What a wicked good treat...a whole chapter of a book AND a giveaway. Read to the end and good luck!
Wright, consigned to remain single if that’s what God wants, is lonely. Maybe
she needs a fur-pet. On a whim, she visits the local animal shelter. A delightful
man about her own age helps her choose her new housemate, a long-haired calico
she promptly names Belle because the creature is so beautiful. And as
captivated as she is with her choice, the kind man at the shelter takes up far
too much of her thoughts. But with a new member of her household, her
work-at-home job as a print broker, and her volunteer work at the community
care center, she has no time for romance.
Sutton, the widowed father of seven-year-old Noah, loves his job as
veterinarian at the shelter. Not only does he get to fix up sick or injured
animals, he thrills at matching adoptees with their forever families. Take
Tasmyn Wright, for example. Clearly Belle was in kitty heaven-on-earth. Still,
he senses the cat will have its work cut out if it’s going to bring Tasmyn out
of her shell. Although she occupies a good deal of his thoughts, he needs to
focus on his son and his job. Since his wife’s passing suddenly from cancer the
year before, Noah has struggled in school and in church. No, he needs to focus
on his own family before he even thinks about expanding it.
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky
clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50
times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique
group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing
contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and
is an avid oil painter.
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A Peek Inside:
Friday, November 4th
Wright lifted her shoulders to release tension in her neck and back, delighting
at the three or four distinct pops signaling vertebrae slipping back into the proper
place. She clicked send on the
online ordering form on her screen, then made a notation on the cover of her
client’s file and added it to the to be
filed pile. Which she fully intended to get to—tomorrow.
loved her work as a print broker. Enjoyed interacting with clients—most of the
time. Had a good relationship with several print suppliers. And relished the
creative aspect of designing logos and brand marketing. Not to mention the
bonus of operating almost entirely from home. She joked about her
situation—that she worked from home before it was cool to do that.
as fulfilling and profitable as her occupation was, it wasn’t her vocation.
That, she would have to say, was helping people. Sure, providing a useful and
critical service to clients was helpful, but not in the same way her
volunteering at the community care center—food bank didn’t even come close to
describing her vision for this service—filled a need within the community. And
within herself, too.
all the great ideas, and the flyers, and that her ministry—dare she even call
it that?—offered multiple food and personal care options, attendance hadn’t
grown as she’d hoped. Not that she wanted folks to need help—but in an
imperfect world, until Jesus returned, that was bound to be the case.
opened the community care center spreadsheet and scanned the numbers of attendees
over the past three months. Few to none. Her heart sank to her toes. Difficult
to justify all the hours she invested at the community center that hosted her
care ministry. And unless the numbers increased, her suppliers weren’t likely
to want to do more, either. Not to even mention near to impossible to recruit
volunteers. Nobody wanted to stand around and twiddle their fingers when they
could be more active and involved elsewhere. Like the church daycare. Or the
Lions Club Christmas Stocking program. Seemed everywhere she turned at this
time of year, another charitable group had something special planned.
if she could help just one family…
how? In the past, she’d hoped signs in businesses and word of mouth about the
food available would convince folks to come out. One evening a week, that’s
all. After most had finished work for the day.
sat back in her chair and chewed on the end of her pen before tossing it on to
the desk. What did she hope to achieve with the community care center? To
provide nutritious meals for folks struggling with buying groceries.
phone rang. “Hello?”
Is this the food bank lady?”
winced. Community care center. More than just food for the body. She
pasted on a smile, hoping the woman on the other end could feel it. “Yes, it
was wondering if you pay utility bills?”
held back a groan. At least three times a week, calls came in looking for money
to pay the cable bill, rent, car repairs. Food, she had. Money, she did not.
“No, I’m sorry. We provide fresh and non-perishable food and personal care
items right now. Come see us, save your grocery money, and pay your bills with
thanks. I spent my money on groceries already. But maybe I’ll come see you next
you tried your church? They sometimes have a benevolence fund.”
go to church.”
if you’re looking for—”
line went dead, and Tasmyn disconnected. The same story, over and over. Either
they didn’t fellowship, or they’d worn out their church with their needs.
Still, at least this woman called. So many wouldn’t. They’d struggle along
until the phone company disconnected their service, the bank repossessed their
car, or the power company shut off their electricity. Next, they’d lose their housing.
Maybe even their kids if Social Services found out. There had to be a better
to convince folks there was no shame in accepting help?
she could empower them to make better choices, such as accept free food and use
that money to pay bills, that’s how. Show them how to take control of their
finances, instead of playing catch-up all the time. Or hide-and-seek from their
creditors. Demonstrate how to prioritize their expenses so they didn’t stay in
this cycle of running out of money before they ran out of month.
smiled. This was why she’d started the community care center. Yes, meeting the
immediate need was important, but as the adage went, teach a man to fish…
drop of perspiration slid down Wim’s nose, threatening to contaminate the
sterile surgical field that contained a now-three-legged Brittany Spaniel,
surgical robing, and his instruments.
turned his head to one side, then wrenched his neck another notch to dislodge
the offender. The liquid dropped to the floor.
closed his eyes a moment, pressing his shoulders down to relieve the ache
between his shoulder blades. Thank you, God.
last thing he needed was to have to sterilize the area again. After six
surgeries—two emergencies, including this one—and a full day here at the
Christmas Ridge Animal Shelter, he didn’t need any more delays.
more stitches, a dab with a gauze ball to check for leakage—all looked good. He
called out to his veterinary assistant/receptionist. “Harmony. I’m done here.
Will you do the final cleanup? I’ll help you move him to a kennel for
Doc Wim. Let me scrub up first.”
appreciated his assistant’s go-to attitude. Whatever he asked of her, from
assisting with a difficult patient, to cleaning up vomit—or worse—in an
examination room, to surgical nurse duties—always a smile. A kind word. A
make a fine wife to some young man someday.
eased down on the anesthesia to prepare for concluding the surgery and moving
the dog. The unfortunate creature, found injured on the highway, would awaken
minus one front leg. But the amputation went well. The beast was healthy and
young, and Wim expected a full and speedy recovery. Only after that would he
hopefully find the dog a new forever home.
speaking of recovery, he had several patients that needed checking before he
could even think about picking up his second grader, Noah, from after-school
care. Harmony entered, living up to her name, as usual, bringing an air of calm
and peace with her.
nodded and backed away from the table, pausing outside the door to strip off
his cotton surgical scrubs and hat, tossing his latex gloves in the trash, then
pushing through the swinging doors into the recovery area.
peered into the kennel containing the most critical patient currently—a green parrot
with a prolapsed cloaca, rushed in earlier in the day by a most concerned
owner, who thought its insides were coming out. Well, they were. Not the
intestines, thankfully. Prolapses were common in the larger birds, as he
explained to Mrs. Sawyer, and usually surgery was successful if dealt with
immediately. The parrot lay on its side, eyes open, beak moving. Good signs. He
checked that food and water were available, watched the respirations for a
minute to ensure the animal wasn’t in stress, then moved on to his other
cats he’d spayed this morning snoozed in their crates. A dog who’d undergone
the removal of his dew claws lifted a sleepy head. All looked well-recovered
from their ordeals, and all would likely go home tomorrow. Even the parrot, if
he held his own through the night.
bell over the front door rang, and Wim straightened and checked the clock.
Thirty minutes until closing. Always seemed like a few last-minute folks would
drop in—hopefully no emergencies.
stepped into the combination retail area/waiting room. “Mrs. Grant. How are
woman pulled a piece of paper from her purse. About eighty, dressed in a coat
and hat that were at least forty years old, she looked the image of the Queen
Mother. She held up the paper with trembling fingers. “I need more of that
prescription food. Mollie only likes this kind.” She leaned closer. “She’s
fussy. Like me.”
always, Wim smiled at her. “Not fussy. Particular because she—and you—like the
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Do you think you’d like living in a small town like Christmas Ridge? Why or why