Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  If you're an author, 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 more people will find it.  If you're a reader...enjoy!

Happy reading (and writing)!!


An Informal Introduction - Click to Buy

As if the flashing lights in her rearview mirror weren’t enough, the trooper turned on the siren, too. Lily cringed and slid down in her seat like a teenager hiding from prying eyes. Of course, her teen years were long behind her, and any eyes intent on prying would need night vision goggles to see her. The sun hadn’t yet kissed the eastern horizon.

She slowed and sought a place to pull over, no small feat on this narrow stretch of Lee Highway. Spotting a patch of grass to her right, she steered her silver two-door sedan as far over as she could and cut the engine. Her fingers drummed a rhythmless beat on the steering wheel as she waited for the trooper. He was probably busy checking with dispatch to make sure she wasn’t a mass murderer. Because, clearly, rampaging homicidal maniacs drove nondescript cars on the way to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning.

In all her years traversing this road, Lily had never seen a state trooper on this particular stretch. Until today. Good thing she’d left early for work.

Thank you, God, for getting me up and out the door when You did.

The trooper climbed out of his cruiser and approached her parked vehicle. She hit the button and listened to the almost imperceptible hum as her window slid down. The grey of his uniform would have blended into the night were it not for the illumination of his headlights and his car-mounted spotlight. As it happened, they blinded her enough that she couldn’t catch much more than the color of his clothes and a hint of his shape.

“License and registration, please.” The voice was impatient. Tired, too. He was probably at the end of his shift, which meant she had little chance of winning the argument, but she wouldn’t let that stop her from trying.

“I wasn’t speeding.”

“License and registration, please.”

So much for the serve part of public service.

“Can you at least tell me why you pulled me over?”

“Give me your license and registration, ma’am.”

Heat swept through Lily. It’s not like she’d asked a difficult question. “How do I even know you’re a state trooper and not some crazed rapist who’s trying to get my address so he can break into my home?”

The trooper’s shadowed mouth hinted at a smile, and his eyes morphed from intense pinpoints to… Hm. Eyes couldn’t be huggable, could they?

Who was she kidding? She couldn’t even see his eyes. Her imagination had to be on overdrive.

“Well, ma’am, most people consider those flashing red and blue lights as proof enough that I’m one of the good guys, but if it would make you feel better, I’d be happy to go turn the siren back on, too. I doubt crazed rapists announce themselves with police sirens.” Now that he was speaking in actual sentences, Lily picked up a hint of honeyed Southern drawl dancing along the edge of his words. She never could resist Southern charm — real or imagined.

Go Back

From A Place to Call Home
Molly stared after Kurt as he left the house. At five foot eleven, she stood eye-to-eye with most of the men she knew, but she’d had to look up at Kurt with his handsome face and sandy blond hair. His startling blue eyes held a haunted expression when he’d gazed down at her as if she were some kind of apparition. Was it because he’d expected someone much older?
She smiled to herself, thinking that she’d expected the same. A man with decades of woodworking experience. Kurt couldn’t be much older than she was. Although she was only thirty, she sometimes felt like the aging widow he had expected. Her life had been filled with more than her share of tragedy.
Going into her office on the left side of the stairway, she closed the double doors. Her oak roll-top desk sat between the two windows with a view of the side porch. She plopped into the chair, ripped open the envelope, and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Steve’s scrawled handwriting covered the page. When she took in the meaning of his words, a lightheaded feeling came over her, and the note fell from her hand. She reached for the phone. This time Steve was asking too much.
She punched in Steve’s phone number then listened to the ring while she tapped the fingers of her free hand on the arm of the chair. As soon as he said hello, she launched into her speech. “Steve, what do you think you’re doing sending this Kurt Jansen over here? I can’t have him working for me or living in my carriage house apartment. I just can’t.”
“It’s nice to hear from you, too.” She heard the chuckle in Steve’s voice and imagined his plump round face sporting a smile.
“I’m sorry, but this note you sent with him doesn’t exactly inspire my confidence.”
“Moll, you wanted someone who could help you with that house. Kurt seemed like the answer to your prayers.”
“With you, everything’s an answer to prayer.”
“Personally, I think that’s a good way to live. Seeing everything that happens as though God’s hand is in it somewhere.”
“Don’t make me feel guilty.” Molly twisted a piece of hair around her index finger.
“If you feel guilty, it’s not my fault.” Steve’s voice still held a hint of amusement.
“You should feel guilty for not telling me he went to prison for manslaughter in the death of his wife.” Molly took a deep breath. “Please, don’t make me do this.”
“I’m not making you do anything. Kurt has the skills you need, and you have a job and a place for him to live—two things he needs.”
“You’re asking me to deal with a violent man—a man responsible for his wife’s death. I don’t need another one of those in my life.”
“I know. At first I hesitated to send him your way…” Steve sighed. “But he’ll be able to restore that old house so you can have your bed-and-breakfast, and he can also build your shelter for battered women.”
“Isn’t that a little ironic? A man with his background working on a shelter for battered women?”
“Maybe, but personally, I think he’s telling the truth when he says he’s innocent.”
“Aren’t they all?” Molly couldn’t keep the sarcasm from her voice.
“He’s served his time, and he deserves a break, just like a certain young woman who needed help not too long ago.”
Molly leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling. How could she say no when some of Steve’s friends had been her lifeline at the time of her own arrest? “This is different.”
“Yes, but a lot is the same.” Steve’s voice held a serious note. “Just think it over. Pray about it.”
“Okay, but I didn’t claim to be innocent.”

The Debutante Bride - now on sale for $0.99
~ First comes marriage, then comes love ~
Available at all ebook outlets, including Amazon


As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back into her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, reveling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favor.

~ Happy reading :-) ~

Nyssa Glass and the Cutpurse Kid

“Are you all right?” His voice was quiet, subdued.
“No. I feel stupid. It’s not a great sensation.”
His hand rested on top of her head. “You feel stupid? I’m the idiot who brought the kid into our home … it had to be a setup. From the moment I tossed him a coin on the boardwalk, I was pegged for an easy mark.”
Nyssa pulled up a stool and sat even with him. “You were just being decent, and that’s what makes me so mad.” She let out a hot breath. “When I was in Uncle Al’s grasp as a kid, I would’ve given anything for what we gave that boy. A chance to go straight? A home where no one hit me? Food, shelter … love?” Her voice cracked. “Blast me, Ellis, he made me love him. Do you know how many people I’ve actually loved since my parents died? Three. Only three, and this is why.” Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision. “People are stupid. People would rather steal from each other than care for each other. People hurt people.” Her voice broke.
Ellis’s arms wrapped around her, pulling her onto his lap. She buried her face against his shoulder and sobbed.
“I’m so sorry, Nyss. I’m so, so sorry.” His lips caressed her forehead and tear-streaked cheeks. “I shouldn’t have forced the kid on you. It was stupid. I just thought …”
“It’s not your fault.” Nyssa sniffled.

This is not a Regency… but SHE thinks it is. What if you woke from a traumatic experience and believed you were in 1813 England? Could you trust Dusty Earl in middle Tennessee? An affectionate tweak of Regency novels.

Here is an excerpt from Chasm, an Adult Romantic Suspense Novel.


The blaring light woke him, intense enough to pull him out
of a deep dream. He was down on his mattress, buried deep in the
ground, when it yanked him up by the collar and shook him
The glorious ray of light held a rich golden intensity, the
broadness of it—vast and illuminating, spanning. He shook his
head, trying to make sense of it all. His eyes blinked and he
squeezed them back shut, thinking he was dreaming. But this was
no dream.
He sprang off the mattress. It had to be car lights. Someone
had found him. What else could it be? It didn’t make sense. Poised
at the bottom step, he listened, then sniffed the air, stumbling
backward when the scent that drifted in carried the familiar essence
of children.
He rushed up the ragged steps, two at a time, exalted at
what he knew was waiting for him on the other side.
Their laughter rang in his ears.
Staggering backward, he collapsed, going down on his bare
knees. He gripped his head, reeling, flabbergasted to see what had
unfolded before him.
Stunned by the vivaciousness of the sky, he looked up. It
was brilliant, shimmering a vivid gold, blotched with streaks of
blue and pink crayon scribbles. The air smelled of sweet, whipped
vanilla strawberry shortcakes and pink cotton candy on a stick,
with little sprinklings of rubber bouncy balls mixed in on the
He was stricken, but his face broke open and bloomed.
The children were wondrous, their contagious laughter
paralyzing while they zipped through the air on the swings,
squealing, laughing, crying. His thirst for them was unquenchable
and he laughed exhilaratingly, tears pouring down his face. He
stumbled toward them.
When he rushed, stumbling—his arms outstretched to catch
them before they fleeted away—he faltered and fell. He couldn’t
get to them fast enough. “Meggie, Josh—you’ve come home! You
made it!”
He got close, closing his arms in to embrace them. He
swiped, swiped again, but they were gone. Two empty swings
were the only things left. They swayed lightly in the breeze; the
chains, needing oil, whispered sadly. The sky shrank inside itself,
returning to its normal light blue, a few bumpy clouds littering its
smooth surface.
His eyes, with their long lashes, blinked quickly, looking like
a spider trying to scurry to safety. He steadied their wild darting
and focused, realizing that it wasn’t swings at all—with their
squeaking chains and white plastic seats—but just two dead, white
tree branches, rubbing and scraping against each other in the
“Meggie…Josh…don’t leave me.” He stared down at his
empty hands. His shoulders quaked and he sank to his knees,
sobbing into his palms.

Right Time for Love by Jannette Spann

Gavin eased his truck into Brandy’s drive, looking forward to spending time alone with her. An hour in her company never failed to relieve his stressful day, but when she came off the porch and headed his way, the frown was less than welcoming.

“I’ve got a problem,” she said, the moment his door opened.

“Join the rest of us.”

“I’m serious.” Brandy remained hot on his heels, following him around the truck.

He shoved his cap back. It didn’t matter if he was fed up and bone weary, she wasn’t relenting. “Okay, Brandy. What did she do?”

“Lily said she wants me to be her mother.”

He stopped, glancing back over his shoulder. “What brought that on?”

“I’m not sure. We were playing dress up, and I’d done her makeup and hair. Then out of the blue, she threw her arms around my neck and said she wanted me for a Mama!”

“What did you say?”

“That she has a mother.”

Gavin picked up the shovel and pickaxe, and headed toward the house. Ordinarily he’d use the backhoe and be done in a day, but he needed this job to last as long as possible, or at least until Paul and Clarice got back. Spending time with Brandy was icing on the cake—sometimes.

She grabbed his arm. “What am I supposed to do?”

“How should I know?”

“Well, you’re her uncle. They made you the guardian.”

He walked on. “They gave me guardianship, but they didn’t leave instructions on how to raise her. Besides, you’re the school teacher, you should know this stuff.”

“Well, I don’t!”

“Sounds like you need to get busy then.”


He pivoted, finding her right behind him, fists balled on her hips and fire in her expression. “Oh, all right, but it’s going to cost you.”

A suspicious gleam entered her eyes. “Just what’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’ll make a deal with you.”

She kicked at the grass. “That’s how I got into this mess in the first place.”

He laughed for the first time since he’d kissed her that morning. “I’ll straighten this out with Lily, if you’ll go to the zoo with us on Sunday.”

“Nothing else?” Her stance relaxed, and the cheeky grin went straight to his heart. “The zoo sounds like fun. But I’m not sure, it’s according to how Mom’s feeling.”

“Can you get Mrs. McGuire to stay with her?”

“I guess.” She hesitated. “Why don’t you and Lily go to church with us? We’ll come back here to eat lunch, and I’ll talk to Mrs. McGuire.”

He planned to attend church anyway, so if going with Brandy would guarantee him her company for the entire day… plus lunch… How could he go wrong?

Unexpected Rewards (Not Every Girl Book 2)



“Excuse me, Sir Davenport, Lady Davenport,” says a voice, and suddenly Liam stands beside us. “But I would very much like to have a dance with your daughter.”
“Of course, Your Highness,” Mother replies in awe, dipping into a curtsey.
My acknowledgement is a much stiffer bow of the head. The moments with my family had briefly smothered my worry, but now it hurtles back full force. He takes my hand and I follow him onto the floor, silently praying my knees don’t give out from the terror that rises in me like the tide. One hand fits on the small of my back, the other grasps mine. His palms are uncharacteristically sweaty.
Something is definitely wrong.
I look into his beautiful, blue eyes. They swim with misery. Now that I am going to find out the reason, I am not sure I want to anymore.
He clears his throat. “I didn’t want to have to tell you in public, but I can’t let the night pass and deceive you.”
Not good.
At my silence, he continues, “Somehow Jocelyn has influenced my father. He wants me to court her, to give her a fair chance, because he considers her a more suitable match.”
There she sits now, right next to King William, her usual smug expression in place. Our monarch absently surveys the room. The monarch I saved—who praised me for it—stabs me in the back without a second thought. I should have left him to die in that escape tunnel.
“And what do you think of that?” I ask pointedly.
“Naturally, I protested…abundantly, but…” He stops, won’t meet my eyes.
But? But cannot be good. But can only be disastrous.
I stop moving and we stand looking at each other like mannequins while
couples rotate around us.
“But what?” I whisper, the cacophony of music and chatter turning into an otherworldly buzz while my senses brace for the impact of his answer.
“But…my father told me if I did not give Jocelyn a fair chance, he would not only send you from the palace, but ship you down to Prescott and arrange a marriage for you there. I don’t
know what to do, Olivia. I don’t know how to fix this.”
A barrage of thoughts leap to mind, none of them in any way accepting of this information. Send me away? Ship me to Prescott? As if I were livestock? And arrange a marriage? So many protests, I hardly know where to begin.
The music ends and couples saunter off the floor. Liam and I stand alone in the center.
Eyes will be upon us soon if we remain here like statues.
With every ounce of composure I can muster, I curtsey and hear my voice say, “Thank you for the dance, Your Highness. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.”
Then, I walk away.

EXCERPT for my YA Fairy Tale - THE DRAGON'S RING by Debra Daugherty - Clean Reads
Buy link:

A loud, deafening roar pierced his eardrums, and he felt the ground beneath him shake. James whirled around and found himself face to face with the most ferocious creature he had ever seen.

He had never encountered a dragon before, but he had heard all the stories about them from other knights at the castle. Nothing he had been told prepared him for this sight.
An enormous and fierce green dragon with thick, scaly skin glared at him. The dragon, at least twenty feet tall, swished its long tail back and forth, and each time the tail hit the wall of the cave, the room shook. James noticed that the tail ended in a sharp point, just like a spear.

The dragon roared again, and flames spewed from its mouth, while huge puffs of smoke seeped out of its nostrils. When the dragon opened its mouth, James saw that its teeth were sharp and jagged. His legs trembled. He could hear his knees as they knocked together, and for a moment he thought he was going to faint.

As the dragon inched closer, James took a step back and then moved to the left. The dragon did the same. He dashed to the right and so did the dragon.

James decided to run and hide from the dragon until he could devise a plan on how to defeat it. He ran as hard and as fast as he could, but the dragon was right on his heels.

Deeper and deeper into the cavern James went until he could go no further. He had reached a dead end. There were no more tunnels to explore, and the dragon was blocking his only way out. James was trapped and the dragon knew it.

Emily's Choice by Bethany Swafford



Tears sprang into Emily's eyes. "I miss you, Mama, so very, very much," she whispered. Sniffing, she wiped at the tears and stood up. She took a deep breath and turned around. Holding her head high, she walked back to the gate where Rosalind waited.

"Are you well, Emily?" her cousin asked softly.

"I am perfectly fine," Emily answered swiftly. She forced a smile. "Do you think we will be able to ride later on? I am anxious to be out on Lady. Its been so long since the weather has been agreeable."

Compassionately, Rosalind reached out and, putting her hand on her cousin's shoulder, turned Emily to face her. "You ought not bottle yourself up like that. You have the right to miss your mother, Emily," she said seriously. "I miss my parents every day." She smiled wryly. "Even though I know your father's opinion on that."

"It would be extremely hard not to know my father's opinion on anything," Emily responded. She sighed and looked back. "I just wish I knew why she went for a walk that day. Father refuses to speak about it. And I have not been in contact with my mother's family."

"Why was your mother buried so far from the rest of the Lawrence family?" Rosalind asked curiously.

"I wish I know," Emily admitted. "That's another thing I have tried to ask Father about." She shook her head. "It's best not to question things too much. He can fly into such a terrible temper."

The cousins began moving away from the graveyard. The village was just beyond. "Do you want to see if there are any new ribbons in?" Rosalind asked. "You have been complaining your hat looks old."

"Not today," Emily answered. "I'm not in the mood for gossiping or seeing anybody. I think I would like to just walk and see the spring taking over." She hesitated. "But, I suppose if you really want to see someone, we could go see Mr. Goldman at the church."

"No, no," Rosalind responded hastily. "I am content with your company if you are content with mine."

Arm in arm, they walked back to Lawrence Manor at a much slower pace. Taking the long, round about way, they passed the neighboring estate, pausing on the top of a hill to look down at the large mansion.

"Waverly Place is so beautiful," Rosalind said, admiration in her voice. "Do you know the owners?"

"No," Emily answered seriously. "The family has not lived there since I was very little. I barely remember them, and Father will not speak of them at all." She heaved a sigh. "It is just another one of Ambershire's mysteries."

Celeste by Ann Evans



"Buy a pretty ribbon, dear."
The costumed character stood on the corner, a wooden tray balanced around her neck, filled with coiled ribbons. She was red-faced and plump dressed in grubby medieval clothes and mop cap. She held out a blue ribbon. "This will look nice in your pretty fair hair, m'dear. Go on, buy a ribbon."
Megan glanced back for Freya who was nowhere to be seen. "Sorry, I don't wear ribbons. Nobody wears ribbons unless you're a two-year-old."
The woman who even had discoloured her teeth to make herself look authentic insisted. "Ah, show an old woman a kindness, m'dear. I've a family of nine to feed."
Megan groaned, realising she wasn't going to escape without buying something. "How much are they, then?"
"Whatever you think, m'dear."
She fished a twenty pence piece from her purse. "Is this enough?"
The woman put the coin between her teeth and bit down on it. Then, smiling a broken smile, handed Megan a length of ribbon. "God bless you."
Megan took it, pulling a face. "Well, I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with it, but thanks. Oh, and I think your costume looks very realistic — love the teeth!"
Slipping the ribbon into her pocket she strolled on, keeping a look out for more costumed actors.
She turned at the sound of Freya's voice. Her friend was walking towards her, carefully holding something in two hands — her mobile phone. Megan knew it was just her mobile phone, yet why, for one split-second did it look as if Freya was very carefully walking along, holding a vase, being careful not to spill a drop of its water?
Hurry Ruth… please hurry… A desperate cry echoed through Megan's head and with it, came a dreadful feeling of fear.
The moment passed. Freya slid her mobile into her pocket and caught her up. "There you are! I thought I'd lost you."
Megan felt light headed; her brain was spinning. Why oh why had she imagined her new friend had been carrying a vase of water and that her name was Ruth? And those words — she'd uttered them at some time, or thought them….
Hurry Ruth… please hurry… And with the words, that awful feeling of fear. But that wasn't all. For a brief moment, Freya's short fair hair had been waist length, with a blue ribbon threaded through it. And she hadn't been wearing jeans and sweatshirt at all. She'd been in a blue dress that reached down to her ankles.
Like someone from medieval times.