Authors: Pat Simmons
(Book I Love at the Crossroads)
This is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, and places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual people, living or dead are entirely coincidental.
To read more books by this author, please visit www.patsimmons.net.
Printed in the United States of America
Copyright © 201
3 Pat Simmons
All rights reserved.
Editing: Karen Rodgers
Special Thanks to
Chris Holt, Orange County, FL, Fire Dept.
Other Christian eBooks titles include:
A Christian Christmas (novella)
A Christian Father’s Day (novella)
If I Should Die Before I
Guilty by Association
The Guilt Trip
Free from Guilt
The Confession (winter 2013)
A Baby for Christmas (winter 2013)
Love at Work (Book I of Making Love Work Series novellas)
Words of Love
(Book II of Making Love Work Series novellas)
A Mother’s Love
(Book III of Making Love Work Series novellas)
PRAISES FOR PAT SIMMONS
Simmons has laid it all out on the line in this installment of the Jamieson legacy. This is pure Christian romance with a touch of heritage. There were moments in the middle that I wanted them to get it together but it turned out better than expected. The personal touch of genealogy is wonderful and will make you think about your own family heritage. Wanted to see more Grandma BB but loved the new character development. Simmons is on top of her genre
Reviewed by M. Bruner “Deltareviewer” on
Free from Guilt
Free from Guilt may be listed as Christian fiction, but it's so much more. You read about family history, romance and transformation. This is a great read and leaves the reader wanting more, with that being said I'm looking forward to the next Guilty installment.
Reviewed by Melody Vernor-Bartel for Reader's Paradise
I am so loving "Guilty by Association!" Girl, you went all out!!!! When I thought there could not be a man to compare to Parke, you created "Kidd!" WOW is all I can say...No, I take that back, WOW! WOW! WOW! The love.... WOW! The relationship blossoming...WOW! The man.... WOW!
Darlene Mitchell, Virginia Guilty captain
“A crossing guard?” Candace Clark wanted to cross her eyes at the snippy woman’s request. Surely she was joking.
Apparently not, as Mrs. Lovejoy’s fingers hovered over the computer keyboard, anticipating Candace’s compliance. Sitting smugly behind a massive desk, the Duncan Elementary school principal had definitely seen too much sun during her summer vacation. The tan on her face was somehow darker than her neck and arms.
“Yes, it’s the only slot that’s lacking volunteer participation. Since you missed early registration, this is all I have left.” Mrs. Lovejoy seemed to take pleasure in reminding her. She grinned, displaying teeth that needed a sun bleaching application.
Candace twisted her mouth like her daughter sometimes did when she was trying to get out of something she didn’t want to do.
Weren’t upper classmen vying for that coveted position?
she thought. Candace schooled her expression so as not to give away her contempt at performing the task: no brow lift, eyes roll, or huff.
The petite woman across from her was killing all her joy.
As a matter of fact, Candace had had an abundant supply of jubilance when she walked into the cramped office that would have better served as a library with the numbers of books lining the wall-to-wall shelves.
“What about…” Candace paused. She strained her brain. “I could act as back up to a lunchroom mom? You know, two moms are better than one?”
Mrs. Lovejoy’s dumbfounded expression made it apparent that the woman’s patience was running thinner than her body frame. Squinting at the wall clock behind Candace, the woman gave her a pointed look.
“A teacher’s assistant?” Candace pressed.
Shaking her head, Mrs. Lovejoy’s lips formed a ‘no’ moments before she said it. “No.”
Well, she had another think coming if she thought Candace was going to do that grunt work. Nobody in their right mind would want to volunteer to get sunburned, take a shower without soap in an unexpected downpour, or have
their teeth chattering because a strong wind just slapped them.
The scenarios were endless. Nope. Mrs. Lovejoy was just going to have to tap someone else for that position. She wasn’t even an outdoors person. She liked central air in the summer and a blasting furnace in the winter. Plus, she had another good reason for turning down the job.
This was all Candace’s fault. She had been too preoccupied with other important last minute tasks, like making sure her daughter, Lindsay, had her immunizations, including a physical, purchasing every school supply Lindsay could wrap her hand around, and making sure all accessories matched her uniform.
With so much on her mind, she had forgotten about the packet of important school forms that had to be signed, which included the mandatory parent volunteer signup sheet. And still there were countless things left to do before school started.
She didn’t want to come across as difficult, but “no” was about to roll off the tip of Candace’s tongue when her daughter leaned forward.
“Mommy, you’ll be like a policewoman and all the cars will have to stop.”
The angelic expression, worshipping eyes, and hopeful smile on her daughter’s butterscotch face made Candace grit her teeth. She wouldn’t put it past the principal to have given her daughter some kind of hand signal, that only kindergarteners could decipher, to put on that, “Please, Mom” face. “A crossing guard is not a law enforcement officer, sweetie.”
Lindsay pouted, which was comical. The girl’s long dark brown natural hair was confined in colorful barrettes that complemented her jumper. As an only child, it was hard for Lindsay not to be the apple of her eye. The things she did for her baby.
Truthfully, Lindsay’s first day of school would be bittersweet. They had never been separated for a long period of time since the day Lindsay was born. Her best friend, Solae, called her overly protective, but that was Candace’s prerogative.
“All right,” Candace mumbled quickly before common sense and fear talked her out of it. “What’s my shift?”
After all, thirty or forty minutes once a week wouldn’t be so bad
, she tried to talk herself into it.
“Excellent.” Mrs. Lovejoy clapped her hand
s once and displayed the first smile since their meeting began. Actually, it looked more like a smirk. “We need you at the intersection of Cougar Lane and Lindbergh an hour before school starts and if you can, come back again before classes let out, say at two-forty-five.”
The woman was pushing it. “Okay, what day?”
Sifting through folders, Mrs. Lovejoy hesitated. It was the first time she’d avoided eye contact. “Right now… Monday through Friday.” She appeared sheepish. “We’re having trouble filling those spots.”
Candace kept that sentiment to herself.
“But,” she rushed to explain. “Hopefully that won’t interfere with your work hours. I’m sure it will only be temporary. That is until other parents sign up.”
She was accustomed to juggling her priorities to make things work, but for a daily crossing guard position? It was a good thing her boss had five children himself. He and his wife shared participation in school outings and meetings. Otherwise, he might not be sympathetic to her predicament.
After five years of working from home as a virtual assistant for Kendall Printing
in order to be close to Lindsay, Candace looked forward to interacting with adults face-to-face. Her employer was flexible with workers’ schedules, but for five days? She would ask and hope for the best. Granted her work week was only thirty-five hours, but she was required to abide by the schedule, even if it meant she had to bring Lindsay with her before or after school to finish a project.
Candace stood to leave after signing the form. She reached for Lindsay’s hand.
“One more thing, Miss Clark,” Mrs. Lovejoy stopped her. “I see you didn’t complete all the information on your Parent section. Regardless of whether the parents are married or not, we want to encourage dads to become involved as well. Are you single or divorced?”
“I’m a widow.” Candace swallowed. It still pained her to utter those words. “My husband was killed…while crossing the street. An inattentive driver talking on a cell phone didn’t see him until it was too late.”
Walking out the office with Lindsay in tow, Candace felt she had said too much, but it was in the forefront of her mind, given the circumstances. Still pondering her qualms about being a crossing guard, she couldn’t help but wonder… since God didn’t stop the traffic for Daniel to get safely out of harm’s way, would He make the cars stop for the children.
“I’m cool,” Royce Kavanaugh defended his single status for the umpteenth time to the three members of his brotherhood of firefighters. His name always somehow surfaced whenever they hung out at I-Hop for breakfast after working the last of their four day, twelve-hour shift.
He was the only one who wasn’t married,
didn’t have a current girlfriend or hadn’t fathered any children. Therefore in their eyes, he was basically living a lonely existence. But Royce had no problem being the odd man out.
“You haven’t seen Marsha.” Felix Noble, their fire truck’s driver or chauffe
ur, winked, then shook his head. “If I wasn’t married to her cousin, I’d take her out. She has all the assets that drive a man crazy. She’s looking for a hero.” His grin hinted at mischief.
“Hey, my sister is first in line. Brenda’s been inviting Hero over here to dinner for months, and he has yet to accept.” Lt. Allen Johnson eyed Royce while backhanding Felix in the stomach in jest.
At the start of his career four years earlier, Royce was cocky enough to want to be a hero with his looks, build and the uniform. The flirts, the invites to a woman’s bed, and home-cooked meals just fed his already large ego.
On the flipside, his job caused his last couple of ladies to rebel against his absences at Christmas, anniversary parties, barbecues, you name it. Their accusations were unwarranted. Evidently, his offer
to celebrate a few days early or late wasn’t enough of a commitment for them.
Then something happened to change his pompous attitude. It came with his first defeat as a firefighter. His best efforts hadn’t been good enough when he rescued a child from a burning house. The little boy never recovered from the smoke inhalation and passed away. That young death caused Royce to search for a deeper meaning of life.
Not long after that, Royce did a one-eighty and surrendered to God’s perfect will, which led to changing his mindset, lifestyle, and dating habits. Plus, he had seen Allen’s sister. Not only did Brenda cook all the time, she ate most of what she prepared, too. Her pretty smile and hazel eyes weren’t enough for Royce to close his eyes and pretend she was physically attractive. Royce was a leg man and Brenda had enough for two women.
“I’ve turned my matching-making over to God,” he advised before eying Captain Hershel Kavanaugh, his older brother by four years, t
o chime in and come to his rescue. The two only resembled in their smiles, medium brown skin color and height—six-three.
“Hey, I’d rather they pick on you than me. I have two boys to rear. I don’t need a woman to help me,” Hershel defended, a single parent
through no fault of his own.
Hershel’s ex-wife was a perfect example
in Royce’s mind of what would happen if he picked the wrong one. Much wiser after his failed marriage, his brother wouldn’t let just anybody around his sons.
“Listen, man, my sister can feed their hungry bellies…” Allen wouldn’t back down as he turned his attention to the captain.
Royce exchanged glances with his brother. Turning to the lieutenant, they said, “No,” in unison.
When Hershel asked for the check, the waitress smiled. “The ladies at that table,” she pointed to a booth that was crammed with four beauties, “paid your tab.” She added in a whisper before walking away, “They said it was for your services.”
Everyone waved their gratitude. Royce didn’t linger on the women’s smiles or winks nor did he want to engage in small talk that some of them might hope would turn into pillow talk. At that moment, all he craved was sleep.
As a practicing Christian, Royce no longer desired a warm body. Instead, he was all right with cool sheets and a clear conscience. As they headed out of the restaurant together, Royce couldn’t help but want that special someone who appreciated him for himself.
Candace was still sulking about her assignment to crossing guard duty as she dressed for church. Her feelings were a mixture of fear and defiance. When she arrived at Jesus Saves Church, it seemed as if God was waiting for her.
“You should never think you’re too good to stoop to someone in a lower position than you to help…” Pastor Rodney Alexander preached to a packed congregation. “There’s no room for selfishness or vain conceit in Christians. When we put others before ourselves, it’s called humility. How can we get blessed when we don’t bless others? Philippians, chapter two reminds us that the greatest people among us are supposed to serve the least of us.”
She was getting the message loud and clear. Her pastor’s electrifying sermons were always encouraging, uplifting, and at times, mixed with humor, but today Candace was getting a spiritual whipping when she reflected on her puffed up spirit in Mrs. Lovejoy’s office on Friday.
True, she did lack a spirit of humility for not wanting to perform what she considered a menial task, but she knew Jesus understood her anxiety about crossing the street. Fear overwhelmed her so much so that it took her twice as long to get to the other side as other pedestrians, thinking about Daniel. She had unconsciously developed a routine of double checking both directions before stepping off the curb, thinking about herself and Lindsay.
Her friend called it a ridiculous ritual, but she just couldn’t help herself. When Candace drove and came upon someone who was walking across the intersection, she reduced her speed even though she seemed blocks away. “God, You know I don’t want to have this anxiety, please help me,” Candace had quietly pleaded countless time since her husband was killed.
I have not given you a spirit a fear,
Jesus whispered 2 Timothy 1:7.
When Mrs. Lovejoy inquired about her marital status, Candace should have simply answered that she was a widow and left it at that. There really had been no need for her to disclose how Daniel died.
A jab in her side snapped Candace back to the present. Another nudge made her frown at her childhood friend sitting on the pew beside her.
“Altar call. Stand up,” Solae Wyatt-Palmer mumbled. She had never been married, yet her mother felt Solae should have two names like actress Keisha Knight-Pulliam, the actress known for her role as Rudy on The Cosby Show.