The Gift by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones – Chapter 1 Excerpt

The GiftThe Gift by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

After the death of their only child, it was time for Virginia and Richard to truly act on the power held within the five stones.
But their healing was taking a long time, and, quite frankly, proving to be an empty vessel needing to be filled.
Would they ever have a child of their own?
Would the old key help in their search for the truth? Joy was in their lives once again, a homeless teen with an alcoholic mother, still managing the journey to Just Desserts for another pink cupcake.
Was Joy the answer? And if so, what was the truth locked within her heart?
Travel with Virginia and Richard as they make their journey with God. Seek. Knock. Open. Find. Discover for yourself how an open heart – heals.

Amazon

Chapter 1

The Gift: A Parable of the Key

By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

 

The Beginning

 

Beatrice was 9 months old when the key turned for Virginia. The summer leaves were just beginning to dry, preparing themselves for yet another fall and heavy winter in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the little babe Virginia had finally managed to bring into this world had left it too soon.

No real cause. No real solution. But crib death was like that. “Don’t turn her on her belly.” “Don’t put stuffed animals in her bed.” “Don’t smoke.”

Well, she hadn’t done any of those things and the baby girl that she’d waited for, for so long, was under the cold earth, never again to reach out her tiny little hands.

God was cruel.

No, that was the wrong thing to say.

God was…

She didn’t know what God was. And she didn’t know if she’d truly ever believe him again.

Richard was smart. He went to work. Struggled with the doughnuts and cupcakes that she still made for the tiny shop they’d finally managed to purchase away from the grocery store. He was smart because he kept himself busy, like a tall elf in Santa’s shop, doing the busy stuff so the doughnuts could be delivered on time to the smiles of every heavy, needy customer.

All of her thoughts were negative now – the size of the customers, the way the air blew through the bottom of the front door in a sort of chilled whirr, the remembrance of icicles that would soon be dangling from the rooftop of their tiny home, like sharp knives penetrating her heart.

It would soon be Christmas.

And it wasn’t fair. In spite of all she knew about God, all that he’d taught her, all that he’d shown her in the birth of their baby Beatrice, he had taken her daughter home. With so many children already, probably catering to his every need, he had taken her baby home. He had taken her home!

She sat, as she did most days since Beatrice’s death two months ago. She hadn’t put away any of the baby things, or taken down the crib. She couldn’t touch the crib. She was lonely, sad and angry. She didn’t know what to do with her pain, except cry.

Beatrice. What a beautiful little girl she’d been. She liked music, and when Richard danced with her, she’d smile, her first tooth protruding through her gums, like a tiny jack-o-lantern with a light inside.

It wasn’t like Beatrice to cry. She was more likely to smile and giggle and drool.

She wore pink, of course. And Virginia had put her in fluffy dresses with pink bows and matching booties. She’d read her stories about princesses and queens and handsome strangers. Nights were filled with feedings and cuddling, and playing “This Little Piggy…” but that night…

Tears spilled down Virginia’s cheeks. They’d replaced the couch that had sported the hole from the rock of trust. But now, even though their newfangled red couch was perfect in form and stability, she needed that hole; yes, somehow that hole would have soothed her soul.

She still had the stones; had kept the stones for these few years since she’d first walked with God. They were still with her, even now, as she sat on the couch and looked up at them on the mantel. Listening…Trust…Optimism…Tenacity…Constancy… So close and yet so far away.

She couldn’t even think, let alone stand to take the first one in her hands and listen to God. She wondered what he would say…

“I needed her…” “She’s a sweet girl…” “You’ll have another child…”

But she couldn’t think about having another child, and she couldn’t think about herself, and she couldn’t think about Richard. Or God.

Richard…

***

“Virginia?”

Virginia was still sitting on the red couch when he approached. It was 7:30 p.m. and she still hadn’t made lunch for herself or dinner for her husband.

“Yes?” She looked up at him and tried to smile.

He sat beside her. “How are you doing?” he asked, stroking her blonde hair though it was matted.

“Fair, I guess. You?”

“We had a big sale today. Sold almost all of the pink cupcakes.” His arm reached around her back. “Would you like to go out to eat tonight?” he asked. “There’s a great restaurant that’s just opened up.”

“Where?”

“Practically up the street.” He forced a smile. “Italian.”

She forced her own smile. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt,” she said.

“Tell you what. You get ready and I’ll clean up a bit of the dishes…”

“Thanks.” She stood and retreated to the bedroom, trying not to look at her daughter’s old room across the hall. But she felt it nonetheless, would always feel her daughter within the room across from her own as if her she was still with them.

Changing from her pajamas, she slipped into a pair of jeans and a gray t-shirt, reached for a sweater, some socks, and finally a pair of tennis shoes, hoping but not really caring, that the place was casual.

Richard smiled over at her when he saw her. He’d almost finished loading the dishes in the dishwasher – only a pan remained. “What about your hair?” he asked, turning back to the sink.

She ran her fingers through the tangled strands. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She turned down the hall to the bathroom. Per his request, she brushed through her hair, and pulled the long strands into a ponytail, trying to avoid her reflection. But it was no use. Her eyes looked like giant red balls, puffy and swollen like the back end of a baboon. She looked sickly, and it pained her to see what she’d become.

Was it ever going to be different? Would she ever feel happy again? Or would this sadness drag on, hanging onto her every limb as she went about her day?

“Ready?” Richard had been standing at the bathroom doorway. She had no idea how long, just that he looked at her with loving eyes, like the way he’d always looked at their daughter, except with her there was this sexy blink that always happened when he was trying to see inside her. Like now.

“Don’t.”

“You mean I can’t look at my beautiful wife?” he offered.

“Not now. I’m not much to look at.”

“I wouldn’t say that.” He breathed next to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She watched him from the large mirror. “I think we make a terrific couple,” he said.

“Without a child,” she added.

The smile faded. “Let’s go to dinner.”

***

“I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy,” he said.

She smiled, this time for real. He’d brought her to a pizzeria. The place was decked out in red and white checkered tablecloths, waiters that looked as if their smiles were painted on, and plenty of water in clear, plastic pitchers.

“Welcome to The Pizzeria,” the waiter touted.

Virginia blinked over at him. The boy was in white except for the green apron he had tied around his neck and waist. He was a tall boy, and sported gangly arms and some fine chin hairs –  probably his first.

“Do you have Canadian bacon and pineapple?” she asked.

The boy moved his narrow hips back and forth in a Hawaiian sway. “Of course,” he said, and Virginia held her tongue. It wouldn’t have been polite to tease the boy, especially if he thought he was truly funny.

“We’ll get a medium Canadian bacon as well as a pepperoni with extra cheese.”

“Right. And to drink?”

Richard looked over at Virginia. He winked. “What would you like?”

“Just grab me a Coke and some water, please.”

“Ditto for me.”

“Anything else?” The boy swayed in the nonexistent wind, his narrow hips moving back and forth in the same Hawaiian dance.

“That should do it.”

“Except when dessert comes. You’ll not want to miss our cookies and cream.”

“What’s that?” Virginia asked.

The boy blinked over at her. “A large, warmed chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top.”

Virginia was suddenly hungry. “I think I’ll have that first,” she said.

Richard laughed. “Me, too,” he said, his eyes watching the waiter as he left the table.

“So what do you think?” she asked.

“About what?”

“That kid?”

Richard brushed back his hair. It had grown longer since Beatrice’s death, and she wondered why he hadn’t cut it yet. Soon his hair would be long enough to put into a ponytail.

“Seemed kind of strange to me. Did you notice the hips swaying?”

“Couldn’t miss it.”

Richard took a sip of Coke. The water and Coke had been delivered moments before and Virginia had already downed half of her glass.

“So, what do you want to do this weekend?” Richard asked. At the first of the week they’d discussed going to the cemetery where Beatrice was buried, but Virginia had said she wasn’t sure she was ready for that yet. He’d suggested the park. Didn’t she love the swings, and wasn’t it always her idea to take a load off by sitting amongst the trees?”

“What about the mountains?”

“Too cold, besides…” she smirked wearily at him, “you’ll probably propose to me again.”

He held up his right hand, palm forward. “Will not. I don’t want to be turned down.”

She forced a smile. “You know, maybe we should go to the mountains. There are good memories there. I can pack all the food you like and we can sit amongst the snow drifts like we used to.”

“You really mean it?”

“Sure, why not.”

***

It was with some reluctance that Virginia packed the food and prepared for their trip. She’d had a few days to think about the cold as well as the walk and wondered how she might convince Richard to do something else. What she really wanted to do was sleep. And eat. And sleep. And maybe he could hold her in the darkness.

“Ready?” he asked. Richard was standing at the kitchen doorway this time, and all she could think about was God standing in Paul’s kitchen before Paul had died. How he’d smiled at her, how he’d prepared all of those doughnuts…”Virginia?”

“Sorry, honey. I was just thinking about God.”

“Oh?” He gave her a little smile.

“It’s not what you think.”

“What?”

“About God. I was just remembering him in Paul’s kitchen.”

“I bet you miss him.”

“Paul or God?”

It was a wicked question, but it made Virginia think about her friend and about God. Her friend because he’d practically died in her arms, and God, because he’d died for her, so very, very long ago.

The Villain by May Nicole Abbey – $100 Book Blast Giveaway

The Villian by May Nicole Abbey

The Villain by May Nicole Abbey

A fall and crash

A violent journey through the doorways of time

A villain or hero in the making

Rosemary Mayfield teeters on the brink of ruin. With the murder of her parents she is left the sole guardian of her younger brother and sister. Once a wealthy socialite in New York City, she now finds herself stranded in the untamed wilderness of the American West. When a wounded man comes crashing through her roof, as rough as the savage land, it is against her better judgment to bring him into her home and her heart. But she soon discovers he holds a secret that shatters everything, and she must make a choice, unaware that often destiny hinges on a single moment.

Fresh from an unsavory past and a violent fall through time, Nicolas Ekkridon awakens to find himself cared for by three orphans ignorant of the role he played in their parents’ untimely death. They accept and embrace him, and a lifetime of hardened barriers begin to crumble. On the precipice between good and evil, only Rosemary and her spirited defiance stands between him and villainy. But time and space are against them. As its weaving tentacles envelop them in an indifferent grasp, they are swept into a shattering series of circumstances that threaten the very makeup of their lives. But when time can be bent, nothing is written in stone.

Amazon

Praise for The Villain
There are very few words that can describe what they’ve accomplished in The Villain. Here are a few that come to mind: magnificent, overwhelming, heart-stirring, and a bit frightening at times.
This author team writes some of the best characters I’ve ever read about and weaves them together in such a fascinating web. Each character has depth and an important role in the storyline (and possibly future storylines). Characters who didn’t particularly interest me, at first, became very significant throughout the book. ~Shannon Keith
The Villain is one of those books you pick up and read in one sitting. The kind that surprises you with its powerful and compelling characters and its poignant message. To say that I was surprised at how much the story touched my heart would be an understatement. ~C.J. Anaya
Reading this book reminded me of the television shows I used to watch when I was a kid. “Little House of the prairie” and “Dr Quinn Medicine Woman”. I can confidently say if you enjoyed those shows, you will enjoy this novel. ~Nina Schluntz

add to goodreads

Excerpt

“Have you done… very bad things?” I asked, wishing I didn’t have to ask.

His answer was simple. “Yes.”

“And are you going to go on… doing bad things?”

He lay very still, like if he moved, he would be discovered. The man as big and hard as the mountain had a weakness. “The gods of the ancient world punished men terribly for their sins,” he said in a hollow voice, his accent there again, thicker than I ever heard it. “Tortured them for eternity. There was no point in trying to escape.”

I put my sewing down. “We don’t believe in those gods anymore.”

He laughed in a hard, hateful voice. “And why should you? You were protected and cosseted and kept from every sin. What do you have to fear from them?”

“And you like to imagine yourself some sort of wild, dangerous creature, trapped in a dungeon of your own making. You are too stupid to realize there are no locks on the doors. Does it come as a shock that brute force isn’t always called for? Does it horrify you to find some kindness lurking deep in your heart?”

“Kindness!” he repeated bitterly, “I’ve done no kindness to you, my girl!”

“You have!”

He regarded me steadily. “If you knew the things I’ve done, Miss Mayfield, your blood would boil with hate and you’d throw me out the door this moment. And you should.”

My heart stilled. “What have you done?”

He turned away, and I couldn’t see his face. He was closed off. But I felt a shrinking from him, a retreat from a memory.

I pushed my specs up the bridge of my nose and picked up my sewing again. An image filled my mind of the shoe flying across the room. His incense at Benjamin ignoring me. His artless, diffident effort to make up with Emily. Instinct made me say with some gentleness, “Whatever you did, perhaps it’s not as bad as you think it is.” I was frightened even as I said it, but I did not wish it away.

He scoffed, but he looked at me. I saw something inside that good eye hoping to be convinced. He reminded me, I realized suddenly, of Benjamin.

“There is no doubt you’ve done things you shouldn’t. And sure, you can be a pig sometimes. Mother would have been horrified,” I smiled. “But a real scoundrel would have shown himself long before now. You haven’t hurt us. You’ve even been good to us.”

“Maybe I’m biding my time. I’m weak and injured and still need you to look after my wounds.” His tone was a cold blanket.

“In which case, you’d hardly warn me against you. Instead you’d be trying to put me at ease.” My voice was equally cool.

He snapped and threw up his hands. “Oh, I don’t have time for this! The sooner I get away from you all, the better!”

I gathered up my sewing basket and stood.

“The west is a dangerous place. You’re ripe for the picking out here in the wilderness, just waiting for someone to come along and help himself!” He couldn’t help but say.

“What do you care? You just said it yourself, it isn’t your problem.”

His hand balled into a fist. “Rosemary, you can’t just trust people, all right! It isn’t wise! Don’t just let anyone through your door and nurse him back to health, you got that? Don’t let Emily sidle up to him and cry over him and tell him her stories. And Benjamin tries to be angry, but it’s all bluster. He’s easy prey for anyone who gives him attention and sounds like they have some useful knowledge. Don’t just let anyone through that door!”

“We didn’t let just anyone in, Nicolas,” I said simply. “We let you in. And I’m glad.”

 

AbbeyAbout the Authors

Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson are sisters on a mission. Their goal is to write clean, adventuresome romance stories, full of lovely characters, personal growth, truth, and hope. Although they live miles from each other, and are both busy with the daily needs of their respective families, they carve out time each night to put fingers to keyboard and write. Their goal? Twenty completed books. Set all over the world and throughout time, they thrill at the freedom that writing time travel offers them. From Georgian society, to Ancient Egypt and the Wild Western, the possibilities are limitless.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

 

100_Amazon_Paypal
Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 9/27/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fall Into Books $250 Sponsor Signs Up – Giveaway Starts October 15th

Fall into Cash 1

  The prize for this group giveaway will be a $250 Amazon.com Gift Code or $250 in Paypal Cash. The purpose of this giveaway is to help authors, bloggers and publishers gain exposure for their book or blog & to help build social media … [Continue reading]

Escape from the Past by Annette Oppenlander – Guest Post & $25 Giveaway

Castle Hanstein

Blog Tour Schedule Escape From the Past: The Duke's Wrath (YA Historical) When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he's sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn't realize that 1) He's been chosen as a beta, an … [Continue reading]

Janitors #5: Heroes of the Dustbin by Tyler Whitesides – Spotlight & $25 Giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule Janitors 5: Heroes of the Dustbin by Tyler Whitesides Spencer knew that from the moment the Founding Witches had returned, the Rebel Janitors had begun disappearing. So many schools were defenseless now, the students' minds … [Continue reading]

Smoked by Mari Mancusi – Guest Post on The Dragons of Scorched & Giveaway

Smoked

Title: Smoked Author: Mari Mancusi Series: Scorched, #3 Pubdate: September 1st, 2015 ISBN: 9781402284649   Once upon a time the world burned. Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame. But the spark that ignited the … [Continue reading]

Farewell to Summer $250 Cash Giveaway

  Farewell to Summer $250 Giveaway - September 1st to 22nd An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you 1 fabulous prize!! It's hard to believe summer is winding down. My kids have already been back in school … [Continue reading]

Christmas Kisses An Echo Ridge Anthology – Pre-order for just 99 cents! + Giveaway

Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors. Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas … [Continue reading]

Sweet Mountain Rancher by Loree Lough – Guest Post & Giveaway

hands

On Tour with Prism Book Tours. Sweet Mountain Rancher (Those Marshal Boys, #2) by Loree Lough Adult Contemporary Romance Paperback & ebook, 385 pages (large print) September 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming HE CAN … [Continue reading]

Book Review: Days of Future Past by Sally Smith O’Rourke

days of future past cover

Title: Days of Future Past Author: Sally Smith O'Rourke Publisher: Victorian Essence Press Release Date: November 30, 2014 Website: www.sallysmithorourke.com Book Summary: Things are not always what they seem, and fate sometimes … [Continue reading]