shop after lunch.”

They’d found the perfect outfit, a yellow silk blouse and a matching skirt with a ruffle at the hem.

The party happened to fall on the staff’s day off and Mother was at an Arts Culture meeting, so she’d left Monica with a new babysitter. Monica had clung to her hand when Amanda dropped her off. For the last two years, she’d been by Amanda’s side almost constantly. Amanda had to pretend she didn’t see the tears gathering in her sweet baby’s eyes as she closed the door and walked to the waiting cab.

The driver sent another concerned glance over his shoulder, bringing her back to the present. “Lady, are you okay?”

“Yes.” The quiver in her voice made her sound far from convincing. “Go. Just go.” She swallowed, tamping back the tears that stung her throat and intensified, threatening to overwhelm her. As she bit her lip, fear beat in her chest and wouldn’t be controlled as easily as her urge to cry. She looked back. A shadowy figure broke through the hedge.

The gearshift clunked as they pulled away from the curb into the overcast night. The man, still bent over and holding himself, staggered after them. He chased the car a few steps, then stumbled and fell.

“Where to, miss?”

Where should she go? Certainly not home. The attacker knew where she lived. His last words haunted her. I’ll find you, Amanda. You can’t hide. I know where you and thedoctor lived, and I know you are living with your mother now.

Who wanted to hurt her? Obviously it had to be someone who knew her if he knew her address.

Her stomach rolled—she was going to be sick. She clutched at her chest and tried buttoning her blouse. It didn’t help, it was ruined. Ripped and stained. Anyone who saw her would know there’d been a struggle.

The cabbie’s hard gaze met hers in the rear view mirror. “Miss, I need an address. Where do you want to go?”

What should she do? Where could she go? Anywhere but to the police. When her husband had died, they’d put her at the top of the list of suspects, grilling her for months until her nerves nearly shattered. They still hadn’t found his killer, and if she brought this attack to their attention, they might resume interrogating her. As far as she knew, no one at the party had seen it happen, and the police were unlikely to put out an all-points bulletin for an unknown man wearing a ski mask.

She let out a frustrated sigh, trying to clear her confusion. She wouldn’t impose on her friends and relatives. What if she put them in danger? She couldn’t go home or stay in town. The attacker might be anyone, and he was coming after her. She clasped her hands to control their trembling. She wanted her toddler, Monica, with her, but that would be selfish and dangerous.

Amanda hadn’t been at the Rockefellers’ party long when a man had bumped into her. He’d bent to pick up her clutch and apologized for knocking it out of her hand. When he’d handed it back, his dark, empty eyes had set alarm bells ringing, but she’d ignored them.

She had thought her friends would be interested in reconnecting with her after her extended absence, but when she walked to the edge of several groups, they’d ignored her and kept talking amongst themselves. They had seemed indifferent to her wanting to reintegrate. It hurt. Maybe she had been out of their circle too long, or they were just too self-centered and spoiled to notice her.

The realization had hit her hard. She’d needed to get away before someone noticed the tears that were gathering and close to spilling. She walked to the end of the garden where she knew there was a three-person swing with a bench seat.

It’d turned out to be a bad decision, because that’s when the masked man had pulled her into the bushes. Thank goodness, she’d thought to use her knee.

She needed to get away to safety so she could make a plan.

“Do you want me to just drive around, or are you gonna give me an address?”

What about Monica, her little three-year-old angel? Much as she would have loved Monica to be with her, it was better to leave her where she was safe. No one would think of her being with her friend, Kate’s, babysitter. Monica had never stayed with Barb before. Not even Amanda’s mom would know to search for her there. Kate let Barb watch her children all the time, so she must be loving and reliable.

“Okay. Take me…umm, to the hotel on the highway,” she murmured, tasting the salt of her tears.

“It’s a bad time of night to be goin’ there and it’s gonna take a while.”

Amanda brushed at her expensive clothes, trying but unable to remove the dirt and grass stains. “Yes, but I have to get out of here. Will you drive me somewhere out of town?”

“Lady, it’s almost midnight. My shift is over soon. I can’t.”

Fresh tears stung the back of her eyes. An impossible situation. “Then, please…drop me at the nearest hotel out on the interstate.”

“Okay, miss, but that’ll cost you. I hope you know what you’re doin’.”

To pay the cabbie, Amanda peeled off a couple of bills from the meager cash in her diamond-studded clutch purse. She’d only taken enough money to get home.

“Stay safe. Don’t do nothin’ stupid.” The cabbie shook his head one last time before driving away.

Stay safe. It wouldn’t be easy. Gravel pelted her legs as he gunned the engine and sent the yellow cab streaking out of the lot and down the highway, leaving her alone in the hotel’s parking lot.

Opening her wallet again, she counted the bills. Not enough for the hotel. What was she going to do?

The sound of rumbling engines caused her to turn. Fear hitched her breath as she faced a multitude of parked tankers and semis. They appeared monstrous in the tinted lights of the truck stop next door. The echo of their engines and the stench of diesel brought to mind the scary, shape-shifting toys from her childhood.

Through the window, she saw two truckers sitting at the counter in the café. She shivered in the cold. Though tempted to order something hot to drink, she decided against it, not wanting to face their reactions to her torn and soiled clothes. Glancing in the direction of town, Amanda wondered if the masked man had recovered enough to hunt for her.

Would he look here? No, of course not, but she needed to find a safe way out of the area.

A truck with a horse trailer stood at the card-lock gas pump at the edge of the lot next to the hotel. She hobbled toward it on her broken sandal. She loved horses. Dreamed of living outside the city and having one of her own to ride someday. She thought if she could just pet one…

When she drew near, she saw there were no horses inside. Disappointment saddenedher.

A hunky cowboy with tanned skin and a handsome face started washing the windshield of the truck. She ducked along the far side of the trailer where he wouldn’t notice her.

Darkness shrouded this side of the animal carrier. She slipped along beside the horse stalls. This one—the type owners took to competitions, staying in them while they showed their horses—had living quarters at the front.

Unable to stop her body shaking and teeth chattering, she looked to the RV part of the trailer as a warm place, out of the chilly night air. She tried the handle and it clicked open. A wave of relief washed over her.

Just then, the cowboy, his black Stetson slung low shadowing his eyes, sauntered to her side of the truck to finish washing the window. Amanda tore the door open wider and dove inside.

It was hard to see in the dim light. Her left hand rested on a three-burner stove. She had grabbed the corner of it to hoist herself inside. The dark space on the counter next to it was probably a sink. Across from her, a sofa sat along the far wall.

Footsteps shuffled in the dirt along the side of the truck. He was coming her way. In a panic, she scrambled up into the double bed on her right, at the front of the trailer.

Her breath came in ragged gasps as boots scuffed the concrete outside. She burrowed into the untidy mess of covers on the bunk, to hide if the cowboy entered. The scent of the man clung to the sheets, and she tried to regulate her breathing.

He stopped a moment then continued. Kicking the tires on his way by, he made a circuit of the truck and trailer. She took a second to catch her breath.

The truck rumbled to life and she grabbed at the sheets for support. Should she jump out or stay?

While she debated, they bumped onto the highway. They moved far too fast for her to escape. Wherever this handsome man was going, she was going, too.

She hoped she hadn’t put herself in more danger by stowing away in this cowboy’s trailer.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

While reading the internet, Georgina found a quote that said, ‘If you write a page everyday you can have a novel in a year.’ Well it wasn’t that easy. She spent the next four years studying the craft of writing, taking courses and having other writers critique her chapters.  While taking a course, she was asked to find three publishers she’d like to submit to. The covers at Prism Book Group drew her in. The rest is history as they say Family Matters that she had been working on for two years was contracted. Having conquered sweet romance, she is now working on romantic Christian stories.

 

Hidden Storms

Outer storms, inner storms, and nowhere to hide…

~ 1938 ~

 

 

Lilli Clarke. They call her the marked girl. Beginning at her left shoulder, a pink birthmark tracks up her throat just past her jaw, like a finger pointing to her brain. Abandoned by her family, she is ostracized by everyone but her grandmother and cousin Bert, Six years of dust storms have left sixteen-year-old Lilli close to death with dust pneumonia. Now she must leave the only real home she’s ever had, or risk death when the next storm hits.

Lilli is sent to her aunt and cousins in Florida to recover. The possibility of a different life presents itself, yet circumstances snatch it away, and she flees to New York City. Unable to find a safe place, she yearns for the storm ravaged home she left. All doors appear to be closed to her, and she resigns herself to the lonely fate of a marked girl. Once again, she is close to death, this time with no one to help her. Will this storm prevail, or is there a new answer for Lilli?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Nancy Shew Bolton

 

Maybe the silence woke me. Had I finally died? My eyes blink open and the ever-present grit hurts my eyeballs while I survey the room. The weathered clapboard walls and roof still stand. I lift a pale hand and study it. I’m still here, too.

The front door yawns open, and the two windows on either side are un-shuttered. A portion of cloudless blue sky shines above the flat, brown landscape. I draw in a shaky breath, relieved that only a slight rattle sounds in my chest. Voices flutter in from somewhere on the porch.

Gram says, “I decided. When she’s strong enough, I’ll send her to my sister.”

“What if Aunt Margaret don’t want her?” Cousin Gerald clears his throat. “Lilli’s bad luck. Cursed. Everybody knows that. She’s marked.”

If I had enough damp in my eyes, I might cry. How unfair people are. It always surprises me, though by now I should have wised up.

Gram’s sweet voice calms my flush of anger. “It’s wrong to blame her for things that happened. It’s not her fault. And I don’t believe in luck.”

“Aunt Helen, open your eyes. When bad things happen, you got to ask why. Cousin Sally lost her wits after she birthed Lilli. She was fine after she had Frank and Jasper. Then, after Lilli, there goes her right mind.”

“It’s not Lilli’s doing. I’ll never believe that.”

“Well, you’re the only one who don’t. This family’ll never live down what happened.” A chair leg scrapes and Cousin Gerald’s boots sound on the porch steps. “I’m glad she’ll be going, though, for your sake. You ain’t had a moment’s peace the years you’ve had her.”

My heart breaks for Gram. Maybe he’s right. Nothing has gone well for her since I came. The few pleasures she did enjoy have been stripped away. Invitations to social gatherings and friendly drop-by visits have dried up like the creek in our back yard. People avoid her, even at church, because she brings me there. They say God marked me, like Cain, though I never murdered anyone like he did. But murder followed me anyway, so they say.

God can smile on her once I leave. The slight, rhythmic thump of her rocker punctuates her humming of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

His eye is on you, Gram. But He doesn’t care a lick about me. Why do I have to go live with Great-Aunt Margaret? I hardly know her, but she’ll hate me like everyone else does. Everyone except Gram and Bert. I heave out as big a sigh as I can manage and drift back to sleep.

The smell of food cooking wakes me and Gram’s soft singing from the porch makes me smile. Bert will come by soon, like he does every afternoon. I roll onto my side and sit up on the edge of the bed. Dust plumes up from the mattress and settles on the floor, coating my bare feet. I stifle a cough. If Gram knows I’m up, she’ll leave her singing and come see about me. Let her have a few moments of enjoyment.

“Lilli? You awake, hon?”

Oh, well. “Yes, Gram. I’m okay. Don’t need anything.”

She hustles in and settles her tall, spare frame next to me. Dust motes dance in the sunlight from the windows. The sight of her heart-shaped face and gentle, blue eyes always cheers me. I get my baby-fine, brown hair from her, and my blue eyes, but not her calm, even temper. Or her hopeful faith. She studies me and pats my left shoulder. Nobody else except Bert ever touches my marked shoulder.

“What you need is some water and food. Your cousin, Gerald, brought us a jackrabbit this morning and I fixed some stew. Think you could manage some?”

I nod. While she fetches a bowl and wipes the dust out of it, Bert’s tall body comes into view across the yard.

“Best dish up some more, Gram. Bert’s coming.”

He stands in the doorway and grins at me. Though adopted by Cousin Gerald as a toddler, Bert acts more like family to me than my own ever did. “Well, well. She lives, after all. You finished scarin’ Auntie?”

Gram clucks her tongue at him. “Let her eat something before you rile her with teasing.”

“She must be better if she’s up to getting riled.”

Gram chuckles. “Sit down and have some stew with us. Your daddy brought us a jackrabbit.”

Bert pulls out one of our chairs and parks himself. Heads bowed, Gram gives thanks while I peek at Bert’s dusty head and shoulders. Years of short rations had carved any extra flesh off his sturdy body. We all look the same now, rangy as starved wolves.

The watery jackrabbit and turnip stew is devoid of fat, like we are. Fat. The days of butter melting on vegetables, glasses of creamy milk, and stews made with fattened meat, are the stuff of fond memory now. The crispy fat of a pork chop haunts my dreams. If it weren’t for food relief, we’d live on thistles.

Bert slurped his stew and thankfully refrained from any jokes about how dust improved the flavor. “Sam Gordon up and left. Must have gone before this last storm.”

Gram nodded, her face drawn down in sorrow. “I figured, once he lost his boy, he’d leave. He looked mighty sick at the funeral. Poor soul.”

Though hungry, I had to force down the stew. What’s the sense of hanging on? How many more awful stories can I bear, how many more storms? If I had the strength, I’d jump up from the table and run, past all the dust. Faster than an automobile. I’d outrun all of it. But not without Gram or Bert. Does she hang on for me, the way Sam Gordon had for his last living child? With my family gone, she wants to leave the farm to me. She says someone with our blood has to remain.

But there is no farm. Only acres of dust. Once she sends me from here, will she give up? No, she’ll still have Cousin Gerald and Bert. And all the folks in town will come around again once I’m gone. I can see that. They’ll greet her at church the way they used to, with big smiles, not the careful nods they dish out now.

I’m tired of it all. Tired of being judged. When I go, Bert and Gram won’t have to stick up for me anymore or try to keep me alive. At least I have that much to hold on to.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 41 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. Ever since she learned to write, she would jot down her thoughts and impressions in little snippets of inspiration in the form of poetry, song lyrics, or short essays. About six years ago, she decided to try her hand at writing a full-length book. She’s since written five works of fiction, two non-fiction, and is working on an idea for a children’s book, as well as more fiction manuscripts. Writing a full-length work is much more challenging than she thought, and she has received so much valuable assistance from other writers, especially from the ACFW critique groups. Her husband has been supportive of her long hours spent at the keyboard. Many thanks to her beloved Johnny! She thanks God and His Son for her life, her loved ones and the spark of creativity inside every person. She believes each person is a unique creation, with their own special voice and place in this amazing universe. God’s handiwork amazes her every day!

 

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Pesto and Potholes

Renata tries escape her past and runs straight into . . . love.

 

Renata Blake has moved to the Milwaukee area to leave behind a painful past as a victim of abuse. She discovers a family like she’s never had before, at Orchard Hill Church and is drawn to handsome Packer fanatic, Antonio. After all she’s suffered through, could she ever trust a man again?

Antonio DeLuca has a full life with his family, church and his job as chef and manager at DeLuca’s Cucina. Having been betrayed in love, he is afraid to trust a woman again. How would he fit her into his already full life anyway?

As circumstances draw them together and attempt to tear them apart, life becomes a combination of savory pesto and painful potholes as both Tony and Renata learn that with God’s help, and the support of a faith community, they can both learn to love again.

And maybe fight a few ninjas along the way.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Susan M. Banagz

August 2008

Renata placed the last candlestick on the table. The pastor had told her to submit. Be kind and cheerful for her husband. She hadn’t had time to change out of her work clothes, but had at least put on lipstick and combed her hair. She was bursting to tell Mick the news.

The click of the doorknob sent a shiver of fear up her spine. How can a doorknob…? Peace, Renata, God will not abandon you.

Mick strode in. She smiled at him. “I’m glad you’re home, Mick. I have something to tell you.”

He scowled at her, and she swallowed her fear. The cold look in his eyes chiseled away at her joy. “I went to the doctor today for an ultrasound. We’re having a girl!”

The force of the slap he delivered snapped her neck back. She should have anticipated it from the look in his eyes. She had prayed he would come around to being happy about being a father. She had hoped for a miracle for their marriage. “But Mick—” she cried.

He mimicked her in a high voice. “But Mick.” He slapped her again. “Don’t expect me to be happy. A girl? You thought I’d want a girl? Even if I wanted a kid, the last thing I’d want is a girl.”

“Please, Mick—” She was pleading now. She dared to look up at him. God, please, help me.

His hand came up, and she shrank back. Warm moisture flowed out of her nose as his fist withdrew. He grabbed her hair and jerked her head with such force she saw stars. She struggled to stay on her feet as he dragged her to the living room and tossed her like a rag doll to the floor.

She gasped for air as his steel-tipped boots ravaged her side, her stomach, her back. She lost track of any specific pain. Everything hurt. She tried to curl up. Please, please don’t hurt my baby. God, rescue me!

A final kick to the head was the last thing she remembered as she slid into darkness.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Her stories have been featured in in Splickety Magazine and in the I Choose Youanthology with OakTara Press. This is her first contemporary romance novel in the Orchard Hill Series, the second, Salsa and Speedbumps, will follow. She is represented by Mary Sue Seymour for her adventurous Regency Romances.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz.

 

 

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Sale, sale, sale!

 

Can faith move mountains? The Youngbloods are about to find out.

Henry Youngblood is determined to plant a new church in Buffalo Creek, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Meanwhile, his pregnant wife worries about paying the bills. One daughter dreams of a college education she cannot afford, and the other wants nothing more than popularity. It will take a miracle for the Youngblood family’s dreams to come true.

 

Baxter Road Miracle is being featured on Amazon’s Kindle Countdown for 99 cents! A sweet deal on a super-sweet, inspirational story! Grab your copy today!

EXCERPT

Copyright 2015© Carlene Havel

Ellen Youngblood kicked off her shoes and nestled into a corner of the sofa. With her husband at a meeting and her daughters doing their lessons, she looked forward to a rare evening of leisure time. She opened a squeaky end table drawer to retrieve a well-worn fashion magazine. Oh, to have the First Lady’s cool, elegant looks! Ellen absently touched her light brown tresses, neatly pulled into a bun. No, a pillbox hat needs a bouffant hairdo to look right. Ellen sighed. A new hairstyle wouldn’t give me Jackie Kennedy’s height. Or sense of style. And I’ll never be that slender. A pastor’s wife ought not to be so absorbed in fashion trends, anyway. The unexpected sound of footsteps on the porch interrupted Ellen’s thoughts.

She threw open the front door. “You’re home early. What happened?”

“The deacons voted down the land deal.” Henry Youngblood came inside and sat hunched forward on the sofa. His handsome face was devoid of all expression.

Ellen closed the door, but continued to stand at the threshold. “I thought they were all in favor.” She crossed the room and sat next to her husband. Putting an arm around him, she asked, “How could this happen?”

Henry exhaled and rubbed his face with both hands. “I don’t know. Brad Roberts did most of the talking.” He loosened his tie and rested his elbows on his knees, chin in hand. “Obviously there was another meeting—one I wasn’t invited to—before we got together tonight.”

Ellen listened to the sounds of pencils scratching in the dining room, hoping her teenaged daughters missed their father’s abrupt announcement. She rubbed Henry’s back, struggling to understand the situation. “What do the deacons want to do? Shop around for another piece of land?”

“They don’t want to do anything,” he said. “Sit tight. Take a wait and see attitude. Die on the vine.” Henry shrugged Ellen’s arm away and removed his suit coat. “I’m so sure it’s God’s will for us to build our new building in Buffalo Creek.” He turned to face his wife. “Where have I gone wrong?”

“Oh, honey. This isn’t your fault.” She picked up his jacket. “Do you want me to fix you something to eat?”

“No. I’m too upset to think about food right now.”

“Let me hang up your coat,” Ellen said. Henry followed her to their bedroom, where she put his jacket on a hanger and smoothed out the wrinkles. Henry never stayed long at the churches he pastored. The usual end of his employment came when conservative church leaders opposed her husband’s big plans. By now, the pattern was familiar. Henry would take on some small, half-dead church and double or triple the attendance within a year. With an overflowing sanctuary, he would begin to push for expansion or replacement of church facilities. The cost of Henry’s recommendations would spark heated controversy, and soon the Youngbloods packed up and moved on.

“Did the deacons ask for your resignation?” Ellen asked.

“They didn’t have to. I gave them notice on the spot.”

She patted his shoulder. “Maybe you should pray about this.”

“I have prayed,” Henry said. “There won’t be anything left of this neighborhood when that interstate highway cuts through here. God is leading us out to the suburbs, to Buffalo Creek. Where there’s no vision, the people perish, Ellen.”

“Did you ask how long we can stay in the parsonage?” She swept her eyes around the room. She would miss her latest home. It was their nicest house since Henry started preaching nine years and four churches ago. A spacious place with three big bedrooms didn’t come along every day.

“We didn’t talk about anything but the land,” Henry replied. “I gave them three months to call a new pastor. If they find someone sooner, that’s fine with me.”

“Maybe this will all work out after everyone has a chance to cool off,” Ellen said.

Henry drew his wife into an embrace and kissed her. “No. I’ve had it with these people. Tomorrow morning, we’ll start packing and get ready to move. Somewhere.”

“What do we tell the girls?” Ellen asked, turning her face to nestle a cheek against Henry’s chest.

“There’s nothing to tell until we figure out what I’m supposed to do next.”

Ellen sighed. “We can’t wait too long. People will ask questions Sunday, and the kids have to be prepared.” The church would probably not offer to pay Henry any kind of bonus or severance, and he would be too stubborn to ask. Thankful she had a little money put aside, Ellen hugged her husband tightly. This is obviously not the right evening to break the news I’m pregnant. There’s still time before I start to show.

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Acres of Dreams

 

 

Could Katy ever love this vast, forbidding country?

 

Nineteen-year-old Katy is sent  to Canada by her family in the late 1890′s to find a suitable husband. Katy has other plans, however - she wants a career, not marriage.

During the round of social activities arranged by her sister, she is drawn against her will towards her distant cousin Robert, who loves Katy on sight. She has also attracted the attention of her brother-in-law’s boss, Martin, who doesn’t take rejection easily, evens the score by destroying Katy’s reputation.

Facing a return home in disgrace, Katy tries another way out. She accepts the offer of marriage from Robert, who is on his way west to set up a homestead on the prairies.

Katy is not prepared for the loneliness and hardships she is about to face. She has a difficult journey ahead, learning to become a woman and a wife and discovering how to love.

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Sharon McGregor

“Katy Anne! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.” Maggie greeted her with the lilt that made Katy feel she was still in Ireland, not halfway around the world in Toronto. Maggie gave Katy a big hug, an action made difficult by the fact that she stood nearly a head taller than the five-foot-one Katy, and by Maggie’s slightly protruding abdomen. Katy hugged her back, then they stood apart so they could look at each other. “Oh, my. My little sister is all grown up.”

“I’m nineteen. Of course I’m all grown up.” Katy bristled. Her two suitcases stood, one on either side of her, where they had been dropped by the hansom cab driver, who had brought her from the train station. The driver clucked to the horses and they set off clattering down the street.

“And still with the temperament of a spitting cat, I see.”

“It’s so good to see you again. Everyone at home misses you.”

A small face appeared in the doorway, accompanied by a sticky, sweet-filled hand. “And this must be Tommy.”

“Thomas Jr., aged one and a half.” Maggie patted her abdomen and said, “Soon to be joined by his brother. Or sister.”

“Oh, Maggie, we were thrilled to get your letter. I can help with the baby when it comes.”

“Well, let’s get you settled first. Then we’ll make plans for your future. What do you think of Toronto so far?”

“I didn’t really see much through the rain. The train ride from Halifax seemed to take forever, but I was so glad to get off the boat. This country is huge.”

“You’ve only seen a small part, you know. There’s a whole continent to the west. Most of the land is wild country, but some people are homesteading, so it will grow.”

Katy picked up the larger case, leaving the small one for the pregnant Maggie, and they lugged them upstairs.

Maggie opened a door that led into a pretty room, whitewashed and clean, with a small bed covered by a green and blue quilt. “This will be your room.”

“All to myself? I don’t think I’ve ever had a room to myself before.”

“Well, with twelve in the family, we weren’t likely to, were we?” Maggie’s eyes glistened for a moment until she took a swipe at them with her apron. “Sorry. Just indulging in a bit of homesickness.”

“Do you still miss Ireland?”

“Only sometimes. Thomas is a good husband to me and I have a full life now, but every once in a while, when I think I might never see Mam and Da again, I sit down and have a wee cry. Then I’m fine.”

“Oh, Maggie. Now you’ll have me crying, too.”

“I didn’t mean to, love. And if you ever get too homesick, I’m sure we can send you back, marked ‘not accepted at this address.’ Now you wash up. There’s a pitcher and basin on the stand. The water will be still warm. After you’ve freshened up, come downstairs and we’ll have some tea. Thomas won’t be home for ages yet, so we’ve lots of time before supper.”

Katy flopped the largest of her suitcases on the bed and began to take out her skirts and blouses, one at a time, smoothing them the best she could. There were lots of hangers in the wardrobe. She’d leave the rest for later. For now, she’d wash up and catch up on Maggie’s world. She knew Thomas worked at a distillery, and she guessed he must have a good position there. This house would have made three of their farmhouse back home.

She wished she knew what plans her parents were making for her. With six girls in the family, there wasn’t much scope in Ireland for a girl to find either a husband or employment. Katy wasn’t sure she wanted a husband, anyhow. The minute a girl married, the best part of her life was over, and she’d spend the rest of her days waiting hand and foot on her husband, and popping out a baby every year. She’d much rather find a position or train for something.

One of her sisters, Jenny, was training in the post office, but there was no room for another worker there. Perhaps she could find a clerical position in Toronto. She didn’t want to be a nursery governess—that was just like being a wife, but without the privileges. If she had more money, she might train to be a nurse or a teacher.

She harbored a sinking feeling her parents were more concerned about finding her a suitable husband than a suitable position, but she’d set them straight. She was going to look on her trip to Toronto as an adventure, something to tell stories about when she went back to Ireland, which she intended to do, eventually. She wasn’t about to face permanent expulsion just because she had run out of eligible suitors at home. She wanted a job, not a husband.

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Year of Jubilee

Can love free Jubilee from her pain?

 

 

Orphaned and widowed, eighteen-year-old Jubilee Stallings clings to her southern Indiana farm as her only refuge. The wilds of Gibson County are just being tamed in the year of 1850, and Jubilee ekes a meager existence. But when Rafe Tanner, a cousin of her abusive dead husband, shows up with the deed to her property, Jubilee’s dream of her own home dissolves.

Rafe, stinging from his ex-fiancée’s rejection, offers a business marriage, throwing him and Jubilee together in an effort to make the farm successful. But scars from the past keep her in constant fear of her new husband. The pair masquerades as a love-struck couple at Rafe’s family farm, enduring the romantic notions of his family, and the jealousy of his ex-fiancée.

Once home, Rafe realizes his newfound love for Jubilee, and sets out to court her. Meanwhile, Jubilee fights demons from her past as her husband reveals his interest. Can Jubilee let go of her distrust and pain to embrace God’s plan of true love and finally find a place to belong?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Peggy Trotter

 

Gibson County, Indiana, December 31st, 1849

Jubilee Stallings’ forehead collided with the wall. Stars flashed behind her closed lids. She lay completely still. Her face heated and her body ached, yet she dared not move.

“You’re worthless,” her husband’s slurred voice continued.

She heard his footsteps stagger across the floorboards.

“You’re nuttin’ but a dog, and…and…a piece…of dung.”

The floorboards thundered as his body hit the floor. Scraping sounds emitted from the other side of the room.

“I…oughta…”

He continued mumbling unintelligibly. Jubilee pressed her bruised brow against the icy wood of the wall and prayed. Fresh tears wet her face. Please fall asleep. Almost on command, Colvin gave a snore. Jubilee continued to lie immobile, although, now that the initial rush of adrenaline had worn off, the frigid air made her naked body want to shake. She clenched her teeth and fought against her body’s urge. Snores filled the air.

She pushed to a sitting position and eyed the straw mattress where Colvin had sprawled. Moving as cautiously as a newborn colt, she crawled to her dress by the door. She pulled it on as a set of shivers ripped through her body. With her sweater in hand, she crept to the fireplace. Only dying embers remained, but Jubilee couldn’t risk adding another log. Her teeth chattered as she tucked her feet beneath her skirt and pulled up the ragged cardigan to ward off the chill.

She grimaced as she rubbed the swelling on her neck where he’d choked her. The moonlight broke through the clouds, highlighting the marks scratched into the wall near the stone mantel. She’d carved the last one this morning—December 31, 1849. More than a full year had come and gone since she’d begun marking. Tomorrow would be her second birthday in this house. Once again, tears threatened. She’d be eighteen.

The day had dawned in a gray haze, but the day of her birth marked a new year, which always buoyed her with hope. The hours had passed pleasantly. She’d filled the wood box, baked fresh bread, and gone to bed looking forward to tomorrow. Until Colvin had exploded through the door, startling her from a deep sleep. She closed her eyes and her mind. It was always the same. More tears spilled from her swollen eyelids.

She tensed as Colvin sputtered a few times before going back to his ear-splitting snores. Noting where his pants had dropped, she decided to wait a little longer before she pilfered a couple coins. Any more and he’d notice and beat her senseless. Now, time to rest and recover her strength. She’d make sure she wasn’t near the cabin when he woke. Hopefully he’d follow his usual pattern and be off and gone for the next several weeks. Let it be months, she prayed. I don’t care if he ever shows up again. For now, she needed rest.

She woke a short time later, collected a few coins from Colvin’s pockets, and opened the door, thankful for the quiet leather hinges. Because of the cold, she wouldn’t head to the woods, her favorite hiding place. She’d settle for the barn, a huge hulking structure. Her breath formed a ghostly fog about her in the chill, crisp air. Fear licked at her, and she ran from the evil sleeping in the cabin.

Inside the barn, she moved quietly so as to not stir the cow, who loved to greet her in the early morn. She scrambled into the loft and buried herself in a cave of hay. The exertion left her body panting, but warm. With the protection of the sweet hay around her, she fell asleep.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Peggy Trotter is a small town Hoosier native who teaches 1st and 2nd grade at a small Christian School and writes Christian Romance in her spare time. God blessed her with a wonderful husband who cooks and helps clean while supporting her crazy dreams. She has two incredible grown kids, one fabulous son-in-law, and two rays of sunshine, commonly called grandchildren.

 

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Ugly Paradise

Beneath beauty, evil lurks…

Katie Anderson has no idea who she is, or why she was abandoned to her fate after an attack by an escaped Sumatran tiger — the pet of a local Californian scriptwriter. Who was she with when she was attacked? Why was there a severed goat’s head secreted in her rucksack? In the five years since the attack, Katie has grown accustomed to the indelible paw print etched on her cheek, which draws sympathetic glances and repulsed stares in equal measure. That is, until the cruelty of a casual comment from a wrinkle-free diner at The Alice Garden restaurant in Sanur Beach sparks her quest for answers, launching Katie on a painful path to discover the truth. Will Katie find the spiritual and emotional serenity she craves? Or will society’s obsession with physical perfection defeat her progress?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Lindsey Paley

“Run! Run! Faster!”

James’s words pierced her ears despite the cacophonous sound of her blood crashing through her veins. Her heart threatened to explode, not from the physical exertion, but from terror forcing its alarm into her every extremity.

“Run!”

The razor-sharp blades of the rice crop slashed at her bare shins like whips as she shot along the lush fringes of the steeply terraced paddy fields, their stagnant waters stinging her lacerations and seeping into her trainers as the verdant shoots flattened under her pounding feet. Dense jungle and presumed safety loomed ahead to her left, and the imposing hulk of Mount Batukaru rose on her right.

Her mahogany hair lashed across her face, obstructing her vision, the mingling of perspiration from her strenuous sprint and the intense humidity doubling its volume. The rucksack James had insisted she carry bounced heavily on her shoulders, serving only to slow her escape.

“Run!”

Lit by dappled silver moonlight, the tropical forest of palm and banyan trees appeared darker and more impenetrable than by day. Before being swallowed by the waiting jungle, James twisted his face over his shoulder toward her. A jolt of horror caught in her chest as her eyes met his distorted glare, crammed with such naked hatred it caused her to miss her stride. Her foot slammed into the opaque, motionless waters of the rice field, submerging her ankle and interrupting her essential flight.

As she righted her balance—shrugging the ancient rucksack higher onto her shoulders—even in her panicked state she caught a glimpse of bleeding crimson fingers slice through the thick hessian material. She slowed again, losing vital seconds.

“Run!” His voice was muffled now, cocooned in the density of the steaming jungle, smothered by the night cries of its residents.

She shot into the canopy of the palm and Intaran trees, her body enveloped by the cloying gloom and chest-high bamboo, gulping moist air into her lungs.

No sign of James, but her senses screamed she was not alone. Her forearms prickled, their dark hairs erect, and her hairline tingled. She ditched the blood-soaked rucksack onto the jungle floor, strewn thick with nature’s detritus, and sprinted into its crowded depths like a fleeing gazelle. Her speed slackened as the thick, dangling roots of the banyan trees snaked across her path and bamboo leaves slapped at her face.

As her peripheral vision recorded a sleek flash of amber and black, treasured memories began to flash through her mind’s eye and she knew she was about to die without the necessary satisfaction of knowing why.

She tumbled backward with the force of the blow and an intense, blinding agony permeated each and every nerve ending before blackness engulfed her questions.

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Loves Comes Calling

Could she love a man who had once almost killed her?

Cover_LoveComesCallingarr

“In the timeless tradition of sweet romance, Deborah Piccurelli weaves a charming tale about a most unlikely pair. Their journey of unexpected love and redemption tugged my heartstrings. You’ll want a cup of tea and a cozy corner.” -Sally John” Author of Heart Echoes and Between Us Girls

The day new Christian, Derek Spencer, shows up on Charlie Parkes’s doorstep to make up for what he’d done, is the very day he falls in love with her. But Charlie’s sister mistakes him for a home improvement contractor, and he decides to play along until he finds a way to reveal who he really is.

Charlie is attracted to Derek, but knows the attention he pays her is only flattery. How could such a great-looking guy fall for someone with a face like hers? Nevertheless, the two form a relationship that brings a joy to Charlie that’s way beyond her wildest dreams.

But what will happen when Derek’s true identity is revealed?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Deborah M. Piccurelli

Derek Spencer grasped the steering wheel of his SUV with one hand, while searching for the address scribbled on the scrap of paper he held in the other.

Would she be willing to see him? The decision to come forward had been tough, but necessary to his peace of mind and his spiritual well-being. He wanted to make things right with Charlotte Parkes.

Spotting the house, he slowed down and pulled into the driveway. He sat in the car and stared at the small brick rancher, trying to perceive the character of the woman who lived inside. The neatly mowed lawn resembled a rich green carpet, and colorful flower beds lined the perimeter of the house. Cheerful drapes adorned the inside of the picture window in front, inviting him to exit the car and ring the doorbell. He accepted the invitation and bounded up the walk.

Barely three seconds passed when the door was torn open and an attractive young woman with a profusion of curly red hair reached out and pulled him in by the arm.

“Finally. You were supposed to be here an hour ago. What happened? Traffic jam on Route 356?”

“I…” He scratched his head. Did she know him?

“Forget it. You’re here, now. Though I’m not sure your lateness speaks well of you. If you want a job, you must be prompt.”

“But…” What on earth was she talking about?

“Shall we begin? My sister is waiting in the other room.” She strolled away, motioning for him to follow.

Having no other alternative, he complied. At least he had gotten through the door.

As they passed through the living room and dining room, Derek studied his surroundings. The place was neat, clean, and comfortable-looking. The living room set was made up of odd pieces of furniture put together in such a way it gave the illusion they were made especially to be a part of this grouping.

When he entered the kitchen, he recognized Charlotte Parkes from her picture in the newspaper. With her porcelain-smooth skin and shiny auburn hair, she looked like an angel. Engrossed in squirting colored icing through a tube onto a layer cake, she hadn’t yet noticed him.

“Charlie, the contractor’s here.” Her sister jerked a thumb in his direction.

Contractor?

Charlotte put down the decorating tool, turned full face, and smiled. “Hello, I’m Charlotte, but you can call me Charlie.” She extended one hand and touched the side of her face with the other.

Nothing prepared him for what he saw.

A flesh-colored road map scarred the left side of Charlie’s face. Her eye slanted down on the outer end, pulled into that position by the tightness of the flesh. The corner of her mouth tilted up into a perpetual half-smile. The photo in the newspaper had been taken before the accident.

How he despised himself at that very moment for his responsibility in what had happened to this once-beautiful woman.

He composed himself and obligingly took the offered hand.

“And this is my sister, Jessica,” she continued, “whom I see you’ve already met.”

“Glad to meet you both.” With difficulty, he tore his eyes away from Charlie to glance at the other woman. “I’m Derek Spencer.”

He stood looking from one to the other, at a loss for words. His throat squeezed closed. This was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do in his life. How to begin? Taking a deep breath, he dove in, “You don’t know who I am, but I’m here for a specific reason.”

Charlie furrowed her brow at him. “Of course you’re here for a specific reason. We did ask you to come.”

“Huh?” He didn’t get it, and tried again. “What I mean is…”

“Oh, let’s cut to the chase and stop this yammering,” interrupted Jessica. “Char, we have an appointment to keep, or have you forgotten?”

She checked her watch. “Yes, you’re right, Jess.” Turning to Derek she said, “I suppose you should take a look at what we’d like done.”

“Done? I don’t . . .” He stopped. Hmm. Maybe I should play this out. Derek nodded. It could provide a lead-in as to his real reason for being there.

Charlie rose from the table. “This way.” Her movements were graceful as he followed. The light glinted off her long, touchable hair.

As he passed Jessica, she shot him a purse-lipped, slit-eyed look, then fell in behind him. Did she suspect something or just dislike his staring at her sister?

They had gone back through the dining and living rooms to a small hallway where there were two doors. Charlie opened one, revealing a long set of stairs leading to the basement and began the descent. At the bottom of the steps, Derek stopped and perused the room.

“This is it.” Charlie spread her arms to encompass the entire basement. “I’d like it made into a studio.”

“I see.” He really didn’t. Remodeling wasn’t his area of expertise. He looked around, as if evaluating what would be needed for the job. “What kind of a studio will it be?”

“A dance studio.” Charlie shrugged, as if that should have been obvious. “Ballet, specifically. I’m going to teach.”

“I see,” he repeated. Only this time he told the truth. She had once been a ballet dancer on her way to the top, before her career was so cruelly brought to a halt. The local newspapers had depicted the whole tragic story.

“Tell me what you would like done while I write it down.” He dug into his pocket and produced the notepad he always carried, a requirement of working for a magazine.

Charlie pointed out the need for hardwood flooring, floor length mirrors lining the walls, along with exercise barres in front, and a separate entrance so that her students wouldn’t have to go tramping through her home and then take the steep stairs down.

“Okay.” He finished the list with an embellishment. “I’d like to come back with my partner, so he can see firsthand what we’d be doing before giving you an estimate. Would you be agreeable to that?”

Her gray eyes narrowed slightly, and she frowned. “I…guess so.”

“Good. I’ll call you to set up a convenient time.”

She peered at him warily. “Okay. Do you have a card?”

Uh-oh. “Um . . .” He feigned feeling around in his pockets. “I’m sorry. I don’t have any with me. As you can see, I’m not dressed for an average day of work.” He indicated the fine suit he wore. “I’ve come here straight from a personal appointment. I don’t even have my truck.”

“Oh, so that explains your lateness,” piped up Jessica.

He’d forgotten she was there. She’d hung back, standing on the stairs, leaning over the railing.

“Exactly.”

She didn’t look as though she believed him.

“I’ll be in touch very shortly. You can count on it.” He strode out as if he were in a relay race.

Derek jumped into the car, breathing heavily and stared at the steering wheel.

“Spencer, what have you gotten yourself into?” He started the engine and drove off.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

After years of reading books and watching movies with an element of romance, Deborah M. Piccurelli’s desire to write romance novels came naturally. She is active in her church and is an advocate for sanctity of life. Deborah is the author of two novels and several cause-related newspaper articles. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the New Jersey Society of Christian Writers. As one of the winners in a contest by The Christian Authors Show, details of Deborah’s writing journey can be found in the 2013-2014 edition of the book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.Deborah lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two sons.

Beast of Stratton

 

He appears the beast, she sees the man.

 

Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.

Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide than help, especially from the man’s daughter. But something’s not right. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A decorated war veteran, he’s defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Even with the enemy at his side.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2015 © Renee Blare

 

He’d vanished.

She’d called his friends, the family. She’d even tried her stepmother who’d hung up on her. Well, okay, maybe that wasn’t the brightest idea.

A red rose rolled across her father’s tattered note, caught in the breeze from the open window. Sliding the pane down, she picked up the flower. The words on the page blurred as she buried her nose in the soft petals.

Instead of saying goodbye to his wife in his last letter, he’d simply left explicit instructions not to follow him. Aimee snorted. Like the woman would care. He’d sent it with the rose and an antique necklace. She held the thick chain aloft and peered at the golden key spinning in the light. The jewelry had probably cost a fortune.

And her stepmother was nowhere to be found. Scratch that. According to her, she wanted to be left alone. It didn’t make a difference to Aimee what the letter said and to whom, she’d follow. A small smile worked its way to her lips as she fastened the necklace around her neck.

The zipper stuck on the edge of the suitcase and she gave it a hard jerk. Dragging the bulging bag off the bed, it hit the floor with a thunk. She slid her arms into her jacket and looped her purse over the handle. She dropped the rose, and it landed beside her plane ticket next to her wallet. Before latching her fingers around her bag, she tucked the key under her shirt out of sight. “Stratton Industrial, here I come.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Renee Blare’s nose has been buried in a book for as long as she can remember. Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, she started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the awesome town of Laramie. She’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

After a brief detour to Texas, she back home, nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat. Add her son and parents dropping in for a home-cooked meal, and life’s never dull around her house. She serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her stories about struggling Christians as they travel along the journeys of their lives—meanwhile keeping things interesting with some action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check her website, blog, and social media.

www.prismbookgroup.com