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Excerpt from “Second Chances: An Oaktown Story”

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For June 11, 2018- June 12, 2018, this novella (not a short story, but not a full length novel) is available for FREE on Amazon Kindle! So, click the picture above and get yours now!

Don’t worry if you miss this, it’s regularly listed for right now at $0.99 cents.

This is a lighthearted yet spiritual story of a young woman who is seeking redemption and a second chance at life after running away from everything when she became a teen mother years before. There is laughter, crying, love, and conflict woven throughout this story at 122 pages.

It’s in between YA and Adult Fiction, so I guess you’d call it the 18-24 year old fiction genre. However, I’m in my thirties and I still enjoy reading YA and 18-24 fiction. It’s just the age of my characters and their experiences.

Now, for what you came here for, the excerpt. I’ll be posting stuff like this often, so keep checking in!

This excerpt is protected by Copyright 2018.

“The park was just across the street from the Sweet Shoppe, so I kept an eye out for David. It was just after six and I hadn’t heard from him yet. Maybe he forgot. I’d still take Brooke if he did.

About that time, Brooke jumped off of her swing and informed me that she was done playing and wanted a cupcake now. She said it so matter-of-factly that I almost forgot she was a kid. There was no question in her mind that she was going to the bakery and getting herself a cupcake. It was decided.

“You’re too much like me, kid.” I smiled and grabbed her hand to lead her across the street to the bakery.

Just as we crossed over, David jogged up and grabbed the door for us. Brooke smiled at him and ran inside. I thanked him and followed her in.

“Sorry, I’m late. I got held up at the ranch.” He walked up beside me as we looked at the menu.

“It’s no problem. Brooke had already decided we were getting cupcakes whether you showed up or not.” I teased.

“I wouldn’t have blown you guys off.” He said very seriously as he looked into my eyes.

“I know.” I laughed. “I was just kidding.”

“Okay. I just didn’t want you to think I had flaked on you or something.” He was still looking at me super seriously. His eyes flashed an emotion that I didn’t understand.

“I believe you.” I smiled and turned back to the menu. “What’s good here?”

“Chocolate!” Brooke jumped up and grabbed my hand pointing at the chocolate cupcakes with pink sprinkles inside the glass case. “I want this one!”

“Okay, Brooke. Then that’s what you’ll get.” I smiled down at her.

“I think you should try the chocolate hazelnut cupcake. It’s pretty famous around here now. Plus, I know you love that stuff.” He bent down to examine some of the cupcakes in the case.

“Yeah. I’ll get that one.” I walked up to the counter and before I could tell the older woman my order, David ordered our cupcakes plus his and paid.

“I can get ours.” I insisted and pulled out my wallet.

“My treat.” He said and handed the woman some cash. He was always a gentleman. His parents raised him right. “I insist.”

“Next cupcakes are on me then.” I smiled and thanked him.

Brooke picked out a table for us and wiggled her little self in her chair as she licked all of the frosting off of her cupcake bit by bit. She was a happy little girl. The bakery was adorable. Everything was decorated with rainbow colors and the walls were covered in bright posters of cupcakes and cookies. There was no way to come in here and be depressed if you tried. It was too cheerful for that.

“Have you heard anything yet about a job?” David asked.

“Not yet, but I’m trying not to get discouraged. It hasn’t been long yet.” I sighed. “Feels like forever though.”

“I’m sure you’ll hear something back soon.” He smiled reassuringly.

“Well, I’m not too sure about that. Most people in this town don’t want anything to do with me unless it’s hearing the latest gossip about my never ending list of mistakes. Church has been the only place I can go and feel somewhat accepted…besides dealing with Kelly Caldwell.” I tore at the edge of the paper lining the bottom half of my cupcake.

“Don’t worry about her. Or anybody else really. Trust me, somebody will hire you. They’d be crazy not to.” He looked over at Brooke whose face was covered in chocolate frosting. “You don’t like chocolate, do you?”

“Yes!” she giggled. “I LOVE it!”

We laughed at her as she wiggled around in her chair and finished devouring her cupcake. It was a really good time getting to catch up with David. I thought he was still living with his parents helping his dad with the ranch. Turns out, David built a house on some adjoining land and partnered with his father. It seemed like everyone was growing up and moving forward in their lives except me. It did puzzle me that he didn’t travel like he used to talk about. We used to make plans to travel to all these places around the world together after graduation and before college. I blew up that dream pretty quick.

“Why didn’t you travel like we talked about? I thought you’d still be making your way around the world even now.” I asked curious to what was tying him here.

“I told you I traveled some. Just not in the past year.” He replied but didn’t answer my question.

“I know that. But why still live in this small town when you have the whole world to choose from?”

“This is my home.” He replied and I felt like there was a meaning that I didn’t catch.

“Wherever you go can be your home. You don’t have to stay where you grew up.” I said.

“I don’t stay here because I grew up here.” He said matter-of-factly.

“Now we’re getting somewhere. Why do you stay?” I pried.

“Because this is my town.” He said and swallowed the last of his mocha cupcake. “You two have any big plans tonight?”

“No, why?” I was a bit pouty that he was avoiding my question. Maybe there was a girl. It’s usually a girl. If he was engaged and moving on like Brooke, I was going to feel like a loser.

“Want to go see a movie or something?” he raised an eyebrow at my far off expression.

“I need to take Brooke home. I don’t like keeping her out late.” She stuck her tongue out at me and I did it right back to her.

“You sound like a Mom.” He teased.

“I am a mom. Or have you not noticed the young child I take care of, feed, and take with me everywhere?” I elbowed him in the side.

“I thought you just liked hanging out with random kids.” He said and laughed.

I punched his arm and rolled my eyes laughing at him. This was our usual banter with a little sarcasm mixed in. He walked us back to the parking lot across the street and to our car.

“You sure you don’t want to hang out tonight?” he asked again.

“I can’t. My mother is expecting me back for dinner. I’m trying to show her that I’m responsible now and not flighty with my decisions. I’ve changed, but she’s one of those who has to see it to believe it people.”

“I can tell you’ve matured, but you haven’t changed.” He smiled. “You’re still Grace.”

“Good to know.” I opened the door for Brooke to climb into the backseat and David bent down and buckled her in.

“Thanks for the cupcakes, David.” She said and gave him a hug.

“If you want you can come over for dinner. My mom always loved you and Leah. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you came by.” I said.

“He comes over for dinner sometimes.” Brooke said before I shut her door.

“You do?” I turned back to him and he looked almost like he was turning red.

“Yeah. Once in a while your parents invite me over to eat.” He rubbed the back of his neck. He only did that when he was uncomfortable.

“Does Leah go to?” I asked shocked that my parents had been keeping in touch with my friends while I was gone.

“No. She sees them around and at church sometimes.”

“Why do they invite you and not Leah?” I asked.

“I just keep in touch better.” He said. “You left, but I didn’t feel like that meant I should stop getting to see Brooke grow up. I used to help you with her all the time before you left.”

I just stared at him in disbelief. He had kept in touch with my family and had been looking out for my daughter when I was off being immature and selfish. He really was a good friend. I could never repay him for all of the things he had done for me.

“You’re not saying anything.” He looked at me carefully.

“What am I supposed to say?” I felt myself tearing up.

“Thank you for keeping an eye out for my child all these years? I mean was I supposed to just drop out of her life just because you left? She was a mess. She needed some piece of her old life to hang on to.” He snapped defensively.

“I thought I was making everyone’s lives better by leaving. I screwed everything up for my family and for Brooke. I left to make everyone happy! I wasn’t off just having a good time!” I was seeing red now. I stomped off to the driver side door. “As if I don’t feel bad enough, you have to throw it back in my face?”

“I’m not throwing it in your face. It’s a fact. You left. It was selfish. You didn’t do it for anyone but yourself. Grace, Brooke was destroyed. I couldn’t just disappear too. I stayed around so she’d have someone besides your parents to comfort her. I think of her like family!” he scolded me as he followed me to my car door.

“I just didn’t know you stayed in the picture. Okay? It shocked me. You don’t need to attack me because of it. I know she was destroyed. I’m going to spend the rest of my life making it up to her now and being the mother she needs. I’ll never be able to change what I did and I accept that. But I am not that girl any more. So I wish everyone would stop treating me like I am!”

I jumped into my seat and slammed my door shut while he was talking. He tried to open the door, but I slammed my finger on the lock button before he could get it open. He was saying something to me, but I backed out of the parking spot and drove away. I could see him from my rearview mirror with his hands pushed up into his sandy brown hair watching me drive away.

I held back my tears until I got home and got Brooke inside. She kept asking if David and I were okay and I assured her that everything was fine and I just needed a shower. Once my mother took Brooke and I locked myself in the bathroom, I hurried to turn the shower on full blast.

The moment I twisted the knob my sobs escaped my throat. I couldn’t hold them in any longer. When would I be forgiven for what I did? I felt like I kept groveling and apologizing to everyone and no one would let me forget it. The people around town didn’t want to have anything to do with me. Every time I tried to start up a conversation with anyone they made up an excuse to walk away. My mother was still resentful and treated me like a leper. My father and Brooke were the only two people in this town that are happy to see me on a day to day basis.”

 

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