Mary Annslee will give away a copy of Tapestry of Trust. To enter to win leave a comment with your email address. Mary Shares the first chapter of Tapestry of Trust below.
Welcome Mary. First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, nurse, author and most of all child of God! I live in Charlotte, NC. When I’m not writing, I work part-time as a behavioral health RN. I also love to travel, cook, have lunch with friends and spend time with my family.
Many readers are interested in what motivates authors to write. If you would, share with us why you write.
It is a passion. I love watching my characters come to life and the story about them evolve.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book, She Came to See the Snow~A Colorado Christmas Romance, is a story about a young reporter who goes to visit her grandparents for Christmas. She's ready to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery and snow. What she doesn’t expect is to be swept off her feet by her grandparent’s neighbor and his three year old daughter. A story of rising beyond the fears of the past and moving forward together into the future.
Congratulations on another new book. Christmas will be here before we know it. What inspired you to write this particular book?
I love a cozy Christmas story.
As for writing in general, where do you get ideas for your books?
First I come up with characters, then write a story around them.
In three words describe your style of writing.
Romance, witty, wholesome
What themes do you write about?
Inspirational romance. Finding love, overcoming life issues.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I have an office in my home and I write whenever I have a moment. Much of the time late into the night.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser absolutely. Although I have an idea of where I want the story to go, how I get
there is always an unknown journey.
Does your faith affect your writing? If so, how?
All of my writing reflects Christian values. My characters do or learn to depend on the
Lord. I am eternally grateful that the Lord allows me to write and has opened the door
to be published.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself. Allow the Lord to lead your path.
What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
When my husband and myself were adopting our daughter, I flew down to Lima, Peru with my aunt during a very volatile time in the country. When we arrived even the taxi driver told us to go home. The lights in the city had been turned off because of riots and there were water cannons in front of our hotel. But, I couldn’t leave, my baby daughter was waiting to meet me.
That's a touching story. Thanks for sharing it and for spending time with us.
Buy Tapestry of Trust at Amazon and Book Strand
Charlie Hamilton. His name clattered in her head as his gaze held hers. The traitor she’d spent the last six years trying to forget.
Unable to move, unable to wrench her gaze away, she bit her lip to keep from gaping. No longer the gangly soccer star who’d scored the winning goals in high school, broad shoulders now filled his tailored suit, his face square and chiseled, and those eyes… Would she ever forget those eyes? Dark and warm. Once as soothing as sipping hot chocolate on a blistery winter’s day.
“Isabelle, I can’t believe it’s you.”
She blinked and looked away, her heart pounding. Get a grip. After all, his visit presented one redeeming quality. He was holding her cat.
She lifted the feline from Charlie’s arms. “There you are Humphrey, you had me so worried. Bad kitty!” She scolded him the way she’d love to scold Charlie, but held back. Her roommate Kate, was in the apartment and well within earshot. “Charlie, thank you.” She forced her voice to remain calm.
“You look great.” He smiled, brushing cat hair from his jacket.
Likewise. She scrunched Humphrey closer. “You found my cat. I’ve been so worried. I’m not sure if you remember Humphrey, but he’s deaf.”
Charlie nodded. “He was hanging out in the drainage ditch near the parking lot. The woman in the office told me who lost a cat. She offered to return him, but I had to see if it was really you. And here you are.” He opened his arms and stepped closer.
Unexpected emotion clogged Isabelle’s throat. Swallowing hard, she grabbed the knob and pushed the front door halfway shut, blocking his entrance into the apartment. How dare he act like nothing had happened between them? “I must say, you’re the last person I expected to see.” The last person she wanted to see.
For a moment, their eyes clashed. The corners of his lips curved up. “Yes, a nice surprise. It’s been a long time, Isabelle. Too long.” His gaze drifted from her face to the furry bundle in her arms. “I should have recognized Humphrey.”
Too long? A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough. And why would he recognize her cat? He hadn’t been around since Humphrey was a kitten.
Isabelle eased the door within a couple inches of closing. “See you around, Charlie.” Except for a discreet glance through lowered lashes, she kept her gaze averted, cuddling the cat closer to her face.
“Isabelle, wait.” Charlie pushed against the door. “Tell me how you’ve been. What are you doing here in Austin?”
Isabelle froze and peered at him through the space he’d created. She wanted to tell him she’d graduated from college and was doing fine without him. Raking her fingers through Humphrey’s knotted fur, she tried to transform bitter thoughts into a civil response. A beat passed, then another. “Not much to tell. Just working,” she blurted finally after what seemed like eons.”
“She teaches second grade at McGee Elementary,” Kate bellowed from behind her. “We came here last year after graduating from East Texas.”
Thanks, Kate. Isabelle sucked in air to hold back a sigh.
A dimple flashed in Charlie’s cheek. “Isabelle, congratulations.”
Her heart gave a little leap despite her efforts to control it.
“The man is trying to make conversation.” Kate breezed up beside her and squeezed her arm.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t have time to chat right…” Isabelle’s words faded in defeat, as Kate swung the door wide open.
“It would be nice to catch up, Isabelle.” Charlie shifted even closer. He sunk his hands into his trouser pockets.
She caught a scent of his cologne, tickling her nose. Something, clean and fresh like…Stop it. Isabelle blinked. What was she doing? She tightened her arms around Humphrey and backed away, doubling the distance between them.
How could she ever forget?
Eighteen… and pregnant. She ground her teeth. Life before Jesus. Shaking her head, she pushed out a weary breath. “Who knows when Humphrey ate last? I better feed him.”
As if on cue, Humphrey let loose a scraggly meow.
“Isabelle, so good to see you.”
Charlie’s gaze narrowed, and she was struck by the unexpected intensity. Perhaps he had regrets. Well… so did she.
“Let’s talk soon.”
She started to answer, to tell him to forget about her, but why bother. Her response would only fuel more conversation. “Again, thanks for finding Humphrey.”
“No problem. I look forward to catching up with you soon.”
She ignored the comment and stalked out the entry and into the kitchen. Maybe, Charlie would pick up on her hint and take a hike himself.
Isabelle set Humphrey on the floor, stretched on tiptoes, and yanked open the cabinet over the stove. She grabbed the plastic container of cat food and poured fish-shaped morsels into a bowl. With whiskers twitching, the cat licked his forepaws and stared up at her. She crouched and set the bowl in front of him. “I’m glad you’re safe.” She pulled a twig from his fur.
Even at this distance, Isabelle could hear the conversation in the entry. She glanced at her watch and sighed when Kate burst into a hearty laugh. Didn’t Charlie have somewhere to be?
“I can’t believe you’re in graduate school with Mark.” Kate’s voice lifted.
Isabelle rolled her eyes. Perfect.
“Yeah, he’s in my study group this semester. Nice guy.”
“I think so, too.” Kate giggled. “This is such a busy semester for him, with our wedding and all. I can’t wait until he’s finished.”
“I’m right there with you. School can’t end soon enough for me either.” A pleasant chuckle trailed Charlie’s words.
“So, you graduate in May, also?”
Grad school. Lucky Charlie. No hiccups in his life. No change of course. Unlike hers, whose life made a U-turn when she got pregnant and spun further out of control when she’d lost the baby. Their baby. Isabelle shook her head. Why Charlie? Why couldn’t you have— She flinched. History, she reminded herself. One she wanted to forget.
The kitchen started to feel stuffy. She pushed to her feet and slid open the window above the sink. Fresh air blew against her face. Who cares when Charlie graduates anyway? Their life together ended years ago. She pinched dead leaves off the potted ivy meandering across the windowsill.
A moment passed, then another. She inched toward the doorway. She cocked her head and gnawed on an already too short fingernail, reassuring herself Charlie no longer meant anything to her.
“I’ve been working at my gir―, uh, friend’s father’s marketing company in San Marcos. After graduation, I’ll be a director there.”
Isabelle slapped her hands over her ears. She braced herself against the counter before her wobbly knees gave out. Of course, he had a girlfriend. After six years, people moved on.
Well, most people.
Even as the thought crossed her mind, she shook her head. The last thing she wanted was Charlie to be privy to how boring her life had become. Not that her boredom had anything to do with missing him. Straightening, she lifted her chin. She’d just been busy, that’s all.
Still, why, out of the hundreds of people in their apartment complex, did he have to be the one to find her cat? She picked up the cat food container and shoved it back into the cabinet. Humphrey crunched his meal on the floor next to her. Snagging a deep breath, she grabbed a dishcloth and ran circles across the already spotless counter. Then she jerked open the refrigerator door and yanked old take-out containers from the shelves. If she had to be stuck in the kitchen, she might as well get something done.
Charlie’s tone rose above the trilling grind of the garbage disposal. “Tell Isabelle good-bye for me. I’ll catch up with her soon. Oh…and make sure she lets Sadie in the office know to take the sign down now that Humphrey’s home safe.”
That did it. Isabelle thumped her hands on the counter and opened her mouth to shout a retort, but no words came—only tears. Charlie hadn’t changed. Still trying to take care of things. Why wouldn’t she tell Sadie? Who did he think put the sign up in the first place? She clenched her left fist, nails digging into her palm. Six years ago she’d asked for his advice, and he had nothing of value for her. In fact, he had nothing to say about the matter at all.
Squaring her shoulders, she wiped hot tears and resisted the rush of illogical nostalgia parading through her. No, she wouldn’t look back. Instead, she slammed her eyes shut and prayed—for God’s grace.
Charlie climbed the stairs to his second floor apartment, trying to sort through the whirlwind of emotion warring inside him. Facing Isabelle and her lukewarm reaction after all these years served only to remind him―he’d messed up. Big time!
Procrastination. Ten days he’d pondered. Ten days too long.
He couldn’t blame Isabelle for her coolness. Their years apart had taken care of that. Then again, wouldn’t she think he might harbor some resentment? After all, she’d never answered his calls or letters.
Melancholy swept through him in the wave of a memory, tugging at his already tight chest. He thought about the message from his mother, via Isabelle’s aunt. A miscarriage and Isabelle wouldn’t be coming back. His breath grew shallow. He would have been there for her if only he’d known her whereabouts.
Charlie opened his apartment door and trudged inside. Despite the angst tumbling in his gut, he couldn’t help but think how unbelievable it was that Isabelle lived in the same complex, and he’d found her cat. Coincidence? He flung his keys on the table and shrugged off his jacket. He knew better than that.
No longer concerned with his hunger, he leaned against the counter and rolled the quandary around in his head. He could have said something more to Isabelle, reminded her of the good times. Reminded her they were young, but with her roommate there, that might have only made things worse.
Isabelle. He worked his finger over the stubble on his chin. The woman he’d loved for the better part of his youth. He had to admit those feelings still gripped his core. It only took a few shallow relationships, especially his last, to remind him what he’d lost when he lost Isabelle.
As he stood alone in his kitchen, he couldn’t help but replay the what if’s and if onlys, wondering what life would be like if he and Isabelle hadn’t compromised and if fear hadn’t gotten the best of him. No! He slammed the brakes on that train of thought.
Despite lingering regrets, a grin tugged at his lips. He hadn’t seen a ring on her finger. Maybe it was time to put history behind them and get reacquainted.
He scratched his head. An intriguing thought, but from her cool reception he doubted she wanted the same.