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)!!

Here's an excerpt from Jackal

The music came to a close, and Juliana joined them near the entrance, where they awaited a maid with his coat and the sisters' cloaks. Juliana's cheeks were rosy, and despite the fact she stood still, her toes continued to tap. "That was so much fun!"

ʺItʹs a good thing we didn't come here to find a husband for either Eudora or Eleanor.ʺ Rupert tried to convince himself he spoke in jest and not jealousy.

Her eyes widened as she peered from him to her sisters. He expected her to berate him for saying it. Instead she laughed. "It appears I completely bungled that one. It's not like me to forget myself so."

Eleanor gave her sister a quick hug. ʺYou were having a marvelous time. How could we begrudge you such fun? Besides, Eudora got to dance with a nice young gentleman.ʺ

"Oh?" Julianaʹs eyebrows climbed as she glanced at the older of her two sisters. "Does this gentleman have a name?"

ʺLucien." Eudora averted her eyes, and, much to his dismay, Rupert realized the girl was well on her way to developing a tendré for the young man. He hoped she would not be too terribly disappointed as the days came and went without young Mr. Fletcher coming to call. The last thing he needed was a hysterical female broken--‐‑hearted because sheʹd been used as a pawn so the minister could get some sort of message to him.

Go Back

Excerpt from "Incomplete" Book Two of the Insurrection Trilogy:

A gleaming grin slid across Tucker’s face, his eyes twinkling. “Felt good, didn’t it?” Those dimples spread in his cheeks, and my heart whirled a little jig in my chest. The chaos of the past few minutes dimmed in comparison to the way my heart began to rattle and tumble about against my ribs.
In a quick motion, Tucker reached for my cheek, cupping my face in his hands. We leaned closer, for a few seconds eternal and limitless, and our lips met in a feverish frenzy of excitement. Pulses raced. My insides did a little hopscotch game. His lips felt warm and soft and perfect. I slid my hand up to the back of his neck and leaned toward him, feeling the razor sharp line of hair, the warmth of his nearness paralyzing.
All noises dimmed and my inner ears popped, a whining buzz echoing behind my eyes. My blood bubbled, the microcomputers within scurrying for the signal to connect to the approaching enemy’s network.
Bent toward their purpose, the ANTs buried deep in my gut sought their prey. Surging backward away from the heat and the fire, I turned to the real battle. Scrambling to my feet, I whipped the glowing X-11 up to my shoulder.
Tucker grunted, following suit.
My helmet toppled to the ground, the headset thumping against the jacket padding my shoulder. Our silver weapons gleamed under the white light of the moon beaming down through the branches of the towering trees, the green and red neon lights on the handles blipping here and there.
A tardy Proximity Band Alert buzzed on my wrist while two oxinals zeroed in on our location. They sliced the black, misty night, following a translucent, dotted orange line, glimmering with a range of trajectories, headed first for Tucker’s frame. Apparently he was hotter than me. A tickling chuckle rose in my throat, because the oxinals and I agreed on that one thing.

INSURRECTION, INCOMPLETE, AND INDELIBLE available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and more!

From STEALING LIBERTY by Jennifer Froelich

I’m fascinated by stories of immigrants who came to America from all corners of the world, giving up everything just to step foot on these shores. Just like my grandparents. I read about what they sought. Freedom, opportunity, safety, peace.

“Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It’s from a poem once displayed at the Statue of Liberty, meant to welcome people to the land of the free, the home of the brave. It makes me sad, thinking how different everything is now.

I glance at Adam. He’s studying a vinyl album cover, reading lyrics, I suspect. We’re changing, every one of us, by what we read. It’s as if we have only existed in darkness before, with one light guiding us down a fixed path. Now we’re flooded with light, and it’s a prism, shining from a thousand angles, giving us perspectives in colors we never imagined.

Season of Hope (The Seasons Book One) by Sara Jane Jacobs
A coming-of-age inspirational romance available at

“Now that we’ve all let Amanda see our dresses, I’m ready to change into some jeans and tennis shoes. Did you bring that pop-up privacy tent you said that you had for us to change in?” she asked Linda.

“Yeah, it’s in the backseat. Want me to set it up for you?”

“I can do it,” Alexis volunteered, leaving the group to follow Debbie. “I want to change next. I need to get out of this push-up bra ASAP. It’s hard to breathe with this thing on.”

As soon as Alexis was out of earshot, Amanda leaned in to confide in her friends. “It’s kind of a surprise to see Alexis here.”

“Uh, yeah.” Maria looked over at Linda. “For us, too.”

“She literally chased us down in the parking lot and asked to come along,” Linda whispered. “I guess she ditched her date. I was about to tell her no when Debbie told her to jump in, laughing, ‘the more, the merrier’. I guess she’s planning to make her move on Tyler.”

“Yeah.” Amanda was ready to change the subject. “So tell me about the prom.”

The girls began to give her a review; from the decorations to the band, to who came with who. Amanda followed the conversation, casting an occasional glance in Tyler’s direction. What was it he wanted to tell me? She wondered.

Their friends had been so sweet to surprise them, but a part of her wanted to be alone with Tyler. Tomorrow afternoon her parents would be driving her to Knoxville to catch a plane for New York. They had decided to stay overnight, planning to leave early afternoon for some family time in Tennessee before Amanda left for the summer. How am I going to be able to tell him goodbye? She couldn’t breathe just thinking about it.

Turning to look at him again, his eyes met hers and they exchanged smiles. It felt as if everyone began to move in slow-motion around them. From out of nowhere, Alexis walked up to Tyler, blocking him from Amanda’s view. She ran her hand up the side of his arm and rested it on his shoulder, her body close to his as she whispered something in his ear. Amanda felt her smile fade as she stood there watching. Alexis stepped back to monitor Tyler’s response and flash her perfect white teeth at him. Amanda could see his face again. He looked at Alexis, smiled, and then shook his head. Alexis laughed, and Amanda heard her say, “Come on,” as she tried to pull him away from his friends.

Amanda’s heart sank. Why am I so jealous? I can’t control who he goes out with, or who he likes. Tyler looked over at her, but her smile had disappeared. She turned back to her friends, rejoining their conversation. Life was changing, and she could change with it or be miserable.

To Dance One More Day
Jillian lingered behind, thinking about her students. This was the best group of seven-year olds she had taught since opening the school. She enjoyed teaching all ages but this group was the highlight of her week. Sighing, she wondered if maybe it had something to do with the fact Lily would have been seven this year. Brushing the thought away, she moved to the piano and focused her attention on arranging the music for the dance company’s rehearsal the next night.
Her school of ballet was impressive but her dance company was her crowning glory. Expanding her lungs to their fullest she exhaled, feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment. The North Carolina Ballet Company, now in its fifth year of existence, continued to experience growing pains and would for several years to come. As they grew in number they also grew in depth and dimension, becoming a cohesive group of artists excited to tell many stories through dance. Their progress was measured by the reputation they enjoyed for offering professional performances to the surrounding communities.
“You have a good looking group of ballerinas, Jilly,” remarked David as he crossed the studio floor, followed by Alan.
The familiar voice brought a smile to her face. She had met David soon after moving to Charlotte when she was searching for a financial advisor. They had spent a lot of time together working on the financial end of setting up her school. When she took the plunge a year later, with David’s encouragement, and started the North Carolina Ballet Company, he was her biggest fan. Feeling she could trust him with her life, she was grateful he had accepted her invitation to be a part of the company’s initial board of directors.
Turning around at the sound of the tenor voice her eyes darted from her friend to the familiar form standing beside him. Her smile disappeared.
“You!” Jillian took a step back. “What are you doing here?”
“What’s wrong?” David’s gaze bounced back and forth between his friends. “Do you two know each other?”
Her eyes remained fixed on the doctor as if she were seeing him for the first time. He was tall, about six feet she estimated, with thick brown hair and he had the most gorgeous, deep set brown eyes. It was like looking into pools of chocolate and she was finding it hard not to stare. She shifted her gaze to her friend. “I recall seeing him at the hospital, after the explosion.”
“Oh, come on, Ms. Russell. I performed the surgery on your shoulder and I was your doctor for two days—until you fired me. And all you have to say is, ‘I recall seeing you’?”
“If memory serves it was a day and a half. And I’d prefer not talking about anything having to do with the explosion, if you don’t mind.”
“I see. Well, I hope your recovery is going well.”
“Yes it is thank you.”

Loved Jackal and Finding Hope! Checking out the other authors.

The Marked: Knight's Academy Book 1

YA Paranormal (Clean) Romance

She couldn’t think about what Milo had said.
As a tear fell down her cheek, she wiped it away and loaded her bow again. She took aim, and Milo walked directly in front of her target.
“Goodness, Milo!” she yelled, lowering her arrow and pulling her ear buds out of her ear. “I could’ve killed you!”
“I’m sorry. I tried to get your attention, but you were so focused.”
“I could’ve killed you,” she whispered. If she hadn’t been paying attention—she cut the thought off before she dwelt on it.
“But you didn’t.” A small smile crept to his lips.
“Don’t,” she said, putting the arrow into her quiver. She turned off her music and watched Milo walk toward her.
“You’re good,” he said.
“I’m okay.”
“And modest too.” He laughed nervously.
She knew he was only trying to alleviate her fears, but it wasn’t working.
“What do you want?” she snapped.
“You’ve been ignoring me.”
“I know.”
She rolled her headphones around her phone and slipped them in the pocket of her sweats. She needed something else to do. She had to keep busy, so she started walking toward the target to gather her remaining arrows, and Milo followed her.
“Myka. We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to.”
“But we have to. It’s important!”
“Milo. Listen. What you said, it can’t be true. I’ve never changed.” She whispered the word, almost choking on it.
“You will on your eighteenth birthday.”
“So you’re telling me I only have two months before my life completely changes?’
She gathered the arrows in her hand. Myka had a hard time believing the story he weaved. How could this be true? Werewolves and vampires didn’t exist.
Milo took her hand. “Myka. Please. You have to believe me. You’re in danger if you stay here.”
She shook her head and pulled her hand away. “What? Are werewolves and vampires mortal enemies?’
“Not exactly.”
She walked back toward her bags. Milo was right on her heels.
“Myka, this is serious!” he said when she didn’t respond.
She whipped around to face him. “Prove to me what you are and then we’ll talk.”
Milo stood only inches from her. He closed his eyes and said, “Watch my teeth.”
Myka thought he was being ridiculous until his canines began to grow. Myka stepped back, touching her neck. The memory of the marks underneath her bandage after the library incident came to mind, and the reality of what he said set in.
“You bit me in the library.”
Milo put his head down. “It was an accident. I’m so sorry, Myks.”

From my debut novel "Six Pack: Emergence"

It wasn’t often that Linda Russell walked alongside somebody. She always had to be the first one there. Hard not to do that now, because she never expected this opportunity. To perhaps become part of something special.

She tried not to take too many steps ahead of Tyler. After all, he was the one who knew the way to Roger’s house. Stacy and David were behind them while Brad and Jessica brought up the rear.

Linda glanced at Tyler. He didn’t appear excited. Was he trying not to look like it? Because she couldn’t stop smiling. Her heart skipped a few beats. He knew how much she admired him. She told him many times how much she appreciated his kind words, about how she could do whatever she wanted with her life. Just like he said to the others who made up what she called “our little six pack.”

If only she had heard such words of encouragement from her parents. She remembered sitting in front of the television when the president, governor or other leader gave a speech. Said how she could be a government leader someday. Yet, her parents seemed to dismiss it. Or tell her she needed to know her limitations. Same thing when she was fascinated with technology and how it worked. As a child, she imagined about inventing something new, but never could get her hands on materials to try. If she asked her parents, they told her not to worry about it.

Perhaps it was the Repose talking. Still, she longed to hear from somebody that she could be special. And there was Tyler, asking everyone to join him at Professor Roger Woods’ house. The opportunity was here – it must be. No way could she pass it up.

She looked back at Stacy and David. Stacy looked calm, and David showed no emotion. She remembered the day she first met Stacy. That girl was so grounded, patient and level-headed. Linda liked that Stacy would let her go on and on about whatever ideas she had and Stacy would sit back, listen for a while, before telling her to settle down. That would be when Linda realized she had been talking too much. But Stacy never got upset, never discouraged her.

David was sometimes hard to read. He said very little, seemed reluctant to be the best he could be. It wasn’t lack of effort, but perhaps it was lack of initiative.

Linda strained her gaze toward Brad and Jessica. Both seemed to have their doubts. She liked them both, but sometimes wondered if they needed to lighten up. Why did Brad have to be such a skeptic? Why did Jessica have to be so suspicious? This could be a great thing for everyone.

She turned to Tyler, who stared straight ahead. Although she had thanked him already, she couldn’t help herself.

“You know, Tyler, I just wanted to tell you how it awesome it was that you chose me to come along with you... well, that you chose all of us, of course, but I just think it’s cool that you trust me enough to tell me all these things you told us and...”

He gave her a funny look. Maybe she had said enough.

From Not my Idea (A Gentlemen of Misfortune, Book One)
By Bethany Swafford

Holding up my hand as though swearing a vow, I said, “I will be the model of a proper gentleman and treat her as my sister.”
“That’s hardly reassuring, Lucas. I’ve seen how you choose to tease your sisters.”
“All right, Father. I will treat her better than my sisters. But you didn’t summon me from my journeys just to tell me the family news, did you?”
Something in my father’s expression changed right before he glanced down at his papers. “There’s time enough for that later. You’ve only just arrived and haven’t even freshened yourself up from your journey. You must do so before your mother demands you dance attendance on her.”
“Oh, Mama won’t mind the smell of the stable, as she will undoubtedly smell of it herself before she dresses for dinner. I will just wait until then to get cleaned up. I did not get too dusty on the ride here.”
While Father was a superb horseman, it was Mother who had instilled the love of riding in me and my siblings. My fondest memory of her was of her on her horse, laughing at something said. She would rather be outdoors on the back of her beloved Sprite than sit by the fireside with needlework in her hand.
His lips flattened into something bordering on anger for only a second, but I didn’t miss it. “Is there something wrong, Father?” I asked, feeling the worry that had begun to subside come surging back.
“I’m afraid your mother took a tumble early this spring.”


Suddenly, Shane Smith, a gap-toothed boy with a wide grin on a face that lived for trouble, hopped up on the desk next to Amanda's. "What are you doing?" His voice dripped with amusement. He was always picking on her.
Amanda continued staring out the window, pretending to not hear him. A bird soared over the trees.
Shane followed her gaze. "I get it. You wish you were one of those birds so you could fly away too." Amanda continued to look away. But then he nudged her.
Her desk rocked, making a loud metal scraping sound. Everyone else was too busy running around and laughing to notice.
"They would probably understand you, the forest animals, coz we sure don't!" He laughed as loud as he could, drawing the attention of a few other classmates, who joined in on the laughing.
Amanda tried as hard as she could not to cry. She closed her eyes, hoping to block out the sound somehow. And then, strangely, the room became quiet. She slowly opened her eyes and peered around the classroom.
Gina, an angel-faced eleven-year-old girl with a menacing look, highly respected by all of her classmates, slowly entered the room. The rest of the kids instantly backed away, creating an aisle between the rows of desks. Everyone froze, even Shane, who was still sitting on top of the
desk. Gina made her way down the walkway, slowly, deliberately, her
jaw clenched.

From "Illuminating Days of Discovery"
"Days of... Series, Book 2" 

She leaned against the window frame and looked out into the darkness. Straining to see through the glare of the bright lights reflecting from within, she could just make out the sight of the snowflakes as they fell with a gentle hush. Lost in her thoughtful reverie she did not notice him walk up behind her.

“A penny for your thoughts,” he whispered in her ear as he slid his hands around her waist and rested his head against hers. He looked at her reflection in the window and smiled.

She closed her eyes, sighed, and let the feel of his touch wash over her. Opening her eyes she smiled at his reflection in the window. “First, a nickel for a kiss.”

He turned his head to kiss her on the temple. “And I won’t charge you; I’ll just tell you - I love you.”

The rhythm of the old eighties song reverberated in their thoughts.
Caroline shifted in his arms, leaning her back against the window frame, looking him full in the face. Smiling, she rested her hands on his forearms. “And I love you.” A faraway look clouded her eyes. “I was just thinking that I’ll miss having Mom and Dad here tonight. They would’ve enjoyed our announcement.”

A sad smile darkened Rick’s features. “I’ve thought the same thing. Kind of puts a little cloud over things a bit, doesn’t it? But, I choose to believe they’d be on board with this.”

They stood in reflective silence for a few moments, once again gazing out the window at the falling snow, his arm around her shoulder. Jazz music filtered through the home in the background, mixed with the laughter and chatter of friends.

It was New Year’s Eve and Rick, Caroline, and Jackson were hosting an intimate gathering for their singles small group and a handful of other friends. What their friends did not know was that Rick and Caroline planned to share some special news. What Jackson did not know was that his world was about to be knocked off-kilter