Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

June 21, 2017

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

Abby's Letters by Dana Romanin
YA Contemporary Fiction

Clark exhaled. “Anything for you, Janie.”
Oh. He had to pull out the nickname. It crushed her. Asking Clark to lie for her—she had never asked so much of him. It went against everything he believed in. She didn’t believe in all that Christian stuff, but he did. Keeping this secret would mean disrespecting his mother. It meant he would have to go against his beliefs.
Disrespect his God.
But his God wasn’t there for her, and He certainly wasn’t going to save Abby from foster care.
Jane would, though.
She entwined her fingers with his. He was so different than the little boy who’d played hide-and-seek with her on warm summer nights, back when her world was filled with her father’s laughter and her mother’s smiles. Now his muscle twitched in his strong jawline. What happened to the freckle-faced boy she had played G.I. Joe and Transformers with? He even had stubble.
“Thanks, Superman.”
“You’re the only one allowed to call me that.”
“And you’re the only one allowed to call me Janie.”
“This is too much. You can’t do this alone.” His thumb caressed her hand.
“I’m not. I have you.”

Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager


“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.

Here's an excerpt of my YA fantasy adventure, The MirrorMasters:


Barnes and Noble:

The cool water invigorated me as it splashed against my skin. I wiped my hands and patted my face dry with a towel, meeting my eyes in the mirror. In the florescent lighting, my complexion shone snow-pale, ghostly pale, even though I’d already started working on a "summer tan." It was a hopeless cause.

Jenny should have showed by now. Kevin should have, too. He didn’t have to babysit tonight. My nerves would ease, at least a little, once all my friends arrived. I wanted to hear Kevin say he didn’t notice anything strange by the cemetery. It would start there, if anywhere, and he lived the closest to it.

The lights flickered, then went out. Startled, I jumped. Darkness and the scent of cucumber-melon air freshener enveloped me. My breaths quickened. Limbs trembling, I groped for the light switch and managed to find it, but flicking it up and down did nothing. Midway toward the doorknob, my hand paused as a bright flash in the mirror caught my gaze. I froze.
Where was that light coming from? This bathroom didn’t have a window.

It was coming from the mirror.

Transfixed, I saw the images in fragments. A soft glow of white light amid the trees. A blonde girl struggling out on the church grounds to protect herself and her sister — the Stanford twins! — against a man with ice-blue eyes. Strange symbols on his weapon that flashed, faster and faster, and hummed, higher and higher in pitch until it emitted a burst of green energy. One sister crumpled, while a boy with those same ice-blue eyes chased the other into the woods.

Then a wave of a hand, and shattered glass reassembling itself. Lightning bolts of electricity from a dark, cloaked figure striking a brunette girl. Her body, small and slender, falling to the floor — Jenny?

A hole in the ground, surrounded by headstones.

I stepped back, toward implied safety. That did not just happen. Oh, blazes, it did. The last trace shadows of a freshly dug grave, now covered, lingered in the glass.

"What is that?" My voice sounded small and tight to my ears in this enclosed space. I rubbed my arms in a vain effort to warm myself. Goosebumps prickled all along them. Dread seized me, settling like lead in the pit of my stomach.

I blinked as the images disappeared, leaving me in complete blackness again. Heart pounding in my chest with a desperate need to escape, I fumbled for the doorknob, barely restraining the impulse to pound the door like a crazy person when my fingers failed to find it. Out in the game room, I heard the patio door slide open. Kevin said something to David and Kara, but his words were muffled, indistinct, worried. A jolt of fear shot through me. What if Kevin told them Jenny had been hurt — or worse — just like the mirror had shown?

"Leah, come on," David called.

"Coming!" My hand finally grasped the doorknob. When I turned it and pushed, the bathroom door wouldn’t budge. I pushed again, harder. The door still didn’t move. "Guys, wait! I’m stuck."

Their only reply was the sliding glass door slamming shut.

Sweet Surrender - a sweet, regency romance

~ Can a lost love be rekindled? ~


Julianna made a graceful curtsy and finally managed to raise her eyelashes and survey the room. It was not playacting that caused her sudden intake of breath as she saw her old beau again. In fact, it took all the force of will she possessed to keep her reaction within bounds. At that first brief encounter, she had been too surprised to take in his splendour. No one had told her the viscount had grown even more handsome in the ensuing years, the strength of his jawline more pronounced, and just the very slightest of grey at the temples in his nearly ebony hair. Forcing her jaw not to drop open in shock, Julianna felt her stomach flutter with nerves as she gripped tightly to her friend’s hand and tried not to cause an ill-bred scene in Catherine’s parlor.

Available from most ebook vendors, including Amazon:

~ Happy reading ~

Finding Hope by Lucie Ulrich

Tears leaked down Hope’s cheeks for the second time in the last half hour. In all likelihood, there were more to come. She swiped at them and took a calming breath. To her great surprise, Noah sat on the stone retaining wall on the opposite corner from the church’s parking lot. They were both twenty minutes early.

He stood when she approached. “Hi.”

“Hi. I didn’t expect to find you here this early, if at all.” She sat on the wall. “But I’m glad I did.” He lowered himself next to her. “Where’s your mom?”

“Home. I felt like walking. Alone.”

I get the impression I’ve caused trouble for the two of you.”

Tightness at the back of Hope’s throat accompanied the burning of her eyes. She refused to allow the tears to fall. “Mom shouldn’t have made you leave last night.”

“Please don’t be upset with your mother. I was wrong to mention Montana without talking to her about it. Neither of you really know me, so her concern is understandable. Don’t let my mistake be the cause of any friction. Until you’re of age, your mother is always going to have the final word. And if your mother is anything like mine, she’ll continue having her say for the rest of your life.” He smiled. “But that’s not such a bad thing.”

Great, the guy she figured would be on her side caved without putting up a fight. “I guess you don’t really want to get to know me after all.” She slid from the wall and stood in front of him. “No problem. I’ll forget this whole weekend ever happened.” She turned to walk away.

“You know that isn’t true.”

Hope spun around, heat blistering her cheeks. “Then why are you leaving without a fight?” Biting her lip didn’t keep the tears from falling.

“Come here.” Noah held out his hand. “Please.”

Refusing his hand, Hope plopped back onto the wall, her arms wrapped tightly about herself. She couldn’t look at him. This was proving to be the worst birthday ever.

“Looks like things haven’t turned out the way either of us had hoped for. I came here filled with excitement at the prospect of meeting you, and now my heart is breaking because our time together was so short.” He hooked his finger under her chin and forced her to face him. “But it’s also filled with joy because I never thought this day would happen.” He placed a hand on her cheek. “This isn’t the end, Hope. We have years of visits, letters, and phone calls ahead of us.”

The warmth of his hand, so reminiscent of her father’s touch, sent a jolt through Hope. She scooted back as guilt knotted her stomach. Was she secretly looking to replace her father? The thought of forgetting her dad made her nauseous. Her mother’s erratic behavior suddenly started to make sense.

"It was truly the most heartbreaking experiences I have ever had..."

From Muffins & Moonbeams

Malachi clicked on the mission, double checked that he had all the required equipment on board, and opened the map. He chose the first star system he’d need to visit and set the ship in motion. It wasn’t instantaneous transport, which made the game a little more fun. Things could go wrong en route. There were pirates for one, and the handful of people who were irked at him for beating them to prizes. Most of them got over it and remembered it was just a game. But there were others who needed a stiff dose of reality. He tried to steer clear.

“Started without me?” Scarlet Fire’s chat message popped up.

“Just barely. You can still join if you want.”

“Sounds good. I’ll beam in?”

“Perfect.” Malachi closed out of the armor customizing screen he’d been in and ran through the halls of his ship to the transportation hub. He verified that it was her and clicked to allow her to join the party. Her avatar materialized. He swallowed. It wasn’t as if he didn’t run into roughly the same avatar all the time—you could only customize your clothes and hair—but something about hers always made his heart stop. Which probably meant he needed to get a real life. “Welcome. We’ll hit the first system in about two minutes. How was your day?”

“Got a new client. Always a good day. Even better, they’re a referral from a previous client and they’re local.”

“Don’t you do web design? Why does local matter?”

“Doesn’t necessarily. But sometimes it helps if there are hiccups.” Her avatar’s hair color changed from bright red to blonde. “What do you think?”
“It’s different.”

“Is that good or bad? Was trying to go a little more real to life.” The hair changed back. “Maybe that’s not a good thing?”

She was a blonde. It didn’t fit his mental image. Not surprising as he’d essentially un-animated her avatar and dressed her in normal clothes when he was forming it. But...blonde worked, too. “No, I liked it. It just took me by surprise.”

“Don’t you ever want people to know the real you?”

He shook his head and tapped the keys to dock the star ship at the port where they’d find the first leg of their mission. The best part of online multi-player games was having the chance to be who he really was without first waiting for people to get over the fact that he was deaf. “Not really.”

A Spring of Weddings Collection
Ebook 99¢ until June 25th

Excerpt from A Proxy Wedding:
“You want me to do what?”
Carly James couldn’t believe her ears. She stared at her cellphone to ensure it wasn’t a prank call. One glance around her apartment told her Ashton Kutcher wouldn’t be jumping out to inform her she’d been pranked. Plus, the military phone number on the caller ID assured her it was her best friend, Brenda, calling.
“I want you to stand in for me at my wedding. You’ll be my proxy bride.”
“I’ve never even heard of such a thing.”
“It’s real simple. You say the vows as me and voilà, I’m married.”
Carly plopped down onto her oversized living room chair. Her head felt like she just jumped off a swing. “Why can’t you wait and plan a wedding like normal brides, Bren?”
“Because we both have orders that will only widen our separation. I’m headed to Alaska once this deployment’s done and Adam has orders to Japan.”
She bit her lip. That was a pretty far gap. Brenda had met Adam on a work trip to Las Vegas six months ago. Despite the fact they were only around each other for one month, it was enough for the two to bond and start a relationship. Now, they wanted to marry. She shook her head at the fastness of it all.
“So if I stand in for you,” she started cautiously. “The marriage will be legal and you can get your orders changed?”
Seems harmless enough. “Then only the bride has to have a proxy?”
Silence spanned the airwaves.
“Bren, are you still there?”
“Yes, I am. I, uh…the answer is no.”
“No?” Incredulity filled her voice. “What does that mean?”
“It means Adam should be having this same conversation with his best friend. We want both of you to stand in for us.”
Carly groaned. This had trouble written all over it.
“And I might as well tell you, it needs to happen in Montana.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“Carls,” Brenda whined, using her nickname. “Montana is the only state that does a double proxy wedding. We could have hired a service to take care of all the necessary paperwork, but that just seems so impersonal. We want it to be special even if we won’t be together when it happens.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. This was not happening. Had she rolled out of bed only to land in some alternate universe?

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


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.