Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

UNWRAPPING HOPE
Friday, October 18, 2019 by SANDRA ARDOIN

PLEASE WELCOME

SANDRA ARDOIN

TO

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

Here is an excerpt from Sandra’s novel,

UNWRAPPING HOME

Phoebe seized the side rail as the back wheels of the carriage slid into a shallow, muddy ditch. Even with a death grip, she bounced across the seat until her hip met Spence’s.

He worked to guide the horse from the mud and onto the road. The animal tugged and pranced while the buggy rocked at a dangerous tilt. At long last, the horse stood still. Its sides heaved, but its last steps had stabilized the carriage.

Spence relaxed the reins, though the fingers entwined with the leather trembled. Understandable. She also quaked inside.

He turned to her. “Are you all right?”

“I-I’m…” She used the rail to pull to the other side of the seat. “Yes, I’m fine.”

“I’m sorry, Phoebe. Had I paid more attention to driving, I might not have lost control when that deer jumped out in front of us.”

“I’m sure my shout didn’t help.” She adjusted the hat that had knocked sideways when she’d slid into him. “I am thankful the carriage didn’t tip.”

Phoebe pressed a hand to her chest as a giggle erupted, expanded, then burst into laughter.

“What’s funny?”

He eyed her as if she were losing her mind, which brought more bizarre laughter. Tears blurred her vision, but she couldn’t stop. “Which of us do you think received the greatest fright? Was it us, the deer, or the poor horse?”

He cracked that inevitable smile. He really did have a nice smile. “I’d guess it was mutual terror.”

“Me too.” Phoebe fought to catch her breath and wiped the tears away. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me.”

“Don’t be sorry. I enjoyed it. The laughter, I mean.”

Lightheaded over the deep rumble in his voice, she looked away, breaking the connection sparked by his steady gaze.

He climbed down from the carriage. “I’ll see what I can do to get us back on the road.”

His quiet words and gentle hand soothed the spooked horse and coaxed him forward. The buggy jerked but went nowhere. His well-polished shoes squished through mud as he trudged around the vehicle and examined the wheels. The carriage shook. A moment later, he unhitched the animal.

“What are you doing, Mr. Newland?”

“I preferred Spence.” He led the horse to her side of the buggy. “I don’t know much about these things, but it looks like something broke when we hit the ditch. Do you ride?”

She stilled. “You mean…him?”

His lips twitched. “It’s either him or I tote you piggyback.”

He wasn’t serious about either choice. Was he?

She eyed the animal, and her heart rate sped. “Let’s wait for someone to come along and help.”

“We’ve passed one or two wagons this afternoon. We could wait for hours. It will be dark soon, and the temperature will drop. We have no choice, Phoebe.”

She studied the horse. All she could think about was Douglas’s fate. “I’ve never been atop a horse in my life.”

“I’ll walk beside you. I won’t let you fall.”

“You’ll walk and leave me alone up there?” The image of a bolting horse alarmed her. What if he couldn’t hang on to the animal?

“I’ll never let you fall, Phoebe. Never.” Spence held out his hand, while his stare locked on to hers. “Trust me.”

The intensity in his eyes begged for more than faith in his ability to keep her on a horse. So much more.

Run. Run. Run.

Like the deer, she longed to escape the danger in her path.

Phoebe lifted her arm but hadn’t the courage to reach out. Did she dare place her trust in another wealthy young man with the power to bring about a fall?

Her fingers stretched, then curled. Stretched and curled. What would happen if she turned her back on his appeal?

For the rest of her life, she would remain a slave to the memory of a selfish, merciless boy who had no right to instill an ounce of guilt and cynicism in her.

He speaks to people in different ways. Sometimes it’s in a dream or nature or a verse in the Bible. Sometimes we have to listen hard, because He speaks through a still, small voice.

Spence’s words to Maura echoed in her ears.

Tell me what to do.

She listened for that voice and released a shaky breath.

A cold gust whipped a loose strand of hair over her face. She brushed it from her eyes, but it persisted.

She drew in a breath and placed her hand on Spence’s palm, letting his fingers enclose hers in a man’s grip.

ABOUT UNWRAPPIPNG HOPE

To give her five-year-old daughter something special for Christmas, Phoebe Crain appeals to Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. Yet, the more time she spends with him, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard.

Spence hesitates to associate with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince.

Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true?

Buy Link for Unwrapping Hope: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XYCQTM8

ABOUT SANDRA ARDOIN

As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith.Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com. Connect with her on BookBub, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join the Love and Faith in Fiction newsletter community and keep up with what’s new, discover what’s upcoming, and learn of specials and giveaways.

 

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