Fiction Friday: Mercy’s Shore Chapter 9

This is a continuing/serial story. I share a chapter a week and at the end of the story, and after I edit and rewrite, I self-publish it. To catch up with the story click HERE. To read the rest of the books in this series click HERE.

Chapter 9


Judi smoothed a finger across her lower lip, smoothing in the dark red lipstick she’d applied a few minutes earlier. She studied herself in the mirror on the visor and took a deep breath. Glancing down at her white button-up shirt and gray pencil skirt and a pair of sensible black flats, she grimaced. What had she become? She pushed a strand of hair that had fallen from the messy bun she’d pulled her hair into behind her ear and slid a pair of sunglasses on then made a face at her reflection.

“I’ve become Ellie. That’s who I’ve become.” She sighed and rolled her eyes before she opened and reached for the door handle. “Good grief. I’m my sister.”

 Fine, she was dressed like her sister and acting way more strait-laced than she had in the past, but she’d wanted a change, so this was a change. She’d wanted to leave her old life behind and working for a well-known local lawyer was one way to do that. It was time for her to grow up and if she had to look like a spinster librarian to do it, so be it.

She smoothed her hands down her skirt and squinted at her reflection in the large front window between the stenciled words, Benjamin A. Oliver, Attorney at Law.

She’d called Ben a couple of days after he’d offered the job to her and accepted it, even though she couldn’t imagine what he had been thinking when he’d offered it to her. She also wasn’t sure what she’d been thinking accepting it, considering she’d now have to wake up super early on the days she worked here.

She squinted at her reflection in the front window, wishing she had grabbed that suit coat Ellie had offered her. It would have made her at least look professional. She smoothed her hands down the front of the skirt again. At least it was cute.

Walking inside, she was surprised at how well-decorated Ben’s office was. She’d been expecting something much drabber and a lot less eye-catching.

Instead of boring, dull-colored paintings of landscapes on the wall, though, he’d hung colorful paintings of life in the city in the 1950s, including what looked like a scene at a jazz club. Three dark brown, leather-bound, chairs with top-grain, soft cushions lined the walls in the lobby. She could easily curl up one of those and take a nap. Also in the lobby area was a tall gray desk with a high wall at the front of it and a counter on top of the wall. She wondered if that was where the secretary — er she — would be sitting.

A few feet behind the desk a door opened to a white-walled office with a large window and mahogany-colored desk. A black, leather-plush chair sat behind the desk, and behind the chair a wall full of what were probably law books lined built-in bookshelves. Ben peered from around the open door and the clink of a filing cabinet door shutting made Judi flinch.

 He stepped fully into the doorway wearing a light blue button-up dress shirt and a red tie, dark dress pants, and dress shoes. “You made it. Great.”

Apparently, he’d thought she wasn’t going to show up. His instincts had been right. She almost hadn’t.

Even now she felt sick to her stomach. What had she been thinking? She didn’t have a clue how to be a secretary at a law office.

He didn’t pause in the doorway but kept moving toward the desk at the front with a smile she was sure charmed the pants off more than a few women he’d met over the years — maybe even literally.

 He gestured toward the chair behind the desk. “This is where you’ll be sitting most of the time unless I need you to come into the office to take some notes for me.” He propped his hands on the back of the chair and leaned on it. “You do know how to take notes, right?”

With a quick smile, she did her best to be truthful. “Not exactly, but it can’t be that hard, right?”

Ben’s smile flickered for a brief moment before it returned. “Right. It’s not that hard to learn.”

Her gaze moved across the neat desk with a computer and photos of an older woman with what Judi guessed was the woman’s husband and adult children. To the left of the desk, behind the tall partition, stood a row of filing cabinets. Ben explained how to use the phone, what the filing cabinets were for, and how to use the electronic appointment book before telling her that he’d show her how to file cases in the cabinets later.

“Did you want to take any notes?” he asked after he’d reached what she hoped was his last lesson for the day.

“Notes?” Her brow dipped in confusion. “Do you need me to take notes for you now?”

“No.” He shook his head briefly. “I mean for yourself. So you’ll remember what I just told you.”

“Why?” She was genuinely confused. “Aren’t you going to be here? I can just ask you if I have a question, can’t I?”

Ben sighed. “Yes, you can, but if I am on the phone or can’t help you for some other reason then . . .” His voice trailed off as he looked at her. “Never mind. That’s fine. You’re right. I’ll be back in the office if you need me.”

He walked to a coffee pot set up on a small counter next to the soft chairs. “I’ve been making the coffee when I come in, but if you’d make that each morning it would help me out. I haven’t booked a ton of clients today because I’ve got court in the morning, and I need to prepare for that. From ten to eleven I have a video conference with a client downstate who is in the middle of a divorce, so I don’t want to be interrupted. Lunch is from noon to one, but I’ll need you back five minutes early today because I have an appointment at one with a new client who has filed a defamation complaint against the newspaper in the next county.” He shrugged a shoulder. “He’s going to lose the case, but he’s persistent so I said I’d take it on. He’s got a lot of money.”

He took a long drink of the coffee then stood with the mug in one hand and the other hand propped on his hip. “Any questions for me?”

“Just if you always talk this fast.”

Ben laughed. “Most of the time, yes. I’m one guy and I have a lot of clients, so I can’t afford to take my time.”

He walked into his office and closed the door, leaving Judi alone with a quiet lobby area and a phone that should have been simple but was severely intimidating her at the moment. What button had he said to push again when she needed to transfer a call? She hoped it would come to her when she needed to actually do it. He’d probably been right to suggest she take notes.

Her phone rang while she was making herself a cup of coffee. Walking back to the desk to retrieve it from her purse, she decided she’d better leave a reminder in her notes app to pick up some flavored creamer. Ben’s coffee was as boring and plain as he was.

She looked at the lock screen. The number was the one from New York again. She needed to tell this guy she was not interested in anything to do with Jeff.

“Miss Lambert?” a man’s voice asked as she answered.

“Listen, if this is that lawyer, I’m not interested in talking about anything that has to do with Jeff Burke, so please stop calling me. Thank you.”

“Miss Lambert, wait. Please. Just hear me out.”

“I’m not inter—”

The lawyer spoke quickly. “I think Jeff Burke tried to do to you what he actually succeeded in doing to my client and I am asking if you would be willing to testify at her trial to prove that this is a pattern with him.”

Judi’s mouth went dry, and she sat hard in the chair as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Her throat tightened and her heart fluttered inside her chest.

“Miss Lambert? Are you still there?”

A chill shivered across her skin as she swallowed hard. “Yeah.”

“I know it would be hard to talk about what happened or almost happened, but we know, or at least we feel, that there are other victims. The more women we have who can say Jeff did this to them, the more chance we have at convincing a jury he needs to be put away for a long time so he can’t do it to anyone else.”

Judi rubbed her hand along her arm. “How did you even find me?”

“Your former roommate. Seline.”

Judi’s throat tightened more. “Did he —”

“No,” the attorney said. “But she knows the other woman. She’s a co-worker of Seline’s. Seline said you didn’t want to press charges because nothing happened that night and I understand, but Miss Lambert this is a chance to stop Jeff from doing this to other women. Will you at least think about it?”

Judi cleared her throat and took a sip of her coffee. “Yeah, I’ll think about it.”

She slid her finger over the end button and dropped the phone back into her purse. When the office phone rang a few minutes later she literally jumped in her chair, the ringing pulling her from her thoughts.

“Hello?”

“Um, hello.” The male voice on the other end of the phone was hesitant. “Is this Ben Oliver’s office?”

Oh great. She forgot the greeting already.

“Oh yes. Sorry. Hello. Attorney Ben Oliver’s Office.”

“Oh. Okay, well, may I speak to him?”

“May I ask who is calling?”

“Yes. This is Adam Phillipi.”

Judi pursed her lips. Ooh boy. Phillipi. This was someone connected with Angie. This should be interesting. She wished she could listen in.

“Just a minute, please.”

She bit her lower lip and searched for the hold button. After pushing it she tried to remember what buttons she needed to push to transfer the call. Was it 22 star or star 22? Or was it — She pushed the buttons she thought were the right ones and set the phone back in the cradle, bumping the speaker button as she moved her hand away.

“Adam, hey, did you get the check I sent?” Ben asked through the speaker.

Her finger hovered over the speaker button. If she pushed it, would there be a click and if there was a click, would Ben think she’d been listening in on purpose, instead of by accident?

“Yeah, Ben, I did,” Adam responded. “That was very nice. Thank you. The thing is though, Leona and I were hoping you’d also be able to make the birthday party.”

Ben winced. “Oh, I’d love to, Adam, but, unfortunately, I was in a car accident a month ago and I’m still recovering from a concussion. The doctor hasn’t cleared me to drive yet.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Adam said. “Then, I understand why you can’t make it. That’s a shame, though. Leona and I had hoped to see you in person and discuss a couple of things with you.”

“Well, I’m here now, if you’d like to discuss anything.” Judi heard the strain in Ben’s voice as a twinge of guilt pulled at her.

She shouldn’t be listening to this conversation. But if she pushed the speaker button — Forget it. She had to take a chance that it would beep because explaining that she had listened into his entire personal conversation would be even harder than explaining she wasn’t sure if pushing the button again would be disruptive to the conversation.

She tapped the button and let out a long breath, bracing herself for him storming out of his office to ask if she had been listening in. After a few seconds, with no shouting coming from his office, she decided she must be in the clear. Her eyes slid over the desk in front of her again. Now what? Ben hadn’t told her what else to do yet. She shrugged her shoulder and pulled out her nail file. It was as good of a time as any to shape her nails before her pedicure in a couple of days. It would at least give her something to think about other than the call from that lawyer.

Classic movie impression: Streetcar Name Desire

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I, are trading classic movies this summer. She gives me a suggestion and I give her one and then we will write a post with our impressions of the movie we watched.

This week I suggested Double Indemnity for Erin (because I kid you not, I was about to suggest Key Largo and she was already going to watch it. We think along the same lines sometimes and sometimes we are totally on the opposite side of things. It makes life interesting. *wink*) and she suggested Streetcar Named Desire from 1951.

I have watched a couple of scenes from Streetcar Named Desire (Stella! Stella!!) but had never watched the entire movie. Erin is a huge fan of the young Marlon Brando, which is why she suggested this one. It is, as she said and I agree, one of his best.

His character is not “the best” of course. In fact, Stanley Kowalski is a complete jerk and Brando pulls it off amazingly well. His acting is flawless which may be because he was also playing the character on Broadway when they decided to film the movie, which is based on a play by Tennessee Williams.

In fact, everyone in the film, from what I’ve read, with the exception of Vivian Leigh who plays Blanch Dubois, was from the original play. Leigh was added to add more star power to the movie.

Brando was so natural and real in this – it was like I was watching a reality TV show in some ways and that’s not a good thing.

Vivian Leigh was apparently good at playing flirtatious women because here she was yet again needing attention from men just like in Gone with the Wind, where she played Scarlet.

It was awful to watch everyone, especially Stanley and Blanche, manipulate those around them, mainly Stella who wasn’t an angel but was really caught in the middle most of the time. I don’t want to give away anything for someone who hasn’t seen the movie (though it is over 50 years old, others could be like me and have never watched it), but watching Blanche pretty much falls apart more and more as she can’t keep her façade up is heartbreaking to watch. She creepily reminds me of a family member by marriage. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what reality is anymore.

I read after I watched the movie that the message of the play and the movie was that Blanche and Stella were both victims of societal pressures placed on them by men’s idea of how women should be treated in postwar America. Huh. Okay, we can go with that but I also felt like the sisters didn’t have a very warm upbringing, maybe from abusive homes, so that made them look for love and security in all the wrong places — mainly with men. Stella seems to suffer from the same issues abused women suffer from, which is the fear to leave their abusive spouse for a few reasons, including the fact they think no one else will want them. In Stella’s case, she also fell for Stanley’s good looks and the dangerous edge to his personality.

Whatever the theme and whatever the issues of the women, the acting was superb and focusing on the acting helped take my mind off the sobering subject matter of the movie.

If you are among the few that have not seen the movie, I do recommend it, but be aware the subject matter is dark and you are constantly worrying about what bad is going to happen next. To distract yourself from the tough subjects, do what I did and focus on the acting instead.

Sunday Bookends (on Monday): Good music, scary or depressing movies, books about chefs and summer activities


Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing, and listening to.

I didn’t finish this in time for a Sunday posting, which is why it’s being posted on Monday instead. Obviously. *wink*


What I/we’ve Been Reading

I have been reading but quite slowly. I was rotating between three books and I still haven’t finished one of them so this week I am going to focus on Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and when that is finished I am going to finish The Heart of the Mountain by  Pepper Basham and then I will go back to Anne of the Island from the Anne of Green Gables series.  The Heart of the Mountain is the first book I’ve read by Basham and I am enjoying it. So far it’s not a cliché Christian fiction romance and I am grateful for that. It releases on July 1.

A description for those who are curious about it:

Can True Love Weather a World of Differences?

To escape marriage, Cora Taylor runs away from her home in England to join her brother in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but not even her time as a nurse in the Great War prepares her for the hard landscape and even harder lives of the mountain people. With the help of Jeb McAdams, a quiet woodcarver, who carries his own battle scars, she fashions a place for herself among these unique people. But the past refuses to let go, and with dangers from within and without, can hearts bruised by war find healing within the wilds of the mountains?

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is the book that blew Bourdain into stardom and details his journey working at the lowest levels in kitchens up to the big time. If you don’t know who Bourdain is, then you really missed out (though you didn’t miss out on his potty mouth. *wink* He was known to be a bit crass, crude, and rude at times, but he was also a brilliant writer and food connoisseur. So warning: there is swearing in this book but not constant swearing ).

 He was a chef who became famous when he traveled the world for the Travel Channel tasting and discussing food from countries all over the world, all while giving the viewers a bit of history and culture lessons during each episode.

A description of Kitchen Confidential for the curious:

Anthony Bourdain, host of Parts Unknown, reveals “twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine” in his breakout New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain spares no one’s appetite when he told all about what happens behind the kitchen door. Bourdain uses the same “take-no-prisoners” attitude in his deliciously funny and shockingly delectable book, sure to delight gourmands and philistines alike. From Bourdain’s first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable.

Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You’ll beg the chef for more, please.

Bourdain committed suicide in 2018. My family and I had been watching his show for years. When we heard the news it was like losing a friend. A foul-mouthed, jokester, who loved life so much you couldn’t believe he’d choose to end it type of friend. Many of his shows are available on a variety of streaming services and I highly recommend them. If you are sensitive to seeing animals killed or hearing course language, maybe avoid them, but neither of those items are consistently present in his earlier shows and are present more, but still not constant, on his show that ran on CNN a few years before he passed away.

This is my first time reading a book by him. It is the first of several he wrote, including a couple novels.

The Husband is reading Fade Away by Harlan Coben.



What’s Been Occurring

Little Miss has been excited to jump on our neighbor’s trampoline but has been sorely disappointed that Mom and Dad won’t jump with her. Big brother isn’t that interested either and her friends from Texas are now gone home so she had to be content with jumping for us instead of with us.

We spent a few nights last week up the hill on the trampoline, me reading a book or watching her while she jumped.

Our roses are still blooming which has been so exciting for me. I can’t remember if they bloomed this long last year or not and I figure we will lose most of them this week or next so I am simply enjoying them while I can.

The Husband is on vacation this week, but we don’t have any big plans. We are going to visit a couple of local state parks and hopefully go on a train ride near us and spend time with my parents.

Yesterday we kicked off The Husband’s week with a cookout with my parents and jumped in the pool for the first time after my son and dad worked hard to clean it out.

What We watched/are Watching

I watched a rerun of the K-Love Fan Awards early in the week.

The link to the entire show can be found here:

My favorite performances included:

TobyMac Promised Land (made even more powerful to me since Toby lost his son to suicide two years ago)

Phil Wickham House of the Lord (such a fun and worshipful performance. He’s fairly new to me as of this year, but I’m enjoying his music):

CeCe Winans and Lauren Daigle, I Believe For It (two Christian powerhouse singers):

Katy Nicole, In Jesus Name (God of Possible). This one just broke me down pretty hard for various reasons. It was the first time I heard it. Powerful stuff.

I also loved when Matthew West won for best male vocalist of the year. You can tell he had no idea. He was floored, emotional, and he just deserved it. I love following him on social media, his music and listening to his podcast. He’s just a sweet man and we need to be praying for his heart and that he can continue to impact the world for Christ.

This week I watched Streetcar Named Desire for the first time at the suggestion of Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs. She and I will be watching classic movies we suggest for each other this summer. I have been rubbing my hands together at this prospect because I am a huge fan of classic, or old, movies. I love picking out movies I enjoyed to share with others and I also love to receive suggestions from others.

I will give you my impression of Streetcar on Wednesday. I suggested Double Indemnity for Erin and she will be sharing her impressions of that movie on Wednesday as well.

Also this week I watched A Quite Place with The Boy, a movie I told him I would not watch because I hate horror-type movies. I finally caved in when Little Miss and The Husband had a day out on Saturday. It turns out this movie was different than other “horror” movies and was more of a psychological thriller. I was very impressed and enjoyed the storytelling of it. The Boy and I both feel that the movie should have stood for itself and there was no need for A Quiet Place 2 but The Boy, who has already seen that movie as well, said that he actually enjoyed A Quiet Place 2 and jumped more during that movie than the first one. I told The Boy I would watch the second movie with him sometime soon. The key for movies like these are finding a time Little Miss won’t be in the room with us. Obviously, I’m not letting her watch these types of movies with us at the tender age of seven.


The Husband and I finished Why Didn’t They Ask Evans, which was a three-part miniseries based on an Agatha Christie book and directed by Hugh Laurie. It was very good. I would have liked some more Emma Thompson, but you can’t have everything.


What I’m Writing

I’ve been working some on The Shores of Mercy and hope to be more strict about carving out writing times to work on it next week.

I shared two posts on the blog this week in addition to Chapter 8 of The Shores of Mercy (which is being called Mercy’s Shore on here):


Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Fiction Friday: Mercy’s Shore Chapter 8

This is a continuing/serial story. I share a chapter a week and at the end of the story, and after I edit and rewrite, I self-publish it. To catch up with the story click HERE. To read the rest of the books in this series click HERE.

Chapter 8


Judi rolled onto her back in bed and stretched, wishing she didn’t have to crawl out from under the covers today. She closed her eyes against the sunlight, a familiar empty feeling settling in the center of her chest. She didn’t have much of a life without alcohol and bars. The friends she used to hang out with had faded into the background once she started declining their offers to go out.

 If she wasn’t at work, her nights were either spent helping her dad in the barn — something she swore she’d never do again when she moved to the city  — or watching a show on one of the streaming services she’d subscribed to. She often fell asleep wondering how she had ended up here and if being sober was supposed to be so boring.

Most mornings she woke up with a gasp, never sure what the day would bring, but glad to have left the night behind where nightmares often clawed at her in her sleep.

She glanced at her phone. There were three voicemails, but she refused to listen to them. The caller ID said one was Seline, the other Ellie and the third a number in New York City she didn’t recognize. Answering any of them meant being responsible and she didn’t feel like being responsible today anymore than she had yesterday.

She’d already answered a call from Rachel last night, letting her know she wouldn’t be drowning her sorrows in a cocktail over Jerry’s comments. She’d agreed to let Rachel pray with her and they hung up after making plans to meet at the downtown diner for lunch the day after tomorrow.

Now she had a full shift at Lonny’s which she wasn’t looking forward to. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with people, especially with some of the regulars. Granted, the bar and grill wasn’t a gritty bar with the main focus being on alcohol. It was more upscale than a regular bar, serving professionally cooked food and hosting high profile community or corporate events. It was after nine and on weekends when some of the customers became a little looser with their tongues and hands.

While their actions bothered Judi, she also knew she’d been them not even a year ago. When she’d drank, she let go of anything holding her back and enjoyed the feeling of not having to think of anything other than the buzz in her head and the urge to giggle over everything, even men touching her bottom when she didn’t want them to. She wasn’t drinking anymore, though, so now she was more uncomfortable with men who thought that by delivering their order they were entitled to a tip of their own.

Two hours later, though, that’s exactly what one of the customers was doing and it wasn’t even the night shift.

Judi pushed the man’s hand off her shoulder. “I’m here for your order, sir, not your unwanted attention.”

“Come on, sweetie.” The man grinned, revealing teeth brown from years of smoking. “I’m just being polite. Letting you know how pretty you look today.”

Judi guessed his age to be anywhere from 50 to 70 with the way wrinkles had cut into his skin and the tuft of graying hair on his head. All she knew was that he was old. She took a step back as the smell of stale cigarettes wafted toward her. “You’re welcome to let me know with your words, not your actions. Now, what can I get you to drink today?”

“Sounds like someone isn’t appreciative of compliments,” the man said, his smile slipping into a sneer. He tossed the menu onto the table while the man across from him smirked. “Bring me a whiskey sour.”

Judi took a deep breath and turned back toward the bar area, hoping when she returned to get the orders for their food the man had calmed down. Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of Ben walking slowly behind his father and three other men toward a table in Hannah’s area.

Better her than me, she thought picking up an order for another table. She’d had her fill of Ben Oliver in the last couple of weeks.

She delivered the meals to the table to her right and a drink to a man sitting alone in the corner. When she returned to the kitchen, Hannah cornered her with a mischievous smile.

“There’s a group of lawyers in my section babbling about lawyer stuff. Pretty boring. All of them are old except that one guy.” She winked. “He’s pretty cute. He isn’t your lawyer, is he?”

Judi rolled her eyes. “I don’t have a lawyer, Hannah, but, yes, one of them is the guy who swerved to miss my car, if that’s what you mean.”

Hannah’s eyes widened. “Really? I was joking. Which one?” She peered through the door as it swung open. “Oh! Of course! The one with the cast on his ankle and the bruise on his cheek? No way. Judi. You should have told me how good looking he is.”

Judi accepted the loaded tray she was handed. “What I did tell you was what a jerk he can be. He cheated on a friend of our family’s years ago when they were in high school, and he yelled at me at the accident scene.”

Hannah scoffed. “That’s high school. People mature. Plus, you did total his BMW. I would have yelled too.”

Judi rolled her eyes. “All I know is that I’m not interested in him in that way or any way.” She nodded toward the chef standing behind Hannah. “Enough talking. James is waving at you. I think your orders are ready.”

After another food delivery she retrieved a whiskey sour and a Black Russian for the table with the elderly flirt, ready to take his order. He gave it without the flirting he’d offered with his whiskey order, and her shoulders relaxed. Maybe her day was looking up after all. Once she reached the kitchen, she rubbed the muscle between her shoulder and neck and felt a twinge there, realizing how tense she’d been all afternoon, waiting for something bad to happen.

She refilled a drink, took two more orders, and delivered to two more tables before she returned to the man’s table to ask if he needed a refill.

“I’d take a refill of you, sweet thing,” the man responded sliding a hand against her lower back. She shifted away from him. “Oh, come on, young lady. Let an old man feel some soft skin for once.”

The muscle tension returned, but this time spreading from her shoulder, down her back and across her chest. Her heart rate increased, and her legs weakened.

 “Don’t touch me.” Her sharp voice shattered the noise of the dining room, silencing it for a few seconds as heads turned and eyebrows raised.

“Whoa. Whoa.” The man laughed and held his hands up in front of him. “Calm down, hon’. There’s no reason to get all riled up.”

Judi kept her eyes on the floor and took a step back. “I’ll get your bill, sir and then you can leave.”

The man’s laughing stopped. “I’ll leave when I want to, and I don’t want to leave. I’m not done with my drink.”

“Yes, you are.”

The voice behind Judi brought her gaze up to see Ben standing next to the man’s chair.

“Who are you? The police?” the man asked as the other man with him started to laugh.

“No, I’m her attorney,” Ben responded.

“But I’m the police,” another male voice said. “And the young woman asked you to stop talking to her.”

Judi didn’t recognize the man behind Ben and wasn’t sure if he was actually a police officer or not, but his presence was certainly intimidating. With dark hair and eyes and broad shoulders, he towered above her and Ben and the men sitting at the table.

“Fine.” The man tossed a handful of dollar bills on the table as he stood. “The food here sucks anyhow.”

Judi’s legs were at a full tremble now and that infuriated her. What was wrong with her? She’d handled these types of guys before. Why was this one setting her off so badly? The chatter in the restaurant continued again, signaling the show was over.

“You okay?”

Her gaze met Ben’s and she saw the concern there, but she didn’t want it. She was fine. This was something she dealt with all the time, and she didn’t need someone to protect her. Still, Ben had been kind enough to stand up for her when others hadn’t, including her boss and co-workers, though, in fairness, she didn’t think any of them had heard what was happening until the voices grew louder.

“Yeah,” she mumbled. “I’m fine. Thank you.”

She wished she could be kinder in her response, truly express how grateful she was but instead her stomach twisted inside her and her legs threatened to give way. She needed to get out of there and fast, find somewhere to sit down and maybe even throw up.

***

Ben placed his hand under Judi’s elbow. She looked like she needed steadying. “Why don’t I walk you out for some fresh air?”

Judi shook her head briefly. “No, really.” She pulled her gaze from his, rifling in the pocket of her apron. “I’m okay. This isn’t anything new.” She straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath. “Thank you both for your help. I really do appreciate it.”

Ben watched her walk toward the kitchen where the owner, Lonny, was now standing outside the door. He said something to her, brow furrowed, and then she walked away from him toward the restrooms.  

Ben followed Scott Leonard back to their table. Scott was a probation officer that worked in the courthouse with his dad and he was glad he’d been there. Ben was sure he wouldn’t have been able to convince that guy to back off Judi without Scott standing behind him.

“Maybe lunch here was a bad idea,” Lance Morrison, one of his dad’s assistant district attorneys said.

“I’ve never seen anything like that happen here before,” Maxwell said rubbing his chin and glancing toward the table where the man had been sitting. “I know we’ve had to prosecute a couple of cases from fist fights from here over the years, but they usually happened at night.”

Carl Roberts, Maxwell’s other assistant, sitting across from Ben, sipped from his water. “If I had known this place attracted customers like that, I wouldn’t have picked it for lunch.”

“Sadly, those type of customers can be anywhere these days,” Ben said. “Especially if alcohol is involved.”

Maxwell had asked Ben if he’d be comfortable at a bar and grill when he had invited him for lunch.

“I let the guys rotate choosing a place for lunch on Wednesdays,” Maxwell had said that morning. “Carl chose Lonny’s, but I didn’t know that when I invited you. Is it going to be hard to be at —

“Dad, I can be at a bar,” Ben had said. “I’m good. Really. I’m past the withdrawal struggles. It’s not like it was in the beginning.”

He had to admit, though, seeing that man inebriated had triggered some uncomfortable memories for him.

“It was nice what you did for Judi,” Maxwell said, patting his son on the shoulder and bringing him back to the present. He looked at Scott. “Thanks to you too, Scott. Glad you guys were here.”

“I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t been here,” Scott said. “Do you think anyone else would have stepped up?”

Ben shrugged. “Probably. Eventually. I’ve heard Lonny’s a pretty good guy, actually.”

Maxwell turned in his chair toward Ben. “Still, it’s too bad Judi has to work here. It might be better for her to be someone else while she gets back on her feet. Somewhere like a quiet law office in Burkett.”

“Dad —”

Maxwell held his hand up. “I’m just saying. It’s a thought.”

Scott chuckled and patted Ben on the back. “Ah, Dads. Aren’t they great?”

“Yeah,” Ben said. “They can be. At times.”

His dad was right, though. It would be nice to give Judi somewhere other than Lonny’s to work at, even if he was only able to get her off a few shifts during the week. Here he’d been worrying about trying to train her and he didn’t even know if she’d be interested. A small, boring law office really wasn’t her speed compared to the life he heard she’d been living in the city. Then again, she was back home and attending AA meetings for a reason. Maybe slower was what she wanted, or at least what she needed, right now.

When they finished their lunch, he asked his dad to wait for him in the parking lot and then looked for Judi, hoping to at have a chance to mention the job to her. Maybe if she knew she had a chance to work somewhere else it would make the rest of her shift seem less like a prison sentence.

“In the back,” the girl behind the register told him, jerking her head toward the back door. “She’s on a break.”

Ben walked through the restaurant to the back door and found Judi leaning against a tree on the other side of the employee parking lot, her arms hugged around her. The waitress who had waited on his table was standing next to her, smoking a cigarette. He tried to remember the other waitresses name, but drew a blank. 

 Judi looked up as he approached and straightened her shoulders. Her usual confident manner had faded into the background and she was definitely more subdued than normal. He waited for a witty comment or a snarky verbal jab, but none came.

“Hey,” she said. “You need something?”

“Just wanted to double check you were okay,” he answered, knowing he was only giving her half an answer.

She shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah. I’m pretty used to that stuff. They usually back off when I tell them to. I guess this guy just didn’t want to take no for an answer.”

Ben glanced at the other waitress. He wasn’t sure he wanted to ask Judi about working for him with her standing there, but he also didn’t know how to tactfully ask her to leave.

Maybe he could hint. “I actually had something I wanted to discuss with you. Maybe I can give you a call later.”

The eyes of the other waitress widened, and he could only imagine what she was thinking after he’d said he had a question for Judi. Now he seemed to be asking for her number.

 The rumors would be flying within the hour.  

“Now is okay.” Judi gestured to her co-worker. “This is Hannah. She’s a friend.”

Hannah winked at him. “Yeah. I’m a friend.” She placed a hand on her hip, the other one still holding the cigarette. “Don’t worry. I’m really good at being discreet.” She took a puff of the cigarette, blew a long plume of smoke out the side of her mouth, and looked at him through heavy eyelids. “Oh, yes. I can be very discreet. About whatever you need me to be discreet about.”

Ben pulled his gaze from Hannah’s and cleared his throat. “Ah, thanks for letting me know. I’ll keep that in mind.”

He noticed Judi shoot Hannah a glare. “Didn’t you come out here before me, Hannah? I think your break is over.”

Hannah sighed and dropped the cigarette on the ground, grinding it in with the tip of her sneaker. “Fine. You get to have all the fun, Judi.” She smiled and winked again. “At least this one isn’t old and a pervert.” Her gaze traveled down Ben and back up to his face. “Or at least he isn’t old. I don’t know about the other part . . . yet.”

“Hannah!” Judi pointed toward the restaurant’s back door while trying to swallow a laugh. “Go back to work.”

She rolled her eyes as Hannah walked back toward the restaurant. “Sorry about her. She’s a little crazy.” She flipped a strand of pale blond hair over shoulder. “And a hopeless flirt.”

Ben laughed softly. “Yeah, I can tell.” He slid his hands in the front pockets of his khakis. “So anyhow, I have this temporary position at my office. I’m wondering if you’d be interested in it. It would only part time and until my secretary gets back but maybe you could take a few less shifts here in the meantime.”

Judi’s expression was difficult to read, but he thought he recognized a hint of amusement. “Wait a minute. You want me, the woman who you say totaled your BMW to come work for you?”

A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Yes. On a temporary basis. If you can promise me that you won’t total my BMW again when I get it back.”

Judi folded her arms across her chest and studied him for a few minutes. “You know I don’t know anything about attorney stuff, right?”

Oh, this was such a bad idea. Curse his father for passing on a desire to help others to him.

“Yes, I guessed that, but the job is fairly simple. It’s some filing and answering phones and if you are able, there might also be some note taking and letter writing involved.”

Judi quirked an eyebrow. “You should probably know that I flunked out of college. I’ve only ever worked in retail.”

Ben laughed softly. “One thing you do seem to be good at is sabotaging opportunities in your life.”

Judi pushed a hand back through her hair and let the strands fall down her back. “Actually, yes, I am an expert at that.”

Ben pulled his wallet out and slid a business card from a inside pocket, handing it to her. “My secretary’s husband is undergoing cancer treatments and she needed some time off. I’m a one-man show right now and I could use some help. Give me a call at that number if you’re interested in the job. Like I said, it won’t be permanent or full time, but it could give you a little breather from this place.”

Judi took the card and slid it in the back pocket of her jeans. “Okay. I’ll think about it. Thanks.” They both started toward the restaurant, falling in step with each other. “Your bruises are fading. How’s the brain damage?”

Ben scowled at her out of the corner of his eye. “Brain damage? It was a concussion and it’s getting better but I’m still having a lot of issues. Thanks for asking.”

Judi bit her lower lip as they reached the back door. “Listen, I know I’ve never really apologized, but I really didn’t see you when I pulled out.”

He opened the door for her. “Apology accepted but if you want to make it up to me, you can come help me out at the office and do your best not to make my job even harder.”

Judi smirked as she walked back into the restaurant. “Wow, with an offer like that how could I refuse?”

“So you’ll take it?”

She looked over her shoulder. “I’ll think about it, Mr. Oliver.” When he got to the car, Ben filled Maxwell in then leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes. He could only hope that if Judi came to work for him, it would help ease the headaches not make them worse.

Which genre are your favorite books in?

Have you ever had someone ask you what kind of genres of books you like and draw a blank? Well, I have many times so recently I did some research on the different genres to see what genres the books I read are in. I mean I know some of the genres I like but sometimes I don’t know what genre a book falls under.

I don’t really pay attention to a genre when I pick up a book and read what it is about. If I like the sound of the book, I read it. I do know that I read a lot of inspirational fiction and mystery but I couldn’t figure out what genre some of the other books are in.

I now know that I like cozy mysteries, Christian fiction, some women’s fiction, mystery/detective, thriller and suspense (although not all), contemporary fiction, romantic comedy, and some classics. I also like some historical fiction but not all.

The genres I don’t like as much as science fiction (so sorry dear husband), fantasy (so sorry dear husband, son and friends), non-fiction (with the exception of a few), memoir, and action and adventure (with a few exceptions).

A couple genres which I don’t hate but don’t exactly love, include historical romance and mainstream romance. This is because so many of these books are the same book written over and over.

Historical romance drives me nuts at times because it often oversimplifies and over glorifies times in history that were not simple or worthy of being glorified. It also drives me crazy when someone writes historical fiction in the style of the time period, as if they were in that time period, especially if it is a third person book. If the book was written in 2022 but the author is writing sentences like, “And she did walk upon the frosty morning grass with the air of a newly crowned queen….” I tune out pretty fast.

Genres I don’t like at all: horror, erotica, political, satire, political-satire (if you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of political writing in general), dystopian, paranormal, vampire, young adult, and magical realism.

Thanks to a few different sites, I can help you identity the book genres you like, including some examples of books listed in that genre.

I’m going to list only 10 of the popular genres, their description as I see it, and some of the books in them for the sake of time and space. Some articles online detail more than 30 different genres and then genres under the umbrellas of those genres. I know. Who knew books could be so complicated? I will list those blog posts and articles at the bottom of this blog post.

  1. Literary Fiction

These books are usually written with deeper prose, more description, and deep plot points. They usually focus on a personal or social issue to be addressed. In my opinion they are a bit over dramatic, but I still enjoy them. As is the case with many genres there are books in this genre which can fit into other genre categories or into a sub-category of this genre. There are also those in the fiction world who break this further into genres like classic literary fiction and contemporary literary fiction.

Some examples of general literary fiction that I know of include Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, anything by Charles Martin (who is also listed in Christian/Religious fiction), Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and anything by Margaret Atwood.

I consider classic literary fiction a different category altogether.

Other literary fiction authors and books:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/literary-fiction

2. Romance (including romantic comedy)

I don’t think I really have to explain the romance genre. Most romance goes like this: boy and girl meet, boy and girl hate each other then later they love each other, then they have a misunderstanding and fall away from each other and then something happens to bring them back together and they have a happily ever after ending.

Many romances end with a wedding. There are, of course, romances which are clean and romances which are not-so-clean. There are also sub-genres of romance, such as sweet or wholesome or erotica. There is also inspirational romance or Christian romance.

Example of romance books include anything by Becky Wade, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, Carolyn Brown, Sarah MacLean, Bethany Turner (clean romantic comedies), and Nicholas Sparks. This definitely is not an exhaustive list so….

For more romance authors:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/best-romance-authors/

For Christian/inspirational romance authors:

https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/list/share/74067937/1826651979

3. Women’s Fiction

Women’s fiction is not romance. This is fiction about women but it doesn’t usually involve a romance or if it does, the romance is secondary. To me, women’s fiction is often focused on deeper thoughts and situations that face the female protagonist, and during the book she works through those various issues.

Examples of women’s fiction authors that I found online include Kristin Hannah, Colleen Hoover, Mary Kay Andrews, Lisa Wingate, Karen White, Jodi Picoult, and Karen Kingsbury.

For more women’s fiction authors:

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/womens-fiction

4. Mystery/Detective/Crime/Thriller

Mystery is what it sounds like. They are books that include a mystery of some kind whether they are being investigated by a professional or not. The protagonist is the one investigating the mystery.

There are a couple other genres that I think are offshoots to this one – suspense and thrillers which usually have a mystery in them as well. And of course cozy mysteries, which I personally read a lot of.

Detective obviously means the protagonist is a detective of some kind, either a private one or with law enforcement.

There is old detective/crime/ mystery like Raymond Chadler, Earl Stanley Gardner, Donald Westlake, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the queen Agatha Christie. Then there is the new stuff like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, The Walt Longmire Mysteries, John Grisham, Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, C.J. Box, and Robert Gailbrith just to name a few.

Some sites list Stephen King in mystery and some put him in thriller. I consider him horror-thriller so I’ll list him below under horror too.

For cozy mysteries I have enjoyed Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series, the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross (these are super cozy with not even murder in them most of the tienand the Lady Hardcastle series. Cozy mysteries are often written as series. There is also the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton, which the show was based on. I am sure the beginning of the series is okay but the later books are absolutely awful. Maybe because they were trying to capitalize off the success of the show and pushed the elderly writer to try to write more. I don’t know but I’m glad I picked it up on clearance.

Here is a little more info on mystery authors:

https://becomeawritertoday.com/top-mystery-writers/

https://becomeawritertoday.com/crime-thriller-authors/

Here is a whole site about Cozy Mystery books and writers:

https://cozy-mystery.com/

5. Fantasy

Fantasy is another one of those broad genres that can include other genres (like dystopian fantasy or magical fantasy) but mainly it focuses on books about fantastical worlds with dragons and warlocks and wizards, etc. There are also often fantastical monarchies and other crazy creatures, as well as humans.

Fantasy authors include Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling (who also falls into child or young adult books), Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, C.S. Lewis (who is also a theological and children’s book author), and Katherine Arden. Again — a very short list in a hugely popular genre.

https://www.audible.com/blog/article-best-fantasy-authors-ever

6. Science Fiction

Most people think of Science Fiction as books or movies that are usually about other planets or stories which take place in space. The genre is much broader than that, however. According to the site, Famous Authors, “The world of sci-fi is a unique experience as, unlike other genres, it allows for an author to take their imagination to new limits and thus provide a surreal experience for their readers.”

Time travel books fall under this genre, in addition to books that take place in space. Some famous authors in this genre are H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Mary Shelly, Isaac Asimov. Modern writers of this genre include Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, Tamysn Muir, and Charles Stross. Personally, I’ve never heard of any of them.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/best-sci-fi-books

7. Classic

Classic literature is usually considered (or at least by me) books written more than 40 years ago. Articles online state that classic literature must be anything that has universal appeal, has “high artistic quality”, and stands the test of time. Which authors should be included in this category seems to create debates and controversy online.

When I think of classics I think first about the Victorian age authors like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, George Elliott, Edgar Allen Poe, L.M. Montgomery, and Leo Tolstoy, for example. Then I go on to Mark Twain, William Faulkner (good grief! His run-ons!), Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee (even though she only wrote one book), William Golding, and George Orwell.

Find a ton more classics here:

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2018/100-must-read-classic-books.html

8. Horror

Horror to me are stories of the macabre, the grotesque, plenty of violence and gore, but in the early days they were simply novels or stories which instilled fear in the reader.

Some classic horror writers include Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe (who can also go to the classic genre, as I mentioned), Mary Shelly, and Franz Kafka.

More modern horror writers include Stephen King (considered the king of the genre), Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), Jonathan Maberry, Mylo Carbia, and Clive Barker. Neil Gaiman is put into this category by some, but I always thought he was more fantasy. I guess I’ll have to ask The Husband his opinion this one since he is a huge Gaiman fan. (Update, he says he doesn’t consider his work horror. He considers it fantasy/science fiction. See?! Genres are so complicated! Another combined set of genres. Sigh)

For more horror authors click here:

https://booklaunch.io/bestsellers/best-horror-authors

Or

https://bookriot.com/best-horror-authors/

9. Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is what it sounds like. It’s fiction either based on a historical event,  person or time period.

Some Historical Fiction authors include Hilary Mantel, Graham Greene, Ken Follet, Philippa Gregory, Sarah Waters, Sarah Sundin, Lynn Austin, Bodie and Brock Thoene, Kate Alcott, and Bernard Cornwall.

Here are a couple of sites with some author Historical Fiction authors:

https://becomeawritertoday.com/best-historical-fiction-authors/

https://bookriot.com/best-historical-fiction-authors/

10. Christian Fiction

Christian Fiction is a genre in itself but under this genre are many of the other genres, even horror (I know..what?!).

Popular Christian Fiction authors include Karen Kingsbury (general and women’s fiction), Tessa Afshar (Biblical fiction), Becky Wade (romance), James L. Rubart (science fiction/supernatural), Frank Peretti (supernatural/horror), Ted Dekker (fantasy, suspense, thriller, youth, mind benders), Francine Rivers (romance, Biblical and women’s fiction), Terri Blackstock (suspense, mystery), Bethany Turner (romantic comedies), Robin W. Pearson (southern fiction), Jerry B. Jenkins (suspense, mystery and a variety of other genres), Lynn Austin (historical fiction), Sarah Sundin (historical fiction), Susan May Warren (suspense, romance), and Jan Karon (general/Southern fiction). There are soo many Christian Fiction authors.

Click here for a more thorough list (though, of course, not comprehensive):

https://bloggersforthekingdom.com/top-christian-fiction-writers-that-know-how-to-hook-you/

https://kristiwoods.net/10-not-to-miss-female-christian-fiction-authors/

And for a couple of posts about the many variety of genres and what books are in them:

https://booksummaryclub.com/genres-of-books/

https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/books/a29576863/types-of-book-genres/

So what genres of books are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Violet’s Vow Booktour

Book Title: Violet’s Vow

Author: Jenny Knipfer

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Description: A springtime novella of a secret love and a passionate vow

In the late 1890s, intuitive flower shop owner Violet Brooks opens up her heart and business to the Moore family but yet has vowed to get justice for her deceased husband, Roger, whom she believed had died as a result of bucking the Moore lumber company. 

Handsome lumber baron Devon Moore frequents Violet’s shop with his niece, Holly, who’s preparing for her upcoming wedding. Running the shop herself after her husband’s death a year prior exhausts Violet, so she hires Holly, surprising herself by hoping to have more chances for her path to cross with Devon’s.

In the meantime, a secret admirer leaves Violet messages in the language of flowers. Her heart blossoms to the sentiments within.

She’s torn between her growing attraction for Devon and her admirer, or are they one in the same?

Journalist Frankie Dermot, an old classmate and flame of Violet’s, comes back to town. Violet enlists his help in her search for the truth about Roger’s death. But when they uncover who’s really responsible for her husband’s  passing one year prior, Violet is shocked.

Will Violet shut herself off from newfound love, or will she allow her past vow to her deceased husband to dictate her future and keep her from the man who wins her heart?

Review

Jenny Knipfer has a way of melodically weaving a story through well written prose that takes you into the past, a world she easily strolls through in her latest historical novella Violet’s Vow.

The story of Violet takes the reader on an emotional journey as Violet navigates loss, anger, and love after the unexpected death of her husband, Roger. Violet knows how her husband died but throughout the book she feels she must find out why her husband died. Was it truly an accident, or was there something more sinister at play? No matter the reason behind his death, his loss has left Violet insecure and unsure of her future, which she thought would involve running the flower shop she and Roger owned together, into their old age.

When Violet begins to receive love notes I was pulled into the mystery of who has feelings for her and why they aren’t telling her in person. As I continued the journey with Violet, I also began to wonder which man in her life I wanted to have written the letters, since each one seemed to have something suspect about their past.

As in her other books, Jenny uses poetic language to create a story worth following to the end. There is heartbreak yet hope within the pages of each book she writes, and Violet’s Vow is no different.

About the Author

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and working a series of retold fairy tales.

Keep current with Jenny by visiting her website at https://jennyknipfer.com/ Ways to connect with Jenny via social media, newsletter, and various book sites can be found on her website, or visit the following links.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

May 1891

Fluffing out the head of the peach-colored carnation in her hand, an envy built in Violet for the simplicity of the clove-scented flower. But although the fragrance held sweetness, carnations were said to have sprung up from Mary’s tears along the path Jesus trod as He carried His cross. And thus, it was a divine flower, birthed in passion. 

Though far removed from what the Lord suffered, Violet knew a bit about spent passion and wondered if her hopes and dreams would end up buried with Roger. She brought the ruffled carnation petals to her nose, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. The spicy scent reminded her of the aftershave he had worn. 

Dear Rodger—her best friend, confidant, and husband. She conjured his rugged yet handsome face in her mind: wide-set, brown eyes, a heavy brow, and deep lines around his mouth, from too many days in the sun. How she missed him still. Though his passing had been over a year ago, in some ways, it seemed like yesterday. They had been such good companions, interested in the same things, but Violet hadn’t really considered them to be a love match. Theirs had been more a union of like minds, and oddly enough, their relationship had satisfied them both. 

The bell tinkled on the shop door, and Violet stood to attention, rolling her eyes open to see who had entered her domain—Fragrant Sentiments. She and Roger had worked so hard to establish the flower shop, providing most of the cut flowers from their three greenhouses and multiple gardens. It had been full-time work just growing the flowers, let alone selling them, until they had hired Webster, a young man unafraid of hard work and eager to learn more about gardening. The three of them had made a happy team. However, they were three no longer, and the workload, at times, overwhelmed her. Whether she could keep the business afloat without Roger remained to be seen. 

Violet keenly missed Roger’s presence in the shop. Oddly enough for a man, he’d had an eye for design and arrangements of a grander scale, while it was the everyday bouquets that spoke to Violet. Her heart lay in the little treasures to brighten the home. She held to the philosophy that flowers should be an everyday part of a household, as much as tea or coffee were. Her Aunt Dahlia had often said that flowers were the morning drink of the soul, and Violet agreed.

Violet positioned the carnation next to some lilacs in a white, porcelain urn which held a half-arranged bouquet of flowers, destined for the funeral of a young woman. Finally focusing on her clientele, Violet’s gaze brushed over the tailored cut of the man’s light gray suit and the fine, couture lines of the light blue, silk dress the young woman wore. A loose pompadour style encapsulated her dark hair, and her dark brown eyes glistened like dewy centers of a rudbeckia. 

The woman smiled, easy and sincere, showing straight teeth. “A good morning to you, ma’am. My, it smells so lovely in here.”

She turned her head left and right, taking in the shop displays and buckets of flowers.

Violet offered a slight curve of her lips in return. “Thank you.”

A tinge of envy nudged at Violet. She had lost that sense of identifying an overpowering, welcoming fragrance upon entering the flower shop some time ago, and she missed it. Her nose had gotten used to so many flowers in one space.

The young woman loosened the blue, velvet pouch dangling from her wrist and pulled out a calling card. “I’m Miss Holly Moore, and this is my uncle, Mr. Devon Moore.”

She flipped her wrist in the man’s direction. He smiled, sincere as well but with a hint of something else altogether. Sadness perhaps. Upon that intuition, Violet instinctively glimpsed his spirit as a purple hyacinth, holding regret and sorrow. She had a way about her, for matching flowers to people.

Inclining his head ever so slightly, he said, “Ma’am,” in an airy but not unmasculine voice. 

Reaching out to take the card, Violet said, “Why, good day. I’m Mrs. Violet Brooks. How may I be of service to you?”

Purchase Links

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Violets-Vow-Botanical-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B09V38Z3C6

Amazon Canada:

https://www.amazon.ca/Violets-Vow-Botanical-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B09V38Z3C6

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Violets-Vow-Botanical-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B09V38Z3C6

Amazon Australia:

https://www.amazon.com.au/Violets-Vow-Botanical-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B09V38Z3C6

Bookshop.org:

https://bookshop.org/books/violet-s-vow/9781737957515

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/violets-vow-jenny-knipfer/1141313049

Waterstones:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/violets-vow/jenny-knipfer/9781737957515

Sunday Bookends: Keeping it low, blooming flowers, quiet books

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’ve been reading, doing, watching, writing and listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

This week we had some difficult news about someone we knew so we laid pretty low and tried to focus on our mental health. I wandered my yard and took a lot of photos of our flowers, which I shared in a post earlier this week.

Last Sunday Little Miss and my dad planted some gladiolus bulbs around the garden.

Friday Little Miss learned how to ride her bike without her training wheels, and she spent almost all day yesterday riding it.

We really didn’t do much else this week because I preferred to hide away from people. Little Miss’ friends who were visiting from Texas left to go back this week and that left us both down. I’ll miss those little girls running up from their great-grandma’s to play with Little Miss every afternoon and them playing together until the light outside was almost too dark to see their hands in front of their faces.

Remember when I was complaining all winter about it being too cold out? Well for two days this week the temperatures were lower (in the 60s!) and I loved it! On Saturday it was spring weather and I was all for it. I loved curling up under the covers with a book and wearing my sweater. I’m not a fan of hot, sticky summer weather so if it is like that in July and August for us, I’m sure I’ll complain a time or two about it on here.

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I am reading quiet books for now.

I am reading The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham on the Kindle.

I am reading Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery in paperback.

I usually read a Kindle book at night when all the lights are off and a paperback during the day.

This week I will be reading Pepper’s book slowly for a book tour that isn’t until late July and Anne’s book slowly because I enjoy taking my time with it.

I am also hoping to start a mystery book of some sort this week or next but I am not sure which one yet.

Little Miss finally let me read Anne of Green Gables to her instead of The Long Winter from The Little House series at night this past week. It’s been a nice break (since this is our second time through the series), but I have discovered she doesn’t fall sleep as fast when I read Anne. Anne speaks very quickly and excitedly and because I do all the voices, Grace gets into the story even more than the other books.

“You speak very fast, and it wakes my brain all up,” she told me Friday night.

I read The Long Winter after that, and she dropped off to sleep in five minutes. Anne might have to be a book we read during the day if this continues.

What I’m Watching

The Husband and I started Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Friday night. It is based on an Agatha Christie book and is a mini-series. We are enjoying it so far. We have two more parts to finish.

My husband either had to work or go to play practice every night during the week so we didn’t watch much else together. I actually didn’t watch much alone either. I had a hard time focusing on anything for very long.

I did rewatch some of As Time Goes By, which is a British sitcom I’ve watched a few times now.


What I’m Writing

I wrote some blog posts to distract myself this week and also worked a little on Mercy’s Shore.

What I’m Listening To

I listened to some Jack White music this week. I needed something different than what I had been listening to. Jack White is a bit too weird for me sometimes, but I love his guitar work. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend listening to him all the time but when you feel a little pissed off at the world (for lack of a better way to explain it right now) it scratches an itch.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to, or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Fiction Friday: Mercy’s Shore (The Shores of Mercy) Chapter 7

This is a continuing/serial story. I share a chapter a week and at the end of the story, and after I edit and rewrite, I self-publish it. To catch up with the story click HERE. To read the rest of the books in this series click HERE.

Chapter 7

Ben flipped through the appointment book, grimacing as the paper sliced across his finger. He stuck the finger in his mouth, tasting blood.

“Yes, we have a meeting at 3:45, Mrs. Anderson. You were right. Glad you called to confirm.”

Since I just set up an appointment with Arthur Jenkins at the same time and now have to call back and reschedule.

“Oh, good and what paperwork did I need again?” the elderly woman on the other end of the phone asked.

Ben slid a pen behind his ear and reached for his now cold cup of coffee on the end of his desk. “Just the deed and any mineral rights paperwork you have.”

Mrs. Anderson thanked him, and they said goodbye just as the phone rang again and he switched lines to answer it.

“Staying busy at work, kid?”

“Dad, hey. Yeah. Very busy.”

“Not so easy without a secretary, is it?”

Ben sighed into the phone and sipped the coffee, wincing at the bitter flavor and the coldness of it. “No, but I’m managing.”

“You did the right thing, though. I know it meant so much to Cindy having these two weeks off before Bill‘s treatments start.” Ben heard the creak of the chair at his dad’s office at the courthouse. “Have you given any more thought to call Judi Lambert in on a temporary basis?”

Ben rubbed his hand across his face. “No, I haven’t honestly.” Pain throbbed through his head, and he squeezed his eyes shut. “Right now, I’m just trying not to overbook.” But failing at it. “It would help if this concussion would heal. I didn’t even think I hit my head that hard.”

“It doesn’t take much to rattle your brain in there,” Maxwell said. “I’ve got someone here who wants to talk to me, so I’ll be there around 6 to pick you up. That work for you?”

“Dad, yeah, but I’m going to have to do things on my own at some point. I can walk to my apartment.”

“I know and I agree but your mom is worried about you. She wants to keep an eye on you, and I think she might be right this time. Still having dizzy spells?”

Ben propped his elbow on his desk and leaned his cheek against his hand, wishing he hadn’t had that dizzy spell in front of his parents and sister the other night at dinner.

“Minor ones here and there, but they’re better. I know I can’t drive yet but I can —”

“Pass out in your apartment and not be able to call for help, so I’ll see you around 6. I’ll also keep asking around to see if we can find someone to help you out until Cindy gets back.”

Ben thanked his dad and hung up, leaning back in his chair, and thinking how, yet again, his dad was taking care of him, cleaning up his mistakes. He spun the chair toward his computer and grabbed the side of the desk as the room kept spinning.

The dizzy spells were getting better, but there were still times they threw him off balance. Occasional blurry vision was still plaguing him too, almost a month after the accident. His foot was healing but definitely still broken based on the pain that shot through it when he tried to walk on it without the protective boot. He had backed off the narcotic painkiller, though, worried he could become addicted to it as easily as he had alcohol.

The one good thing was that Judi’s insurance company was covering the repairs on the BMW and he should have it back in another couple of weeks.

He had three clients coming in later in the day and hadn’t yet found their files. Cindy had filed them perfectly; it was his fault they were missing. He’d placed them somewhere in the office, maybe a drawer in his desk? Or maybe his briefcase. Opening the case, the photograph he’d tucked there fell out and he glanced at the floor, at the bright blue eyes staring back at him.

Those eyes took him back to the night he learned of her existence and that she was growing fast in her mother’s womb.

“It wasn’t like I was the only one involved in this, Ben. You get that right?”

He’d poured himself a half a glass of bourbon and sat on the couch. “Yeah, I get that, Angie. I know how it works. I’m just saying I thought you were on birth control.”

Angie had been standing across from him, wavy dirty-blond curls draped across her shoulders and back, one hand resting on her slender hip, the other pressed against her forehead.

“I missed a couple of days, okay?” She’d tossed her hands out to her side in frustration. “I didn’t know I could get pregnant from just missing a couple of days. I tried to catch up, but I guess things got thrown off or something.”

He’d downed the alcohol and slammed the glass on the coffee table, cracking the glass. “We can’t afford a kid, Ange. I’ve still got classes to finish and the bar to finish studying for. I told you I didn’t want to get married right now and you think I’d want a kid?”

“No, I didn’t think you’d want a kid, but it’s happened, and we have to figure out what we’re going to do.”

He’d scoffed. “No. I don’t have to figure out what to do.” He’d pointed at her aggressively as he stood. “You have to figure out what to do. I don’t want to be a father and you’re definitely not qualified to be a mother.”

The memory of his words stabbed him in the center of his chest. He lifted the photo and noticed his hand was trembling.

Tasting bile at the back of his throat he jumped up, gagging on his way to the bathroom and vomiting the small breakfast he’d been able to manage that morning, his entire body trembling now, head pounding.

He’d been going to church more in the last year, praying for God to forgive him for his past words and actions. Maybe God had forgiven him, or would forgive him, but he knew he could never forgive himself for the things he had said and done that night and the days afterwards.

He knew Angie couldn’t offer him forgiveness either and he didn’t blame her or want her to. He didn’t deserve it. It was high time he stopped asking God for something he didn’t deserve, including a chance to get to know the daughter he’d told Angie she should kill so their lives wouldn’t, as he had put it back then, “be ruined.”

He heard the phone ringing and wiped his mouth and splashed his face with water before stumbling to answer it, grateful for the interruption to the memories.

“Oliver! Thought you were dead, man!”

Ben raked a hand through his hair and tried to gather his thoughts. “Mark, hey. Nope. Not yet anyhow.”

The lawyer on the other end of the phone laughed but Ben knew this wasn’t a wellness check. Not really.

“I thought you might be out longer based on what I heard in the grapevine. Totaled the BMW huh?”

“Yeah, but it looks like it can be fixed.”

“It’ll never be the same, though. You know that. Better off scrapping it and getting a new one.”

“We don’t all have the money you do, Mark.”

Mark scoffed. “Get yourself a couple of corporate clients and you will. I’ll hook you up sometime, but for now I’m sure you know why I’m calling.”

Ben stood and poured the rest of the coffee from his cup down the sink in the bathroom. “I do and I also know you won’t be very happy with my answer.”

“Oliver, now come on. It’s a fair offer.”

“It isn’t a fair offer for my client. Not at all. Mrs. Henderson is not entitled to more than half of what Mr. Henderson is worth, I don’t care what she thinks. She will accept what he has offered to her, or we will pull back our offer to let her have the house and property in full without her paying him for his half.”

“Ben, how hard did you hit your head in that accident? What your client is offering is completely out of line with standard practices and Mrs. Henderson is entitled to much more than what her husband is offering after the mental anguish he put her through.”

Ben’s jaw tightened. “With all due respect, Mark, she’s getting full custody of the kids in this matter. The fact she’s demanding even more money is making her look pretty greedy at this point.”

Mark laughed ruefully. “Don’t even give me that. They were married 25 years. He cheated on her. She has every right to demand more from him. And he is also being granted visitation rights. She’s never been against that.”

Ben leaned forward across the desk, tapping it with his finger as he talked, which might have been intimidating if Mark could see him. “Let’s be clear, she alleges he cheated on her. He denies that and there is no proof. She’s taking his children away from him. Isn’t that vengeance enough? No, Mark. I’m not going to let my client agree to these terms.”

Something thudded on Mark’s end of the phone and Ben wondered if he’d punched the desk. Or maybe a wall. “Then it looks like we’re going to be seeing you in court. I was hoping we could hammer this out amicably but apparently that’s not possible.”

“Apparently not. Thanks to your client.”

“See you in court, Oliver. Hope you’re ready to lose.”

“I won’t lose, Mark, but, yes, see you in court.”

Hanging up, Ben took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair, folding his hands behind his head. That had felt good.

He’d been worried the concussion had addled his brain to the point he wouldn’t be able to fight or his clients anymore, but that conversation had just shown him that it hadn’t. He might be horrible at personal relationships, but he was spot on when it came to being a lawyer.

Finding comfort in photography, or here is a bunch of photos I took to hide away from my problems.

Our family has had a rough week so I retreated to what helps me cope and that’s art in some form. This week I was so grateful that the flowers are still blooming around my house so I went out yesterday (despite warmer temps) to photograph those flowers before they are gone. I had to find a way to hold on to them because, sadly, I can’t scoop them up and put them in a bottle to take out and smell and feel and see whenever I am down throughout the year. Boy, do I wish I could!