Contemporary romance, or happily ever after in the present or close to it, starting in 1983...
God never promised life would be easy. He did promise He would never abandon His own. In Malachi 3:7, God describes how His children are placed in the refiner's fire to burn away the impurities. He never looks away and only leaves us in the fire until He is able to see His reflection in us. Surviving abuse requires courage. Choosing to thrive requires change, commitment, perseverance, and a determination to say, "I never gave up."
Five women search the world to find release from the chains binding them to their past, struggling to recognize the difference between their own way and God's way. The temptation to fight alone is exactly that: Temptation. God never intended anyone to go through life alone. In fact, God encourages group projects.
Even as trouble endeavors to set up house, the women and the men who pursue them must embrace faith and trust in God, leaving familiarity behind, and welcoming the love prepared for them. Despite bumbling attempts to hide from hurts and fears, guidance in the ultimate adventure awaits the imperfect souls who place their trust in God. Choosing perfect serenity and safety over love and trust may spare dips into the valleys, but the awe-inspiring views from the peaks are also forfeit. God provides the precious gift of choice and inspiration, one need only risk the prerequisite leap of faith.
Luck In Love
Some fun facts about Lake Yellowstone at Yellowstone Treasures: http://www.yellowstonetreasures.com/yellowstone_lake.htm
Luck Williams doesn't believe peace will ever be his again, but he can't resist the opportunity handed to him to photograph his favorite place on earth. Even caught up in the pristine beauty he is unable to escape the haunting nightmares of one horrific day. His hard won lesson regarding the fragility and capriciousness of life leaves no room for romance... but God has other plans.
A movement to the right, deep in the trees, caught Sara's attention. She turned toward it, endeavoring to decipher what she'd seen. Another shift in the greens, blacks, and blues, and she blinked, uncertain, but then, the shadows and shades moved again, separating into a person in jeans and a green, long-sleeved pullover.
She caught a glimpse of his face. Her first impression was he couldn't be more than sixteen. He looked up from inspecting his camera, and she forced herself to meet the steady dark-eyed gaze. His eyes were older, years older. She could imagine how much he hated having the Peter-Pan gene, looking perpetually younger than he was. It was always more difficult for boys. So how old was he? It didn't matter. Once he had a good look at her, he'd retreat. Most men did, at least the nice ones. Bitterness coiled in her middle. What did it say about her wanting him to retreat? Then she'd know he was one of the good guys? When it was too late?
"Who is he?" she whispered.
"No clue," Wendy murmured. "From the look of his camera equipment, an educated guess says he's a professional photographer."
The man in question noted them watching, and one eyebrow inched up his forehead.
Sara's bitterness evaporated and heat crept up from her neck into her face. She nodded, acknowledging she'd been caught staring. An invisible fist squeezed her heart. How could anyone look so sad without tears streaming down their face? It was all she could do to keep herself from moving toward him to offer comfort. She couldn't keep from offering him a tentative smile.
He did not smile back.
His jaw tightened, and his whole face turned to stone. He turned away, snipping the tenuous thread spun between them without mercy. She should not feel bereft by the loss, but she did
In 1983, Grace Williams is the new manager of A Blink in Time, a photography gallery in Los Angeles. Over the past ten years, she's worked hard to bury her past and create a new life for herself. To her dismay, the past, like the truth, never stays buried.
Mark Antony Callaghan, the gallery's curator, knows quality when he sees it and fell for Grace the first time he met her. The timing was wrong, but he was willing to wait. He's made a lot of changes over the years, including become Christian, but is he too late? Because Grace's past is about to catch up with her and only she will decide if it destroys her or if she will embrace her dearest friend...
"Grace!" Mark burst into the showroom, his face alight.
She wrenched herself back to the present, blanked the memories, and turned her full attention to Mark.
"I found the perfect place, a duplex. It's a two-story, single dwelling home. Well, it used to be a single dwelling. Now, it's divided into an upstairs and a downstairs apartment. We'll be able to move in before Christmas."
Her heart shredded into a million pieces. Mark Callaghan's words implied a nonexistent closeness. How she wished she could go back and change everything, but she couldn't. Even if she succeeded, it would mean she never would have met him anyway, because her brother would never have created an award-winning triptych for her. She pushed the past away, and gave her attention to the man grinning in her. Essie's directive to question Mark floated into her head, and she pushed it right out again.
She didn't have the right.
Luxurious dark hair, cut short around his ears and long in the back, brushed back from his chiseled face. One lock curled on his forehead, which always made her itch to slide her fingers through it and mess it up a bit. Dark straight brows and long lashes emphasized his hazel eyes.
His straight nose drew her perusal to his well-formed masculine lips. Her mind pictured the rest of him without difficulty. His athletic build filled his black suit to perfection. His boyish grin, belying his thirty-four years, always made her heart flip, her stomach fill with butterflies, and her mind cease all rational thought.
It would embarrass him if he knew how often she daydreamed about him falling in love with her. It embarrassed her. More than his good looks, he possessed the rare gift of making whoever he was with believe no one and nothing else was more important than they were.
She tucked the fantasy away. She wasn't in his league. She wasn't even in the same universe.
"You'll love it," he enthused.
The combination of his smile, bracketed by deep masculine grooves instead of dimples, and bright eyes sparked sensations in her she shouldn't feel.
"There's a wide, terra cotta tile stairway outside for the upstairs apartment," he continued with barely a breath. "An additional inside stairway connects the two kitchens, but two locked doors keep them separate -- one at the top and one at the bottom. I was thinking you'd take the upstairs, since it has a balcony. I know you love balconies. Besides, I'm gone so much, you might as well enjoy it. Better, you'll be close enough to keep an eye on my place, bring in my mail, use my truck. What do you think?"
Saving Lisa ~ December 2013
Thailand offers new opportunities. Eric believes he's lost everything. Lisa believes she's nothing to lose. They're both wrong. God has other plans.
A New Job
Photographer Eric Hudson's home burns to the ground, along with all he owns. He accepts the only offer to salvage his career. No room exists in his life, or his heart, for anything beyond work.
A New Start
Lisa Montgomery is determined to leave the past behind and create a new life. In her effort to obtain refuge from emotional bondage, she lands in slavery of another sort.
A New Location
In 1985, Thailand offers exotic opportunities, but dangers lurk for the unaware.
A New Adventure
A complicated relationship with a woman who believes God solves everything isn't in Eric's plans. Lisa is challenged to live the truths of her faith. Despite bumbling attempts to hide from hurts and fears, guidance in the ultimate adventure awaits the imperfect souls who place their trust in God.
In the Seattle airport, the gorgeous guy walked ahead of her. It didn't strike her as odd until he stopped at her gate. She stood behind him at the check-in counter. He glanced back at her, his focus encompassing her.
Butterflies fluttered in her stomach and spread through her veins.
"Where're you headed?" he asked, the rich baritone reminding her of hot fudge over cold ice cream.
"Thailand," she managed to articulate without stuttering.
"We're going the same direction." He smiled, his dimple winking at her.
"Do you always talk to complete strangers?" Could she possibly sound any more off-putting?
"Actually, yes, I do," he chuckled. "Long-standing habit."
He accepted her challenge and lobbed it back. All she could do was stare at him and pray her mouth wasn't hanging open.
"I've done a lot of traveling," he continued. "The people are half the fun. I'm Eric. Eric Hudson."
"Lisa. Lisa Montgomery. I've never traveled anywhere alone in my life, until today." She slapped her hand over her mouth. "Blabbing everything is one of my faults," she mumbled through her fingers.
"You haven't said too much," he assured, "yet -- I promise not to take advantage."
She inspected him from head to foot and back again. Who was he? What was his interest in her? She was nobody but a socially awkward misfit. An acceptable description she used to describe herself rather than the less flattering terms her family used.
"I'm supposed to trust you?" she blurted.
"Tickets?" the check-in agent asked, sparing them a glance.
"Could we be seated together?" Eric handed over his ticket.
"You're not traveling together?" the man asked.
"We are, if you're agreeable." Eric arched an eyebrow at her and glanced back at the agent. "Todd," he read the nametag, "she should be safe with me on the flight, shouldn't she?"
The agent glanced between them and directed his attention to her.
"Is he bothering you?"
Was he? Did she mind? Did it matter? Her internal danger radar remained silent. She couldn't always depend on her senses, not after the way her family trained her to ignore warning signals.
She reminded herself part of therapy included engaging a healthy sense of measuring the level of danger around her. Lessons involved desensitizing her hyper-vigilance and sharpening her awareness of safe options. Maybe now would be a good opportunity to test what she'd learned.
"I'll answer any questions you want to ask," Eric pleaded his case. "This is my third trip to Thailand."
Plead was probably too strong a word. She met Todd's steady gaze, and he gave her an encouraging smile.
"I can arrange for him to miss this flight and take a later one," he offered. "If you'd like."
"No." She struggled not to sputter, wanting to vaporize on the spot.
"Hey!" Eric complained, but his eyes twinkled. "It's a long flight, and rumor has it I'm a passable traveling companion."
"What if I'm not?" she dared to ask.
"I'll take my chances."
"You always have the option of asking the flight attendant to move you or him to a different seat if he becomes intolerable," Todd offered obligingly.
"No help from the peanut gallery," Eric grumbled.
American Becki Bagley's dreams are within her grasp only to be shattered along with her faith. God promised to give those who are faithful the desires of their heart. Why does He deny her? Where did she go wrong? Perhaps she failed to be good enough.
Ian Morgan, British self-made businessman, is settled in his life. He's already raised a family, his younger sister. Another family holds no interest for him, although his pretty American neighbor tempts him to reconsider.
Home isn't a place but a space in the heart waiting for the right person to take up residence. Embracing a new faith and trust in God and leaving familiarity behind is the only way to welcome the love waiting, but only if trouble doesn't set up house first...
Wings to Fly
Samantha Merritt wants a forever relationship, but painful lessons from the past interfere with her ability to trust anyone, including God. Despite her friend's reassurances 'this guy is different,' she refuses the offer of another blind date, until she meets him. Now it's too late...
Jordan Tyler trusts God to protect him but also believes in doing his part by avoiding people who guarantee extra drama. Accepting a blind date with an abuse survivor is not his idea of a leap of faith, more like a fall into stupidity, until he meets her. Choosing friendship didn't mean love would follow...
God looks on the heart and sees what mortal eyes do not. Only an All-knowing God would pair a couple who worked so hard to avoid each other. The only thing standing in their way of their own Happily Ever After is them...
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