A Fresh Start

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A Fresh Start

A Short Story by Author Pat Jeanne Davis

Vicky sat at the kitchen table. Since the break-up two years ago she’d tried hard to leave painful memories behind. She pulled her long, brown hair into a ponytail. She knew she was blessed to have a place with a back yard. And she’d dropped two dress sizes, placing her at the ideal weight for her frame. But still not as slim as the woman Bob left her for. Now she had no job and no husband. Just as she poured her first cup of coffee, the doorbell chimed.

A woman with gray hair and bright blue eyes stood on the step outside. “Hello. I’m Emily from across the road,” she said, smiling. “I hate to disturb you, but your dog’s barking in my back yard.”

“Sorry.” She grabbed Luke’s leash from a hook on the back of the door and extended her hand. “I’m Vicky.”

“I wouldn’t mind, but my son works nights. Are you on vacation this week?”

“No, I lost my job.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

Vicky hurried after Emily. She spotted her golden retriever sitting in the midst of Emily’s garden. Begonias scattered pink, yellow, and coral around him. She sighed, realizing she must do something about her gate.

As Vicky was leaving, Emily touched her arm. “Good luck finding work. Let me know if I can be of any help, dear.”

Vicky smiled. “Thank you.”

Back home she flopped onto the settee and drank cold coffee while Luke sprawled across her feet. “There’s still you, old fella, and a friendly neighbor.”

She hoped her melancholy would soon pass. Tears stung the back of her eyes, and she reached down to stroke Luke’s coat. “You’ll go for a run this afternoon and then I must fix that latch.”

New routines felt strange as the weeks dragged, and Vicky grappled for some semblance of normality while looking for another job. She now had time to spend with her grandmother at the nursing home and to volunteer her services there.

Leaving the house one afternoon, she spotted Emily standing at the curb. A man—not much taller than her own five-feet-eight—was unloading bags from Emily’s car. Vicky crossed the street.

“This is my son Ben. Ben, Vicky,” Emily said, jerking her head toward him.

He turned around. Vicky held out her hand and smiled.

“Er, sorry, no free hands,” he said.

Vicky’s gaze shifted from his warm brown eyes to the packages piled up in his arms.

As Ben walked away, Emily leaned over and whispered, “Not so friendly with women since his girl broke their engagement last summer.”     

She squeezed Emily’s arm and attempted a smile.“I’m off to do some shopping and then the fitness center.”

Seated in the car, Vicky watched in her rear-view mirror as Ben walked back to where his mother stood. Where had she seen him before? She searched her memory, but with no success.

Shopping done, she walked the short distance from the car to the gym, flipping through a magazine as she went.

“Can you read and open the door too?” a deep, masculine voice said.

She looked up to see Ben. He shifted a duffel bag to his shoulder and stepped back into the lobby to let her in. “Vicky, isn’t it?” He swiped his forehead with the back of his arm, perspiration running down his cheek.

She dropped the magazine into her oversized bag. “And you’re Ben.”

“We meet again,” he said, still holding the door.

Vicky smiled. “Looks like you’ve had a good workout.”

Ben glanced down at his clothes. “Need to shower and change before going into Jefferson.”

“Jefferson! The hospital? So that’s where I’ve seen you.”

His grin widened. “I thought yourface looked familiar too.”

She met his gaze, taking in his strong jaw and the small scar on his cheek. “I worked there for four years until they reorganized my department.”

“It’s six years for me on the fifth floor.”

Vicky took a deep calming breath. “So you’re a psychiatric nurse?”

Ben nodded.

She felt a tight knot in the pit of her stomach and scrambled for something more to say. Since the break-up, she’d tried with God’s help to force from her mind that brief hospital stay for depression.

“Probably saw you on one of my rare day shifts.”

Vicky threw him an anxious glance. “Possibly.”

“About the job loss. You’ll find another one I’m sure,” Ben said, flashing a captivating wide smile.

She attempted to sound cheerful. “I have an interview tomorrow.”

“Try to be optimistic.” He adjusted his cap over his tousled dark hair. “Maybe we’ll run into each other again.”

“I expect to be home most days,” she called after him, hoping they’d do more than bump into each other.

Two days later, Vicky went to open the front door, dressed in a crumpled blue robe. Who could it be at this hour?

Ben stood with Luke at his side. “Your dog likes my house.”

“I’m sorry he’s a bother.”

“No bother. I just got off work.”

“I though I’d repaired that latch,” Vicky said, regretting she hadn’t even dressed or combed her hair.

He stooped and stroked Luke’s neck. “Have you found anything yet?”

“No . . . not yet.”

Ben stood up. “Don’t lose hope.” He made to leave, then turned. “Would you like me to look at your gate now?”

She smiled. “If it wouldn’t be any trouble.”

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of having the right tools.”

“I’ll pour you a cup of coffee before you start.”

“Sounds good.”

In no time, he had repaired the latch. They watched as Luke cavorted across the lawn. Ben gave a hearty laugh. She laughed along.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” she said, grateful that her dog had a secured space to

romp.

Ben gazed into her eyes, smiling. “No need for that.” Then he cleared his throat. “Look . . . are you free this Saturday? I’m going for a hike in the hills.” He patted his waist. “Need to lose weight.”

Luke jumped up and planted his paws on Ben’s chest. He ruffed the dog’s ears. “More room there for him to run.”

Vicky’s heartbeat picked up in anticipation of spending a day with Ben. “Thanks for asking,” she said, her tone masking her excitement. If it hadn’t been for the defective latch, she might’ve never had a chance to get to know Ben.

“Well, need to get some shut-eye. The unit was busy last night.” He smiled. “You know how it goes.”

Vicky studied his intent expression and nodded. She watched him cross the street, her heart surged with the prospect of a fresh start. God continued to watch over her.

The fluttering of a curtain across the road caught her eye. She saw Emily step back from the window. Vicky pressed her nose against Luke’s snout. “So . . . who’s the matchmaker here? Emily or you?”

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20th Century United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband.  She writes from her home n Philadelphia, Pa. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

Social Media:  

Website:  https://www.patjeannedavis.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pat.j.davis.7

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/patjeannedavis/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18797403.Pat_Jeanne_Davis

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/patjeannedavis

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-jeanne-davis-34290422/                   

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/patjeannedavis/   

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/when-valleys-bloom-again-by-pat-jeanne-davis

When Valleys Bloom Again

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After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith.

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Then Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home?

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20th Century United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband.  She writes from her home in Philadelphia, Pa. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

Links:

When Valleys Bloom Again can be purchased here: Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-valleys-bloom-again-pat-jeanne-davis/1130351044?ean=9781948888912

 ChristianBooks.com:  https://familyfiction.christianbook.com/when-valleys-bloom-again/9781948888929/pd/888932?event=ESRCG

Social Media:  

Website:  https://www.patjeannedavis.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pat.j.davis.7

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/patjeannedavis/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18797403.Pat_Jeanne_Davis

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/patjeannedavis

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-jeanne-davis-34290422/                   

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/patjeannedavis/   

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/when-valleys-bloom-again-by-pat-jeanne-davis

Doing It Afraid and Forgiving What You Can’t Forget

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Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. – Psalm 42:5 AMPC

Do It Afraid: Embracing Courage in the Face of Fear
By Joyce Meyer / FaithWords

Don’t let fear stop you dead in your tracks—recognize, confront, and conquer it! Meyer will show you how the devil uses this favorite tool of his to disrupt your life. She’ll teach you to face your circumstances boldly, adjusting your mindset so as to live in the freedom of God’s children and move forward courageously. 240 pages, hardcover from Faithwords.

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again
By Lysa TerKeurst

Is your mind stuck in overdrive because you repeatedly play back others’ offenses? Follow TerKeurst to life-giving freedom! Sharing a step-by-step plan to help you let go of bound-up resentments, she’ll teach you what the Bible says about forgiveness, how to disempower triggers hijacking your emotions, move on if a person refuses to change, and more. 256 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

Love Costs

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Love is a Choice.


“Nobody would have put Radoslav and Dunya together. She’s Tur. He’s Sevian. She’s is stuck in a refugee camp. He’s working for the people who put her there. With three years of war and a fifteen-foot fence between them, finding happiness together seems impossible. But Radoslav can’t get the girl with the pink hair—or her missing cat—out of his mind.”


In November 2020, I released Love Costs, the third book in the Shards of Sevia series. It was a satisfying moment. In just over a year, I’ve written, edited and created covers for three short novels, stories of faith, hope and love in the midst of danger. Love Costs marks the halfway point in the series—time to sit back and take a breath.


Love Costs was fun to write, and now it’s fun (and a bit nerve-wracking) to imagine people I’ve never met reading it. But you can hardly go wrong with the classic formula–an ordinary, somewhat boring guy makes a choice that thrusts him into an extraordinary adventure…

Check it out here on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55880429-love-costs

About the Author:
E.B. Roshan has enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for several years, spending time in the Middle East and Asia. Now she is temporarily settled in Missouri with her husband and two sons, where she serves the local refugee community. When she’s not cooking, cleaning, or chasing the boys, she’s writing the latest installment in Shards of Sevia, her ongoing romantic suspense series set in the war-torn (and fortunately fictional) nation of Sevia.

To learn more about E.B. Roshan and the Shards of Sevia series, visit: https://shardsofsevia.wordpress.com

The Best Medicine

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The Best Medicine: Tales of Humor and Hope from a Small-Town Doctor
By Walt Larimore, M.D. / Revell

Follow Dr. Walt Larimore as he upends his young family in 1985 and heads to Kissimmee, Florida, to begin his own small-town medical practice. You’ll love the relaxing pace of life there, and all the warm-hearted, hot-headed, witty, and colorful characters you’ll meet as you watch the doc grow into a lovable husband, father, and physician. 272 pages, softcover from Revell.

The Inn at Cranberry Cove

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After her boss fires her on unfounded grounds, twenty-nine-year-old Ashton Price leaves Denver for Cranberry Cove, Washington. She’s inherited her aunt’s B&B and is determined to carry on her legacy. Upon preparing for guests, she learns of a century-old tale of treasure within the inn. Many have searched for the illusive gems but to no avail. She discovers a man working on the inn’s grounds, but is he the gardener Gina Price hired? Perhaps he’s searching for the hidden treasure.


James Atwood, corporate executive, works in the Atwood’s thriving cranberry business. Tragedy strikes, and he’s numb and riddled with guilt. Befriended by Gina Price, he finds solace working evening and weekends in the fresh earth, fescue grass, and aromatic blossoms of the inn’s gardens, helping to divert his mind from his dishonest cousin Robert, bent on destroying the Atwood business. He continues tending the grounds after Gina passes, and the new owner believes he’s a gardener. After she calls late one night upon hearing a prowler, James races to her rescue and discovers his feelings are more than protective.
Ashton’s first guests, the Claxton’s, appear out of nowhere saying they’ve had reservations for a year though she finds no record of a deposit. She chalks the failure up to faulty accounting before she arrived. When an elusive intruder continues to make frightening midnight visits, Ashton fears for her own safety and that of the Claxtons. But then, their odd comings and goings cause Ashton to wonder. Are they really vacationing visitors from California, or do they have other motives for staying at the inn?


Can two people allow the majestic northwest and fragrant coastal air heal their wounded hearts? Will they discover the secret of The Inn at Cranberry Cove?

An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. She is the mother of two and grandmother of ten. June began writing Christian romance in 2010. She penned her first novel on her Toshiba laptop as she and her husband traveled the US in their RV. Her adventures provide a rich source of information for her novels. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next book.


To date, June has written over twenty contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels and novellas. She loves to compose stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives. She’s published with Winged Publications. Visit June at http://www.junefoster.com to see a complete list of her books.

“The Inn at Cranberry Cove is based on a real-life B&B in Ilwaco, Washington, the Inn at Harbor Village. My husband and I stayed there fifteen years ago when we lived in Washington. The establishment was once an old place of worship, and today boasts of guest rooms, lush gardens, and a large meeting room where the sanctuary once stood. The small town of Ilwaco is located on Ilwaco Harbor and is known for its cranberry bogs. The quant fishing town sparked my interest and inspired The Inn at Cranberry Cove.” – Author June Foster

Link for purchase: https://amzn.to/2Knvkth

Egypt’s Sister

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Egypt’s Sister #1
By Angela Hunt / Bethany House

In the decades before Christ, Chava is a faithful friend with Urbi, a princess in the Alexandrian royal palace. Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, the now women argue and the Queen sends Chava to prison, then selling her into slavery. Chava leaves her family and community ending up alone in Rome. In one lifetime she has experienced the best and the worst of Roman society.

The Stone Wall

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The Stone Wall
By Beverly Lewis / Bethany House

Anna is eager to begin a new chapter in her life as a Lancaster County tour guide in the picturesque area where her Plain grandmother once stayed. Anna wishes she could talk with her grandmother about those long-ago days, but the elderly woman suffers from Alzheimer’s, and beyond a vague hint about an old stone wall, much about that time is a mystery. Thankfully, Martin Nolt, a handsome Mennonite, takes the young Beachy Amish woman under his wing for her training, familiarizing her with the many local highlights, including Peaceful Meadows Horse Retreat, which serves children with special needs. The retreat’s mission so inspires Anna that she returns to volunteer, and she quickly strikes up a friendship with Gabe Allgyer, the young Amish widower who manages it.

As Anna grows closer to both Martin and Gabe, she finds herself faced with a difficult choice–one in potential conflict with the expectations of her parents. Will Anna find true love and the truth about her grandmother’s past in Lancaster County? Or will she find only heartbreak?