Sarah and a Dad for Mandy

Heaven’s Little Love Angel is back for another fun adventure! Who will she help to fall in love this time?

The Superiors left Sarah, “Heaven’s Little Love Angel,” on Earth to complete the third consecutive and interrelated mission. With simple instructions to find a mate for Galena Maddox and a dad for six-year-old Mandy, Sarah should have no problem, right? Well, except that
dyslexic Sarah—known for bungles and goof-ups—creates more mayhem than she ever imagined possible. Pesky human disguises cause her trouble—again. In mortal form, she either injures people or embarrasses herself. Now the earthlings think she’s a fugitive from a mental hospital.

With Galena’s shady past, will Matt Austin, a minister, even consider her as a wife? And will Matt’s hoity-toity church accept Galena if Sarah successfully brings them together? Angels shouldn’t worry, but the task is daunting.

A wedding featuring the love interests from Sarah and the Internet Dating Service just might provide the magical atmosphere necessarily to bring Galena and Matt together.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 Gay N Lewis

 

Could anything be more wonderful? Should she pinch herself?

The Lieutenant had allowed her, Sarah, the goof-up angel from The Heavenlies, to stay in Houston, Texas for another mission. The important superior hadn’t commanded her return for the third time in a row. Amazing. And this directive promised fun—if she could keep her wings out of trouble this time.

She’d received the assignment to bring Galena Maddox and her daughter, Mandy, together with Matthew Austin. Now that would be a challenge. Mandy, that adorable child, had sensed an angelic presence before, and actually spotted Sarah once. The innocent eyes of children could often perceive the supernatural. How could she work around the little girl without revealing herself? On the other hand, no one ever believed young humans when they spoke of angels, so it might not matter.

Six-year-old Mandy had never known a father, and the sweet child certainly deserved one. Galena provided excellent mothering skills, but being a single mom with no financial or physical help would pose a challenge for any earthling.

Wonder how all those nice people in such a position managed? Many moms or dads found themselves in Galena’s identical circumstance. How Sarah admired them! So much work and determination went into their efforts. God saw their trials and cared about them. That might be the reason she had the task of helping Galena.

Well, it was up to her to change the wretched conditions for one deserving mother, Galena.

Sigh. Galena had given birth to Mandy as an unwed mother—which could become a problem in Sarah’s mission. Oh sure, no one seemed to care much about that fact these days—well, God did, of course. Hmmm. Why didn’t earthlings consider God’s thoughts on physical, intimate matters before engaging in unseemly behavior? He didn’t approve of such actions without benefit of marriage, even if the humans thought them permissible. Oh, well, that was between Him and them, and not her problem.

Her assignment was to romantically link this man and woman who had inadvertently met. But then, was anything accidental in God’s celestial plan? Nope. Nothing escaped His notice, so when little Mandy grew ill and needed hospitalization, God conveniently sent Matt, a minister, into the hospital waiting room to meet Galena.

How glorious was that? These two people met by Divine Intervention, and they had no clue the Great One had anything to do with it.

What should Sarah, also known as Heaven’s Little Love Angel, do first on this mission? The couple knew each other, but unless she did something, they might not cross paths again soon enough and would miss God’s present, ready-to-give blessing.

Should she wait for Galena to make an appearance at the soup kitchen? That’s where she’d first seen Galena, and she knew how to find that place. If she did that, she could follow her latest charge home, but the wait would delay the job. Galena wouldn’t go to the site that fed people until tomorrow night. The Lieutenant hadn’t said time was of the essence, but it would be in Galena’s best interest to hurry up and fall in love with Matt.

How did people locate each other down here? If they needed an address or phone number, what did they do? Oh, yeah, that’s right…they often visited Mr. Google on the Internet. Nope, that option wasn’t one Sarah wanted to try again—ever! Maybe after refresher classes in The Heavenlies, she’d attempt it, but not now. Just the thought gave her a headache. She might take additional education when she reunited with the other angels. Poopty doopty! Entering a session with newbies might prove embarrassing, but then again, she still fit into the ‘inexperienced’ category. She’d successfully completed five missions, but not without major blunders.

How would it be to sit in a seminar and have the instructor use her as an example of what not to do on assignment? Not a pleasant thought. Maybe she should avoid those humiliating assemblies altogether. Oh sure, the teachers used positive words, and no one ever made fun of her, but still. Could she help it if she was dyslexic? Directions would forever be a problem. She was also known as Sarah the Goofball. When on Planet Earth, thinking things through simply wasn’t her strong suit. She came up with ideas, acted on them, and then suffered the consequences. Advance planning might be one way to improve her behavior.

“Okay, Sarah, before you get down in the dumps as the humans say, and start feeling sorry for yourself, get a grip. Let’s review facts. Galena Maddox works as a cashier in a large discount chain store, and her money runs out at the end of the month. She attends night college classes and takes her daughter with her. Her new friend, Brittany, tutors her in Algebra. Galena once led a misspent life and doesn’t know who Mandy’s father is, but now she’s a Christian and lives a different lifestyle. Mandy recently had surgery.

“Super. That sums up what you know about Galena, now what do you know about Matthew Austin?” Sarah scrunched her nose and held fingers up, one at a time. “First off, he’s single. Number two, he’s nice looking. Number three, he prefers to be called Matt. Number four, he pastor’s a church.” She turned her hand over and gazed at the thumb waiting to show itself. “Well, apparently I know only four things about Matt. Okay. Only one thing left to do. Call for help.”

She glanced up, spoke her request, and waited. Would Gabriella appear? She chewed her lip and looked about. No one materialized. Sigh. How weird. Did she not ask appropriately? Try again. Maybe the Lieutenant had been busy. “Mother Goodness, would you send someone down with a file on my two charges? I’d be grateful for your help.”

With her head turned toward the heavens, she saw two huge, bare feet sticking out beneath a white garment floating down to her. “Can’t be Gabriella. She has tiny appendages. Celeste makes two of me, but I don’t remember her tootsies being that enormous. I doubt those giant things belong to Mother Goodness. She covers her toes with white slippers.”

“Hi, Sarah.”

Christian! It had been a long while since she’d seen his colossal, shoeless extremities.

“Hi, Christian, I’m happy to see you. What have you been doing lately?”

“I’ve been in North America, up in the state of Idaho. Ever been there?”

“No. I’ve stayed in Texas. I’d enjoy visiting other parts of this country, but I’d probably be twice as lost there as I am here.”

“It is beautiful country our Creator designed just north of here. My assignment was to bring together a man and woman who had been sweethearts in high school. If they’d become husband and wife when they first considered wedded bliss, they would be celebrating fifty years together. Instead they married other people, but they never forgot their first love. After their spouses died, they looked each other up on social media.”

“Never heard of social media.”

“It’s a cyberspace tool. I helped them find each other on Facebook.”

“What in the world could that gizmo be? Is it some kind of doohickey where people stand at a computer and make silly faces at the screen?”

Christian laughed. “Not exactly. It’s a public forum where individuals post attractive personal, profile pictures and those images spin around the world on the Internet.”

“Oh, my stars! I hope the Superiors never ask me to tangle with that thingy. No telling what kind of mess I’d make. I had enough trouble getting Karen and Jeremy together on an Internet Dating Service. Can you imagine what I’d do if I had a bunch of photos staring back at me?” Sarah squeezed one eye shut. “On the other hand, if their semblances had been on that service they used, I might not have had as much confusion.” She shuddered. “I don’t want to use computers.”

“But you did, and you are now more familiar with mankind’s toys. It was good for you. Facebook is an excellent place to learn new things about people. You should set up a page. Call yourself Sarah Wingspand and invite friends to like you.”

“My friends reside in The Heavenlies. I don’t have any down here.”

“Oh, you don’t need to know people. Just publish an image and request the public to friend you.”

“Huh? People who don’t know each other get in touch with other strangers and become buddies?”

“Yes. Often that is the case. They may never meet in this life, only in the one to come, but they visit over the Internet.”

“That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard of. Whoever came up with that idea must be making tons of money.”

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Diamond Heiress

When two bitter rivals….

One person stands between Brielle and her inheritance—Nicholas Trenton. If she fails to serve as CEO of her grandfather’s company, Santorini Jewels, for one full year, then everything goes to Nick—the company, her trust fund, and her home…the only home she’s ever known. Nick doesn’t care about the money, but he wants the company his father helped build. Now is his turn to run Santorini. Brielle isn’t qualified, nor does she deserve the position of CEO. One way or another, he will ensure she doesn’t run Santorini into the ground.

 

Are forced to run a multi-billion dollar company together…

Despite a clash of wills, they learn to work together for the benefit of the company. But when they can no longer ignore the attraction building between them, will they give in to it or will it ultimately be the downfall of Santorini?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Ruth Roberts

Brielle tried to moisten her dry mouth to speak. The board of directors looked at her expectantly, waiting on her answer. The last two weeks had been the worst of her life—and this meeting was adding to her nightmare.

Brielle regarded the seven men and five women. Successful and distinguished, each had played a part in making Santorini what it was today, and Brielle knew her grandfather had trusted them implicitly. She looked at them one by one, attempting to gauge their feelings on grandfather’s decision. Some smiled, but most looked skeptical. Could she blame them?

Then her gaze collided with the cold, steel gray stare of Nicholas Trenton. Brielle attempted to control the slight recoil of her head when their eyes met. There was no skepticism. Instead, pure rage projected from him. He obviously agreed with her—she was not the right person for the job.

“Miss Santorini? Did you hear what I said?” asked Ken Rogers, Chairman of the Board. Forced from her reverie, Brielle gave a hesitant head shake. “No. I don’t believe I understood correctly.

Grandfather appointed me as CEO of Santorini before he died?”

“Yes. Even though you are the majority shareholder, owning fifty-one percent of Santorini stock, it was still Mr. Santorini’s wish that you run the company as he did, after he was gone.”

“That’s absurd!” she said. “Didn’t you all have to agree to this before my grandfather put it in his will?”

“Mr. Santorini did propose it to the board, and after a careful review of your qualifications, we agreed.”

“What qualifications? I haven’t the slightest idea what it takes to run a company of this magnitude. Any one of you would be better suited to run Santorini.”

Ken stood up and handed her a file. “We appreciate your vote of confidence. However, Mr. Santorini made the decision. He felt certain you could handle the position and so do we.”

Brielle reviewed the will. Grandfather had actually done this monumental thing. He had appointed her, frivolous Brielle Santorini, CEO of the largest and most distinguished jeweler in the country. Since she graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA at the age of twenty-one, he had been pestering her to utilize her knowledge at Santorini. Yet each time he asked, she had declined his offer. Why? To be more like the mother she hadn’t seen since the age of three? To finally gain her approval by visiting the very places Gabriella frequented? How pathetic did that sound now, to have traveled the world in an unconscious search for the mother who didn’t want her? What a waste. Yet not once did Grandfather chide her for the way she had chosen to live the last few years. She did sit on the board of three charities, but that never felt like work. It was enjoyable. With a laptop and Wi-Fi, she could fulfill her duties from just about anywhere.

Brielle looked at them defiantly. “What if I refuse to do it?”

“Eh-hem.” Jason Simmons, her grandfather’s attorney, cleared his throat to get her attention. “In his will he also stipulates if you do not serve as CEO of Santorini for a minimum of one full year, then your trust fund is to be broken, and the funds will go to Nicholas Trenton, along with all of your grandfather’s personal assets. The stock will also go to Mr. Trenton. Added to the shares he inherited from his father, he would then own sixty-six percent of the company, making him the majority shareholder and owner. ”

“Are you saying I’d have nothing left?”

“That is precisely what I am saying, Miss Santorini.” For a brief moment, the harsh expression on his face looked as if it had been chiseled in stone. It reminded Brielle of Mount Rushmore. After what seemed the longest moment in human history, he grinned.

He looked as if he were enjoying this far too much. Brielle’s hand itched to slap the smug expression off his face. He’d always been an arrogant and pompous jerk. She would fire him at the first opportunity. Now she understood why Nick was so angry. If it weren’t for her, he’d have control of Grandfather’s company and his money. It would all belong to him. She wasn’t about to let Nicholas Trenton take everything from her. She just needed to find some way out of this without giving up her inheritance. At the moment though, she couldn’t think of one. She either had to run Santorini for a year or lose everything. Her choice was really no choice at all.

Brielle felt like a caged animal, and her grandfather was the captor. She had thought he loved her dearly, but now she wasn’t so sure… No! She gave herself a mental shake. She would not doubt her grandfather’s affection—he was the only person who’d ever loved her. She suddenly realized he believed in her, too. He wouldn’t have made this decision if he hadn’t thought she could do it. He had loved Santorini and would never do anything to jeopardize his beloved company. If he had this much confidence in her, then she would do it. For him and maybe even for herself. She looked around the room confidently. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like I have a company to run. Where do I start?” They all applauded her decision, whether they agreed or not, and came around one by one to shake her hand—except Nick Trenton, who stood up and left the boardroom.

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The Right Ingredients

Missing the right ingredients for a life of joy, a young baker learns lessons in the true recipe for love… 

Ann’s hectic work responsibilities demand all her time and effort, and what was once a useful, satisfactory life has become a burden to carry. Her bakery partner Susan has lost none of her enthusiasm for their business, and Ann can’t understand her exuberance, or her friend’s Christian faith. So she trudges along, hiding her dissatisfaction from Susan, resigned to a life of work, sleep and problems.

Unexpected comments offered by two different people cause a crack in Ann’s armor and her thoughts careen into unexpected directions. Attention from a young widower with a son challenges Ann’s resolve to stay safe and uninvolved. Susan’s example of faith through trial furthers Ann’s curiosity about God. Ann must choose to step toward the unfamiliar freedom of giving and receiving love, or stay in the shadows, stuck in the grip of past hurts.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Nancy Shew Bolton

 

Ann hoped the bakery stayed empty of customers. She needed every bit of concentration to decorate the cake the way she envisioned it. Her eyes scrutinized the last patch of undecorated surface. Almost done. Shifting on the chair, elbows planted on the low icing table, she pressed her lips together and leaned closer. She calculated the perfect angle to hold the frosting bag.

A stray hair drifted into her line of vision and she blew out a quick upward breath to deflect it. How on earth could any strand escape her coiled braid? She should have worn the hairnet. But hairnets were old-womanish. Still, she preferred them to the flimsy paper hats she and Susan wore the first year they opened the bakery. They never fit well, and exasperated her by sailing off her head when she rushed past the ceiling fans.

The bell on the bakery’s front door tinkled. Ann sighed and wished Susan would return from deliveries. She glanced through the archway and out the picture window. Maybe she’d appear. No such luck. Oh, well.

“Be right there,” she called. Ann set down the icing bag, rose from the chair and angled her hips to slip past the table. As she stepped sideways, two bees zoomed in and flew toward her. She startled, brushed both hands to scare them away and lost her balance.

In helpless shock, her stomach fell as her forearms, palms and chin landed on the cake and sunk in while a groan escaped her. Ann lifted her head and stared in total horror. Loud moans erupted. “No…no, no.”

As though a protest would change anything. Tears gathered. She drew away from the cake, and straightened up. One little wobble, and her handiwork was destroyed.

“Are you okay?”

Ann stared at a tall, sturdy man in jeans and a tee shirt. He stood in the archway between the front and back rooms and surveyed the scene. “I’d have stayed out there, but I heard you cry out and thought I’d better check on you.”

Ann’s lip trembled. She pushed against the tide of emotion. No tears in front of customers. The two bees danced on the frosting, poking around on her ruined cake. “It’s all their fault. I tried to do everything right, and see what happened?”

She pointed a frosted finger at them while her tears overflowed. Through the blur, she glanced from the excited insects over to the man. She blinked to clear her vision. His eyes were sympathetic, and his mouth wore a suppressed grin. He stood in a firm stance, yet appeared poised to offer assistance. Ann searched for a clean part of her arm and brought it up to first brush the tears, then the frosting beard off her chin. She must look like some sort of clown.

The merriment left his face. “I’m sorry. I think maybe they flew in when I opened the door. Can I help?”

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The Scarlet Cord

 

Everything depends on one split-second decision…

 

Rahab, a resourceful beauty, struggles to survive in the pagan culture of ancient Jericho. As years of harsh labor begin to lift her and her family from poverty, a foreign army threatens the well-fortified city. Rahab is forced to make an immediate decision. Will she put her faith in the fabled walls of Jericho or the powerful God of the Hebrews? Either choice may cost her life.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014© Carlene Havel & Sharon Faucheux

 

Are these men up to no good? While attempting to believe there was no cause for alarm, Rahab considered whether she might need to defend herself. Was the baking paddle enough to frighten the men away? Or was it better to snatch her knife from the holster over her shoulder and scream for Karmot? These men looked healthy and strong enough to overpower her and her father. Yet they did not strike her as violent, merely unusual.

Pulling the perfectly browned bread from the oven, Rahab put on a bright smile. “Oh, I am sorry. Were you speaking to me?” She turned the fresh bread onto the stone table. “Smells delicious, does it not?” she asked. “With my good wine and ghee made just this morning, you will be refreshed from your journey.”

“Thank you, mira.”

The travelers looked similar enough to other Egyptians who passed through Jericho occasionally. Was it their slightly different manner of speaking? Perhaps they were not from Alexandria but some more remote area of the land of the pharaohs. Regardless of where they came from, they were foreigners. Therefore, the king’s men would make it their business to evaluate whether or not the visitors had legitimate business in the city. Because of the Hebrews, the king’s men were especially interested in anyone who passed through the city gate these days.

Rahab decided to bide her time and keep the strangers occupied until the soldiers came to question them. She was confident in her ability to kindle her male guests’ interest. “You have traveled many days from your wives and families,” she said as she served wine. “No doubt you miss them.”

The tall man continued to eat, while the shorter turned his face toward her.

“My inn offers you nourishment and lodging,” Rahab continued. She stretched her arms and trailed the fingertips of her right hand slowly along her left forearm. “There are times when a man needs more than food and shelter.”

The men’s reactions were not in accordance with Rahab’s expectations. The tall, quiet one seemed amused, while the shorter man wore a look of surprise. Tossing her hair, Rahab slowly licked her lips. At this point, most men began to negotiate a price for her services or—more rarely—gave her a reluctant refusal. These fellows did neither. Why were they so slow? Do they know nothing of how to conduct business?

Rahab went to stand behind the men. The taller one continued to eat and drink, as if unaware of her presence. She leaned over the shorter man to rearrange the food on the stone table. As she did so, she rested a hand lightly on the man’s shoulder. He jumped away, as if her touch burned his body. “You are a harlot!” he exclaimed. The tall man stifled a laugh.

“Yes, I am,” Rahab replied, drawing her hand away. “What do you expect at an inn?”

“I expect decency and honor in all things,” the shorter man said. “But then, I suppose I forget what kind of pagans—”

The tall man held up a hand, and his companion fell silent. Rahab was accustomed to men too poor to afford her services, but the reactions of these two puzzled her. One seemed completely indifferent, while the other made her feel unclean. The truth flew into her mind with such force it escaped from her mouth. “You are Hebrews.”

“Yes, we are,” the tall man said, much to Rahab’s surprise.

They were such beautiful young men. What a pity for them to be impaled in the public place. “Do you not know the king’s men keep track of foreigners in Jericho, because of all the trouble across the river? If you hurry, you may be able to escape.”

The shorter man quickly pushed his food away, stood up, and shook out his clothing. The taller one turned and faced Rahab. “Will you hide us?” he asked.

“I could be executed for helping you. And my whole family along with me.” Looking into his eyes made her heart beat faster. Yet his face would no longer be handsome after a beating from the soldiers’ rods.

The tall man spoke gently. “Help us and you will live when we take this city.”

“Take Jericho? You cannot,” she whispered. “Our walls…”

“Your walls are nothing to the Lord. We will conquer this city and all others who stand in our way, just as we have overcome the Amorites.” His manner conveyed absolute confidence. “Our lives in exchange for yours. Yes or no?”

Rahab never understood exactly why she believed the Hebrews would prevail. Yet in that moment, she knew it was true. Jericho will fall before the powerful God of the Hebrews! So many thoughts swirled in her head. She remembered the morning when she broke away from her father’s household to find her own way in the world. Others called her actions foolish, but in the end her family benefitted from her boldness. Was this another such opportunity? If so, she must again act with speed and courage. She might scream for Karmot, and turn these men over to the King of Jericho—or trust her unexplainable feeling the God of the Hebrews was both real and all-powerful. Were the stories she heard all her life about His parting of the Red Sea actually true? Whichever way she chose, there was no turning back.

Once she made her decision, calmness fell over Rahab like a warm cloak. “Yes. We have an agreement. Pour the water from that large crock on the ground,” she told the men. “It will take both of you to lift it. Then go quickly up those stairs,” she pointed to the central staircase. “On the roof you will see many bundles of drying flax. Hide among them and wait. Show yourselves to no one until I come to you. Hasten.”

 

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Carlene Havel has lived in six US States and two foreign countries, and has traveled extensively throughout the world.  She is very active in her church and has a degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Carlene and her husband Glenn are both proud to be native Texans.

Sharon Faucheux was born in New Orleans, LA. Raised in Austin, Texas, she graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Psychology. After living in several others states and countries, she now resides in San Antonio, TX. Sharon’s favorite activity is traveling with her always entertaining family.

 

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A Secret Life

Will the love of his life forgive his duplicity and accept him as an American?

 

 

The German Army of World War II rips Karl Von Steuben from his family and privileged life, forcing him to conceal his American sympathies and Jewish heritage. Stripped of every tie to his home country, he determines to escape. As he crawls to the Siegfried Line, only he knows the hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. Wounded after assuming the identity of a fallen American soldier, Karl briefly deceives even himself. Discharged and shipped to America, he discovers God’s unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse. But he must return to Germany or relinquish his family fortune and rear children under the name of another man. Will Grace forgive his duplicity and accept him as an American?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Lee Carver

Karl struck out for yet another green grocer or meat market. So the cook was correct about all the nearby ones. There used to be a fresh market a kilometer away. Probably down Kugelstrasse. He turned right and picked up his pace.

Shopkeepers told him the way, begrudging more than volunteering information. Queuing on the cobblestone sidewalk, he realized how much his awareness of Germany’s condition had changed this morning. Instead of the deference he had come to expect, citizens who didn’t want to share the food remaining in the city growled at him. His family’s money and profession mattered little to those who had no money, no provisions, and certainly no investments.

The roar of two German Army trucks startled Karl from his thoughts. They pulled in front of the store, bracing the customers right and left. Soldiers waved their Mauser 98 rifles and dismounted from the cabs and canvas-covered backs before the tires stopped rolling.

There goes the food. He stepped out of line, the urgency to escape spiking his heart rate. These men were dangerous.

“Halt! Get back here. Where do you think you’re going?”

A soldier with several stripes on his uniform grabbed Karl’s shoulder and shoved him toward the end of one of the trucks.

“Show me your Ausweispapier.”

Karl handed over his ID paper. The fellow glanced once and slammed it on the clipboard of the other soldier. That man copied the details then pushed Karl against the truck.

Stumbling, he braced on the high floor and found men staring out from benches along the inside walls. The reality of forced conscription stabbed his lungs. They would take him away without a word to his family and send him off to die in a war against his mother’s people and his father’s politics.

“Wait. I have a deferment. Von Steuben Investments manages Reichland funds—”

The kick half-missed its target as Karl turned to explain, to beg, whatever necessary to return home with or without food. His rear end throbbed with pain.

The soldier’s laugh broke from a crack in hell. “Yeah, and my son’s a lawyer but he’s serving. Get in. Now.”

An arm jerked him upward off the street, yanking his shoulder joint hard. Dangling, he scrambled for a foothold, scraping his shins on a metal edge, until he fell into the truck on his stomach at the boots of another soldier. His rifle barrel motioned for Karl to sit with the others. Its bore, aimed at his head, killed any idea of escape.

A man, fifty or sixty years old, climbed up at gunpoint.

“That’s all. Let’s go.” The soldiers with the uniform stripes swung into the truck as it lurched.

Shadowed occupants around Karl had to be too young, too old, or too sickly to fight, while his own prime condition made him a sure target. But nabbing him off the street was wrong, just plain wrong.

The older man stared out the back with haunted eyes, his mouth open as if in a silent scream. He slapped a hand over his heart, showing a thin wedding band. A family man. With him gone, they might not have food either.

A boy too young to shave sobbed, tears and slobber running down his face.

Karl held back the sting in his eyes, blinking hard.

I. Will. Not. Cry.

He gripped the bare wooden bench as the streets of Munich passed beyond the truck’s open back. Bumping over the rough cobblestones, his bruised rear took further beating. Three times the truck stopped to nab more men and boys. Three times his heart pounded with the challenge to make a dash for it, but the guard assumed a strong stance with his Mauser assault rifle at the ready and a dare in his eye.

Would they tell his family? Could his father find out where they took him and appeal his abduction? Most of all, he hurt for Mother, who would wring her hands and walk the floor crying. He had thought himself impervious to conscription.

Hours later, the captive recruits passed through a security checkpoint and into a barebones camp. Was this a prison camp?

Had they found out about Mother?

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Quicksilver to Gold – OUT NOW!

 

Gold mining is in Jeannie Kelly’s blood. But it’s a dangerous time to be an honest miner in Nome, Alaska—claim jumpers have invaded the territory. Jeannie has set her sights on Clint Tilghman, the strong, quiet man next door to her family’s claim. Clint fights his feelings for the impulsive lady miner, fearing he’ll lose his independence. Jeannie tries to change her tomboyish ways to attract Clint and gain respect from others, but there’s a lot to learn amidst gunplay and bar fights. Jeannie must woo Clint and beat the claim jumpers before summer’s end.

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Excerpt:

Copyright 2014 Lynn Lovegreen

“Hey, Frank’s here!” Barry called.

They ran out to see the other Kellys clustered at the edge of their claim upriver, with two men at the bank. Frank Burkhart was one of them, his beloved bowler hat a little less round, but still recognizable above his graying fringe of hair. His round mustached face hadn’t changed any since Jeannie saw him last year.

He took his hat off. “Evening, Jeannie. How are you?”

“Good, Frank. How are you?”

“Fine, thanks. My partner and I just happened to claim this part next to you. Small world, ain’t it?”

“Yep, it is.” Jeannie remembered the last time Frank smiled at her, when he asked her out to dinner, and she turned him down. Frank was a nice enough man, but almost twice her age, and he didn’t interest her. He seemed to take it well at the time, so she hoped there were no hard feelings.

“Jeannie and Danny, this is my new partner, Clint Tilghman.”

Jeannie turned her attention to the tall young man next to Frank. No smile, but the dark brown eyes flared with intensity for a moment as he looked into her eyes. The expression quickly disappeared as he looked away at Danny. His dark wavy hair was uncovered as his Stetson was in his hands out of respect. His high cheekbones and cleft chin seemed to point to his full lips. His face was unlined. She guessed he was maybe a couple of years older than she. A red plaid flannel shirt covered his skin, but a suggestion of muscles in his arms and broad chest made his masculine body apparent to anyone who cared to look. Jeannie couldn’t seem to tear her eyes away.

“I knew the Kellys down in Idaho,” Frank was explaining to Clint. “Probably the best prospecting family in the country.”

“I thank you for that,” Da answered. “Good to see you again. Won’t you come over for some coffee? The tent is down this way.”

 

 

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The Wish List Addiction

Can she ditch the list?

 

 

Rebecca Mathews is a Listoholic—you name it, she has a ‘To Do’ list for it. Coupled with her daily ‘Must Achieve’ List, she possesses a mid-term, creatively drawn ‘Wish List’ and an exhaustively-researched ‘Bucket List’. But so far, they have delivered nothing but spectacular failure. With her much-loved career exploded in her face, her marriage terminated in an acrimonious divorce and her frail father’s pleas to return to her native Northumberland ignored, Rebecca concludes that if it wasn’t for her beloved four-year-old son, Max, she would be adding a trip to a Swiss clinic to her list. A sparkle of light appears in Rebecca’s life wrapped in the guise of ‘The Little Green Book of Wishes’, which challenges the reader to ‘ditch the list’ and instead to use its gems of wisdom as a ‘dip in/dip out’ lucky bag of challenges from all areas of life. Persuaded by her colleagues to relinquish her obsessive reliance on her multiple lists, cast adrift from their reassuring structure, she agrees to complete random tasks selected for her from the ‘little emerald book of miracles’. Will it deliver the desired result and cure Rebecca of her Wish List Addiction?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Lindsey Paley

“Right! Where’s that wishes book then?” Deb demanded first thing Monday morning. “Hand it over! I’m holding you to your promise.”

Before Rebecca handed the little green book to Deb, Nathan glanced at their team manager, Georgina, still engrossed in a complicated call, then scootered his chair to Deb’s desk as if keen to get involved.

“The Little Green Book of Wishes.” Deb rotated the book in her hand, stroking its emerald cover as though wedding dress silk, parting its pages at the contents page. “‘Wishes with your Partner’, ‘Wishes with Children’, or ‘Wishes for the World’ section? Hey, there’s one of your wishes here, Nath, from the ‘Wishes with Friends’ section—‘Real Ale tasting’! Oh, and ‘Swishing’! Now that’s one I would include on my wish list!”

“I don’t understand why you are both so excited.” Nathan rolled his eyes. “It’s a complete waste of time and energy, if you ask me. Wishes never come true. I’d love to get the supervisor’s job when Georgina is promoted to associate next month, but I know I won’t, so what’s the point applying? Why put myself through all that anxiety and stress?

Anyway, it’s Becky we’re selecting random wishes for, not me. And why put poor Becky through the hassle and potential humiliation of performing challenges from a randomly purchased book extolling the unachievable virtues of fulfilling our deepest desires? Crazy, if you ask me.”

He flicked his Baringer & Co pen between his fingers until it became a blur. However, despite his pessimistic forecast, he continued to pour eagerly over the contents section of the little green book with Deb and Rebecca.

“Well, I think it’s an excellent idea and so does Fergus. Hey, look, there’s even a section on marrying. Thank goodness, ’cos I could do with some seriously helpful tips, we’ve still got so much to do. I’m up for ‘Becoming the Perfect Bride’ and ‘Maintaining a Successful Marriage’. Might even try ‘Co-existing With Your In-laws’.” She sniggered.

“Oh, I’m so excited. Look, Becky, ‘Amassing a Prestigious Shoe Collection.’ Let’s study that one and slip off one lunchtime soon to Jimmy Choo’s wedding shoe emporium! Come on, what’ll be your first challenge from the little green book? You chose the category, but me and Nath are choosing the challenge.” She held the book up to Rebecca’s face and flicked the pages from back to front, her perfectly plucked, honey-blonde eyebrows disappearing into her fringe.

“Well, I really don’t want to go on a date, and my career is rock bottom, so it’ll have to be some sort of an activity.” Rebecca fervently hoped the selection would be ‘Making Maracas’ or ‘An Afternoon Kite Flying’, which she and Max had discovered, but somehow she doubted Deb would let her off so easily.

“Right, now me and Nathan will confer. It’ll be a great way of meeting new guys, anyway.” She giggled. As she was in love, she expected the whole world to want to be, too. “Mmm, what do you think, Nath?” They huddled together in her cubicle, her blonde mane meeting his dark spikes. “Where will there be lots of hot, single men? Oh, and let’s find something she can do with Max, too, this being the first challenge.

“What about ‘Taking a Dance Class’? Must be on everyone’s wish list that, surely? It suggests the waltz or the tango. Here, did you know the tango is said to have been born in the brothels of Argentina, the dancers connecting chest-to-chest or hip-to-thigh displaying strong and determined passion? What could be better? Only two stars, Becky, must be an easy challenge, right?”

“You’re joking. I’m not taking Max to a tango class! Anyway, look what it says at the end. A dance class such as the tango or the jive is not for the faint-hearted when wishing to meet new people. No, Deb.”

“Well, okay, but I might persuade Fergus to take some lessons with me.

We could perform a passionate tango as our first dance at the wedding reception—spice up the night and shock the grannies!”

Her infectious giggle rang around the office, causing Georgina to lift her eyes and throw them a puzzled look. Shaking her short, black curls, she returned to her phone call. It was their lunch break after all.

“Right, ‘Exercising Section,’ then. What sport have you always had a hankering to try? Yoga? Crossbow shooting? Oh, what about Morris dancing? Is that really a sport?”

“Be serious. I’ve not done any real exercise since giving birth to Max. Anything too energetic would be the first and last challenge to be attempted from the book and I’d end up in the A&E.”

“I suppose that also means ‘Climbing Mount Everest’ is not going to make Rebecca’s wonderful wish list, then?” Deb smirked.

Rebecca’s glare said, “Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Right, got it.” She held the book up in front of her and Nathan’s faces. He glanced at the page and then peered around the cover at Rebecca.

“Sure,” Nathan agreed. “As good as any. And Max can join in with that, too, which is what the book is suggesting, I think. There’s a great club near us which runs a junior academy and welcomes kids from the age of three.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Rebecca’s heart hammered against her ribcage, particularly at Nathan’s suggestion that Max join her.

She had not agreed to involving him in this crazy folly. But her new friends ignored her protestations.

“Yes, I’ve been to that club with Fergus’ nephew. It’s great fun. Right, decided.” Deb turned the chosen page toward Rebecca. “There you are, Becky, ‘Learning to Play Golf’. You can take Max along and have some fun just hitting the balls from the driving range, or there’s an American mini golf course to try out. You can enquire about the junior academy whilst you’re there for Max. It’s an activity you can do together and there’ll be lots of men wandering around in that delightful golf gear. You could kill two birds with one golf ball!”

She handed the book to Rebecca, who grabbed it and read out loud, “Learning to play golf is fun. Hitting a golf ball is easy, but hitting the ball in the direction you want it to go takes an enormous amount of practice. Mmm. Look at the warning at the end. Be sure never to stand in close proximity to a golfer’s swinging club. I foresee disaster.”

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Hush in the Storm

 

Jen, a young widow floundering in the storm of mourning, whose only lifeline is her humdrum job, is tossed into a maze of deceit and intrigue by a coworker named Tom…at the request of her late husband, or so Tom says. He kidnaps her and fakes her death to keep her safe from the cartel who he thinks caused her husband’s “accident.” Together, they are thrust into a tempest of danger and deceit where no one is whom they claim to be. The list of people Jen can believe in keeps diminishing. Who can she trust while dodging the Feds, human traffickers and the press who’ve discovered she’s alive? How will Jen rescue the two held-captive girls she befriends without drowning them, Tom, and herself in the waves of betrayal, especially when she’s begun to suspect her husband may not be as dead as everyone thinks…

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Julie B. Cosgrove

 

 Something woke me. The pitch-black room smelled pungent and musky as if no fresh air had been allowed inside it this century. I eased my body up and tried to adjust my eyes to see through the dark. Clarity oozed in to replace the floating feeling in my brain.

I raised my hand, but couldn’t see it in front of my face. Why weren’t my eyes adjusting? No thread of light filtered under the door. No flashes of lightning outlined a windowsill, though I thought I heard rumbles of thunder, so it must still be raining.

I strained my ears, but heard no pattering on a roof above me. In fact, I heard no rain at all. Not against a window, nor on a sidewalk. My heart flinched. Where was I?

“Tom?” No response. I swallowed hard so I could call out louder. “Tom!” Silence. Why wouldn’t he answer?

This was why my brain had warned me to not follow him to Bob’s Burgers. My reluctance to listen to it earlier slapped me hard in the face.

The room sucked the air from my lungs. Nothing seemed right. I squeezed my eyes tight and rubbed them with my palms. A rush of dread flowed over me.

Then, just as quick, an old childhood prayer zipped into my mind. “God in Heaven, hear my prayer. Keep me in thy loving care.”

Seriously? Had I ever believed that? I couldn’t remember the last time I felt His loving care, much less know Him to hear my prayers. Not when Mom and Dad died in the mission field. Definitely not when Robert died.

Instead, Dad’s favorite adage blared in my head. Fear and worry never solved anyone’s problems. I shook off the fright and willed my analytical side to kick in.

My hands pushed against my temples several times. Tom said goodnight. We left the restaurant at night, in the rain. So, I hadn’t been out of it very long. Either that or I had been unconscious twenty-four hours.

No, no. My common sense told me it wouldn’t still be raining. It’s dark because it’s night and there’s no moon shining through the rain clouds. In the morning, there will be light.

Except for the faded rhythmic thunder, dead silence shrouded the room. I heard no city noises, no hums of electronics, no ticks of clocks. Not even the soft buzz of an air conditioner. No whish of air against my skin. Did it mean no air came into the room?

I sat erect and inhaled as deeply as I could. See, Jen, you have air. Wait. Musty, damp air. That smell. What did it remind me of? Something horrible, and long ago. A cardiac tom-tom beat in my ears like when my upstairs neighbors turned up the bass on their speakers.

I swung my feet to the floor. A scratchy rug scraped against my toes. Where were my shoes? I patted the cushions, then the floor around me. They weren’t there. I probed around some more. Nothing. The smell grew stronger.

“Where’s my purse? And my cell phone?” I spoke into the darkness, as if it would answer me. Duh, Jen. You’re alone.

I leaned against the back of the couch. Of course. Tom wouldn’t have left my cell phone so I could call the police. Not if he’d kidnapped me. He had, right? But, why? To protect me?

What about all those times he’d look away quickly when I caught him staring at me across the cubicles? Maybe he brought me here for another reason. I crunched my blouse buttons in my hand. No, I didn’t want to think about that.

My brain whispered, “No one will know you’re here.”

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Julie B. Cosgrove is a freelance writer, professional speaker and published author. She is a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, North Texas Christian Writers, The Christians Writers Group Two, and Christian Writers Fellowship International.

She represents Women at Risk International, a Christian missionary group who sponsor safe houses for women and children snatched from human trafficking and slavery in thirteen countries and is actively involved in Prayer For Freedom, a nonprofit anti-trafficking ministry.

As a speaker, Julie has achieved the highest level of communication award, the Advance Communication Gold, in Toastmasters International. She has led quiet days, workshops and retreats as well as spoken to many women’s and church groups throughout Texas, Louisiana and Florida, and in Indianapolis.

Julie writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications. In the past three years alone, her articles have been featured in Devozine and Alive Now Magazinespublished by the Upper Room, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness, Faith-filled Family Magazine, Good News Daily, The Secret PlaceLight from the Word, andThe Journey.

She has also published five nonfiction works: P.R.A.Y.I.N.G.: Bringing Power and Purpose to Your Prayers (2009), Song Notes: Devotionals from the Book of Psalms(2010), What Can She Tell Us? (2011), Between the Window and the Door (2012), andSqueeze More God-time Into Your Day (2013).

Julie has authored three contemporary faith-based novels. Focused, set in the Texas Hill Country, which follows a woman’s journey to find God in her empty nest, was released in 2012. She is working on the other two novels in that trilogy, Grounded andRooted. The sequel to Hush in the Storm, Legitimate Lies, launches through Prism Book Group in early 2015.

Contact her at www.juliebcosgrove.com or through her blog, http://WhereDidYouFindGod Today.com

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Sarah and the Scary Ferris Wheel!

Sarah, Heaven’s Little Love Angel, is back for a new fun-filled adventure!

 

 

Sarah is given a new mission—to link Robert Johnson and Brittany Lee—two people she encountered while trying to bring a couple together on that irksome computer Internet dating service. Oh sure, she’d done it. Not without trial and a lot of error, but with this fresh assignment, trouble would come…she was positive.

If she hadn’t grumbled about the computer, perhaps the Lieutenant wouldn’t have ordered her to ride the Galveston Ferris wheel. She’d seen the huge rotation device built over the Gulf of Mexico, and the very thought of a ride on that monster made her nauseous.

What if she threw up on the humans?

Oh merciful heavens! Why did the Superiors give such tasks to bumbling angels anyway?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 Gay N Lewis

Sarah finished her meal and rather than vanishing, she chose to walk back to Brittany’s office. Pausing at a window, she admired a display of beauty aids. Why not go in and look around? She’d never done that before. What would it hurt?

She opened the door and stepped into the interior—a mixture of lavender and vanilla greeted her.

“Welcome to Body and Bubbles.” A young woman smiled at her.

“Thank you. If it’s okay, I’d just like to look around.”

“Certainly. Let me know if you need help.”

Sarah noticed a display of colorful bottles and picked one up. Reading the label, she frowned.

“Something wrong?” The sales lady walked to her side.

“This bottle says Midnight Woods Luxury Bubble Bath.”

“Yes, it’s one of our bestselling products.”

“Do real people bathe outside in a forest at midnight?”

The woman laughed. “Not usually. I guess the manufacturer thought it was a romantic idea.”

“How does this liquid make bubbles?”

“Oh, that’s simple. Pour it into a bathtub with the water running, and it automatically foams up.”

“I’ve never taken a bath.”

“Not ever?”

“No, never. I don’t have a bathtub where I sleep. They’re dangerous and too heavy. The thing would tumble down and hurt somebody. Do you have something for rain showers?”

The lady’s eyes grew wide, but she tried to conceal any mystification. “How about this?” She handed Sarah bar of soap labeled Blow Away Stress.

“Now that I could use. I get blown away all the time.” Sarah gauged the weight of the bar in the palm of her hand. “This bar is too light to keep me on top of a car, but it smells good. I’ll take it.”

Sarah paid for her purchase and left the store. With super-hearing, she caught the saleslady say to another woman. “That was one strange woman. She must be an escapee from a mental hospital.”

Why in the world did she mix angel talk with human conversation? Sarah shrugged. Maybe she’d look for a pharmacy and ask about memory pills. Couldn’t damage anything—or could it? She ate human food, so vitamins might help. She made a mental note to find one of those stores.

Without further distractions, Sarah arrived at her female charge’s location.

As she hovered near the ceiling, she grinned at Brittany’s expression. The lady held the magazine Sarah had left on her desk. As she read the article about Robert, a smile lurked at the corners of her lips.

She finished reading, stood, and left the workspace with the publication in her hand. Sarah followed her to Karen’s office.

Karen’s door stood open, and Brittany strode in. Sarah took her place in the ceiling corner.

“Did you leave this on my desk?” Brittany sat in an available chair.

Karen’s eyebrows shot up. “No. I’ve never seen it before. Looks like a good article.”

“It tells about the soup kitchen and how Robert donates a large amount of time to work with the unfortunate. He says he’d like to use his medical skills to aid children—either here or in another country. What do you think of that?”

“I find it remarkable. The more you tell me about him the more I believe he’s a man you could fall in love with. You said you enjoy being around him, and you admire his willingness to help others. Are you upset about this essay?”

“I’m not sure. I have an official date with him on Friday night and I was excited when he asked me out. But I don’t know about getting serious with someone who might move to another continent. He told me he was considering such a thing, but I didn’t think much about it. This article brings it home. Even with all the problems we have in the good ol’ US of A, I’m quite fond of my country and plan to stay right here. Maybe I should cancel the date. I see no reason to pursue a relationship with someone when I don’t plan to take it any further.”

Sarah performed an elaborate eye roll. What if Brittany canceled?

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Falling Like a Rock

Watch out for falling rock! A mountain town and its rugged mayor captivate a woman in search of a new life and love.

Unloved and unemployed. That’s Elaine Svoboda, after she’s sacked, then flees across country to her boyfriend who drops her flat. Teetering on the abyss of disaster, she calls an old friend who invites her to a tiny mountain town with fresh prospects. There she meets rugged, hunky Joe Richter-Leon, mayor of Falling Rock. Maybe he can help her find a job. Maybe they can become friends, even share romance. Sparks fly immediately, but major obstacles make a new life on the ashes of the old appear impossible. Joe’s consumed with challenges like the dismal local economy and an impetuous sister. Elaine butts heads with him at every turn in the rocky road. Is the problem her bungling attempts to help? Or does she remind him of a greedy, selfish ex-wife? Before they can build a new life on the ashes of the old, she must overcome a few obstacles like a broken ankle, an eating disturbance, his stubbornness, and her own fears. She’s smothering her hopes when a battle with a forest inferno illuminates their true feelings and desire. Funny and frank, poignant and perceptive, when two people are “Falling Like a Rock,” they learn surrender sometimes means victory.

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Bonnie McCune

The movement now wasn’t rocking but more like a grind. A slowness. A shiver. She knew she had to leave the main road and find help. She swerved onto a pull-off that appeared as if by a miracle, turned off the motor, and sank into the seat. In all directions she saw flat monotone prairie. If spring was about to arrive, no sign of it blossomed here. An occasional bush of greenish sagebrush nodded, but most of the landscape consisted of earth-toned dirt and dirt-toned pebbles scoured by a constant wind, which threw a thin top layer of particles hither and yon.

What she knew about auto mechanics fit on a matchbook cover. She’d been shown where to fill up on gas and wiper fluid, and that was the extent of it. She flicked the ignition off and on several times, peered at the dashboard, even popped the hood. Nothing looked out of place or broken.

She returned to the driver’s seat to think and worry her tooth with her tongue. It wasn’t safe to sit out here alone, and dismal warnings from her parents to never trust a casual passerby in a situation like this darted in her mind. So she hauled out her cell phone. No service. She slumped in her seat.

The plains spread horizon to horizon around her, and an appreciation rose in her for the courage and hard work of the pioneers who had traveled one slow step at a time over an endless landscape to reach their new homes. At least nowadays an asphalt ribbon transversed the plateau. On the road an occasional semi whooshed past, rattling her vehicle as it traveled. One trucker slowed to a crawl and honked, but by the time she decided he was offering help, he’d disappeared.

She twisted her brain in knots to find some way to save herself. Surely if she were careful, stayed in her car and blinked her lights and beeped, someone should rescue her. Perhaps she should wait until a woman stopped, but another female would be as afraid to pull over as she to chance an encounter.

Clouds began to build in gray billows, flowed from west en route the east, and the sun plunged toward twilight. If anything terrified her more than an appeal to a stranger for assistance, it was spending the night out here in the open. In her rearview mirror, a battered Land Rover appeared, and almost on impulse, Elaine switched on her hazard lights and leaned on the horn.

The vehicle slowed but didn’t stop. Not until it was some yards down the road. Next a tall, lean figure climbed out, the engine still in operation. A man dressed in jeans, ski jacket, and a black Stetson. Elaine would have laughed if she hadn’t been worried about the security of the car door locks. She was in the West now. It made sense for a cowboy to show up.

He approached with careful deliberation, halting a few feet from her, and she rolled her window down several inches and studied him in case she had to describe him later to the authorities. Not particularly suave or polished, but certainly with the rugged strength typically associated with cowboy types. Dark, as if he spent time outside or had some Mediterranean or Latino ancestors. A prominent nose, off-centered, perhaps from being bashed once too often.

“Need help, ma’am?”

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