Welcome my author friend Victoria Bylin to the blog today!
She's here to share an excerpt from her story When He Found Me.
When He Found Me
A book written by Victoria Bylin
Story excerpt from Chapter 3
Kim waited for more, but MJ didn’t oblige. Being a single mom no longer carried a stigma, but Cody’s lack of a father embarrassed her. She hated not having the answer to the question he’d someday ask.
Who’s my father?
MJ didn’t have a good answer. She had gone to a party with Nicole and met a guy whose name was lost in a fog of rum and Coke. Disposing of her virginity had seemed like the best decision she ever made—until it happened. At that moment, she had felt violated, embarrassed, and alone. Shaking off the past, she focused on the business at hand. “Did you speak with the renter?”
“He didn’t return my call, but he’ll be here at two.”
MJ glanced at the clock. He’d be arriving any minute, and she wanted to neaten up. “Where the lady’s room?”
“Down the hall.”
MJ stood and called Cody. “Let’s make a pit stop.”
Her son scrambled over the carpeted blocks and together they went to take care of business. As she washed his hands and face, he squirmed and water splattered her tee shirt. Hoping it would dry quickly, she brushed her hair and dabbed on lipstick. She didn’t look like a landlord, but she knew how to be professional. She had done a good job managing SassyGirl. Too bad the chain went bankrupt. She could have taken accounting classes and moved into management.
Sighing, she inspected herself in the mirror, squared her shoulders, and reached for Cody’s damp hand. “Let’s go, kiddo.”
They arrived in the lobby just as the glass door swung wide and in walked a man with startling blue eyes.
Her mouth gaped.
His brows arched.
Yesterday when they met, stubble had covered his jaw. Today he was clean-shaven and dressed in a button-down oxford that matched his eyes. Khakis emphasized his long legs, and his dark blond hair was neatly combed away from his angular face. She couldn’t help but notice his broad shoulders and muscular arms, the way he stood tall with an air of confidence. He looked nothing like the middle-aged history teacher she’d been expecting, though she recalled the stiff way he picked up the coins she dropped.
Kim held out her hand. “Shane, it’s good to see you.”
So “S” stood for Shane.
He accepted Kim’s hand and greeted her, but his eyes darted back to MJ. They were full of questions and bright with undisguised pleasure.
Kim gazed at him with her made-up eyes while apologizing for what she called “a little mix-up.”
To MJ, the mix-up wasn’t little. She was prepared to negotiate with a stranger, not the man who bought the shoes on her feet. She wanted to thank him, of course. But she also wanted out of the negotiations about the house. S. Riley made her want to smile and flirt—and to forget she was facing a hysterectomy. She didn’t need that complication in her life and neither did Cody. She had to terminate the lease, but she was sorry about it. He’d been kind to her, and she was repaying him with a big inconvenience.
Kim moved on to the introductions. “Shane, this is MJ Townsend. She owns the house you rented.”
“We’ve met.” With a twinkle in his eyes, he offered his hand. “L is for Laundromat.”
She clasped his fingers, felt the warmth of his grip, and told her racing pulse to slow down. “S is for shoes. Thank you. It was a wonderful gift.”
His gaze dropped to her feet and her toes curled. He focused back on her face and smiled. “They fit.”
He turned to Cody, who was staring up at him wide-eyed. S. Riley’s face relaxed into a smile. “You have on the cleats.”
“I like them best,” the boy answered.
Kim interrupted. “So you two know each other?”
“A little,” Shane answered.
Kim waited, but neither of them explained further. With a wave of her hand, she indicated the sofa. “Let’s sit and I’ll clue Shane in to the problem.”
MJ needed to tell Kim she had changed her mind about the arrangement. She also had to get Cody settled again with the toy train. When Shane headed to the couch, she murmured to Kim, “I need to talk to you.”
“There’s a problem.”
Cody interrupted in a loud voice. “Mommy, why is that man here?”
She gripped his shoulder in an effort to steer him to the play area. “I’ll tell you later. It’s time to play with the train.”
The boy glared at her. “I don’t want to.” After three days of travel he was on the verge of a meltdown.
Irritation flickered in Kim’s eyes. “So what’s the problem?”
Cody pulled away from her. “I want to know now. Mommy, who is he?”
MJ gripped both of her son’s shoulders and lowered her chin. “Cody, you need to play with the toys while I take care of business.”
“Hey, Cody.” The voice belonged to Shane Riley. “Where’s that train?”
His mouth agape, the boy stared at Shane. MJ had seen that expression before—in grocery stores when they saw families together, in church when a dad carried a child on his shoulders. Cody’s hunger for a father was a like baby’s desire for milk. No way could MJ let her son get close to Shane Riley. Cody would surely get his heart broken. Until she knew where she stood with a hysterectomy, she and Cody needed to keep their distance from men, especially men who were good-looking and kind.
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances.
Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.
She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.
Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky.
When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.
Blurb for Victoria's book, When He Found Me:
Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom with an adorable son and a troubled heart.
MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete—no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell.
Even more complicated, MJ discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister—a wounded woman facing a life-or-death decision of her own.
Review of When He Found Me, posted to Amazon.com by Tracey:
When He Found Me is one of those rare books that touched me to the core. It's an emotional love story on a number of levels, between a man and a woman, a brother and sister, a mother and child, but overall it's the story of God's love for all of us.
When He Found Me doesn't shy away from exposing the reality of modern day issues, alcohol and domestic abuse, unwed pregnancy and abortion, STI's and their treatment, but Bylin handles them all with a delicate hand of honesty and grace always pointing the way to where true healing can be found.
Her characters are real, flawed and broken in every way possible, physically, emotionally and spiritually. They endure the consequences of both their own choices and those of others, wondering where God is in the process. Bylin has expertly woven in the Gospel message amid all her characters life experiences, providing a truly fine example of sharing God's truth with a hurting world. Even the series title, Road to Refuge, has a depth and weight of meaning, as God is our Refuge.
There are plenty of lighthearted and funny moments that keep the story from feeling too heavy while dealing with very serious topics. Some of the funniest moments are Shane's salmon references, particularly "I'm no one special. Just a guy who envied salmon." It has to be read in context, but it's hilarious.
Victoria Bylin has written an important story for our times that will challenge the reader to more deeply contemplate what they believe about others, themselves and God. Simply put, When He Found Me is a stunning and powerful work of fiction from a persuasive and talented writer. I could not have loved it more!
Buy Victoria's book on Amazon
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