Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

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)!!


Just Dessert - Click to Buy

Seventeen year old Mary Fitzgerald stepped up next to the deacon, a beautiful looking strawberry pie in her hands. Today was the day she started taking lasting steps to protect her family. Pa was passed out at home, having drunk so much there was no way he would be waking up to come to the festivities at the church today.

She had been taking care of and protecting her younger brothers and sisters, the four of them, as far back as she could remember, but her pa was getting meaner and nastier with each passing year. Her brothers were getting angrier and more volatile, too. It was important to get them all out from under Pa's thumb before her brothers were ruined for life, sentenced to turn into men like their pa.

Hoping to find a man willing to wed her and take her brothers and sisters in, too, Mary had entered herself in the dessert auction at a picnic hosted by the church. The auction was one of many events at the picnic, but it was the only one in which Mary was interested. Only eligible men were allowed to bid, and she hoped to use the auction to find a husband. How old, ugly or poor – Mary didn't care as long as he didn't beat or terrorize them. That was her highest hope, to find a man who did not cause her to cower, who did not break her bones, who would not harm her brothers and sisters. She had poured all her hopes for escape into making this pie to help her find a husband. Harboring no illusions about love, Mary didn't even really care if the man was kind; she only needed him not to be too terrible.

As the diminutive deacon with thinning grey hair was about to begin the bidding, Mary glanced up. Fear grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed so tight she thought she might faint right there. Neither the sea of curious faces nor the beautiful blue Idaho sky drew her attention. Pa was coming, and he looked madder'n a hot, hungry bull. Mary couldn't move. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps as she tried to stay conscious. She was terrified of this man. They had been so certain Pa would stay passed out all day, that he wouldn't be able to discover their plan until it was too late. The kids had all dressed in their finest clothes and promised to be on their best behavior – no small feat for the boys – and now here came Pa, ruining their chance for escape.

The deacon had not seen Mr. Fitzgerald yet and was taking a big breath in preparation to start the bidding. His mouth was still open, sucking in air, when the bellow came from the back of the crowd, "That's my young'un and ain't nobody biddin' on her pie! I ain't raisin' no harlot to get paid for her favors!"

Go Back

Jan Elder
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Moosed Opportunities

Apollo yipped one last time and back-peddled toward Eric’s waiting fingers. At last.

And then the deer at the crest of the hill pawed at the crunchy snow. Her mate joined her, a splendid twelve-point buck with an impressive rack, shaking his head, twin plumes of steam streaming from his nostrils. The canine couldn’t help himself. He launched onto the frozen expanse, tiny legs propelling him like a windmill in a gale. A few feet out, the dog lost his footing on the slippery snow-covered ice. Landing on his stomach, legs all akimbo, the brownish-red missile rocketed straight for a thin spot in the ice on the other side of the stream.

With only a split second of indecision, Eric flung himself off the bank, half-skating on the ice, the breeze stinging his ears as he zipped forward. If he had any hope of catching that bundle of fur, he was going to have to slide. If a full-grown deer could make it across…

The ice creaked, but it held fast. Thankfully, he was gaining on the dog. Halfway across the river, he caught up to Apollo and grabbed his collar with his right hand. They kept sliding. They were going to make it.

Crack! The ice on the other side of the stream gave way and he plunged into the frigid water, his breath whooshing from his lungs. The animal slithered from his grasp as Eric fought to keep his head above water.

Apollo’s soft brown eyes grew impossibly large as he bobbed to the surface a few feet away. Before Eric’s frightened dog could be carried away by the loosed current, he managed to grab onto the leather collar, hauling the animal to his upper body.

Water swirled around them. He kicked his legs to bring them to shore, grateful he only had to push against the current a few more feet before he was able to stand. His sodden cold-weather clothes weighed him down, but he stumbled through the cripplingly cold water, laboring each step of the way, his boots as heavy as if he had a brick strapped to each foot.

The poor dog whimpered and Eric clutched him closer as he stumbled onto land. “It’s okay, boy. We’re safe now.”

His gaze traveled up the hill. An entire herd of deer gaped at him. “Lotta help you guys were.”

He crashed down on a log and surveyed his soaking body, chest heaving. No doubt about it, he was in a pickle.

BUILDING BENJAMIN: Naomi's Journey: Biblical fiction from Judges 19-21-stealing the girls from Shiloh.

"You stole me from Shiloh at an elder’s urging?"

Her voice squeaked with outrage. How could the elders have betrayed the daughters of Ephraim? Surely her father was unaware of the raid. No word had passed through the streets of Shiloh, or Cuzbi would have heard the gossip.

"I took a daughter, not a son." He spoke like he selected spices in the marketplace. "If you are of an age to dance, you are of an age to be chosen by a man."

"Not a Benjamite!"‛ Her skin burned hotter than a cooking fire.

Eliab dismounted. "What were we to do when all the tribes vowed not to give their daughters to the lowly Benjamites?" His mocking tone grew harsh. She bristled at his insult to his own people. Back and forth he paced. "No man in Ephraim broke his oath to the elders, or to God. No one gave you to me. That is why our raid was in secret." He strode toward her as if he would plow straight through the mule. His feet halted in front of where she sat, and he held out his hand. "Get down and walk with me."

Was he in his right mind? He talked of her capture as if it did her father a favor and then asked her to accompany him using the voice of a suitor.

"You are mad." She shimmied forward on the mule and farther from his reach.

"I’m mad? If you scoot any higher on that mule, you will ride on its neck."

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Excerpt from "Watching Amy"

“The accelerator's mostly underground,” Amy's dad explained. “I actually helped to design it.”
He pulled out his access card and slid it through a slot in the door, and Amy heard a click as it unlocked. Amy’s dad led her down some stairs and into a large chamber. If Amy's friends had thought that her dad’s lab was impressive, she wished they could see this place. There were so many pipes, wires, lights, levers, computer screens, and other mechanical equipment that Darren would probably have believed that he was standing in the control room of an alien space ship.
“Wow,” was all she could manage. Her dad actually understood what all of this did?
“Don’t touch anything, honey.” Amy didn’t intend to.
Her father immediately focused on a section of the equipment where a number of red lights were lit. “The problem seems to be over here. This is where we store the materials from which we harvest the particles for the accelerator. I’ve been experimenting with different source materials.” He examined the section of machinery closely for several minutes. “Hm. I’m not sure what the trouble is. Maybe you can help me, Amy.”
Her dad was obviously joking with her, but she played along. “Sure, Dad. What do you want me to do?”
He pointed at a section of the machine. “Just keep an eye on these lights for me while I check the readings. I’m going to log into a console and try to figure out what the problem is, and you can tell me if anything changes over here. Pay special attention to those red lights. We want them to turn off.”
Her dad moved across the room to a console and started typing commands into the keyboard. Amy stared at the red lights, trying to use her own willpower to make them turn off. It didn’t work.
“That’s strange,” her father said, talking to himself. “It’s showing a pressure build up. There’s no reason for that to happen.”
“Dad,” Amy called, her voice sounding nervous even to her own ears, “some more red lights just came on. One of them is blinking.”
“It’s all right, honey. Just hold on,” her dad called back. “I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong. I should have it in just a second. Keep me updated.” He started mumbling something about the maintenance workers that Amy couldn’t make out.
There were several pipes in the equipment in front of Amy, and now she started to hear a soft whistling sound coming from one of them. More red lights blinked on. And then, an alarm began to blare inside of the chamber. It was loud enough to hurt her ears. A feeling of panic began to rise inside of her. Something was horribly wrong here.
The last thing Amy heard was her father’s voice. “Amy— get away from there. Now!”
And then something lifted her off of the ground and flung her backwards across the room. She felt a flash of intense heat, and then a sharp pain as the back of her head hit something solid.
Everything went black.



“Nice to meet you, Lainey.” He flashed a charming smile and settled against the rail. My heart skipped a beat. “What brings you to Puerto Rico?” He casually folded his arms in front of his toned chest.

“We’re celebrating my birthday.”

“Happy birthday.” The cheerful sincerity of his voice coaxed my fake smile into a genuine one.

“Thanks. How about you? What brings you on vacation?” I struggled to keep from getting lost in his eyes. They were an enticing shade of deep blue surrounded by thick, dark lashes and sparkled when he spoke. The longer I looked at them, the more they seemed vaguely familiar. I searched my memory but came up empty.

“My favorite band kicked off their latest tour here. I talked my cousin into coming with me. His girlfriend and her friend decided to come, too, so we made a vacation out of it.”

I nodded, trying to be polite. Except I realized that right here, standing in front of me, was a single man. This was my chance to prove to the matchmakers that I could find and have conversations with eligible bachelors all on my own.

I shot a quick side-long glance to make sure my friends were watching this, then I leaned in and focused all of my attention on our stranger’s beautiful eyes. They were going to be so proud of me. “Sounds like fun. Where do you call home?”

“Washington, D.C., I’m an economist for the State Department. You?”
“Texas. Dallas and Austin,” I said, pointing to myself and Kara first and then Reece.

“I love Texas,” Carter said. “I went to graduate school in a small town in west Texas. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Lubbock?”

“You went to Texas Tech? That’s where Reece and I got our undergrads.”

“No kidding? I wonder if we were there at the same time.”
As it turned out, we were.

“What a small world,” he said. “I was a graduate teaching assistant while I was there. I taught entry level macroeconomics.”

And with that, a light bulb went off, and I knew exactly why those eyes looked so familiar.

Returning Home


Evan Carter stared at his girlfriend, admiring her beauty. Brenda’s pixie haircut framed her pretty face and a soft smile graced her lips. She wore charm and gentleness like a cloak, as she gracefully changed lanes. She drove his new Altima like it was made for her.
He loved that Brenda suited every aspect of his life. She was a slam dunk in the girlfriend department. He ran his fingers over the velvet box in his pocket. Tonight was the night. The restaurant staff had been informed of his plans. With their help, his proposal would be flawless.
“Should I adjust the temp?” he asked.
“I’m good, sweetie,” she smiled at him, then quickly faced forward again.
Brenda would make the best high-school coach’s wife. His students loved her and, she loved basketball as much as he did. It was so easy to be with her.
“Evan, you made the perfect choice. This car is so quiet. I can’t believe we can’t hear the outside noise.”
“I know. That’s what sold me.” He pointed up ahead. “Make a right at the light.” He hadn’t revealed their dinner location. If he didn’t pay close attention, they’d miss a turn.
“Are you sure you don’t want to tell me where we’re going?”
“I’m sure. I still think you should have let me drive. Then it would really be a surprise.”
She laughed. “Of course, it would have been better, but I’ve been itching to get behind the wheel ever since you bought it.”
“Well now—”
A black truck swerve in and out of their lane.
“Baby, slow down. Watch out for that truck!”
There was nowhere to pull over, no way to avoid the impending collision. The two-lane road had no shoulder and the truck was picking up speed.
The black truck righted itself. Before Evan could even sigh in relief, the truck corrected, ending up in their lane, headed straight for them.
They were going to collide.
Evan held his breath, clenched his eyes, and braced for impact. Brenda’s scream pierced the air, but it seemed far away. His seat belt locked tight as the car came to an abrupt stop.
A weight dropped onto his leg. Pain exploded, smoke filled his nose. His body struggled to make sense of what happened. Finally, he closed his eyes and gave in to the darkness.