Here's the second teaser from ALWAYS TRUST - Book 1 of the series, Teaching the Heart. Hope you enjoy!

Mark wanted to reach forward and grab her twisting hands, partially to calm the nervous witness in front of him and partially to comfort the beautiful woman from his past. Reluctantly, he did neither. “You said he called out?” his voice broke the silence.

“Mm hmm,” she nodded. “He said he would find her.”

His fingers moved over the pages in the report looking for the exact wording. “He said specifically that? Called her by name?”

“No.” Melissa’s eyebrows scrunched in a way Mark had seen hundreds of times before and he had to bite back a smile. “He said, ‘I will find you. I promise you that.’”

His chest faltered for a moment, the breath caught deep inside. Mark knew this guy, better than he ever wanted to admit and there was no way Mann was talking about the victim. Without even thinking about it, he dropped the professional tone. “Melissa, did he see you?”

“Of course he did.”

“No,” urgency laced his command. “Did he see you? Did he stare at you long enough to see what you look like?”

“He stared down the alley, but I’m sure he was just looking for the woman, Karen. She’s the one he was talking about.” Mark closed his eyes and forced out a breath as the naivety of her words hit him. “Right?” he barely heard her ask.

There were moments Mark knew he was destined to be a cop, moments like this when his gut was practically screaming at him. They had a problem; every fiber of his being told him Johnny Mann had picked a new target. Stalking to the door, he flung it open calling for the two rookies. “I want any information of surveillance in and around the club.”

“Sure thing, Detective,” Officer Landrum replied. “But we all know there weren’t any cameras in the back. There’s no way he would have been there otherwise.”

“I’m not looking for that,” Mark ground out. “Just get me the information.”

The door was cool against his back but it couldn’t seem to battle the fire raging in his veins.

“Hey! Detective Cheat!” Mandy called out from behind him and he turned just in time to see Melissa softly backhand her friend in the arm as she bit back a smile. “You gonna fill us in or do we not get to know what’s making you pace like a crazy man?”

“Lis,” he practically whispered as he walked back towards both ladies.

“Don’t,” Melissa’s hardened voice ground out.

“Don’t what?”

“You don’t get to call me that anymore. You lost that right a long time ago.”

Mark raised his eyebrows in confusion. He was so caught up in concern for what he was afraid would be a horrific nightmare for her, he hadn’t even realized his old nickname for her slipped out. “I’m sorry, Ms. Smith. I meant no disrespect.”  She nodded her head and the vinyl of the chair crinkled under his weight as he returned to his seat. “I’ll be honest. I think you’re in danger.”

Both women exchanged quick glances “Of what?” they asked at the same time.

“Johnny Mann.”

 
 
Celebrating New Years can mean many things to so many people. This has been a rough year for my family. We've had illness, surgeries, and more losses than we were prepared to contend with, the loss of my father being the most significant. But, as I prepare to celebrate this New Year, I look back over 2015 and think of the many things I've learned through this year. 

The most important thing we have is family.
God has graced us with the ability to need and form relationships. These people we connect with are the family we lift up and rely on when life gets hard. They are who we cry with, laugh with, get mad at, and love unconditionally. Whether family through genetics or through the heart, they are the most important resource you have on this Earth and should be treasured. 

You have to take care of yourself. 
There is only one you and you have only been gifted one life to live on this planet. I've learned the hard way that you have to take care of yourself, especially if you want to take care of others. I haven't quite mastered this concept yet, but it is certainly something I'm hoping to do better with during this new year. 

Live, Laugh, and Love
One of my Mom's favorite quotes is "live well, laugh much, love often," and I've learned this year that nothing can be quite truer. Live every day as if it may be your last. Laugh every day as that laughter is the best medicine you have. And, love every day beyond words or measure; love your family, your fellow man, and love yourself. 

As the new year rings in tonight, take few moments to think over your memories of this last year (even the painful ones as those can help you see hidden blessings) and make a plan for the future. Don't worry so much about resolutions that you may fall short of; instead, think of ways to cherish your family, take care of yourself, and live, laugh, and love often. 
 
 
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I am a daughter, a wife, a mother. 

I am a a student, an educator, an author. 

I am a Christian. 

So why, if I know I am all of those things, do I try so hard to separate it out? This past year has found me rethinking many parts of who I am and how that is portrayed. My faith is a huge part of who I am; yet, I found myself feeling the need to start a new webpage to share that. I write separate blogs for education but do not share any education thoughts here. Granted, I started this website originally when my first book was released. In many ways, some could argue that people searching out clean romance authors might not want to know about faith, or education, or even the strides I am making to be healthy again. On the flip side though, all of this is who I am and all of it is relevant to anything I might publish. 

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is Sunday. I am so blessed to be a volunteer with the youth at our local church as a Sunday School teacher and Sunday evening adult. I love their energy, their passion. Their thoughts on so many different topics run deeper than any of them imagine. Over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing social media and its impact on ourselves and others with some of the main questions being do we portray who we are all of the time, and do we uplift others with our postings. Then, this past Sunday, I listened to them discuss comparison. Why do we find ourselves comparing often? How would life be if we stopped comparing ourselves? 

And so I found myself here, thinking that instead of separating out who I was among various blogs and social media sites, instead of wondering how I would compare to other authors, other educators, other Christians, just compare to others, I would simply be who God created me to be….me. 

What will this mean for those of you who follow the blog? (And though rarely do we have comments, there are really quite a few or you!) No major changes, just more. I’m not sure where this will go, but I know I’ll be able to share more simply because I can have a tendency to ramble when I’m being me. I may share some great recipes, host some of my favorite authors and educators for guest blogs, and who knows what else. That’s the beauty and simplicity of no more compartmentalizing. 

And, I’d like to challenge each of you to do the same! Share some of the areas you need to consolidate and don’t separate out who you are.


Be the fabulous you God intended you to be!


 
 
Here's the first teaser from ALWAYS TRUST - Book 1 of the series Teaching the Heart. Hope you enjoy!

Turning on her heel, Melissa headed out of the club through the back entrance. The alley she stepped into was darker than she anticipated, and she was surprised to find herself shiver in the heat of the Houston August night. Hugging her arms to herself, she vowed to stand there for just a moment, grab a few breaths of fresh air, and head back inside. She’d had enough unwanted moments in dark places to last her a lifetime and she certainly did not desire another.

However, as she began to turn around, Melissa heard the unmistakable whimper of a young woman. Torn between the safety of the club and the unknown of the dark alley, Melissa headed towards the sound. She certainly refused to help someone if they were in need.

Cautiously, she approached the sound, noting as she did that the whimper was getting louder, as were other voices that surrounded it.

“This is the best there is, sir. I assure you.” She heard a voice laced with a thick Spanish accent.

“It better be,” a second voice chimed in. This voice, she noted, sounded American, possibly Texan. “If I’m going to be working with your boss, he’d better understand that I want the best, only the best, and that I always get what I want.”

“Si, senor. He knows. I assure you.”

Stepping lightly, Melissa placed her back against a wall so she could inch closer and get a better look. She knew it was stupid; but she believed she didn’t have a choice. She could still hear the small, choked out mysterious sounds and felt a pull to help the woman making them.

Peering around the corner suddenly brought the scene into full view. A black Chevy Suburban with deeply tinted windows was backed into the alley, blocking the entrance, its back doors open and a case of money resting in plain view in the back. An intimidating, large man stood to the left of the vehicle, arms folded across his chest, eyes scanning the alley. The moment Melissa saw him, she forced herself even closer to the wall, if that were even possible.

“What the hell is that sound?” the man with the Texas accent demanded. As the men surrounding him drew their guns and prepared to search the alley, Melissa stifled an intake of breath as she took in his appearance. Dark, chin length hair framed his face and in the moonlight she could see the outline of a tattoo climbing his neck, drawing even more attention to the scar running from his left eye to his chin.

“You assured me this was a safe location!” Instantly, he pulled out what Melissa could only surmise was a handgun, and forced it to the trembling man’s temple. She shut her eyes in haste wanting to block out every possible image of what she feared was coming.

“Si, senor. It is. We meet…” but the sentence was never finished as the sound of a silenced shot rang through the alley, followed by thud of what she could only assume was of the man falling to the ground; the entire incident seeming to take only seconds and at the same time, seeming to last forever.

Immediately, weapons were drawn from all men in the alley, no one knowing quite where to point.

“Man, what the hell is your problem?” Another Hispanic man screamed as he looked at the conniving white man in front of him. “There was no sound and there was no need to kill him.”

“I told you before,” he replied. “I am not a man who enjoys being made a fool of. You mess with my business, or with me, and I guarantee you will not live to tell about it.”

Guns still drawn, the white man stepped menacingly closer to the one who dared to question him. “What do you think you are going to do to me, ese?” he asked, purposely mispronouncing the Spanish word. “Are you going to shoot me? Do you think your friend here would do that for you if he were in your place?”

He glanced down the alley, satisfied for the moment. “Put your guns away and let’s leave,” he ordered the men around him.

At that very moment, the woman whom Melissa had initially been drawn to help whimpered once again. Quickly, Melissa reached her, crouched behind the dumpster and slammed her hand over the woman’s mouth, forcing her to be quiet. “That’s got to be Karen,” one of the other men whispered to the scarred man.

“She shouldn't be alive and she shouldn't be here! Do I need to finish your job before I finish you?”

“No sir.” He turned in the direction of Melissa and the woman but didn't make it two steps before all hell broke loose. Melissa wasn't sure where the shooting started, she only knew the chaos in the alley allowed her to stand and pull the woman with her back towards the club.

Immediately though, her green eyes met the coldest black eyes she had ever seen. For a moment, they stared at each other, memorizing the other’s face and in that brief second, Melissa felt her efforts were to be in vain. ‘Part of me died in the darkness before,’ she thought to herself, ‘and the rest of me is about to die now.’ But instantly, a glorious sound edged into her mind as she heard sirens in the distance.

“I will find you, I promise you that!” He shouted, pointing at Melissa before grabbing the bag of money. “Grab the stuff,” he yelled to his men, getting in the backseat of the suburban. Staring at the other men in the alley, he continued. “Tell Montez he will get no money from me until he can find healthier places to conduct business.”

The sirens grew louder as the unmarked vehicles drove away and Melissa turned her attention to the woman she joined on the ground.

 

 
 
Nearly a decade ago, I started writing my first official novel. I wrote in a spiral  notebook, jotting down quick ideas whenever I had the opportunity and slowly started blending those ideas into conversations, scenes, and chapters whenever I had the chance. I had every intention of completing the novel as quickly as possible.

But, real life got in the way. Between my time as a mom, wife, graduate student, and public school administrator my writing got lost along the way.

One year ago, I decided to change that. Although I still hold many of the same job titles, I realized my writing would never be a priority in my life if I did not make it that way. So, I dusted off that early manuscript and got to work.

Finally, on October 17th, that first novel will be available for release. Is Love Enough reminds readers it is never too late to find the forever kind of love we all long to have. The release of this novel is the beginning of a new adventure in my life; it is my promise to myself, my husband, and my daughter to always follow your dreams.

 
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