Redemption in Big Fork Lake

 

Can he be forgiven?

ecover_redemption_arr


Only after Robert Turner hurts a woman does he realize how much of a hold alcohol has on his life.

For Robert, a chance meeting with an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor offers hope. A new devotion to the Lord and a relationship with Belle McBride gives him expectations for a better future.

His life appears to be on the right track, until he comes full circle with his past and faces the one mistake that haunts him daily. Can forgiveness free Robert? Or will heartache drive him to return to the life he once had?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Mary L Ball

 

The calm waves of deep-blue glistened in the sunlight. Robert scanned the green vegetation that lined a big section of the lake. Lizard’s Tail plants outlined a walkway leading to a walking path. Snapping a photo, he captured the bright orange of a nearby Butterfly Weed. He shaded his eyes and looked up, scaling the length of several longleaf pines dominating the gravel roads, which led to various boat docks.

As Robert approached the landing, he caught a glimpse of a something—someone—that made him hold his breath a second. The natural beauty of the large lake was nothing compared to the woman standing maybe a few dozen feet before him. Something about her intrigued him in a way no other had.

Robert strolled onto the wooden L-shaped walkway and paused. He couldn’t stop himself from staring. Even from a distance, he could tell her beauty was natural. Robert noticed appealing women plenty, but for some reason this one tugged at his heart and made him realize how long it’d been since he enjoyed a relationship or even a date.

With his feet planted to the wooden deck, Robert watched as she gazed at the water. Like the small wave rippling in the lake, emotions rose inside him and feelings he’d covered up for so long bubbled to the top. No doubt, he was lonely for female companionship. It would be nice to go out occasionally with someone. I’ve concentrated so much on maintaining my sobriety that I’ve missed some of the good things in life.

Standing there, Robert pondered his life, activities he’d given up—dating topped the list. Now, the desire to start living again crept past his defenses. He wanted to enjoy the company of a woman, not just any woman, but the lady who stood before him with the cute ponytail.

Trying to divert his attention somewhere else succeeded for a few seconds—soon, however, his eyes darted back. Robert looked her over, guessing she was about his height and age. The wind kicked up, and blew her golden hair. The long strands waved in the breeze. Rays from the sun highlighted her blonde tresses.

While he stood there, Robert thought back to a conversation with his mother when he was in college. He wondered at the time if there was someone for him. She responded by giving him a hug and assuring him God would choose a special lady for him one day.

While Robert’s memory dug up those words, he hung his head in shame because of the times he ignored his parent’s advice. Why didn’t I find different friends instead of trying to fit in with the wrong crowd?

Robert mentally snapped back to the present and lifted his head. Recovering from alcoholism had taught him not to wallow in self-pity, but to move forward and redeem what he could. Returning to the sight of the beautiful woman, he tried to be discreet as he continued to observe her.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Mary L. Ball lives in North Carolina and writes novels and Christian articles. Her passion is weaving together inspirational romantic suspense and mysteries, which show the imperfect lives of everyday characters as they face hardships while discovering the real meaning of grace. Her books encourage you to see the magic of love and a divine guidance that often lies dormant, waiting to be found by each of us. When she’s not writing she enjoys family and singing Gospel music with her husband.

Some of her Christian Articles are found on Examiner.com at:http://www.examiner.com/christian-living-in-greensboro/mary-ball. Learn more about Mary at  http://MaryLouwrites.weebly.com.

 

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Golden Days

Alaska is a cold place to live until love blossoms.

Elizabeth Robinson travels by dog sled to help her family mind the store in Fairbanks, Alaska. She wants to pursue her drawing and painting, but women artists are rare in 1906, and flood, fire, and a death in the family force her to take charge at home at age seventeen. James Garrett comes north to help his uncle at a nearby gold claim. An awkward eighteen-year-old who is more at home with machines than people, he becomes a man as he falls in love with Elizabeth. When a discovery about her benefactor, the founder of the town, threatens their future, Elizabeth and James find that together they can overcome any obstacle.

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Excerpt:

 

Elizabeth didn’t see it until it was too late.

One moment she was planning a painting of the snowy scene, then the dogsled she was riding in careened around the corner. The play of shadows and light, the glittering frost on the trees, vanished when a team of dogs slammed into theirs.

Papa shouted as he fell off the back of their sled, “Hang on!”
She held tight to her sister Victoria. Their sled ran off the trail, rolled onto its side, and the icy snow surrounded her. Dogs yelped. Victoria cried out.

The stinging cold took Elizabeth’s breath away. They fell into the thick alders.

Elizabeth untangled herself from a fur robe and pulled Victoria out of the branches. Her fur hat was askew, but she looked more frightened than hurt.

“Are you all right, Sis?” Elizabeth brushed the snow from her sister’s dark curly hair.

Victoria looked up at her, blinking tears from her eyes. “I think so.”

A young man’s voice rose over the dogs yelping and barking. “Are you all right?”

“I don’t know yet,” she called over her shoulder. She turned back to Victoria. “Nothing hurts?”

Victoria shook her head. “No.”

Elizabeth took a shuddering breath. The barking grew louder, and she turned to see the dogs lunging at each other. The teams had to be separated before they injured each other. She ran as quickly as she could through the deep snow, raising her long wool skirts out of the way. A man in a fur parka stood in the midst of the flurry of fur and snarls, trying to untangle the teams by tugging at their lines.

“Why weren’t you on the right side of the trail?” she called to the man, irritation rough in her voice.

“I’m sorry, Miss.”

Elizabeth grabbed the harness on the furry husky next to her and pulled him to the side, ignoring his excited whine. She moved the stocky dogs easily, even with her petite frame—she guessed it was necessity that gave her such strength. Mama always said, “You do what you have to do.”

“It’s all right, Blackie,” she said to calm herself as much as the dog, and grabbed the next one. Three dogs to go. Good thing she liked dogs. Back home she’d been the only one who could handle their wolfhound, and here the dogs responded to her easily.
The young man grabbed the dog nearest him. “I apologize, miss!” he shouted over the cacophony of barking.

Elizabeth nodded toward him, but didn’t speak. She wouldn’t know if damage had been done until they could look at the dogs more carefully, and the temperature was too far below zero to stand around talking anyway. Blood rushed in her veins as she grabbed the next dog in line and pulled him backwards away from the fight that erupted between her lead dog and one from the other team. This was the first time she’d jumped in to do something without being told to, and she stood a little taller when she straightened. Elizabeth turned toward the lead dog.

“Libby! Vicky!” Papa’s voice called through the alder thicket.

“Over here!” Elizabeth moved the next dog back, stepped over, grabbed Comet by his back legs and hauled him away from the other dog. Comet wiggled in defiance, but stopped snarling.

“Now, calm down. You need to set an example here,” Elizabeth said to the lead dog. She pulled on Comet’s lead until the team was a safe distance away.

“I reckon I was going too fast and didn’t see your dogs in time. I’m glad you’re not hurt.” For the first time Elizabeth looked directly at him. His parka hood fell back as the young man shook his head. True concern shone on his face. Light brown hair and forget-me-not blue eyes showed above the wool scarf wrapped around his neck and chin.

Her heartbeat had slowed to a dull thump until she saw those beautiful eyes.

“Well, the teams are untangled now,” she said as a sign of forgiveness.

“Are you all right, little one?” he called to Victoria.
“I’m not little. I’m six!” she called back over the racket of dogs.

The young man chuckled and pressed his right hand to Elizabeth’s.
“James Garrett, headed for Fairbanks.”

“Elizabeth Robinson, and this is my little sister Victoria.” She matched his grip, firm for one who looked to be only a year or two older than her seventeen. “We’re headed to Fairbanks, too, with my parents. My father is the new manager at the NCC store. My mother and his assistant are ahead of us on the trail.” She pointed.
His brow furrowed. “It seems I headed in the wrong direction after my last stop.”

Elizabeth started to laugh.

Papa’s large frame burst through the willows, then he slowed. He swept Victoria up in his arms and plowed through the snow toward them.

“Anyone hurt?”

“No, Papa.” Elizabeth indicated her companion with a tilt of her head. “Mr. James Garrett.”

Mr. Garrett made a slight bow. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Robinson.”
Papa’s normally smiling face was bright red. “Do you realize what you just did?”

“Um, well, I accidentally ran my dogs into yours,” James said as he brushed snow off his fur parka.

“My girls could have been hurt, or even killed!” Papa bellowed.

Elizabeth had never seen Papa so angry.

 

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A Bride for the Sheriff

First loves are not always true loves…

After four years of waiting for fiancé Cal Davidson to return, Claire Secord moves to frontier Omaha to start a new life. After all, many men did disappear during The War Between the States. Running the family mercantile keeps her busy days but at night she dreams of Cal and the life they’d planned.

Handsome sheriff Tom Maxwell befriends Claire and they begin a warm yet casual romance. When Claire is kidnapped and carried off, she must employ all her faith, skills and intellect to survive until Tom can find her.

Reuniting they discover their true feelings and become engaged. Back in Omaha, Claire discovers Cal waiting and expecting her to return east as his bride.

Now she must decide between honor and commitment with her first love or a future of passion and excitement with her true love.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Jewell Tweedt

 

“Omaha! Ommaaaaha!” the conductor bellowed as he strode through the railcar. Claire opened her eyes, squinting in the early afternoon light. People rose, stretched and gathered their belongings.

I’m here; I’m finally here! After a quick prayer of thanks for her safe deliverance, she reached for her trunk and hatboxes.

The weight of her pistol, hidden deeply in a skirt pocket, banged against her thigh. I might be young like Mrs. Buckley said, but I am a crackerjack shot thanks to Daddy’s instruction. No one would get the best of his little girl. Claire had secretly kept up with her shooting and found great pleasure in her very unladylike skill.

She clambered down the steps to the boardwalk outside the depot and swiveled her head. Surely Gin would meet the arrival of her train. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. The other passengers had departed, and the porter was nowhere in sight.

Perhaps Ginny was busy at the store. That must be it. No bother, I shall ask directions. It can’t be far.

She set her chin, squared her shoulders, and drew her belongings near. Just then, a young man sporting a silver badge stepped up to her. “Miss Secord?”

“Yes?” Claire jumped hearing her name.

“Miss Secord, I am Sheriff Thomas Maxwell, and I’d like to welcome you to Omaha.” He smiled, revealing perfect teeth and deep dimples.

“Well, thank you, but I was expecting my aunt, Virginia Weikert.”

“Yes, I know, that’s why I’m here.” He looked everywhere but Claire’s face. He twisted his Stetson in his large, calloused hands and gazed over her shoulder. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. This time he gazed into her eyes and spoke in a gentle voice that Claire imagined he used to soothe his horses.

“Miss Secord, I’m sorry to tell you this, but we buried your aunt about six hours ago.”

Claire gasped, her vision blurred, and her knees buckled. She was barely aware of strong arms wrapping around her waist.

Tom eased the woman to a bench, supported her with one arm, and fanned her face. “Miss Secord, are you all right?”

Darn, what do I do now? Darn! Wake up, lady! Wake up! He stopped fanning and gazed at her. Long lashes fluttered against creamy skin. Silky auburn tendrils framed her face. He reached out to stroke her cheek and yanked his hand back just in time.

Slowly, Claire opened her eyes, and he was struck by her anguish. He released his grip on her waist, and she slumped a bit. Grasping for his broad shoulder, she pulled herself up against the hard bench.

“Oh. Excuse me.” She jerked her hand back as if it were on fire and huddled on the bench.

“Think nothing of it. Miss Secord, two days ago your aunt was struck down by a team of runaway horses. She died instantly. If it’s any consolation, it was a right nice service. Pastor Stevens did a fine job and many townsfolk turned out to pay their respects. The cemetery is just a mile or so from here. And she has a lovely resting place.”

A sob escaped from the woman. She cast her eyes down and struggled to speak. “I’m sure it is, Sheriff Maxwell. I’m indebted to you and the town.” Claire suddenly stared up at him, eyes brimming with tears. “Please, please take me to her gravesite.” She stood then staggered as if she might fall over again any second. Tom wasn’t quite certain how to react to the distraught woman. He cleared his throat. “Perhaps you should rest a bit more. There’ll be time for that tomorrow.” He glanced at the sun’s position. “No doubt you’ve had a long day. It’s nearly dusk and time for me to be getting you home and settled.”

“I’ll be all right now.” She wiped away a tear with the back of her gloved hand. “But I don’t have a home.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jewell Tweedt was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, the setting for A Bride for the Sheriff and the other Nebraska Brides books. She lives in western Iowa and divides her time between teaching middle school students and writing. In her spare time she reads, gardens and walks while plotting out new stories.  Readers can learn more about Jewell and her books at www.tweedtjewell.blogspot.com

Lineage by Anna Marie Kittrell

Bianca can’t walk away from her family—she’ll have to run.

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father, and the wicked schemes of another—with no way to escape.

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 Anna Marie Kittrell

 

“Who is he?” I asked. It was strange meeting Dad’s weary gaze over a vase of wild lilacs. We never kept flowers in the house.

“Let’s put these with the others for now.” He stood slowly, like a man twice his age, and placed the vase alongside the various plants and funeral bouquets lining the countertop. “Do you want a glass of ice tea?” he asked, opening the fridge.

“No, thanks, Dad. Sit back down. We need to talk.” I was anxious to find out what caused him to act so weird at the cemetery. In my whole life, I’d never seen my father disrespect anyone until today, when he refused to shake hands with Chase Archer.

“How about a piece of chicken? The church sent over enough to feed an army.”

He was avoiding the conversation.

“Can we just get on with it?” I asked, frustrated. “Who is this Chase guy, and why didn’t you want him at Mom’s funeral?”

Dad shut the refrigerator, plodded to the kitchen table, and repositioned himself in the chair across from me. “It’s difficult to know where to start.” He raked a hand through his hair.

“Don’t beat around the bush, Dad. Just say it.”

He took a deep breath and blew it out. “That man you were talking to…at the funeral…”

“Yes. Chase Archer.” I nodded slowly.

“He—” Dad dropped his head to his hands. “Oh, God, please, help me say this,” he cried hoarsely.

My chest tightened. Whatever this was about, it was a big deal.

He raised his head and returned his gaze to mine. “Bee, that man is your biological father.”

My brain scrambled, as if someone lifted my head from my shoulders and shook it like a box of puzzle pieces. I pressed my fingers between my eyebrows. “Whatever. Good one, Dad.”

Dad was pretty clever, I’d give him that. I could see how he’d think I’d fall for it—with me and Chase having the same hair color.

“I wish I was joking, but I’m not.” Dad’s voice was a rough whisper.

The truth hurts. I swallowed the sob working its way up my throat and blinked back the sting of tears. The truth hurt, all right. Like an overinflated basketball bulging through my eye sockets.

“Honeybee, I’m so sorry you have to learn this now, the same day we buried your mother. Of all days, why did he have to show up today? He knew how distraught we’d be. Just as selfish as he always was.” Dad frowned and cut his eyes to the wall.

“Selfish?” I snorted. “Don’t you think you and Mom were selfish, not telling me who my own father is?” Hysterics rattled my ribcage like angry prisoners. I couldn’t hold them in much longer.

He reached for my hand.

I jerked it to my lap. “No. Just talk. Please.”

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna has written stories for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations, leftovers she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime, written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years. She is thrilled to learn some people now believe her tales to be worth more than ten cents.

Anna resides in small town Oklahoma with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband Tim, and their teenaged daughter Brandilyn. Anna works as secretary of her hometown middle school—the greatest place on earth this side of Disney World.

 

Autumn Dreams

 

 

Maggie arrives at her new teaching job, planning to board with a family she’s prepared to like. What she isn’t ready for is her landlady’s brother, Marshall, who seems to hate her on sight. She is captivated by Ellen’s six-year-old daughter Emma who is having identity problems facing the arrival of a new baby in the family. When Ellen goes into labor in the middle of a storm, Maggie must face her fears for Ellen’s sake. Along the way, she helps a family grow closer, but what about her hopes for the future? Can she get past the wall Marshall has set up? Does she really have a future here amongst the people she has grown to care for?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Sharon McGregor

 

Maggie Lawrence pushed a curling tendril of dark brown hair from her face. She looked around the empty train platform, considering her next move. The train was strangely on time, a possibility her greeter might not have considered. She picked up a suitcase in each hand and sat down on a bench facing the tracks. The day was warm and sunny with a slight breeze to keep things comfortable, a typical late August morning in a 1949 prairie town.

She had nearly dozed off in the sunshine when she heard a deep voice beside her.

“Miss Lawrence?”

She jumped up quickly, knocking one suitcase on its side as she did. “Yes.” It was then she looked up into a set of piercing blue eyes surrounded by a well-tanned face that was set, maybe not in disapproval, but certainly not in welcome.

Maggie had just barely arrived and already she was on the wrong foot. I wonder what I’ve done now? It was a question she often asked her older sister, Dora, who was usually quick to set her straight on her transgressions.

“Sorry I’m late. I had a stop to make at the hardware store first.” At least she knew where she ranked in priority. “Is this all?”

She nodded and he picked up the biggest case. She followed quickly with the smaller one.

“Mr. Thornhill…” she began.

“Matthews, actually,” he said. “I’m just standing in.”

She waited for an explanation that never came. Oh, well. She gave a shrug. At least once she got there she wouldn’t have to cope with him. She hoped the Thornhills were more communicative.

In the parking area stood a green wagon hitched to a pair of huge black horses. A dark blue sedan sat a few yards farther. I certainly hope he belongs to the car.

He stared at her with an expression of slight contempt. Was her fear of horses that obvious? Maggie felt great relief as he led her to the car and pushed her cases into the back seat. Then, seemingly as an afterthought, he opened the passenger door for her.

After one or two comments about the weather, which he answered monosyllabically, she gave up and spent the rest of the ten-mile ride looking at the passing countryside. They turned left on the highway and slowed on the gravel road. She managed a covert sideways glance at her driver, who was concentrating on keeping the car straight on fresh gravel.

Good-looking, definitely. Even features, a strong, straight nose, sun wrinkles around those striking blue eyes, and a mouth that could have been described as generous, even though its firm set was not. She wondered what had caused those unforgiving lines in such a young man. He couldn’t have been long out of his twenties, perhaps not much older than her own twenty-five years. Perhaps he’d been in the war. That would account for the care lines.

The road was narrow and sided by grassy ditches that now held water. There must have been a heavy rain recently. The ditches were broken up on both sides by lanes leading into farmyards, each fronted by a mailbox on a post. She felt a sudden tingle and glanced to the side just in time to see her driver’s glance slide away.

So, Mr. Matthews might disapprove, but he was interested enough in his passenger to give her the once-over when he thought she wasn’t looking.

They turned a corner and he slowed at the next mailbox. The lane was blocked by a barbed-wire fence with a gate, and he jumped out to open it. He moved smoothly, a man whose muscles did his bidding effortlessly. At the end of the lane, they rounded a corner and came to a stop in front of a two-story, white farmhouse. To the right was a grey, unpainted barn. Dotted around the yard were a garage, a couple of granaries, a clothesline filled with white sheets, and a large woodpile. A red tractor, hitched to a set of harrows, stood beside the garage.

This was going to be Maggie’s home for the next year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon McGregor is a Canadian author who has recently transplanted to the west coast. She has written humour, romance and mystery for magazines such as Sasee, Long and Short Romance, Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine and Horizon as well as stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not fighting with her cat Zoey for control of the computer keyboard, she is working at her ice cream shop or her bath and body shop.

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The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia

A tale of grace, forgiveness, and love as a forgotten princess seeks to reclaim her true identity. 

It is 616AD, and one fatal night the ancient Kingdom of Elmetia falls. Saxons kill the Elmetian King, and capture Princess Teagen.

Teagen poses as a slave girl and works for the Saxons in the Kingdom of Deira, until she discovers her brother is alive. She finds a way to escape, and her path crosses with Ryce the Warrior.

Struggling with his past and angry against the tyrant Saxon king, Ryce helps the princess in pursuit of her brother. But just as the connection between them intensifies, obstacles get in their way. The Saxon king now wants vengeance, and will stop at nothing to get it.

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Rachel James

 

616 AD

The Kingdom of Elmetia

Teagen scrambled under the table as the first fire-drenched arrow shot through the sky. Within seconds, thatched rooftops blazed and smoke bellowed throughout the palace. Frantic screams replaced the joyful music playing moments before.

“Princess,” Teagen’s nurse hissed from behind a wooden bench. “Are ye injured?”

“Nay.” She cast a wary glance as the battle unfolded before her. “What’s happening? Is it Saxons?”

Her nurse stretched her arm over and stroked her hair. “Aye, princess. Seems to be. Now stay put here while I find yer brother.”

Teagen flinched. “Don’t leave me Dera, please—Niall will be with Papa, they’ll be safe.”

Dera’s face paled. “I hope not, lassie, for yer brother’s sake, I pray he’s not.”

What could she mean? Was Papa in trouble?

She jumped out from her hiding place. “Then I’ll come with ye—”

Dera pushed her down firmly. “Nay, ‘tis not safe. Whatever ye do, do not let them capture ye, understand?”

She nodded, dumbfounded as Dera disappeared.

Grabbing the bottom of her long silk dress, she covered her face in an attempt to subdue the nausea that welled within. She wouldn’t look. She couldn’t. Where was Papa? She needed him right now, to hold her, and keep her safe.

 “Teagen.”

A wave of relief washed over her. “Papa!” Teagen ran toward him, tears threatening her eyes.

“Shhh, lassie.” Her father scooped her up and headed for the kitchen just off the Great Hall. He opened a small stone cupboard and placed her inside.

“Stay in here, do ye understand? Do not come out until yer brother gets ye.”

“Please don’t leave me, Papa. Everyone keeps leaving me.” She tasted the salty tears that streamed her face.

Her father stroked her cheek. “Oh, lassie, I love ye so much. Ye know this, don’t ye?”

She nodded.

“Now be a brave girl and stay put.”

She gave her father a lingering hug and breathed in his comforting musky scent, her eyes averting his blood stained tunic. As he shut the cupboard door, the sound of the latch closing sent shivers through her body. The darkness did not mask the coldness of the damp stone walls, or the stale air which stifled her breathing. A sob lodged in her throat. I need to be brave for Papa.

Muffled sounds from outside grew louder—the clash of iron on iron, the collapse of buildings, and cries for help.

“King Ceretic is dead!”

Teagen stopped breathing. It could not be true.

“And what of the rest of the family?”

“Not yet found.”

“We do not leave until they are dead. Burn everything, and gather the survivors—we’ll take them to the slave market.”

She squeezed her eyes together, shutting out the fuzzy sensation that threatened to overtake her. Please, God. Nay. There surely must be some mistake.

Teagen could wait no longer. Despite her father’s strict instructions, she pushed open the door and fell on the kitchen floor. She gasped in a huge breath of air and scrambled to the doorway. Soldiers littered the outside, and in the centre, stood the Saxon King—Edwin the Tyrant. Her stomach lurched as she saw the remains of her father’s body.

Oh, Heavenly Father.

She collapsed to the ground. If her father was dead, it meant her brother Niall would likely be too. She studied the hem of her fine tunic and caressed the intricate beading Dera had sewn on the day before.

She stiffened. If they discovered her true identity as the king’s daughter, she too would be slain. She had to get out of these clothes. Her eyes rested on the dead bodies piled up outside the kitchen entrance and her heart broke as she spotted one of her friends lying on the ground. She kept low, reached out and pulled her friend further inside the kitchen.

“I’m sorry, Hilda,” she whispered to the girl, “but I’m going to need yer clothes. Ye won’t have use for them anymore.” She closed the girl’s eyelids, said a quick prayer, and removed the simple tunic and redressed her young friend in her own grand attire.

She ran out of the kitchen and toward the oak tree at the top of the hill, knowing she would be seen. She perched under a sloping branch and gazed out—her entire world ablaze. Soldiers rummaged through the dead bodies looking for valuables to keep for themselves. Teagen covered her ears as cries penetrated the night. Curling herself into a ball, she cradled her arms around her knees and rocked herself back and forth watching her kingdom fall. They were coming for her, it was simply a matter of time. To survive this night, her identity would have to be forgotten.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Rachel is a mum of three, a pastor’s wife and a Christian writer. She lives in rural England, is passionate about writing, drinking tea and absolutely loves a good romance story! She writes to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own Christian walk, hoping to reveal God’s character through written form.

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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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