Against All Odds by Becca Hart

About the Book

Two years after a violent break-in left Elizabeth Seymour widowed and with blood on her hands, she’s finally starting over in the little town of Avalon, Ohio, with her daughter, Haley. She has the house of her dreams, a good church, and friends she can rely on. Everything seems to be falling into place—until she receives a threatening note from Veronica Sadowsky, the sister of the man Elizabeth shot, the same woman who tried to ruin her life once before. This time, though, Veronica won’t stop until she gets revenge.

When Elizabeth’s home goes up in flames, she turns to family friend, Doctor Gilbert Callahan, a widowed father of three. He invites her and Haley to stay with his family. As Veronica draws Elizabeth into a game of increasing stakes, she and Gilbert only grow closer, learning to trust and rely on one another. But Elizabeth’s presence in Gilbert’s home endangers his family and creates tension with his oldest son. Preserving peace in the house is hard enough, but when Veronica comes after Haley, Elizabeth will risk everything—including her life—to get her child back.

Excerpt

Elizabeth grabbed the mail, calling a quick hello to Mr. Helmheckle next door.

A plain envelope rested on top of a store ad. Her brow furrowed. What was this? She tossed the bills and ads on the end table and tore the strange envelope open. Who would send her a single folded piece of notepad paper?

There were two typed sentences: ‘You thought you could hide? No, I’m watching you.’

Her feet rooted to the carpet.

God, no. She stumbled back onto the arm of the chair. She stared at the words till they blurred. Not here. Why here? It was supposed to be over. Avalon was a safe haven. Her eyes slid closed. Lord God, why’s this happening again? How had Adam Sadowsky’s sister, Veronica, found her again? Granted, Columbus was only an hour’s drive, but still. She hadn’t wanted to go too far away from Dad and Darlene, not to mention her sister, Jenna.

Her throat felt like it was clogged with peanut butter. She tried swallowing. It can’t be…

Print didn’t lie, though.

 

About the Author

A wife and mother of two, Becca Hart felt the calling to be a writer at the tender age of fifteen. She earned her Associate of Arts degree from Pikes Peak Community College in 2013. Though born and raised in a small town in northeast Ohio, Becca makes her home in southern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. You can visit her website  , on Twitter @BeccaHart16, and on Facebook 

Buy the Book

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DISCLOSURE: SOME OF THE LINKS IN THE PAGE ABOVE MAY BE “AFFILIATE LINKS.” THIS MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK AND PURCHASE THE ITEM, WE WILL RECEIVE AN AFFILIATE COMMISSION. WE ARE DISCLOSING THIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING.”

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Well by Alias in Town

About the Book

The memoir, Well, chronicles my journey toward healing in a unique way. When I came home from treatment, I started pouring over old journals and found entries where I sought forgiveness, healing and deliverance. I gathered them up into a scrapbook. I also added original artwork telling my story through the end of a paintbrush. I dug through my blog, and gathered essays into the scrapbook too. I realized this scrapbook had become something. It had become a vulnerable and raw memoir telling a story of hope.

Book Excerpt

Looking Up From The Bottom – The bonds of sleep slowly slid off my body, and I could finally stretch out my legs. I yawned and rubbed my eyes. My morning breath was awful. The strong smell of alcohol hit my nostrils, and the heat of anger flooded my body. I was alive! Damnit! I was still alive! WHY!!! My 12 page suicide note was still attached to the bedroom door with the big bandaid mocking my lack of tape. The empty Klonopin bottle was still on the nightstand. It had been full less than 12 hours ago. A ½ liter of 100 proof liquor sat on the floor. The other half I had used to wash the pills down. I should be dead.

DAMN! I kept saying in my head. I don’t usually swear, but I figured I already tried to kill myself, so to hell with it.

That was my state of mind. Actually, my mind didn’t have a state. It was mush brain. A cohesive thought could not have stuck in my brain with super glue and duct tape. I pickled my brain in a bath of 100 proof alcohol which I secretly drank daily for about two years. In my desperation for relief, I’d followed the advice of an internet stranger who recommended alcohol to take away the vertigo. Yes. One shot did. But soon one shot wasn’t enough. I needed two, then more and more. The escape was glorious. Soon, instead of just using it for vertigo, I was using all the time just to escape my illness, my reality, my depression, and the struggle I was having for identity, feelings of failure, and utter loneliness.

It wasn’t just the alcohol, either. I had figured out ways of getting my hands on prescription pain pills. They also took away the vertigo, but even better, they numbed everything. I had been hospitalized with an accidental overdose just a year prior to the suicide attempt. Oh, I was such a mess! That is exactly where really bad coping strategies can land you, given enough time and energy. Limited solutions, taken to their extreme, took me to a hopeless destination — The End. The end of myself.

Downing those pills to end my life had seemed like the perfectly logical thing to do. My clouded brain told me I had no reason to exist. Awakening from that fog was the last thing I wanted, and I was filled to the brim with anger that I was still alive. I was still here. I was still sick. I was still useless. I was still a burden. I was still without hope. I was still lost. I was still helpless. Still…

I remember a friend coming into the bedroom and hugging me, saying something like, “I heard you were having a hard time.” She was there to take my children away, and I wanted to discuss my DIY headboard! Say what? Oh, my mind was just not functioning with cohesive thoughts.

When I stumbled out of the bedroom, I walked into a living room surrounded by family and friends. I actually felt like I walked into a warm wall of love. Overcome by shame, I wanted to turn around and hide. The shame! I was so ashamed, but they were inviting and understanding. It was an intervention. There was so much love in the room. Looking back, I didn’t understand everything being said to me. My mind was not clear enough, but I understood the love I felt in the room. Love is a language even a drug and alcohol soaked brain could understand.

Aimee Mullins said, “All you need is one person to show you the epiphany of your own power.”

I had a room of people who gave me that epiphany. They gave me a glimpse of a future. They became my future. They became my reason. I would go to the hospital for them. I would fight for my life for them. I would love them back by learning to love myself. Love is a language, and I would learn to speak it fluently.

 

About the Author

Alias In Town is an anagram of the author’s name. In every town there are alias people living with chronic illness, chronic pain, addiction and depression. Alias In Town is one of those people. Learning to live well while ill is a necessary and difficult endeavor. She learned multiple coping and life strategies to be Well.

“I am more than my body. I am body, mind and spirit. My body is simply the weakest unit of the triad. Though chronic illness affects the entire triad, I have made considerable effort to strengthen my mind and spirit to find the balance of ‘Well’. – book excerpt

One of the most anxiety releasing activities she utilizes is art. She explores art through several mediums and included them in the book “Well.” She does not claim to be a proficient artist but utilizing art is cathartic to her. She has an art website

She has been married for 35 years with 6 children and 7 grandchildren and lives in central Ohio.

 

Buy the Book

Amazon.com

 


DISCLOSURE: SOME OF THE LINKS IN THE PAGE ABOVE MAY BE “AFFILIATE LINKS.” THIS MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK AND PURCHASE THE ITEM, WE WILL RECEIVE AN AFFILIATE COMMISSION. WE ARE DISCLOSING THIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING.”

The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglass Lima

 


The Nameless Soldier is book 4 in the Annals of Alasia young adult fantasy series. Haven’t read all (or any) of the others? That’s okay! The books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.


Description:

What do you do when you’re the only survivor?

Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom. 

Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?


Where to Get a Copy:

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is $2.99 just $0.99 through June 6th!)

Not sure if you’ll like the story or not? Take a look at the first chapter and see!

 

 

The Nameless Soldier
Chapter One

 

      

Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”
Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”
“I heard something. Someone shouting.”
“It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.
A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies.
Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.
They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.
And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.
Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.
Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.
Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee.
He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him.
Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backward, jarring his already sore wrist.
Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.
He saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly.
If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!
He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.
Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.
He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.
 
Want to know what happens to Tarvic? Click here to purchase the book and find out!
 
 
About the Author:
 

 

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

The You-Song & Daughter of Jerusalem by Joanne Otto

Write Now Literary Book Tours is pleased to be coordinating a book tour for author Joanne Otto. This is a two-month book tour for her books: The You-Song and Daughter of Jerusalem. This tour will run June- July, 2018.

                                                                      Introducing Joanne

Joanne Otto is a lifelong student of the Bible who has taken four exciting tours of Bible lands and done extensive research, including numerous courses. She has taught foreign languages and English and more recently, as an academic language therapist, has helped dyslexic children strengthen their reading and writing skills. Also a music lover and amateur pianist, she especially enjoys accompanying singers.

Website: http://joanneotto.com/

About the Book

The You-Song celebrates, in a way young children can understand, the unique and vital place each of us occupies in God’s world and encourages them to fill their place in it with joy. Written by a teacher who’s helped many children overcome reading challenges, “The You-Song” is user-friendly, consisting of words that are either familiar or easy to decode. Lavishly illustrated with nearly 50 heart-warming photos, it’s also fun to read aloud to pre-readers.

Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction

About the Book

Daughter of Jerusalem” takes its 21st-century readers on a journey back to the first-century world of a young rabbi named Yeshua—better known to us as Jesus. Mara, the young heroine of this story, gets to mingle with the crowds who come to hear him teach during his visits to Jerusalem and, finally, to meet him face to face in a brief, life-changing encounter—one that comes at no small cost to herself. For middle-grade readers who want to use the book as a springboard for deeper study, there are Bible references and questions on each chapter, as well as a glossary. For others, the story itself will be the full journey.

Genre: Christian Fiction

Purchase Link: http://amazon.com/author/joanneotto

Tour hosted by Write Now Literary Book Tours…. ” We take the stress out of promoting.”

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Bounce Back by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins

Write Now Literary is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for Bounce Back: Tips for Overcoming Adversity, Life Challenges and Setbacks by Dr. Bridgette Jenkins. The tour will run June 4-29, 2018.

Publication Date: May 19, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction

                                       


Bounce Back will encourage you to be intentional about facing adversity and challenges while staying positive about your situation. With practicality, wisdom and experience, Dr. Bridgette shares strategies and tips that can be used to help you Bounce Back from any negative life situation. After reading this book, and applying the practical Bounce Back tips, you will be able to withstand, recover from and overcome any challenge you might face in life.

Amazon eBook
Amazon Paperback
Introducing Dr. Bridgette Jenkins

Dr. Bridgette is a doctorly prepared registered nurse who specializes in education and community health. She has a heart for nursing students and those struggling to reach their education and career goals. She serves as mentor and coach to nurses and nursing students as they matriculate through the nursing profession.

She is the owner of Health Education Institute where she teaches lifesaving courses to healthcare providers and the public. She also offers a variety of courses to healthcare providers to help them stay current on updates and changes within the healthcare arena. Dr. Bridgette also speaks at churches and community events on various health issues that are prevalent among vulnerable populations.

She is the CEO/President of the Houston Chapter of Black Nurses Rock, a nonprofit organization committed to changing the lives of the citizens in the Houston area and surrounding communities through service and education.

Bridgette resides in Houston Texas where she’s actively involved in her church and community. She is a mother to three adult children and a miniature schnauzer named Dallas. She is also MiMi to two adorable grandsons.

Connect Socially: Website

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Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss

About the Book

Tempest. Stella. Cherise. Fate brought them together, but can their friendship survive the tangled web of danger and deception that threatens their very lives? When Cherise convinces Tempest to pretend to be her so that she can sneak out of the country to be with her dashing Italian boyfriend, she is inadvertently implicated in an international drug ring. An unexpected complication forces Tempest to prolong the charade and she finds herself attracted to the very man who might be out to cause her harm. Meanwhile, Stella’s high ideals are met with suspicion and disdain at her father’s Texas ranch, until she uncovers a dangerous secret that could put all their lives in jeopardy. At the same time, her own errant emotions take over as she falls in love with two brothers at the same time. Things heat up when Cherise is kidnapped and the three friends must turn to one another – and God – to get out of harm’s way. Three Strand Cord is a story of intrigue and romance told from three different points of view, all coming together to prove that when it comes to true friendship, ‘a three strand cord is not easily broken’.

Book Excerpt

Prologue

Stately red brick, manicured lawns, and well kept flower beds – the perfect backdrop for Parkview Private Girls’ Academy. Nature itself crowned all with a cobalt sky and warmth from the golden sun. All was exactly as it should be for an institution that prided itself on turning out well bred young ladies of means.

“Quick! This way!” A dark haired girl of about twelve gestured to her companions, her voice barely above a whisper. All three girls ducked around the sculpted hedge and squatted, peeping through the foliage.

The blonde one giggled. “This is sooo exciting!”

“What if we get in trouble?” The third girl pushed her glasses up on her nose with her forefinger. Her chestnut hair bobbed as she shook her head. “I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”

“Sh!” The dark haired ringleader held a finger to her lips. “Here comes Casey Brinks.”

The three waited, holding a collective breath as their arch nemesis, another twelve-year-old girl, neared the appointed spot under a tree. Suddenly, an explosion of water soaked her as a water balloon hit her dead on. “Ah!” The girl stood frozen while she tried to catch her breath.

“Come on,” hissed the leader – and the one with the accurate aim. The threesome crept from the shadows as stealthily as twelve-year-old girls wearing uniforms were able, and made a break for it, letting their excited giggles burst from their lungs unfettered.

“I see you, Stella Crayton!” The enraged mini-diva called after them, hands on hips. “You and your little cronies! The headmistress is going to hear about this!”

The girls kept running. They’d been caught outright and all that was left now was to wait for the punishment. Stella reached the maintenance shed first, her black hair flying out behind her. She yanked the door open and all three slipped inside.

“What do you think they’ll do?” Tempest’s eyes looked even bigger and wider behind her spectacles.

Stella shrugged. “Call our parents.”

“Do you think they’ll send us home? I don’t want to live with Aunt Rose.” Tempest frowned, her eyebrows disappearing behind the rims of her glasses.

Cherise flipped her blonde tresses back off her shoulders. “Don’t worry. Daddy’s on the board of directors.”

“Oh. Are you sure they won’t send us home?” Tempest’s eyes were wide, her voice hopeful.

“Nothing is ever for sure,” Stella stated. “But our folks are paying way too much for them to get rid of us. Besides, I’m the one who threw the balloon, not you.”

“But what if your folks make you go home?” Tempest began twisting her hands together. Stella snorted. “The last thing my stepmother wants is to have me back home.”

“You wouldn’t want to go and leave us anyway, would you?” Cherise teased. “Your two best friends in the whole world?”

Stella shrugged. “Not that I don’t love you two, but…”

“You miss Texas,” Tempest supplied. “Like I miss California. And… and…” She clamped her mouth, blinking her eyelashes rapidly.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Cherise put a comforting arm around Tempest’s shoulders. “I know you miss your folks. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost mine like you did. Even if they are a pain sometimes.”

Tempest shook her head. “I don’t want to live with Aunt Rose,” she stated again.

“We won’t let that happen. Will we, Stella?” Cherise looked to the other girl for confirmation.

“We’ll try our best.”

“Why doesn’t your stepmother like you?” Tempest swiped at a tear that had strayed down her cheek.

Stella shrugged. “Guess she wants my dad all to herself.”

Tempest leaned her head back against the rough wall and sighed. “What do you miss most about Texas?” Stella furrowed her brow.

“Besides the ranch? Zane and Blue.”

“Are those your pets?” Cherise asked.

“No, silly. Zane and Blue are my best friends – well, besides you guys,” Stella explained.

“You have boys for friends?” Tempest’s eyes had become almost as round as her glasses.

“You’re so funny!” Cherise giggled. “I’d love to have boys for friends – especially with names like Zane and Blue. Are they cute?”

Stella frowned. “They’re just friends. You are so boy crazy, Cherise Hillyer.”

Cherise just shrugged. “So?”

“Anyway, there’s no chance of me going home now. My stepmother has seen to that. She couldn’t wait to get me out of the house just as soon as she married my dad.”

“Just like a fairytale.” Cherise sighed dreamily.

“Believe me, there’s nothing fun about it.” Stella sat up and crossed her arms over her chest.

“At least you have parents.” Tempest’s voice was quiet. She fixed her gaze on her lap, blinking rapidly.

“We’re your family now, Temp, right Stella?” Cherise gave Tempest’s shoulder a quick squeeze before she shifted, straightening. “Enough gloom! Let’s talk about Casey Brinks. We got her good! She is such a snob. I can’t believe I used to be friends with her.”

“Yeah, until you started hanging around with us,” Stella stated. “We weren’t cool enough for the Casey Brinks fan club.” She shifted her position so she could peek out a small knothole in the wall of the shed. “Coast is still clear.”

“You’re way more fun, anyway,” Cherise declared. “This is so exciting. And kind of scary, too.” “Just wait till Ole Miss Crankypants gets a hold of us,” Stella said, her eyes twinkling.

“Now, that will be scary.”

“So what do we do now? Just wait to get caught?” Cherise asked.

“Pretty much,” Stella said with a shrug.

“Hey, I have an idea.” Tempest dug in her pocket. She pulled out several bright strands of colored embroidery floss. “I read a book on making friendship bracelets and I just got some new colors. We could make some. If you want to, that is.”

Stella nodded. “Why not?”

“Okay,” Cherise agreed. “So what do we do?”

“It’s kind of like weaving,” Tempest explained, beginning to work with the threads. “I read that once you tie it on, you can never take it off. It means you’ll be friends forever.”

“Neat! I want some of this color,” Cherise exclaimed, reaching for a few hot pink strands.

“We should make them for each other.” Stella took the pink strands from Cherise.

“Or, how about if we each work on all three?” Tempest suggested. “That way, we’ll be connected forever.”

“Good idea,” Stella agreed. “Friends forever.” “Friends forever,” the other two echoed.

 

Chapter 1

The cab wound its way along the tree-lined drive and slowed to a crawl on the circular driveway, finally coming to a halt in front of the mansion tucked well within the depths of Boston’s old moneyed district. The grand facade, with its pillars and over-sized windows, spoke of wealth. It was a nervous few minutes as Tempest surveyed the posh brick two story structure. It had been a few years since she’d been here to visit. Cherise’s parents weren’t much for entertaining strays from boarding school. At least, not strays without a pedigree.

“You plan on getting out?” The cab driver raised his brows questioningly as he made eye contact via the rearview mirror.

Tempest blinked back to reality. “Oh, yes.” She rummaged in her purse for the correct amount owing. Her own car was in the repair shop, so taking a cab was a necessity. “Um, here.” She shoved the bills into the cabby’s waiting palm. She couldn’t really afford such a generous tip, but it was just too embarrassing to have to wait while he made change. He was probably wondering what a person like her was doing in this neighborhood in the first place.

She stepped out of the cab, hauling her small suitcase behind her, and shut the car door with a decisive click. She waited until he had driven away before venturing up the wide steps to the menacing double doors, her small black case thumping up the steps behind her.

The bell barely had time to quit resonating when the door swung open.

“Tempest! You made it!” Cherise squealed, enveloping her long time friend in a warm embrace.

A rush of relief swept over Tempest’s body. What had she been so nervous about? This was Cherise, after all – the same blonde bombshell she’d grown up with at boarding school.

“Sure,” Tempest replied, disentangling herself. “The cabby knew exactly where to go.”

“Sorry someone didn’t pick you up at your aunt’s,” Cherise apologized as she led her further into the spacious foyer. The ceiling in the entrance rose overhead the full two stories. A large gilded mirror hung over an equally elaborate side table a few feet inside the doors. Polished white marble floors led off in several directions, including toward the grand staircase that curved upward. “The chauffeur had to take Mother to the country club and I just got back from my masseuse.”

“The cab was no problem,” Tempest assured.

“You look nice.” Cherise scanned Tempest from top to toes. “New haircut?”

“Um, yeah.” Tempest touched her reddish brown hair with tentative fingers. It was stylishly short, with just a hint of subtle highlights, and still salon fresh from that morning. It would never look this good again. She just wasn’t that good when it came to doing hair.

“Well, I like it,” Cherise stated with a nod. “Now you just need to get rid of the glasses and update your wardrobe and you’ll be a knockout.”

Tempest looked down at her outfit. Nondescript slacks and a button up blouse. She was tall and rather willowy and knew she could probably wear clothes that had a little more pizzazz, but… “I just like to be comfortable, that’s all.”

“Comfortable? With that body?” Cherise scoffed. She shook her head and expelled a dramatic sigh. “One of these days.”

“You’ve been warning me.” Tempest smiled.

“And I mean it,” Cherise affirmed. “One of these days you’re getting a makeover, lady, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I can’t believe we’ve been friends all these years and you’re still dressing like a librarian.”

“My bad.”

“In fact, just wait until you see what I’ve got planned for tonight!” Cherise exclaimed.

“Oh, oh. Now you’ve got me worried,” Tempest said, still smiling, but in truth feeling a bit uneasy. She wasn’t sure she was up for it.

“Don’t worry!” Cherise took Tempest’s arm and started walking toward the stairs. “It’s just some good old fashioned girl fun. It’ll be just like old times -” Cherise cut herself short as she stopped abruptly in her tracks. “Is that all you brought?” She gestured to the small rolling overnight bag that was following Tempest like a stray mutt. “You are staying, aren’t you?” Tempest stared at the shabby suitcase for a moment and blinked before looking back up at Cherise. “It’s just one night.”

“I thought you were staying in Boston for a few days.”

“I am,” Tempest replied. “But I have to stay with Aunt Rose for the rest of the weekend. I don’t visit her nearly as often as I should, and well, you know how it is. She is getting on and she’d be miffed if I came to town and didn’t stay with her.” There was a moment of silence as Cherise pouted. “But I’m here for tonight,” Tempest offered.

“It’s going to be so much fun!” Cherise reverted to her former animated excitement. “I’ve got all kinds of things planned, just like when we were girls at school. We’ll do facials and pedicures. Listen to loud music…”

“Your folks won’t mind?” Tempest asked. From what she remembered, they were rather preoccupied with themselves, anyway.

“Silly!” Cherise laughed. “This is an old fashioned sleepover, not some kind of orgy! What were you expecting?”

Tempest blinked and pushed her glasses up with her finger. Sometimes it was hard to gauge whether Cherise was serious or not. “I, um… nothing.”

Cherise giggled even more. “That’s what I love about you, Tempest. You’re so droll!”

Tempest smiled weakly, wondering what was funny. She never had been good at catching on to jokes and things. Oh well. At least Cherise hadn’t changed any either.

It was strange the way life worked. They had been so close while growing up – Cherise, Stella and herself – and had remained fast friends even into college. But now, over the last two or three years, they had begun to drift apart. Go their separate ways. Build their own lives apart from one another. Life was like that. People got busy. Stella had sought further education, Cherise was busy as a Boston socialite, and Tempest herself had finally launched into a career as a writer.

Well, “career” was stretching it just a bit. She was writing for a small newspaper about an hour’s drive from Boston. It was satisfactory. She was doing what she enjoyed – writing. But sometimes it was difficult. There was only so much that could be said about the local chapter of the dog society.

Tempest started up the steps behind Cherise, the suitcase bumping behind her. Cherise stopped and turned around, frowning. “Goodness! I was so excited about seeing you I forgot to call Crosbie. Just leave your case there and he’ll bring it up later.”

“It’s not that heavy.” Tempest retracted the pull handle, and picked it up by the regular one. “I can do it.”

Cherise considered this for a moment, as if the thought had never occurred to her. Then she shrugged. “At least let me take it for you.” She snatched the small bag and started up the stairs again. “I can hardly wait to tell you everything that’s been happening.” T

empest watched as Cherise skipped up the steps in front of her, her mini-skirt bouncing against her rounded backside with each step. Tempest’s lips curved upward slightly. Cherise might come across as shallow, but underneath the rich girl exterior was a truly loyal friend.

#

Tempest glanced around Cherise’s bedroom. It looked much as she remembered. Lots of evidence of the spoiled little rich girl. Pictures, frills, ribbons and lace… everything spoke of a pampered princess who had never quite grown up. “When are you expecting Stella?”

“About seven.” Cherise deposited the suitcase near the door and then flopped down on the bed. “Something about shipping some boxes back home to Texas.”

“Moving can be a lot of work,” Tempest offered.

“I guess. Anyway, she should be here in time for dinner.” Cherise rolled onto her stomach.

“Imagine! Stella with a Master’s degree! She’s probably the smartest person I know. Present company excluded, of course.”

“Of course.” Tempest pulled out a pink satin covered chair that had been tucked under Cherise’s dressing table which was littered with makeup and jewelry.

“What do you do with a degree in ‘Environmental Studies,’ anyway?” Cherise asked.

“I’m not sure exactly. Field work? Environmental testing?”

Cherise sat up and patted the bed. “Come sit here! You need to tell me everything that’s been going on since last time I saw you.”

Tempest let out a small laugh, but got up and moved to perch on the edge of the bed. “That was only yesterday at Stella’s graduation.”

“I know, but we didn’t get much time to talk. It seems like ages since we had any girl time together.” Cherise sighed dramatically. “I just don’t know how I ever got to be friends with you two. You’re both just so smart! What in the world did you ever see in a bimbo like me?”

“You’re not a bimbo,” Tempest defended. “You’re smart, too. About lots of things.”

Cherise laughed, that flippant tinkling sound that Tempest had come to know so well. “There you go, always trying to make people feel good about themselves. At least that’s one thing about Stella. She’s honest.”

“Well, I just meant -”

“Forget it.” Cherise waved a dismissive hand. “I don’t mind, you know. Being a bimbo.”

“You shouldn’t call yourself that,” Tempest chided, her voice soft.

“Why not? I don’t mean it in a bad way. Actually, playing the part has its advantages.” Cherise raised a brow and smiled. “Guys seem to go for it.”

“And you’ve never had trouble in that department,” Tempest commented wryly.

“My point exactly,” Cherise replied, flipping her blonde tresses. She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Just wait until I tell you about Roberto.”

“Roberto?” Another in a long string of boyfriends, no doubt.

“He is an absolute dream!” Cherise flopped back onto the bed and flung her arms above her head. “He’s Italian, and you know what they say about Italian lovers.”

“Um, right.” Tempest focused on the bedspread’s stitching, tracing it with her index finger.

“It’s all true.” Cherise sighed. There was a moment of awkward silence until she sat up abruptly. “So, anyone new in your life?”

“Nope,” Tempest replied.

“Still pining for what’s his name?”

“Ron,” Tempest supplied curtly. “His name is Ron, and no I am not pining. We only dated for a couple of months and it was a perfectly logical decision on both our parts. Our paths were going in different directions. It was for the best that we end it before things got too serious.”

“Oh please!” Cherise groaned and rolled her eyes. “Our paths? That sounds like a cop out if ever I heard one. Admit it. He was just running scared.”

“Well -”

Cherise cut her off. “Seriously. I thought he was supposed to be a Christian or something. How dare he string my best friend such a line?”

“I’m a Christian, too,” Tempest defended. “He’s going into the mission field. A long distance relationship is just too hard. It makes sense.”

“Phooey on that. If it’s right, it doesn’t matter where in the world you go.” Cherise pinned Tempest with her eyes. “If you want to know what I think, Ron is probably secretly gay or something. Why else would he dump you like that?”

“Cherise!” Tempest shot back. “That’s not true.”

Cherise raised a brow. “How do you know? Ever sleep with him?”

“Of course not. I don’t believe in sex before marriage and – and neither does he.” Tempest blinked rapidly and pushed her glasses up. It was mostly true.

“Oh right. Something I never did understand.” Cherise flopped down on her back again. “I’m glad you’re the one who got religion and not me. I couldn’t handle it.”

“You might be surprised.” Tempest shrugged.

Cherise shook her head. “No way. I mean, I’m happy if you are, but don’t expect me to change. And as for Ron, I say good riddance. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

Cherise giggled. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll fall for some hotty and change your mind about the celibacy thing.”

“I doubt it.” Since becoming a Christian eighteen months ago, Tempest had given up on casual relationships. Not that she’d been licentious or anything before her conversion, but now she had a legitimate excuse for avoiding men. She’d only had sex that one time in college and well, she’d rather forget all about that. It was possibly the most embarrassing moment of her life.

“It could happen.”

Tempest frowned and looked over at Cherise. “What?”

“It could happen,” Cherise repeated. “You falling for some hot guy and give up on becoming a nun.”

“I’m not becoming a nun. I’m not Catholic.”

“Whatever. You know what I mean.”

Of course she did. Cherise had a one track mind. Tempest straightened her spine. “When the right person comes along – the person God wants for me – I will be more than happy to engage in… well, you know. Once I’m married, of course.”

“But how will you know if you’re even compatible?” Cherise asked. “You know… in that way?” “Is that all you care about?” Tempest stood up and crossed back to the chair. Lord, give me patience with Cherise. She doesn’t know any better. She took a deep breath before turning around. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. Tell me more about Roberto instead.”

The hurt look in Cherise’s eyes melted almost instantly. “Roberto,” she repeated the name softly, like a mantra. “He is so perfect. Charming, good looking, great build and well, I already mentioned that other part.” She sighed. “I would literally follow him to the ends of the earth.”

“That good, huh?”

“In every way. Of course, my parents don’t see it that way. They are always so out of touch. I think they expect me to marry someone from their pre-approved lineup.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you know. Old family friends. Someone with connections. The right bloodlines and all that. But I’m not having any part of it.”

“Good. It’s your life.”

“You’re not going to lecture me?”

“Why would I do that?” Tempest asked.

Cherise shrugged. “I don’t know. The religion thing? I know you don’t approve of my choices.”

“Have I ever lectured you?” Tempest blinked, tamping down the hurt that had risen in her breast. It was a topic that struck a nerve. Sometimes she felt like a bad Christian for not being more enthusiastic about witnessing to her friends. True, she’d shared her faith, but the last thing she wanted was to alienate them, so she avoided leading conversations, opting for the ‘friendship evangelism’ model instead.

“Well, no,” Cherise admitted. She looked down at the bedspread and traced some stitching. She looked up again abruptly, her eyes shining with unshed tears. “But sometimes I feel it. Like you’re such a good person and I’m, well… not. One of these days you’re going to just jump ship and leave me to my own devices.”

“Cherise!” Tempest bolted from the chair and bent to envelop her friend around the shoulders. “I’ll never abandon you. You or Stella! You know that. Friends forever, right?” Cherise sat up and they hugged properly. “Friends forever.” When they pulled apart, Cherise examined Tempest closely. “But do think I’m crazy? Falling so hard for Roberto, I mean?” “Well… How would I know? I’ve never met him.” Tempest smiled.

“Exactly!” Cherise gave Tempest another big squeeze. “I’m so glad the two of you agreed to come over for one last girl’s night before we go our separate ways. I’m going to miss you so much.”

“You make it sound like we might not see each other again. I mean, I’m not that far from Boston.”

“Oh, I know. But who knows where Stella might end up? I know she’s planning to go back to Texas for awhile, but after that, who knows?”

“True.” Tempest wished she could add a ‘who knows’ to her own future. Right now it seemed pretty stable. And pretty dull. But there were bills to pay… ”

Anyway, let’s go see what Cook is making for dinner tonight,” Cherise suggested, rolling off the bed.

Tempest followed. It was hard to mull over life’s bigger issues with Cherise around.

 

About the Author

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and best selling novels, stage plays, devotionals and children’s books in print. Her work strikes a chord with those looking for thought provoking faith based fiction laced with romance, suspense and humor – no sugar added. She holds a B.Ed from the U of S and has lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. She and her husband currently reside in beautiful BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. website: http://tracykrauss.com – fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

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Enduring Love by Danyelle Scroggins

This is one of my tour stops during my one week tour for Enduring Love by Danyelle Scroggins. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs April 23-28, 2018. Book your own tour here WNL.

Enduring Love

Genre: Christian Fiction

Publication date: March 16, 2018

ASIN: B07B8X7RVY

No one ever truly realizes the power of their love, until love is tested and they have to endure things unimaginable and sometimes hurtful. And if the truth is declared, no one wants to but…
Sometimes we find ourselves standing in the test of love and this is exactly where Priscilla Marshall finds herself. Married to Steven since she graduated college, together they were the perfect couple. Both making successful business moves, both loved their choices, but one had a secret that could change their lives.
Priscilla, now forced to make a plan to secure her future, finds out that a plan without God involved is not a plan at all because “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). What will God use to make this woman’s plan come full circle with His own, and after the test, will they find that they truly do have an Enduring Love?


About the Author


Danyelle is the Senior Pastor of New Vessels Ministries North in Shreveport, Louisiana, who is a dynamic author of both Christian fiction and non-fiction books. She studied Theology at Louisiana Baptist University, has a Psychology Degree from the University of Phoenix, an Interdisciplinary Degree in Psychology /Biblical Studies, and a Master’s in Religious Education from the Liberty University. She owns Divinely Sown Publishing LLC and is an avid reader. She is the wife of Pastor Reynard Scroggins and the mother of three.



Priscilla reasoned why God would choose her to be the carrier of life. Married for almost fifteen years, sexual pleasures only happened on special occasions. Often without romance, and starting with a touch here, feel there, and a real quick release on his part. The thought of making a baby vanished long ago.

In reality, indecisiveness plagued her like a severe toothache regarding being a wife or instead, being his wife. Her mind and ambitions settled on being the audacious executive she fancied herself. Relinquishing all thoughts of motherhood, that were now nowhere in the plan.
Many are the plans of man…but it is the Lord’s plans that prevail.
Dr. Thorpe’s private practice became her haven, the place where swift answers and solutions to her most pressing issues materialized. Today, he acted as the grim reaper delivering death-blows instead of solutions. Death to her plans, dreams, and her one hundred and thirty-five-pound figure. She worked hard for her body, and to destroy it for a child neither of them wanted put her in a complete stupor.

As she sat in a makeshift gown barely covering her breasts, Priscilla sighed. Moving to get more comfortable on the green leather table-bed covered with a sheet of wrinkled white paper, she felt hopeless. Priscilla swung her legs as though they could propel her into another space in time. She took a deep breath. Lumps in her throat seemed to suffocate her and caused her to give in to the explosive stream of tears cascading down her face.

How am I going to care for a child in the midst of running a company? Marshall’s Mortgage a premier mortgage company and her baby, her purpose that bequeathed her employees who became family. A creative concept and idea birthed right after leaving college with a degree in accounting and nourished with intensity and integrity. The thought of leaving it with anyone for more than a day or two frightened her. Because of this baby, she would have no choice.

“Priscilla? Are you alright?” Dr. Thorpe inquired.

Startled by his voice and still confused, she hadn’t noticed his return. “Dr. Thorpe, I’m not alright. This pregnancy is so unexpected. I thought maybe the flu or a virus. But this? I took a darn pill every day since Steven and I married. They’re supposed to prevent this. I don’t understand how it could happen,” she responded with a pant and sniffle between words.
“I’ve been an OB doctor for well over twenty years, and I promise I see women who swear they took their birth-control pill on time and still got pregnant. I know you are quite familiar with God and His work. And, I consider us close friends so I can say this.”
Priscilla nodded.

“No matter what and how we try, we can never abort the plans of God. He knows this child is going to gain a complete knowledge of Him. The Father chose you and Steven to protect, nurture, and train him or her in the way they should go. Priscilla instead of the questions why and how be excited, and grateful God chose you.”

“I don’t feel like this is something I want to do. I don’t even know if I can do it.”

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