When Tiffany Marano’s high school sweetheart drove off to join the Marines and never looked back, she swore off men. Now, she’s content to teach at Summer Creek, South Carolina’s local elementary school, lead a Sunday school class, and spend weekends with her niece—until Nick Walsh suddenly reappears wearing a wedding ring and with a daughter in tow. Everything about Tiffany’s calm, quiet life is now one disordered mess.
Nick Walsh comes face to face with Tiffany after all these years, and sparks fly. But not the happy glittering kind, because each of them thinks the other responsible for their estrangement. Before they can work it out, though, Tiffany’s sister disappears. Left with custody of her niece and forced to work with new police detective Nick to find her sister, old feelings begin to resurface. As they start to unravel the truths that left them confused and apart for too long, Nick must learn to let go of his past. But can Tiffany let go of her fear and learn to trust that God isn’t the only one who won’t abandon her?
Someone had stolen her black heels. That was the only explanation. Tiffany Marano had checked her bedroom closet—where they belonged—that’s where she’d left them. Now, she was working her way through the cavernous hall closet, which seemed to contain half the items she’d been missing. But not her shoes. If this closet didn’t produce results, then she’d have to bend down in this skirt and search under the couch, a very bad idea.
The Santa ornament wearing beach shorts and flip flops randomly started singing about an island Christmas. She groaned. The volume seemed permanently set on annoy the neighbors– the last thing she needed was for them to complain about the noise again.
“I don’t have time for this.” Tiffany raced down the hallway and grabbed Santa off her miniature Christmas tree. She slid across the bare pine floor in her stocking-clad feet and flailed her arms. By some small miracle, she grabbed a wall to stop her forward progress.
After a deep breath of relief, and a few more seconds of auditory torture by a Christmas recording, Tiffany crept down the hall, trying to avoid another wipeout. She stepped on one of her niece, Haley’s, hair barrettes. “Ouch, ouch,” she whisper-shouted, hopping like a crazy woman. Thunk. Her forehead made contact with the open guest bedroom door. She closed her eyes against the pain. For a few minutes, she gripped the door frame with one hand and her head with the other. Santa reached the chorus.
Haley stood at the end of the hall, eyes open wide. “Aunt Tiffy, are you okay?”
Tiffany faked a nod and made her way into the living room. Hurrying, she clapped a hand over Santa’s tiny little mouth. She glanced at her niece, who was also without shoes, as if the lack was contagious. “Haley, I thought you were dressed. If we don’t hurry, we’re going to be late for church.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The girl giggled and ran down the hall, skating in her socks on purpose.
Tiffany tried not to laugh, because moving hurt her head. She stuffed the Santa in her pocket, walked into the bathroom, and switched on the lights. She contemplated the red mark on her forehead in the mirror. “Great,” she whispered. “That’s going to bruise.”
Not good. In less than an hour, if she made it out of this apartment alive, she would need all the energy she could get to teach an energetic bunch of preschoolers about Jesus. Every parent would see the evidence of her klutziness one more time. “Oh, well.” She leaned forward so her dirty blonde bangs covered the angry welt. “I am who I am.”
She shoved Santa in the linen closet between two monogrammed towels, and found her shoes by the tub.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
What I hope readers will get from my novel:
I hope that readers will finish my novella a bit happier, touched by the sweet love between the characters, and invigorated in their faith. God can be trusted, even through the bad times.
Inspiration for writing the book?
The novella was inspired by the publisher’s call for Christmas novellas. I saw the call on June 9 and took the challenge of writing the book by the end of the month—2 ½ weeks later, it was done. I started with the concept of someone being confused by her ex showing up wearing a wedding ring without a wife. I also am friends with a lovely young lady in our church who was the inspiration for the main character—even though the story is entirely fiction.
Favourite scene from the book?
Strangely enough, it is the epilogue my editor suggested I add. I get teary-eyed every time I proofread it.