Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Excerpt -BLESSING BENTLEY (Christian Contemporary Romance)

Today, I’m posting an excerpt from Chautona Havig’s Christian Contemporary Romance, Blessing Bentley, book 1 in the Marriages of Conviction series.

Here’s the back cover description:

Bentley Girard's about to propose... to a guy she doesn't even love.

Not THAT way anyway.

After studying everything the Bible has to say about marriage, she's decided she wants in. Now. So who's going to take her up on that offer?

And just why did no one reminded her that those vows include that little word, "love?"

I interviewed Chautona in a two part interview—part 1 is here and part 2 is coming next week. I’ll also post a special knitting pattern for a drawstring purse that Chautona’s heroine April uses in her novella, Adoring April, in the Save the Date anthology!


(Note from Chautona: I cut from the middle of the chapter, but you’ll get up to speed mid-excerpt)

Bentley pulled her purse from the bottom drawer of her desk. “I’ll do that. Thank you.” Throat constricting, tears welling, Bentley slung her purse strap over her shoulder. “I’m really going to miss you, Martin. You’ve been great to work for.”

One last glance back as she stepped from the office showed Martin seated at his desk, a mingled expression of relief and concern etched into his aging features. He’s older than he used to be. That thought prompted a snicker. Brilliant one, genius.

Still, the full weight of Martin’s words weighed her down further with each step. At Market Street, Bentley paused and turned toward The Diner. Almost lunchtime—might as well eat. Another thought churned her stomach into a riot of swirling emotions. And maybe call Shelli Callan and withdraw my offer. No job. No house.

At that thought, the first tear fell. Gasping for air through a throat swollen with emotion, Bentley wrestled with the enormity of her situation—wrestled and lost. I have to find a job—fast. Without one, it’s Rockland… blech. Or home to Cheyenne. Unless Brunswick… would that be a better commute? Going home—not an option. Leaving Fairbury—as much of not an option as it could reasonably be.

With cops walking a beat, people walking as much as driving, and the “Mayberry” feel of everyone knowing each other, the old-fashioned element of Fairbury held one more tradition of days gone by. Daily newspapers with classifieds. As of yet, the Fairbury Gazette hadn’t gone digital. If you wanted a job in Fairbury before it made it to the Rockland papers, you went to the Gazette.

So, when Bentley saw the paper machines outside The Diner, she popped in her quarters and snatched one up. Slim odds or not, she’d comb the want ads. It could happen—maybe.

Earlene—no one knew her last name as far as Bentley had heard—waved her toward a row of booths and promised to “be right there.” Once seated, she skimmed the menu, knowing she’d get the “Paddy Melt.” That corned beef melt was a diner diner’s favorite for good reason. With that decision made, she opened the paper and began skimming the classifieds. Only one listing had the potential to make enough to pay her rapidly disappearing chance at a mortgage.

Earlene called to her from behind the counter. “Hey, Bentley! Want the pepper jack burger like usual?”

The regulars at The Diner tittered as she called back, “The Paddy Melt… as usual!”

“Gotcha. One Paddy Melt and a… sweet tea?”

“Lemonade.” Why she bothered, Bentley didn’t know. Once Earlene had said sweet tea, that’s what she’d get unless she requested a correction. And I won’t.

A glance through the Houses for Sale section showed “her” house conspicuously absent. Shelli must have pulled it already. That’s all it took to decide. She’d have to look into the lone job opportunity. Still, Bentley skimmed the rest of the classifieds—kids offering babysitting and pet sitting services, not to mention the yardwork, and several yard sales over the weekend.

I should look for a washer. The realization that she might not need it anymore trampled that thought. Next week, maybe.

Eventually, Bentley returned to the ad. She circled it, knowing she’d never apply. Gainful employment is always good, but cocktail… server? Is that what they call them? Whatever, that’s not my idea of a viable career choice.

“Bentley, why are you circling want ads? You’ve got a great job!”

She jumped at her server’s strident tones piercing her ears. “I had a great job, Earlene. Martin is closing the office and moving to New Mexico.”

Earlene set the corned beef sandwich in front of Bentley and pulled a straw from her apron. “Well, you’ll find something better than the Mighty Aphrodite! Eat up!”

“Um, Earlene?”

“Yeah, hon?”

Bentley smiled into the eager face of her absent-minded server. “Mind if I get that lemonade to go with my straw?”

Across the diner, Chief Varney of the Fairbury Police smiled at her before taking a bite of his hamburger. Bentley returned it with a wink at Earlene.

“Oh, hon, you know me. I’m just trying to keep you on your toes!”

Minutes later, the chief paid his check and moved toward the diner’s door with one eye on her. If she had to name it, Bentley would have called it uncertainty, but that didn’t make sense. The only thing she could do was offer her best attempt at a smile. “Having a good day, Chief?”

“Well, from the sounds of it, I’m having a much better day than you.”

“I’d let myself feel sorrier for me than I do if it wasn’t for knowing Martin will feel better once he moves.”

The chief nodded absently. “Now, I know it’s none of my business, but I overheard Gary Novak mentioning that he needed to hire someone to do his scheduling. Seems he’s so busy that he’s overbooking himself, and it makes him look bad to his customers.”

Tingles worked their way from her fingers to her toes. That might be just the thing! Bentley folded up the newspaper and shoved it aside. “I’ll go out there this afternoon! Thanks, Chief.”

“I’d hire you for the station, but we don’t have the funds for it, so the guys and Judith just do it all. I’ll keep it in mind for the next budget meeting, though. Maybe if I have someone lined up, they’ll find a way to give me the funds.”

Excitement overflowed. “When is that meeting?”

“October. Don’t suppose you’ve got six months’ worth of income stashed like the books say…”

“Nope. I’ve managed to come up with three months plus my down payment on the house I wanted to buy.” Temptation to ignore prudence and use it presented itself, but she shot it down before it could force her to surrender. “I mean, I could use it, but I’m trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.” She gave him a wink. “I was hoping to be your neighbor.”

Chief Varney gave her one last encouraging look before he opened the door. “Keep your chin up, Bentley. Something will turn up. It usually does.”

She watched as he walked down the street, spoke to Martinez on foot patrol, and then disappeared in the direction of the police station. “Well, let’s hope it turns up sooner rather than later,” she muttered to herself.

Earlene showed up with the check and Bentley scanned it. “Um, Earlene?”

“Something wrong?”

“I’d like to get that lemonade or have it removed from my check, if you don’t mind.”

A minute later, a tall glass of sweet tea appeared with a new ticket—drink removed.


Camy here: Chautona is one of the twelve authors participating with me in the Christian Contemporary Romance anthology, Save the Date, which releases September 15! Preorder now to get 12 novellas for only 99 cents!

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