Flash Fiction Friday: The Friendship Contract Part 2

Brett knew from the moment Isabel ran away like a frightened kitten that she was the one for him.

Her fearful dark chocolate eyes pricked his heart. She’d obviously been hurt. He longed to comfort her and promise no one would ever hurt her again.

He would have to move slow to prove that he could be trusted—that he wouldn’t hurt her like those before him. That was fine with him. It would give them time to really get to know one another without the emotional complications.

He stood in Griffin Park by the water fountain watching for her.

There – the girl with chestnut hair pulled back into a pony tail, eyes darting around, hands sunk deep in her jacket pockets, shoulders raised giving her the appearance of a turtle cautiously peeking from its shell.

Her eyes connected with his. He smiled and waved.

When she was near, he took two steps and fell into stride next to her. “Good afternoon Isabel.” He pulled a tri-folded sheet of paper from his pocket and handed it to her.

She looked into his eyes, then took the paper, unfolded it and read it. Then her eyes met his again. “You really did it.”

“Of course I did. You said you wanted a contract … and now you have one.”

“Do you have a pen?”

He quirked an eyebrow at her.

“I need to add my signature. Do you have your copy with you? We should each have a copy with both our signatures … to make it official.”

“Of course.” He stifled a smile. He pulled another tri-folded sheet from his pocket, along with a pen. Things were off to a good start. He had predicted her need to make the contract “official”.

They stopped by a picnic table and she added her signature to her copy as well as to his. “You need to sign your own copy.” She looked at him, lips in a pinched line, as she handed his copy back to him.

He took the sheet and added his signature above hers, then refolded it and placed it, and the pen, back into his pocket.

They walked along the river that ran next to Griffin Park. Isabel kept her hands in her pockets. Brett’s fingers tingled with the desire to hold her hand in his. Remember, go slow. Don’t frighten her away.

They stopped to watch a couple sailboats float by on the breeze. “Have you ever been sailing, Isabel?”

She shook her head. “I … I can’t swim.”

He barely heard the words as she mumbled with her head down.

“You don’t have to know how to swim to go sailing.”

Her head whipped up and she stared at him through wide eyes.

“You can wear a life jacket. I wouldn’t let you fall overboard.”

Isabel shook her head, and they continued to walk.

They stopped at the park concession stand. Isabel ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke, and promptly pulled money from her pocket to pay for her food.

Brett forced himself not to frown, then ordered his own cheeseburger, fries, and coke, and paid for his order.

They took their food and drinks to a picnic bench and sat down.

“Isabel, do you work?”

She finished chewing her bite of cheeseburger and swallowed before answering. “Yes, I am a freelance writer.”

“So you work from your home?”

She nodded. “Do you work?” Her eyes met his as she waited for his answer.

“Yes, I am an artist, and I teach art classes in my studio.”

He watched a spark light her eyes, but just as quickly as it came, it disappeared. “Do you like art?”

She nodded but did not meet his gaze.

“Would you like to see my studio?” He held his breath as he awaited her answer.

“Maybe someday.”

He released his breath, a bit deflated. Oh well, at least it hadn’t been a “no”.

When they finished their lunch, they continued their walk around the park. Upon returning to the fountain, Isabel said, “I need to get home.”

“Isabel, I enjoyed our time together today. I hope you did too. Should we meet at Mario’s Pizza Palace next week?”

She looked up at him and he’d have sworn the corners of her lips tipped up just a bit. “Yes.”

Then she turned and walked away.

He watched her until he couldn’t see her anymore, but she never looked back at him.

* * * * *

As weeks passed and turned into months, Brett’s heart longed for the day when Isabel would finally feel secure in their relationship. When she would truly know and understand that he wouldn’t hurt her—that she could trust him.

Through the months, she did start to open up. But they were baby steps.

His heart warmed and a smile stretched his lips as he remembered the first time she’d smiled at him. Then the first time he’d heard her laugh out loud.

It was their fourth visit to Mario’s and he wanted to make her smile again. “I read your texts the moment you send them to me, and the other day I received one of your texts. I was reading it, and I walked into a pole.”

Her laughter had bubbled forth like water from a spring and he loved the sound of it.

* * * * *

Today—the one year anniversary of the day they signed their “friendship contract”–they plan to have dinner at Mario’s Pizza Palace.

Brett’s gut was in knots. One year was a milestone and Isabel had opened up to him quite a bit. Tonight he’d be picking her up and they would drive together in his car. They’d done this about half a dozen times now. He’d held her hand each time they walked through the park for the past four months, but what did it mean to her?

His nerves were on edge the moment she got in the car. She chattered about her work on the way to Mario’s, but he only half listened. He parked the car and they walked into Mario’s hand-in-hand, his heart thumping like it wanted to break out of his chest.

They took a seat in a booth near the back of the restaurant. “So, what are we having tonight?”

She looked at him with a gleam in her eyes he’d never seen before. “How about spaghetti?” She giggled.

He grinned. “Are you serious?”

“No, but I’ll never forget the look on your face as I caught you slurping a noodle the last time.”

He chuckled. “That was the first time I ever heard you laugh.”

Isabel reached her hand across the table and touched his. “You know, you really have helped me during this past year.”

“I’m glad.” He gave her fingers a gentle squeeze.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about our relationship and our contract.”

He raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything. He held his breath to hear what she would say next.

“I think it’s time for a change.”

Brett sat up, leaning harder on the table, every nerve and muscle in his body tensed.

Isabel slipped a hand beneath the table, reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. She opened it and showed him her copy of their “friendship agreement”. She folded it again as her eyes held his gaze. Then she ripped the paper in half and in half again and again, until it was just a pile of small pieces on the table between them.

Brett’s heart pounded and his palms sweated, but his eyes were locked with hers.

“Brett, I think it’s time this relationship moved to the next step—something more than friendship.”

The breath he’d been holding burst from his mouth and he breathed normally again. “Are you sure?”

“As long as we can continue to take it one step at a time.”

Brett reached and brushed a thumb across her cheek. She clasped his hand and kissed his palm, and his heart leapt for joy. It would take a little more time, but one day he would make Isabel his wife.

An Interview with Author, Jodie Wolfe

Jodie Wolfe

I recently had the opportunity to interview author, Jodie Wolfe. She writes Christian Historical Romance novels. She has a new book that will release on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020.

Q: How long have you been a published author, and how long did it take you to publish your first book?

I’ve been a published author since May of 2016. My first book was indie published, and I wrote it earlier that year.

Q: You have quite a few books published and available on Amazon: a two-book series–series title, “Twins and Needles”; an anthology entitled “Let Love Spring: A Historical Spring Collection”; a Christmas anthology entitled “The Hope of Christmas”; and “To Claim Her Heart” which came out in 2018. You also have a nonfiction title: “Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society”. What was your first published book, and what led you to write the nonfiction Mrs. Wigglesworth book?

My first published book was Hearts Tightly Knit.

Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society came about because her sayings are at the beginning of each chapter in my book, To Claim Her Heart. Readers so enjoyed these quips that I decided to offer an ebook with more of them.

Q: Your fiction stories are historical fiction. What led you to decide to write this particular genre?

My love for historical fiction developed as a little girl, reading and watching Little House on the Prairie.

Q: I read and reviewed, your last release, “To Claim Her Heart”. I enjoyed that story. You create such interesting characters that draw your readers into the story and keep them reading. You also include some great historical facts about the places you write about. I enjoyed reading about the “runs” in order to purchase property in “To Claim Her Heart”. That story was set in 1893. Your upcoming release, “Taming Julia” is set in 1875. What is it about the 1800s that inspires you to write about that time period?

I love that time period – the styles of clothing, the simplistic life, as well as so many things were being discovered, created, etc.

Q: Also, both “To Claim Her Heart” and the upcoming “Taming Julia” are set in the Old West. What is it about the Old West that draws you to write about it?

Part comes from those Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and also part developed years ago when my in-laws were living in the country and my father-in-law was the pastor of a tiny church. I had the opportunity to visit many areas of interest that spurred ideas for stories.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what gave you that desire?

My desire to be a writer happened in grade school after a school assignment to write a poem. I wrote about my absolute favorite thing at the time – Snoopy. Soon after I was creating little stories… I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a writer.

Q: You are a member of both ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and RWA (Romance Writers of America). Can you tell us a little about these organizations and why you find it valuable to be a member of these groups?

Each organization has something special to offer. ACFW is a great network for learning about current trends in publishing, encouragement, courses, etc. As for RWA, my main reason to be a part of that is because of the group within RWA – Faith, Hope, & Love https://www.faithhopelove-rwa.org/. They are a great resource for asking questions, providing support and ideas, etc. I recently joined Compel Training https://compeltraining.com/home-member/ through Proverbs 31 Ministry. They provide weekly teachings, online support/learning groups, critique groups, etc. Each of these groups has been helpful in my writing journey.

Q: Your new book, “Taming Julia”, will release on Friday, February 14, 2019. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Here’s the back cover blurb:

In 1875, Kansas bachelor Drew Montgomery’s sole desire is to serve God, but his congregation’s ultimatum that he marry or leave, forces him to advertise for a wife by proxy.

Jules Walker strides into Drew’s life wearing breeches and toting a gun and saddle–more cowboy than bride. After years on the trail, she’s not exactly wife material, but she longs for home and family, and will do anything to ensure Drew never discovers what she really is.

Q: Your female characters are strong and independent. Why do you choose to write them in this way? Do you base your female characters on yourself?

I think those type of characters are fun and provide lots of opportunities for struggles and conflict within the story. As for basing the characters on myself, there’s always a tiny bit of me in each one, but I don’t know that I would call myself strong and independent. 🙂

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

While the majority of the story takes place in Kansas, there’s a portion that is set in Texas. I had the pleasure of visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle a couple years ago to see the area they helped me write about. We had the chance to go on private property and view the spot I wrote about that causes bad memories for Jules. I’ll let it at that so I don’t ruin the story for you. 🙂

Thanks for having me here today, Kelly.

TamingJulia_w12704_680

You’re welcome. Thank you for being here and giving readers a little glimpse into you’re writing life and your wonderful stories. I look forward to reading “Taming Julia”.

Q: Where can readers find you and connect with you online?

Website: https://www.jodiewolfe.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodieAWolfe

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/JodieAWolfe

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jodie-Wolfe/e/B01EAWOHXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Purchase Links for Taming Julia:

https://www.amazon.com/Taming-Julia-Jodie-Wolfe-ebook/dp/B083L8MDD5/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=taming+julia&qid=1578503989&sr=8-1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taming-julia-jodie-wolfe/1136004491?ean=9781522302711

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Be sure to get your copy of “Taming Julia” on February 14th. I will be reading it soon and will post a book review here on my blog.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Friendship Contract Part I

Isabel sat in the cafe, hands wrapped around her warm mug of tea, staring out the window at the rain. She struggled to get warm. She was chilled to the bone but supposed that was better than the numbness she’d felt for so long.

The raindrops were like the many tears she had shed. After so many failed relationships and so much heartache, she had become an empty shell.

“Would you mind if I sat here at your table?” A rich baritone voice interrupted her thoughts.

She looked up into the aqua colored eyes of a tall man with waves of black hair framing his ruggedly handsome face. Anxiety gripped her and she looked around the cafe–not an empty table anywhere. That must be why he was asking to sit at her table. She turned her eyes to his once again. “Um, yes, sure, you can sit here. I was just leaving.” She reached for her raincoat.

The man took the seat across from her. “Please, don’t leave because of me. You haven’t even finished your tea.” His eyes moved from her mug back to her face.

“It’s okay. I really wasn’t thirsty anyway.” She finished putting her arm in her raincoat, slung her purse strap over her shoulder, and picked up her umbrella. Then she strode to the cafe door and out into the rain, her heart thumping like a big bass drum in her chest.

* * *

Two days later, Isabel, arms full of books, tried to open the door to the same cafe.

“Here, let me get that for you.” A rich baritone voice spoke as an arm reached and the hand grabbed the door handle and opened it.

Isabel looked up into the same aqua eyes from two days ago and mumbled, “Thank you.”

The man smiled, revealing straight white teeth and deep dimples. “How nice to see you again. May I help you with those books?”

He reached to take the books from her arms, but Isabel turned away.

“It’s all right. I’ve got them.” She moved to put the books on a table, and after she did, she turned to move to the counter to order her tea and walked into the man with the baritone voice.

He looked at the spines on the stack of books. He murmured a couple of the titles aloud, “How to be Happy Alone; Single and Happy Life Journal; How to Overcome Loneliness”. He turned his eyes back to her, one eyebrow raised.

Heat crept up Isabel’s neck into her cheeks. She lowered her eyes and wished she could melt into the floor.

“My name’s Brett Hoover. Would you please allow me to join you at this table this afternoon?”

Isabel straightened, pulled her shoulders back, and lifted her chin. “Look, Mr. Hoover, I don’t know what it is you want, but whatever it is, I’m not interested. I just want to be left alone.” She tried to step around him.

He moved to block her escape. “Please, miss, I don’t want anything other than to share a table and some conversation … maybe help you if I can.” His tone was soft and gentle.

Isabel was at a loss for words. Help her? He wanted to help her? Just what did he think he could do? Brett didn’t move. He was waiting for a response. Isabel resigned herself to the fact that there was no way to avoid this guy. She shrugged her shoulders. He could share her table and he could talk, but that didn’t mean she had to talk.

They went to the counter and placed their orders — something a bit more substantial than just coffee and tea. Then they returned to their table, and Isabel quickly whisked the stack of books from the table and placed them on the floor by her chair.

“I’ve introduced myself, but I didn’t catch your name?”

Isabel studied him for a minute. What did he want? But all she saw in his eyes was kindness. “My name is Isabel. Isabel Tomson.”

“Well, Isabel Tomson, you seem to be lonely and unhappy. Would you like a friend?”

“A friend?” She wrinkled her brow.

Brett raised a hand. “I swear … a friend. No strings attached, and if you don’t like talking with me or meeting me in public places, you can tell me to get lost at any time.”

“Why?”

Now it was Brett’s turn to wrinkle his brow. “What do you mean, ‘why'”?

She dropped her eyes to his hands that rested on the table. No wedding ring. “So, you’re single?”

He nodded.

“Why do you want to be my friend?”

“Because you need one.”

“That’s it? Because I need one?”

Again, he nodded. “What do you say, Isabel? Will you give it a try?”

“What’s in it for you?”

“Ah, I see. You’ve been hurt. A man, or maybe more than one.”

Isabel sat back in her chair and met Brett’s gaze. “More than one. Enough men to make me distrust all men because they’re not interested unless there’s something in it for them.” She held his gaze, and her eyes challenged him.

“I am so sorry you’ve been hurt and that it has caused you such distrust in men. But my offer is real and honest. I just want to be your friend … help you learn to trust again. If you like, I’ll put the offer on paper and we can both sign it.” He smiled.

His smile was genuine. “Like a contract?” Isabel quirked an eyebrow at him.

They were interrupted momentarily, when the barista brought their food and drinks. When the barista walked away, Brett nodded. “Like a contract.”

Isabel picked up her fork and stabbed some lettuce and a cherry tomato. She raised it but before putting it into her mouth, said, “I’ll take the contract.”

 

 

 

Tea and Poetry Tuesday

Today’s Tea tidbit: “That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life — that is what is abnormal.”
— Elie Wiesel

I wrote a Diamante Poem for today:

Peace
Quiet, Still
Resting, Breathing, Meditating
Noise, Chaos, Crowds, Arguments
Yelling, Fighting, Shooting
Frightening, Heartbreaking
War

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

The Girl behind the Red Rope by [Dekker, Ted, Dekker, Rachelle]

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker, father and daughter paired up to write this book. I haven’t read any of Rachelle Dekker’s  books, but after reading this book, I will be looking to read at least one of her books. I have read several books by Ted Dekker and because of his chosen genre, they’re always on the weird side, and they make me think. I have to really focus when reading a Ted Dekker book, which isn’t hard because they capture and hold my interest and pull me in to the story.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope did the same thing. In the beginning, I found it to be weird and my thoughts were engaged, and it kept me turning pages. The farther into the story I got, the less weird it became and the more realistic and thought-provoking it became.

It’s a story about a community that calls themselves a “Christian” community, but it’s quite clear it’s much more of a “cult like” community. They are steeped in legalism–having lots of rules to live a “pure” life.

One young man’s doubts and questions about the rules lead him to stray beyond the community’s perimeter looking for answers. This sets off lots of events that cause conflict in the community–conflict that builds until a final showdown near the end.

As I mentioned before, this book kept me turning pages. I usually go to sleep no later than 10 p.m. each night, but one night, I just couldn’t put this book down. I stayed up reading until 11 p.m. No, I didn’t reach the end that night, but I was close.

Two nights later, when I had the opportunity to pick up The Girl Behind the Red Rope  again, I finished it. In conclusion, I have to say this book reminded me of a movie I saw years ago, “The Village”. However, this book had a more powerful message.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker was well written and the characters were very well-developed. The story and its message will stay with me for a long time. The ending was well done, although it did leave me wondering about one thing that wasn’t really mentioned or resolved. That is the one thing that I didn’t like about the book. I am the kind of person who likes my story endings completely resolved and concluded.

I do recommend The Girl Behind the Red Rope to all Ted Dekker fans, fans of weird and/or suspenseful stories, and/or stories that are thought-provoking and worthy of discussion.

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love: A Western Historical Romance Novel by [Winters, Ava]

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters, a recent release, is the story of Samantha Loche, who has survived a tragedy and wasn’t sure where to go, but she had to leave her hometown. She found shelter in a barn loft, planning to be gone early in the morning before anyone would know she’d been there. However, her tired body kept her asleep longer than planned, and Jensen Reaves found her.

What happens from there is an “unexpected love” that seems impossible to bring to a happy ending, more danger for Samantha just as she was beginning to find healing and a place to belong, and Jensen having to make some difficult decisions.

I give this book 5 stars, and honestly believe Ava Winters earned them.

Ava Winters did an excellent job of creating great characters in The Rancher’s Unexpected Love. Samantha captured my heart from the start and I wanted to see her find happiness and belonging. I also wanted to see Jensen work through his inner turmoil and come to the knowledge of the best decisions for his life.

The plot had great pacing and was laced with danger, as well as both internal and external conflict. It kept me turning pages from start to finish and tempted me to keep reading late into the night.

I read a previous book by Ava Winters, His Blessing in Disguise. You can read my review of that book, here. I have to say that, though I also enjoyed His Blessing in Disguise, I really enjoyed The Rancher’s Unexpected Love to a greater degree, and I was especially pleased to see how much better Ms. Winter’s writing is in this newest release. She also must’ve had a better or more in-depth edit done on this book because I found far less errors, which made the book more enjoyable to me as well. I am truly glad that I didn’t give up after reading just one book by Ava Winters, and I will look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you enjoy western romance stories that are clean and sweet, you’ll enjoy The Rancher’s Unexpected Love.