A New Beginning up on Kindle and Barnes&Noble today

I guess I hit a high level of boredom because I published A New Beginning on Amazon and Barnes&Noble this weekend.

If you’re not familiar with the story, I have put up the first two chapters on this page and there is also a link to all of the chapters (if you want to click to each one) HERE for another week.

This is the sequel to A Story To Tell, which you can also find on Kindle and B&N.

Here on the blog you can red my short story Quarantined or follow along with The Farmer’s Daughter, which I am updating each Friday, or Fully Alive, which I’m updating, well, whenever at this point (but usually on Thursdays).

Fiction Friday: A New Beginning Chapter 23

Welcome to Fiction Friday where I share part of a fiction story in progress. I shared Chapter 22 yesterday so be sure to check it out.

As always, you can catch the first part of Blanche’s story, A Story to Tell, on Kindle. You do not need to read A Story to Tell to follow on with A New Beginning.

Also, as always, this is a work in progress so there are bound to be words missing or other typos. To follow the story from the beginning, find the link HERE or at the top of the page.

Chapter 23

My mind was full of thoughts of Hank the next day as I washed the dishes, sweat beading my forehead and neck from the heat pulsating through the kitchen window. Looking up I watched Daddy and Judson working on the lawnmower, Judson’s forehead smeared with grease after he’d dragged his hand across it to wipe the sweat away. Judson’s presence at our house more than a couple of times a week to help Daddy with this or that project had become uncomfortable for me. I was grateful he had accepted Mama’s invite for dinner only once since we’d kissed.

I still couldn’t believe I had kissed him in the first place. I’d barely wrapped my mind around that fact before Hank showed up in town. Now I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around anything at all. I looked at the plate in my hands and realized it was the third time I had washed it.


I jumped at the sound of Judson’s voice and turned to see him standing in the doorway, wiping sweat off his brow, the top two buttons of his shirt unbuttoned, a smile tilting his mouth upwards.

“Let me get you some water,” I said, quickly turning away from him.

Blast him. Even covered in sweat and grease he was good looking.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll take that offer, but I actually came in to let you know I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks.”

I filled the glass as he spoke.

“I’m heading down to North Carolina to be with my parents while Dad has heart surgery. Not sure how long it will take. My little brother is at college and can’t come help out so I offered to be there.”

He sat on a chair at the table as I set the glass of water next to him, then turned to fill another one for me.

“Whose gonna go fishing with me?”

Jackson was standing in the doorway, lower lip trembling.

“Hey, buddy,” Judson said, leaning forward, arms propped on his knees. “You’ve got your grandpa to go fishing with. You’ll be okay until I get back.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t make voices for the fish like you do.”

Judson grinned, laughing softly. “Well, you’ll have to make the voices for them until I get back, okay?”

Jackson bit his lower lip, his hands deep in his pants pockets. He sniffed. “What if you don’t come back?”

I held my breath. Judson kneeled down in front of Jackson, one knee on the ground, the other propped up and his arm across it. “I’ll be back, kid. In a couple of weeks. I promise. I’m just going to check in on my family. Okay?”

Jackson nodded, still looking at the ground, tears in his eyes.

“Listen, you take care of your mama while I’m gone and when I come back we’ll go fishing and for a hike and maybe even ride Mr. Worley’s old tractor together.”

Jackson nodded, looking at the floor, bending his foot back and forth, like I always did when I was nervous. “Yeah. Okay.”

He wrung his hands in front of him for a few moments, his lower lip trembling.

“I don’t have a daddy you know,” he blurted suddenly.

My chest tightened. I had no idea where this conversation was going and I almost stepped forward to take Jackson’s hand to end it as quickly as possible. Something held me in place, though. I sat staring at the exchange. It was like a car accident I couldn’t look away from. I gulped a mouthful of water to distract myself from the nerves buzzing in my stomach.

Judson nodded as he stood, rubbing his hand along the side and back of his neck, wincing slightly.

“Yeah, buddy, I know.”

“Maybe you can be my daddy.”

I almost choked on the water I was drinking.

Judson cleared his throat and looked at the floor. He looked up at me briefly as I tried to force the water back down my throat. He looked back down at Jackson again, putting a hand on my son’s shoulder. “You know what, kid? I’m your buddy and I’m here for you whenever you need me, okay?”

“Okay,” Jackson said with a shrug. “Want to go throw the ball out front? You can use Grandpa’s glove.”

Judson grinned and ruffled Jackson’s hair. “You bet, buddy. I’m not leaving for a few more days, so I’ve got plenty of time for that. Let’s go.”

Judson looked at me, raising his eyebrows and letting out a breath. I could tell the conversation had made him as uneasy as it had me.

I felt like I’d been holding my breath the entire exchange, except for the moment I’d almost choked on the water. As the door closed behind Judson and Jackson. I sat in a kitchen chair, clasping a hand against my forehead.

“This single mom thing is not for the faint of heart,” I mumbled to myself.

I felt the same a week later when Judson stopped by to say goodbye to Jackson, reaching down to hug him close. Jackson pulled away with tears in his eyes.

“You gonna come back, right?”

Judson places his hands on Jackson’s shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Yes, buddy. I am coming back. I promise you.”

My chest constricted with worry as I watched my son hug Judson tightly, knowing that my fears of him becoming too attached to someone who might not stick around were coming true. When Judson pulled away from Jackson he stood to face me.

He leaned over to hug me and I let him but something inside me held me back from leaning completely into him. My muscles tightened and I pulled back, ending the embrace abruptly.

“I hope it all goes well,” I said stiffly, folding my arms across my chest and feeling awkward, knowing I was tossing up walls because I didn’t want to admit I felt like I might crumble into a pile of confused emotions at any moment .

I couldn’t deny the look of disappointment on Judson’s face as he stepped back and nodded.

“I will,” he said, then smiled slightly. “If I write you, will you write back?”

I folded my arms across my chest, trying to smile. “Of course.”

He nodded, eyes on the floor, as he slid his hands into his pockets. “Or, I guess I could call too.”

“Yes, I guess you could,” I said, looking at the floor.

Why won’t he just go away? I thought to myself.

I needed him to leave so I could figure out how to feel about what I’d done, about him, about everything related to us. I didn’t know how to interpret the quickening of my pulse as he had hugged me, the aching feeling inside me urging me to dart upstairs to my room and cry.

He pulled his cowboy hat down on his head. “Okay. Well, I’ll see you soon.” His footsteps faded across the porch and into the grass.

I pushed the door closed against the sound of his truck engine and stood with my hand still pressed against it as Jackson ran out the back door to swing on the tire swing. I leaned my forehead against the smooth wood, closed my eyes and let out a long breath.

“Did you tell him Hank had been in town?” Mama’s voice behind me startled me out of my thoughts.

I turned and sighed, leaning back against the door, my hands behind me.

“No. Why should I?”

“I just thought he’d like to know. I mean you two are . . . well, friends at least, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Mama, but he doesn’t need to know anything about it. I’m fine. Hank is gone and I don’t see him coming back.”

I was grateful when the phone rang a few moments later and snatched it off the receiver to avoid continuing the conversation with Mama.

“What is going on with you and Thomas?”

I groaned inwardly. This conversation with Emmy wasn’t going to be any easier.

“Nothing is going on with Thomas and me,” I said with a heavy sigh.

“You two were in a dark room together . . .”

“Because I was hiding from Hank.”

“With Thomas?”

“Oh, good grief. He was just standing outside the hardware store when I saw Hank and I didn’t want us to be standing there when Hank came out. And I may have punched Thomas thinking it was Hank.”

“You punched him? In the face?” Emmy burst into laughter. “I thought his cheek looked swollen but I didn’t want to ask. So, what about Judson?”

“What about him?”

Emmy sighed. “Blanche, I know something happened between you two at the lake two weeks ago and you keep changing the topic when I try to bring it up.”

I pressed my hand against my forehead and looked back toward where Mama had been standing before. I couldn’t see her and hoped she wasn’t anywhere she could hear me.

“I kissed Judson.”

I thought my best friend was going to have a stroke. “You what?!”

“I kissed him and I shouldn’t have and I don’t want to talk about it.”

“We have to talk about it! How do you feel? Did you like it? Do you like him? What did he say? What did he do?”


“What? I need to know.”

“The kiss was nice. That’s all I’ll say.”

Emmy squealed on the other end of the phone and I cringed, uninterested in acting like a school girl over something causing me such internal conflict.

“I knew it! I knew you two would hit it off and you more than hit it off!”

“Emmy, I’m not ready for anything like that …. I — ” The tears forming in my eyes surprised me. “I’m afraid, Emmy.”

“Afraid of being hurt or how you felt?”

“Both,” I admitted.

“I know I can’t promise that you won’t get hurt, Blanche, but Judson is a good man. I’m not only saying this because he’s my cousin. He’s a good man and I know . . .”

Her voice trailed off and she sighed. “I guess I should say I think he truly has feelings for you. He worries about you and I’ve seen the way he looks at you in church.”

“In church?”

Good grief. Was church the new place to check out the opposite sex?

“Yes. In church. I’m sorry. I noticed. He watches you and I can tell he wants to talk to you but . . . I don’t know. I think he’s trying to give you your space.”

I leaned back against the wall in the kitchen and slid to the floor, hugging my knees against me. “I don’t know, Emmy. It’s just all very confusing.”

“Have you tried praying about it?”

“About how I feel about Judson? That just feels – weird.”

Emmy laughed. “Blanche, God cares about every part of our lives, even the romantic parts. I think this is one of the biggest issues you should be taking to him.”

“What do I even say, ‘Lord, please help me to not have feelings for this man?”

“Do you have feelings for him?”

I let out an exasperated sigh. “Emmy, I’m just saying that I don’t know how to talk to God about this.”

“Well, how do you talk to God about anything else? Just talk to him the same way about this you would any other issue you bring before him.”

I knew Emmy was right. So why was it so hard for me to just do it?

Fiction Friday: A New Beginning Chapter 14

Here we are to Fiction Friday already. I doubled up again on chapters this week (so Chapter 13 was posted yesterday) but will be back to one a week next week as I work out some kinks in upcoming chapters. I already know most of my ending and some in between but there remains a large gap in the middle to finish writing. It isn’t so much that I don’t know what I want to do in the middle but in what order I want to do it. I’ll be hammering that out in the coming weeks.

As always, you can find the other links to this novel in progress at the top of the page under “A New Beginning” or at THIS LINK.

Also as always, there will be typos in this story or other errors because I still have a second draft, rewrite and editing process to go through. I simply share the chapters here for fun and to interact with other writers/readers/bloggers.

The first part of Blanche’s story can also be found on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited.

Chapter 14

I winced at the bitter taste of the coffee from the styrofoam cup Judson handed me. Emmy’s parents were dozing in chairs in Emmy’s room, Daddy and Jimmy had gone home to rest and update Mama and Edith. Judson and I were sitting in the surgical waiting room, waiting for news about Sam, who was in surgery to remove a bullet that had lodged near his spine when he was shot. Sam’s parents were on their way to the hospital from their home in Maryland.

I closed my eyes briefly and tried to forget about the exhausted sobs Emmy choked out when her mom told her about Sam.

She’d clung to me, sobbing against my shoulder as I promised to wait for the doctor to come out of surgery.

“Oh, Blanche,” she whimpered. “I can’t lose him. I love him so much.

She’d eventually fallen into a fitful sleep while the nurses and her parents cared for Faith. I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around the events of the day. I ached to be home with Jackson, holding him close, but knew Emmy and Sam needed me.

I pressed my fingers against my eyes and tipped my head back against the hard back of the hospital chair.

“You okay?” Judson asked.

I nodded, but kept my eyes closed. “Long day. That’s all.”

“Emmy said you were amazing delivering the baby.”

“I just did what I had to do.”

“Blanche, without you, Faith might not be alive.”

I opened my eyes to look at Judson.

“I really didn’t think she was going to,” I admitted, my voice cracking. “It was a miracle.”

“Yeah, it truly was,” Judson said softly.

He leaned back on the couch, laying one arm across the back. He laughed softly as he looked down into his cup of coffee.

“It’s so crazy to think of little Emmy being a mom,” he said. “I keep thinking of her with her pigtails and dirty bare feet, running along the beach on vacation. One time she tripped and fell straight on her face and came up with a mouthful of sand. It was pretty hilarious. I was such a jerk back then. I didn’t even help her up. Just stood there laughing and pointing until my sides hurt. I was probably 12. She must have been …” he though a moment. “Nine I guess.” He shook his head. “Now here she is, all grown up, a wife and mom. Crazy. And here I am feeling like the immature kid who never grew up.”

Silence settled over us until all I could hear was the sound of nurses walking in the hallway and the beep of machines in the rooms of patients.

The enormity of the birth, the blown tire, Sam being shot – it suddenly all hit me at once and I closed my eyes again and turned my face away from Judson, swallowing the emotion.

“It’s okay to cry,” Judson said.

I shook my head and kept my eyes closed.

“No, it’s not.” I bit my lip, my face still turned away from his. “Because if I start, I don’t know if I’ll stop.”

Judson sighed heavily.

“You don’t always have to be so tough, you know.”

I slipped into the familiar comfort of emotional numbness, the urge to cry fading . “I used to be soft. It didn’t work so well for me.”

Judson sipped from his coffee and held it between his hands as he propped his elbows on his knees. “So, you just don’t feel anymore?”

My jaw tightened and I opened my eyes, feeling suddenly annoyed, lifting my head to look at him. I folded my arms right across my chest.

“I feel. I just don’t broadcast to everyone how I feel.”


Judson raised his eyebrows, looking surprised but then smiled slightly as he stood, walking across to the sink on the other side of the room. He poured the rest of the coffee in the sink, tossed the cup into the trash can and turned toward me, leaning back against the sink and folding his arms across his chest.

“You’re an interesting one, Blanche,” he said. “I can’t seem to figure you out. You’re like a gentle lamb one moment and a prickly porcupine the next.”

I winked and managed a tired smile.

“And do you really want to figure me out? You might be drastically disappointed if you do.”

Judson grinned. “I don’t think I’d ever be disappointed learning more about you.”

Good grief, how did I walk into that one?  I mentally scolded myself for letting my guard down during a moment of exhaustion. I cleared my throat and stood, walking across the waiting room floor and looking out the window at the empty hospital parking lot lit by fluorescent street lamps four stories below me.

“So,” Judson said behind me. “Your dad was really worried about you today. You’re lucky to have him.”

A car turned into the parking lot and I watched it slide into a parking space. “I really am. It’s not lost on me.”

Judson sighed. “My dad only seemed to care about me when I was playing football and even then we only talked about drills and passes and strategy. When I told him I was quitting football, the look of disgust he gave me showed me I was nothing to him unless I was on a field with a ball in my hand.” He laughed softly as I turned to face him and sat in a chair across from him. “Apparently you’re my therapist now.”

I shrugged. “It’s okay. I get it. Daddy and I haven’t always have a great relationship either, to be honest. We were close until – well, puberty hit to put it delicately. I don’t think he knew what to do with a growing girl. He didn’t seem to understand I was still the same Blanche — just with a lot or rebellion and confusion in me. Our relationship definitely wasn’t any better after I ran away with Hank.”

Judson stretched his legs out in front of him. “What was all that about anyhow? I know I don’t know you real well, but you don’t seem like the type of girl to just take off with some man.”

I sipped the coffee again and grimaced at the bitterness. “I guess I was just tired of doing what everyone thought I would do and acting the way everyone thought I should. I thought Hank was my ticket to a life more exciting than the predictable one I was living at the time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the excitement I was expecting.”

I sat and my leaned my head back again, a wave of exhaustion over taking me. The magnitude of the day was beginning to hit me and I was struggling to keep my emotions in check. I didn’t want to talk about my ex-husband with Judson anymore. I wasn’t interested in sharing too much of my personal life, letting him too far in.

“Why don’t we pray?”

I turned my head and looked at Judson in surprise. “Um..yeah…that would be nice.”

He leaned forward and took my hands in his, bowing his head and closing his eyes. He laughed softly and looked up at me again. “I’m not great at this, so bare with me, okay?”

I smiled and closed my eyes as he closed his again.

“Father, we bring Sam before you. We ask for you to guide the hand of the surgeons, to bring comfort to Sam and to Emmy. Hold them both in your watch care tonight and bring them, and us, the peace that only you can give. Amen.”

“Amen,” I whispered.

I opened my eyes and my gaze met his. His face was much too close to mine, his hands much too warm around my fingers. I’d never had a man ask me to pray with, other than Daddy. Judson’s blue eyes were fixed on mine and he opened his mouth to speak at the same moment the door to the waiting room squeaked open.

“Are you here with Sam Lambert?”

I jerked my hands out of Judson’s grasp at the sound of the doctor’s voice.

Judson and I spoke at the same time. “Yes.”

“Are you family?”

“No,” I said. “His parents are on their way here.”

The doctor sighed and dragged his hand through his hair and across the back of his neck.  “I don’t usually release information to anyone but the family, but it’s been a long day and I’m heading home for some rest. For now I can say the surgery went well. We were able to remove the bullet. It was close to the spinal cord so we will need to wait and see what that will mean with his ability to walk. We’re hopeful there won’t be any issues at all, but we’ll know more in the next few days. He also has a few broken ribs and those should heal well on their own.”

I thanked the doctor and promised to update Sam’s parents when they arrived. Judson and I sat on the couch next to each other to wait, sitting in silence. Leaning my head back against the couch, sleep overtook me quickly, despite my attempt to fight it. As sounds faded in and out I dreamed Judson slid his arm around me and pulled me against him as I slept, my head on his shoulder. In the dream I felt his hand push a strand of hair off my forehead.

I woke to Judson standing, talking to Sam’s parents, sharing with them what the doctor had told us. Judson’s rolled up jacket was under my head and I had slumped over on the couch. I sat up and rubbed my eyes.

“Thank you both so much for waiting.” Sam’s mother Maryellen dabbed her red-rimmed eyes with a crumpled tissue. “You’re more than welcome to head home and get some rest. We plan to stay here until Sam wakes up.”

“Of course,” I said, standing. “Please know we’re all praying and will be by tomorrow to check on him and Emmy.”

“Thank you, Blanche. So good to see you again,” Sam’s father, Freddy, said, hugging me briefly.

Outside the waiting room, Judson and I pulled on our coats and hats. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride home,” he said through a yawn.

As we walked outside a soft glow was brightening the sky along the horizon.

I looked at the sunrise through bleary eyes, drew in a deep breath of the crisp morning air, and looked up at the mainly gray sky. “God, please be with Sam and Emmy and their baby girl.”

Snow crunched under our feet as we walked to Judson’s truck and he opened the passenger side door for me.

“Wow. What a day huh?”

I yawned. “Yes. A day and a night. It all seems like a dream in some ways. I think we may have to trade church for a nap today.”

Judson rubbed his eyes and turned the heat up before pulling out onto the road. My eyelids were heavy and I blinked to try to chase away the exhaustion.

We drove in silence for several miles, farms and fields passing by, scenery  slowly growing brighter as the sun rose over the hill.

“It was nice seeing you and Emmy at that movie yesterday,” he said suddenly.

A silence fell over us again as he drove. I stared out the windshield, thinking of my warm bed and anxious to hug my little boy.

He glanced at me quickly as he drove.

“Maybe sometime I could take you to a movie. Alone I mean.”

I tipped my head at him quizzically. “Excuse me? Weren’t you just out with another woman yesterday and now you’re asking me out?”

He grinned and glanced at me again, then turned his eyes back to the road.

“Well, yeah, but she’s just a friend. She asked me out. I didn’t ask her out. It’s not like we’re,” he made quotes with his fingers as he briefly lifted from the steering wheel.  “going steady or something. It’s not like I gave her my class ring.”

I sighed, knowing I was too tired for this conversation.

“Is that a no?” he asked.

“You didn’t exactly ask. You just said maybe you could sometime.”

“Well, that was meant as a hint.”

“I’m too tired for hints.”

Judson pulled onto our road, heading toward our house. Smoke rose from our chimney and I knew Mama was inside, cooking breakfast, getting ready to wake Daddy and Jackson so they’d have plenty of time to get ready for church.

“So, I’ll ask directly,” Judson said as he drove down the driveway. “Will you go with me to a movie some time?”

I yawned again as he braked in front of the house and clicked the truck into park. I opened the passenger door and slid out into the cold winter air, shivering as I pulled my hat over my ears.

“Get some rest, J.T.” I said with a wink as I held the door, ready to push it closed. “Thanks for staying with me and for the ride home.”

I smiled and closed the door, watching him through the window as a smile tilted his mouth upwards and he shook his head at me.

After kisses for Mama and Daddy and Jackson, I undressed and climbed into bed, pulling the covers around my shoulders, too tired to even think about Judson’s question.