Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Shoes on the Stairs – Blitz

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Women’s Fiction
Date Published: 7/27/2019
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
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Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white light. Thanks to a mishap at an intersection, she’s dead and stuck somewhere between Heaven and what seems like Hell as she is forced to watch her husband and children unravel without her. While she struggles to find answers for her limbo state, her family begins to see her, offering what she believes, is a gift of second chances.
As she navigates through this new, untouchable world and the challenges it creates, she is forced to face some sad and potentially dangerous truths. Determined, she works to mend her relationship with her family, but her stubborn teenage son refuses to acknowledge her, and when tensions escalate with his long-time bully, her inability to control the physical world around her leaves her fearing for her family’s safety. With her time running out, she must find a way to save them before the progress she has made is lost and she fades from this world forever.
About the Author:

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Jan Steele grew up in the burbs of Chicago and after thirty-two years of shoveling snow, moved to Southern California with her husband and children. She has taught everything from Kindergarten through high school but found her passion for writing years later while living as an expat in Asia for four years. She’s a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Miracles and More (2018), shares a blog with her sister-in-law, and is an MFA student at UC Riverside. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, volunteer, watch college basketball and sunsets. She’s also passionate about shedding light on the lasting effects of bullying.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
 
RABT Book Tours & PR
Women's Fiction Date Published: June 2019 Publisher: Riverpoint Press Laura Beckman’s comfortable suburban life would
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Romance, Women's Fiction A Seashell Cottage Book Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing Release Date: June 11,

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The Chocolate Shop – Blitz

The Chocolate Shop banner

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Women’s Fiction
Date Published: June 2019
Publisher: Riverpoint Press
Laura Beckman’s comfortable suburban life would be perfect but for her daughter. Four years earlier, Brooke abandoned her husband and her own young daughter to run off with a musician. Now back home with her tail between her legs, Brooke’s self-loathing boils over in the face of her mother’s unrelenting condemnation.
Laura’s world is turned upside down after witnessing the long, painful death of her husband. In the search for a better version of herself, she creates the Chocolate Shop which grants terminally ill patients one last wish (e.g returning to the Rockette stage, having sex one last time, even skydiving). Laura then lovingly helps her clients slip away to a peaceful death. Laura must dodge the police who suspect she’s committing second-degree murder, and an ex-wife of a client consumed with collecting on an insurance policy. Her relationship with her daughter flips as Brooke becomes the one doing the condemning: “I may have made many mistakes in my life but there’s one thing I can say. I never murdered anybody.”
As Laura comes to grips with the ethical, moral, and legal dimensions of what she’s doing, she worries that her strained relationship with her daughter will never be repaired and wonders whether she can ever find love again. She meets Arlo Massey–brash, flamboyant, someone who couldn’t care less about what other people think–the complete opposite of the always appropriate Laura Beckman. Arlo disrupts Laura’s already tumultuous life. She finds him despicable.
And yet . . .
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 Excerpt
Chapter One
June


Laura wanted Mickey to die.
Tonight.
Now.
She had it all planned. They’d relax on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, watching the flames dance and crackle, snuggling together under her grandmother’s time-softened green and white patch quilt. The red wine stain on the quilt from New Years Eve when they’d made love on the same sofa had faded away and almost disappeared.
And now her husband was about to fade away and disappear.
She would take his hand, mercilessly scabbed by needles searching for a vein, and entwine her fingers through his. Their interlocked hands would act as one and empty the medicine vial of tiny white pills into the glass of Chivas, his favorite. They’d enjoy their last hour together, her head nestling into the hollow space where his neck met his shoulder. She always considered that spot her private property. She would breath in his scent, and if she remained still she’d be able to feel his heartbeat tickling her cheek.
Then a final toast. He would drink the whiskey from his favorite cocktail glass, the one with the etched Orioles logo. They’d reminisce using the shorthand developed by every husband and wife over decades of marriage.
Remember when . . .?
He’d become sleepy. She would gently rub his neck right behind his ear . . .
Then a lingering last kiss.
Goodbye my darl—
“Mother?”
Laura’s eyes sprang open. Had she dozed off? She glanced at Mickey asleep in the narrow hospital bed squeezed next to her chair. With so many twisting tubes and wires connected to his shriveled body he more resembled a monster from an old black and white horror flick than her husband.
“You were mumbling in your sleep,” Brooke said. “Something about white pills and the Orioles.” Without looking up from her phone she rotated her hips in an unsuccessful attempt
to find comfort in the battered gunmetal chair.
What was her daughter talking about?
“Maybe you should go home and get some sleep,” Gracie said. “I can stay with him for a while.”
“Sleep’s overrated.” She yawned, and her eyes caught the old Baltimore Orioles baseball pennant hanging over the hospital bed. Orioles logo . . . whiskey glass . . . white pills . . . Her dream flashed before her eyes.
“You okay?” Gracie asked.
White pills . . .  She gasped. Oh my God. She could not, she would not permit her mind to visit that awful place ever again.
Gracie pressed. “Laura?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.”
Her aunt responded with a skeptical expression, then hoisted a pink tote bag to her lap. Short and wiry in stature, Gracie colored her hair red and wore it below her shoulders in a wavy style more suited to a young starlet from the forties than a woman of seventy. A Kurt Vonnegut quote in green script decorated the side of her bag: “Tis better to have loved and lust, than to let our apparatus rust.” Laura shook her head and took a deep breath. The thick, stifling hospital air smelled of must, of decay. Of death.
For the millionth time she wondered why God would spare the evil people of the world—serial killers and terrorists and child molesters—while the good man lying next to her faced certain death?
Mickey moaned again. Eight months earlier he’d been diagnosed with “distant” esophageal cancer, meaning the cancer had spread away from the tumor to his lymph nodes and organs. The cancer had been hiding there for some time, undetected, slowly eating away, bite by tiny bite.
At first it had been hard to think the words—my husband’s dying— much less say them. Now, after witnessing him wither away for the past many months, the vocabulary of death came easily. Hope arrived early but departed long ago leaving her with the heartbreak of seeing the man she loved suffer the quiet torture of a lingering death.
Mickey’s treatment plan combined palliative care along with active treatment, but the pain medication never seemed to be enough. When she begged for more, the doctors furrowed their brows and explained how they were limited by dosage protocols. What BS. She’d considered transferring Mickey out of Annapolis General to a hospice facility, but Delaware offered the closest available bed, and in-home hospice care couldn’t provide the constant attention he required.
For the last few weeks Mickey had been begging her to end his life. She, of
course, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. Lately, however, the dreams had come. The Chivas Regal and the white pills in the Orioles glass. She loved him so much, and it broke her heart to see him suffer. But she wouldn’t do it. Laura Beckman followed the rules, and the rules were pretty clear that a wife should not murder her husband.
             Brooke pulled a hip flask from her back pocket.
            Laura lowered her voice to a harsh whisper. “What do you think you’re doing? This is a hospital, and your father’s lying here barely alive.”
Brooke ignored her, took a drink, then passed the flask to Gracie. After raising it
toward Mickey in a silent toast, Gracie helped herself to a healthy swallow.
Laura closed her eyes and tried to control her emotions. She didn’t need this stress, not now. She heard a gurgle from the bed. Mickey’s eyes fluttered. She stood quickly. “I’m right here.”
He tried to talk, but with the breathing tube obstructing his airway the sound blurred to a ragged rasp. Mickey attempted a weak smile, then his eyes found Laura. He lifted a corner of the blanket and made dabbing motions in the air.
“What’s he doing?” Brooke asked.
Laura smiled to herself, and her mind drifted back almost thirty years . . .
At the beginning of the second semester, Laura, like almost all of the students at Bollen except for maybe the nerdy engineering majors, tried to schedule her classes so Friday afternoons were clear. An early December snow dump left no uncertainty about how that afternoon would be spent. She, her best friend, Megan, and three other girls strapped their skis and snowboards on top of Megan’s old blue Ford Explorer, and they drove north to Massanutten for a few hours of night skiing.
            On the first run down Rebel Yell Laura caught an edge and twisted her ankle. Despite Laura’s strong opposition, Megan decided to remain with her at the lodge bar while the others skied. The crowded bar made maneuvering between tables difficult. Laura had taped an ice bag around her ankle and propped it up on a chair while she and Megan enjoyed their hot-buttered rums.
            A good-looking guy with thick, curly black hair and soft brown eyes attempted to squeeze by. Someone bumped him from behind, and he spilled beer down the front of Laura’s sweater.
             “Sorry.” He grabbed a handful of napkins from the dispenser and attempted to blot the beer from her sweater. A moment later, he realized he was dabbing her breasts and froze. “Sorry. I’ll be happy to pay for the cleaning.” Their eyes locked, and the attraction was instant. “How about you let me buy you ladies another round?”
            Laura smiled. “Only if you promise to keep your hands to yourself.”
He offered a goofy grin, and held up his pinky finger. “Pinky swear.” After letting him twist in the wind for a few moments, she laughed and hooked her pinky finger into his. At that very moment he was bumped again, and this time spilled beer down the front of his ski jacket. Laura pulled more napkins from the dispenser and dabbed the beer from his jacket.
            Megan laughed. “You two are the Dabbers.”
            Laura rode back to college with him, and they became inseparable. From then
on, throughout their dating and married life, before going to sleep each night they’d hook pinkies and say, “Love you, Dabber.” One of those private little moments in a marriage that only has meaning to the husband and wife, something anyone else would consider plain silly . . .
          
Laura reached over and stroked her husband’s hand. Almost all of the flesh had been replaced by scabs from the IVs. She hooked pinkies with him, then peered deeply into his eyes, and whispered so only he could hear. “Love you, Dabber.” He nodded and slipped back into a restless sleep.
            Brooke headed for the door. “I need a cigarette.”
“Great idea, your lungs will love it.”
           Brooke ignored her and walked out.
Laura sighed and settled back down. Truth be told, she felt relieved without Brooke in the room. Her daughter created tension, and that was the last thing Laura needed now. Her life had been defined by stress since Mickey’s diagnosis. Seemed like years ago, not months. Second opinions and third opinions and tests and treatments and, in the end, the inevitability. She lightly rubbed her husband’s arm and wondered where all the time had gone. They’d married young, both still in college, and their life together had been good. Not great she supposed, but good. More than good. The few bumps along the way had mostly been caused by their rebellious eldest daughter.
“If I say up, she says down. If I say, black, she says, white,” Laura mumbled. “Why does Brooke have to be so damn headstrong?”
“Sounds like her mother,” Gracie said. Before Laura could respond, Gracie stood and announced, “I’m going for a walk around down the hall, check out the scenery. There’s nothing more sexy than a man in white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. You take the ugliest man in the world and put him in a white coat, and I’m telling you—”
“Go. And don’t be surprised if those men in white coats take you away in a tight white jacket.”
 In a moment she was out the door.
            Mickey’s eyes opened again and found Laura. He made a writing motion with his hand. Laura grabbed the note pad and pen from the table and set the pad in front of him. She flipped through the pages where he’d already written until she found a clean page. She placed the cheap Bic pen in his right hand and wrapped his fingers around it. The ridges made it easier for him to grip with the IV stuck into the back of his hand. He wrote the word, “please,” in half cursive, half print. The handwriting of a young child.
Mickey locked eyes with his wife, then jerked his head toward the wall next to the bed. Laura’s eyes followed his gesture to the control panel for the ventilator equipment barely keeping him alive.
Laura studied the panel as she’d done countless times. Several switches, including the one controlling power to the machines. The Magic Switch. One flick of that . . .
“You know I can’t, sweetie.” She stroked his head. The baldness still felt strange. Over the past weeks and months she’d watched his hair fall out and his skin change from a healthy tan to a pale, almost translucent parchment.
Mickey’s hand struggled to form an image on the paper pad, a crude heart that more resembled a lima bean.
“It’s lovely, Honey.”
The thick plastic tubes turned his attempted smile into a snarl. He convulsed and emitted a ragged cry that ripped across Laura’s heart. Mickey’s eyes pleaded with her. He flipped the tablet back and forth in frustration. Laura didn’t need to be reminded what had been written all over the previous pages—the single word, “please.”
Desperate, Laura’s gaze returned to the ventilator’s control panel and noticed the
manufacturer’s identification plate. RxTron, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Eden Prairie.
Sounded so peaceful. Flip the Magic Switch, and you’ll float away to Eden.
Mickey’s beseeching eyes locked with hers.
She gasped and bit her lip to stem the tears.
She couldn’t do it.
About the author:

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J. J. Spring is a pseudonym for a successful author who writes in another genre. J. J. lives in Florida with a spouse and a rambunctious poodle named Handsome Jack.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
B&N   
Kobo   
iBooks  

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
Women's Fiction Date Published: 7/27/2019 Publisher: Acorn Publishing Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Romance, Women's Fiction A Seashell Cottage Book Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing Release Date: June 11,

2 Comments

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Lacewood – Blitz

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Women’s
Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Date
Published
: 6/18/2019
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Sometimes
love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
MOVING
TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie
McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s
enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the
haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.
Purchasing
the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters
in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of
Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story,
Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key
to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.
The
past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his
own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so
many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might
have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the
shadows for centuries is fulfilled.
Part
love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in
fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
A
powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the
tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated
by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with
the present—and the present with eternity.

 

Excerpt
Turning
in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled
above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the
far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace
with an ornately carved hearth. And above the mantle hung a captivating
painting of a woman in nineteenth-century dress.
“Who
is she?”
The
sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt
frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history
kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of
Lacewood.”
Katie
stood spellbound. The woman was dressed completely in black, but the
magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her
chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a
hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
“She
looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could
she be a widow?”
The
sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the
painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried. She’s the one out in the
cemetery, too, I reckon.”
Katie’s
heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her
riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was
missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a
way, that’s why she was here.
“You
coming?”
Katie
heard the sheriff calling from the next room, and turned to follow. With one
quick glance back, she noticed particles of dust now swirled and danced in a
shaft of light, almost like a living thing. Her breath caught in her throat as
the dust seemed to materialize into the form of a woman, her eyes dull with the
same tortured despair and disbelief as the one in the portrait.
Katie
jerked her head around for a closer look and blinked. The woman was gone.
About
the author:

 photo James Jessica Headshot_zpsbibvuqbu.jpg

Jessica
James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about
in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to
modern day.
She
is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and
has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite
International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of
America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of
libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Contact
Links
Purchase
Links
 
Amazon  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RABT Book Tours & PR
Women's Fiction Date Published: 7/27/2019 Publisher: Acorn Publishing Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white
Women's Fiction Date Published: June 2019 Publisher: Riverpoint Press Laura Beckman’s comfortable suburban life would
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Romance, Women's Fiction A Seashell Cottage Book Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing Release Date: June 11,

4 Comments

Filed under BOOKS

Lacewood – Teaser

Lacewood banner

 photo Lacewood eBook Cover Large - Copy_zpsh91k88i1.jpg

Women’s
Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Date
Published
: 6/18/2019
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Sometimes
love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
MOVING
TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie
McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s
enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the
haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.
Purchasing
the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters
in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of
Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story,
Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key
to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.
The
past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his
own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so
many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might
have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the
shadows for centuries is fulfilled.
Part
love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in
fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
A
powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the
tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated
by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with
the present—and the present with eternity.

 

Excerpt
Turning
in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled
above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the
far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace
with an ornately carved hearth. And above the mantle hung a captivating
painting of a woman in nineteenth-century dress.
“Who
is she?”
The
sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt
frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history
kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of
Lacewood.”
Katie
stood spellbound. The woman was dressed completely in black, but the
magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her
chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a
hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
“She
looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could
she be a widow?”
The
sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the
painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried. She’s the one out in the
cemetery, too, I reckon.”
Katie’s
heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her
riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was
missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a
way, that’s why she was here.
“You
coming?”
Katie
heard the sheriff calling from the next room, and turned to follow. With one
quick glance back, she noticed particles of dust now swirled and danced in a
shaft of light, almost like a living thing. Her breath caught in her throat as
the dust seemed to materialize into the form of a woman, her eyes dull with the
same tortured despair and disbelief as the one in the portrait.
Katie
jerked her head around for a closer look and blinked. The woman was gone.
About
the author:

 photo James Jessica Headshot_zpsbibvuqbu.jpg

Jessica
James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about
in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to
modern day.
She
is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and
has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite
International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of
America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of
libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Contact
Links
Purchase
Links
Special
Pre-Order Price of $3.99


Amazon  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RABT Book Tours & PR
Women's Fiction Date Published: 7/27/2019 Publisher: Acorn Publishing Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white
Women's Fiction Date Published: June 2019 Publisher: Riverpoint Press Laura Beckman’s comfortable suburban life would
Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance Date Published: 6/18/2019 Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Romance, Women's Fiction A Seashell Cottage Book Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing Release Date: June 11,

Comments Off on Lacewood – Teaser

Filed under BOOKS

Change of Heart Blitz

Change of Heart banner

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Romance,
Women’s Fiction
A
Seashell Cottage Book
Publisher:
Wild Quail Publishing
Release
Date:
June 11, 2019
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Emerson
“Em” Jordan always wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding. But after being dumped by
her boyfriend, she spends the holiday at Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of
Florida with Devin Gerard, a family friend who has no interest in her or any
other woman and is instead concentrating on his pediatric medical practice and
continuing medical missions in Costa Rica.
Em,
who’s always wanted a large family, doesn’t mind his disinterest. At thirty-two,
she’s decided she doesn’t need a husband to have a child or to adopt one.
First, she’s going to fulfill her dream of setting up her own landscape design
business in upstate New York and has promised to continue to help run her
grandmother’s flower shop.
It
isn’t until Em and Devin become friends that Em realizes she might want more
than friendship from him. But with his work in Miami and Costa Rica and her
busy life in New York, it’s out of the question until something happens that
changes everything, even a couple of hearts.
 
Excerpt
Emerson
“Em” Jordan closed her eyes as the sound of the music enveloped her in a cloud
of happiness. She was taking part in her sister’s wedding at a resort along the
Gulf Coast of Florida, but in her mind, it might as well be her own
celebration. The dreamy man holding her hadn’t proposed yet, but she was pretty
sure he soon would. She’d dropped all kinds of hints about a Valentine
engagement and a wedding a year later on Valentine’s Day. It had been a dream of
hers from the time she was a girl.
In
a burst of noise, the image of dancing disappeared. Em sat bolt upright in bed
and stared out her bedroom window. Through the glass she saw a colorful display
of fireworks, and then she heard another loud bang.
Em
lowered her head into her hands and sobbed as she recalled what had happened
earlier that evening. The Fourth of July picnic turned into a disaster when her
boyfriend, Jared King, had announced he needed to talk to her about something
important. When she saw his serious expression and how he was shuffling his
feet, a nervous habit of his, her stomach did a somersault. She’d watched her
family and friends head out to walk the four blocks to the town park to watch
the fireworks and wished she could run after them.
As
he studied her, Jared took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “ Like I said,
we need to talk. I can’t do this any longer. I love you, Em, I do, but I’m not
in love with you. It’s time to call it quits.”
She
lifted a hand to her cheek as if he’d slapped her and reeled away from him.
“You’re breaking up with me? Like this?”
He
sighed. “It’s not working. And it’s not going to.”
Shocked,
she stared at him wide eyed, certain she was about to throw up. She staggered
over to one of the picnic tables set up in her parents’ backyard and plopped
down on the bench beside it. Bending over, Em put her head between her legs
hoping to stop the world around her from spinning.
“Are
you all right?” Jared asked, standing a safe distance from her.
Anger
straightened her. “I’m not all right, Jared King! You just broke my heart! I’m
not sure I’ll ever be all right again!”
“I’m
sorry, Em. I really am.” He’d simply turned and walked away, leaving her to
clutch her body, too weak to run after him, her dreams scattered around her
like crushed blossoms.
###
For
the next few weeks, Em managed to continue working at the family’s flower shop,
but, in truth, she barely functioned. Jagged edges of her broken heart kept
poking her insides, taking away her breath, stealing the cheerfulness she
usually wore like a comfortable old sweater to protect her. Not even the sweet
smell of freesia in the flower shop could chase away the pain of Jared’s words.
It was a good thing that Jared lived in New York City, an hour away. She
couldn’t bear to see him.
She
returned to her task of putting together a basket of summer wild flowers. She
loved making things look as natural as possible, and woven baskets were good
containers for the colorful blooms.
“How
are you coming with the Williams order?” her grandmother, Julia Jordan, asked
as she entered the work area.
“Almost
done,” Em said, standing back to appraise the placement of flowers.
“Looks
wonderful, sweetheart.” After the death of her husband many years ago, her
grandmother had opened the flower shop she’d named Rainbow’s End in their
small, upstate town of Ellenton, New York. In her late sixties, Julia was still
an attractive woman with gray hair cut in a bob, sparkling eyes, and a face
that reflected beauty enhanced by her inner peace. Em smiled. Of all the people
in the family, her grandmother understood her best. Two optimists who came
together. Didn’t the name of her flower shop say it all?
Later,
as Em was putting together a bouquet for a husband to send as a surprise to his
wife, she couldn’t hold back the question that had been gnawing at her insides.
“Gran, Jared told me he loved me, but he wasn’t in love with me.” It still hurt
to say the words.
Her
grandmother’s blue-eyed gaze, so like her own, rested on her thoughtfully. “He
wasn’t the right man. Don’t worry. You have time.”
“But,
Gran, I’ll be thirty-two next spring! And every man I meet ends up being wrong
for me. First, there was Garrett. He turned out to be gay, for heaven’s sake.”
Gran
clucked her tongue. “The opera singer in New York was the hardest for me to
imagine your marrying. Imagine him already married to a concert pianist on
tour!”
“Yeah,
that was another bad time. He’d told me he was lonely. I thought it was because
he was living so far away from family. I didn’t imagine him having a wife.
Neither he nor news releases ever mentioned it.”
Gran
placed a hand on Em’s shoulder. “I’m so glad you agreed to come back to
Ellenton to live. The trouble with you, Emerson, is you want to believe only
the best in everybody in every aspect of your life. That makes you a special
person, but one who is bound to get hurt.”
“I
know everyone teases me about being a Pollyanna, but I’d prefer to live happily
rather than face doom and gloom all the time.”
Gran
drew her into a hug. “Maybe it’s time for you to have a change of heart, become
a little more careful, more realistic. Nothing too drastic, mind you.”
Em
laid the red rose in her hand on the workbench. “Are you saying it’s time for
me to grow up?”
“In
a way,” she said kindly, brushing Em’s long, blond hair away from her face.
“You and I, we’re two of a kind. We dream of what could be without seeing
things as they really are. Who knew my husband would die at a young age,
leaving me with a young son to raise and no money?”
“I’m
glad you decided to open a flower shop. I love it.” Em drew a shaky breath.
“But, Gran, I hope you understand I can’t go through Valentine’s Day working
here. That’s when Jared was supposed to propose to me.”
“No
worries. I already figured that out. Besides, my neighbor, Marilyn, needs to
find a job. I promised I’d hire her on a part-time basis, thinking if she
worked out, I’d bring her on board full-time before the holidays. That will
give you a chance to start thinking about opening the landscape design business
you’ve been talking about.”
Relief
sprinted through Em. She’d never want to hurt her grandmother, but no way, no
how could she endure making beautiful bouquets, lovely nosegays, or single-rose
love letters of her own design for others during the romantic time of
Valentine’s Day.
About
the Author

 photo Change of Heart Author Judith Keim_zpsi6bdolbw.jpg

Judith
Keim enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now
makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two dachshunds,
Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
While
growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age.
Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or
about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in
general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.
A
hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes
heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with
strength, and find love and happiness along the way. Her best-selling books are
based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the
interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic
settings her many loyal readers love. Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers
and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.
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