Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Dozen Apologies Chapter Two

Today, we begin meeting Mara's heroes - the twelve men she's determined to make her apologies. If you're just joining us, you're in for a treat. We're going to let our readers - YOU - determine the hero Mara should end up with. So enjoy each chapter, take notes, and be ready to vote February 5-8. The winning hero will be revealed in the final chapter of the book, releasing on Valentine's Day!

In case you missed Chapter One, you can read it here.

Our heroine has her own Facebook page too, if you'd like to be her friend. She's been put in Facebook jail for being too friendly, but she'd love to interact with you. Here's the link to her profile.

She also set up a fun Facebook group where everyone is sharing odd jobs. Several weird jobs have already been shared. Come on over and join the fun. Here's the link to "You Know Your Job is Odd When ..."

A Dozen Apologies
Chapter Two – February
Hero: David Hansen

Would the rain ever let up? If the temperatures dropped, the roads would ice, and that’s all Mara needed. The cake in the back of the bakery van would shift, icing would smear, and she could imagine her sorority sister, Rachel Mayhew, turning into the biggest Bridezilla of them all. The redhead always had a fiery temper. She’d inherited it from her mother, and Mara had seen that temper in action once when Mrs. Mayhew morphed into a red-faced demon right in front of the entire sorority. How dare the sorority mother insist that darling Rachel’s continual sneaking of boys into her room should result in a dismissal from sorority housing. Mara shuddered at the thought of the woman’s screeches, which had silenced the entire house.
Mara turned the van into the exclusive gated community and rolled down her window. Cold drops of rain fell against her face. “I have a cake delivery for the Mayhew reception.”
The man in the rent-a-cop uniform looked down the list. “That party ain’t until tomorrow. Says right here.”
Mara wiped the rain from her face. “Sir, Mrs. Mayhew asked that the cake be delivered tonight.”
“A cake? In this storm?”
Mara slumped forward.
“Sounds just like that crazy old Mayhew broad.” He chuckled. “I’d probably do you a favor by not letting you in. Shouldn’t really. She didn’t call to let me know, but I’m hanged if I do, and I’m hanged if I don’t. This way, I have you to vouch for me.”
“Gee, thanks.” Mara rolled up the window and sloshed the water away from her forehead. She pulled through the opening gate.
The Mayhew house was one of the largest in the neighborhood, taking up nearly half of the acre lot. Mara drove slowly down the winding road.
A squirrel darted across the drive.
Mara slammed on the brakes, and at the same time, she huddled forward, fist clenched, waiting for the sound of icing squishing against her seat. Silence met her, and she took several short breaths, turned, and saw all of the cake layers in their little boxes, safe and secure. Why had she worried? Ms. Beasley had done this type of work for years. Nothing as mundane as slamming on the brakes would harm one of her masterpieces.
Mara drove on, thankful that the Mayhew home had a portico. She parked under it, jumped out, and took off her rain slicker. No need for that now.
“And just what are you doing!” The mother of Bridezilla thundered out of the house. She looked at her watch. “I told Beasley I wanted the cake delivered at 5:00 p.m. not 4:00 p.m. Don’t you people know how to tell time?” The woman straightened and ran a hand over her red dye job. “I know you.”
“We’ve met, yes, ma’am.” Mara nodded. “I’m Mara Adkins.” She held out her hand.
“Yes. Yes. That horrid Adkins girl, the one who followed Rachel and Jenny to college. I told them they shouldn’t let you darken the doors of—”
“Mother!” Rachel screeched. “Really, you must learn to hold your tongue.”
Yeah, at least until the person she wanted to besmirch was out of hearing range.
Mara struck her best sorority-sister smile and pose. The mother ship’s commander-in-chief now stood before her. She’d hoped to have covertly delivered the cake to the Mayhew staff and slip away keeping her sorority sisters—and mainly this one—in the dark about her recent failures. “Rachel, good to see you.”
“Mara.” Rachel nodded.
“You’ll need to move the van into the driveway. Flowers will be delivered in a moment,” Mrs. Mayhew said.
“But if I pull into the driveway in this rain, the cake will get wet. I just need a few minutes to bring the layers and accessories inside. Then I’ll move the van before I set up the cake.”
Mrs. Mayhew turned on her heels, and Mara envisioned smoke coming from her nostrils.
“You’d better hurry,” Rachel smirked. “You know how intolerant she can be.”
Mara opened the back door of the van and tugged the bottom layer of the cake toward her. She followed behind Rachel confident that she could get the cake inside and have it together in just a few moments.
Rachel led her through the house and into their large kitchen.
Mara’s wet shoes slid on the marble flooring, and she balanced the cake precariously for a second, righting herself and placing the box with the layer safely on the counter.
She then returned to get the middle layer, careful not to slip.
Mara offered a smile she did not feel when she passed Mrs. Mayhew on her third trip to the vehicle. The woman opened a door, and a large Collie bounded out. Mara would have petted the friendly creature, but she’d have to wash her hands and waste Mrs. Mayhew’s precious reprieve.
The dog leapt out onto the portico and into the rain, barking and enjoying itself. Mara picked up the third and smallest layer.
She stepped toward the door.
“Are you not done yet?” Mrs. Mayhew stood with her hands on her hips. “Precious!” she called.
Mara squeezed between her and the door. And Precious squeezed between Mara and Mrs. Mayhew. Mara lost her balance and fumbled for the cake.
Mrs. Mayhew and Mara’s screams merged as the cake flew straight up and out of Mara’s hands. She and Mrs. Mayhew hit the marble at the same time. “Heads up!” Mara screamed and threw her arms over her head.
No stopping this disaster.
Icing and cake splattered on Mara, but when she looked up, Mrs. Mayhew was wearing the small cake top, and Mara remembered the English wedding she’d seen where the mother of the bride wore the most hideous hat.
The icing and cake actually looked better on Mrs. Mayhew than the hat had looked on the English woman.
Mara giggled.
Then she snorted with laughter.
Mrs. Mayhew screamed in fury—words that were best left in a bar with sailors.
Rachel rounded the corner.
“I’ll see to it that you’re fired.” Mrs. Mayhew seethed.
Rachel bent down and helped Mara to her feet. Then she moved to a small table in the foyer. She opened her purse and returned to Mara, holding out her hand. “I’m sorry, Mara. My mother always gets her way. Sometimes it works. Other times, well, she’s left wearing the cake.”
“I’m very, very sorry. I’ll make sure that Ms. Beasley gets a new layer made.”
“I’m sure you will, but by the time you get back to the office, Mother will have done what Mother does best.” Rachel continued to hold out her hand, and Mara shook it.
When she released the hold, she had five bills in her hand, all of them sporting Ben Franklin’s face. “No, I can’t!” Mara protested.
“Yes, you can.” Rachel turned and walked away. “And I hope you can attend the wedding. Many from the mother ship will be onboard.”
“I’m driving to Biloxi tomorrow, Rachel, but say hello to everyone for me.”
Mrs. Mayhew raked a hand through her icing topped hair and flung a glob of the icing at Mara’s feet. Mara thought of offering her a hand up, but the woman’s glare truly frightened her.
Mara might not have a job, but she was never so thankful for an eight-hour drive in her entire life.


Mara searched the Biloxi coffee shop for a friendly face. Then David Hansen stood. He looked handsome in his air force uniform.
He’d been such a proud member of college ROTC, and Mara blushed with shame at the names she called him that fateful day when she’d let him go—just another casualty of the game.
David stood attentively until she made her way through the maze of tables. “I feel as if I should salute.”
He winced at her statement, and Mara could have kicked herself.
She shook her head. “David, I meant that in the nicest way. I’ve come to appreciate our military. You are our unsung heroes, and I’m sorry that I ever said anything unfavorable to you about your choice of career.”
He pointed to the seat on the other side of the booth and waited until she settled before taking his seat. He’d changed very little since college. His raven hair was military short, but his high cheekbones and his dark brown eyes screamed his Cherokee Indian heritage. He’d always been a looker. Always been unaware of what those looks did to a woman.
David told her once that his grandmother insisted on his always being polite, no matter the circumstance. Mara hadn’t paid much attention to his manners, but Jared’s poor behavior while they dated should have been a clue to her that Jared did not have her best interests in mind.
Mara lowered her head. The man sitting across from her had always put her first. He’d opened her car door. He’d held open doors, not only for her but others. He said, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.”
“Mara?” His rich, deep tenor resounded with worry.
Mara looked up. He was the first of many to whom she owed an apology, and if she could get through this one, the rest should be not a piece of cake but a little easier. “I’m so sorry for my ugliness toward you.”
He leaned forward, hands clasped in front of him.
“You were always the example of a perfect Southern gentleman. You always treated me with respect, and I …” She stared off for a minute, her composure about to crumble.
“I said some horrible things about you and about your choice of career. The words I said to you had little to do with my true belief in the heroism of everyone in the military. I was out to win a game. I left you in a crowd with my hideous words hanging in the air, and all to win a bet. David, my actions were atrocious. I don’t come here expecting you to accept my apology, but I do want you to know that I understand that my actions toward you were wrong and inexcusable.”
David nodded. “I appreciate you coming all this way to say so. What I really hope, though, is that your life will reflect your words.”
He’d always been a man of few words, and the ones he’d just spoken humbled Mara.
“I’m not perfect. Never will be, but I’m trying. You see, you’re the first of at least twelve apologies I have to make. God has placed this journey on my heart, and no matter how long it takes me, I plan to face each of you and own up to my actions.”
David stared at her, his face stoic for a long moment, and then he smiled. “Your being here is an answer to prayer.”
“Thank you for praying for me.” She reached across and touched his hand but pulled back. He held his hand open, and she placed hers into the warmth of his again.
“I wasn’t the only one who prayed for you.” He shifted in his seat.
Mara prayed he wouldn’t leave. She wanted this time between them to heal some of the pain she’d caused.
He lifted up an intricately carved box from beside him on the seat and took the lid from it. “This is a gift for you, sent by someone who never ceased a day to pray for you.”
“David, how thoughtful.” She took the opened gift and lifted out the Bible that lay inside. His tendency to give the sweetest gifts had also been something she’d taken for granted.
“That isn’t from me.” He nodded toward the book. “Open it up.”
Mara pulled back the leather cover and thumbed through the first pages. She stopped and raised her gaze to his. “Why would she …?” The inscription swam in front of her tears. To Mara Adkins. May you understand the depth of God’s love for you, Granny Rose Hansen.
“My grandmother is probably the only one who ever knew how much you broke my heart.”
“David, I’m so, so sorry.”
David reached over and leafed through the pages. When he stopped, Mara picked up the dried rose that lay atop the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.
“That is the rose I planned to give to you on the night you broke my heart.”
Mara’s hand holding the rose trembled. “I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now.”
David tilted his head. “And why is that?”
“This dried rose reminds me of the relationship I destroyed with my cruelty.”
David smiled. “I hope you’ll allow me to write to you when I can.”
“Definitely. Maybe you can come for a visit when you have leave.”
He shook his head, and Mara’s heart caught. She couldn’t blame him for not wanting to pursue a friendship.
“Don’t look so sad.” He brushed her cheek with his palm. “I’m being deployed. A year in the Middle East. And now, I’d appreciate your prayers for me.” He stood. “I know you’ve driven a long way, but I do have to get back to the base.”
Mara stood and wrapped her arms around his neck. “David, please write to me. I’ll be praying every day for you.”
“And that means a lot to me.” He kissed her cheek. “May I walk you to your car?”
Oh, what a gentleman he had always been. “No. I’m going to sit here and have some dinner before I check into the motel.”
“Be safe.” He raised his hand and walked away. When he reached the diner door, he turned back and waved once again before ducking outside into the chilly February air.
Mara bowed her head. “Dear Lord, please keep him safe. Please be with our military, and give them special protection.”
She lifted the Bible and began to read silently …Our Father Who art in Heaven …
She ran her hand over the carving on the box lid. A single rose encased in glass, similar to the one in a familiar children’s story brought tears to her eyes. Father in Heaven, please continue to release me from the beast that I have been.

Voting opens at Noon (EST) on Feb 5.

Come back tomorrow to read Chapter Three and meet hero #2!

We have several fun things lined up as the book releases, so here's a brief rundown of the schedule. We'll update you with more information as it applies.

From January 20th until February 5, each weekday, we'll post one chapter of the book. Each of the coming chapters will introduce you to one of our 12 heroes. Then, from February 5 through February 8, we'll ask READERS to vote for their favorite hero, and the winning hero will be announced in the final chapter of the book when it releases on Kindle on February 14th.

Because we want YOU to choose the best hero for Mara, we're going to try to keep the author/creator of each chapter a secret until after the voting is over. If you know one of the authors, and pick out their chapter, please help us keep the secret. We want the hero chosen based on his personality and his chemistry with Mara, and not make it a contest between authors.

We're depending on you to help us spread the word! 

Our authors are also offering some inside glimpses into the writing process, some interviews with authors, heroes, and even the publisher. And that Marji - she somehow got hold of Mara's journal, so you'll be able to read some of her thoughts as she goes through this experience. Check out all the links below to stay on top of the latest.

Thanks for joining us in Mara's adventure - we hope you have a great time!

Tuesday's Bonus Blogs:


June Foster said...

I love this concept. Allowing the reader to vote on their favorite hero. I can't wait to read the chapters featuring all 12 heroes and decide.

June Foster said...
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