Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

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)!!


An Informal ArrangementClick to Buy

Holden tried to twist around in the wheelchair to see her, but she was lost in the shadows. “I keep a spare key hidden in a ceramic frog by my back door. If you climb up on top of the air conditioning unit on the side of the house, it’s easy to get over the fence.”

“Are you for real?”

He patted his chest and arms. “I think so. At least, I feel real, but I suppose if I wasn’t real, I might think I was anyway.”

“How long have you lived around here?”

“Four years. Long enough to build a business but not so long that I’ve lost my countrified ways.”

“Did someone forget to tell you that only crazies hide keys? People are skilled at finding those. You’re lucky the place hasn’t been burglarized.” That had to be the same voice she used to lecture patients on the importance of brushing their teeth. Compassionate and incredulous.

Holden shrugged. “I’m notorious for locking myself out. I had a choice. Put a key somewhere outside or put the locksmith on retainer.”

She hopped off the side of his porch rather than try to get back by his wheelchair. “I’m still not convinced you’re for real. If it turns out you’re a closet serial killer, I don’t want to be groomed as your partner or anything. Got it?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll cancel the order for the serial killer training manual.”

The sound of her shoes on the air conditioning unit was loud in the still night. She grunted as she pulled herself up over the fence. Then the muttering started. “It had to be a frog. Couldn’t be a cute puppy, could it?”

Go Back

Veiled Angel - Celestial Guardians Book 1

“Paul, it’s becoming harder to do our job and hide our actions from the humans,” Jonas said.
“I know. The human population is becoming so large there doesn’t seem to be a way to hide our abilities much longer or to explain away what is seen. It may be time,” Paul responded as he turned from the window.
“Time for what?” Jonas asked.
“To step back in the shadows. We can spread ourselves out and protect those around us as best we can until the prophecy is fulfilled,” Paul explained.
“Do you believe it? Is there truly one who will come?” Jonas asked, a glint in his eye.
“I trust in what has been foretold, and so should you,” Paul admonished. “We must wait and keep as many humans from harm until the one who is meant to save us all comes.”
“But, do we even know when he will come?” Jonas asked.
“Not he, but she will have hair of fire and eyes that reflect the earth. We must be patient and pray the prophecy will be fulfilled before Lucifer is able to win. If he gains too strong a hold on this earth, all will be lost,” Paul said.
And so, the Timoreo retreated to the shadows and tried for centuries to fulfill their duty to the humans until the day came for the ultimate battle to begin.

The Lady and The Hussites

Turning his attention to his beloved, Pavel drew Karin to the horse. He traced a finger down the side of her face as if he could memorize her features more vividly than he already had.

“Your visage will be my constant companion until I return to you.”

Karin’s mouth tugged upward. “Your smile will be mine.”

He leaned in to kiss her once more. This was not the most fevered, passionate kiss they had shared. Not with his parents looking on. Rather it was sweet, tender, filled with hope and promise.

When he pulled back this time, Pavel allowed his fingers to linger on her face but a handful of seconds before he broke all contact with her and mounted his steed. But as she stepped away from the horse’s body, he sought her face. It would be for naught—merely serving to delay him further. Still, he could not stop himself.

But she would not turn. Even as she reached his mother, Karin would not face him.

And he understood. She had met the limits of her strength.

So he urged the horse onward, keeping his eyes on the horizon.

Day Moon (Tomorrow's Edge Book 1)
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“Everywhere I look there’s some kind of trap or clue to a puzzle I never meant to try to solve.”

“I guess I can understand that,” Lara said, a grimace on her face.

“Are you sure?”

“No, but I like you enough to give myself time to figure it out.”

Elliott’s cheeks grew rosy and he wanted to apologize, to erase the hurt in her cocoa eyes, but he couldn’t begin to frame it in a way that would cover it justly.

He couldn’t let it end on that note. He had to turn it in the right direction. The words came to him in a rush and, like a wave crashing on the shore and then receding, they escaped his grasp again. The only person I trust right now is Christ, but you’re the closest anyone else could come.

Those words remained out of his grasp because vexation descended upon him as he wondered at the truth of the words. Am I really trusting Christ? Grandpa used to tell me, “Perfect love drives out fear,” but that certainly doesn’t look anything like how I act.

More than Lara’s ire, this realization hurt him. He was truly failing everyone.

Before him stood the doors to the library. Elliott noticed Lara’s arms were crossed and tense. Grasping the door, he pulled it open and said, “Lovely ladies before bumbling, and apologetic, boyfriends.” The taste of iron drifted faintly onto his tongue as he bit down on his cheek in horror at what he had just said.

Lara rolled her eyes, but her posture relaxed as she strolled in. Elliott couldn’t be sure, but he thought she wore the ghost of a smile as well.

Inside the library, things looked much like their last visit, largely empty with lights dimmer than most buildings of similar purpose in more developed cities. Behind the circulation desk, Elliott caught a flicker of motion, as Rosalyn saw them and stiffened as if they were specters rather than patrons.

Shooting Lara a quick glance, Elliott shrugged. Lara shrugged back and mouthed, “Go ahead.”

By the time the pair made it to the desk’s edge, Rosalyn had regained some of her composure. The librarian’s discomfort was seemingly displaced by confusion…and annoyance?

Before either teen could speak, she addressed them both in an even, but clearly strained tone. “Why are you both here?”

“We ran into some…complications following the tips you gave us,” Elliott replied, trying not to sound abashed over circumstances that were not his fault.

“And you think I can do something about it?”

“No,” Elliott rejoined, “but you can give us some answers. Like, what is going on, and what my grandfather was trying to clue us into.”

Rosalyn’s arms were perpendicular to one another and she rested her head in the palm of the vertical. A faint moaning sound escaped her lips. “You both think you can find answers here? Wonderful. We’re all as good as dead.”

Six Pack: Emergence by B.W. Morris

Jessica Harrison stared at the dull potted bonsai. She picked up a pencil and swept it across the sketch pad, drawing the evergreen’s needles from memory. As the plant came to life on the page, frustration ebbed. Drawing should give her peace of mind like it usually did. Not tonight, though.

She could have gone to a school with prestige. Instead, her father insisted she come to Monroe. Told her she could be closer to her home in City 40N105W. Those prestigious schools were far away, and he didn’t want her to go across the country. But he never visited. Not at all.

Her pencil drifted across the paper, toward the edge. So much for this sketch. She sighed, tore out the sheet, crumpled it and tossed it on the table. A couple of other students at another table in the commons area stared at her. She ignored them. Nobody outside her small circle of friends talked to her. Not that she wanted to.

She looked back at the plant and started over. Her thoughts shifted to her mother, who died when Jessica was ten. The doctor said it was a rare form of cancer. Jessica wanted to be close to her father, but he seemed too interested in his work. Like his dealings with Edward Flanders, the man who died in the plane crash. Given how much her father concerned himself with his job, it made her wonder why he’d be worried about her going to school thousands of miles away.

She stopped and took a deep breath. Need to focus. Her eyes stared at the plant again, her hand moved the pencil about, made strokes on the paper. Better to think peaceful thoughts. Like the friends she made – friends she never expected to have.

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

Tucking his fingers inside the front pockets of his jeans, he looked away. “You know, it is late. We’ll talk tomorrow. Good night.”

Amanda stood there and watched as he walked away. Her shoulders sank, weighed down with regret. Maybe there had been a hint of sarcasm when Tyler had asked about an emerging pattern. But it was true. So she had only gone through with it twice, but she had contemplated it on more occasions than she cared to admit. Twice she had followed through and managed to squelch the warning cries of her conscience. Was it so bad that Tyler had caught her on this one and played backup? Now she was doing anything to silence the unsettling feeling inside, even lashing out at her best friend. Was it really worth it? Before her mind could even answer, her heart had propelled her down the path.

“Tyler!” she called after him, racing past him and walking backward. “Tyler, wait. I am so sorry.”

“Forget it, Amanda,” he muttered.

“No. I can’t. Please don’t go,” she pleaded, but Tyler continued his determined stride down the path.

“I’m only taking a brief respite. You know I love you too much to let you offend me to the point of retreat.” Without warning, he stopped. “Just be straight with me, okay?”

Amanda didn’t have to see the serious look on his face to know it was there. She had heard it in every word of his question. “Okay.”

“Do these two ‘minor episodes of slightly questionable behavior’ stem from any deep-rooted feelings of resentment over my relationship with your father?”

Amanda had known it was going to be a sobering question, but she wasn’t expecting anything quite so deep. “Whoa. That’s kind of complex, psycho, mumbo jumbo, isn’t it?” she asked, surprised that he had even suspected such a possibility.

“That was a yes,” he stated flatly, stepping around her and continuing toward his house.

“No!” She managed to grab hold of his shirt before he was out of reach. “It wasn’t!” she insisted, stepping around in front of him and walking backward once again. “Can you give me a few minutes to think about it? I mean, if I did have this deep-rooted resentment, isn’t it possible that I hadn’t acknowledged it?”

“Why don’t we just play it safe? I’ll just back off. You’re too important to him, AJ. And you’re both too important to me. I would never do anything that would hurt either one of you. I would never want to come between you.”

The answer was so obvious to her now. She loved to see Tyler and her father together, whether they were coming back from one of their hunting trips or getting all excited about some baseball game. She stopped, throwing the palm of her hand against his chest. “No, Tyler. This has nothing to do with you and Dad.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No. I’m not,” she asserted.

“Then what is it, AJ?”

The Reluctant Debutante is a 100,000 word Sweet, Regency Romance
~ Are the possibilities worth the price? ~
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“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.

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This was my most embarrassing moment but surprisingly not by that much. In little league baseball there was a rule that everyone had to play. This made the coaches unhappy but the players (especially the lousy ones like me!) ecstatic. My coach sent me out to right field (told you I was the bench warmer money can buy) with a great deal of trepidation and the sincere hope that no one would actually hit the ball to me. If you are unfamiliar with LL ball, it is where the coaches put their worst players in hopes nothing too awful will take place. Unfortunately for him it did. One of the first batters that came up to bat after I went in the game lined one way over my head and hilarity ensued. I ran (waddled?) back after the ball when my cap flew off. Instead of continuing to pursue the ball, I stopped and went back after my lid. Only after retrieving my hat did I resume my pursuit of the ball. Suffice to say that by the time I retrieved the ball my opponent had long since circled the bases and I was unceremoniously yanked from the game. The only saving grace is that there was no AFV or YouTube to record this monumental faux pas.
It was then that I realized my dream of playing center field for the Red Sox would never materialize. I then set out to try my hand at football ...or hockey. I had more success with these two sports but never did make it to show! Oh well, it was still a heckuva journey!
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“Welcome to The Maple Pit.” Her eyes widened as she took in his appearance.
Was it his six-foot-three frame, leather apparel, or scruffy face that did her in? Since his boots had hit American soil, he’d been growing out the hair on his face. Judging by the relaxing ambiance and dress of their customers, he’d bank on his appearance being the reason for the look of astonishment on the hostess’ face.
“Thank you, ma’am.” His voice sounded a little rusty as thirst pushed against his throat.
“Would you like to sit at the bar?”
Luke glanced around. Families were enjoying their meals in booths and tables. Was there really a point in taking up a table for just himself? He glanced at the bar. A tightness in his gut brought forth beads of sweat.
“Um sure.”
“Great, this way.”
She headed toward his right, a menu in hand. After placing it on the countertop, she smiled at him. “Your server will be right with you.”
He nodded, then straddled the stool and picked up the menu. Oh, man. The food reminded him of his grandmother’s cooking. In his opinion, Rosa Robinson was the best cook in west Texas. A small smile tugged at his lips as he thought about the petite woman who ran the Robinson men better than any four-star general ever could. Once the Army had released him on R&R—rest and relaxation—he’d hopped on his roadster and headed straight for Virginia. The need to make amends pressed down upon him. Now, he regretted not taking the time to see his grandmother before he left. She would have calmed him.
A mature African-American woman came out of the kitchen. A frown on her face etched deep lines across her forehead. She paused in front of him. “Excuse me, sir. Have you been helped?”
“No, ma’am.”
Her frown intensified. “I’m so sorry. I’ll go find your server.”
“No worries. I’m in no hurry.” He offered her a smile, despite the objection coming from his stomach.
“Thank you for your patience.” She rounded a corner and disappeared.
Was there a break room back there or a server hiding out?
His gaze landed on the menu again, skimming the offerings. They served Arnold Palmers, a sweet tea and lemonade concoction. His mouth salivated imagining the taste of the drink he hadn’t tasted in months. It would be the perfect way to quench his thirst.
A shadow fell across the bar distracting him from the list of entrees. He looked up into the most gorgeous brown eyes he’d ever seen.
“Delaney Jones,” he whispered.
Her eyes widened, wariness coloring her gaze. “Do I know you?”

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Chapter One

The shrill of the phone woke her to her worst nightmare.

“Hello,” the voice on the other end of the phone said. “This is Officer Conrad of the Pennsylvania State Police. May I speak to Dana Macachek?”

Her heart raced. No one had called her Dana Macachek in years.
“This is she.”

“There’s been an accident. Your husband Anton Macachek . . .”

No, no, no. Dana VanAlstyne leaned into the kitchen counter for support as the words in her head momentarily drowned out the rest of what the officer was saying. An old, too familiar fear filled her, dredged from a part of her life she’d worked hard to put behind her.

“. . . has been in an accident.”

Ex-husband, Dana wanted to scream, as if that would take away the pain. Mac is my ex-husband. She slumped into a kitchen chair and cradled her head in her hands, the phone receiver tight to her ear. Tears pricked her eyes.

“Is he all right?” she managed to get out in an almost reasonable sounding voice. Of course, he wasn’t all right, or why would the officer be calling?

“He was sent by ambulance to Bucks Memorial Hospital.”

“Then he’s not . . .” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

“He was alive at the scene.”

“What happened?” she croaked.

“This is still a preliminary investigation. Apparently, he lost control of his SUV on an icy road sometime last night. Another driver came along early this morning and saw the vehicle and trailer off the road.”

So he wasn’t racing. Somehow, that calmed her. But he was the current U.S. motocross champion. Any other man in his position would have been flying, probably in a private jet. Or, at least traveling in a customized motor coach.

“Mrs. Macachek?”

“Yes, I’m here. How, how did you get my number?” She had to ask. It had been so long.

“Your husband had a card in his belongings listing you as next of kin in case of emergency.”

“My ex-husband,” she corrected. Wasn’t that just like Mac to still have her listed as next of kin? Surely he had friends who were closer to him now than she was.

Silence hung between them like dead air before a storm.

“Should I contact someone else?” the officer asked, impatience creeping into his voice.

The phone went silent as the officer waited for her to respond. Dana swallowed hard. She didn’t know what to say, who the officer should call. Mac had no family left that she knew of.

Despite the shock and her concern, Dana couldn’t stop the feeling of failure that washed over her. Although her mind was resigned to her divorce—they’d been so young—she’d never accepted her failure to keep her vows to Mac.

“No, no one else,” she said in a voice that echoed calm and distant in her ears.

Not My Idea (A Gentlemen of Misfortune Book One)

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Excerpt: “Luke, you finally came!” Philippa said, squeezing tightly. Her wispy brown hair tickled my cheek. “I thought you must have been killed in France. It was too cruel of you to stay away for so long!”
“Hello, Philly.” After a few seconds, I disentangled myself from her. “That’s enough of that. It’s good to see you, brat.”
Philippa scowled at me. “I am eighteen now, Luke. You have no right to say I’m a brat.” She smacked my arm, causing me no pain at all but the action seemed to make her feel better. “What took you so long to get here? It’s been ages since I sent you the letter telling you Mama was ill.”
I raised an eyebrow. I had not been told this. “Father said you wrote the letter after Mama and Sprite fell.” She opened her mouth, no doubt to argue the point, but I kept talking. “I did not receive your letter, and this afternoon was the first I have heard of Mama’s accident and illness. Are you certain you sent the letter at all?”
“Certainly I sent it! You cannot blame me for the lack of reliable mail delivery in foreign lands if you’re the one who chooses to go there.”
Waving my hand, I decided to let the matter pass. “I’m here now,” I said. She wrinkled her nose, surveying my appearance. “Do I pass muster, or do you find me wanting?”
“You have not washed from your travels,” she said, her tone judgmental. Her eyes widened with horror. “Please tell me you did not go into Mama smelling like a stable!”
“Our mama is not about to object to the smell of animals, sister of mine. But if I am so offensive to your nose, I will go to my room now.”
Apparently forgiving me for any offense I had given her, Philippa looped her arm around mine and walked with me down the hallway. “I am so glad you are here, Luke,” she said magnanimously. “My first Season was such a success, and you will never guess what happened!”
Even if I had not been told, what she wished to reveal would not have been difficult to discern. “Let me guess. You wore a pretty dress of fine muslin and you gossiped to all hours of the night? Or was it that you danced until dawn every night?”
“I’m not a gossip! No, Luke. I had no less than four offers, and I accepted one of them. I am to be married!”
“I am glad you accepted only one of those offers,” I told her. “Imagine what would happen if word got around you had consented to marry all of them!”
Philly scoffed at my teasing. “You are ridiculous,” she said. “His name is Mr. Bartholomew Talbot, and he is quite the nicest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I have high hopes of him joining the party, and then you will be able to meet him.”
“Party? What party is this?” I asked, reaching the door of my room. I paused, my hand on the doorknob as I glanced back at her.
“Phoebe told me all about it. Her parents are having a grand house party in a week. They have invited several of our friends from London. Phoebe is thrilled about it.”
I chuckled. Phoebe Ramsey was a year older than Philippa and was one of the silliest girls I had the misfortune of knowing. Growing up, she and I had done nothing but fight if we were left together for longer than a few minutes. As the older one, I had been scolded for not behaving better, an injustice I had never forgotten.
“Did you even tell her you were coming?”
Startled by the question, I frowned at Philippa. “No, why would I?”
“I was going to say you must not have. Heaven knows Phoebe cannot keep a secret,” Philippa said with a laugh. “She will be pleased when you visit, though she may not appreciate the surprise. It was badly done of you, Luke.”
Blinking, I tried to make sense of her words. “I doubt Phoebe Ramsey cares about my comings and goings, Philly,” I finally said, giving up on understanding her. “Run along.”
My sister frowned at me for a moment and then shrugged in an unladylike manner. “Brothers,” she said with a huff. She spun on her heel and called over her shoulder as she walked away, “You have no idea what a lady expects from you!”
Shaking my head at her incomprehensibleness, I put the matter from my mind and entered my room.