Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!

Here's an excerpt from An Informal Date. (Click here to find on Amazon.)


The change in Dr. Jameson’s voice gave warning. Whatever was coming next, Owen wouldn’t like it.

“Do you remember when I explained why we wanted to relocate you from Chicago to our lab here in Virginia?”

Owen remembered all right. He’d hoped, however, that the pharmaceutical company would wise up and realize they were better off not forcing the issue.

“It’s time.” Dr. Jameson built a funeral pyre with his voice.

Owen’s stomach dropped despite the uncomfortably angled chair that seemed to want to force all his internal organs northward.

“Gyermeck Pharmaceuticals will be asking the FDA to fast-track the drug. All our paperwork is in order, and our stats back up the drug’s release. The waiting period with the FDA, though, is... problematic.”

“A Pomeranian has more chance of convincing a government agency to take action. You send me in there, and the drug will end up permanently sidelined.” Owen knew his limitations. People were one of his biggest.

Dr. Jameson’s mouth lifted at the corner. “I’m not asking you to go into a meeting or address Congress. Nothing of the sort.”

Owen should feel better, but he would reserve judgment until Dr. Jameson finished. “Then what?”

“There’s a reception...”

“Uh-uh. No way. Seriously? A social gathering? I’d rather testify before Congress if it’s all the same to you.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not all the same, and Gyermeck isn’t backing down on this. The reception is next Thursday night. That gives you eight days to procure a tux and a date. Find someone who can fill in the awkward silences for you. If you don’t...”

Owen was still shaking his head. “Sending me to a social gathering like that will guarantee Gyermeck never gets approval to release the drug.”

Dr. Jameson stood and moved toward the door. “I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s part of your contract. I’ll check back with you on Tuesday to make sure you have a tuxedo and a date.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I’ve been instructed to see to it that you attend even if it means I dress you myself and hire an escort to accompany you.”

The door closed behind Dr. Jameson, but Owen remained in the chair. He was supposed to find a date to take to a reception — presumably a government reception — or the pharmaceutical company financing his research would hire one for him.

Could the day get any worse?

A crack echoed in the confined space of his office.

Oh no...

Owen landed on the floor.

Time for a new chair.

Go Back

From A Heart Reclaimed, available in the box set Cherish

“Hey, Dee, I was thinking...oh.” A tall, sandy-haired man stopped on the steps, his features sliding into a blank mask. “Hello, Anna.”

“McIntyre. Of course.” Anna’s stomach twisted into an entire batch of pretzels as she realized just who Deidre’s brother was. She swallowed, willing some moisture into the desert of her mouth. “I should be going. Your project is in good hands.”

Deidre shot Duncan a meaningful look.

Anna turned and reached for the door.

“I never figured you for one who’d walk away from a challenge.”

Anna spun, scowling, as Duncan crossed the foyer. “You’d dare?”

“I’ll just leave the two of you to work this out.” Deidre patted Duncan’s arm and beat a hasty retreat up the stairs.

“It’s good to see you.” He tucked his hands into his pockets with a cocky smile. “What’s it been, ten years?”

Anna sucked a breath through her teeth. Up close it was clear none of her prayers had been answered since Duncan wasn’t balding, pockmarked, or obese. Preferably all three. He was even better looking than he’d been in college, if that was possible. The lanky young man had filled out—in all the right places—and what had been an attractive package was now deadly. “Something like that, yes. Look. I didn’t realize she was your sister or I never would’ve come. Obviously you’re more than capable of handling the gardens here after working at Marshall Brothers. I’m surprised they’d let you take the spring off.”

He shrugged. “It’s more of a leave of absence, to be honest.”

“What? You have too many awards to fit in your office, so they sent you away while they built you a new one?” Not that she’d been following his career. Much. He just happened to get written up in all the magazines she enjoyed reading. Needed to read for professional development.

“Not quite.” He sighed. “There’s been some turnover at the top and I’m not sure I like the new direction they’re heading. So, I took some time. Besides, this place? Who wouldn’t want to work on it?”

Anna grinned before she could stop it. That was her thought, exactly. “Yes, well. You won this one, too. I’ll let you get to it.”

“Anna.” His voice was quiet. Almost tender. A lot like it had been the last time she’d told him goodbye.

She blinked back the tears that filled her eyes. “What?”

“You’re welcome to stay. I could use the help.”

Her heart lifted, but she fought it. Trusting Duncan was as risky as planting in mid-January. “What’s the catch?”

“Nothing, really. Except that I’m in charge.”

Innocent Tears by Iris Blobel

Ignoring Nadine’s companion, he knelt down in front of the girl and rested his arm on his leg. “Hey, little Muffin!”

“Hi.” Nadine’s reply was shy, nothing more than just a whisper.

They both looked at each other. “Are you my dad?” Nadine asked with slightly more voice, but still hiding behind Emma.

Flynn nodded and replied with warmth in a voice that came straight from his heart. “So it seems.” He just couldn’t get his eyes off the small child. No doubt she was Sarah’s child. He choked back a smile. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, indeed. Flynn stood up and went back to his chair and took the small parcel out of the bag he'd left there. Then he returned and crouched down in front of Nadine again. He gave her a wrapped box. “Buying presents for girls is new for me, so I hope you like it.” Okay, he felt odd, and he knew he owed Joyce big time for this, but how was he supposed to know what young girls liked?

Nadine let go of Emma’s hand and hesitantly came out from behind her. She took the box with both hands and looked at Flynn. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager
(YA contemporary fiction)


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

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

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

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

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

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

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

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

An excerpt from Secret Angel by Cherry Christensen

Jasper’s hand slid away from her arm, stretching to swipe the glob of snow on her cheek. The gentle touch of his fingers weakened her knees and for a brief moment she wondered if she would end up hugging the cypress bush to keep from crumpling in his arms.

“Ready to go?”

She nodded, stepping alongside him. “What’s on your mind?” she asked as they passed Deer Crossings. Jingles’ shadowy outline materialized in the window, and she sensed the feline watching them.

“I didn’t want to go to bed with things being weird between us.” Jasper spoke in a quieter tone. He kicked at some snow on the sidewalk. “Isn’t there a Bible verse about not going to bed when you’re angry?”

“Ephesians 4:26: ‘Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’” Studying his face in the moonlight she said, “I’m sorry. I’ll try not to pry again.”

His pace slowed as they approached Sabela’s. The enticing aroma of garlic floated in the air, tempting Hannah’s taste buds. Unlike most people, when she was upset, she couldn’t eat. After fighting with Jasper, all she’d had for supper was a spoonful of peanut butter. Her stomach rumbled at the idea of biting into one of Sabela’s cheesy breadsticks.

“I suppose that’s one thing I disliked about being in the public eye: people constantly prying into your life, wanting to know what cereal you eat for breakfast and which brand of toothpaste you use.” He shook his head and chuckled. “People place importance on the craziest things.”

“Let me guess. You liked the kids’ cereals with a prize inside the box, right?” she teased, muffling another loud grumble with her kidding.

“Every kid needs a secret decoder ring,” he said, waiting at the corner. His eyes danced in the light shining from the street lamp. He leaned in, clasping her hand. “I’m glad I met you, even if you do get my blood boiling at times.”

Hannah swallowed hard as their eyes locked. “I’m glad, too.”


Holding his gaze, they broke into a fit of laughter.

“Come on. Let’s get you something to eat before Sabela’s closes.” He continued holding her hand on the way back to the restaurant.

Fortunately, I found hockey (or hockey found me not sure which?), and I did all right for myself (details below). I only remember asking Dad for advice once. Wanting to take advantage of his track background, I asked him what I could do to run faster...
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An excerpt from REVELATION --The Sword and The Cross Chronicles

Ariane brushed by the woman and stopped in the doorway. She looked left then right. A man struggled to move his cart through the street which had turned muddy and rutted from a recent rain. She saw a group of dirty children playing in the puddles and a woman chasing a renegade goose, but she did not see Julian. She stepped into the street.

“Which way is the harbor?” she called to the old woman standing in the doorway.

“Mademoiselle, your death--”

“Which way?” she shouted.

The old woman pointed her finger to the right. Ariane ran down the sloppy street, sharp stones cut her tender feet. Then she came to a halt. She raised up on her toes.

There. Less than a furlong ahead she could see his broad shoulders above the crowd. She pushed and shoved her way down the road. Cold mud splattered her calves as she ran.

“Julian.” Her breath ragged, her lungs weighted and spent, the word came out a few tones above a whisper.

She pushed onward.

“Julian! Julian!”

Her legs ached and she stopped. She took a deep breath before racing forward again.

“Julian! Julian!”

He turned slowly. Her heart leapt in her chest.

“Julian! Julian!”

Closer. Clearer. She could see the lines of his jaw. She slid to a halt with a pace between them.

He said not a word, but stared at her as if she were a few bushels short of a boll. “Julian, I--”

“Came to finish me?” His gaze narrowed on the dagger in her hand.
Ariane looked at the dagger. Mud splattered the blade and the front of her white tunic. She inhaled when he came forward until less than a palm separated them.

His large hand wrapped around hers, lifting the dagger until the blade rested against his heart. “Then take the trophy you have always wanted. Cut away, dear lady.”

She tried to pull away, but he would not release her hand. “Nay, I have not come to kill you, but to go with you.”

His face flooded with confusion. “My lady, you are ill?”

Ariane stamped her foot in the mud, splattering the brown slop over his boots. “I am well enough to know what I want. I want to go with you.”


What could she tell him? That she would miss his rich voice, his intriguing looks, his appealing touch? Nay. “What will happen to you if I stay?”

He shrugged and let go of her hand. “I will deliver the cargo and seek out Richard’s brother, Prince John.”

“What will you say about me?”

“I will tell the truth. That I let you go.”

Her heart thundered in her chest. “You will be killed.”


He looked down, sorrow flooding his face. He cleared his throat before continuing. “I know. I shouldn’t have lied. When I found out about Chrissy, I felt broken. I felt like I had come to know Christ too late. That my life would never be the same and that it couldn’t be repaired. I didn’t know how I would tell you and I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a father.” He paused, gathering his thoughts. “Mia, when I held Chrissy for the first time, I couldn’t help but see the good in all my mess. I finally believed the scripture that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God’.”
Mia watched him as he spoke. Watching his eyes light up, she couldn’t help but believe him. Deep down she had known she couldn’t blame him for his past. Everyone had a past. To remain angry would go against every teaching of Christ she believed in. Let go. She looked down, feeling the tears well up in her eyes.
“But there’s something you don’t know. Something I’ve been trying to tell you for years now. The reason I constantly searched for you.”
She froze, holding her breath. What more could he possibly have to reveal?

An excerpt from BUILDING BENJAMIN (Biblical fiction from Judges 19-21)

“Eliab?” Her voice rasped through her suddenly reed-thin throat. She beckoned again, in soothing tones so as not to frighten the mules. Please answer me. She had kept Eliab at a distance hoping for a chance to sort out her future, but she did not want him taken from her altogether. Surely not taken from this life. Where would she find another Benjamite willing to wait and postpone the marriage bed?

“God, I am confused,” she mumbled. “Am I to leave? I have a mount and water, but where do I go? I am lost in these hills. Only Eliab knows the way.” The ewe gave a soft bleat as a chorus to her prayer. She petted her gift and came forth with a hand full of fur. “Please spare Eliab’s life. If you want me to speak truth, I will.” Her heart swelled and rallied against her ribs. “I am fond of him.”

Clutching the ewe tight, she jumped from the mule and forced herself to fall on her side and avoid crushing her gift. Air rushed from her lungs as her shoulder struck hard ground. She knelt while pain ricocheted down the length of her arm. Settling the ewe off the trail, she secured the mules and eased along the cliff with her back to the jagged rock. Closer and closer she inched to where Eliab had fallen. Her prayers for a rescue would be in vain if Eliab perished, for Gera would snatch her from Berek’s door.

Flat to the ground, she crawled near the path’s edge. “Lord, I am doing what is good and right in your sight. May it go well with me as you have promised.” She peered to see if Eliab had survived.

Several yards below her, he lay sprawled on a ledge. A blanket of rocks covered him from neck to feet. Blood covered his face, but she did not see a stream of scarlet beneath the stones. His eyes, closed and still, did not flutter in response to her calls. Had death taken him? She spoke his name again. Nothing. Tiny bumps spread like a rash over her arms.

“Lord, do not abandon me in these hills. I need Eliab.”

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Not My Idea (A Gentleman of Misfortune Book One)
by Bethany Swafford

“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.

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