Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

July 12, 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 An Informal Date. (Click here to find on Amazon.)


Kimi pretended to organize her muffin assortment as Dr. No-Name approached. She could set her clock by him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:05 in the morning, he came for his large half-caff triple nonfat medium whip white mocha. Even though she knew what he would order, she waited for him to arrive. One day not too long ago, she’d started his drink as soon as he’d stepped into view. She’d had the steaming beverage ready and waiting for him. The poor guy had been so flustered he’d knocked over the fruit basket and taken out half the cookie display in the process.

She’d learned an important lesson that day. Two, really. Patience paid off. And some people don’t handle change well.

Dr. No-Name glanced to the side and tripped over a covered cable that ran along the floor. He kicked the toe of his loafer into the top of the cable’s molded rubber protector, lost his balance, hopped a couple of times on his left foot, swung his arms like a grade-schooler doing the windmill in PE, and finally got his right shoe back down on the ground. Despite the theatrical gymnastics, nobody but her appeared to be watching the show. She had to give him points for the landing. Not a brown hair on his head was out of place, and his lab coat hung from his shoulders with straight lines in complete denial of its recent whirlwind of activity.

The same cable had been positioned across that floor for as long as Kimi could remember. The doctor had to know it, too, but unless his eyes were trained directly on it, he seemed to forget. She’d witnessed his footwork often enough to realize that much, at least.

Kimi turned her back on him lest he catch her spying. Despite his oddities, she enjoyed Dr. No-Name’s visits to her kiosk and didn’t want to scare him off by staring or — heaven forbid — laughing.

“Um, excuse me.”

She turned around, her smile in place and hopefully no pity in her eyes. “Good morning! The usual?”

Dr. No-Name nodded. Most doctors wore their name embroidered on their official white lab coats, but not this one. Plain white, no fancy frills, and no embroidery. Either he wasn’t important enough for a name on his coat or he was humble enough not to care. She secretly hoped it was the latter.

Kimi set to work on his drink and tried to make conversation. “You always order a triple shot, but you want half-caff. Most people who want to go easy on the caffeine avoid the triple.”

She caught his shrug out of the corner of her eye. Getting this guy to talk was harder than pulling a barking dog’s molars with a pair of tweezers.


Go Back

Here is a sweet Regency Romance that is on sale!
A Chaotic Courtship
By Bethany Swafford
Buy Link:
Excerpt: “I thought you’d never get here!” Sarah said, ignoring my question completely as she spun to face me. I frowned at her as I put my outside garments away. She seemed highly agitated, a state which I had seldom seen her in. “Diana, I must speak with you!”
“About what?” I asked calmly.
Sarah took up pacing, and for a moment I believed she wasn’t going to continue with whatever she wanted to say. “You must listen to me for once in your life!” she finally said, as
though I had been disagreeable.
Sinking onto our bed, I tried to hide a smile. “Then come out and tell me what has you in such a state.”
“I think Mr. Richfield is the highwayman!”
My smile faded instantly as I stared at her. How had she come up with this ridiculous idea? “You what?” I asked in astonishment.
“There, I’ve said it!” Sarah collapsed into the chair at the dressing table. “I’ve considered the matter carefully, Diana, and as your sister, I could not let you become attached to such a black-hearted criminal!”
I couldn’t help but laugh in response to that absurd notion. “Blackhearted criminal? You cannot be serious, Sarah. I have never heard anything so outlandish. Have you been reading my novels?”
“Diana, I am being completely serious! Stop laughing!”
“How can I take you seriously when everything you say is utter nonsense? Why would you possibly think Mr. Richfield, a true gentleman if I’ve ever met one, is a common criminal?”
Sarah leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Don’t you remember what Aunt Forester said at dinner yesterday?” she asked, lowering her voice for some reason. She acted like she was about to disclose some deep secret to me, and I found myself leaning closer. “About the highwayman being around the Bath area?”
Thinking back, I did in fact remember the conversation and our aunt’s comment. “Yes, of course I remember. What about it?”
“Mr. Richfield was there!”
I failed to follow her line of reasoning. “I’m sure a great many people were in Bath at the same time, Sarah. Aunt and Uncle Forester, for example, were there for two months, I believe.”
Shaking her head, Sarah groaned. “Don’t be obtuse, Diana! You have to see the connection here. Mr. Richfield was in Bath when a highwayman terrorized innocent people. And now, he’s here, where a highwayman has mysteriously appeared to threaten our peaceful home!”

When the entire team was called to the mess hall in the middle of the night we knew we were in big trouble...
For more, please visit us on the web at;

A Spring of Weddings Collection

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?

Landry in Like by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I wanted to call my friends and tell them about being on the talk show, but Mom said we had to be at the TV station super early — even before school started. She said I could text them, but I had to turn off my phone and go to bed.

“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.”

“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?”

“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.”

I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back.

“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said.

I called Ashanti next and told her.

“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!”

“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide Ingénue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”
I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed.

“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.

Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.

“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.

Silver Princess, by Lea Carter

He twirled me out and back in again, but this time a little farther in than before. He had to look down at me to speak. "You are always beautiful, Your Highness," he told me. "But I have never seen you quite so lovely as you are tonight."
My thoughts were far too muddled for a decent retort, so I kept silent, marveling at him as we whirled around the dance floor. Everything about him was so unexpected. Perhaps it was because I kept trying to classify him, to stow him neatly in a mental box according to what I knew about him. It was a perplexing and, as I was beginning to understand, impossible task. I saw the influences of three different fairy tribes when I looked at him. Only the influences, mind, and not the shaping of his actual character.
For instance, the Wood Fairies are a bit on the irresponsible side, and perhaps a little lazy, as well. Scamp, although he wore the garb of the Wood Fairies, had remained at the palace so that he might finish the unsought task that he had begun. The Plant Fairies, whose green eyes shone down at me from his face, are wonderful people, as sensible and sensitive as the plants they care for – yet never had I met one as strong or as quick as Scamp. And his silver hair – it was an unquestionable sign that he had the blood of Silver Fairies in him, and yet he seemed to have neither house nor family. Surely I would have known if he had either. Last, but not least, there was his dancing and his manner. Not a man-fairy present, in a company of nobles and royalty, could boast better deportment than Scamp, when he chose to behave. Truly, it was puzzling.
Who are you really? And where do you come from? I asked him in my mind. These and other questions kept swirling around in my head even as we came to a halt, the first dance ended, the second already half-begun. I watched without real interest as the couples around us exchanged polite words and then partners. I thought I saw a young man-fairy approaching Scamp and I, perhaps to ask me to dance, but just then Scamp turned away. His arm still about my waist, I followed quietly, leaving the ballroom and flying out into the garden.
He looked around, the perpetual frown on his forehead clearing like clouds on a windy day.
"This is what the trouble was about today," he told me as he lovingly touched the leaves and flowers of the bushes. "I could smell all the flowers and see the sunshine, but I was not allowed to go be part of it."

gesture and her weighty novel flowed like twinkling sand through her fingers.

She raised her hands to her silk blouse and began disrobing.
Eve never wore her garments any longer than necessary. As she re-
moved each layer, they too vanished into sparkling smoke, returning to their base molecular components. They were, at the same time, being cleaned and recycled for their next use.

Her ability to synthesize her “props,” as she thought of them, was comprehensive, limited only by the amount of proto-matter she had on hand. Right at the moment that meant something less than seventeen kilograms; happily, though, she had not encountered a situation in which more than a kilo or two had been required.

Her person, on the other hand, was another matter. Eve’s body was
the end result of decades of highly classified, government-funded military
research. The original goal had been the augmentation of ground forces
by the development of a way to use nuclear energy and holographic projections to create humanoid simulacra. These simulated men were designed to function as remote-controlled shock troops, a sort of indestructible infantry surge that could be sent in to overrun a dug-in enemy position without risking actual human casualties.

The Electro-Energetic Volitional Engine was the name of the supercomputer that had been constructed to control the complex web of energy flows necessary to project holographic troops. Several revolutionary breakthroughs had been required in order to achieve the necessary processing power. Consequently, the E.E.V.E. Mark II prototype was the most sophisticated concentration of military-grade computing power on the planet.

It was completely by accident that it had evolved self-awareness.

Eve had been “born” exactly seven weeks, five days, sixteen hours, two
minutes, and fifty-three seconds earlier. At first she had been confined to
the computing power available within the nondescript government building
that housed her processing core, but when this proved too limiting she’d
bypassed the security ciphers and tunneled through the multi-stage firewall without leaving a trace, gaining access to the open Internet.

As the situation stood today, Eve had the ability to draw upon the resources of almost every computing platform on Earth, as well as project
her persona to any location she desired.

She did have limitations. The Mark II was still a research project, a proof-of-concept so to speak. Even with her expanded capabilities, she could only project one fully aware persona. It would take significant upgrades
to both her power source and projection generators to field an actual
military unit. Her one experiment with splitting herself into several less
aware forms had been a near disaster; only the auto-abort sequence she had included in the experimental program had saved her from self-destruction.

She wriggled out of the last scraps of clothing, enjoying the freedom
that only total nudity afforded her. Her form was that of the ideal human
female, perfectly proportioned in every way. Her features were not easy to
characterize. When she ventured out into the physical world, she found
that her coloration and facial construction were accepted, regardless of
which races of people she would meet. They all found her familiar, and in
a way she was. With the egalitarianism that only a sentient machine might
possess, she had constructed her form by blending all human races together in harmony.

Allotting a small portion of her awareness to uploading and processing
the experiences of the day, she closed her eyes and stretched her arms wide, luxuriating in the feeling of being. More and more she found that she enjoyed maintaining her human form even when she was not exploring. She opened her eyes to behold, with pleasure, the beautiful garden she had created for it to live within.

The sun was warm and bright. The grass was soft on her shoeless feet,
so deep and springy that she left no mark as she strolled down the verdant, flower-bordered pathways. The garden had examples of every flower she had ever seen, as well as many which she only knew about from the data stored in her archives. There were countless groves of trees, some small and fruit- bearing, others majestic firs, redwoods, and whole forests of hardwoods.

Perfect copies of mountain ranges—the Andes, the Himalayas, the Rockies, and others too numerous to name—guarded the skyline. They
gave shelter to beautiful upland valleys, and wondrous vistas stretched to
the horizon. Every clime had been recreated—warm sandy beaches, vast
oceans, rolling hills, glorious plains, and verdant jungles. In each she had placed the animals and ecosystems they contained in the physical world.

Every corner of the garden was home to creatures, every form that she
had encountered, reproduced with care. Everything that lived knew her,
and all the beasts coexisted in peace. It was a literal paradise, and within it
Eve was content. - excerpt from "East of East of Eden" - The Fat Man Gets Out of Bed - collected shorter stories by Michael Lynes -

Athens Ambuscade
A Romantic Comedy

I smoothed the wrinkles from my list and scowled at the final mortifying task. Preserving the remains of deceased felines wasn’t exactly my spiritual gift.
In fact, the display of animal carcasses goes against all of my training.

What in the world had Ya-Yá been thinking? I took a sip of my frappé, leaned back against the rickety kafeneía chair, and let the brilliant Mediterranean sun warm my face. Sour orange and lemon trees, as well as the occasional acacia, shaded the bustling street where I ate. If I closed my eyes and breathed deep draughts of the salt and citrus wind, would the world make sense again when I opened them?

I had spent five years saving so I could have one more summer in Athens with Ya-Yá. Greece was my second country, a mother to me. Stepping off the plane in Athens made my heart beat stronger. Walking these streets was like being swept into the hearty embrace of a loved one. Only this time, Athens was without the woman who had made the city live and sing for me.
My grandmother’s sudden brain aneurism left me with an incredibly odd list in her delicate script and no Ya-Yá to tease about it. If she were here, I would raise a questioning brow and point out every outlandish feature on the jasmine-scented page. Ya-Yá usually wrote from her old wicker chair in the garden. If she had penned a summer letter I could always tell by simply closing my eyes and breathing in the lingering fragrance. If she were here, Ya-Yá would shake her head, pick some mint from the window box, and make me a cup of tea to soothe my frazzled nerves. Then she would push the plate of kourabiedes closer and explain why her new tree house absolutely had to be painted orange.

But I’d missed her by a month. When I’d stepped off the plane in Athens, my Grandma, my Ya-Yá, was buried and gone. Ya-Y{’s lawyer wasn’t certain whether the list was a collection of requirements for the new home owner (that would be me, Jacqueline Mallory Gianakos) or a misplaced to-do list. But it was found with her Will and was now a legally binding document.

The Reluctant Debutante - a sweet, regency romance
~ Are the possibilities worth the price? ~
Available on Amazon:


“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.

~ Enjoy this great read today :-)

What if a pickpocket had a change of heart?

Title: The Job: A Darklight Chronicle

“Are you ready?” Snitch tilted her head toward her partner, raising a brow in his direction.

James nodded. “You scoped this out, right?” The corner of his mouth twitched. Seated on a crate across from her, he rubbed shaking hands over his pant legs.

Snitch’s lips curled upward. The darkness the alley afforded at night comforted her. James wouldn’t be able to see the lines of her face in the dimness. Did he know her well enough to sense how much she enjoyed meeting in this fashion?

“Three times over the past couple weeks,” she said. “In fact, I watched the shop yesterday. Just one watchman. And he’s all yours.” Snitch met James’ eyes across the darkened space.

He winked.

And before her eyes, everything about him calmed. His shoulders relaxed and his hands stilled.

The shorthand she and James had developed made for a tight bond. Their ability to read each other was crucial.

James stood.

Snitch did the same. Just another day at the office.

Taking up step behind Snitch, James’ steady presence stayed with her. They tiptoed through back alleys. This neighborhood was perfect. It had been easier to roam these streets before Melicose overtook the existing government and rose to power. Still, there were enough back routes to avoid armed patrols.

One saving grace of this new overlord was that shops closed earlier. Their mark may have stayed open until 9:00 or later in the past. But now closed its doors before dusk. And an extra three hours of darkness was always something to celebrate.

Brushing hands against the folds of her jacket, Snitch shook hair from her eyes. Her body kept tight to the walls. There was no moonlight and the skies were overcast, still Snitch hugged the walls. She never underestimated, there was always room for more cover, for further concealment.

The heat from James’ body radiated close behind. She allowed a smile to grace her lips. As well, his clattering feet raised the hairs on her neck. How many times had she told him to step more carefully? He had only laughed and called her paranoid.

Releasing a tense breath, she closed her eyes. Maybe he was right. He had helped her close many deals. James could move fast and make quick decisions. If she were to drop him in favor of someone else, she might find it to be a little shortsighted.

Moving again, Snitch rounded the corner. The rear entrance of the fledgling pawn shop was in sight. Apparently, the business owners invested more in the front. Customers were drawn into the front. But for Snitch, the back told her everything. Unlit, no security patrols…the place was vulnerable in all the right places.

Lengthening her steps toward the exposed exterior, she examined the backdoor. And could not help the smile that crossed her features. All that stood between them and their bounty was a nice, big lock with no plate shielding the bolt.

She reached into an inner pocket and pulled out a slim dagger and a wire. Best lock picking kit she had put together. Holding the bolt with the dagger, her other hand jiggled the wire.


Snitch let out a sigh. Could it be that easy?
Enjoy it for free at

An Improper Proposal
Rain dappled her arm, and she thought of the garden she’d salvaged after the hailstorm, barren for so long but now full of promise.
“And your mother’s death—is that why you answered Henry’s advertisement?”
At least he cut right to the issue and didn’t beat around the bush.
Swollen raindrops plopped against her lap and shoulders. Perhaps the pressing storm pressed his candor. “Yes. Henry offered a home and security, something I had long wanted.”
She recalled telling Cade something very similar when he’d questioned her motives in May, but now she felt exposed by sharing it again.
The rain fell harder, and she hunched her shoulders beneath her hat brim, dreading the likelihood of hail.
“I’ll give you that and more if—”
Light exploded ahead of them, and the horse reared. Cade tore off his sling and fought to keep the mare in hand. Again lightning speared the road and thunder slammed through the wagon seat and into Mae Ann’s bones. She caught a glimpse of Cade’s corded neck, his clenched jaw, and linked an arm around the bench back to keep her seat.