Coming April 12th.
THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: TERRI
To celebrate the release of book two we are going to count down the next nine weeks with installments of the first chapter, free books, and a FACEBOOK launch party on April 12th. I don't have all the party details worked out yet, but I can tell you it will involve lots of prizes, and some Guest Star visitors. ( Mary Manners ,Martha Rogers, and Diane Brandmeyer are confirmed guests!) Watch this blurb each week for the details as I work them out.
Date, time, and place for the party are set.
Date: 12 April 2013
Time 6-9 PM central
Prizes include, but not limited to: Copies of both Women of Valley View books, 10.00 Starbucks card, 10.00 Amazon card, jewelry, bath& body sets... (and just maybe a copy of our guests books as well)
How does a Facebook party work: Follow the link to my author page during the hours of the party and interact by asking questions and leaving comments. Prizes will be awarded at the end of each half hour section to people who stopped by and interacted during that half hour.
Between now and launch party time we're going to have some contests and a giveaway of Terri's story each Friday, starting on 22 Feb. How do you win? Come to the blog, track the progress of the party plans, and read the current installment of the story. Leave a comment. The blog post for April 12th will announce the winners. The more you visit over the next few weeks, the better your chances of winning.
NEWS FLASH!!! The contract for the WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW :PAM has been signed. Look for the 3rd book in the series sometime in 2014!!!!!
Now. Here's the seventh installment of The Women of Valley View: Terri
Terri Hayes chewed her bottom lip and prayed. Outside her windows on this sunny Friday afternoon, the Oklahoma summer persisted in spite of the September date circled on her calendar. Her hands sweated, and she clasped them behind her back. She would have raked them through her hair, but she wanted to telegraph calm and collected, not the nervous anticipation churning like ocean waves in her stomach. The weeks of preparation, the evenings spent in class, the hours of prayer, all came down to this.
The curly black head of her visitor disappeared under the kitchen sink. Terri heard grunts and clanks as the woman shifted and examined the contents of the cabinet. Her visitor stood and yanked the top of her crisply tailored suit back into place, her stern face thoughtful as she scribbled notes on a clipboard.
Despite Terri’s desire for calm, her lip chewing graduated to nail biting. Had she missed something? “Ms. Wilson, I…”
Cindy Wilson held up a hand. “Please, Ms. Hayes, I prefer to conduct my investigation uninterrupted. We’ll discuss my findings when I’m done.”
Terri swallowed her comments with a nod and trailed behind the imposing African-American woman whose job it was to poke and prod into every corner of Terri’s home.
She ran through her own mental checklist as they proceeded from room to room. Outlets covered, medicines locked away, cleaning supplies stored out of reach, covers on all of her trash cans. A second perusal of Ms. Wilson’s expression produced no further insight. Pass or fail? Terri shook her head. I wonder if this woman plays poker
Terri opened the door to the larger of her two spare bedrooms. The odor of fresh paint drifted out to greet them. This was the pride of her summer. She motioned her guest inside, aching to point out the highlights of what she’d worked so hard to accomplish, but she held her peace in the face of Ms. Wilson’s strident and silent inspection. More notes on the clipboard, murmurs, and hums. Approval or disapproval? How can I tell?
“No, thank you.” Ms. Wilson sat on the sofa and studied her notes. Her pen tapped an annoying beat as she read. Terri took a chair across from her and waited in helpless anticipation.
“It says here that your decision to apply to our program was motivated by a television show. Can you clarify that for me, please?”
Terri clasped white-knuckled hands in her lap. “It was a documentary. I cried for the whole hour. It broke my heart to see so much to be done and so few people willing to make a difference.”
“So this is an emotional decision on your part?”
“Yes…I mean no. I—”
Ms. Wilson continued. “Ms. Hayes, you’re a single young woman with a business to run. I’m told your day care center next door is a busy place. You spend every day in the company of other people’s children. By all reports, you do an excellent job. You’re already making a difference. I need you to tell me why you want to take it further.”
“You need to try. I take my job very seriously. If I approve you for our program, it’s only going to be after I’m sure you’re proceeding for legitimate reasons, not a passing emotional whim.”
“Surely you’ve looked at all the paperwork I’ve already filled out.”
“My decision will not be based on your answers to a standard questionnaire. Lives are at stake here. You need to convince me of your ability to handle this job.”
Terri slumped back in her chair and exhaled a deep breath. Jesus, I need wisdom. With those four words she found peace. She pushed herself to the edge of her seat and leaned forward, elbows braced on her knees. “Are you a Christian, Ms. Wilson?”
“I like to think so, but I’m not the one being interviewed.”
“But you understand the power of prayer, the direction of God in our lives?”
Ms. Wilson nodded
“That television show moved me in ways I still don’t understand. It was an emotional hour. Emotional because I desire God’s will for my life, and I finally had direction. I prayed for days before I made the initial call to your office. I have experience and a heart full of love to share. If you’re looking for a lifetime commitment to your program,”—Terri shook her head—“I can’t promise that. But I know God has led
me to this place and time. Somewhere there’s a child, a family, who needs what I have to offer.”
The two women studied each other for a few heartbeats. Terri’s eyes held those of the social worker. It’s now or never, Father. This isn’t what I’ve pictured for my future. I always saw myself with a husband before there were children, but if this is Your will for me…
Cindy Wilson’s eyes cut back to her notes, and Terri swallowed hard. I blew it. “Ms. Wilson…”
A smile transformed Ms. Wilson’s forbidding countenance. She held out a hand. “Call me Cindy. You’re going to make a wonderful foster parent.”
Sean hurled the first thing he could lay his hand on.
From the corner of his eye he saw Ella flinch a split second before the vase shattered against the far wall.
“Get off my case!” Sean screamed. He ran an unsteady hand through his hair. “Nag, nag, nag. That’s all you do anymore. It’s Saturday…take the weekend off.”
Ella crossed the room, stooped down, and began to gather the larger pieces of glass. She pricked the tip of her finger on a sharp edge and stared at the welling drop of blood. She looked up, her brown eyes moist with tears. “That vase belonged to my grandma.”
Sean looked at the pieces of broken glass littering the apartment’s threadbare carpet. Ella’s tears made him pause. Tears of anger, sorrow, or fright at his show of temper? Hard to tell. He took a deep breath and tried to steady the trembling that racked his body. His heart raced out of control. He could almost hear the blood rushing through his veins. A headache pounded so hard behind his eyes he thought his head might explode like the vase had done. Why did he feel this way?
“Did you hear me, Sean? My grandmother gave us this vase when we got married. How could you—”
Sean held up a hand. “You need to be quiet.”
Ella stood and closed the distance between them, facing him nose to nose, her brown eyes even with his blue ones. He saw the answer to his question in the hard line of her mouth. He’d never seen his wife so angry.
“I need to be quiet?” She met his temper with her own unaccustomed display of rage. “What’s wrong with you lately? I’m not nagging. I just need to know if you got paid. The rent is past due. We need groceries, and Kelsey’s shoes are falling apart. Did you get paid? It’s a simple question.”
Sean managed to take a step back, winning a hard-fought battle to keep his hands to himself. I’ve never laid a hand on a woman in my life. Why was the temptation so strong today? He frowned as his head continued to pound. “No.”
“No what? No you didn’t get paid, or no, you won’t answer me?”
Sean struggled for control. Every word she spoke made his skin itch. What more did she expect him to do? Working fourteen and sixteen hours a day left him functioning on no sleep. Energy drinks and some pills he’d bought at the truck stop were all that kept him moving between long days on the construction site and moonlighting at McDonald’s. He was so jittery right now he could hardly stand in one place. He made a conscious effort to calm down.
“McDonald’s let me go.”
“Sean.” Panic and criticism laced his wife’s voice.
“What do you want from me, Ella? The frame crew has work. They expect me to stay on the job until they’re done for the day. I was late for my shift at McDonald’s three times this week. I can’t blame them for firing me. Construction jobs pay three times as much—”
“When they pay.”
“You know we get paid when the job is done.”
“And next week, when the crew is dead again? What are we supposed to do then?” Ella’s voice rose with each word.
Sean’s insides revved up once more. He turned away in an effort to prevent another outburst.
“Sean Michael Anderson, don’t you dare turn your back on me. We’re a week away from being evicted. What are we going to do?”
He lost the battle. With one swipe of his hand he cleared the top of a nearby bookcase. Picture frames and glass knickknacks crashed to the floor, joining the broken glass of the vase.
“Enough!” he yelled.
They both turned to the hallway where their three-year-old daughter stood, rubbing her afternoon nap from her eyes. Those eyes brightened at the sight of her father.
Sean held out his arms. A smile softened his features. “There’s Daddy’s baby girl. Come give me a kiss.”
Ella put up a hand up to block her progress. “Go back to your room, baby. I’ll be there in a few minutes."Kelsey ignored the request and rushed forward.
Ella grabbed her daughter and swung her up off the floor.
“What?” Sean raised his voice again. “Now you’re going to keep my daughter away from me?”
Ella raised her own voice to compete with his ranting. “Are you blind as well as stupid? There’s broken glass all over the floor and she’s barefoot.”
“Hard to worry about a little glass when this place is such a pigsty. You’re nagging me about my job. When was the last time your hands saw dishwater or touched a broom?” He held out his arms. “Now give me my daughter, and go fix me something to eat.”
“You want dinner? So do we. We need groceries. Remember?”
Sean glared at his wife. He jammed his hand into his pocket and threw a single twenty-dollar bill at her feet. “There’s your grocery money. Now get out of my face.” He reached for his daughter again.
The toddler shrunk from his hands, buried her face in her mother’s neck, and clung with both arms.
“You’ve turned her against me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. She’s scared by the yelling. When you calm down, she’ll be fine.”
His actions were deliberate. Sean reached back into his pocket and pulled out a baggie containing a single, half-smoked, crudely rolled cigarette. He lit it and took a deep breath, anxious for the calm he knew the drug would bring.
Ella’s expression changed from confrontational to fearful. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You brought drugs into our house—”
Sean cursed, his words hung in the air with the smoke. Where was the calm?
The child continued to wail, her sobbing a pathetic accent to the loud pounding on the front door of their apartment. Ella lifted a shaking hand to move the window shade aside. Her panicked gasp filled the room.
Sean joined her at the window and nudged her aside. He choked on his own smoke when he saw the black and white car parked at the curb four floors below.
Terri hummed, hands on the task in front of her, ears tuned to hear the timer in her kitchen, her heart filled with anticipation. Passing the home inspection yesterday had been the last hurdle. She tucked the corners of the freshly laundered sheets under the edge of the mattress on the toddler bed and smoothed the blanket. The room was ready, and so was she.
The oven timer dinged, prompting her return to the kitchen. Terri transferred the final pan of hot chocolate chip cookies to a wire rack to cool. Giving into temptation, she grabbed one of the gooey treats, blowing on it as she retreated to her bedroom to finish getting ready. Terri exchanged her flour-streaked T-shirt for a clean cotton blouse, brushed pale pink blush across her cheeks, and swiped on clear lip gloss. Blue eyes framed by a short, shaggy brown haircut gazed back at her from the vanity mirror. She finger combed her hair and gave her head a quick shake to settle the strays. Looking good, girl. The party at Steve’s would last most of the afternoon. She wanted to look her best without the effort being too obvious. A spritz of her favorite perfume, and she was done.
She went to the closet to grab her new sandals. Her gaze fell on the zippered garment bag tucked into the back corner. The words stenciled on the plastic jumped out at her. Princess for a Day Bridal Shoppe.
***While you're here, Please take a few minutes to visit the tabs at the top of the page. Terri has an interview with Jo Huddleston. Jo is here to talk about her novel, That Summer. Be sure to answer the question at the end of the interview. Jo will be doing a giveaway of this book at the end of the week. Karla welcomes Deborah Heal and Laura Hilton to her page for a sneak peak at their upcoming releases. Callie has a special devotion prepared for us by Penny McGinnis. Pam has a recipe for Slow Cooked Bacon Cheese Potatoes.***