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Promise and Possibilities

We’re in 2019! This year is full of promise and possibilities for New Parish and its sisters. I think of the New Parish series as sister books: they’re related, they’re all about family, and most of all they stick together and support each other.

Last year Sarah found her way to New Parish, and this year Hannah makes the journey. In each book the Nichols sisters find not only romance, but also lots of adventure, many surprises, some frustration, and in the end their very own happily ever afters.

Excerpt from New Parish:

Chapter 9 – Max

            “The trail began to be quite steep just a few minutes into the hike. Sarah’s thoughts were soon lost in the beauty that was surrounding her, the mountains were striped with wonderful chocolaty umbers, the cacti, and other desert plants growing sparsely along the trail.

            The excitement of being out in nature was filling Sarah up, with no room leftover for any of the issues she’d been dealing with. Albert was talking about his work and how much the work load increased during tax season. Sarah sympathized with him but couldn’t really pay too much attention to what he was saying, the beauty of the mountains was distracting her.

            After about thirty minutes on the hike, Mary, who had been paying more attention to things asked, “Hey, have we gone off the trail?”

            “No,” Albert sounded very sure of his course. “We’re on the trail, it goes over here then up some more,” he pointed out the way he thought the trail went.

            “I don’t think so,” Mary disagreed, “I’ve hiked this trail many times and this isn’t it.”

            “It’ll be fine,” Albert smiled. “You’ll see we’ll come out on that ridge in just a bit.” He pointed to a rock outcropping several feet above them.

            Mary looked as though she were going to argue more but a light sprinkle of rain started to fall on them. As they looked up, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky which was now dark and filled with clouds.

            “We’d better head back down,” Albert’s voice sounded uneasy.

            “We should find shelter till the storm passes,” Mary suggested.

            “No way,” Albert said. “We’re going down.”

            “Okay,” Mary reluctantly followed.

            Sarah hadn’t really watched which way they were going, but now she wished she had. The rain began to pour down and pelt them so hard that it was difficult for Sarah to keep her eyes open.

            The noise of the storm had become very loud, Mary shouted, “We need to find shelter!”

            Sarah agreed with her, “Yeah, but where?”

            “In my car when we get back down!” Albert stubbornly insisted.

            “NO!” shouted Mary, “We need shelter now!”

            She grabbed Sarah by the hand and pulled her along to the side of the mountain where there was a short overhang, “It’s not much but it’s better than staying out there and getting struck by lightning.”

            Sarah nodded her agreement, the wind had begun to blow, gusting hard, and she was so cold that she didn’t want to try talking. She was shivering uncontrollably, and even though her coat was usually very warm, she discovered that when it was wet it was just heavy and if she moved it felt like it was stuffed with ice cubes.

            “It’s not that far to get back down to the car,” Albert argued his point.

            “It took us over thirty minutes to get here,” Mary stated the facts. “We need to stay and wait out the storm.”

            The wind blew hard, pummeling them with rain that felt like it had slushy ice in it, Sarah shivered and gasped for air.

            “I’m calling Dad,” Mary shouted.

            “There’s no phone service up here,” Albert reminded her.

            “No cell service but Dad gave me a satellite phone just in case of emergencies,” Mary said pulling off her backpack and rummaging through it.

            “Awesome!” Sarah said through chattering teeth.

            “Here it is,” Mary retrieved the phone and turned it on.

            She pushed in some numbers and held the device to her ear. After a few seconds she said, “Dad, we’re stuck up here in the storm. What? What? Okay. No I think we lost the trail a while back. What? Okay.” She turned to Sarah and shouted, “He’s sending someone to help.”

            Sarah nodded, she was shivering too much, again, to talk.

            “Who’s he sending?” Albert asked, sounding annoyed.

            “He didn’t say,” Mary replied sounding annoyed back at him.

            Sarah would have laughed if she could have, instead she made a mental note to laugh about their exchange later, when she could feel her feet and hands again. Sarah tried to busy her mind with thoughts of soaking in a warm tub, with the room all steamed up from the warmth of the water she was soaking in. She imagined the smell of sweet honeysuckle and roses permeating the warm room… the wind blew hard again and disrupted her thoughts. In an instant, her self-imposed delusion vanished and she was back standing under the small rock overhang with rain stinging her skin and her body shivering uncontrollably.

            Sarah looked at Mary, her lips were getting a bluish tint to them, she tried to smile but wasn’t sure it had worked. Mary nodded and said, “It shouldn’t be too long,” through chattering teeth.

            Sarah nodded back, knowing that talking was still beyond her capacities. The rain slowed but the frigid wind continued to blow through her as if she didn’t have any clothes on at all. She looked at Albert, he was leaning back against the side of the mountain with his eyes closed and arms wrapped around him in a sort of self hug. Sarah started wondering how long they’d been waiting, it seemed like an eternity. The not being able to feel her hands and feet was spreading, she was sure now that she couldn’t feel her knees anymore. She couldn’t understand how it could’ve become so cold so very fast. Her mind was pondering the morning, it was a bit chilly but not too cold, she remembered thinking that she would probably have to take off her coat in a while, now she felt like she might never be warm again.

            Sarah turned to look at Mary again when she thought she heard a loud shrill whistle.

Mary nodded eagerly, “They’re close,” she struggled to whisper through the shivering and shaking.”


Sneak preview excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 3 Palominos –

“Hannah had to do a double take, to realize this amazing place was really real. It was like the opulent ranches shown in the old westerns she and Sarah used to watch when they were kids.

            “So does Louis L’Amour live here?” she asked trying not to giggle out of sheer delight.

            Sarah laughed, “Nope, but a real cowboy hero does. Wait till you meet Uncle Alex, he’s great! He used to ride in rodeos, herd cattle on long trail drives, and do all that cowboy stuff. You’ll love him!”

            “I love those palominos!” Hannah said excitedly, “They’re gorgeous!”

            Sarah pulled the car up near the house and got out, “You can go ahead out there and see them if you want. I’m going to pop inside to see the ladies of the house then I’ll join you.”

            “Cool,” Hannah replied and headed toward the palominos. Reaching the corral fence she climbed up on the bottom of the three wooden rails and held onto the top one while reaching out to touch the nose of an approaching blonde horse. The horse nuzzled her hand as though they were old friends. Hannah smiled and let the honest friendship flow between them.

            “Well, aren’t you a pretty little sorrel filly?” a deep melodious voice said from behind her.

            Turning quickly to see who was talking Hannah saw a tall, slender, older cowboy, dressed in full cowboy regalia. From the top of his dusty cowboy hat to his dust covered cowboy boots, Hannah couldn’t believe it, she might have been very happy to meet this guy, if he hadn’t just called her a red headed horse.

            Looking that old cowboy up and down she could see the weathered tanned skin on his face, the graying mustache, the cowboy hat that covered his graying unkempt hair, the worn pale blue cotton button up shirt, the worn leather chaps that wrapped snuggly around his blue jeans, and his very worn cowboy boots. He was carrying a lasso in one gloved hand and a tool to remove rocks from a horse’s shoe in the other hand – Hannah recognized the tool from her stable days as a kid.

            He was smiling at her in a friendly sort of way, which annoyed her, she knew why but didn’t want to admit it to herself. She did admit to herself that a guy smiling friendly at her was still not something she was ready for.

            “I’m not a horse,” stepping down from the rail, the anger in her voice was evident as she spoke to the man who looked like he was the beach-bum of ranch hands. He made Hannah think of the old guys on the beach who forgot they grew up so they were still out there acting like kids, “What does he think he’s playing at?” she thought. He had no right to call her a filly or approach her like that. The anger was gaining ground as he stood there looking confused at her comment.

            When he finally spoke again, Hannah thought he sounded like he was excused from the “normal” etiquette that everyone else had to adhere to.

Smiling broadly underneath his mustache he drawled, “Yes ma’am.” 

            “Who does this guy think he is?” Hannah thought angrily. Looking toward the house where Sarah had gone, she didn’t see her. “Come on Sis,” she continued to think, “rescue me or him, this isn’t going to be pretty.” All the while she continued to give the old cowboy an annoyed look that would have made most guys leave whimpering. He didn’t leave, he kept smiling like he was enjoying himself, this made Hannah even angrier.

            “Do you like the horses?” he asked still smiling.

            Instead of saying they’re absolutely gorgeous and I love them, which was the truth, Hannah looked at the dusty old cowboy and said, “I’m waiting on my sister and I don’t need company to do that.” She hoped that would be blunt enough to let him know to leave her alone.

            “Aw, you’re much to pretty to have that much venom,” the old cowboy smiled at her with one eye closed as though he were sizing her up.

            “Listen here you ornery old codger! I don’t put up with any crap from men like you nor do I need your passive aggressive comments!” Hannah unloaded on him with full force, and would have kept going if Sarah hadn’t intervened.

            “Hey,” Sarah said with an awkward, let’s calm down, tone in her voice, “What’s going on, Hannah? I see you’ve met Uncle Alex,” she gave Hannah a look that told her to cool it. Then turned to Uncle Alex and said, “Hi, this is my sister Hannah, Uncle Alex.”

            Uncle Alex smiled broadly and said, “It’s very nice to meet you Hannah,” removing his glove and holding out his hand to shake hands with her.

            He still looked like he was enjoying himself, which kindled Hannah’s anger even more, she took a deep breath and said, “Yeah,” as she took his hand, but only because of years of her mother droning it into her to have manners. She pulled her hand away quickly so as not to prolong the experience or give him any ideas about forgiveness or friendship. The soft gentle touch of his hand lingered in her mind but his next comment synched her dislike for him.

             “I can see that your hair and temperament are in perfect alignment,” he smiled pleasantly at her.

            Sarah gave Hannah a look that she recognized immediately, it said, behave, but she wasn’t sure that was going to happen. “This guy is asking for it!” she thought as she leered at him. Looks passed back and forth between Hannah and Sarah with no words being said, Hannah’s final look told Sarah she wasn’t going to put up with Uncle Alex’s comments.

            Sarah quickly said, “I came over to see your ladies about the party prep we’re going to be helping with and get an idea of what we’re going to be doing tomorrow. So I guess we’ll go now, I need to get back home and you know, hurl,” she smiled awkwardly at Uncle Alex and pulled Hannah along with her toward the car.

            “Alright, Sarah, hope you feel better,” he smiled. “I’ll be looking forward to seeing you again Hannah,” he winked at her.

            Hannah had a myriad of things to say to him but Sarah pulled her arm very hard and said, “See ya tomorrow,” to Uncle Alex.

            Once in the car and on the road Sarah asked, “What the heck, Hannah?”

            “He made me mad,” she sulked back.

            “He jokes around a lot, but he’s really a nice guy, really,” Sarah almost pleaded with her. “We’re coming back over to his place tomorrow. You will try to be nice, right?”    

            “I’ll try, but I make no promises if he starts up his crap again,” Hannah returned.

            Sarah sighed loudly, but didn’t say anything else about it.”