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Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

September 20, 2017

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!


MY EXCERPT

An Informal ArrangementClick to Buy

“No, no, don’t flush the toilet!”

Maddie ran into the room, assessed the situation, and placed her hand on the patient’s shoulder, shaking him lightly. “Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, it’s just a dream.” This was her first day working with him, but he’d been on the unit for a while. Nothing in his file indicated a history of night terrors or bad dreams.

The man in the bed groaned and thrashed. “Not… albino… horned toa’… Please, no.” Was he talking about toes or — a shudder tore through her — toads?

Had he seen one? She fought a shiver as she searched the immediate vicinity. No toads — horned or otherwise — in sight. He was obviously dreaming, but still… What did a horned toad look like, anyway? Not a frog with antlers, surely.

Every off-white nook and cream-colored cranny of the room came under careful scrutiny as Maddie continued speaking to her distressed patient. “Mr. Jenkins, wake up. You’re having a nightmare.”

His eyelids fluttered for a moment before opening. When he saw her, Mr. Jenkins’ eyes grew wide. A remnant of sleep slowed his voice. “Is everything okay?”

What was she supposed to say to that? Tell the poor man he’d awakened her deep-seated dislike of all creatures not cute and furry? Or worse, explain how that dislike had been birthed?

“You, uh, were having a dream.” Brilliant response.

Go Back

"A Team Macachek Christmas" in SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 4
Pre-order (Releases September 26) https://tinyurl.com/SweetChristmasKisses4

Chapter 1

“I definitely plan on going to the Christmas party.”

That voice. It had haunted him since summer.

Jesse Brewster pushed himself up to a sitting position on the lounge couch and muted the sound of the race video he was studying on the ninety-inch TV.

It couldn’t be. He shook his head to block the sound, dispel the memories and ran his hand through his disheveled hair. Lauren was at Syracuse University taking finals.

“See you,” Royce Evans, one of the other Team Macachek racers said distinctly.

“Right.” Her voice again.

Or Syracuse was the place Lauren was supposed to be. Her and Royce? Jesse worked a muscle in his jaw. Was that the real reason she’d stopped coming to his races, sent him the break-up text? Jesse unmuted the TV and jacked up the sound to drown out his thoughts and anything else he might hear from the hall.

He placed his elbows on his knees and focused on the action. To perfect his technique, he studied videos of his motocross races, wins and losses, to see what he had done right and wrong and what his competitors had done right. It was his job and ambition to be the best. Jesse frowned at his less-than-stellar execution of a jump. By his account, he had to rack up enough winnings in the next ten years or so to invest for the rest of his life. Given his lack of success with the online engineer degree at Arizona State University his parents and Lauren had pressured him into, what else could he do that was anywhere near as lucrative as racing? Limit pressuring him to his parents. Period. Where Lauren was concerned, it had been his need to impress her by proving he could do more than race, be more for her.
“Oh, I didn’t know anyone was in here.”

Jesse swung his head around and froze at the virtual sucker punch that slugged him in the gut. It hadn’t been his imagination. Lauren Cooper stood in the doorway in all her blond glory. His imagination never gave justice to the real thing.

“Jesse?” Her voice was barely above a whisper but loud enough to send a shiver through him.

His muscles tensed. I can do this. Jesse rose and faced the one and only woman he had ever loved. “I’m as surprised to see you as you are to see me. I figured it would be finals week, that you’d still be in Syracuse.”

He didn’t ask what she was doing here in the barracks, as the guys on the team called the resort-like facility Mac Macachek, the owner of the racing team, had built at the team’s headquarters in Chenango Falls—Mac’s hometown in Central New York. After hearing her with Royce in the hall, Jesse didn’t want to know.

New Release! A Clean Contemporary Romance
Happily Ever Afters - https://www.amazon.com/Happily-Ever-Afters-Rachel-Magee-ebook/dp/B075487DPH

“Excuse me.” The deep voice came from above me.
I cracked one eye enough to see a man standing there. He motioned to the large storage bin holding all the passengers’ bags stowed under the bench where I was sitting. Shifting out of his way, I didn’t let the interruption distract me from enjoying the tranquility of the sail.
“It’s the ugly green one,” a girl’s voice called from somewhere near the front of the boat. I wanted to completely ignore the bag-fetching stranger, but curiosity piqued my interest. I needed to know what the ugly bag looked like. Through my half-opened lid, I saw him hoist an apple-green and white chevron print bag with a large pink flower printed on one side.
“Oh.” I pointed to the bag dangling from his finger. “That’s actually my ugly green bag.”
He pulled a face to show his embarrassment and handed me my bag. “Sorry about that.” Squatting down, he continued to dig through the bin.
He moved two more green bags to the top of the pile. One was a lime Hawaiian print and the other chartreuse with a bright lemon geometric design. Stroking his jaw, he studied both.
“Any thoughts on which would be ugly?” he asked.
“Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder?” I offered.
He shrugged and picked the chartreuse bag, holding it up for the girl at the front to see. She nodded her approval. He removed a bottle of sunblock and dropped the bag into the bin.
“May I?” He motioned to my bag. I handed it to him, and he placed it on top of the pile before returning the bin to its storage place. “Mission accomplished,” he said, displaying the bottle. “Who knew finding sunblock would be such a challenge? Anyway, I’m Carter.”

New Release! Love's Full Circle
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075MX493X

Kayden inhaled the fresh air and mouth-watering scents of grilled hamburgers and fries wafting in from the cafes stretched along the 16th Street Mall.

“You choose the restaurant,” Liam said. “My treat.”

“How about Rockies? It’s only three blocks away.”

“Sounds perfect.” Kayden studied him while he donned a pair of black sunglasses he lifted out of the front pocket of his charcoal dress shirt. His shades conveyed a natural balance of sophistication and relaxation wrapped up in one handsome, manly package named Liam Pierce.

A wide grin tugged at his lips. “Shall we go?” Oh, geesh!

Why has he come searching for me? Kayden mused as they turned the corner off of Tremont Place onto 16th Street. If he intended to pick up where they left off, then he was sadly mistaken, because she was in no mood to play any more of his childish games.

A game.

That’s all she’d been to him. And when she hadn’t wanted to play, he’d simply thrown her out like an old, unwanted toy.

She glimpsed at him, remembering the day they broke up. She’d ridden home on her bicycle, the wind whisking away her falling tears as she pedaled past Huff Park, racing home to Calgary Street. In the solitude of her room, she’d hugged her favorite stuffed animal to her chest and stared out the window sobbing.

“Kayden?”

“Huh?” “We’re here,” Liam announced. “Are you all right?”

Kayden glanced at the painted mountain peaks on the sign. “Yes. I’m just hungry.” She mustered a smile and grasped the door handle.

“Please. Allow me.” His hand brushed her wrist as he opened the door.

She thanked him and hurried inside, tingling from his touch.

Lynn Stapleton gripped the steering wheel of her Lexus and questioned her sanity once more. The approaching hurricane drove gray sheets of rain across the windshield. She narrowed her eyes to see.
It didn’t help that during a phone conversation earlier, Sharee Jergenson had called her crazy. And maybe she was, but not checking on Victoria would be crazier still.
The car’s wipers struggled to handle the downpour. This morning’s weather forecast predicted the storm’s landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast in less than twenty-four hours. With winds up to a hundred miles an hour and torrential rains, Hurricane Bella had caused residents in her condominium to flee even before the evacuation order came.
Lynn’s calls to every shelter within twenty miles had benefited nothing. No one named Victoria was registered at any of them. Anxiety fanned flames throughout her whole body. Why hadn’t Victoria answered her calls or texts? She had bought the homeless woman a prepaid phone—in case the man found her.
Her last option was the tent city in the woods. Lynn made another turn, and the tires sprayed mud and water from the unpaved road. In a minute, the street dead-ended. She brought the car to a stop and sat back, stunned.
The tent city where the homeless lived had almost disappeared. Clothes, shoes, and other items littered the ground along with scattered tree branches. Tents slumped, tangled in the mud; only a few, sheltered by large trees, still stood.
Lynn stared through the lessening rain, eyeing the tents left standing. After a few minutes, she tugged the hood of her rain jacket over her head and threw open the door. The sodden wreckage in front of her spoke of desertion. The feeling of defeat wasn’t one she was used to nor welcomed.
She stepped over branches and circled a downed tent before lifting her head to yell. “Victoria!”
No answer. She walked forward, cupped her hands around her mouth to yell again, but stumbled over something large and soft, something that bulged under another downed tent. Pay attention, girl. What if you sprained your ankle out here?
She looked at the sodden tent. Someone had left more than their temporary home. A blanket, maybe, or clothes or a sleeping bag lay under the bulky material. Her throat tightened just as it had the first time she’d come.
That day, while Sharee chatted with a woman and young teen, Lynn’s comfort in her designer jeans and shirt and her Prada handbag dissolved. She’d eyed the woman’s mismatched clothes and her daughter’s dirty pants and shirt. That might be all they owned. Lynn’s glimpse into the steamy confines of their canvas home had drawn tears she’d released on the way home.
But today, another gust of wind shook rain from the trees, and Lynn tightened the grip on her hood. Perhaps she could salvage something for someone. She leaned down, grabbed the corner of the tent, and tugged it up and back.
Horror shot through her. Her stomach rolled. The sodden canvas pulled free from her hands and slapped down across the hideous thing she’d just seen. She screamed.

Splashdown by Linda K. Rodante On Special today. $0.99 http://amzn.to/1XIEP5t

A Spring of Weddings Collection
Purchase: http://amzn.to/2opjTko

Excerpt from A Proxy Wedding:
“You want me to do what?”
Carly James couldn’t believe her ears. She stared at her cellphone to ensure it wasn’t a prank call. One glance around her apartment told her Ashton Kutcher wouldn’t be jumping out to inform her she’d been pranked. Plus, the military phone number on the caller ID assured her it was her best friend, Brenda, calling.
“I want you to stand in for me at my wedding. You’ll be my proxy bride.”
“I’ve never even heard of such a thing.”
“It’s real simple. You say the vows as me and voilà, I’m married.”
Carly plopped down onto her oversized living room chair. Her head felt like she just jumped off a swing. “Why can’t you wait and plan a wedding like normal brides, Bren?”
“Because we both have orders that will only widen our separation. I’m headed to Alaska once this deployment’s done and Adam has orders to Japan.”
She bit her lip. That was a pretty far gap. Brenda had met Adam on a work trip to Las Vegas six months ago. Despite the fact they were only around each other for one month, it was enough for the two to bond and start a relationship. Now, they wanted to marry. She shook her head at the fastness of it all.
“So if I stand in for you,” she started cautiously. “The marriage will be legal and you can get your orders changed?”
“Exactly.”
Seems harmless enough. “Then only the bride has to have a proxy?”
Silence spanned the airwaves.
“Bren, are you still there?”
“Yes, I am. I, uh…the answer is no.”
“No?” Incredulity filled her voice. “What does that mean?”
“It means Adam should be having this same conversation with his best friend. We want both of you to stand in for us.”
Carly groaned. This had trouble written all over it.
“And I might as well tell you, it needs to happen in Montana.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“Carls,” Brenda whined, using her nickname. “Montana is the only state that does a double proxy wedding. We could have hired a service to take care of all the necessary paperwork, but that just seems so impersonal. We want it to be special even if we won’t be together when it happens.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. This was not happening. Had she rolled out of bed only to land in some alternate universe?

Excerpt From "Watching Amy"

Purchase: http://a.co/5Yi7wL9

From Chapter Eight:

The waiter came and took their orders, and Amy’s mom excused herself to use the restroom. Amy took a sip of her water and then reached down under her chair to pick up her bag. She wanted to grab her cell phone so that she could send Darren a quick text before her mom came back.
When she sat back up, clutching her phone, something felt different. Different and wrong. At first she couldn’t figure out what it was, but then she noticed that the restaurant had gone completely silent. The conversations had all stopped. There was no sound of clinking silverware, no moving chairs, no waiter walking from table to table. Nothing.
Amy turned to looked around and gasped. A chill ran through her body. Every single person in the restaurant was looking at her. Staring at her. Every head turned in her direction. At least fifteen people, all sitting motionless at their tables, all watching Amy. It was like they had turned into zombies. Their eyes didn’t even blink. Even the waiter had stopped and looked at her from the far side of the room, his tray frozen in his hands. Amy felt goose bumps tingling all over her arms and back.
“Mom?” Amy called, her voice a pitiful wavering sound. Her entire body shook. She half expected the theme from The Twilight Zone to start playing.
“Mom!”
When her mother didn’t answer, Amy stood up on shaking legs. She had to get away from the staring eyes. She walked toward the restrooms, maneuvering between the tables and trying not to look at the people frozen there, and trying not to get too close to them. Their eyes followed her as she moved. Amy tried to stay as far away from the tables as possible. She half expected one of the people to suddenly jump out at her as she walked past, or to reach out and grab her, but they all stayed motionless, with only their eyes moving. Amy shook uncontrollably by the time she finally made it to the far side of the room.
When Amy turned into the hallway where the restrooms were located, her mom walked out of the lady’s room.
“Amy? Are you all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“You have to come see this, Mom. It’s really creeping me out.”
Amy grabbed her mom’s hand and practically dragged her back into the main dining room, but when they got there everything had gone back to normal. People spoke to each other in low voices, food was eaten, silverware clinked, and the waiter once again moved between the tables. Nobody even looked up when Amy and her mom walked back to their table.
“What is it?” asked Amy’s mom, looking around and trying to identify the source of her daughter’s distress. “What did you want to show me?”
Amy looked around the room, torn between relief and lingering fear. How could she explain what had happened? “I don’t know, Mom. I just had a weird feeling, that’s all.”
“Are you getting sick?”
“No, Mom. I’m fine.”
But as the waiter brought them their food, Amy wondered. She wasn’t fine. Either something really weird was happening to her, or she was going insane. And right now, she had no idea which one it was.

Excerpt from my Amish romance, "A Lancaster Love."
Buy or borrow it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XT44NFH
Thanks for reading!

Eve haunted him, with her pale face, her hair as black as night, and those light blue eyes ringed by sooty black lashes. She’d made him stop dreaming of Maggie―something he never thought could happen.
He closed his eyes and heard Eve’s soft, slow voice, scraped just a touch raw, imagined it singing a gentle lullaby, imagined it calling his name.
He looked up at the moon again.
Maggie, he breathed, I’m in love again. I never thought I’d find anyone else, my girl, but I have. Forgive me. You’ll always be in my heart, you know that. But it’s hard to love a memory, my darling.
We have to go on, Molly and me.
You gave me your blessing in my dreams; give me another one now, Mags―please.
Flynn looked up at the sky, searching it with his eyes. The night remained still, and he sighed, thinking himself a fool: but then a shooting star flicked across the horizon, just above the trees, and was gone. Flynn smiled, and looked down, and wiped his eyes with the back of one brown hand.
God love you, Maggie Munro, he murmured; and make you as happy in heaven, as you made me on earth.
He stood there for a long while, gazing up at the stars, and finally turned back to his own bed. But he kept the doors open, and lay there with his bare arms crossed behind his head, enjoying the cool night breeze and the winking of the distant stars; and dared to imagine another there, sharing the night with him.

I love being introduced to new authors here! I've read An Informal Arrangement and A Spring of Weddings and really enjoyed both. I'm looking forward to reading Sweet Christmas Kissed 4, Splashdown, and Love's Full Circle. Rachel Magee and Mary Lingerfelt are new authors to me, and I will check out their books. Watching Amy sounds good if it's not too creepy.



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