June is the Month for Weddings

I write romance, not typical romances. I write that little slice of my characters’ lives where they fall in love. Because I don’t follow the standard rules for romance, my books often fall under the general literature category. But I happen to like a happily-ever-after sort of an ending. That kicks it back to  being a romance even if the romance is just minor portion of the story.

When someone says they love my writing, I want to leap for joy. Very rare do authors get any feedback on a story.

If you love a book, please leave a review. Share it with your friends on Facebook, or any social media. It doesn’t take much. If you go to the book on Amazon, they have some share buttons. Click it and the book will go straight to your Facebook page. You don’t need to write a book report. Three or four words are enough. I loved this book, or best book ever. And if you want to write a paragraph, do it. Just don’t give away the ending.

A local friend has a job that keeps her traveling. About a week ago, she stopped for late lunch in a small town. She was ahead of schedule so she brought her Kindle into the deli-style restaurant. After checking the menu and giving her order she proceeded to read one of my books. The waitress brought my friend her tea and noticed what was on the Kindle. The waitress made the comment that she loved my books and has read every one of them. Her comment spurred another customer to jump into the conversation and say that she too loved my books. I have fans in a small town in Virginia!

When my friend returned home that evening, she texted me, and told of her encounter during lunch. She made my day. Even now the thought of what transpired brings a smile to my face. I have two fans I didn’t know about!

Here’s a sample from the book my friend was reading. This is the first book in the Wedding Vows series. The next book to release in this family saga will be #5. It’s Sean Montgomery’s turn to fall in love being he’s all grown up. That book should be available this fall.

 

With This Ring

Cody Montgomery shut down his computer and turned out the light in his office. His receptionist who also doubled as his secretary had left early to pick up her son from school. Now he was running late picking up his boys from the babysitter. He should have called Melissa and had her pick up Colin and Logan, but he didn’t think it was right to impose on her.

He cut across the alleyway, down two blocks and over one more. Two marriages had yielded seven children. At least they had each other.

“Hi Donna,” he called, as he pulled open the kitchen door of a brick house on a quiet street. “I know. It’s the third time I’ve been late this week. Carlie had to pick her son up from school after lunch. Apparently he had a stomachache. I needed to finish something before I left.”

The young mother walked out of the laundry room carrying a basket filled with whites and dumped them on the kitchen table. “There’s something going around. I’ve made Tommy stay in his room. He’s come home with a stomachache.”

“Oh, no.”

“I’ve kept the twins away from him, but they all rode the bus together.”

“Daddy!” Two little towheads grabbed his legs and almost knocked him off balance.

He grinned as he grabbed them into his arms and hoisted them to his hips. “Stop tackling me.”

“I need twenty-five dollars for our class trip and you’ve got to sign this.” Sean didn’t even look up from the game he was playing on his phone as he handed over the permission slip to Cody.

Donna sorted white socks and undies according to their size. “Ian isn’t here yet. He and Jimmy have basketball tryouts this afternoon and Barb Clayton was going to drop them here afterwards. Why don’t you let him stay for dinner and I’ll bring him to you after he’s eaten. I’ve got to go to the grocery store this evening anyway.”

“Thanks.” He lowered the twins to the floor. “Guys, go get your stuff. We need to get home.”

He and the twins walked the three blocks to their home, with Sean trailing behind, acting as though he didn’t know his stepfather or the twins. Cody knew part of it was Sean’s age, but that didn’t stop the worry that niggled inside of Cody. That boy lived to play computer games.

Quiet and introverted, Sean created his own world and lived within it. Cody saw himself at that age, the loner who didn’t get involved with other kids. But he wasn’t certain how to draw the young man out.

Cody knew he was still a loner. The difference was, he learned to live in a world with people.

He’d spent the last ten years working with Project Release, a nonprofit group that worked to protect and prove the innocence of convicted felons. He’d managed to prove the innocence of two men and one woman. Along the way, he’d stumbled upon countless violations of rights, which gave the inmates new trials and often reduced sentences. Most of the time, those serving time were guilty. His job was to search for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Occasionally, he’d handle some private legal matter for a friend, but most of the time he pushed it off on the local law firm. He wasn’t interested in making money. He had money. Thankfully, he was in the position to give back to society.

Darkness was settling as he approached the front door of his home. His children were his first priority. He unlocked the door and keyed his entry on the small security pad in the foyer. It was important to keep the children safe. His clients weren’t exactly model citizens and they had plenty of family and friends that would do anything to free them.

“Melissa! Chelsea! We’re home.” He heard the car in the driveway and knew by the sound of the engine, it was Julia.

“Sean, do you have homework?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you planning to do it anytime soon?”

The boy shrugged.

“Please do it and get it out of the way. I want to talk to you about something tonight. I found a summer program that I think you might like.”

“Oh, spare me. I’m not going to sleep in a tent and sit around a campfire singing Kumbaya.”

A chuckle rose in Cody’s throat. “I’ll remember not to send you to Camp Granada.”

“Isn’t Granada in Nicaragua?”

“Never mind. I’ll talk to you later.”

Cody made his way to the kitchen, washed his hands, and began to prepare dinner. He was no chef, but he managed, and the kids didn’t complain too much. His next hurdle was getting them all to the table at the same time. Forbidding cell phones at the table was the only way to manage conversations with any of the children.

With Ian missing from dinner, it was a little less boisterous. That boy had enough energy for three kids and his mouth never stopped, but he wasn’t considered to be hyperactive, just active, and his grades were good. Julia struggled with schoolwork but managed to get average grades. Of all the children, Chelsea looked the most like him with her dark hair and blue eyes.

He looked at his second oldest daughter, Melissa. With dark brown curly hair that hung almost to her waist and dark eyes, she was a beauty. It was almost two years to the date that Melissa got sick.

Her right hand had cramped and curled her fingers. For almost six months she lived with pain. The doctors never did figure out what caused it, but they looked for everything and asked for DNA testing.

That opened the biggest can of worms he’d ever personally experienced.

He had been young when he married Julia’s mother. Julia wasn’t a year old when he met Jenna.

That marriage produced two girls before it ended. Then after several years, he married Patty. She had Ian and Sean from a previous marriage. That marriage produced a set a twins. He thought they were happy and mourned her death. The memory soured his stomach. He pushed his plate away and sat back.

“What’s wrong, Dad?” Melissa asked.

He grimaced. “Not very hungry tonight.”

He scraped his plate and added it to the dishwasher. “I want all of you on your homework as soon as you’re done eating.”

He cleaned up the kitchen, then called for Sean to meet with him.

The boy shuffled into Cody’s home office and plopped into a chair. “What?”

“Come here and look at this.”

“Email it to me.”

“No. I want you to actually look at it so we can discuss it.”

Sean tipped the monitor slightly and grabbed the mouse. “You’re joking? You’d let me do this?”

“I thought you’d like it.”

“How’d you find out about it?”

“My father sent it to me. He’s on the board of the University.”

“Whoa. You think he can get me in?”

“No. You have to qualify. I can fill out all the forms, but you’ve got to write the essay and show them why you deserve to go.”

“Six weeks – and I get to stay in a dorm and everything?”

“Yes. Now finish your homework so you can start planning your essay. You don’t have much time.”

“Six weeks of intense programming so I can write games!”

“Certain you don’t want to go camping?”

Sean held up his middle finger.

“Behave.” He waited until Sean had left before allowing his laughter to surface.

As he was about to turn out the light and leave, his phone rang. Looking at the Caller ID, he hesitated. Had someone gotten wind of his idea to decorate his home for Christmas with a few million lights timed to music? Prepared to use his most professional voice, he picked up the receiver on his landline. “Hello.”

“Hi, it’s Elizabeth. Have I caught you at a bad time? I have this incredible idea.”

He slumped his shoulders into the padded chair. “I’ve got to get the twins in bed in a few minutes and the older ones are finishing up their homework.”

“Okay, I’ll be quick.” There was the sound of an inhale. “You are going to the Downtown Business Association Christmas Dinner, right?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Please tell me you do not have a date for it.”

“A date?”

“A woman.”

“No. And if I really needed a date, I’d ask Julia to accompany me.”

“She’d probably be pleased to think you’d ask her and bored to tears the entire time. I have a better idea.”

“What?”

“Trust me. I’ve been on this earth a lot longer than you have. I’ve got the perfect date for you, and you won’t be disappointed.”

“Who?”

“I’m not telling. Besides it’s just an association dinner and hardly intimate. If things click between you, that’s great! If they don’t, you’ll tell her goodnight and that you’ll see her at the meeting in January.”

“Who are you talking about, Grace Bickers?”

“Grace is almost old enough to be your mother. I already said I’m not telling.”

“Whatever. I’ve got to put the boys in bed.”

“Tell Ian I said congratulations on making the team. I’m sure he’s busting his buttons.”

Why am I the last person to know about my son? “Thanks. I’ll tell him.”

“You can pick your date up at the coffee shop. Night”

The following morning he got a call from the middle school to come get Chelsea. He had no sooner settled her in at home with a bucket, clear sports drink, and plenty of tissues when he got called to the high school to get Ian. But when the elementary school called for Colin, he said he’d take Logan, too.

Logan managed to get all the way home, but as soon as he opened the car door, the child tossed up his breakfast and probably everything he’d eaten for the last week. Over the course of three days, Cody had picked up every one of the children, except for Melissa, who swore she wasn’t even nauseated.

Whatever the children had, it was short lived. At least they all had it out of their systems before they flew home to Utah for Thanksgiving. His parents loved his large brood.

Forty-six family members gathered for dinner. It was wonderful, chaotic, and exactly what a family Thanksgiving was supposed to be. The next day Cody and his sister took all the children skiing.

Strangely enough, it was Ian who loved the ranch. The boy followed Cody’s oldest brother like a glued shadow.

But it was while watching the gaggle of young female family members that Cody’s sister roped him into a disturbing conversation.

Barbara gripped his shoulder. “How much have you talked to the girls about sex?”

“I-I’ve given them the pamphlets and I’ve told them they can come to me with any questions they might have.”

“You dumb jerk. Just talk to them. They are your children.”

They’re my life. “What am I supposed to say?”

“What did you tell the boys? Or did you skip that too?”

“No, I talked to them.”

“Well, talk to the girls.”

“What am I supposed to say? I’d like to discuss your vagina? I’d rather not think that my girls have such parts or even intend to use them until they are thirty.”

“Do you realize that Julia has a boyfriend and is sexually active?”

“Whatever gave you that impression?”

“When was the last time you checked up on her? Looked in her room, her computer, read her text messages, or even looked in her purse?”

“I’m not doing that to my daughter! That’s a violation of her privacy!”

“You’d better talk to those girls before you’ve found out that one has had an abortion or is pregnant.”

“What am I supposed to say, it’s time to discuss the birds and the bees?”

“No. Julia isn’t actually doing anything at the moment. Grab your coat and hers and tell her you are taking her for a walk. Then just talk to her like a grown woman.”

“Now?” His guts twisted into a knot.

“It’s as good a time as any.”

He turned away from his sister and found the coats. His skin prickled as he walked up to the oldest of his brood. “Put your coat on; we’re going for a walk.”

In silence, they walked down the fence-lined driveway as he tried to pull together what he was supposed to say to Julia. Plowed snow lay in dirty rows on each side of the asphalt. A steer mooed.

His stomach knotted. “We need to talk.”

“Is something wrong?”

“Maybe. Maybe I should have told you a few things when you were younger. Now you’re grown and…” He held his hand out to her and she took it. Cold stung his eyes.

“And what?”

“When you needed a mother, you didn’t have one.”

“Obviously, my mother didn’t care to stick around, and I didn’t like Patty.”

“I know.” He walked a few more steps. “There were things I should have told you, but I didn’t know how. I’m still not sure I know what to say.”

They walked for two hours. He gave her his opinions and listened to hers. He heard things that, as a father, he didn’t want to hear. And as dusk settled, they sat on the back patio and talked some more.

Maybe it was the best conversation he’d ever had with Julia. In the end, he knew he’d raised a sensible young woman in spite of having no idea how to raise a child.

 

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5 Responses to June is the Month for Weddings

  1. susanrhughes says:

    Wow, that must have been such a thrill.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jude Knight says:

    I love the excerpt, Jill

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Carol says:

    How exciting! Congrats on the fans. Loved Cody’s story.

    Like

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