A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter.
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Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com
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A Mommy By Christmas
Book 2 of A Christmas Ridge Romance series
Tasmyn Wright, consigned to remain single if that’s what God wants, is lonely. Maybe she needs a fur-pet. On a whim, she visits the local animal shelter. A delightful man about her own age helps her choose her new housemate, a long-haired calico she promptly names Belle because the creature is so beautiful. And as captivated as she is with her choice, the kind man at the shelter takes up far too much of her thoughts. But with a new member of her household, her work-at-home job as a print broker, and her volunteer work at the community care center, she has no time for romance.
Wim Sutton, the widowed father of seven-year-old Noah, loves his job as veterinarian at the shelter. Not only does he get to fix up sick or injured animals, he thrills at matching adoptees with their forever families. Take Tasmyn Wright, for example. Clearly Belle was in kitty heaven-on-earth. Still, he senses the cat will have its work cut out if it’s going to bring Tasmyn out of her shell. Although she occupies a good deal of his thoughts, he needs to focus on his son and his job. Since his wife’s passing suddenly from cancer the year before, Noah has struggled in school and in church. No, he needs to focus on his own family before he even thinks about expanding it.
A Peek Inside:
Friday, November 4th
Christmas Ridge, Colorado
Tasmyn Wright lifted her shoulders to release tension in her neck and back, delighting at the three or four distinct pops signaling vertebrae slipping back into the proper place. She clicked send on the online ordering form on her screen, then made a notation on the cover of her client’s file and added it to the to be filed pile. Which she fully intended to get to—tomorrow.
She loved her work as a print broker. Enjoyed interacting with clients—most of the time. Had a good relationship with several print suppliers. And relished the creative aspect of designing logos and brand marketing. Not to mention the bonus of operating almost entirely from home. She joked about her situation—that she worked from home before it was cool to do that.
But as fulfilling and profitable as her occupation was, it wasn’t her vocation. That, she would have to say, was helping people. Sure, providing a useful and critical service to clients was helpful, but not in the same way her volunteering at the community care center—food bank didn’t even come close to describing her vision for this service—filled a need within the community. And within herself, too.
Despite all the great ideas, and the flyers, and that her ministry—dare she even call it that?—offered multiple food and personal care options, attendance hadn’t grown as she’d hoped. Not that she wanted folks to need help—but in an imperfect world, until Jesus returned, that was bound to be the case.
She opened the community care center spreadsheet and scanned the numbers of attendees over the past three months. Few to none. Her heart sank to her toes. Difficult to justify all the hours she invested at the community center that hosted her care ministry. And unless the numbers increased, her suppliers weren’t likely to want to do more, either. Not to even mention near to impossible to recruit volunteers. Nobody wanted to stand around and twiddle their fingers when they could be more active and involved elsewhere. Like the church daycare. Or the Lions Club Christmas Stocking program. Seemed everywhere she turned at this time of year, another charitable group had something special planned.
Still, if she could help just one family…
But how? In the past, she’d hoped signs in businesses and word of mouth about the food available would convince folks to come out. One evening a week, that’s all. After most had finished work for the day.
Tasmyn sat back in her chair and chewed on the end of her pen before tossing it on to the desk. What did she hope to achieve with the community care center? To provide nutritious meals for folks struggling with buying groceries.
Her phone rang. “Hello?”
“Yes. Is this the food bank lady?”
Tasmyn winced. Community care center. More than just food for the body. She pasted on a smile, hoping the woman on the other end could feel it. “Yes, it is.”
“I was wondering if you pay utility bills?”
She held back a groan. At least three times a week, calls came in looking for money to pay the cable bill, rent, car repairs. Food, she had. Money, she did not. “No, I’m sorry. We provide fresh and non-perishable food and personal care items right now. Come see us, save your grocery money, and pay your bills with that instead.”
“Okay, thanks. I spent my money on groceries already. But maybe I’ll come see you next week.”
“Have you tried your church? They sometimes have a benevolence fund.”
“Don’t go to church.”
“Well, if you’re looking for—”
The line went dead, and Tasmyn disconnected. The same story, over and over. Either they didn’t fellowship, or they’d worn out their church with their needs. Still, at least this woman called. So many wouldn’t. They’d struggle along until the phone company disconnected their service, the bank repossessed their car, or the power company shut off their electricity. Next, they’d lose their housing. Maybe even their kids if Social Services found out. There had to be a better way.
How to convince folks there was no shame in accepting help?
If she could empower them to make better choices, such as accept free food and use that money to pay bills, that’s how. Show them how to take control of their finances, instead of playing catch-up all the time. Or hide-and-seek from their creditors. Demonstrate how to prioritize their expenses so they didn’t stay in this cycle of running out of money before they ran out of month.
She smiled. This was why she’d started the community care center. Yes, meeting the immediate need was important, but as the adage went, teach a man to fish…
A drop of perspiration slid down Wim’s nose, threatening to contaminate the sterile surgical field that contained a now-three-legged Brittany Spaniel, surgical robing, and his instruments.
He turned his head to one side, then wrenched his neck another notch to dislodge the offender. The liquid dropped to the floor.
Wim closed his eyes a moment, pressing his shoulders down to relieve the ache between his shoulder blades. Thank you, God.
The last thing he needed was to have to sterilize the area again. After six surgeries—two emergencies, including this one—and a full day here at the Christmas Ridge Animal Shelter, he didn’t need any more delays.
Three more stitches, a dab with a gauze ball to check for leakage—all looked good. He called out to his veterinary assistant/receptionist. “Harmony. I’m done here. Will you do the final cleanup? I’ll help you move him to a kennel for recovery.”
“Sure, Doc Wim. Let me scrub up first.”
Wim appreciated his assistant’s go-to attitude. Whatever he asked of her, from assisting with a difficult patient, to cleaning up vomit—or worse—in an examination room, to surgical nurse duties—always a smile. A kind word. A gentle touch.
She’d make a fine wife to some young man someday.
He eased down on the anesthesia to prepare for concluding the surgery and moving the dog. The unfortunate creature, found injured on the highway, would awaken minus one front leg. But the amputation went well. The beast was healthy and young, and Wim expected a full and speedy recovery. Only after that would he hopefully find the dog a new forever home.
And speaking of recovery, he had several patients that needed checking before he could even think about picking up his second grader, Noah, from after-school care. Harmony entered, living up to her name, as usual, bringing an air of calm and peace with her.
He nodded and backed away from the table, pausing outside the door to strip off his cotton surgical scrubs and hat, tossing his latex gloves in the trash, then pushing through the swinging doors into the recovery area.
He peered into the kennel containing the most critical patient currently—a green parrot with a prolapsed cloaca, rushed in earlier in the day by a most concerned owner, who thought its insides were coming out. Well, they were. Not the intestines, thankfully. Prolapses were common in the larger birds, as he explained to Mrs. Sawyer, and usually surgery was successful if dealt with immediately. The parrot lay on its side, eyes open, beak moving. Good signs. He checked that food and water were available, watched the respirations for a minute to ensure the animal wasn’t in stress, then moved on to his other patients.
Three cats he’d spayed this morning snoozed in their crates. A dog who’d undergone the removal of his dew claws lifted a sleepy head. All looked well-recovered from their ordeals, and all would likely go home tomorrow. Even the parrot, if he held his own through the night.
The bell over the front door rang, and Wim straightened and checked the clock. Thirty minutes until closing. Always seemed like a few last-minute folks would drop in—hopefully no emergencies.
He stepped into the combination retail area/waiting room. “Mrs. Grant. How are you?”
The woman pulled a piece of paper from her purse. About eighty, dressed in a coat and hat that were at least forty years old, she looked the image of the Queen Mother. She held up the paper with trembling fingers. “I need more of that prescription food. Mollie only likes this kind.” She leaned closer. “She’s fussy. Like me.”
As always, Wim smiled at her. “Not fussy. Particular because she—and you—like the best.”
Available now: Amazon
Giveaway: Answer the following question to be entered into a random drawing for a free ebook copy of A Mommy By Christmas.
Question: Do you think you’d like living in a small town like Christmas Ridge? Why or why not?
I wish I could win, but I’ll answer the question even though I can’t. 😀 I’d love to live in a small town.