Spatzle Speaks: Following the Sparrows (Book Review)

My mom met a new author, Karen Malley, last year and discovered she has a fabulous skill for story-telling. She was late posting this because we adopted another old dog (I’m not THAT old). Benji’s been keeping us busier than usual! So here is Following the Sparrows by Karen Malley!

Kathryn Baker has a secret. Not even her husband knows but it’s been a struggle for them both. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident she works even harder hoping to make up for the sins of her past. A handsome stranger challenges everything she thought was true.

Adam Harrison has his own past to overcome but he’s clinging to Jesus and waiting for Him to reveal Adam’s purpose. Maybe it’s to help Katheryn to know God? But what if he falls in love with her? When will she share her dark secret?

Adam and Kathryn grow closer. A puppy dog, an accident, and a crisis of faith all complicate things and makes this a book you’ll want to keep reading. The great news is it is the first in a series of three books!

You won’t want to miss this one! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Writer Wednesday: Kristen Joy Wilks

I’m so pleased to introduce you to Kristen Joy Wilks on this Writer Wednesday! I hope you enjoy meeting her!

When did you decide you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…?
In 2001 I was in Canada with my husband while he went to seminary. I took some Bible College classes but he knew that I loved to write and dreamed of doing so professionally. Every time we walked into Safeway, I would see a flyer for an online writer’s course …and ignore it. I didn’t want to take the risk. One day, he saw the flyer. He grabbed it, handed it to me, and said, “You should do this!” I took one less Bible class and enrolled in the writing class that quarter. I have been working on my craft and writing almost every day since then!

What’s your pet peeve?
When someone says or writes that they “felt nauseous” instead of “felt nauseated.” Because if they are feeling nauseous, it means that they are making others ill rather than feeling ill themselves!

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
At a writer’s conference, I was sharing a room with three other ladies. I sleepwalk and I did warn them ahead of time. But I was quite embarrassed to find out that in the middle of the night I sat up in bed. I then said, “You promised!” in an outraged voice and punched one of the other ladies in the arm! Thankfully she was not hurt and I would never have found out about it (I was asleep) if she hadn’t been laughing about it with her husband who immediately told my husband who then proceeded to tease me about it.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
It is really hard to find a way to help readers discover my stories.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
Some wild weeping, a bit of chocolate, and a sweet kiss from my handsome man! Yeah, they are not fun. But when I think about quitting, I’ll pause a moment and try to think of something else that I would rather spend my creative energy on. I never come up with anything as challenging and fulfilling as writing and so I keep plugging away.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
In 2018 my romantic comedy, Athens Ambuscade, won first in its category in the International Digital Awards and also won best contemporary fiction in the Oregon Christian Writer’s Cascade Contest. One of the OCW judges not only gave me a fabulous score, but pulled me aside and told me personally how my crazy story encouraged her and gave her a moment of laughter on a really hard day. That was a high point for sure!

What is your current work in process?

I am writing a RomCom about a young woman who gets talked into moving a trailer full of chickens over the mountains when a little boy’s uncle leaves them behind. Of course, just as she tops the mountain pass, she swerves to miss a bear and crashes, sending chickens everywhere. She must team up with the boy’s annoying uncle to search every forest trail and chicken coop in the remote mountain area until every beloved chicken is found. The problem, chickens of the same kind tend to look alike. It is easy to mistake one for the other and she comes upon a chicken coop with 20 hens that all look like the little boy’s very favorite pet chicken. What’s a girl to do?

Kristen Joy Wilks lives in the beautiful Cascade Mountains with her camp director husband, three fierce sons, and a large and slobbery Newfoundland dog. She has blow-dried a chicken, fought epic Nerf battles instead of washing dishes, transported a gallon bag of cooked bacon inside her purse, and discovered a smuggled gardener snake in her sons’ bubble bath. Her stories, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Nature Friend, Clubhouse, Thriving Family, Keys for Kids, The Christian Journal, Splickety, Spark, and Havok. She writes romantic comedies for Pelican Book Group, including Copenhagen Cozenage, The Volk Advent, Athens Ambuscade, Spider Gap, and Yellowstone Yondering. Kristen loves to write about the humor and Grace that can be found amidst the detritus of life. Much like the shiny quarter one member of their household swallowed and then found in the pot four days later. If God is good enough to grant us these gems, she figures that someone should be putting them to the page. Kristen can be found tucked under a tattered quilt in an overstuffed chair at 4:00am writing a wide variety of implausible tales, or at . If you would rather enjoy photos of charging bison, Newfoundland dogs, and attacking squid then, by all means, visit her “What I’m Writing About” board on Pinterest
Amazon Page:

Latest book release:
Yellowstone Yondering
When a free-spirited wildlife photographer loses her Scottish terrier in a herd of bison, she sets out to rescue her furbaby before he is devoured. But will she succeed when Yellowstone National Park is chock full of boiling, bubbling, and rampaging hazards (both mammalian and geographical) — not to mention a rule-obsessed park ranger whose many rescues thwart her efforts to find her poor pup?

Writer Wednesday: Lillian Duncan

Please welcome author Lillian Duncan to Writer Wednesday! Let’s hear about her journey in writing.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I was forty and just like many other forty-year-olds, I felt something was missing from my life. One day I was watching a TV talk show and the guest said we should each write our own obituary. So I did. One of the things I put in the obituary that I was an author. That came as quite a surprise to me. But when I read those words something sparked on the inside of me, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

What’s your pet peeve?

It depends on whether you’re talking about books or “real life.” If you’re talking about books and writing, my pet peeve is when writers use really obscure vocabulary just to show how smart they are.

If you’re talking about “real life,” I guess it would be people who talk softly. Because of brain tumors, I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other. So it’s really hard for me to have a conversation with people who won’t talk up.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

As much as I love writing, I hate book marketing, especially promoting myself. It may be necessary, but it’s still something I struggle with.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Like all authors, I have speaking engagements. Like lots of authors, I don’t like public speaking. I realized that public speaking was part of my “job” and that I would either have to get over it or stop being a writer.

I decided to get over it. One of the ways I did that was to think of public speaking not as a speech but rather as a teaching opportunity. Having been a teacher (actually a speech pathologist but close enough) for many years, that made me more comfortable with the whole situation.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I don’t put a lot of stock in reviews, positive or negative. As a long-time reader, I know that reading is very subjective. What one person loves another will hate. So when I read negative reviews, I don’t take it personally. Every person is allowed to have their own opinion.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

My book, Puzzle House, was a finalist in the 2018 Carol Awards. It didn’t win but it was a fun experience that definitely boosted my confidence as a writer. I’ve also had several bestsellers on Amazon as well.

What is your current work in progress?

At the moment, I’m stretching my writing muscles. I’m “trying” to write a YA novel that’s set in a future America where religion is banned. Notice, I said trying. Whether I’ll ever submit the book to be published remains to be seen.


Lillian Duncan…stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem.

Lillian lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband. In 2012, she was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors as a result of a rare genetic condition, Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Life ain’t necessarily easy with brain tumors, but God continues to bless her in all sorts of ways, including being able to write.

Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that show God’s love—and lots of action. OK—that’s two things. She believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word.






Latest book release:

All I Want for Christmas is Johnny Rocker Dead!

Johnny Rocker believes he’s doesn’t need anyone or anything—especially God because after all he is a rock & roll god. When the floor beneath his feet crumbles—literally—he hurtles toward a different truth.

Since the death of Maddie’s family, she’s run from life and love and become the best bodyguard she can be. But, with God’s help, she’s ready to step out of her comfort zone and into a different life. When her boss asks—no begs—her to take on one last job, she finds it hard to refuse. Someone is trying to kill mega-star Johnny Rocker. It’s Maddie Cotton’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Even under Maddie’s protection, the threats continue. As Christmas approaches the danger escalates—someone doesn’t want Johnny Rocker to see the new year, and they are willing to kill Maddie as well. Johnny and Maddie will have to set aside their differences and learn to lean on each other and God if they want to see Christmas day.


Writer Wednesday: Brooke Williams

IMG_8272PCPVBrooke Williams writes whimsical romantic comedies. Read to find out her journey as a writer!

When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I should have known from birth that I was meant to write. Okay, maybe not birth, but soon after. When I was in grade school, I used to cut pictures from magazines and glue them to blank pieces of paper. I would then write new stories to go with the pictures and sell the “newspapers” to my parents for a dime. They had to buy them if they wanted to see what their missing picture was! And as I grew up, I was the kid in school who was EXCITED about paper assignments and essay tests. I didn’t write my first full novel until after I graduated from college and while I was working full-time in radio. But it wasn’t until a full decade after that I actually gave it another go. When my first daughter was born in 2009, I quit my job in radio to stay home with her. I needed something that was JUST mine. Being a mom, you give so much to the kids, it’s hard to keep anything to yourself. Writing became that thing I needed. I feel like now I need it almost as much as the air I breathe. I started a freelance writing business and write blogs, web content and anything else clients need. That stirred the fiction bug again and I branched out into more novels. Now, it’s a serious addiction and I have no plans to stop!

AcceptThisDandelionWhat’s your pet peeve?

Unfinished projects. My husband vacuums often (which is awesome!) but when he’s done, he leaves the vacuum cleaner wherever he stopped vacuuming. That drives me nuts! I don’t like not finishing what I start. That is probably partly why I write as fast as I do. Stories bother me until they’re done! I hate leaving them partially finished.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

I don’t know about embarrassing, but definitely humbling! When I wrote my first novel, “Someone Always Loved You,” I sent query letters to agents all over. Back then, you had to send self-addressed stamped envelopes to get a reply. One time, I got one of those SASE back from an agent and written on the back was: No. That was it. No form letter inside. Nothing! Just no! Ouch!!

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Finding the time to implement all of the ideas I have. My head is full of stories, but I have only 1-2 hours a day with which to work. I have to fit my paying freelance jobs in first because, let’s face it, they pay! After that, there’s not always much time for fiction. But if the story bothers me enough, I fit it in! And the reality is that in two more years, both of my daughters will be in school and I will have all the time I could ever want. I dread that era. J

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I used to take it very personally, like with the “no” envelope. But now I realize that not everyone likes every book. There’s absolutely nothing I could write that would please everyone. Someone doesn’t like what I wrote, it’s not their taste. I don’t like every best-selling novel on the market. It’s very subjective. While sometimes it stings for a minute, I brush it off. I write because I love it and when others love it too, that’s a bonus, but not the ultimate goal.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

So far? Because I hope there are more hurdles to come! At this point it would probably be when I got my very first contract from a publisher. I had decided to give writing one more try and I submitted a romantic comedy I’d written to a few publishers. When I got an email/acceptance from one of them, I thought it was a joke or a scam. I looked into it very carefully and asked a lot of questions. When I realized it was the real thing, it was pure bliss. I enjoy what I do. That’s why I do it. The idea that someone in the industry thought readers might also enjoy it blew me away.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

  1. First and foremost, write because you love it and you can’t NOT write
  2. Realize the industry is subjective and not everyone will appreciate what you do
  3. If you want to publish and are searching for a publisher or agent, do NOT let yourself give up. It can feel like a needle in a haystack scenario, but I guarantee if you stop looking, you’ll NEVER find what you’re looking for.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

My books are very light-hearted and humorous. They do have deeper messages, but they aren’t outright and overt. I concentrate on things like, be who you are and don’t be ashamed of it. When I write, I get a break from everyday life. I’m not being torn in two different directions by two little girls. I don’t have to meet anyone’s needs for a little while. It’s a break from what I usually do all day. If someone were to talk about one of my books, I’d hope they would say, that was just what I needed! Or it really made me laugh! I aim to give people an escape from the daily stresses life brings along with it. Let’s take a deep breath, read a strange story, and have a laugh together! If I can give people even a little bit of joy, I’m happy with that!

What is your current work in process?

I’m writing for a new client that requires short stories so that’s a new angle for me. But it’s a good way to get several storylines out in short order! I also recently put out a new children’s book called “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut.” A fun little story I used to tell my daughter at bedtime. My next romantic comedy is coming out in June 2017. It’s currently titled “The Leftover.” We’ll see if that sticks. It revolves around a local Survivor-based reality show and is a lot of fun.

Links to social media:

You can get details and links to all of my releases, new and old, on my website:

Twitter: @AuthorBrookeW


Stephanie’s Story (Salsa & Speed Bumps)

How do I come to write a story? My friend Lisa Lickel teaches about using the “what if?” question. So I did that with my character Stephanie. What if a nice Christian gal is dating a guy and raped within that relationship. She doesn’t report (most don’t) and finds out later that because of that one event, she’s now pregnant?

And “what if?” she meets the man of her dreams while she’s debating whether to keep or give the baby up for adoption.

Just how complicated could that relationship be?

Let’s just say: VERY. (Yeah, a word an author is not supposed to use).

Salsa & Speedbumps has released and there is so much packed within those pages, I hope readers will enjoy taking the journey with Stephanie and Roberto. And for fans of Renata and Tony from Pesto & Potholes, you’ll get a glimpse into their lives too! So fun!

This is more than a romance. Far more.

If I were to come up with a song for Stephanie it would be:

If I were to come up with a song that represented Roberto it would be this old classic becuase “I would give it all, I would sacrifice” fits Roberto so well:


Writer Wednesday with Gail Pallotta

Portrait shot  Gail PallottaWhen did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to?

I can’t remember not writing. My first published work appeared when a friend and I put out a newspaper in grammar school. I didn’t think about it as a career until I attended a small college. An English professor who was also an award-winning poet and writer started a creative writing program, and I enrolled. Then I decided I wanted to be an author. After I graduated I worked as an editor of magazines. After I married I helped my husband with his business and wrote freelance articles. Now the family’s as settled as a semi-retired husband and grown daughter can be, and I’m writing books.

What’s your pet peeve?

In regards to writing, it’s hassling with the computer.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

When my daughter was a baby, a magazine editor I’d contacted called and asked me to come for an interview. I agreed on the spot to an afternoon appointment that day. I found a babysitter with no problem and fished out clips of my published articles. Then I realized I had no briefcase. I rummaged around the house and found a small picnic basket my husband’s friend had sent us for Christmas. I pulled out the napkins and glasses that came with it, packed my articles and left.

When I arrived at the editor’s office, I sat the basket on my lap.

A distinguished looking man about ten years older than me, he leaned forward and peered at it. “Are we having a picnic?”

(Note: I ended up writing many articles for him in spite of my makeshift briefcase.)

What has been your most difficult challenge as a writer?

Finding the right advice for my writing and the right place for my work.

How do you process rejections and / or negative reviews?

Unless a rejection comes with a nice note or recommendations for how I can improve the manuscript, I just throw it away or delete it and tell myself it was the wrong market for my book. I remind myself of all the articles I’ve seen about some great books being rejected numerous times. When I receive a nice note, I’m grateful. I’m also thankful when an editor sends recommendations. I take them very seriously and put them to good use.

I’ve heard lots of discussion about negative reviews. I hate to revert to something so simple, but I was raised to either say something nice, or not anything. When I see a negative review of someone else’s work I place no value on it. If it’s my work, it’s upsetting, but I tell myself it’s only one person’s opinion. As far as conversations I’ve heard about writers learning from negative reviews, I’ve learned from editors, conferences, seminars, co-workers, critique partners and critique groups.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

I wonder if I’m supposed to name a particular accomplishment, such as recognition for some of the articles I’ve written, a contest won, or finding a good publisher—all of which are successes in my mind. But I believe the biggest one is knowing I’ve mastered a particular aspect of writing I’ve been trying to learn, and then mastering the next and the next, so on and so forth.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors? Learn all possible about the craft. Write from your heart and never, never give up. Learn to be bold about promoting.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

I wrote entertaining stories that shared slices of life affected by faith that inspired others.

Jackcover two best Mtn of Love and DangerWhat is your current work in progress?

I have a contemporary romance, Barely above Water, releasing soon with Prism Book Group. In the book an illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. She turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida, and takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer league swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but must overcome his fear of losing someone close then regain Suzie’s trust. She relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, financial burdens without permanent employment, and heartbreak.

Social Media links:  Web site –

Blog –

Facebook –

Twitter –

My latest book release is Mountain of Love and Danger.


Nobody Knows Me Like Him–My Re-birthday

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Today I celebrate.

I’ve walked with God now for thirty-four years of my life. More than twice the amount of years I had lived seeking a relationship with a distant deity.

My early childhood journals include many musings about God and a desire to be close to Him. I believed He was distant. Unreachable. Unknowable. Bigger. Powerful. Beyond me.

I was small. Insignificant.

I’m a different person now than I was then.

I’ve experienced many highs and lows of life. Yet sometimes I still feel alone. The first Scripture I ever memorized was

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” 

James 4:8 (NASB)

I’m hitting a milestone birthday this summer and have no idea how to celebrate that. I never really know how to celebrate this “re-birth” day either. except to remember. To reflect. To be grateful that God saw me as important enough to draw to Himself and love.

This is an old song. But it still rings true. All the years. All the relationships. My journal contains words expressing my continual seeking to draw near to the only One who I could trust to hold my heart.

Nobody Knows Me Like You (Benny Hester)

In the beginning I never knew
Just how much I really needed You
More than a friend, someone I could talk to
You’ve changed me in so many ways.

Nobody knows me like You
You put Your arms around me
You bring me through
And there’s many times I don’t know what to do
Though some know me well
Still nobody knows me like You

All of my secrets to You I tell
You saw each time that I slipped and fell
And all of my faults yes, You know them well
But You’ve never turned me away, no, no, no

Walkin’ in your presence is where I wanna be
You said in Your Word, You said that You would lead me
Yes I love You, oh, I really love You
I’II go anywhere
As long as I know you’ll be there

All of those nights that I was afraid
I stood on the promises You have made
The way that I act sometimes l am ashamed
But You’ve never turned me away, no, no, no

Are My Words A Clanging Cowbell?

I’ve not had much to say lately so I’ve not been as faithful with my posts. And maybe that’s a good thing. As I helped my friend Beth Ziarnik get her own blog up and running, we talked about the fear of just adding to the noise of the world around us. We don’t want to toss words willy nilly to have them evaporate without perhaps refreshing someone’s faith. A noisy cymbal as Corinthians would say. Or maybe now-a-days a cowbell is more appropriate?

There is however, a timelessness to words. What I write in a blog two years ago could resonate with someone today. We write in faith that someone will enjoy our words and be blessed by them. But isn’t that the way we do anything in this world?

We work and hope that it makes a difference.

We raise children and hope they will grow to be men or women who love God and will do far greater things than we ever could do.

We study Scripture and even after decades ask God to challenge and change us more and more into the image of his Son.

We exercise and hope to become stronger physically.

We plants seeds in hopes of a garden to enjoy.

The point is, we rarely do anything for the sake of doing it. Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” is the lament of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. He’s become cynical at the redundancy that can sometimes overtake our lives if we let it.

In our society we post everything on social media. Or at least many do. And rarely do we tell the truth about our deepest battles. Solomon ends Ecclesiastes though with these words:

The conclusion when all has been heard is: 

Fear God and keep his commandments, 

Because this applies to every person. 

For God will bring every act to judgement,

everything which is hidden, 

whether it is good or evil. (Ecc 12:13-14 NASB)

Well, now. Isn’t that sobering thought? Omniscience is not just this pie in the sky word that reminds us that God sees and knows everything. It’s a terrifying word that means God SEES and KNOWS everything. He knows our thoughts, our deepest desires, our hidden sins and the motives behind our actions.


I gave a talk in Colorado at the Write His Answer conference at Estes Park. Beautiful area and delightful people. I spoke on the Heartbeat of Christian Romance. And as much as I talked about romance, kissing and gasp, lust–this was the quote that people wanted to make sure they wrote down:

As an author we are held accountable for what we write as much as any teacher or pastor is. We need to consider this a holy calling and a responsibility. What we write can and does impact lives whether we think it does or not.

Blessings to you as you go out today and live your life for Him. May your words, and actions, bring Him glory.

A Walk in the Woods (Serial Short Story Romance, Part 4 of 4)

Candy paced by the front window of her condo. Jax hadn’t lied. He had called every night since their woodland adventure. Sometimes for only a few moments as he often worked nights. Ironically, sometimes she did as well. Mick was out of the hospital and recovering at home with his family. In spite of the injury, he had managed to bring down a key player in the drug trafficking in the city. She found out Jax had come that evening because he feared something might happen even though Mick had assured him it was all covered. She was glad he had been there. Would she have had the courage to survive that alone?

The grey sedan pulled up and Jax jumped out and strode to the front door. The bell rang but she had opened it before the last tones were done.

“Hey, beautiful. Are you ready?”

“Sure am.” She grabbed her purse and her Bible and locked the door behind her as they left.

As they drove down the street, she giggled.

“What was that for?”

“I’ve never been asked to go as a date to church before. I kind of like it.”

“You needed to try something new. I thought maybe going with a friend would make it easier for you so you can get out of your rut and back to a new normal.”

“A new normal. I like the sound of that.”

They walked into church together and Candace noted the way other women watched Jax. A surge of confidence roared through her along with the awareness that she was not being welcomed as much as tolerated by any of the single women in the church. She couldn’t blame them. Jax was hot.

Jax, while polite to everyone, was not overly warm to any woman and for the most part maintained a hand at her lower back as he steered her through the crowd.

They left shortly after for lunch.

As they sat at a table at a small crowded diner, he leaned over to whisper, his breath tickling her ear. “So, did you enjoy this morning’s adventure?”

She grinned at the handsome man adjacent to her. “I’m enjoying it even more now.”

Image courtesy of photostock /

Image courtesy of photostock /

One eyebrow quirked, “Really, why is that?”

She leaned forward to whisper in his ear. “Because my ex just walked in a few minutes ago and has been glaring at us from across the room.”

Jax smiled and kissed her cheek. “Wanna point him out to me?”

She did just that but didn’t expect the smile to fade from his face. “That’s your ex?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Excuse me for a moment.” He pulled out his phone and texted rapidly. The waitress came to take their orders and she tried to wait. A glance at her ex showed him squirming in his seat as the voluptuous, scantily clad woman next to him drooled over the menu.

Jax grinned.

“What’s up?”

“I know something you don’t . . . yet. But justice is on its way.”

“I don’t have much animosity for him anymore. I’ve forgiven and even feel sorry for him.”

“And so you should. He’s a pathetic excuse for a man.”

As they ate their food and talked they were soon disturbed by a commotion on the other side of the room. A woman had approached the table of her ex and Candy watched as the color drained out of his skin. The woman next to him reached across the table and slapped him. Soon he was in handcuffs and being led out the door along with this girlfriend who kept up a stream of insults.

“Your sins will find you out,” Jax mumbled with his mouthful.

“Jax? What was that all about?”

“Your ex has been on a wanted list for some time. He’s been good at keeping himself hidden but he is in fact facing several charges. Be thankful you’ve divorced or you would find any of your own assets at risk with all he’s going to face.”

“So he wronged many more people than me?”

“Yup.” Jax paid the bill and left a tip on the table. They stood to leave.

“Looks like you keep helping me out. I could get used to this.” She enjoyed the touch of her hand in his as they walked out the door.

“Ah, but you helped me out too.” He opened the car door. She waited till he got in on his side

“How so?”

The car started and they drove to a park nearby. “Today was the first Sunday when I didn’t have women chasing me around church trying to finagle a date.”

“I did notice they had their eye on you and weren’t too pleased by me at your side.” She allowed him to help her out and took his hand as they walked down by a small pond.

“Just as your ex-husband now regrets that you were by mine this afternoon.”

“I guess that means we’re good for each other?” Candy tapped him on the nose with her finger.

He grinned. “So far it seems that way, but I look forward to time spent with you. I have a feeling though that ‘normal’ will not be a word that would in any way define our relationship.”

“Hmmm, what other words could there be? Providential?”

“Adventurous?” They sat side by side on a park bench. Ducks squawked nearby as a little boy was trying to feed them. Birds sang in the trees and a squirrel chirrupped as it scampered past.

“God-ordained?” Candace leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I look forward to discovering more words with you.”

Jax wrapped his arm around her and drew her close. He leaned down and she saw the intent in his eyes. “How about—wonderful.”

As his lips touched hers she found she couldn’t agree more. A little voice called out “Ewww, they’re kissing!” Candy started giggling as they pulled apart.

Jax rested his forehead against hers. “Give him about twelve years. He’ll change his mind.”

Candy looked up at Jackson and placed a palm on the side of his face, enjoying the texture of his beard beneath her fingers. “It took me a lot longer than that. I think the best kiss I ever had, was with a dangerous man in the woods just a few days ago.”

He frowned. “Competition, huh? I’ll have to do better.” He leaned down and claimed her lips again.

Candace smiled and kept her eyes closed as the kiss ended. “Hmmm, so glad you are striving for improvement, although how you could improve on that, I don’t know.”

He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her to his side as they looked out on the pond. “You give me something to strive towards. Every man needs a goal.”

“Really, and what’s your goal?”

“Making sure you know how loved, cherished and beautiful you are for the rest of your life.”

Candace let her head rest on his chest, grateful for a fresh start and a new love.

A Walk in the Woods (Serial Short Story Romance, Part 3 of 4)

Image courtesy of papaija2008 /

Image courtesy of papaija2008 /

Candace gasped for breath, more from Jax’s kiss than from the running. Her heart beat fast more because someone desired her than fear of the danger ahead of them. He released her hand so they could run faster and she was surprised at her stamina given her lack of faithfulness to her morning runs in recent weeks.

Another gunshot rang out, much closer. Jax grabbed her hand and they ducked down. Now they could hear yelling. A man came running their way and Jax pushed her behind him as he waited for the man to pass. As the man came close, Jax jumped out on top of him. The gun the man was holding went off and the bullet whizzed past her right ear. She ducked as she watched them fight. Each punch Jax took, she winced.

It dawned on her that she had planned to walk these woods alone today. What if she had?

She was with a narcotics agent. Had he been here for work?

Nah. He would have been carrying a gun then, wouldn’t he?

Soon the man was unconscious. Jax untied his shoes and used the laces to bind the man’s hands. He stood and looked over to her. “Are you okay?”

She shrugged. “Just another walk in the woods for me. Well, except for the bullet that tried to take out my ear. Other than that I’m fine. You?”

He laughed. He walked over and pulled her into a hug. “I’m sorry. I’m glad you didn’t get hit. I should have told you to stay behind the tree.”

“I probably wouldn’t have listened. I wanted to make sure you were okay and didn’t need my help.”

“And what would you have done to save me?”

Candy looked down and then bent over and brought a sturdy rock up in her palm. “I used to be pretty good at pitching.”

He planted a kiss on her lips, took the rock and dropped it on the ground and pulled her down the path. “Someone else was here and might be injured. I don’t know if it is one of the good guys or bad guys.”

“Maybe you should have taken that man’s gun.”

“Nah, don’t want to mess with fingerprints and I have a suspicion we may not need it. By the way, I never did ask you what you did for a living.”

“You want to talk jobs now? I’m a nurse at Valley View Hospital. I work in the Emergency Room.”

“Perfect! Maybe God had you here today for just this reason. I don’t believe in circumstances at all. But divine appointments, definitely.”


They turned the corner and a man was in a crumpled heap on the ground. “It’s Micky. He’s one of the Narc officers. Crap. He’s been hit.”

“I guess this is my turn to save the world?” She knelt by the man and started to assess his injuries.

Jax stepped aside and motioned her forward. “He’s all yours. Tell me what to do.”

“Call for an ambulance. That would be a good place to start.”

* * *

A half an hour later as the sun was setting and mosquitoes were making a vicious appearance, Jax had waved to his friend Micky as he was driven off in the ambulance. The perp had been arrested and taken to jail and now a police car waited off to one side.

Candace’s kahki shorts were streaked with blood as were her arms and hands in spite of having wiped them off on towels.

“Come on, Sweetheart, let’s get you home and cleaned up.”

“My car?”

“I had them tow it to a repair shop. It’s the least I could do after you saved Mick’s life. Officer Joan Marshall will give you a ride home.”

He watched her frown. “What’s wrong?”

She shrugged. “I was enjoying getting to know you and well, it’s been such a long time since anyone has kissed me.” Her face turned a delightful shade of red. “I guess I’m just sad to see this thing between us be over so soon.”

“Who said anything about it being over?” He placed a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll be calling.”

She smiled. “You will?”

“If I don’t, you know how to find me.” Jax stepped back and headed towards the police car. He helped her in the front seat and closed the door. She rolled down the window as the officer started the squad.

“You’re not coming?”

“I live nearby. I got my laces back.” He pointed down to his shoes. “I’ll jog home. Don’t worry, Candy. You’ll be hearing from me.”

He watched as the car pulled away. If he hadn’t come today, she could have been caught in a drug deal gone south. Nope, it was no coincidence that the girl of his dreams had shown up today and had the spunk to run with him into danger. He grinned to himself as he headed down the road at a steady lope. She would be hearing from him, but their first date would be far from what she expected.

Stay tuned for the final installment tomorrow!