Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is Judythe Morgan who is sharing an excerpt from her book When Love Trusts, Book 4 in the Fitzpatrick Family Series. Welcome, Judythe!
Last minute shopping like me? Readers on your list might like When Love Trusts. Josh and Mara are characters with grit and determination facing their real-life challenges with faith and conviction.
It’s book 4 in The Fitzpatrick Family Series: Eight Preacher Kids Each with a Sweet Love Story of their own. A heartwarming story of love, redemption, and second chances and perfect gift or personal read in this season when we celebrate the birth of our redemption.
PS: Each story in the series is a standalone novel with family members making cameo appearances in all.
PSS: Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
When Love Trusts
By Judythe Morgan
Growing up together in a small Texas town, Josh Fitzpatrick and Mara Burke always had each other’s backs, right up until Mara dated—then dumped—his best friend. A relationship built on love and trust… until it wasn’t.
Now, an Army sniper home on medical leave, Josh’s wounds go deeper than the shrapnel dug from his thigh. Nightmares torment him. No one knows he’s responsible for a senseless tragedy and the death of his fellow soldiers. While his body recovers, he wrestles with guilt and waits for news of possible disciplinary action.
Mara’s a single mom and administrator at a home for boys, still hiding the terrible secret that created the ten-year chasm between them.
When the boy’s home needs volunteers after a fire, Josh steps in. The sparks from their youth soon ignite a new passion, but will sharing their secrets be enough to overcome the pain and hurt that lies between them?
Nick, Sara’s groom, gave Josh the thumbs up. “Loved the victory sign. Now you have to put both those garters on Mara’s leg.”
Josh frowned. “You’re joking.”
“Wedding tradition,” the twins said in unison.
Ethan grasped his shoulder. “Don’t even attempt to protest. Believe me, Nick and I have objected more than once about something and failed.”
Nick winked. “Oh, and there will be pictures.”
The girls nodded with impish smiles. Sammy chuckled. “Get ready, bro. Faith’s bringing Mara this way.”
Josh’s skin prickled. He rubbed his forehead. Too many people, too much noise, and way too much of Mara Burke. The pain and his memories made for an unsettling knot in his gut.
Mara stopped in front of him. The expression on her face said she was no more thrilled than he was. His cheeks screamed from the forced smile. “Looks like we’re the winners today.”
Mara accepted his extended hand. “I’m not sure winner is the correct word, but I know your sisters too well. Whether we want to or not, we’re doing this.”
Her years working at VA hospitals had fine-tuned her observation skills. Vets rarely shared what they felt. Body cues told more than words anyway. Josh’s temple veins pulsed a punishing beat and the way he kept rubbing his forehead announced he fought an oncoming migraine. She could only hope it wasn’t the start of a full-blown PTSD attack.
She slid into the wingback chair, raised her skirt to her knee, and then lifted her leg high.
Josh balanced against the chair’s arm and slid first one garter and then the other up her calf. The touch of his fingers sent funny little tingles up her leg.
“Hold that pose.” The photographer fiddled with his camera, aiming this way and that, clicking away. “One more just in case. This time with the brides and grooms.”
Mara watched Josh’s lips press together. His face flushed. He needed to sit and take the pressure off his wounded leg. Stubborn man, he was too embarrassed to say so.
“How about if I stand, this time?” she asked the photographer.
At the approving nod, she rose beside Josh, slid her arm around his waist, and raised her skirt to display the garters.
Josh’s ramrod-straight body vibrated as he cupped her to his shoulder, steadying himself.
“Too formal, stiff looking,” Becca complained. “Why doesn’t Josh sit with Mara on his lap?”
The look Josh shot his sister should have flattened her. Mara couldn’t argue with his aim.
“Sounds like a great idea to me,” the photographer agreed.
“Me, too.” Sarah moved behind the chair and patted the back.
“Come on, guys. Let’s get this over. I want to get to my honeymoon sometime today.” Ethan’s voice carried a touch of frustration.
Nodding, Nick guided Josh into the chair gingerly. Josh looked like he’d just been handed a death sentence.
Mara perched cautiously on his good leg, crossed hers, then raised the hem of her skirt to display the two blue garters. The feel of his muscular thigh beneath her hips brought an awareness she didn’t want. She braced her hand on the chair arm to take her weight off his leg.
He covered her hand with his. “It’s okay.”
Embarrassed, she nodded, still feeling the pressure of his hand on hers.
“Everyone smile. Josh. Mara. Look happy.” The photographer raised his camera. “Good one. Done.”
Mara hopped off Josh’s knee as though she’d been sitting on a bee. Even so, a lingering buzz worked its way through her body.
He stared for several uncomfortable seconds, an odd expression on his face. He’d been as affected as she had.
“That will probably be the best picture of the lot.” Faith broke the trance. “Now it’s birdseed time.”
“Think I’ll pass.” Josh pushed from the chair, leaned on his cane. “What about you, you going to throw bird food?”
Mara crinkled her nose and gave a shiver. “No, absolutely not. Birdseed gets in places it doesn’t belong.” She lifted her hem pointed to the garters. “Thanks for the souvenirs. If you change your mind about helping at the boys’ home, give me a call.”
“Think about it. You’re a preacher’s kid who became an Army Ranger. That’s hero stuff. The boys will love your stories.” One boy in particular.
Blackness coated his eyes. “I don’t think so.”
She’d seen that darkness in combat weary vets before. It spoke volumes.
About the Author:
Judythe Morgan was an Army brat then Army wife. She’s traveled a lot of this world. She’s been a teacher, an antiques dealer, former mayor’s wife, and sometimes-church pianist. Her diverse experiences have made her life exciting, her main characters vivid, and her stories authentic and award-winning.