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 a look at His Saving Grace

Repeating all the terrible things her father had said to her made Grace cry even harder. Feelings of rejection and disbelief swirled through her. Her father, while at times eccentric, had never before said anything so cruel to her. The kerchief, now sodden, did little good.

That was when she felt Thomas's arms wrap around her in a hug. "It'll work out, Gracie. I don't know why your father would have said such things to you, but you can't let his words get you down. They're not even true. You have a perfectly sized mouth, a delightful smile, and… well, I'm sure everything else is fine, too."

Grace soaked in Thomas's warmth. She sighed into his waistcoat and said, "I appreciate the kind words, Thomas, but you shouldn't be in here alone with me. We both know that."

Thomas, his voice light, said, "It was in here with you or out there with the barracudas. I think I'm safer right where I am."

Grace didn't pull out of his comforting hug as she knew she ought to. Instead she said, "I've spent my whole life in Stafford Shire and have never even been to London before. All I'm asking for is one season. If I wait much longer, I'll be completely on the shelf, and no decent man will even consider marrying me. My father has doomed me to the life of being some man's courtesan!"

"You've been reading the newspaper again, haven't you?" She felt the warm rumble of his chuckle against her cheek. "You shouldn't even know words like that. If your parents knew you were reading those rags, they'd have your hide."

Grace's tears had quieted and were slowly being replaced by hiccups. Just as Thomas began to release her from his friendly hold, the library door opened with a loud bang.

"What the devil is going on in here?" demanded Lady Appleton.

Grace jumped out of Thomas's arms and said, "It's not what you th—ink." The hiccups were gaining momentum. "I was up—set. Thomas found me, and I was—crying. He was simply be—ing kind."

The skin on Lady Appleton's florid face jiggled as she shouted, "Not only are you in a room with a man unchaperoned, but you were in an embrace!" Her gown truly was the most awful color. It was somewhere between green and brown, like a plant that had withered and died. To make the ensemble worse, she looked as if she were wearing an entire peacock atop her piled hair.

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Drew dropped into the overstuffed mauve sofa in a darkened corner of the lobby and pulled his black suit jacket tighter around him. The snow raged horizontally outside the picture window, obscuring the parking lot, and even the street lights. He swallowed the lump of sadness, noticing his throat was sore. He felt his forehead. A little warmer than usual. His mind swirled like the snow.

I endured another funeral. I plowed through drifts and blinding snow. I kept my eyes on the road to out-run reality, but I can’t. Kendra is gone and she’s not coming back. I’ve accepted that, so why does it still hurt?

Drew looked at his ring and twisted it around and around his finger. He had fumbled with the ring millions of times over the past year, yet he never pulled it past the middle knuckle. He knew it would slide off easily because of his weight loss. But this time, he pulled the ring over the knuckle, paused, and slid it off. He stared at it in the palm of his trembling hand and squinted at their wedding date engraved on the inside. Taking a deep breath, he slipped the ring into his jacket’s front pocket. Nausea and a chill swept through him. He dug it out and slid it on his finger. A moment later, he removed the ring again, and put it in the inside pocket of his jacket. He patted it a couple of times to feel its presence against his throbbing heart. The wind moaned and he again shivered. If there was an afghan on the couch he would have pulled it over his head.

He had never been to a funeral for a suicide. It was such a selfish way to die. Yet he understood the despondency. The difference was hope. God, where is the hope everyone keeps talking about? What is hope? I’m not even sure anymore. Show me hope, or at least a little something to hang on to.

His mind wandered from image to image: Russell’s eyes, Chris lost in the crowd, the closed casket. Tears were so close to the surface that he feared one blink would open the floodgates.

“Drew?” The dim hallway light cast a halo around Allison’s head. He couldn’t see her face, but the white blouse accenting the black suit was luminous in the semi-darkness.

-- Embracing Hope

The Reluctant Debutante - a sweet, regency romance

~ Are the possibilities worth the price? ~

Available from Amazon: Free on KU


“Who is that ravishing creature entering the devil’s lair?” Bryghton Alcott, the fifth Duke of Wychwood, asked his friend, his gaze arrested by the slender figure climbing the stairs to a midsize townhouse as they rode past.

Turning in his saddle to gape at the young woman, Lord Lynster grinned, thrilled to know something his powerful friend did not. He turned back to face the duke. “You don’t know who that is?”

“Would I be asking you if I knew?” Bryghton said, with a wry twist to his lips.
His left eyebrow tilted at a somewhat haughty angle, the young baron finally answered with a touch of dramatic flair, “That, my good fellow, is the devil’s niece, Lady Victoria Bartley.”

“Really?” the duke asked, incredulity now echoed in his voice. “How did I not know that the devil had a niece? Surely this information could be used to my advantage.”

“I have no idea how you could have researched your enemy so thoroughly and yet not know that he is living in his niece’s house. I never thought to mention it since it seemed to be a matter of common knowledge. Of course, the lady was a child when the devil inherited her father’s title, so I suppose you took no note of her existence.”

Alcott’s face held a far-away expression for a few moments before his gaze sharpened on his friend’s face. “You said the devil is living in her house. What do you mean?”

“The earl only inherited what was entailed. The previous earl doted on his only child and left everything that was unentailed to his daughter, including the London townhouse we just rode past. The new earl, the young lady’s uncle, is her guardian until she gains control of her own fortune. As such, he and his family live with Lady Victoria when they are in Town. She lives with them in her former home when they are in the country.” Alfred, Lord Lynster, “Fred” to his friends, looked at Bryghton with a touch of anxiety, unsure of how his friend would use this information to his advantage. “The young woman faced much tragedy at a tender age, losing both her parents in that terrible carriage accident that made the devil the earl.”

“Yes, and no doubt she could use a friend, being stuck in the same house with Bartley and his family as she is,” concurred the duke, his handsome face darkened by a sinister cast.

Buy it now on Amazon:

Free for a short time, A Treasure to Die For.

For several months now, I’ve been thinking of ways to commit the perfect murder. It’s not that I’m a violent man, or I’d own a Doberman instead of a Golden Retriever. No, it’s because after I inadvertently solved a couple of murders, I thought I might try to write a murder mystery. Well, to be fair, Fred should get most of the credit for finding those killers, but I did help. He’s great when it comes to fetching rocks and sticks, but really sucks at speaking, so together we make a pretty good team, like Scooby Doo and Shaggy.
Fortunately for Evanovich and Patterson, I couldn’t get past the first chapter of my book. Good writers need to get into the heads of their characters and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would want to kill another human being. All that changed the day Shelia’s boyfriend tried to kill Fred.
My brief journey into the dark side started like most days when I was between jobs, which lately, was far too often. Fred and I would spend half our morning walking around Evergreen Lake where a normal forty-five minute walk takes a couple hours if I let him swim and retrieve sticks. Little did I know then that I was about to get involved in a real murder.

Here's a glimpse of the Atherton siblings.

The Seven Days of Christmas

The sound of Jackson’s phone invaded their quiet reverie.

“Hey, brother, what’s up?” He paused briefly. “Well, I’m ready to walk out the door, but someone is still in her PJs.” He shot a sassy look at Caroline. “Well, you might think that, but I just see a sleepy head… Yeah, I’ve already got it in the truck… I’ll tell her. See you then.”

“Uh oh, you’ll tell me what?” Caroline asked.

“I quote, ‘shake your tail feathers; the birds are waiting.’ Also, pack what you want for tomorrow, the weather is supposed to get a little dicey tonight so I’d rather just stay put.”

“Got it.” Caroline nodded.

“Now, dear sister of mine, go shake.” And Jackson waved his hand toward the stairs.

Today was Winter Solstice.

I wasn't going to marry him anyway. At least that's what I told myself about 52 times from the moment he said the words, "This just isn't working for me" until my car was started and my shaking hands were holding the steering wheel. I wasn't going to marry him. Not in a million lifetimes would I consider marrying him. --from Looks Like Love.


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.

An excerpt from The Fearful Heart...

Cassidy stood at the window, watching the storm through sleepy eyes. Off in the distance, massive greenish-tinged clouds hovered in the sky as the rain saturated the ground. Loud claps of thunder pierced the dense air, and bold flashes of lightning illuminated the dorm room then returned it to darkness. The populous white ash and scarlet oak trees twisted and whipped in the wind, littering the ground with their stripped branches.

“It looks ominous out there. I hope we don’t get any tornadoes on campus.”

“Don’t worry,” Billie mumbled from underneath her blankets. “The university hasn’t texted a warning, or our cell phones would have beeped. And the tornado siren hasn’t gone off.”

“Not yet.” Cassidy bit her nail as she listened to the wind howl. “Oh, we would have to live on the top floor!”

She continued to watch the storm, listening to the church bells clang randomly every time the wind kicked up, and thinking of the verses in Job: Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds.