Christian Fiction

Chapter reveal: The Day the Dollar Died, by Robert V Baynes

book cover (1)-1.jpgTitle: The Day the Dollar Died

Genre: Political/ Christian  Fiction

Author: Robert V Baynes

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ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a novel about an ordinary farmer who finds that his country is changing and it affects his own life. He loses more than he ever imagined and has to make some hard choices to save his family.

The main character is John Birch and he has a pretty good life. He has a great wife and children and is doing pretty well financially. He gets to do a job he loves and still spends time with his family. He finds that circumstances beyond his control change his world so that he ends up losing the financial security he worked so hard to build up. All he has left is his family and now he has to risk everything to try to save them from an ever growing government.

This book is very realistic and follows a line of thinking  that many find very logical and possibly inevitable.

Chapter 1 

The wind coming across the open field still had a bit of a bite to it. John was thankful that his 10-year-old John Deere tractor had a heated cab. This was the first day he had been able to start planting corn this spring and it was already the 24th of April. This past winter had been one of the coldest that he could remember. It seemed to take forever for the ground to warm up and dry out enough for him to start working the ground.

Hunger was starting to make his stomach growl, but he was hoping to get this 80-acre field done before he quit for the day. At 54 years of age, he was still lean and in good condition. With his salt and pepper hair and lean muscular frame, he was thought of as handsome by women 20 years younger than him. He also still had the appetite of a 24 year old.

This field had been in the Birch family for three generations. He had taken over the family farm when his dad decided to change vocations nearly 16 years ago. His dad never did have the love of farming that he had.

The original farm that he took over was 216 acres and he had added to it over the years. At this point he farmed nearly 440 acres, most of which he owned. He never considered himself a big farmer, but he got nervous about buying more farm ground once the price went over $5,000 an acre. Maybe some of the really big farmers knew what they were doing buying ground at nearly $10,000 an acre, but he didn’t have the confidence that it would pay off.

The faint sound of a car horn interrupted his thoughts. As he looked toward the road, he could see Anna’s car parked on the side. He had just turned the tractor and planter at the end of the field and would be down there in a few minutes.

He knew His wonderful wife of 33 years would have supper ready for him when he got to the end. He was so lucky to have her! They had been high school sweethearts and they got married when he was twenty-one. She was a year younger than him, but she looked more like 33 than 53. She had auburn colored hair and though she dressed modestly, she could still turn quite a few heads.

After stopping the tractor near the road, he climbed down from the cab. She rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey, good-looking, do you have time to stop long enough for a bite to eat?”

“Boy am I glad to see you!” he exclaimed. As he climbed into the passenger side of the car, he could smell the warm food. Anna pulled out the covered dishes. Anna was one of the best cooks in the area and the aroma of her meatloaf was making his mouth water.

As he took his first bite, Anna asked, “So how’s it going so far?”

“Mphf, prett goo so fer,” He mumbled as he scarfed down his supper.

“Tommy called today.” At 19, Tommy was their youngest son. He was in college working on his teaching degree.  “I asked him if he had met anyone he would consider dating, but he just doesn’t seem very interested in that right now.”

“Well don’t rush him,” John replied. “He’s got plenty of time. He’s certainly not a confirmed bachelor yet. The good Lord will bring the right girl along when it is time.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Will you be very late tonight?” Anna asked.

“Well, I want to get this field finished tonight. I figure it will take about 3 more hours. Then I’d better get started pretty early tomorrow morning. They’re calling for rain Thursday, so I need to get as much as I can done before then.”

“By the way,” he continued, “Will the kids be coming over Sunday?” He never tired of seeing his grandkids.

“They said they would be able to make it. Tommy may have to leave early to get back to school, he hates to make the 2 hour drive late at night.”

_________

 

John managed to get 210-acres planted before the rain hit late Thursday morning. He spent the rest of the week working on one of his tractors that he used for cultivating. Ever since he went organic, he had to cultivate more.

He decided to go completely organic about 12 years ago. It made it harder to find non-GMO seeds and he had to travel a little farther to take his crops to market, but he got a better price for them. Besides, he felt better about growing things more naturally.

Another downside of organic farming was that he had more government inspections than before. Sometimes, he longed for the days his grandfather told him about, when farmers just farmed the way they saw best and then sold their crops for the highest price they could get.

A few years back, he had a couple hundred head of cattle also, but he sold most of those when the price of cattle got low and feed prices were too high to make it worth his while. Now he just kept a few head to butcher for their own use. He usually split them with his kids.

He had been hauling manure most of his life, but a few years ago, the government decided that farmers should take classes and have to get license to be able to spread manure.  That seemed like a little too much regulation to him. He had also heard that the EPA was toying with the idea of regulating dust that farmers created.

With the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, he was getting tired of all of the regulations and extra paper work he had to do just to satisfy some bureaucrat somewhere. After all, it is not likely that anyone in the government knew as much about farming as he did.

The crunch of tires on stone interrupted his thoughts. He decided to step out of the shop to see who was here. Visitors out here in the country were fairly rare.

He didn’t recognize the pickup truck, but when a dark haired guy got out wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, he recognized him as a farmer he had met a couple of times.

“Hello Jim, what brings you over here on a rainy day?” John asked. Jim Rush lived about 3 miles away from John. Though he was nearly 20 years younger than John, he farmed nearly twice as much ground. John had heard that Jim was willing to take more risks in some of his business dealings than most people.

“John, do you have a minute? I’d like to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, come on in to the shop, and we can talk there.” John held the door and motioned for Jim to have a seat on a stool near the window.

“So what brings you over here? Anything I can do for you?”  John asked.

“Well,” Jim began, “It’s a long story, but I’m planning on selling out and I was wondering if you’d be interested in buying my tractor I bought 2 years ago. If we don’t have to go through a dealer, I’d be willing to sell it for the same price a dealer would give me for it.”

“What gives, Jim? Are you tired of farming, or don’t you want to talk about it?”

“Well it’s kind of a long story, but if you really want to know, I could give it to you in a nutshell.”

John replied, “I’m just about done putting my tractor back together, so I’ve got time.”

“John, even though we go to different churches, I know from what I have seen and heard about you, that you are a Christian, so you might understand where I am coming from. I believe that it is time for me and my family to leave this country. I have 3 young children at home and I don’t want them to grow up here with what I see coming.”

“Now wait a second Jim, I’m not real happy with a lot of things that are going on here either, but this is one of the greatest countries that has ever been. There are still a lot of good people here. Don’t you think that leaving the country is a little extreme?”

“I’ve thought about it long and hard for over a year now. I’ve looked at the options and I don’t think I’ve got any other choice. I don’t think our national debt is a solvable problem and I don’t think many of those in power want to solve it. I also think the dollar is very shaky and it could fall drastically if anything happens to destabilize it.”

“On top of that,” Jim continued, “I think God has allowed us to have the leaders we have today to bring judgment to America. I think we have turned our back on God too many times and I don’t see any sign of repentance in this country.”

“I think before long we will have a major financial crisis and I believe we will see martial law here. At that time, I believe the government will begin nationalizing the farms and other property. I honestly believe that things will get worse from there.”

“I’m sure you think I’m probably crazy right now, but I have to protect my family, and this is the only way I can do that.”

“Wow,” John said, “That is a pretty big nutshell! I’m not sure what to say. I can see some of the problems you’re seeing, but I can’t imagine it could get that bad that soon. Not here with the constitution we have. But, I guess that is up to you. Where would you go that things would be better?”

“I’ve looked at a lot of places, but there are a couple of countries in South America that look pretty good. I will probably go down and check them out to see what seems best. I will definitely do a lot of praying about it.”

“Jim, if you are sure about this, I have thought about buying a new tractor but I hated to pay the prices they want for the new ones. I would be interested in looking at yours. Here’s my email address, if you do leave would you let me know how it is going for you?”

“Sure John, I’d be glad to. Not trying to talk you out of buying my tractor, but give what I said some thought. I’d hate to see good people caught in the disaster I believe is coming.”

As Jim left, John was lost in thought about what Jim had said. He knew Jim was a risk taker, but everything he had heard about Jim was that he was stable and pretty smart. Could there be something to what Jim was saying?

He heard the dinner bell ringing, so he headed to the house. As he was washing up for dinner, Anna asked, “Who was that you were talking to in the shop?”

“Oh that was Jim Rush. He lives over on County Rd 300.”

“What was he over here for? Seems like an odd time to come for a visit.”

As John sat down at the kitchen table he replied, “He wanted to know if I wanted to buy his tractor.”

“Well why doesn’t he trade it in on a new one if he needs one?” Anna asked.

John paused, “He’s thinking about selling out and moving.” Then John proceeded to relate to Anna everything he and Jim had talked about.

Afterward John said, “I don’t know if he’s crazy or not. It seems kind of radical to me. I’m not sure why, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch.”

“Well, he might be saner than the rest of us,” Anna replied. “He does make sense in some of his logic.”

“So do you want to leave the country too?” John asked.

“No, I could never leave the kids and grandkids.” Anna said.

 

Categories: Christian Fiction, Political Thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Chapter Reveal: The Silver Locket, by Sophia Bar-Lev

Book Cover - The SIlver LocketTitle:  THE SILVER LOCKET

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

Author:  Sophia Bar-Lev

Website:  www.sophiabarlev.com

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:   When The Silver Locket opens, it’s July 1941 in Boston, Massachusetts. War is raging in Europe and the Pacific. But for two young women in a small town in New England waging their own personal battles, the struggle is way too close to home.

When extraordinary circumstances bring these two women together, one decision will alter the course of their lives.  And with that one decision, their lives will be forever changed…and forever intertwined.

Were these two women thrust together by happenstance—or fate?   A tragedy. A decision. A pact. Lives irretrievably changed. A baby girl will grow up in the shadow of a secret that must be kept at all costs. But will this secret ever see the light of day?  And what happens when—or if—a promise made must be broken?

Adopting a child is not for the feint of heart—but neither is being adopted…

A sweeping and suspenseful story that unfolds in a different time and a different place, The Silver Locket explores universal themes that ring true even today. Secrets. Unbreakable bonds. The healing power of love.  Deception. Anguish.  Redemption.

In this touching and tender tale, novelist Sophia Bar-Lev weaves a confident, quietly moving story about adoption, finding hope in the face of hopelessness, and how true love can overcome any obstacle. With its brilliant juxtaposition of the wars fought both on the battlefield and internally, The Silver Locket is a poignant novel, resplendent with drama.  Featuring an exceedingly real and relatable plot, and characters that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned, The Silver Locket is a sterling new read.

 

THE SILVER LOCKET

By Sophia Bar-Lev

Chapter 1

 

July 1941

Boston, Massachusetts

It was over in less than four minutes.  She lay motionless, zombie-like.

He laughed.  He laughed…looking down his nose at her, his steel blue eyes boring into her very soul.  Snickering, he turned away, grabbed her black bag and pounded across the tarmac, disappearing into the imposing residence barely a hundred and fifty yards away.  Shadows danced grotesquely on its façade, as if paying homage to sinister forces within the darkened mansion.

She was numb, half-dead.  Night breezes stirred the leaves above her head.

They moved; she didn’t.  Shredded bits of fabric swirled about, brushing across her face, lifting off, floating back down, teasing her, nudging her to get up and walk away.

She couldn’t.  Not yet.

A full hour passed; a full hour of her life stolen by shock – by crippling, deadening, devastating shock.

Suddenly a wail pierced the quiet.  It crescendoed into a howl, and just as quickly receded into deep, forceful sobs.  Ten minutes passed, then twenty, then thirty.  Finally, drained and spent, she rolled onto her side and with difficulty, stood to her feet.  She felt pain but chose to ignore it.  Disoriented, she searched her immediate surroundings for something familiar.  The darkness gave up no clue but her mind came to the rescue.

It was coming back to her now.  The critical patient at the hospital…the Irish doctor, the kind one…the new chaplain on staff…making one last round on the ward …the new chaplain…my keys, where did I put my keys…why was he standing there…the new chaplain

 

She took a few steps.

 

“I’m so proud of you, darling,” her Dad had whispered as he led her down the aisle three years ago.  Why are such thoughts coming up in my mind now?  She shook her head violently.

 

Approaching headlights distracted her.  Startled into reality, she pulled her torn dress close, her eyes darting around for a tree, a shrub, any place to hide.

The car slowed and a kindly voice called to her. “Do you need a ride, Miss?”  The white-haired driver had rolled down the window and getting out of the car he added, “It’s awfully late for you to be out walking by yourself, isn’t it?”  He made his way to the other side and opened the passenger door.  “Where do you need to go?” he asked.

Still partially hidden by shadows, she hesitated.  “Thank you,” she answered, her voice uneven.  “I’ll be…um… fine. Thank you.”

The driver inched forward sensing her anxiety.  “Are you sure?” he asked again.  “I don’t think…well, I’d be happy to give you a lift.”

The moon broke through the clouds at that precise moment and illuminated the bloody, dress and dirt-streaked face.  He gasped.  She pulled back.  Biting her lip, she shook her head back and forth but said nothing.

He paused where he stood, uncertain, confused.

“Shall I take you to the hospital?” he asked softly.

“No! No!” she practically screamed.  “Not there. No! No!”

“I can take you home,” he persisted. “Do you want to go home?”

She stared at him for several moments, then nodded.  Pulling her dress tighter across her chest, she stumbled toward him. He guided her to the open door.  Before getting in, she turned to him, “Please, Mister, please.  Promise me you won’t tell anyone about this.  Please.”

He searched her young face and thought of his own daughter about the same age.  He sighed and nodded, “OK.  If that’s what you want, OK.  Let’s just get you home.”

Categories: Christian Fiction, Women's Fiction | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Between these Walls, by John Herrick

HerrickBTWTitle: Between these Walls

Genre: Christian/New Adult

Author: John Herrick

Websitehttp://johnherrick.net/

Publisher: Segue Blue

Purchase link: http://www.johnherrick.net/betweenthesewalls/buybook.htm

SUMMARY:

The latest release by best-selling novelist John Herrick, Between These Walls is an extraordinary tale featuring an unforgettable protagonist, Hunter Carlisle.

About Between These Walls:  At 26 years old, Hunter Carlisle has a successful sales career, a devoted girlfriend, and a rock-solid faith. But Hunter also guards a secret torment: an attraction to other men. When a career plunge causes muscle tension, Hunter seeks relief through Gabe Hellman, a handsome massage therapist. What begins as friendship takes a sudden turn and forces the two friends to reconsider the boundaries of attraction. Along the road to self-discovery, Hunter’s secret is exposed to the community. Now Hunter must face the demons of his past and confront his long-held fears about reputation, sexual identity, and matters of soul.

A story about fear and faith, grace and redemption, Between These Walls braves the crossroads of love and religion to question who we are—and who we will become.

CHAPTER 1

Had Hunter seen what he thought he’d seen? Had he given Hunter a second glance?

At twenty-six years old, after so many years, Hunter wished the temptation would release its grip on him.

Hunter’s heartbeat increased at the possibility of mutual attraction, but he steadied himself.

Surrounded on three sides by frosted glass walls, the conference room sat in an interior section on the fourth floor of a suburban professional building. Pipeline Insurance Corporation offered extensive packages for life, home and automobile coverage. Its customers ranged from individuals to small businesses to large corporations.

Hunter had pursued this potential client by phone for three months, trying to get one foot in the door to explain the benefits of his own company’s products.

Two weeks ago, he had secured an appointment for ten o’clock this morning with Jake Geyer, a manager in the technology services department.

Hunter had expected a few Pipeline staff members to attend the demo session, but at the last minute, the others had canceled. This occurred often with Hunter’s cold-call appointments and, after four years in sales, Hunter had learned not to take offense when it happened.

Side by side, Hunter and Jake sat at a large, mahogany table, facing the frosted glass walls. The polished surface of the table cast a reflection of Hunter’s laptop computer.

“So the program offers dynamic address formatting to satisfy postal standards,” Hunter explained. “The program is Internet-based and interacts live with our central server. As you know, to obtain discounted rates for bulk mail, the postal service has strict requirements that vendors must meet. Our program ensures compliance at the point of entry.”

Jake stroked the stubble beneath his chin as he examined the sample data-entry program on Hunter’s laptop screen. With one arm bent at the elbow, the sleeve of his polo shirt wrapped taut around his bicep, revealing enough shape to suggest Jake worked out. Jake wore stylish, olive-green glasses, which blended well with his dirty-blond hair and enhanced the color of his green eyes. Hunter estimated Jake was only a few years older than he. Thirty years old at best.

“I understand how meeting those standards benefits us,” Jake said, “but our data entry staff keeps a printed document of postal standards on hand. One question my director would ask is, ‘What does your product accomplish that we can’t accomplish ourselves?’”

Hunter had anticipated that question. Every prospective client asked the same question during their first meeting. But Hunter, who worked with the software every day and understood its benefits, had learned to respect his prospective clients and allow them to grasp the concept at their own paces. Moreover, Hunter had discovered that he could read between the lines. Individuals would express their own needs and desires through their comments and questions, which, in turn, helped Hunter customize a case for how his own company’s product offered a solution. For Hunter, the sales pitch focused less on convincing a client of their need than presenting his product as a hero that would save the day. Hunter believed in the product he sold. He viewed his visits as opportunities to enhance the work of others.

“That’s a good question,” Hunter said. “You mentioned on the phone that you enter a large collection of records to your database throughout each day, plus a load of address changes when people move to new apartments or buy new homes. I assume you run quality-assurance reports on those entries?”

“Yes, we deliver the reports to our data entry staff each morning.”

“Do you ever find errors in those updates?”

“Nothing major. The data entry clerk might enter a wrong digit in the street address. They might spell out ‘Street’ or ‘Post Office’ instead of using the postal abbreviations. Things like that.”

“That’s typical for my prospective clients. The benefit our program would bring is to eliminate that second step from your business process. By formatting your addresses automatically upon entry, we eliminate user errors, which increases your efficiency rate and allows your data entry staff to start its day entering new data instead of revisiting the prior day’s work.”

Hunter glanced over at Jake, who nodded. Hunter sensed Jake had absorbed and understood the details.

Shifting in his seat, Hunter scooted so his back settled flush against the back of his chair. For the last few months, he’d felt recurring soreness in his lower back. Though frequent and lasting several hours at a time, the aches didn’t occur daily. The pain level ranged from minor discomfort to occasional bursts that would stab his lower back like a knife. He could sense it wasn’t a medical issue, though, and attributed it to stress on the job.

Hunter continued his pitch to Jake Geyer.

“Plus,” Hunter added, “we receive regular updates to verify the physical existence of homes and buildings, which helps prevent a wrong digit or character in your address. Our data ensures that, yes indeed, a building actually sits at 1234 Main Street and hasn’t been torn down. That would increase your deliverability rates and eliminate the cost of mailing material to addresses that don’t exist. You can take the money that used to go down the drain in returned mail and reinvest it to increase your profit margin.”

Jake glanced over at Hunter, held his gaze for a few seconds, the way he had several minutes ago, then examined the laptop screen again. Though Hunter wasn’t sure, he thought he caught a change in Jake’s eyes during contact. Jake’s pupils had dilated a trace.

Why did he glance at me?

Sure, it’s a normal human response in a business scenario. Yet Hunter couldn’t help but wonder if Jake was focused on Hunter’s explanation of the program, or if he’d used the glance as an excuse to take a quick inventory of Hunter’s eyes.

Jake tapped the edge of the laptop. “So this is the program here?”

“Sure is. I can walk you through a demo if you want.”

Jake slid his chair toward the laptop, leaned in closer to the screen. And closer to Hunter.

Jake set his glasses aside to view the screen, so perhaps he was nearsighted. Hunter noticed Jake’s eyes were closer to olive than standard green.

Hunter picked up the scent of a fresh shower. The scent was pleasant but possessed a sharp tang. Men’s shower gel.

Hunter’s heart rate began to roll with the steady pace of a treadmill. A quiver ran up his thighs. His right arm rested on the mahogany table an inch from Jake’s.

Hunter wished he didn’t enjoy the proximity. Such simplicity would come to his life if he could free himself from the appeal he found in other men.

When in the company of others, often he wondered if he was the only one who struggled like this.

He forced himself to refocus on the screen ahead.

“Here’s a sample program for a magazine subscription company.” Hunter waved his finger over the program window. “The company isn’t real.”

“How about the colors and layout? Our software application is branded with our logos and a couple of company Intranet links. Is this what the program would look like if we purchased it?”

If we purchased it? When a client started talking about purchase scenarios, Hunter considered it a positive indicator. Hunter smiled with fresh vigor. He stretched his lower back to the left, then to the right.

“We integrate our software into yours. We’ve done it that way with all our clients. Our product is compatible across any format you throw our way.” He pointed to a small icon of a company logo beside the address line. “We incorporate that little icon into your screen in case you’d want to visit our website to research a particular address further. Other than that, you won’t notice a difference onscreen. It’s seamless; everything else gets woven in behind the scenes. We store our data on our own server, so you maintain full privacy of your data.”

Hunter paused to allow the logistics to soak in, swiped his finger along the laptop’s touchpad, then tapped it. “We’ll create a new record for Hunter Carlisle.”

As he hit the keys on the keyboard, Hunter kept his eyes glued to the screen. But in his peripheral vision, he saw Jake tilt his head and run his fingers through his hair, the way you do to make yourself appear casual. But then, as Hunter continued speaking, he noticed Jake had broken his gaze from the computer. Jake’s irises moved toward Hunter’s face and lingered there, assuming Hunter didn’t notice. Hunter felt a flutter in his chest. He could hear the soft sound of Jake’s breathing.

If Hunter could create a product, he would invent a method to read another person’s mind. In times like these, a mind-reading tool would allow him to decipher why Jake studied him with such intentness. For all Hunter knew, Jake could be trying to figure out whether Hunter was an honest sales person who believed in his own product. Yet Hunter couldn’t help but wish for a kindred spirit, someone who struggled with the same attractions he did.

For someone to find him attractive—a mutual attraction.

He wanted to ask but knew he couldn’t mix personal affairs with professional business. Not that he would dare to out himself anyway.

Hunter cleared his throat. Jake’s eyes darted back to the screen.

Okay, he didn’t want Hunter to know he’d sneaked that glance. The question for Hunter was, Why?

Statistics would render chances slim that Jake held any attraction toward Hunter. Hunter knew the percentage of those who concealed homosexual urges was small. But he also knew that percentage wasn’t zero. Hunter remained aware that, with all the people who crossed his path in a year,someone out there harbored the same secret he did.

The question was, who are those someones? For Hunter, attempting to find the answer carried, at minimum, a heavy risk. And Hunter hadn’t sharpened his senses enough to detect those someones on his own.

The what-if scenarios, like the one in which he found himself right now, felt like mental torture: a continual flow of questions never asked and never answered. After all these years, it exhausted him.

“In my mailing address, I typed the full words ‘Street’ and ‘Suite.’ Also, I typed ‘4738’ as our street number—but our address is 4739. There’s no building at 4738,” Hunter said. “Now, keep an eye on that address line when I move to the next field.”

When Hunter moved his arm, he brushed Jake’s arm by accident.

But Jake didn’t move his arm right away. Usually others did. It took Jake an extra second before he even blinked.

With a hit of the Tab key, the cursor moved to the next data field. In the address line, as Hunter had predicted, the street number changed to 4739 and abbreviations replaced the full words Hunter had mentioned.

“And that’s how it works, in real time,” Hunter said. “Without those abbreviations, a piece of mail to that address would not have qualified for a discounted mailing rate. And with a nonexistent street number, unless your postal worker delivered it on his own initiative, the piece of mail would have returned to you, with the cost of postage wasted. And with our program, your data entry staff wouldn’t have needed to correct the address in the morning, despite the address errors typed into the record. Multiply that by the thousands of addresses you enter and use per year, and it can add up to a lot of savings.”

With that, Hunter allowed his words to settle. He would let the prospective client have the next word, to which Hunter would respond.

Jake leaned back in his chair. He crossed his leg, stroked his chin.

“I can see the benefit behind it,” Jake said. “The question for us would be, ‘Does the benefit outweigh the cost?’ That’s the first thing my director would ask. Our data entry people enter 95 percent of the data in its correct format. So for those remaining cases, are we spending more money on data entry hours than we would spend on the cost of the product? Looking at the cost structure you emailed me yesterday—well, I hate to say it, but I just don’t see how we’d end up ahead.”

Hunter dreaded that response. As good as his company’s product was, and as much money as it could save a client, their current efficiency rate proved a wild card every time. Hunter had no way of knowing those efficiency rates when he entered into these initial meetings, and clients tended to avoid answering that question if he asked too early.

Jake’s reply wasn’t good. Demonstration meetings like these were uphill battles from the onset, so Hunter entered them prepared to counter a variety of possible scenarios. In each case, he would help the potential client see the long-term value his product offered. But in one sentence, perhaps without realizing it, Jake had all but shut down Hunter’s case. In one sentence, Jake had addressed not only their present situation, but also applied high-level analysis and reached a conclusion. And he also served as gatekeeper to everyone else at Pipeline Insurance Corporation.

Hunter decided to go for the next-best scenario. If he couldn’t sell the full product, he would try to sell one of his company’s smaller products.

“I understand what you’re saying,” Hunter said. “Although the solution I demonstrated for you is our top-notch, flagship product, we also offer a range of other services to help improve efficiency.”

In a halfhearted manner, Jake thumbed through a brochure Hunter had laid on the table earlier. “Do all of your services require integration into the software? Do you offer a standalone product we could use on an as-needed basis? That would reduce our cost of implementation.”

Hunter winced inside. He saw where this conversation was headed, and it wasn’t headed toward a sale. He knew he couldn’t offer a viable alternative to meet their needs. The discomfort in Hunter’s back inflamed further.

“The software-integration aspect is a foundational piece of all our products. In fact, it’s one quality that sets us apart from other data providers because it provides a seamless user experience.”

Jake shifted in his seat. “I’m afraid you’d have a tough time selling that to my director. With the upfront costs that would come with integrating the software, and the work involved by the tech staff on our end … I can tell you right now, he won’t go for it. I can pass along to him anything you’d like me to pass along, but I’ve walked through enough projects with him to tell you there won’t be a sale.” He drummed his fingers once upon the table. “To be honest, I could tell from the literature you emailed yesterday that the software wouldn’t be a good match for us, but I wanted to give you a chance to stop by anyway, in case I’d misunderstood some of the details.”

Jake glanced at Hunter. Hunter caught a twinge of disappointment in his eyes.

“Man, I’m sorry,” said Jake, one young adult to another. “Working together would’ve been good.”

Hunter appreciated the remark. He also wondered if Jake had meant his comment about working together at face value, or if he’d referred to getting to see Hunter more often, had the deal worked out. Hunter couldn’t decipher the answer. Though he would never admit it to a soul, the latter notion incited a longing inside him.

“Hey, I understand.” Hunter bit his lower lip, started shutting down his laptop, and retrieved a flash drive from his saddle bag. “I’ll leave this flash drive with you. It contains a demo of our product for you to pass along to your director. If he expresses interest, feel free to contact me, okay?”

Jake reached out to receive the flash drive. Their fingertips brushed. Jake’s eyes caught Hunter’s again, as if searching for a potential next move. Hunter wanted more time to see what, if anything, hid behind the signals—or non-signals—he’d detected from Jake.

In the end, however, professionalism disallowed either man from asking questions or taking another step. In a social context, or if they knew each other better, perhaps they would have had more flexibility.

But today they didn’t.

Hunter hoped the forlorn expression in Jake’s eyes meant what he wished it did.

Chances were, it didn’t. But the fact that someone like Jake—a peer, an equal, and a handsome one at that—might have looked at Hunter and considered something more …

It left Hunter with a surge of warmth combined with the ache of another letdown.

Whether out of courtesy or a desire to savor the final moments their paths would cross, Hunter didn’t know, but Jake walked him down to the lobby.

They shook hands. They exchanged formal smiles. And Hunter walked out the door as Jake turned back toward the elevator.

Five steps out the door, with more than enough time for Jake to have reached the elevator, Hunter glanced back.

Through the glass walls of the lobby, he noticed Jake lingering at the elevator, glancing back at him.

The elevator door opened. Jake seemed to hesitate for a split second, as if caught between options of what to do next, then turned and entered the elevator.

Hunter nodded.

Another opportunity … vanished.

Categories: Christian Fiction | Tags: | Leave a comment

DEVIL’S ORCHESTRA by Sydney Molare

Title of Book: DEVIL’S ORCHESTRA
Genre: Christian Fiction
Author: Sydney Molare’
Website: www.sydneymolare.com
Publisher: Wings Press
ISBN: 978-1597058490

Summary:

 Tab McGrifth– #1 radio personality on the Eastern seaboard. He made his money the old way–by stepping on one person at a time. He’s lied, cheated and “misrepresented” whatever needed to be as he clawed his way to the top of the pile. Now the man that taught him everything he knows, his old mentor Whitey Ford, has returned….

Deva– Hip hop princess extraordinaire. Many are under the impression that she is just a gorgeous airhead. But nothing could be further from the truth. With her shrewd business mind and amazing “luck”, Deva is worth somewhere in the upper nine digit range. Deva, like all of us, has her faults. She loves the money–and what accompanies it–just a bit TOO much. In fact, she is slap out of control. When an old friend from back home, Ed Burris, confronts her about her lifestyle, things get explosive…

Juan Rodriguez– gay author and proud of it too. With his life partner, Zeus and son, Loam, Juan’s life is definitely on track. That is, until Bodie pops back into his life. Bodie. Blond, beach boy tan, Juan’s first lover. He put the w-h-o-r in whore…and doggonit if Juan wasn’t still feeling him…

And then there’s Luke…

Devil’s Orchestra…whose side are you really playing for?

***

You were recently named “Mississippi Hometown Hero, Most Likely to Succeed” and 2006 Mississippi’s Best Author.” How did that come about and how did it make you feel?”

 

The Mississippi Best Awards were conceived to spotlight Mississippi‘s best and brightest upcoming stars in various areas. I was nominated for the Best Author award and the top three nominees in each category got a shot at winning. I was elated when I won! I showed off my parent’s investment in braces when I picked up my plaque. The Hometown Hero and Most Likely to Succeed Awards came out of the blue. There were voted on by a panel and announced in the paper. I was stunned. I had no idea people in MS actually knew who I was! It validated my writing and definitely gave me a warm fuzzy deep in my soul. Shoot, I felt like I’d won an Oscar. Maybe next time…

You can purchase Sydney Molare’s book, DEVIL’S ORCHESTRA at Amazon.

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Categories: Christian Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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