Authors: Kristen Joy Wilks
Tags: #christian Fiction
Kristen Joy Wilks
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT 2015 by Kristen Joy Wilks
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
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Contact Information: [email protected]
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
Cover Art by
White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410
White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC
First White Rose Edition, 2015
Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-468-8
Published in the United States of America
In Memory of Shamu
You were an adorable puffball who ended up outweighing me.
Although you dragged us into the pond, river, lake, and creek, you thoroughly won our hearts, despite all the hair and slobber. May God watch over you and provide enough squirrels and puddles and shady patches of ice for it to truly be Heaven.
The Dog Guy
I yanked my carry-on toward baggage, trying not to look like the girly-clothes-neophyte that I really was. Twenty-five years of being me had soundly proven one thing. The girl with the giant collection of classic sci-fi T-shirts never ever gets the guy. This was a rare opportunity. I refused to waste it by being myself.
And so, like Cinderella sneaking into the ball, I had donned a disguise and stepped on the plane. A white linen suit began the deception, followed by petal-pink heels. A mother-of-pearl hair clip restrained my long, mostly brown hair into a French twisty thing I’d constructed with the aid of an online tutorial. I also carried an honest-to-goodness purse. The purse was pink. Hey, if I was going over to the dark side, I might as well go all the way.
Perhaps it seems irresponsible to snatch up the first international plane ticket that comes in the mail and rush away for a week of castle ogling and pastry consumption on foreign soil. But I’d done so, nonetheless. Ahem, free plane ticket! And it had come from my long-lost grandmother, not some creepy guy with a pencil moustache. Besides, I know God has plans and He is good and all that, but just the tiniest glimpse into my past would not overly tax Him. How on earth could I guess at what I would become, if I had no idea where I’d come from?
Right before my plane left, I’d won the bonus prize. An e-mail had come from Freja, my Danish cousin, wanting to meet for brunch. I had family in Denmark, living family. There was no way I would miss the chance to meet Freja.
I clicked to a stop beside the baggage carousel, watching for the suitcase that matched my pumps. A monstrous bark startled me from my luggage musings. I teetered around for a look.
A giant Newfoundland dog pressed its nose against an equally gargantuan crate over by the luggage dollies. The animal had shaggy black fur, floppy ears, and a massive head with sagging jowls. A blond guy knelt in front of the beast, attempting to sooth it with a small baggy of sausage treats. The treats didn’t last long. As the barking commenced again the guy looked up and smiled.
It must have been the dress. I have never had such a smile directed my way. He had a dimple, a real live dimple in his cheek, artfully mussed blond hair, and blue eyes that seemed to sparkle. I tripped over my insufferable heels. He turned away and attempted to cover up a laugh with a falsified fit of coughing.
I’d spent two whole minutes in his presence as a gorgeous-heel-wearing-girl, and already my cover was blown.
It was Bret’s fault, really. Being raised by a bachelor had its distinct disadvantages. Bret simply did not have the necessary experience to teach me any feminine wiles.
I’d spent much of my childhood in foster care. Then the young youth pastor of our local church went on a short term mission to the Ukraine. Bret came back with a broken heart, unable to live with himself until he adopted his very own dysfunctional little family. Bret rushed through foster care training at light speed. Within six months, he was the naïve father of a sullen twelve-year-old boy and a rambunctious ten-year-old (me) with the attention span of a Springer Spaniel.
Much life occurred. Bret found himself in serious need of a miracle parenting device to save his sanity. Thus, strategy board gaming came into our rarely-dusted home. Jesse (the sullen twelve-year-old) would actually talk if he had a pair of dice in hand. As long as I sat down for my turn and didn’t lose any pieces, Bret didn’t mind if I made mad dashes around the table or did a few flips off the couch in between rolls. We all survived long enough to grow up, but my eternal geekdom (and lack of dates) was sealed.
Ok, let me clarify. I have been on dates. If only my favorite science fiction series (Star Jumpers) were real, I would get Snarvich the Reticent to do a mind meld so I could forget them. I do not count dates where the guy cannot talk. I do not count dates where the guy will only talk in made up languages. And I most assuredly do not count dates where the guy starts out the conversation by asking what size breastplate I would wear if he’d scored tickets for the week long reenactment of his favorite dragon movie.
I yanked my attention away from my almost Prince Charming and focused on the passage of suitcases around the carousel. I teetered closer to the sea of trundling luggage, my inadequacies in the high heel department becoming blatantly obvious. So much for my disguise.
I dropped my purse. With a few clacking steps, I maneuvered back to where it had fallen. Was my skirt too short to bend over? I wobbled a little but snagged the purse with a finger. My heel stuck in the strap. I yanked. It remained immovable. I yanked again. No luck. With careful precision I attempted to liberate the purse while simultaneously lifting the offending heel off the ground. Standing on one leg while wearing girlish attire for the first time in nearly a decade is harder than it looks.
I pitched forward toward the rolling luggage carousal with windmilling arms and inarticulate squeaks of dismay. My fashionably-clad self plopped down amongst the luggage. Unmindful of my peril, the conveyer continued to trundle along toward a black tunnel where the bags were slurped down into the darkness. A red sign on the left caught my eye.
No Bags with Lose Straps
No Luggage Constructed of Soft, Easily Shredded Materials.
Any Damage is the Fault of the Ticket Holder.
My person was a plethora of soft, strappy, easily shredded material. I struggled to escape. The fate of a flimsy duffel bag awaited me within the dark maw of that luggage tunnel.
I kicked my legs like a frantic ladybug upended by a pack of Kindergarteners. Stuck. I was stuck and this infernal pencil skirt resisted all my efforts to right myself.
My only chance was to wriggle like a worm and flap my arms, thus launching my person off the conveyer. I glanced at the approaching tunnel, and then down at the gleaming tile where I would surely break my nose. Ugh, I had no choice. Perhaps I would manage some kind of miracle handstand and not actually smash my face. I flopped and scrambled until my head hung over the conveyer edge. My hands scrabbled at the slick tiles below me, but the conveyer failed to slow. My only chance was to jump. One last desperate wiggle and I began to tip. I closed my eyes and threw my arms out, hoping to soften my imminent crash.
I fell and landed in a pair of strong arms.
Someone had snatched me out of the air. My head rested against a large, solid shoulder. I lay there for a moment, dazed. My hairclip hung over my eyes in a nest of tangles. I pushed the mess of brown and gold strands aside and looked up. It was the dog guy. I was in his arms, pressed snugly against him, heart pounding, and mortally embarrassed.
“Hey, you ok?” He peered around my fly-away hair, his blue eyes intent.
“Um, my shoe, and the purse…my luggage is pink!”
“So I would presume.” He grinned and tipped me onto my feet, leaving his hands on my shoulders for a moment until I was steady. Then he bent and scooped up my pink shoe.
The dog started barking again, and the dog guy rummaged in his jacket for another treat. “Sit here for a moment and catch your breath. You can watch Leroy for me. I’ll go ask about your bag.”
Oh, my goodness, he was adorable and gallant. But the power of my new clothes was surely waning. The linen suit sported black smears from the conveyer belt, and my left heel was now bent sideways.
Leroy blasted me with another deafening bark. His brown eyes were expectant, and drool glistened in moist strings from his jowls. He didn’t seem too ferocious, only hungry. “It’s just one suitcase and under the name, Morgan Ravn.” He nodded and started off. After a couple steps, he turned back.
“And I’m August. August Bruun.” I shook his hand and pushed my glasses back up on my nose, as though this happened to me every day. I mean I talked to guys all the time for work. But they never, ever had dimples.
Normally I could be found working in the studio apartment I rented from Bret’s Aunt Hildy. It sat over her garage, which was full of collectable dolls and feral cats. On my rental agreement, it actually states that I am responsible to trap at least ten cats a month and force them into good homes.
When I am not capturing cats, I work as a free-lance miniature sculptor. It sounds very artsy doesn’t it? Mostly I’m hired by aspiring board game designers. They need good quality miniatures to get that childhood fantasy game they’ve been playing with their cousins for two decades up on a crowd-funding site for publication. My normal day goes like this:
Phone rings and I pick it up.
“Morgan’s Marvelous Miniatures, how can I help you?”
“I need to order a dozen trolls, four elves, and an adventurer who looks like…” He names a famous Caucasian movie star, “…only he has to be Asian.” The voice is a man whom I later learn is Nate from Idaho.
“No problem, what do you have in mind?” Because it is never that simple. My clients tend to be detail obsessive.
“My trolls are special,” says Nate from Idaho. “They have three nostrils and the females have a golden ring in the left nostril, the males have a golden ring in the right nostril, and if they reach the rank of captain they get a golden hoop through the middle nostril. But only males make captain if they are trolls from the Mountains of Snorgrath, and only females make captain if they are trolls from the snorting planes of Baurghlashenham. The mountain trolls should be whirling a mace above their heads, but the plains trolls only use scimitars. And don’t make them weenie scimitars like your classic Aladdin-style weapon. These swords should be huge, at least the size of a Scottish claymore…maybe even longer. Got all that?”
Yep, such is my life. It pays the bills, but doesn’t garner much glamour…or very many encounters with normal-type males. But here I was in Denmark, clutching a pink purse and watching a ridiculously handsome man search for my luggage.
I sighed. There was no way this was real. I watched his retreating back, hoping the man was nearsighted. Who was I kidding? Eventually August was bound to put in his contacts or pull out a pair of glasses and realize what I actually looked like. Although the most likely scenario involved me spouting some bit of geeky trivia and revolting him.