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Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

September 21, 2016

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)!!


MY EXCERPT

“Even When it Hurts” (a short story in the LOVE AND DIAMONDS anthology), Click to Buy

Liam tore his eyes away from her and scanned the office.

The safe snagged his attention. It was large, too large to be stolen.

Nodding toward it, he asked, "Was it disturbed?"

Her face gave away little. "It was open when I came in this morning. Everything inside had been rifled through, but nothing was stolen."

He frowned. "You probably messed up any prints there might have been on it."

Her eyes widened, and their golden glow dimmed momentarily. A matching frown shaped her lips as she said, "I'm sorry. I didn't think of that. I should have known better."

Accepting her words, Liam nodded. "I can still have a team come in to print the safe and booth. There might be a chance."

"Do you know anyone in the counterfeit department?"

Liam worked homicide. He'd resigned from the drug taskforce after Charlie's death. "Counterfeit? What exactly did you find?"

She pulled up an image on her computer screen and angled the monitor so he could see it. Leaning in to take a look, he caught a whiff of her perfume. Or maybe it wasn't perfume. They probably don't bottle essence of cocoa and coffee these days. Someone should consider it, though, if other men found it as enticing as he did.

"Dara's Auction House?"

Dawson nodded and turned her head to face him. They were inches apart, and he watched as her pupils dilated in reaction to his proximity. It would be so easy to lean in for a kiss. He didn't have that right anymore, though, no matter how strong the temptation.


 

Go Back

Never Say Forever extract Buy link http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01FUNC1Y4
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Chapter 1
“Want to go!” yelled Timmy at the top of his voice, stamping his feet. Kendall sighed. Why had she left it until the last minute to choose an engagement present for Tanya and Hugh? Shopping in a busy department store on a Friday afternoon with a lively three year old and a baby in a buggy wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience. She’d already spent fifteen minutes standing in a queue to pay for the decanter and glasses that she’d chosen and didn’t fancy starting all over again.
“Hang on a minute, Timmy. I’ll be served soon, and then we’ll go and find the toilets. I promise.”
“Now!” Timmy shouted, tugging at her sleeve. “Want to go now,” he insisted. Then, “I’ll go myself,” he declared. And before Kendall could stop him he turned away and ran off.
“Timmy! Come back!” She left the store’s wire basket on the floor and turning baby Sophie’s buggy around, set off in hot pursuit of the toddler.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t yet mastered the buggy’s steering and, somehow, instead of going forwards it went sideways... slamming into a pair of denim-clad legs.
“Ow!” exclaimed a deep masculine voice, and a large, suntanned hand reached down to rub the shin she’d just crashed into.
“Sorry.” She glanced up into a pair of gorgeous brown eyes and found herself blushing with embarrassment. Then she remembered Timmy.
She looked around anxiously. Lindsay, his mother, would be horrified if she knew Kendall had taken her eyes off him, even if only for a moment.
“Oh no!” she gasped as she saw the toddler heading for the escalator that led down to the ground floor. If he stepped onto it and lost his footing...
“Timmy! Come back!” she yelled, trying to run after him, but was hindered by the cumbersome buggy.
“It’s okay. I’ll get him” The owner of the bruised shin and the gorgeous brown eyes was already sprinting across the shop, his impressive height and long legs making it easy for him to dodge through the crowds.
Kendall bit her lip as she followed him, pushing the buggy as quickly as she could and praying that he would reach Timmy — who was by now dangerously near the top of the escalator — in time.
People turned their heads to look, obviously wondering what was going on.
As the toddler reached the escalator and put out a foot to step onto it Kendall felt a cold shiver of fear run down her spine, then, as he was scooped up just in time by the handsome stranger, she let out a sigh of relief.
“Come on, young man. Your mummy wants you. That escalator’s too dangerous for you to go on by yourself.”
Timmy was staring wide-eyed at his rescuer as he was carried back to Kendall, who had finally managed to battle her way through the crowds.
“It was really naughty of you to run off like that, she scolded. Don’t ever do that again.”
She reached out as the man handed the child over to her. Their hands touched briefly, and she felt a tingle run up her arms. Feeling her cheeks flush yet again, she was grateful for the chance to hide her face as she bent over to put Timmy down.
“Now, hold on to the buggy and stay by me,” she ordered.
“Wanta wee-wee,” Timmy told her urgently, screwing up his face.
“I think perhaps you’d better take him to the loo before he makes a puddle on the floor,” said the man. “The toilets are over there. Will I look after the baby while you take him? You’d be quicker if you didn’t have to take that pushchair with you.”
She couldn’t leave baby Sophie with a complete stranger. Even a friendly, handsome stranger who had just saved Timmy from a dreadful accident. What would Lindsay say?
“Look, I’m not going to kidnap the baby, if that’s what you’re worrying about.” The man took his wallet out of his pocket and handed her a credit card. “Here, I’ll trust you with my credit card if you’ll trust me with your baby. And for goodness' sake get a move on! I don’t think your little boy can wait any longer.”
One look at Timmy told her that the man was right.
“Thanks.” She took the credit card from him, grabbed the toddler’s hand, and hurried to the ladies’ toilets.
“I can do it myself!” Timmy told her firmly.
“You can? Fine. I’ll wait for you out here. But don’t lock the door — okay?” She waited for him by the entrance to the toilets, positioning herself so that she could keep watch on Timmy and his little sister, who seemed quite unperturbed about being left in the care of...she looked down at the card. Jake Newman was the name on the gold card.
Well, Jake Newman wasn’t short of a penny or two — this was an exclusive credit card only granted to the mega-rich. Rich and handsome, she thought. Quite a catch for someone.
Not her though. She wasn’t interested in catching anyone. No commitment was her motto. There was no way she was going to have her heart broken by a man. She’d seen it happen to her friends too often. Just look at how Lindsay had been treated by her ex-husband, Adam.

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Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager
YA contemporary fiction

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2clGxE8

Excerpt: “Hadley, did you see the new Celebrity Snooper blog today?” Aunt Faith asked. “Simone is in it with Lauren Gere.”

“What? She didn’t say anything about that. Werethese super old pictures?”

“Here,” she said. “I’ll pull it up on my phone. It’s Simone and Lauren walking along the boardwalk with some blonde girl and a boy.”

“Does it say when that happened?” I asked. I couldn’t believe Simone wouldn’t have mentioned Lauren had already been here.

Faith found the site on her phone and stared at it. “I’m not sure, but I guess it was pretty recent. Here, look.”

Simone was on the phone in the picture and the blonde girl with them was Morgan. But what was worse was that the boy was Nick and Lauren had her hand on his arm.

Great, it was probably the same night I called Simone and she was too busy to talk. Maybe I was the one on the other end of the phone in the stupid picture. I had missed my chance to meet Lauren, and Simone never even told me when she was in town. I guess I wasn’t cool enough for her to admit she was friends with me to somebody like Lauren. Who was I kidding? A TV star wanting to hang out with me? We weren’t friends at all. I was somebody she ran to when she needed something. And Nick was probably humoring me until his new celebrity girlfriend called him back. I wanted to throw up all over the table.

A LIFE TO LIVE is on sale for 99c on eBooks!!
Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/ow9e4rg
Nook: http://tinyurl.com/q7nrvt7

EXCERPT:
Mia stood in the doorway of her mother’s room. She hadn’t entered this part of the house in a year. Today was the day. She had been putting this moment off, but she knew it was time. She took a deep breath and exhaled. You can do this, she told herself. She bit her lip. Did she really have to clean out her mother’s closet? What’s the worst that could happen if she didn’t? Dust bunnies? Maybe she should avoid the closet.
She looked around, eyes roaming over the four poster bed, flanked by the two night stands. Her eyes shifted toward the bay window. Her mother had managed to find a dresser that fit perfectly within the space. She had topped it with a couple of pillows. Perhaps, she should start there. Mia started to bite her lip, but stopped herself. It was a nervous habit she wasn’t always conscious of. Instead, she took a deep breath and exhaled as she crossed the threshold.
Mia knelt down in front of the ebony dresser and pulled the first drawer open. It was filled with socks and underwear. I’ll have to throw these away, she thought. She closed it and reached for the second one. She frowned as she realized it was stuck.
“What in the world?” She shoved her hand into the opening trying to remove whatever had jammed the drawer. She prayed there were no bugs and shuddered at the thought. Her hand wrapped around something square. What is that? As she felt around it, she realized it was a button. She pushed it and the drawer popped open. She gasped in surprise as a smaller compartment revealed itself. Inside was a pile of pictures. Shuffling through them, Mia realized they were all from different phases of her life.
Mia grabbed one, surprised her mother had saved it. She stared at it, trying to suppress the tears. It had been taken ten years ago, but it felt so much longer. The ache in her heart intensified as she remembered. In ten years, she had done a lot of growing up. Ten years ago, she was a senior in high school on the verge of adulthood. Now, she felt every one of her twenty-eight years. Not only did she feel older, but she had many regrets. Number one was the broken relationship with the boy in the picture. Back then however, she wouldn’t have called him a boy.

ALMOST THERE, young adult inspirational
available here: http://mybook.to/AlmostThere
-----

I reach for Theo’s shoulder and give him a little shake. Then a harder one. “Thebes?”

He lifts his heavy head off of me. His hazel eyes flutter open, more gold than green in the afternoon light. He groans. “Oh, Dani, I did it again, didn’t I? Jeez, I’m sorry. I’m just so tired all the time. Maybe I need to start drinking coffee like you do.”

I smile. “It would stunt your growth.”

“Little late for that, don’t you think?” He leans back, stretching, and his firm stomach peeks between his shirt hem and the waistband of his khakis. I look away and sit on my hands again before my hormones get the better of me.

“Mum wants to know if you can stay for supper.”

“Yeah?” he says, poking me in the ribs. “What about you?” Poke. “Do you want me?” Poke, poke, poke. “To stay?”

“Not if you’re gonna be a bully.”

“Moi?” He strikes a Miss Piggy pose.

“Non, ta jument méchante, qui ronfle comme un os endormi.”

Theo roars with laughter. “My evil what? Mare? Who snores like a sleepy bone?”

“I meant twin. Ju-something…else.”

“Ah. Jumeau méchant. Evil twin. And I do not snore. Especially not like a bone.”

I roll my eyes. “Bear. I wanted to say bear.”

“Ours, not os. Bien? Dis-le et répète, Danielle.”

You say it. Repeat. Oh, brother.

I tip my head side to side as I chant, “Ours, ours, ours, ours, ours. Happy?”

“Come on, babe, cheer up. Your grammar’s quite good. You used the feminine adjective with jument, which was great, even if it wasn’t the noun you wanted.”

“I’m never gonna get this. Parisians will bludgeon me with baguettes for crimes against the mother tongue.”

“You are getting it. You’re brave enough to try making jokes in another language, which is pretty complicated. Honestly, you’ve picked up in six months what it took me three years to learn. Of course, I didn’t have a patient instructor completely dedicated to my success.”

“Come on, Thebes. You’ve got to be bored out of your mind teaching a dunce like me.”

“You are way too hard on yourself. So you made a mistake. Big deal. Who doesn’t? Heck, I’m learning here, too. Remember the flashcard fiasco?”

“I’d rather not.” Theo pounding the wall, purple-faced; me hunkered in a distant corner, utterly stunned by his rare flare of temper — not a scene I care to replay. Ever.

“Well, me neither. That was totally my bad. But I learned from it, right? I’ve had quite the adventure developing my cutting-edge teaching techniques.”
I snort.

“Yeah? You doubt me? I’m deeply insulted.”

“What’s so cutting edge about, ‘Dis-le et répète’?”

“How do you think you learned to draw? Practice. Years of filling sketch pads until your scribbles became art. Anyone who thinks they can get some new skill without practice is an idiot. So once we get through finals, we will répèter, en français every day, until you go. Très bien?”

Mum strides into the living room clenching the phone. I can almost smell the fury pulsing out of her like fumes from a hot engine.

Pas bien. Mal. Très, très mal.

“There’s been a change of plans,” she says.

Yellow Rock

There were times in Dutch’s life when things took such a turn, it challenged reality has he understood it. Having fought the war a celebrated hero, and then to come out west with hopes of grandeur only to wind up a lonesome prospector, made him understand that a human being is never truly in control. But the sudden and bizarre appearance of the daughter of a well-known confederate colonel, left out in the middle of nowhere, had to be God’s way of telling him to continue and expect the unexpected. The fact she saw him as her personal hero when she’s so afraid of Yankees…well that was about as hard to swallow as yesterday’s breakfast.

Amazon buy link https://www.amazon.com/Yellow-Rock-Elle-Marlow-ebook/dp/B01KH2QNDS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1471354339&sr=1-1&keywords=yellow+rock

Everlasting, my Young Adult Paranormal Romance Novel is still on sale for .99 for 5 more days!
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I joined him on the blanket, falling back and snuggling up
close to gaze at the stars. The night was perfect. No wind, no
clouds, not even any mosquitoes. A chill tinged the air, and I
shivered, snuggling in even closer.
We lay there for a long time, neither one of us speaking, just
enjoying the night sky, watching an occasional falling star. The
crickets and whippoorwills interrupted with relaxing backdrop
noise. Tate stayed quiet; coming back to this place had uncovered a
host of bitter feelings for him—unraveled him. This made me
uneasy. I played with my bracelet, sliding it back and forth over my
wrist, wishing I could say something to make him feel better.
Eventually, I broke the silence, my face wincing before the
words even escaped. “What’s going to happen, Tate…with us?”
This was probably the worst possible time I could have brought up
our relationship, but I needed to know. Needed to know if our
future contained an us. “Today is already July twentieth. I leave in
a little less than a month…where does that take us?”
He looked away, saying nothing, his expression searching
like he didn’t know how to approach it. Immediately after bringing
it up, I regretted my decision. I gathered my eyebrows in and
grimaced. Stupid, stupid. Why do I always bring up things he doesn’t
want to talk about? My timing couldn’t be any worse.
Finally, he sat up on his elbow and turned toward me, his
eyes unreadable. “You’ll go home and finish your last year of high
school.”
He glanced away uneasily, swallowing hard like a sore
throat plagued him, pulling on a blanket thread. “After that…we’ll
see.”
“We’ll see?” My voice squeaked an octave higher, the hurt
spilling forth. No…no. “That’s it…just…we’ll see?” His answer
whiplashed back and slashed me, slicing a hole as big as the earth.
Tears burned my eyes. “Tate, I love—”
He cut me off, slapping his hand over my mouth, an intense,
frantic look flashing in his eyes, making them even bluer.
“Don’t say it.” His expression folded, changing from hurt to
anger, and he bolted upright, pulling away from me. “I don’t want
to hear it.”
Dazed, I bolted up, my pulse quickening. I’d never seen him
angry before. It scared me. “Tate, what’s wrong with you? I
thought we both felt the same way about each other.” But then,
seeing the faraway look in his eyes, it clicked—scalding me. I could
see what he couldn’t force himself to say. “Wait…are you breaking
up with me?” The tears choked and gagged me, and I clutched at
my throat.
“No…no, Sophia, it’s nothing like that.” He shrugged and
shook his head, his eyes still drifting away from me. “I
just…don’t…don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” I hated that I couldn’t keep the frost
out of my tone, but it was impossible.
“You’re putting a lot of pressure on me, and I don’t know
how to answer your questions. I don’t have the answers for you—
not the answers you want to hear, anyway. You’re going to go your
way, and I have to go mine…. I don’t know if it’ll work for us.”

Blue Lady's SWEET DREAMS
GetBook.at/Sweet_Dreams

Sleep is the best meditation
~Dalai Lama~

Angelica Mason's father's medical crisis slammed his daughter's psyche, causing her to feel as though her back encroached upon a brick wall jarring every vertebra in her spine. Angelica, certified and respected project manager—self-promoted, no job too big or small—now starred in the dubitable roles of personal assistant, chef, chauffeur, and housekeeper of the Mason household. She was shocked to learn that her cadre of project manager credentials, certifications, and awards underscored her lack of preparedness for this unforeseen change of duties. Each day she discovered another entrenched household management mystifying trade secret. One that further emphasized her personal weaknesses and deficient skill set.

Rising at five AM daily granted her the solitude essential for her survival of each 24-hour work shift. Her daily caretaker schedule allowed for three, 30-minute breaks. She jogged; caught up on her emails with her first cup of coffee. She then showered, threw on her yoga sweats and tee for the day, and had breakfast on the table for her parents by 7.

She woke each morning as jittery as a child who had not studied for the test of the day and accepted without reservation that before day's end, she'd earn another D from her mother accompanied by Marilyn Mason's verbal slap: "Sweetie, I don't understand why you make things so hard for yourself."

Her father's A+ often tailgated her mother's less than satisfactory assessment. "Honey, I had a great day today! How could we handle all this without you? "

Working with a C+ average accosted her competitive spirit. Angelica's inability to forecast whether her immediate world would be hit by a cyclone, hurricane or a much welcome, but periodic sun shower weakened and unbalanced her equilibrium. A rare rainbow might illuminate the dull grey landscape of Angelica's life every great now and then. The overcast in-house clouds trounced her larger than life, conquer all essence, tainting the natural flow of her logic and reasoning.

So against her better judgment this morning, Angelica broke her serenity rule and called Luke Evans, her boss. She skipped her morning jog, showered, and searched the pantry for heart healthy ingredients. She needed to return Luke's call before the start of her morning shift and as soon as he arrived at the Smoothville, Georgia City Hall. She dreaded this call and, most days, ignored his emails filled with endless pleas for her planned return date. The daily routine in Smoothville remained unchanged during her family emergency leave. Once her boss dipped his Smoothville Stetson in acknowledgement of City hall security guard, Jamison Johnson's "Good mornin' Mr. Maya', it's good to see ya', Sa'," Luke's day officially began.

No one had identified the City Hall town crier, but each morning, without fail, staff and visitors alike lined up to greet the 'Maya' within seconds of his arrival. They all, women included, showcased their Smoothville Stetsons tapping their brims as the Mayor passed. Anyone who had early morning business down at the Smoothville City Clerk's office risked the embarrassment these days of being asked to leave the building if caught without official security clearance.

The mayoral salutation tradition began with Luke's father who served as Smoothville’s Mayor for over forty years. Much to Luke's surprise, the tradition continued with his election. After the messy rancor-filled campaign preceding this his second term, he was flabbergasted when the now almost fifty-year custom continued. Implementing the enhanced security procedures, decreased the size of the morning line up—that often only consisted of the occasional errant visitor and staffers nostalgic enough about the past to continue the ritual.

Angelica sipped her morning coffee and delayed her call a few more minutes succumbing to the allure of the early morning breeze from the open kitchen balcony door.

'Good morning Blue Lady,' her alter ego purred.

At times like this, she could almost hear Beckham Johnson's whispered plea. “Calm down, Blue Lady.”

Without warning, a few years ago, her temper flared in a meeting where she held the minority position on a critical issue facing her then boss in Washington DC. In the midst of her pace the floor, spin, pace in the opposite direction, spin monologue, Beckham cautioned in a soft tone, “Calm down Blue Lady, hear me out.”

In seven words, he accomplished what her University of Georgia trained diction failed to do. He had the attention of everyone in the meeting. Angelica assumed for years that Beckham coined what became her DC nickname because of her signature blue sapphire accessories and only learned much later that the Blue Lady was a rare and distinctive flower—an orchid recognizable by its striking, intense shade of blue. On days like this, she relished the replay of the meeting and her love affair with Blue, the Lady.

The sun's suggestive wink through the clouds promised a good day, a sublime reminder of a Bible verse from her childhood: "This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Shocked, she found herself humming the tune.

Blue Lady refilled her coffee mug, invigorated by the Universe's chiding reminder and the fruity aroma of her favorite coffee blend. She squeezed through the open door balancing her coffee with her cell phone as she responded to nature's whispered call. Just as Blue Lady sat her coffee and phone on the side table, Angelica Mason, Smoothville, Georgia City Manager shoved her alter ego aside ignoring Blue Lady's desire to sit and enjoy the peaceful sunrise. She speed-dialed her boss, tuning out the crisp whistle of the Carolina Chickadees. He answered between the first and second ring.

"I'm sorry, Luke. I don't know when I'll be back. I have a lot on my plate right now."

Blue Lady nudged: Don't you love that 'hey there sweetie?’ Drown out Luke for a minute. Focus on the chanting charmers. By the way, do you realize you didn't say good morning to your boss? Tsk! Tsk!

Until her caretaker stint in Savannah, Angelica never thought about birds or fowls of any kind. And to the extent she thought about birds at all these days, they symbolized the freedom she no longer possessed. 'Hey there sweetie,’ is right! Oh to have a carefree moment. Or the super impossible—a free morning, Angelica thought.

Conscripted images of Nordstrom’s and Dillard’s taunted and teased her from the recesses of her shopaholic not so long ago seems like forever past life.

Luke's abrasive tone grated on her next-to-last nerve mandating her return from her fantasy shopping spree.

"What? You're kidding me! Luke, what the heck's going on now?"

She slid the balcony door, closing it without a sound. The last thing she needed was a wide awake household. Seven o'clock was an early enough start to what had become thirteen and fourteen-hour grueling days. She didn't know how much longer she could survive on less than five hours sleep.

"Luke, can you start at the beginning?"

She sat back semi-praying for Blue Lady to make an about face.
Before Blue Lady could respond to her quasi-official call to duty, Angelica stood shouting, "They can't do that! They can't. Excuse me? I can't hear you. They've already done it?"

Alarmed by the venom spewing forth, Blue Lady nudged Angelica to lower her voice.

Angelica sat shaking her head in disbelief, dry heaving after a gulp of now bitter tasting semi-warm coffee.

"Luke, I'm sorry but I have another call. We need to talk. I'll call you tonight."

Unlike the unpredictable winds facing the Mason household, the Smoothville forecast had the makings of a monsoon! Her boss' demanding, "Call me tonight Angelica. We have to talk," intensified the potential magnitude of the impending tsunami.

"All right, Luke. I've got to go."

Unexpected Rewards

YA Adventure/Romance
Available at: https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Rewards-Every-Girl-Book-ebook/dp/B01K6Q4L9S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474469227&sr=8-1&keywords=Unexpected+rewards

Excerpt:
“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.

Here's an excerpt from Healing Hearts, the first book in the Roselund Heights Regency Romance Series.

The notes froze in the air and Mariah turned to Joanna with an exasperated look. “What?”
“What are you doing?” Joanna asked.
She looked at Joanna as if she was daft. “I am playing, Joanna.”
Joanna sighed. “Obviously, but it is time to leave for church and you are far from ready.”
Mariah glanced at the clock. “I have time.” She rose slowly from the piano and sauntered toward the door.
“We must leave in ten minutes at most. You have to hurry. Why did you play so long?”
“It helps me regain my composure. I could not be expected to attend church in the frame of mind I was in. It wouldn’t do to sit before the rector thinking ill of someone, now would it?”
Joanna scowled after her. “Please hurry. It also will not do to be late.”
Mariah had the audacity to roll her eyes at Joanna before ascending to her room. Twenty minutes later, Joanna paced the entryway, still waiting on Mariah. Finally her sister came down with all the calmness of a summer morn.
“Are you ready?” she asked lightly.
Joanna cast her a severe glare, but Mariah did not seem to mind. The walk to church was not long, but with time nearly spent, it was urgent they walk with haste. Joanna’s frustration fueled her forward and Mariah kept pace.
They arrived at the church three minutes late, and as they hurried to the doors, Joanna could hear the rector speaking from within. She entered the chapel, her face warm with embarrassment. Their shared pew was near the middle of the room with her aunt and uncle. She focused her attention there and away from the scornful looks of the other patrons.
It wasn't until she stood almost at their row that she noticed the stranger who sat in their place. Her footsteps faltered and she paused in confusion. He sat a few feet down the pew, leaving only enough room for one at the end. Her mind froze, unable to determine the best solution. Mariah slid around her before she could move and took the available seat. The smile on her face was enough to drive anyone mad.
Joanna stared at the stranger for several moments, hoping he would notice her standing and move down; he did not so much as glance in her direction. Someone cleared their throat loudly and Joanna’s gaze flew to the direction of the sound. Her stomach churned as she realized it was the rector, Reverend Beeton. He stood at the front of the chapel, silently condemning her.
Joanna looked around the room anxiously, the warmth in her cheeks now scorching. She could not avoid the gazes now, and had nowhere to escape. A few rows up, a kind face curtained by auburn curls stood out. Edith. She turned and whispered to her mother, then they both moved over, making room for Joanna, who hurried forward without another glance around the room. As soon as she’d taken her seat, Reverend Beeton began preaching again.
Edith Colborne looked at her with mixed compassion and amusement in her blue eyes. “Your face is very red, Joanna,” she whispered.
“Thank you, I was unaware of that.”

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Hearts-Roselund-Heights-Book-ebook/dp/B01IYFUSJK?tag=mirandadnelso-20

Excerpt from Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure
Middle Grade/YA Fantasy

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Penelope-Gilbert-Children-Azure-Steward-ebook/dp/B01LTGUPC6

“Come on!” she yelled to Haldor who was wriggling out from under the spider corpse. She ran to the spot where she saw the creature enter as Haldor hurried to catch up. She scrambled through the brush until she came to a stream. There she saw the spider. He was across the water under a large tree.

Above him were several objects swinging in the breeze. It took her a moment to realize that they were rotting bodies strung up by their necks. Their unseeing eyes stared eerily into the darkness. Upon closer inspection, she saw that there were at least thirty of them. She wretched silently as she tried to think of a way for Crane to not become one of them. The spider was already trying to wrap a strand of webbing around his neck.

A thought occurred to her. An outrageous, outlandish thought. I can do this, she assured herself. She tried to picture every last detail of her slain foe—every creepy crawling, hairy, shiny detail. Penny could feel the energy pulsing through her. Her hands were no longer her own. Her teeth had become fangs, and her eyes were the eyes of a killer.



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