More romance is in store for the Athertons and the Stratfords as we continue their journey in Book 2 of the “Days of…” Series.
With wedding plans crowding their already full schedules, Rick Stratford and Caroline Atherton must learn to be intentional about keeping romance alive as they march toward the aisle, lest familiarity threaten to take their love for granted before it’s fully blossomed.
Meanwhile, Jackson Atherton’s heart and commitment have been focused on family, work, and the Lord. When romance knocks on the door of his heart in the petite form of Beth Monroe, he discovers the difference between flirtation and gallantry. With a new faith and deep personal scars, Beth struggles to reconcile forgiveness and trust so she can fully embrace new possibilities.
Discover what true commitment to love can reveal with God’s light Illuminating Days of Discovery.
Illuminating Days of Discovery Excerpt
She leaned against the window frame and looked out into the darkness. Straining to see through the glare of the bright lights reflecting from within, she could just make out the sight of the snowflakes as they fell with a gentle hush. Lost in her thoughtful reverie she did not notice him walk up behind her.
“A penny for your thoughts,” he whispered in her ear as he slid his hands around her waist and rested his head against hers. He looked at her reflection in the window and smiled.
She closed her eyes, sighed, and let the feel of his touch wash over her. Opening her eyes she smiled at his reflection in the window. “First, a nickel for a kiss.”
He turned his head to kiss her on the temple. “And I won’t charge you; I’ll just tell you – I love you.”
The rhythm of the old eighties song reverberated in their thoughts.
Caroline shifted in his arms, leaning her back against the window frame, looking him full in the face. Smiling, she rested her hands on his forearms. “And I love you.” A faraway look clouded her eyes. “I was just thinking that I’ll miss having Mom and Dad here tonight. They would’ve enjoyed our announcement.”
A sad smile darkened Rick’s features. “I’ve thought the same thing. Kind of puts a little cloud over things a bit, doesn’t it? But, I choose to believe they’d be on board with this.”
They stood in reflective silence for a few moments, once again gazing out the window at the falling snow, his arm around her shoulder. Jazz music filtered through the home in the background, mixed with the laughter and chatter of friends.
It was New Year’s Eve and Rick, Caroline, and Jackson were hosting an intimate gathering for their singles small group and a handful of other friends. What their friends did not know was that Rick and Caroline planned to share some special news. What Jackson did not know was that his world was about to be knocked off-kilter.
Although Rick’s estate was rather grand with its twenty-acre wooded grounds and spacious eighty-seven hundred square foot home, Rick Stratford himself was not a particularly formal guy. The formal living room had not a stitch of furniture, save the temporary folding tables and chairs set up specifically for the night’s party, and the party itself was just a simple casual gathering of friends.
In preparation for their New Year’s Eve party, Caroline had taken the opportunity to do a little shopping for the previously empty foyer. As guests arrived, they were greeted by an antique console table offering a collection of house slippers for both the men and women. Cleverly decorated snowmen stood sentinel over the offering under a stunning cherry framed mirror. A complementary bench sat opposite flanked by a temporary garment rack.
As two ladies entered, they shed their coats and selected a pair of slippers before slipping into the vast emptiness of the living room. Spying an empty throw rug in a corner, they changed out of their winter boots and set aside their bags.
In keeping with his host duties, Jackson was making the rounds, ushering their guests to the great room.
“Up you go, ladies.” Jackson reached out both of his hands to the two ladies seated on the floor. “We are ready to convene in the next room and start this little party.”
At his request, each lady lifted a hand to his.
He smiled down at Monica as she set her hand in his right hand. Before Jackson could adjust his gaze he felt the soft, gentleness of fingers glide into his left hand. Looking at his left hand, his gaze started at her slender, delicate fingers with soft pink polished nails and traveled along her navy blue sweater-covered arm and up into sparkling teal green eyes. He felt the sparkle from her eyes right to the core of his being as he closed his fingers around hers and helped lift each lady to her feet.
“Thanks for the assist, Jackson.” Monica smiled at Jackson; his attention, however, was riveted on the other woman. Monica grinned and went on. “Jackson Atherton, this is my cousin Beth Monroe. She’s staying with me while she’s working on a few projects for work.”
Trying to mentally shake free from his mesmerized gaze, Jackson registered her name. Beth. His 5’11” athletic physique seemed to tower over her slender and petite 5’5” frame. Her hand still clasped in his, he smiled. “It’s very nice to meet you, Beth. I’m glad you could join us tonight.”
Beth felt a slow flush cover her as she smiled, a little shyly, and reluctantly removed her hand from his. She fidgeted, tucking her wavy shoulder-length, golden blonde hair behind one ear. “Thank you for having me. And for letting me crash your party. Monica said it was a friends thing tonight.”
Jackson chuckled. “You’re not crashing anything.”
“I told you not to think that, Beth.” Monica spoke in unison with Jackson. “They’re more than happy to have you join us.” Monica chided her cousin lovingly.
Recovering his senses, a broad grin filled Jackson’s face. Tilting his head toward Monica he said with a wink, “What she said. Come on. We’re gathering in the great room.” With a chivalrous bow, Jackson pointed the way through the living room.
Monica took the lead, followed by Beth. Jackson filed in behind them. Watching Beth walk across the floor Jackson took in the sight of her. Wow. She’s beautiful. And those eyes… Hmm…
About Author Sharon D. Tweet
Sharon is a stay-at-home homeschooling wife and mom desiring to follow the Lord’s leading, no matter how uncomfortable or far-fetched His directions seem. Whether stepping onto the road less traveled to relocate half-way across the country or learning to traverse the worlds of theatre and archery for her sons, she has leaned heavily on His promises to never leave her nor forsake her as she steps out in faith. Now, she is answering the call to write and share her love of the Word and a desire to live a bold walk with the Lord.