Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

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



“Is he still here?” Why waste time on good mornings?

Suzie tilted her head in the direction of the hallway, which meant the man in question was either packing their storeroom to within an inch of its life or waiting in her little cubicle of an office. “Mr. York, I need a word.” She spat the words out loudly enough to be heard no matter where he lurked.

A hand snaked out and grabbed her arm as she passed Suzie’s desk.

Rylie peered down into the older woman’s eyes.

“Go easy on him. He means well, and he doesn’t look so good. Do you know yet why he’s donating?” Suzie’s uplifted eyebrow said it all.

Rylie released a sigh and studied the light fixtures in the ceiling. Father, I’m in a rotten mood. Please temper my tongue and fill me with kindness and patience for adults today, as well as for kids.

Sleep had chosen not to visit her last night, and if the dark circles in the mirror that morning hadn’t given it away, her foul disposition ought to. The parents of one of her patients had suffered a complete meltdown the night before. They’d even used the D-word. Divorce. A nurse had texted to tell her. The couple’s six-year-old daughter, after witnessing the whole thing, became so distressed that sedation had been ordered.

The Child Life budget didn’t allow for overnight workers, and since there was rarely ever a need, it was usually a nonissue. After all, the kids were supposed to be asleep. The nurses were fantastic and handled whatever came up during the night. This, unfortunately, was different. A fight like that wouldn’t be forgotten by morning, not by the young girl who had witnessed it.

Rylie shook her head. An attitude adjustment was in order. She was angry at the parents for fighting and frustrated she hadn’t been present to intervene. To the mom and dad, it was a disagreement — nothing more, nothing less. To their daughter, though, who’d been given far too much to deal with in her short life, it was one more thing piled on top of the plate of wretchedness she’d been served.

Suzie released her arm but wasn’t ready to let her go yet. “I’ve known you a long time, Rylie, and I’ve never seen you to take a dislike to someone the way you have this guy. I’ve also never known you to be ungrateful about a single donation to the children of this hospital. What gives?”

The words were a sledgehammer to her middle. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Rylie focused on breathing to alleviate the pain.

Suzie was right.

Rylie was out of control, and she knew it. She’d been heading down that particular slippery slope for a while but thought she’d managed to hide it from everyone.

She didn’t reply to Suzie’s question. How could she? She wasn’t entirely sure she knew the answer. Rylie had a job to do, though, and she would do it. If she was lucky, she’d be able to pull it off with a measure of grace, too. With another deep breath, she stepped away from Suzie’s desk and around the barrier into her cubicle.

Go Back
A faraway scream penetrated the office window. DeeDee's head snapped up. Empathetic twinging cramped her legs.
“Livy!” she gasped. An unfamiliar panic seized her as she ran out of Saffire. Through the thinning fog, she saw a small white car in the middle of the street and a couple of people huddled nearby. The island spanning the center of the street blocked her view of the pavement, so she stepped into the crosswalk, heart pounding, limbs trembling.
Her sister, still and silent, lay face down on the asphalt. Tire marks smeared Livy’s quilted tan jacket, and her legs lay hidden next to the front tire. DeeDee’s heart lurched. Was her sister alive? She dropped to her knees and felt for a pulse. Livy’s heart put out a feeble beat.
“What happened?” she asked the two people gaping at Livy.
“She stepped out in front of me!” cried a wild-eyed teenage girl, skinny as a stick. Another girl stood next to her, frozen.
“Don’t just stand there,” DeeDee snapped. “Call 911.” She shook her head and picked up Livy’s limp hand. “Livy,” she hissed. “It’s me. Can you hear me?”
Livy didn’t respond, but her head moved the tiniest bit. She was probably barely conscious.
DeeDee glanced at the hunched-over driver to ensure she contacted emergency services. She could hear the girl’s panicked voice, so she turned back to her sister, who suddenly gripped her hand so hard she thought it might snap in two.
“Hurts,” Livy whispered. Under the car, her left leg splayed outward at an awkward angle.
“How’s your head? Did you hit it?”
She only groaned. Rage bubbled up in DeeDee. If she had a sledgehammer, she’d pound the white heap of junk into the pavement.
The young driver materialized next to them. “The ambulance is on its way.” The girl’s voice came out a gasping squeak. A faint siren echoed far off, getting louder.
Livy kept squeezing DeeDee’s hand and groaning, as though she were in labor. More pedestrians had stopped to gawk.
DeeDee glared at the girl. “Don’t you go anywhere, you little—” The girl shrunk back, her face a mask of fright. “This is my sister you knocked over. You’re going to have some explaining to do to the cops.”
The girl gave a little whimper. “Sorry! I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it.”
DeeDee paid no attention to the feeble apologies. “Also, I’m going to need your insurance and contact info. Write it down for me.” The girl scurried to the car, emerging with a piece of paper.
“Here.” She thrust it forward.
DeeDee pocketed it. The wail of two sirens drowned out all else. An ambulance and cop car screamed around the corner.
Emergency personnel leaped from their vehicles. The paramedics examined Livy and loaded her on a stretcher. DeeDee made sure the cop interviewed the trembling driver and her passenger. Afterward, she climbed into the back of the ambulance and held Livy’s hand all the way to the hospital.

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager (YA book)


“Hadley, did you see the new Celebrity Snooper blog today?” Aunt Faith asked. “Simone is in it with Lauren Gere.”

“What? She didn’t say anything about that. Were these super old pictures?”

“Here,” she said. “I’ll pull it up on my phone. It’s Simone and Lauren walking along the boardwalk with some blonde girl and a boy.”

“Does it say when that happened?” I asked. I couldn’t believe Simone wouldn’t have mentioned Lauren had already been here.

Faith found the site on her phone and stared at it. “I’m not sure, but I guess it was pretty recent. Here, look.”

Simone was on the phone in the picture and the blonde girl with them was Morgan. But what was worse was that the boy was Nick and Lauren had her hand on his arm. Great, it was probably the same night I called Simone and she was too busy to talk. Maybe I was the one on the other end of the phone in the stupid picture.

I had missed my chance to meet Lauren, and Simone never even told me when she was in town. I guess I wasn’t cool enough for her to admit she was friends with me to somebody like Lauren. Who was I kidding? A TV star wanting to hang out with me? We weren’t friends at all. I was somebody she ran to when she needed something. And Nick was probably humoring me until his new celebrity girlfriend called him back. I wanted to throw up all over the table.

An excerpt from INSURRECTION by Kadee Carder

“Oh,” I mouthed. “Well, I guess it will help pay all those bills.”
Amused, he glanced over at me again. “Right.”
“You know, for the leisurely tank ride. And to spend on your girlfriend.” I added the last part to see how he would react.
He took in an extra breath, releasing his arms to swing free by his side.
“Why didn’t you say anything about—”
“What, as if I am going to talk about Cadence during drills.”
“You didn’t say a word about her. Not that I care,” I appended the clause. “I guess I don’t know much about you or anyone else here, and I didn’t realize it until last night.”
“I don’t share details about my personal life with new recruits.”
“Well, I’m not a new recruit anymore, am I?” I asked.
“You are not.” We walked on, soft grasses underfoot. In the dark of the night, those crickets sang around us. I wanted to ask more questions, but hesitated, afraid he would snap again. I opened and closed my mouth to begin a few sentences but hesitated each time.
“What do you want to know?” Logan asked after several quiet minutes passed. “I can hear you flapping your gums. Might as well spit out the words before you drive me nuts.”
Talking Logan was back!
“Well, who is she?” I asked, sticking my hands in my pockets and navigating around a thick patch of muddy grass.
“Her name is Cadence.”
“Yes. Bullet point one.”
“Okay. Well. What?”
“What else? She has hair? Eyes? Likes to eat? She is not invisible, I presume?”
“She has a reflection in a mirror, if you were going to ask. She is gorgeous. Eyes like the wildflowers of a Texas spring.”
“How poetic.”
“What?” he demanded, looking at me, stopping short.
“Nothing. I haven’t seen wildflowers in Texas before, is all.”
Logan shook his head. “She has curly brown hair and bluishhazel eyes.”
“Well, see, simple answer.”
“Have you no art?” Logan chided.
“I thus art in mine soul,” I replied. I waved up to the milky galaxy above us. “And thou art art thus.”
Logan began stalking away. “I need coffee.”
“No. I’m ignoring you now,” he said over his shoulder.
I jumped through the high grasses, feeling devious, catching up to his stride. “What do you do with her?”
“What kind of question is that?” he asked.
“What do you do on this island? What can you do?”
“Oh, like, in our spare time?”
“Yeah. Like on a date. You can go on dates here, right?” I remembered Patricia’s words, spoken what seemed like years earlier, about the enforced old-fashioned mannerisms. Recalling Micah, sitting in a posture class, a burst of laughter escaped.
“Isla Barina offers a variety of memorable activities,” he said, sounding offended.
“No, I’m not laughing at what you think. So what do you do for fun? Can you have fun?”
“Hey, Mr. Serious, I’m new here.”
“We have a lot of fun.”
“Like, what do you do?”
“We go out to dinner, to the annual gala. She likes to shop. Sometimes I take her out on the boa—”
Logan cut short his sentence and paused midstep.
My wrist buzzed. The anomaly caught me off guard and I squinted at my Band, jaw dropping down to the needlelike grass beneath my feet. Logan prepared his X-11, searching the sky. “Get the lead out, Saylor,” he yelled.
The PBA alerted a weak incoming, nearby signal. Grabbing my X-11, I rolled the stiffness out of my shoulders, readying for the unexpected, my insides ready to leap onto the grass and flee.

Purchase for only $4.99 on your favorite e-reader:

Excerpt from SHE'S MINE

Caitlin pulled the door open, letting in the bright morning sunshine. Fluttering paper caught her eye—a note taped to the wood frame. Handwritten in bold black marker, the words sent a chill down her spine.

You don’t belong here.

Someone had lurked outside her front door and she hadn’t even heard. When had this note been left? Her gaze swept the surrounding area.

No one in sight.

She darted back inside, closed the door and threw the deadbolt. Who would leave such an ominous message? In the last ten years she hadn’t been home long enough to have made any enemies. And she hadn’t had time to antagonize anyone since arriving yesterday afternoon.

Except Sean Taggart.

The words were written in a careful, precise style. Hard to say if the author was a man or a woman. It was possible Sean Taggart wrote the note. But why? He seemed more amused than offended by her accusation yesterday. His wide grin flashed in her memory. A warm tingle tickled her belly as she recalled the feel of his strong arms catching her, saving her from a fall.

On the other hand, as Charlie Henderson’s nephew, he had almost as much claim on this farm as she did. The Henderson family had been using the land since before Grandpa died. Sean might not want her here, no matter how friendly he’d acted. Besides, a man wasn’t always what he seemed. She’d learned that the hard way.

Maybe it was a joke. A sick, twisted joke. Randy Henderson was capable of such perverted humor. In high school, he was the king of tired, clichéd pick-up lines. It would be like him to say something along the lines of, “You don’t belong here, you belong with me.”

A new current of fear jolted Caitlin’s nerves. She examined the note again, checking for the second half of the sentiment. The back of the paper was blank. Her last conversation with Adam echoed in her mind. “Stay with me, Caitlin,” Adam had said. “We belong together.” Could he have written the note?

No, she left him in Lynn. Adam had no reason to follow her here. Then again, he’d had no reason to sit in his car, parked across the street from her condo, all night Saturday. She’d made clear her lack of feelings for him. She moved two weeks early for that very reason, to put space between them.

The note couldn’t be from Adam.

A knock vibrated the door at her back. She squelched a yelp and peered out the door sidelight. Janelle Bartlett met her gaze and made a face, crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue. Caitlin let out a pent up breath, smiling as she opened the door.

“What’s with the deadbolt? This isn’t the city, you know, and it’s broad daylight.”

Caitlin suppressed a groan. She should’ve known Janelle would recognize the sound of the deadbolt unlocking. She crunched the note into a ball, hiding it in her hand. Janelle was her best friend but sometimes she went all mother hen. No need to give her a reason.

My excerpt is from One of Forty. Available for pre-order at Amazon for 99 cents.

Joshua knew Patricia well. Too well. That one week of dating had been enough to know they didn’t mesh, even if they did attend the same church. “Patricia has always believed fear is the best motivator for bringing people to the Lord.”

“Some of the church staff aren’t happy with her goal, but they won’t stop her.” Chloe took a swig of her coffee.

Joshua sliced another bite off the bun. “When are they ever happy with Patricia.”

“No matter what we think about her methods, the play is a powerful witness. We should invite people.” David the wise.

He was right. If Joshua really wanted to be a missionary, then inviting people to the play should be an easy task.

“You could invite, Jema—again.”

Leave it to Chloe to bring up Jema. She worked in the basement of Morgan’s as a file clerk. He’d invited her to church once since meeting her at an office get-together. She’d seemed so alone. She never sat with anyone at break time; she never talked to anyone in the halls. People passed her like she was invisible.

“I could.” He stirred his coffee. She would probably turn him down again. What would it take to reach her?

“She’ll probably turn him down again.” David unrolled the paper from his burrito. Not only did he eat constantly, but apparently he read minds.

Chloe smiled. “Probably, but I keep wondering when Joshua is going to turn on his charm.”

“Hmm, when do I hold back my charm?” He’d never been romantically interested in Jema. Maybe that was what she was looking for, a romantic relationship instead of a holy one.

Chloe covered her mouth. She giggled like a school girl, making both him and David laugh. The adorable snort had David coughing.

He was blessed to have such friends. If he left he’d miss them most. Them and his parents. What would he do without them?


Nina Warrenton checked her watch for the umpteenth time. He was late. On the one hand, she was thankful; on the other, she was annoyed. Who makes an appointment and shows up late? Granted living in the D.C. Metro area guaranteed multiple opportunities to be late, but she made an effort to arrive on time to any appointment. Too bad the unknown Mr. Williams didn’t hold the same virtue.

She sighed. Had she acted prematurely? Putting an ad for a husband was a little archaic, but she believed it would get the job done. However, none of the previous candidates had panned out. One man had been released from prison a couple of months ago. Another had answered her ad with the hope of moving out of his mother’s place. Still, another had answered her ad because the voices in his head had prompted him to. She shook her head.
Maybe the face that Mr. Williams was missing was God showing her he wasn’t the one. Maybe he was prematurely balding or had the personality of wilted lettuce. Of course, she had prayed that God would send her the right man, but there was no guarantee He would acquiesce to her request.
She tapped her pen on the table and looked around the room. The coffee shop was filled with D.C. metropolitans ready to embrace the autumn air. It was a gorgeous day with a light breeze and the preferred seventies temperature. Was it possible that Mr. Williams was already here and hiding behind a coffee mug or laptop, to secretly get a first impression without her noticing? She peeked around the shop, but she was the only one alone.

Twilight Christmas

Louis drew his hand back from his mama’s cheek. No matter how many times he shook her, cried out to her, begged her, she stayed cold and gray. No breath, no tears, no nothing.

He wanted the images of her blank eyes and her pale lips undone. Once upon a time, those lips had smiled around her snaggletooth, one just like his, but it would never catch or embarrass her again.

He wanted last night back. Last night she’d still been alive. Last night she hadn’t smelled funny.

He took a step away from her bed. He’d leave the empty pill bottle at her side and not even try to close her eyes like he’d seen them do on TV. The police would figure out how she’d died, what she’d taken, what had finally let her out of this life and her need to be a mother to them.

He bit hard on his lower lip. He would not get angry at how she’d left them, left him, to cope.

He didn’t hear Linney pad in and couldn’t stop her before she climbed up beside the mama who wasn’t there. As she reached a hand toward Mama’s cheek, he cried out. “No! Don’t touch.”

But she already had. A quick touch. A quick moan. A barely heard “Cold.” And then, “Ma . . . ma? Wake up,” said with the beginning of tears.

He called her to him, but she just sat there uncomprehending. He swiped at his nose. It kept leaking, like his eyes did, and his tears fogged up his glasses. He pulled them off, wiped them on his shirt, wiped his eyes with his hands, then stuck his too-loose frames back on his nose and tried to get control of himself. He had to stop acting like a baby so he could fix things. Soon as they found out his mama was dead, they’d come take him and Linney, and they’d put Linney one place and him another.

Just like last time.

“Come on. I’ll . . . I’ll fix your breakfast.” He reached for his sister’s hand. He could do this. He had to do this.

Linney looked once more at the body that wasn’t their mama anymore and trailed behind him to the kitchen area.

“Sit,” he said before he turned back to close the bedroom door, softly, as if anything else might wake the sleeping.

If only it would. If only it would.

He couldn’t think about that. Instead, he got out the sugared cereal Linney shouldn’t eat in spite of it being her favorite, filled a bowl with the last of it, poured in milk, and set it before her. She smiled brilliantly up at him.

He couldn’t eat a single thing. Not until he figured out what to do and how to fix this.

Mama kept her old suitcase stuffed with summer clothes ’cause the trailer didn’t have enough room for more drawers. He dragged it from behind the couch, opened it, and took out everything they didn’t need. Then he went to Linney’s room and got some warm things for her, then some for him. He stuffed those in and remembered he’d need plenty of pull-up diapers for his sister. And the wipe things, in case she had an accident. If she was scared or upset, accidents happened. Too many times. And he hated having to help her, now she was getting older.
It shouldn’t be him. It really shouldn’t.

But who else was there? Who else had there been most nights?

To make the pull-ups fit in the suitcase he had to take out some of his clothes, including his extra sweater. Linney needed more changes of clothes anyway. He could make do. He tried to decide which of his books he should bring. No way he wanted to get stupid just ’cause he couldn’t go to school anymore.
Then he checked around to see if he’d forgotten anything.

The cops would come hunting them if he left the trailer looking like this. While Linney watched, he put everything in order, the way Mama would have, before he sat down to write a note in his best cursive, copying Mama’s writing, fixing things so no one would come looking.
He’d wait until dark. Then he’d fill a sack with other things he’d need and figure out how to get him and Linney and their stuff to a good hiding place. He had time to figure it out.

Figuring out how to make Linney understand why Mama wasn’t in the body back there was gonna be harder. She’d never understand death, but she was a good girl. A four-year-old trapped in the body of a twelve-year-old but with none of the attitude he’d seen on other kids. Linney was the smilingest, happiest girl he knew.

And she was his responsibility.

He took out another piece of paper and tried to make a list of the hows and the wheres. He had to do this right if he was gonna fix things. Find a place, find a way, and use the time until dark to plan their future. He’d already emptied Mama’s hiding jar and counted out the bills. It was enough for now, but then what? Money and running out of it was his biggest fear.

Next to being found and having someone bad get Linney, like had happened to that other girl in special ed.