Shannon here: Jennifer Slattery shares an excerpt from her latest Contemporary Romance, Restoring Her Faith. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated April 16 – 19 to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: April 27th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jennifer:
The long, deserted road felt much too similar to one Faith had taken decades before, with all her belongings crammed in a pair of tattered suitcases. Hopefully Sage Creek would be nothing like her experience in Alpine, back when she’d been a gawky, metal-mouthed kid in desperate need of a friend.
She’d received taunting and rejection instead.
Her cell phone rang, and she glanced at the screen. It was her best friend, Toni. As a fellow artist fighting to survive Austin’s competitive market, she understood Faith in a way few others did.
She answered through her Bluetooth. “Hey, girl. What’s up?”
“Girls’ night out this Friday. Bahn mi French fries, baby!”
“Sounds fun but can’t. I’m on my way to that contract job I told you about. I’m just over fifteen miles out. With no sign of civilization, except the occasional longhorn, in sight.”
“You make Sage Creek sound so appealing.”
Faith glanced at her wobbly trailer through her rearview mirror, packed with, she hoped, everything she’d need to restore Trinity Faith’s historic stained glass windows, which had decorated the church since its founding. “Let’s just say I haven’t had the best experience with small town Texans.”
“Not all ranching communities measure a person’s worth based on how well they bake a casserole. Besides, those people didn’t hire you to make friends.”
“True.” She was going to, hopefully, get some media exposure, enough to salvage her career. If she, and whoever else she’d be working with, pulled this job off well, the church stood a good chance of receiving historical status. “Depending on how this deal turns out, I may even be able to get Jeremy Pratt from Lone Star Gems to write a feature article on me.”
“Wow. Just a mention in that magazine would for sure get folks’ attention. But a full story? That’d put your name on the map for sure.”
She gripped her steering wheel with both hands as something black—a tire?—came barreling toward her in the opposite lane, while a red pickup screeched past, throwing sparks.
She screamed and slammed on her brakes. Her trailer tugged right, then left as the oncoming tire rammed into her front end. It bounced off, flying ten feet into the adjacent field.
Smoke seeped from beneath her hood as she veered onto the shoulder, and the acrid stench of burning rubber pricked her nose.
“Faith, you okay?”
“I…” Her throat felt scratchy. What had happened? “Can I call you back? I was just hit by a…a flying tire. The front of my car is smoking.”
Her supplies! She shot a glance to her trailer—lying on its side—behind her. She groaned and closed her eyes.
Faith pressed trembling fingers to her temples. Now what? All her sheets of specially ordered glass, potentially shattered. She didn’t have time to order new. And what about the damage done to her car? Fighting the urge to hyperventilate, she focused on her breathing—in through her nose, out through her mouth. In, out…
Did Sage Creek even have a mechanic? Probably one that charged outsiders ten times what they should. Through her rearview window, she watched a tall, broad-shouldered cowboy step out of his now lopsided truck. Dressed in faded jeans and a Stetson, the man had to be at least six foot five and was built like a linebacker.
She swallowed, checking the road in either direction. There wasn’t another vehicle, tractor or farmhouse in sight. No one but Mr. Tall Muscular Stranger who, at this moment, was heading her way.
She caught a glimpse of herself in her side-view mirror. Olive complexion washed out, eyes more pupil than gray, chestnut hair tumbling out of her messy ponytail in a frazzled mess—like she felt. All giving her the appearance of a defenseless city girl who knew more about complimentary colors than how to manage nearly totaled cars.
Suddenly the cowboy stood beside her door, blocking the sun. Making her acutely aware of her tiny five-foot, one-hundred-pound frame in comparison.
A faint dusting of scruff covered his square jaw. His green eyes, framed by thick, caramel-colored lashes, latched on to hers. “You okay?” The man bore a striking resemblance to Chris Hemsworth.
“I’m fine.” She got out and marched toward her overturned trailer. “And hopefully, all my supplies are, too.” Insurance would pay for the damage, right? But that could take a while, and her credit cards were maxed. What would she tell the restoration committee?
The truth—that some reckless, broad-shouldered cowboy’s tire had smashed into her car.
He made a visual sweep of her vehicle, then the overturned trailer behind her. “Sorry about this.” He swept a muscled arm toward her caved-in front end. “Seems my mechanic friend forgot to tighten my lug nuts. I felt that right wheel wobbling. Was about to pull off.”
He should’ve done that a couple miles back. At least her overturned trailer wasn’t dented. That was a good sign, right? Hopefully her careful packing had kept the glass from breaking. She was afraid to open the doors for fear of everything falling out.
“Let me give you my insurance information.” He pulled out a faded leather wallet and flipped it open. “I’ll call a buddy tow truck driver, see if I can get him out here. Except his phone might be off, being Sunday and all. Got something I can write with?”
She nodded and returned to her car for a pen and slip of paper. She handed both over.
The brim of his hat shadowed most of his face. “Where you headed?”
“Not much farther. A town called Sage Creek.”
“You got family here?”
She shook her head. “Going for a job.”
“Who you working for?”
Strange question, and not one she felt comfortable answering. “I don’t mean to be rude, but that’s your business how?”
He gave a one-shoulder shrug. “Figured I might know the fella.” He adjusted his hat, revealing brown hair, cut short and neat, streaked with blond. “Or gal, whatever. I could give you a lift to the place, if you want. If I can’t get ahold of my buddy with the tow truck, I mean.”
“If you must know, I’m here to restore some stained glass windows. “
He scratched his jaw, head angled. “You wouldn’t be from Leaded Pane Restoration, would you? To work on Trinity Faith? ’Cept…” He gazed down the road. “…you’re coming from the wrong way.”
So he knew about the church, then? And about the company she’d bidden against. “No. I’m a private contractor and artist. From Austin.” She straightened, donned her most professional smile. “Faith Nichols.”
His stiff expression didn’t sit right with her. “You got a problem with that?”
“You’re sure you’re supposed to be here? On the job, I mean?”
She frowned. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I don’t remember the team hiring on extra folks. Seeing as I’m the contractor overseeing the job, seems someone would’ve said something to me about you coming.”
“Yeah, well, you weren’t the one to hire me.”
“We’ve been working with Leaded Pane Restoration for going on three generations. Don’t see why the committee would be looking to change that now.”
Great. So not only was she starting this project with broken supplies, but she’d be working for a man who clearly didn’t want her here.
About Jennifer: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
About the book – Restoring Her Faith:
She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind.
With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: Have you ever had to travel for your career? If not, what is your dream job? Or where would you like to travel to for your career?