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 Queen

The housemaid shuffled in then. "I'm here to stoke the fire, Mr. Lobbing."

"Go ahead. By the by, can you tell me your name? I keep forgetting to ask."

She bobbed her head and gave a half-curtsy. "Isadore."

"I'm pleased to meet you, Isadore."

"But we've met before, Mr. Lobbing."

He chuckled. "Of course, but we've not been introduced until this moment."

She gave him an odd look and went about her business with the fireplace. He'd not seen her the last couple of days, and according to Chambers, she'd been punished for some infraction and assigned scullery duties. The butler hadn't been forthcoming about the infraction, so Owen had been left wondering.

"It's good to see you out and about again, Isadore. The footman did a passable job with my fire, but he's not nearly as efficient as you."

She glanced at him with wide eyes before she dropped her gaze back to her task. Once she was done with the fire, she took a step toward the door, but her foot caught on the edge of a rug. Time slowed. Isadore lurched to her right then overcorrected and stumbled wildly to her left until her feet became tangled up in the legs of a globe stand. The globe teetered, its position precarious, and Owen jumped to rescue it. Neither of their jobs would be secure if something happened to the globe, and he had a feeling Isadore didn't have many employment choices.

Isadore, in fighting to get her feet free, finally sent the globe stand toppling onto its side. The globe tumbled out, striking the floor before Owen could get a hand on it. He helped Isadore to her feet and found his eyes drawn to her blue ones in the most peculiar way. Owen turned his back to her and set the globe's stand to rights again. Then he reached for the globe, but Isadore must not have been quite steady on her feet yet, for her foot slipped past him and kicked the the spherical object before she regained her footing.

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Lobbing. Do you think it's damaged? I can't get in trouble again, I jus' can't."

Owen glanced from Isadore to the globe. It had made a sound when rolling that last little bit. "I'm sure it's fine. You'd best be on your way."

He picked up the globe and examined it. Much to Owen's relief, the sphere remained unbroken. Isadore did not need more trouble with her employer. Waiting until the maid was out the door, he shook the globe. A definite clank met his ears. Owen ran his fingers across the globe's entire surface. A compartment had to be hidden within. Sure enough, over the western part of the colonies along one of the seams, a slight irregularity could be felt along the surface, nothing more than a small bump. Firm pressure from his fingers, and he heard a satisfying click. The globe came apart in his hands.

Go Back

Six Pack: Emergence - $3.99

Tyler set his fork down and looked about the table. “Kind of hard to believe four weeks are left until commencement.”

“Yeah, and I know what’s next,” Brad said, dropping his fork.

Tyler turned toward him. “What are you talking about?”

“They’ll put me in the military. Hey, I’m a good marksman, and I don’t test well, so they’ll make me a soldier.”

“Wouldn’t that be a great thing, though?” Linda asked. “I mean, you get to go see the world, meet new people, go on adventures and everything.”

Brad shook his head. “Yeah, you have big aspirations, but that doesn’t mean I should accept whatever this country has planned for me.” He pushed his plate aside. “Excuse me.”

“But you haven’t finished your meal,” Jessica said.

“I’m not hungry.”

He left the table, leaving his tray behind. Tyler stood up.

“Brad, wait.”

Linda stood up as well. Tyler turned to her.

“Don’t worry, I’m just getting a head start to class,” she said. “It’s OK, I can get the trays.”

He nodded and hurried off. He caught up with Brad in the lobby and touched him on the shoulder.

“Brad, hold on, listen to me.”

Brad turned to him and sighed. But he never took his eyes away from Tyler.

“No matter what your future holds, you’ll find your place, all right? Everyone I’ve known has found their place.”

Brad shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s not that I’ll find my place. It’s that somebody found my place for me.”

Muffins & Moonbeams, $2.99

Malachi grinned. “Ursula, right?”

She nodded, her lips curving into a tight smile. “Mr. Baxter. Hi. Did you need something? I don’t actually work on Sundays...”

He arched a brow. Mr. Baxter? Why had he even bothered to chase after her? Sure, she was pretty, and she’d seemed friendly, but she was no Scarlet Fire. Which was exactly the problem. No one was Scarlet Fire. At least no one he knew. So...he should try to make friends offline. Or at least look like he was trying so his brothers would get off his back. And maybe stop teasing him about his online girlfriend. Scarlet Fire wasn’t his girlfriend. Sure, maybe he’d basically decided she was the perfect woman—not that she was perfect. She had faults. She was always rushing into battle before he could come up with a plan. And she seemed to enjoy gossiping about other players—particularly if they did something stupid. But still, she was perfect for him. If he was ever going to fall in love, it’d be with her. At least with his own room, no one could complain if he stayed up later completing a mission. “No. Sorry, I just wanted to say hi. I haven’t seen you at Grace before.”

“Ah. No. First time.”


She shrugged. “It was okay. Not really any different from my usual.”

It was like pulling teeth. “Which is where?”

Her lips thinned as she pressed them together. “Online. My parents’ church, the one I grew up in, streams their services.”

“So you’re not from here, either?”

Ursula shook her head. “No. I grew up in South Carolina. I’ve been here almost five years.”

He grinned. A tiny shred of common ground. “I almost went to college in Carolina.”

“Me too.” She turned to go.

Malachi chuckled. She was a tough nut. Though she didn’t seem to be bothered by his voice. She knew he was deaf, didn’t she? Seemed like everyone in town did—at least if the number of times he was greeted with, “Oh, you’re the deaf one, right?” was any indication. So surely she did, too. Though in one corner of his mind he questioned the words, they still came out. “Want to grab lunch?”

The Countess Intrigue - a sweet, regency romance - now on sale for $0.99
~ Engaged to a rumored murderer – what’s a lady to do? ~


The evening had already been harrowing with the abduction of her dearest friend from that very ballroom mere moments earlier, but it already felt like eons. After she had left it in the Duke of Wrentham’s hands there had been nothing she could do to help. She had no desire to stand about wringing her hands so she was making every effort to remain calm, keeping up appearances in order to prevent Rose’s absence from becoming common knowledge, in an effort to preserve her reputation. The last thing Elizabeth needed was to be seen conversing with the controversial earl. But despite every instinct shrieking for her to leave the man’s presence on the instant, she forced herself to meet his eye as she bade him good night.

His handsome face always made her blink. Well defined, with a sharp jaw and angular cheekbones. His skin looked smooth, as though he had just left the ministrations of his valet. His wide set eyes were a unique color, somewhere between blue and green, and leant an air of watchful intelligence to his beauty. She wondered if he found it amusing to be constantly faced with wide-eyed women or if he had become immune to it. Perhaps he took it as his due, Elizabeth thought absently, before she refocused her attention. She ought to be keeping her wits about her. Exhaustion from the evening’s turmoil was dulling her senses.

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~ Happy reading ~


Nina Warrenton checked her watch for the umpteenth time. He was late. On the one hand, she was thankful; on the other, she was annoyed. Who makes an appointment and shows up late? Granted living in the D.C. Metro area guaranteed multiple opportunities to be late, but she made an effort to arrive on time to any appointment. Too bad the unknown Mr. Williams didn’t hold the same virtue.
She sighed. Had she acted prematurely? Putting an ad for a husband was a little archaic, but she believed it would get the job done. However, none of the previous candidates had panned out. One man had been released from prison a couple of months ago. Another had answered her ad with the hope of moving out of his mother’s place. Still, another had answered her ad because the voices in his head had prompted him to. She shook her head.
Maybe the face that Mr. Williams was missing was God showing her he wasn’t the one. Maybe he was prematurely balding or had the personality of wilted lettuce. Of course, she had prayed that God would send her the right man, but there was no guarantee He would acquiesce to her request.
She tapped her pen on the table and looked around the room. The coffee shop was filled with D.C. metropolitans ready to embrace the autumn air. It was a gorgeous day with a light breeze and the preferred seventies temperature. Was it possible that Mr. Williams was already here and hiding behind a coffee mug or laptop, to secretly get a first impression without her noticing? She peeked around the shop, but she was the only one alone.

A Chaotic Courtship
(New Adult Regency Novel)
by Bethany Swafford

“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!”

An excerpt from Wise Turned Foolish

When he woke up, he was lying on his side in the doorway between the bathroom and the hallway. His hair was disheveled and in his face. As he gradually regained consciousness, he brushed his hair away from his eyes, trying to figure out where he was and how he had gotten there. He noticed he had thrown up on the floor.
As he slowly made his way on to his hands and knees, he placed a hand to his chest and felt it was bare. He glanced at the dragon tattoo on his chest. He felt his legs, he was wearing jeans. His head hurt, he felt light-headed...and empty, a condition he had been running on for many years.
Looking around him, he assessed it was morning. A bright light shone from the window into the bathroom.
Sitting with his back up against the wall, he simultaneously wiped away strands of his hair and remorseful tears from his face. He couldn’t remember the last time he cried. Guitar gods didn’t do that.
The desperation in his voice matched his hysterical crying. He looked up and all around him, many times out the window, panting, trying to catch his breath in between sobs and his simple plea to God. He repeated it, getting louder and more desperate each time. Through blurred eyes, he managed to get himself up on his knees, his elbows propped on them, his face buried in his hands.
You need Him.
Wasn’t that what Reuben told him at his bedside when he was lying on his hospital bed?
When he gathered enough strength, he crawled to the phone and called him, his only lifeline.
“Hello?” It was Sandra. She sounded bright and perky, like the morning person Reuben had described her.
“Um…uh…Sandra?” He said, struggling with each word, his head resting on the edge of the bed. With the other hand, he compulsively pulled his hair behind his ear.
“Yes, this is she,” she said, every word enunciated and articulate.
“This is Keith.”
“Keith, are you okay?”
“No,” he said, his voice low, almost quivering, trying to fight back more tears. He leaned his head on the edge of the bed in anticipation of what he was going to say. It was hard, but he had to do it.
“What can we do for you?” Keith was thankful she asked that. In that way, that could break the awkward silence between the two of them, and he could buy a few more seconds to say what he needed to.
“I…uh…well…” After a few more deep breaths he said, “I’d like to go to church with you tomorrow.”

The Vexing by Tamara Leigh (Medieval Romance, releasing mid-Spring)
Normandy, France, Early December, 1161

Women were more trouble than they were worth. Or so Sir Durand Marshal told himself each time one dragged him into a mess like this one promised to do.
Black hair and mantle shaking themselves out in the chill air stirred by her flight, the woman rode ahead of three riders who protectively fanned out behind and to the sides of her though they stood little chance of outrunning their pursuers—a dozen armed men who wore the colors of one who risked much in trespassing on King Henry’s lands. And therein lay the mess, one that could see the crisp layer of snow splashed with crimson of a sufficient heat to melt it through.
“Lord, protect us,” he rasped and drew his chain mail hood over his head and gave the signal.
The men under his command did not voice displeasure when the thrust of his arm further delayed the promise of the warm hearth and hot meal denied them these past days of hard riding. They did as bid and followed him from the cover of trees that reached gnarled, wintry fingers toward a sky thick with clouds that looked more like the billowing smoke of a great fire.
“King Henry!” he bellowed, drawing his sword as he spurred his destrier forward.
His men repeated the battle cry, the thunder of their voices across the frosted land causing those bringing up the rear of the pursuers to whip their heads around and shout warnings. But the one leading the pursuit, a broadly-built knight whose great beard jutted on either side of his face, did not surrender his prey. Thus, his companions stayed the course.
So be it. Durand had given King Louis’s vassals a chance to peaceably withdraw from the French lands held by King Henry of England. If blood was the price paid for their trespass, it was on their heads. Unfortunately for their wives and children, the woman who evaded capture could not be worth their deaths.
No sooner did Durand think it than the man protecting her left flank was overtaken by the bearded pursuer. The latter swung his sword and landed a blow to the knight’s chest that knocked him out of the saddle.
Blessedly, the other pursuers veered away from the one unhorsed who stood a chance of survival providing his chain mail had deflected the blade’s edge. And it had, Durand saw as he passed near, the snow defiled not by the spray of blood but dirt flung by hooves and the knight’s tumble across it.
As Durand urged his destrier between two of the pursuers, leaving them to his men, the bearded knight unseated another of the woman’s protectors. And in the seconds required to do so, Durand was granted the time needed to draw level with the one who sought to reach her first.

Without thinking she leaped forward, sitting atop him with her hands on his shoulders. She thrust her face close to his, stared into his eyes, and yelled,


For several heartbeats, the ancient warrior stared back at her from Apjay's eyes. Cold. Hateful. She was only too aware of the knife in his hand and how easily this thing inside him could kill her. Apjay, she was certain, wouldn't let that happen. Not to her.

"Please, Apjay," she begged. "Snap out of this."

She sensed his knife arm move, but she didn't flinch. Maybe she didn't trust the stars, but she trusted him.

First and foremost, I am humbled and privileged to tell friends and family (and for that matter, anyone else who will listen) that I was so very fortunate to have played against hockey Hall-of-Famers Bobby Orr (hockey) and Ray Bourque (softball). When I first skated onto the ice at hockey camp (mentioned above), there were NHL stars with familiar names like Parent/Kelly/Selby/Hodge and one young blond crew cut instructor who had yet to play his first game, but whose reputation and potential were off the charts. I’m sure by now you know where I am going with this and I’ll get back to Mr. Orr later in this book.
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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.