Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

header photo

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 DateClick to Buy

Kimi pretended to organize her muffin assortment as Dr. No-Name approached. She could set her clock by him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:05 in the morning, he came for his large half-caff triple nonfat medium whip white mocha. Even though she knew what he would order, she waited for him to arrive. One day not too long ago, she’d started his drink as soon as he’d stepped into view. She’d had the steaming beverage ready and waiting for him. The poor guy had been so flustered he’d knocked over the fruit basket and taken out half the cookie display in the process.

She’d learned an important lesson that day. Two, really. Patience paid off. And some people don’t handle change well.

Dr. No-Name glanced to the side and tripped over a covered cable that ran along the floor. He kicked the toe of his loafer into the top of the cable’s molded rubber protector, lost his balance, hopped a couple of times on his left foot, swung his arms like a grade-schooler doing the windmill in PE, and finally got his right shoe back down on the ground. Despite the theatrical gymnastics, nobody but her appeared to be watching the show. She had to give him points for the landing. Not a brown hair on his head was out of place, and his lab coat hung from his shoulders with straight lines in complete denial of its recent whirlwind of activity.

The same cable had been positioned across that floor for as long as Kimi could remember. The doctor had to know it, too, but unless his eyes were trained directly on it, he seemed to forget. She’d witnessed his footwork often enough to realize that much, at least.

Kimi turned her back on him lest he catch her spying. Despite his oddities, she enjoyed Dr. No-Name’s visits to her kiosk and didn’t want to scare him off by staring or — heaven forbid — laughing.

“Um, excuse me.”

She turned around, her smile in place and hopefully no pity in her eyes. “Good morning! The usual?”

Dr. No-Name nodded. Most doctors wore their name embroidered on their official white lab coats, but not this one. Plain white, no fancy frills, and no embroidery. Either he wasn’t important enough for a name on his coat or he was humble enough not to care. She secretly hoped it was the latter.

Kimi set to work on his drink and tried to make conversation. “You always order a triple shot, but you want half-caff. Most people who want to go easy on the caffeine avoid the triple.”

She caught his shrug out of the corner of her eye. Getting this guy to talk was harder than pulling a barking dog’s molars with a pair of tweezers.


Go Back

From Reality Break (Phoenix Element #3):

“Do you feel anything? Like anything magical?”

Kasiff takes a few moments for himself. He becomes lost in his thoughts. He bends down to grab sand in his right hand. It pours out slowly as Kasiff stands.

I shiver. Partly due to the fast decline of the temperature.

Kasiff's voice is just above a whisper. “I could see all of the shacks, including mine. The lake would go on forever, teasing the sun. To the right of me, in the distance, stood the temple where I learned to be one with the Rayasha. It was a place of learning and sacrifice. All who lived there were there for the same reason. I never felt different but now that I reflect, I know, they were here.”

“You mean the Rayasha?”

“Yes. I can feel their lingering presence.”

Kasiff touches the ground once again. I take a closer look at his hands, they are shaking slightly.

“Are you okay?”

“This place reminds me of Zerron. The one from a lifelong passed. I am so sorry that I wasn't able to save it. And I am sorry that they did not intervene. They could have prevented Zerron's destruction. What could be so important that the Rayasha declined to assist?”

I wait for Kasiff to stand. I allow him the minutes of silence that he needs in order to look upon his past for, hopefully, some answers.

“We need to either find what we are looking for, or at least a place to stay until morning,” I say, lacking the words that could comfort Kasiff.

He starts walking ahead of me. “I don’t want to lose this feeling. I'm sure it will lead me.”

I rush up to Kasiff and I grab the book from his arm. Doing my best to walk and read, I locate the entrance to the newest dig site. “Says here it isn't open to the public.”

He says nothing.

“Don't you go back into yourself,” I say, grabbing him by the shoulders with my free hand. “This is why I came with you. If you want to try to get in, might as well be night. But you need to stay with me, okay?”

The Duke Conspiracy - a sweet, regency romance
~ A spying debutante, a duke, and a conspiracy. Can love be found despite their feud? ~


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.

Available wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon:

~ Happy Reading :-) ~

from "Casting in Stone"

I was just starting to gut the last fish when the door opened and Arlais came out. To her credit, when she came up to me, she did not sniff or recoil from the mess on the ground.

Indeed, she looked pale and shamefaced. I tried to pretend my eyes were all for my fish. It seemed even more to me now that she was a poor target for my demons: an untried girl sent to do some task and terrified of doing it wrong.

“Lord Guerin says I am to apologize,” she said in a small voice.

“Really? And you listened to him? I never do.”

She made a small sound somewhere between a snort and a giggle.

“Is it true, what you said?”

“She wanted to be a priestess,” I said, after a moment. “She seemed meant for it, all her life. And he took that from her. At least, she believed so.”

“No one at Braide ever said…” Her voice trailed off.

“Well,” I pointed out, “it made a better tale, the way they told it. More like what the bards sing of, anyway.”

She could have just gone in then. I wouldn’t have minded. This wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have.

But Arlais, having decided I was not, after all, one of the Dark Incarnates personified, was on a bit of a private mission here.

“They say you are the best swordhand in all Keraine. That you never lose. That you can kill without thinking. Is it true?” She was looking me over with a critical eye.

“Does it truly matter to you to know?”

She said, “You aren’t as tall as some. You don’t look stronger than anyone else your size. Are you just faster? Or know more tricks?”

I smiled. “I do know a few tricks, but that isn’t why. Or at least, it isn’t the main reason.”

“Well, then?”

I let the smile fade. “Most people define winning and losing differently than I do, that’s all.”

Arlais frowned. “What does that mean?”

“Look you,” I said. “Every person I have ever fought defined winning as my death, and their life. Every other person in a dueling ring or on a battlefield measures their success by the fact that they are alive at the end of it. They define their loss by their death. And I don’t. I define success only by my opponent’s death. That’s all.”

“I still don’t –“

“I don’t mind if I die,” I said flatly. “As long as they’re dead, I’ve won. My own life can end as well, I don’t mind.” I paused. She looked quite shocked. “You would not believe the number of options that gives me in a fight.”

Buy link:

Night fell over BWH as my second brain surgery was about to begin...
Free to KU members!

Competing with the Star (PG young adult fiction) by Krysten Lindsay Hager


Then the most beautiful sound in the world came along—the final bell. I grabbed my bag and rushed out the door to my locker, where I ran into Reagan O’Hara, Nick’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend.

“Watch where you’re going, spaz,” she said, glaring at me. “Exactly where are you in such a hurry to get to anyway? I can’t imagine that you’d have plans.”

I could have said, “Off to meet my boyfriend, you know, the guy you used to badmouth me to,” but no, I took the high road and said, “Excuse me,” and kept going.

“Whatever, loser,” she said.

My shoulders tensed. As I tried to ignore her and tell myself it was just jealousy, I couldn’t pretend that her words didn’t hurt. I had been considered kind of a loser at my old school in Goodacre. I had had one super close best friend who I did everything with, Lexi Irvin, and when she moved to Dallas, it was as if I had been abandoned. So yeah, I had felt like a complete loser in Goodacre, but now I was here in Grand Haven, with new friends and a new positive outlook on life. I had a new best friend, Charlotte Lidstrom, and had become friends with former teen TV star Simone Hendrickson and her best friend, Asia Milanowski.

It could be intimidating hanging out with Simone since she was popular, pretty, and famous. Sometimes I felt invisible next to her, and unfortunately, hanging with Simone sometimes meant spending time with people like Reagan or Simone’s other friends, Pilar Ito and Morgan Kemp. Morgan was the ultimate mean girl. I swear, even if she told me she loved my outfit and was hooked up to a lie detector test saying she was telling the truth, I still wouldn’t want to risk it and I’d go home and change. But today I was not going to worry about Morgan, Reagan, or any of that. I was just going to focus on my first date with Nick.

Until I rounded the corner and ran into Simone, who was waiting for me at my locker with Morgan and Pilar.

“Hey, Hadley,” Simone said. “Wanted to return your lucky bracelet. Let’s hope it helped me pass my math test.”

She handed me my heart and natural stone charm bracelet and I slid it on my wrist. Morgan looked down at my hands and made a face.

“Why are you wearing such dark nail polish?” she asked me.

My face got warm. “I thought the color was pretty when I saw it in the store. I’ve never seen this shade of purple with so much blue in it.”

“Guys aren’t into weird nail polish colors,” Morgan said as she fluffed her long curly blonde hair with her red polished fingers.

Great, so even my nail polish was wrong. Could I do anything right?

“Here comes Nick,” Pilar said, and the girls all got quiet.

“Hey, guys,” he said, coming up and nodding at them. I started to curl my fingers under so he wouldn’t notice my dark polish—the color that up until a few minutes ago I thought was unique and beautiful was now making me feel like a little oddball.

“Cool color,” Nick said.


“I like the blue. It’s very you,” he said, and then he reached over and intertwined his fingers with mine. Take that, you dark nail polish haters.

“So are we all heading over to Scoops together?” he asked.

Simone played with a strand of her long blonde hair, but didn’t say a thing.

“Yup, we thought we’d go over with you guys,” Morgan said, smiling up at him with her gleaming white teeth.

Wait, what? No, not cool. This was our first date and I knew I’d feel awkward talking to him around a group—a group judging me on what I said, did, and apparently even the colors I wore.

My sample is from One of Forty, available on Amazon for 99 cents until December 11th.

“What are you doing here?” She pushed Jacie farther inside and pulled the door to. Her heart couldn’t pump any faster. What was he doing at her apartment? Where had he come from?

He frowned and scratched the spot between his brows. His perfectly shaped brows. She hadn’t expected to see him again so soon and definitely not at her home. This was a disaster. What did he think of the rundown building?

“I was asked to pick you up for work.”

She placed her hand on her jutted hip. This time he cocked his brow. She should relax. Wait a minute. What had he said?

She let her arms hang by her sides. “Who asked you?” The prayer that she’d muttered before bed raced through her mind.

“Mrs. Manis asked me. We go to church together.”

Beverly asked him? But she hadn’t asked Beverly to do that. She’d barely even mentioned his name. It had to be the prayer… But God didn’t listen to her. She knew so.

The door opened. Jacie tugged on her skirt. “Mommy?”

Melody squatted. “Yes, dear?”

“Is Belfry coming?”

Beverly may have gone over her head in finding her a ride, but it had also been an answer to prayer. Which seemed odd to think about. Besides, she was all dressed up.

“I’m sure she’ll be here any minute, baby. Just go sit at the table and color while you wait.”

“Ok.” She hummed and skipped away.

“Sorry. I would have called ahead, but I didn’t have your number.”

Melody rose and stared at her visitor. The light blue shirt made his blue tie look darker. The suit jacket hung open, showing a trim waistline. He probably worked out.

“D-don’t be. I appreciate the offer.” She looked at Jacie because she had to look away from him. “Do we have a few minutes?”

He glanced at his watch. “Maybe five?”

She nodded and went inside. Briefcase—she needed her briefcase. Sweater over her forearm, briefcase in hand, she settled on a chair arm and massaged her forehead. Nerves tightened her stomach. She’d forgotten to close the door. Now Joshua leaned against the door facing. She hadn’t invited him in, and he hadn’t entered, but he could still see her place. Would he notice if she groaned aloud? Probably.