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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

She Waits ~ Chapter Six


             Don't forget to check out the Mine!!

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
~ Chapter Six ~


Nina sat across from her mother, the scraping of forks against glass plates the only sound interrupting the burgeoning silence.

Should she try to break it? A sigh escaped and she cleared her throat. “it’s good, isn’t it?”

Green eyes pinned her with laser-like precision. “It is.”

“Max’s parents have owned this restaurant since they got married in the early nineties.”

Silence.

“Mom—I…”

Her mother held up a warning hand. “Finish eating first.”

Nina bowed her head. “Yes ma’am.”

Nina chewed the Country-Fried steak, comparing its taste to what sawdust must be like. The mashed potatoes weren’t much better.

Maybe her brilliant idea hadn’t been so brilliant after all. She’d thought it would come over a lot better if she at least had plans to marry, since her parents were so religious. Apparently that wasn’t the case.

Max hovered just out of sight and Nina had to hide a smirk. She could hear his mom chastising him for not coming to their table to see if they needed anything. The restaurant was empty except for them, being after the dinner hour and before the night time rush.

She couldn’t help the urge to hold up a hand. When Max’s eyes honed in on her, she could see he wasn’t pleased.

His steps hesitant, he shuffled toward her. “Could I get a glass of milk?”

Relief fell over his features, most likely because she’d stopped his need to come right up to the table, at least for the moment. She giggled as he scurried behind the counter, into the kitchen.

“Oh Nina, stop it already. You’re giving the boy a heart attack.” Her mom’s voice held a hint of amusement.

Nina was about to deny any wrongdoing, but when her Amber eyes met green orbs, she stopped.

“Why did you feel the need to lie to me, Nina girl? That boy is no more your fiancé than mine.”

“I—I thought it would be better if you thought I was at least planning on marrying the guy I got in trouble with.”

Her mother’s face clouded up like a sudden fierce thunderstorm, her eyes falling to Nina’s growing belly. “Trouble? Is that how you see it?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, it was an accident, Mom. I didn’t plan it. I never thought I’d be one of those girls who get pregnant without being married.” Tears welled in her eyes and she blinked several times in rapid succession to dispel them.

Disappointment in every word, her mother said, “I thought I taught you better than that, Nina. None of us are above sin, so I don’t know where you got the idea that you were.”

Nina shook her head. “That’s not what I meant. I’ve always tried to be good. I got good grades, I didn’t run around and I didn’t cause you any trouble. I wanted you to be proud of me, Mom.”

“Nina, I am proud of you. That doesn’t mean I think you can do no wrong. Yes, your father is horribly upset, and rightly so, but he will get over it. What I need from you is the why. What happened? I don’t want the gory details, of course. I just want to know what led to this pregnancy. Do you love him? Did things get out of hand? I need to know.” Her mother’s voice raised an octave at the end of the sentence and Nina saw the glimmer of tears in her eyes.

Remorse filled her. This is what she’d wanted to avoid. Why she hadn’t contacted her mother right away in the first place. “Mom, I’m sorry. I really am. I was tutoring Max. Yes, I was attracted to him, but I never thought for a second about doing anything about it. It just happened, I can’t change that. And no, we’re not really together. In fact, he just found out about the pregnancy too. I haven’t seen him in almost six months.”

Her mother’s stare set her on edge even more. She might as well have sprouted horns.

Silence fell over the table as Max finally returned with the glass of milk. He set it down and practically ran for the kitchen.

Her mother’s voice was full of resignation when she spoke. “So what are your plans for this child?”

Her slender shoulders shrugged before she had the chance to rein it in. “I don’t really know. I thought about adoption. I know there are plenty of women out there who would love to have a baby but can’t.”

Her mother’s red hair bounced up and down in vehemence. “You’ll do no such thing Nina Marie. Regardless of what the circumstances were, you made this child and you will take care of it. Do you understand me, young lady?”

Nina nodded, hesitantly. “Yes, ma’am. But how will I finish school? I have so many plans and—Well…”

“You should’ve thought of those plans before you did this, Nina. But I raised you to take responsibility for your actions. This isn’t some mistake you made that you can get a quick fix for, child. For heaven’s sake, you’re going to have a baby.” Her words ended with a watery sigh.

Nina gave a slight shake of her head. “Yes, I know. I thought about that too. But the truth is, I don’t think I can do this alone. I don’t think I even want to.”

“It’s too late for that. From here on out all I want to hear from you are your plans for this child. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes ma’am, you do.”

And just like that, Nina’s whole outlook on life changed. It wasn’t just her anymore.

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

She waits ~ Chapter Five




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             (This is a storm from the other day...)
 









 
 
~ Chapter Five ~

Nina watched as the plane descended from the cloudy sky. Waves of excitement rolled through her belly. She hadn’t realized how much she missed her mom. Stepping away from the glass, she pulled her cellphone out and punched in her mom’s name. No answer yet. She shuffled back to the row of fake leather seats and plopped down, one hand rubbing her lower back. Boy, did it ever ache.

Her mind wandered to yesterday and Max. A sharp pang of disconcertment joined her roiling belly, causing a sudden bout of nausea. The look Max had given her was one she’d never received from anyone. She didn’t like it. She shrugged one still-slender shoulder and whispered under her breath, “Oh, well. Can’t change it now.”

Passengers started appearing through the hallway at her mom’s arrival door and she stood up once more, raising on tiptoe, anxious for that first glance of her mother. She hadn’t seen her in almost a year. The longest she’d ever been away.

When she spied the brilliant red head, tears of joy sprang to her eyes. Her mother was looking at her, doing the same. They both rushed forward, meeting somewhere in the middle.

Her mother wrapped long, slender arms around her and laid her head against Nina’s shoulder.

Nina couldn’t help but breathe in the fruity smell of her mother’s perfume and the aromatic scent of matching shampoo. “I missed you so much, Mom,” She cried.

“I missed you too, Sweetie. I’ve wanted to call so many times, but your dad said it was best to leave you alone.”

At the mention of her dad, Nina stepped away and looked behind her mom. “Where is he?”

Janet Moore frowned, cleared her throat. “He didn’t come, Honey.”

Nina’s happy mood diminished. “What do you mean?”

“He— doesn’t accept it yet, Nina girl.”

“He doesn’t?”

Her mother’s bright hair jiggled as she shook her head, her lips curving into a frown.

Nina dropped her head. “I know it’s a shock, but I was hoping he would. I miss im so much.”

Her mom pulled her back into her embrace. “I know, Honey. Give him some time.”

Raising her chin, she took the handle of her mom’s carry-on and pulled it from her grasp. “I guess I’ll have to. Come on, let’s get out of here and get some lunch.”

Her mom chuckled. “That’s the spirit.”

Nina returned the laughter. “Yeah. Believe it or not, I am growing up.”

“I believe you, Nina, but I want details on your present predicament,” He mom demanded in the tone she used when she was determined to get her way.

“I’m going to tell you everything mom, but you have to realize it’s awkward to do so. Give me time to ease into it.”

“That’s fine,” Her mom replied as she held her hand up to summon a taxi driver leaning lazily on his yellow car.

“Where do you want to eat?” Nina popped the handle back into the bag and pushed it across the seat to set in between them.

“It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s cool and they don’t rush you out the minute you take your last bite,” Her mom chuckled.

“I know just the place.”

A few minutes later the taxi pulled up in front of Williams’ Mom and Pop. Nina was secretly hoping Max might be here…

 

Max was standing behind the counter placing glasses on the shelf when she walked in. There was an older woman with red hair at her side.

His heart tattooed against his chest so hard he thought it might burst out of its bounds. It must be her mother. Other than the hair, they looked about the same. Her mom had about twenty years or so on her, but didn’t look a day over thirty. That’s what Nina will look like in a few years… A smile spread across his face and he tamped down the urge to strike out verbally at his woman. He grunted.  His woman? If she was his woman she wouldn’t have hidden her pregnancy from him. After all, it was his child, too.

“Nina.” He grinned. Liking how warm the name sounded slipping off his tongue.

The smile she returned slammed into his already pounding chest. She was beautiful… He gulped, trying to catch his breath and missed what she said.

“Huh? His face grew warm and humiliation spread through him. He must sound like a first class idiot. So much for impressing her mother…

Her tinkling laughter danced upon his nerve endings and he imagined what his silly smile must look like to someone seeing him for the first time.

“I said this is my mom, Janet Moore.”

Janet stuck out her hand and he took it.

“You’re almost as beautiful as your daughter, Mrs. Moore.”

Her laugh was so similar to Nina’s he glanced her way to make sure it wasn’t her.

“Well aren’t you a delight?” She shook his hand and dropped it, letting hers fall to her side.

“This is my fiancé Max Williams, Mom.”

Max gulped. What!!?

The sent him a look full of warning.

He gulped again and stood up straight, smiling like a fool.

So many emotions crossed Janet Moore’s face he didn’t have time to recognize them all. Her mouth opened and shut like a fish out of water.

“Oh really?” Her tone was scary as she pinned him with narrowed green orbs.

Nina gave him another thousand watt smile and nodded. “Oh yes.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

She Waits Chapter Four


                                       Don't forget to visit the Mine!!

                                      http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/


 
 







 
~ Chapter Four ~
Nina paced back and forth across the kitchen. He would be knocking on her door soon. What should she do? She couldn’t answer it. If she did, he would know. He would see her this way. “Ugh!”
Indecision filled her and she sank to the high-backed wooden chair. “Dear Lord, what should I do? I’m so afraid.”
Of course there was no answer forthcoming. That’s not how God works.
The sound of the doorbell had Nina’s heart boomeranging to her feet and into her throat. “He’s here.”
She was frozen to the spot. The doorbell rang three more times. He would leave now…
The knob rattled.
Had she locked it? No!
Footsteps crossed the living room. “Nina?”
Desperate eyes searched out the kitchen for a place to hide. There was no escaping.
Max stopped short when he entered the kitchen. He smiled and rushed to stand in front of her. And then his smile began to diminish as his eyes traveled from her face down to her stomach. “Nina? What in the world—why didn’t you tell me?” His voice rose at the last.
She cringed. Would he get violent? Hurt her? As soon as the thought formed, she discarded it. No, he wasn’t the abusive type. “You…you didn’t call,” She whispered.
“You told me not to,” He boomed. “How could you keep this from me? Am I the father?”
Nina shrank back. Knowing he wasn’t the violent type didn’t keep his voice from disturbing her peace of mind. His words sank in and her back snapped up, ram-rod straight. She spat, “Of course.”
He eyed her speculatively and then glanced away, his eyes circling around the bright yellow kitchen. The one he’d helped paint.
Nina followed his lead, examining white lacy curtains with huge balls of sun and dark brown chickens as if seeing them for the first time. The oak spice rack and matching mail holder registered in her mind but didn’t hold her attention. Her eyes fell on him. Tall, stocky build dark hair and hazel eyes. An ache so deep she could scarcely breathe rose within in her. Was it love? If so, she wasn’t sure she wanted to feel it.
His eyes returned to her burgeoning figure as she slumped in the chair trying to disguise it. But it was no use. She was huge, easily twice her normal size. Or at least it felt like it.
His stare was penetrating. Was he really that angry? Hadn’t she been doing him a favor by not telling him?
Finally, he spoke. “You had no right.” Shaking his head, he began walking backward, toward the living room.
Confusion swirled in her already over-loaded brain. “No right?”
He nodded.
“No right for what? You’re not making sense.” She sat up, her growing belly protruding from beneath her shirt.
His stopped and his eyes gestured toward her mid-section. “To hide it from me.”
Her mouth fell open in amazement. “You didn’t call me, Max. It’s been six months. Why would I tell you?”
Bitterness spewed out in his words. “You just found out then?”
A snort escaped her lips. “No—but…”
His hand came up and she just then noticed he clutched onto a bundle of bright red roses as he threw them at the counter. “I never would’ve guessed you to be that way, Nina.”
The disillusionment and disappointment in his tone cut her to the quick faster than pretty much anything else could’ve. She watched as he turned and stomped back through the living room. Huge tears of grief slid silently down her cheeks as the front screen door slammed.
She sat that way for an indeterminate time, tears continuously falling from her eyes in silent pools of sorrow. A feeling so all-consuming she couldn’t take it rose within her. She was all alone. No one cared. No one was here for her. Life was over…
Finally, she straightened up and brushed the tears from her eyes. “No, I will not feel sorry for myself.”
She got up from the chair and shuffled through the living room and up the stairs. Flopping onto the bed, she grabbed the well-used Teddy Bear and hugged it to her as she settled onto her side. “I have God. I am never alone.” The words comforted her and she grabbed the cellphone on the bedside. Scrolling through the contacts list, she stopped and hit a button.
It rang four times, and she was already pulling it away from her ear when a voice said, “Hello?”
Renewed tears trailed down an already soaked face. “Mom?”
“Nina! I’m so glad you called. I wanted to call you but your father said no, wait until…”
“Mom, I’m pregnant.”
The silence that fell between mother and daughter was unbearable. Nina was again pulling the phone from her ear when her mother’s voice came across the line. “How far along?
“Six months.”
A shocked, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was afraid.”
More silence, and then, “Nina, you know better than to ever be afraid of me. I’m coming up there. I’ll go pack and get a flight.”
“Okay. Thanks Mom.”
“I love you, Nina.”
“I love you too, Mom.” Nina ended the call, hugged the bear tighter to her chest and fell into exhausted sleep.
 
 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I know it's been a while, but here is Chapter Three of She waits. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the comments.

                              
                         As always, don't forget to stop in at the Mine!!
                               http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/
I'm posting this today, Wednesday June 3rd, but next week it will go back to the regular Tuesday posting. Sorry for being off the web for a while but I moved and they couldn't get my internet hooked up for almost a month.



 

 

 



~ Chapter Three ~


Nina turned over and punched the pillow, irritation swelling within. What had awakened her this time? Last time it was the ticking of the clock. She used to be able to sleep through almost anything, but now, every little noise woke her up.

The buzzing of her silenced cellphone registered in her mind. Oh no, what if it’s Mom again?

Sitting up, she scrunched her shoulders in indecision. She wanted, no needed, to talk to her mom, confide in her. Straightening her shoulders, she sighed and stood up. She couldn’t. She wasn’t ready. Would she ever be?

On the off chance it was her friend Emily, she turned the phone over and squinted at the screen. Suddenly slippery fingers dropped the phone onto the table with a thwack. It was max!

Trembling erupted from deep within and she was powerless to stop it. What did he want? Why was he calling? Now, after all this time.

Taking a deep breath to calm her breathing, she punched the green telephone on the screen to answer the call.

“He—hello?”

“Nina?”

His voice traveled from her toes up her spine and into her brain, the liquid honey making her knees go weak. “Yes?”

A deep sigh. “Are you okay? You sound kind of funny.”

Anger replaced the ecstatic trembling inside her. Who did he think he was anyway? Was he an idiot? He hadn’t called in six months. But you pretty much told him not to, silly.

Nina grumbled at her own thoughts. “I—I’m fine. I just didn’t expect a call from you, that’s all.” The defensiveness in her tone caused waves of self-loathing to roll over already sensitive nerve-endings.

“I want to come see you, Nina.”

Her mouth dropped open and she was sure a feather would’ve knocked her over. Then glee zinged through her. Yes! He was coming to see her. What would she wear? No. Wait. Just as quick as joy came over her, reality set in. She couldn’t see him. He would know immediately.

Injecting as much coldness as she could muster, she muttered, “I don’t want to see you.” She punched the red telephone and dropped the device back to the table. It started buzzing.

“He’s not giving up.” She dropped onto the couch behind her.

Tears slid down her cheeks. Then huge snorting sobs took over. Why now? Life was not fair.

Despondent and not sure what to do, she slid to her knees in front of the coffee table. “Dear Lord, lead me and guide me.”

She stayed on her knees for a long time, silent. Her mind emptied and she waited.

The calm she knew was coming washed over her once more. Grateful for God, she stood to her feet and headed back upstairs. So much emotion, and she was drained.

She fell asleep, not waking until the early hours of Monday morning.

Soft light filtered through the drapes at her bedroom window. She turned from her side and rested on her back. The baby moved within her, letting her know she’d skipped supper last night. Guilt settled over her. She couldn’t continue to miss meals. It wasn’t the baby’s fault she was indecisive and immature.

Scooting to the side of the bed, she pushed tired legs over the edge and searched the floor for house shoes with her toes. Slipping into them, she stood up and stretched long, slender arms over her head, groaning with pleasure. Then she remembered and jerked them back to her sides. She wasn’t supposed to raise her arms that high anymore.

She patted her bulging belly. “Sorry, little one.”

As if in answer, the baby flopped over, its body rolling from one side of her belly to the other. She giggled at the twilight zone-esque site. “I certainly hope you’re not an alien,” She said as she rushed down the steps in search of her phone.

Excitement washed through her anew. Had he left a message? The thought caused her heart to turn over and palpitate against her ribs. “I hope he did.”

She grabbed the phone and pulled it up toward her face, only then remembering her glasses were somewhere either on the couch or the floor where they’d landed when she slid helplessly to her knees last night.

Repeating the action, she searched for the elusive and often misplaced item. She laughed when she spotted them. “Aha, I’ve found you, my pretties.”

Her hands shook with half-excitement, half-dread. If he left a message, what had he said?

The little voicemail icon showed at the top of her screen. She smiled so big she felt the corners of her lips cracking. She punched it and put the phone to her ear.
“Hey Nina.” Silence. Clearing of his throat. “Look. I know I should’ve called you before now. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t. I know you were upset after…well, after you know what.”

More silence. Compassion filled her at the sound of uneasiness and embarrassment in his tone. He was trying so hard, she could tell.

“But I miss you. I want to see you. I can understand why you’re mad, but it’s not going to stop me. Once I’ve made up my mind to do something, I’m going to do it. I have class in the morning, but I don’t have to work until six-thirty, so I’ll be stopping over. Please answer the door. I think we can work this out, but we have to talk to do so.” More silence. She heard him catch his breath, and then he whispered, “Bye.”

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

My friend Peggy Trotter has a book coming out!!



A little about Peggy:
 
 

Peggy Trotter has been writing something for over 30 years. The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, will debut in April of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, will follow in 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God’s miracles through the world’s underdogs and mix in a little love and happy endings. 
    She finaled in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the inspirational Category, and is a 2014 ACFW Genesis Finalist in the Novella Category. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it’s to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!




Peggy's new book, Year of Jubilee will be out on April 10th. You can buy it on Amazon or through Prism Book Group.
             

http://www.amazon.com/Year-Jubilee-Peggy-Trotter-ebook/dp/B00UZ78ZUA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427752416&sr=8-1&keywords=year+of+jubilee

http://prismbookgroup.com/comingsoon.html

                                        
 
Orphaned and widowed, eighteen year old JUBILEE STALLINGS clings to her southern Indiana farm as her only refuge. The wilds of Gibson County are just being tamed in the year of 1850, and Jubilee ekes a meager existence. But when RAFE TANNER, a cousin of her abusive dead husband, shows up with the deed to her property, Jubilee’s dream of her own home dissolves.
Rafe, stinging from his ex-fiancée’s rejection, offers a business marriage, throwing him and Jubilee together in an effort to make the farm successful. But scars from the past keep her in constant fear of her new husband. The pair masquerades as a love-struck couple at Rafe’s family farm, enduring the romantic notions of his family and the jealousy of his ex-fiancée.
Once home, Rafe realizes his newfound love for Jubilee, and sets out to court her. Meanwhile, Jubilee fights demons from her past as her husband reveals his interest. Can Jubilee let go of her distrust and pain to embrace God’s plan of true love and finally find a place to belong?
 
You won't want to miss out... :)
 
 
 

Monday, March 30, 2015

She waits Chapter Two

 
 
Don't forget to check out the Mine!!
 
 
 
Also, make sure to click these links!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 





~ Chapter Two ~


Max Williams glanced toward Nina’s house as he passed by, trying not to be conspicuous. He missed her.

He pulled one shoulder up in a shrug. He even missed their tutor sessions. Raising his chin a fraction of an inch, he closed his eyes for a brief moment and recalled the scent of her perfume. Light and airy, something fruity. Mango? He couldn’t be sure. The scent wafted through his mind once more, but its identification remained a mystery. He’d wanted to ask her, but never got around to it.

Regret rose within him once more, as it always did when thinking of her.

Since that night he hadn’t spoken to her, except through a few cryptic texts.

‘I can’t be your tutor, anymore,’ she’d typed.

‘But why?’ He’d returned.

‘I think that’s obvious,’ she’d answered.

‘Well, it isn’t,’ He’d sent back.

‘I’m a Christian, Max, and I sinned against my God.’

Anger swelled within him and he’d typed back, ‘Whatever. Just remember this was your choice.’

Humiliation filled him. He’d wanted to take back those mean, hastily-typed words so many times he’d lost count.

He stopped at a red light and checked his phone, hoping by some miraculous means she realized he was thinking of her and decided to text him. Of course she hadn’t.

He let his phone drop back to the seat and accelerated when the light changed to green.

Should he call her? As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he shook his head. No, it wasn’t a good idea, especially since six months had passed.

Why couldn’t he get over it? What was it about her?

Yes she was pretty and had a way about her, for sure. And he missed that. But he missed her more. Her sweet smile and soft-spoken manner were very attractive. Unlike most of the girls on campus, she had morals.

Guilt washed through him—And look what he’d done to her. He’d known she was a Christian. She’d tried witnessing to him on more than one occasion.

He’d known she was attracted to him. That’s what had given him the courage to follow her upstairs that day six months ago.

If he hadn’t reached out and grabbed her, would she have come to him willingly? Something inside him said no. She wasn’t that kind of girl.

If he believed in a god he would pray for help, but he didn’t. The idea was too far-fetched.

Anger rushed through him and with a jerk of his arm, he swung the vehicle into a hard right and pulled into his family’s restaurant. He slammed the gearshift into park and turned off the engine.

Unlike Nina his family wasn’t funding his college education he had to work for it. And he hated working in the restaurant. He wanted to do something manly, not languish in a restaurant.

He reached the glass front door and pulled it open, the bell tinkling a warning of his arrival.

The first thing he saw was his mother behind the counter, her graying hair pulled into a ragtag bun at the top of her head.

She looked up and smiled at him in welcome as she rubbed a dishrag across the scarred Formica counter. “Max, you made it on time today.”

 “It’s a nice surprise, right?” He leaned across the counter and kissed her wrinkled cheek. Concern filled him at how rundown she was looking. And here he’d been being ungrateful about working here.

“Go ahead mom. I got this.” He gently took the dishcloth from her hand and dipped his head toward the back.

Felicity Williams sighed and dipped her head in agreement. “Okay, but just for a few minutes, though. I guess a piece of that chocolate pie your sister made earlier will sit right well on my empty tummy.”

Max laughed. “Yes it will.”

“Do you want me to cut you a piece, son?” Felicity Williams asked as she disappeared through the kitchen door.

He raised his voice a bit. “Nah, I’ll have one later.”

He moved around the counter and proceeded to finish wiping it down. His mother loved this place and kept it spic-and-span. He shouldn’t be such an ungrateful brat.

After a few minutes he threw the dishrag into the pan they kept under the counter and raised his eyes to peruse the dining room. His eyes locked gazes with none other than Nina Moore’s father.

Ice water filled his veins and his heart pounded in fear. Did he know?

The sick feeling inside him grew, sitting like a heavy rock in the midst of his gut. But then Gary Moore’s gaze slid away and relief filled Max’s whole being.

He wiped his forehead, not surprised to feel the sweat spread across it. It was in that moment he decided he was going to see Nina Moore.

Monday, March 23, 2015

She Waits ~ Chapter One

Don't forget to stop in at the Mine!!
 
 
 



 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 





~ Chapter One ~


Nina Moore let the silky peach drape slide through her fingers as it slipped into place beside its twin. Shoulders heaving with emotion she gulped in a deep breath of air, squeezing her eyes shut against the sting. A single tear escaped and slid down her warm cheek.

He was leaving. Again.

She glanced at the calendar on the wall beside the kitchen doorway as she shuffled into the bright, cheery room, resisting the urge to pick up the pen and mark the date. No! I have to stop this.

His name was super-imposed across the stage of her mind. Max Williams. The man she loved.

“Stop it, Nina. He doesn’t remember you exist.”

Plopping into the high-backed chair, she buried her head in trembling hands.

Huge gasping sobs shook her slender shoulders. “What have I done?”

Pulling her hands away, they slammed against her burgeoning belly.

Her back stiffened and she sniffled.

Her pregnancy was becoming obvious and she wouldn’t be able to hide it much longer. She would take responsibility for the tiny life growing inside her, that’s for sure. And even though she’d believed Max loved her like she loved him that was no excuse for what she’d done with him. Shame heated her skin and her cheeks grew warm with humiliation. Everyone would know. She’d be labeled immoral, maybe even thrown out of the church.

Her abdomen tightened and she cried out. “Oh, what will I do, dear Lord?”

The day she’d found out abortion crossed her mind, but she couldn’t do it. Not only was she a Christian, she couldn’t abide the taking of an innocent life. It wasn’t the baby’s fault she’d slept with someone.

Rocking back and forth, she moaned and cried. Her parents would know soon, too. Would they disown her? Take away her allowance? If so, how would she continue to attend college? It would be such a blow to them. Nina had been such a good daughter—until now.

Get a job. The words echoed through her mind, but were discarded. Not on her list of desirable things to do.

Sliding off the chair, she dropped to her knees on the floor. “Dear Lord, please lead and guide me and help me through this. I know I messed up and sinned against You. I’m sorry, but I need you now more than ever.”

The room was quiet. The only sound the quiet buzzing of the refrigerator. There was no audible answer from God, yet a comforting peace settled over her and she smiled. God was with her, even though she’d done such a horrid thing.

Exhaustion enveloped her and sleep tried to claim her as she knelt on the floor, but she fought it until her pleas to God were finished for the moment.

When her last words were uttered to Him, she stood and headed up the stairs of her little rental house, too tired to think about supper. Reaching her room, she flopped into bed sure she’d fall asleep quick and in a hurry.

Her mind had other ideas. As soon as her head hit the pillow her eyes popped wide and she gazed around the room. “Six months ago,” She whispered.

Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, Nina’s mind wandered back to that night, and Max. His dark hair and piercing blue eyes jumped to the forefront of her memory. Every detail of his facial features etched into her mind’s eye. His smell. The way he looked deeply into her eyes, seeming to meld with her very soul.

She should’ve clarified. No, she should’ve said no, no matter what. She knew better. Good girls like her didn’t do bad things like that. She was his English tutor for Pete’s sake. How had they even gotten in her room? Oh yeah, she’d gone to use the restroom and when she’d come out, he’d been sitting on her bed. She tried to pass by and not meet his gaze, but long arms had come out and captured her.

Her heart thumped against her ribcage, half-scared, half-excited. Her pulse was so loud in her ears she missed his words. What had he said? She’d asked him to repeat it.

“You’re very beautiful, Nina Blue Moore.”

She’d tried to pull away, but honestly not very hard. His hands were warm and the feel of them around her arms caused the thumping in her ears to escalate.

His hand came up and snuck under her long, dark hair, cupping her neck. His lips swooped down and… “No!”

She sat-up, shaking her head. She mustn’t remember the sin. Though she knew it for what it was, she still desired it. “I’m so awful.”

Irritation filled her and she jumped from the bed. She couldn’t blame it all on Max. She could’ve said no. Would he have stopped if she had?

She couldn’t be sure, but for all intents and purposes it didn’t matter. She hadn’t said no, and now she was pregnant, unmarried, nineteen, and alone.

She skipped down the steps as if the hounds of Hades were on her heels.