Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

November 23, 2016

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)!!


An Informal ChristmasClick to Buy


“You should get your foot examined.”

Being angry at him would be easier if his voice didn’t make her think of sweet treats on hot summer days.

“A little boy is going for an NBD test, but he’s terrified. My job is to make it bearable for him, even if that means limping all the way there and back.”


“No Big Deal. The kids classify any procedure not involving needles, saws, or drills as NBD.” The children actually said needles or a scalpel. She’d thrown saws and drills into the equation to get under his skin. Looks like it worked. So why didn’t she feel good about it?


Rylie took a deep breath as the elevator eased down another floor. The time had come to start acting her age. Or even half her age. She wasn’t exactly getting off to a good start with this man.

She held out her hand. “I’m Rylie Durham, the Child Life Specialist assigned to the oncology unit.”

His hand enveloped hers in a warm grasp. “Zach York. I’m… the guy who knocks over boxes, gets himself jammed into elevators, and…” He rolled his eyes. “And apparently forgets his dolly up in the Child Life office so he has to go back for it later.”

It was a trial, but she afforded him a smile. “What brings you to us?”

His shrug was a study in nonchalance. “Another time, maybe.” He pulled something from his wallet and held it out to her. “Here’s my card. Drop me an email within the next day or two so I know how to get in touch with you. When I’m ready to order some items for next month, I’ll contact you and find out what y’all need.”

She took the card but doubted any communication between them would be as simple as he made it sound. This man had complication written all over him.

“Ignore my email at your own risk, Ms. Durham.” His molasses eyes glinted with a hint of mischievousness. “Or you might find yourself with more marbles instead of whatever children in the hospital actually need.”

Go Back

HOLIDAY ESCAPE, A Team Macachek Novella

“So why didn’t you go over and say hello, introduce me?” Uncle Ralph wiggled his eyebrows. “Ashamed of your old uncle?”

“Not for a minute.” It was him and Uncle Ralph that their overachieving professional relatives were ashamed of. Not that he and Ralph weren’t professionals. Ralph had built up and run a very successful engineering company that he’d sold for some nice change when he retired. Uncle Ralph’s problem was his ladies. Divorced twice and widowed once, he had them everywhere. Luke’s problem was that professional motocross racing wasn’t on his parents’ list of suitable professions for him.

Substituting for Uncle Ralph’s usual pool partner and winning this cruise with him at Ralph’s billiard league’s holiday party had been just the ticket to avoiding Christmas and New Year’s with his parents, siblings, and extended family and their picking his life apart.

“. . . now boarding for Ft. Lauderdale.”

Uncle Ralph nudged his shoulder. “That’s our flight.”
Seated onboard a few minutes later, Uncle Ralph struck up a conversation with the woman next to him, and Luke tilted his head back and closed his eyes to catch some sleep. He and some of the guys had done some early Christmas Eve celebrating, following their day-before-Christmas-Eve celebrating.

Late that afternoon, Luke and Ralph made their way to their cabin onboard the ship. So far, Luke hadn’t seen anyone under age sixty who wasn’t staff and no holiday decorations to speak of.

“What’s with the no decorations?” he asked.

“It’s a holiday escape cruise, like our tickets said, for people like us who want to escape from the holidays.”

Luke stopped and the couple behind them had to do a fast move to the right to avoid running into him. “Holiday Escape. I thought that meant a fun escape to celebrate the holidays. And why haven’t I seen any passengers who aren’t senior citizens?”

“Because my billiard league is a senior league.” Uncle Ralph patted him on the shoulder. “The prize was tickets for a senior cruise. There are lots of female staff your age.” He nodded at an attractive fortyish blonde in a cruise company uniform talking to a couple on the other side of the deck.

Luke resumed walking. He should have known better than to trust Uncle Ralph. Instead of the wild parties and holiday toasts he’d expected, it looked like he’d be getting shuffleboard and Ensure shakes.

Letters to Caroline

“Mr. Phillips, are you asking me to marry you?”

“Yes, Miss Morgan, I am.”

“But . . . why?” Caroline wondered if perhaps she had hit her head when she fainted the previous day. Nothing that had happened so far this morning was making any sense at all. She’d barely had time to get up and dressed before Adam showed up in the middle of breakfast and asked to speak to her alone for a moment. The second they were alone, he blurted out his proposal. “Aren’t you already married?” she asked now.

“Of course not!” Adam looked bewildered and a bit affronted.

“You are a widower, then?”

“I’ve never been married.”

“But the girls--”

“--are my nieces.”

“Oh.” Caroline drew a deep breath. “Mr. Phillips, I appreciate your kind offer, but I --”

“Please call me Adam,” he interrupted.

“And you may call me Caroline,” she said. “Adam, I appreciate your kind offer, but surely there are other women you would prefer. Women you actually know.”

“I’m afraid I’m not doing a very good job of this. Let me start again.” Adam cleared his throat. “You need a husband and I need a wife to help me raise my nieces. I know I am a stranger, but no more so than Jacob was. If you were willing to take a chance on him, can’t you at least consider taking a chance on me?”

She was silent, turning it over in her mind.

“I am a hard worker,” Adam said after a moment. “I am not wealthy, but I do well enough at the sawmill, and my home is plain but sturdy. I have. . . that is, there is a . . .” he cleared his throat again and looked everywhere but at Caroline. “My home has an extra bedroom, so I am making this offer strictly as a business arrangement.”

Caroline felt her face grow warm at his words. She wanted to run away and hide from this man and his pity, but she forced herself to look him in the eye. “And just exactly what do you get out of this marriage, Adam?” she asked evenly.

It was his turn to flush. “I need your help,” he admitted.

Excerpt from Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle
Buy at and other amazon stores

The woman, who was a Mrs. Evans from the country, come to visit her married daughter, looked at me searchingly and asked, “Forgive me, my dear, have you suffered a bereavement?”
I nodded.
“Your husband.”
When I again nodded, she said, “You poor dear, I could tell by your face. You are not bearing up well, I fear. I know it is a difficult cross to bear, I lost my dear sainted John two years ago, but I’ve learnt to find comfort in my children and grandchildren. You should try that dear. Do you have children?”
When I did not answer, she continued, “Ah, that makes it difficult. My sister is a widow and finds the going very difficult because her marriage was barren.”
I did not correct her about me being the mother of nine living children. At that moment, the children I had carried in sickness and brought forth in pain and hardship seemed like phantom children. They had been born but had drifted away like wraiths.
Only little Dora seemed real. Beautiful, delightful Dora, whom the merciful lord had taken away when she was only eight months old. I had not understood then but I realized now it was a good thing my daughter had died an infant. She would have been twelve now. Being a girl, she would not have the escape of school and would have remained in misery in a divided household. Dear beloved Dora was happier in a better world.
I said, “My marriage was not barren. I had a daughter but she died an infant.”
Mrs. Evans dabbed at her eyes and recalled her two infants she had buried.
That night I realized a sorry truth. From now onwards I would have nothing to say to women except about the death of a child. The usual conversation of husband and children and household matters was forever closed to me.

"Embracing Hope" by Janell Butler Wojtowicz

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Drew’s fingers brushed through his hair. “Um, I need a debriefing.”

“I thought you might.” Mitch led him to the couch. “What happened in chapel?”

“I have no idea.” Drew sat on the very edge, his coat still buttoned. “I totally veered from my outline. It made no sense at the end, and I never intended to talk about Kendra. I have no idea why I used that verse from Jeremiah. It’s an empty cliché that people use when bad things happen. I lost track of how many times I’ve heard it since Kendra died. That and throwing Job in my face. Grieving people do not want to hear about Job. Sure, there’s a happy ending, but look at the hell he went through. I don’t want to be reminded of his suffering while I’m going through my own.”

Mitch sat back and crossed his arms. “Okay, how about Ruth. She lost her husband leaving her alone and childless. She left her homeland to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign land because Ruth had heard the Lord was there. What’s remarkable about Ruth is she didn’t know much about God. Yet not only did she have hope in her future, she had hope in the Lord.

“I hate to say this, Drew, but you’re not the only one who has suffered a devastating loss. I know a family whose young son was killed in a plane crash. They sought hope by proclaiming the Word of God at his funeral. I counseled a pregnant woman last year whose husband died within two weeks from an aggressive form of leukemia. She found hope in the baby boy she had five months later. Like Job and Ruth, they had to dig deep to find hope. And believe it or not, God blessed them. That family has heard testimonies from their son’s friends who have come to know the Lord. And that baby boy is the delight of her life and family.”

Drew rolled his eyes and wrung his hands. Something else was wrong. He had never seen Drew visibly upset. Even during those first days after Kendra’s death and throughout counseling, he had never displayed much emotion beyond sadness, loneliness, and the inevitable questions. But tonight, the young man’s discomfort was painfully evident as his eyes darted about the room and he pulled the coat tighter around him.

“This isn’t just about chapel, is it?” Mitch asked.

Long seconds of silence passed. Then, finally, “I crossed the line,” he mumbled.

Mitch froze. “What line?”

Drew’s hand scraped through his hair again. “With a student. I … I hugged her.”

Mitch barely heard Drew’s whispered words.

“She was upset … and about to cry—” He jumped up and retreated to a dark corner of the room. “I—I could be in trouble with my job. They fire men for this. It’s…it’s sexual harassment! She could press charges!”


She glanced at her watch. Three o’clock. She had a couple of hours before she would meet Kandi. She promised to let her know how the last candidate had panned out. Even though Kandi thought the marriage ad was beyond strange, she loved hearing the details. Nina smiled as a memory came into focus.
“Wait a minute. You’re going to put an ad in the paper for a husband?” Kandi exclaimed.
“Do people even read newspapers anymore?”
“Yes, Kandi. Besides, it will show up online as well.”
“Nina, why don’t you just sign up for one of those weird online dating sites?”
“They’re weird, that’s why. And intellectuals read the paper.”
Kandi laughed. “No, putting an ad in the paper is weirder.” She rolled her eyes and shook her black curly locks. “Whatever. I’ll pray you don’t get stuck with a weirdo or worse.”
“Geez, I appreciate your support, Kandi.”
“I’m here for you.”
She laughed out loud and headed for her bedroom. Kandi would flip when she learned that not only was Dwight Williams apparently normal, but good-looking too. She wondered how bad the finances were for his restaurant. If she offered to pay the money up front would he be more willing to go ahead with a marriage? Her biological clock was ticking loud and fast.
Stop being desperate.

The Duke Conspiracy - a sweet, regency romance
~ A spying debutante, a duke, and a conspiracy. Can love be found despite their feud? ~
Available for $0.99 wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon:


Alex gazed at his old friend in admiration. If anyone had ever told him he would be standing in Burlington House surrounded by Elgin’s Marbles debating with Miss Rosamund Smythe about who might be conspiring to entrap him into marriage, he would never have believed such a claim. But here they were. And she looked mighty fetching as she gazed up at him expectantly. He had to make an effort to remember what she had said. Oh yes, something about ideas to investigate. He wondered absently what she could possibly know about investigations and clues and all that. But she was right. They needed to have a direction. The only trouble was he was drawing a blank about any possible ideas.

All he could do was shrug helplessly. “I am so sorry, Rose, but I have absolutely no idea where to start. To the best of my knowledge I have never had any dealings with Broderick. I developed an instant dislike of the man upon first making his acquaintance, but I cannot even tell you why, as we have barely conversed.”

The duke was clearly flabbergasted over this development and was even slightly ashamed to not have a ready solution. Rose must have realized this. She hastened to reassure him. “Never mind about that. We both agreed earlier that the best place for us to start is with Lady Anne. That will have to be my job, as you will just be walking straight into their plot if you try to do anything about it. Now, I really must be going, so we must hurry and establish another appointment to meet up to discuss any of our findings. In the meantime, you should speak to your solicitors or man of affairs or whatever you might have along those lines and see if they are aware of any issues Broderick might have with you. Those gentlemen might know more on the subject than you.”

“How did you get so smart about such things?”

Alex was intrigued by the blush that spread over her face at this unanswerable question. The only thing she could offer was “My father is a diplomat,” with as much dignity as possible.

Alex allowed the moment to pass and was rewarded by the look of relief on her face. He hurried to make an appointment as they saw her maid approaching. “Would it be remarked upon if you come here again tomorrow or the next day?”

“Probably not,” Rose answered. “My mother never rises before noon and is really only concerned with how I spend my evenings. But you had best give me at least one day to try to make the acquaintance of Lady Anne, so let us say the day after tomorrow. That gives me a day and a half to gather as much information as possible. I shall start with my friend Lady Elizabeth. She is a font of knowledge about the ton, as well as being friendly with Lady Anne.” While she was speaking she fumbled with her drawing supplies, finally tucking them under her arm. “Wish me luck,” she concluded as she once more faced the duke.

The duke watched a myriad of emotions chase themselves across his companion’s face. He was unable to identify most of them, but he thought she looked rather wistful as she offered him a brief curtsy before she hurried away without another word.

Alex stood in the same spot for several moments, watching her retreating figure, wondering if she would look back before exiting the building. He was unprepared for the profound disappointment that swept over him as she strode away with purpose, never once glancing back in his direction. Slowly bringing his focus back to the statue she had been sketching, the duke allowed the entire interlude to play itself out in his mind. Giving his head a shake to rid himself of the melancholy that had befallen him, he followed in her footsteps and strode from the hall.

~ Happy reading :-) ~

A Powerful Voice

"Everything okay?” she asked.

“Everything’s great. You should try to sleep.” From the look of stress on her face, she hadn’t slept well, and she needed to rest if she could.

“It will help if you sing.” She closed her eyes once more.

With a conciliatory nod she didn’t see, he looked back at the road and did just that. He hoped the soft melody would lull her into a nap. Before long, there was a slow rise and fall of her chest, but he didn’t stop singing. From one chorus to the next, his thoughts drifted and his gaze occasionally fell to the small delicate foot resting against the console.

As a kid, there were Saturday mornings he’d find his parents still asleep, his mother snuggled firmly against his father, the relaxed pose of sleep on their faces. The image instilled an expectation in him, an impression of what marriage should be like. He’d rather live alone than miss what his parents shared. In the stolen glimpses of Gloria, the image came to him unbidden, making him wonder how it would feel to lie next to her on a Saturday morning.

Nearing Atlanta, Justin reached over and touched her arm. “Hey sleepy head, wake-up.”

Landry in Like (Landry's True Colors Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Clean teen fiction for ages 10 and up.

I wanted to call my friends and tell them about being on the talk show, but Mom said we had to be at the TV station super early — even before school started. She said I could text them, but I had to turn off my phone and go to bed.

“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.”

“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?”

“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.”

I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back.

“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said.

I called Ashanti next and told her.

“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!”

“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide Ingénue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”

I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed.

“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.

Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.

“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.

Innocent Tears by Iris Blobel

Ignoring Nadine’s companion, he knelt down in front of the girl and rested his arm on his leg. “Hey, little Muffin!”

“Hi.” Nadine’s reply was shy, nothing more than just a whisper.

They both looked at each other. “Are you my dad?” Nadine asked with slightly more voice, but still hiding behind Emma.

Flynn nodded and replied with warmth in a voice that came straight from his heart. “So it seems.” He just couldn’t get his eyes off the small child. No doubt she was Sarah’s child. He choked back a smile. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, indeed. Flynn stood up and went back to his chair and took the small parcel out of the bag he'd left there. Then he returned and crouched down in front of Nadine again. He gave her a wrapped box. “Buying presents for girls is new for me, so I hope you like it.” Okay, he felt odd, and he knew he owed Joyce big time for this, but how was he supposed to know what young girls liked?

Nadine let go of Emma’s hand and hesitantly came out from behind her. She took the box with both hands and looked at Flynn. “Thank you,” she whispered.

From ~Insurrection~
YA Sci Fi Adventure

“Who are you guys?” I asked into the darkness. One by one the others followed the first guy into the dark interior room. Soldier Guy continued to clutch my arm, pulling me in with them. With my last glance of innocence I memorized the creamy morning sky before the dark room closed around me, another quiet whoosh guiding the door shut behind my heels. The cement building seemed to be a concrete shell with two windows before me on the opposite wall open to a large, grassy field.
“Echo Company present, plus one guest,” Soldier Guy said into the darkness.
“Yes, sir,” a monotone voice rang out.
Tapping sounds like buttons being pushed, little beeps echoing, and the light from the windows disappearing as what seemed to be metal blinds snapped down with a resounding clang. A red light flicked on above us with a quiet buzz. The five soldiers couldn’t have been older than mid-twenties, two of them my age or close to it. Soldier Guy had to be less than twenty. Out of the corner of my eye I scanned his young, smooth face again. He removed his hat with his free left hand, tucking it into a pocket on his pants. The others stood stone-faced, except the guy who had been the first to enter the building. He walked over to the wall, to another dark, glassy panel. A structured alphabet and list of numbers glowed with a soft white light. Touching the letters in a strange sequence, he punctuated the sequence by tapping a white circle on the bottom right corner of the grid.
And then the ground dropped from beneath me.

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