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When Love's at Work (Embracing Love Trilogy)

Purity, Courtney and Meg are the She Musketeers, until Alex and Bobby enter the scene. A twenty-seven day job interview, tingling kisses, and Pure's crazy ex make for a bumpy ride to Happily Ever After. 

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The Embracing Love Trilogy Omnibus is now available. It includes all three books in the Embracing Love Trilogy!

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Chapter One



“I was not told that we would be using paper plates. This is unacceptable!” Marsha Persimmony proclaimed as the well-worn indentions on her hips were made deeper by thick fingers attached to firmly planted palms.

“We’ve rented everything you will need. We’re just waiting for items to arrive,” Sheila Martin explained to the frustrated caterer.

“Kathy’s Rentals will be here within half an hour. Sheila is correct, everything you need will be made available to you. Nothing will be served on paper plates, I can assure you,” Purity said as she stepped between the two women who were now only a few feet apart.

“Well, I hope they get here soon,” Marsha grumbled as she turned her back on the duo and headed for the kitchen.

Purity winked at Sheila. “So, how’s it going so far?”

“Everything is going according to schedule, boss.” Sheila presented Purity with a checklist attached to a clipboard. Over half the items were marked with a red checkmark.

“I’m beginning to think they should hire you for the job.”

Sheila smiled at the compliment, but Purity saw hesitation in her eyes. She wondered why Sheila hadn’t applied for the job as events coordinator at The Kids’ Place. After all, she’d been practically doing the job for the past five years.

Putting her hand on Purity’s arm, Sheila said, “You have to come see the raindrops. They’re gorgeous!”

As they entered the multi-purpose room at the community center, Pure’s eyes danced with delight at the sight that met her gaze. Everywhere she looked she saw shimmering glass in varying shades of blue gently suspended from the ceiling. They were swaying in a faux breeze created by fans strategically placed throughout the area. Some rivaled the ocean in color while others were as creamy as a midnight sky. The effect was enchanting.

Sheila and Purity watched as Tapestry Jones tied the almost invisible fishing line through the puffy cloud material and attached it to a wooden frame. When about 15-20 raindrops were all secure, Tapestry used a pulley system to raise the entire structure high into the air.

Purity waited until the fixture was in place before giving her friend a big hug. “It’s perfect!”

“Hey!” Tap greeted her friend and returned the heartfelt embrace. “It looks good, yes?”

“Good, no. Fabulous, yes! You’ve certainly come a long way from art class seven years ago.”

“We both have.”

“I hate to interrupt,” Sheila began, “but Kathy’s Rentals just arrived. I thought you might want to make sure everything goes okay with Marsha Persimmony.”

“I definitely do. Thanks, Sheila.” Purity headed for the building entryway.

“Hey, Pure, I only have four more of these to hang,” Tap said, “then I’m done. When’s this gig going to be over so I can come take them down?”

“If all goes according to plan,” Purity said, crossing her fingers for emphasis and for good luck, “everyone should be out of here by 9:30.”

“So, if I plan to be here around 10, would that be okay?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Purity saw Kathy Jacobsen just as Marsha Persimmony was making a beeline toward her. Purity quickened her pace so she would reach Kathy before Marsha.

“Let me introduce you,” Purity intervened with an ease borne from communication and conflict resolution class role playing exercises, not to mention dealing with her own family dynamics.

Everything seemed to be under control and Purity couldn’t help but notice her eyes wandering to the entryway for signs of Alex McCallister.

Pure’s adrenaline had risen to a medium-high level, creating a soft glow on her face and a lovely pink tint to her cheeks.

It was the first thing Alex McCallister noticed when he walked through the door. That and the fact that Purity never looked as beautiful as she did at that very moment.

Alex figured she was a shoo-in for the job. All the board members thought she was wonderful, not that they had told Purity that. They were stringing her along like a fish with a hook in its mouth. They had finagled it in such a way that they were able to get three fundraisers organized in two months. They should perpetually be looking to hire someone, he thought tactically. Then they’d never have to pony up a dime to hire an events coordinator at all.

“Looks damn good, eh?” Mark Watterson said, slapping Alex on the back cordially.

Alex wasn’t sure if he was referring to the room or Purity. Either way, the answer was yes.

“Yes. I’d say Ms. Zyetta has done a wonderful job and potentially raised the highest amount of money of our three candidates,” Alex said.

“We’ll see after she gives us her report on Wednesday.”

Sheila Martin overhead the conversation and couldn’t be more thrilled. Purity Zyetta might just be her new boss.

It was almost 10:00pm and only a few stragglers were left talking and gathering their belongings. Pure was ready for the event to be over. She desperately wanted to remove her shoes, put her feet up and indulge in a second piece of Marsha Persimmony’s white chocolate cake with raspberry cream filling and mocha ganache. That alone had been worth the price of admission.

Tapestry would be back soon to take down the raindrops. Pure hoped she would get some additional business from the event. All of Tap’s brochures had been taken from the vendor promotion table, which was a good sign.

The only slight glitch in the festivities happened when the guitar player in the band, who apparently had a few too many drinks or a bit of chemical overload, fell off the stage area and almost landed in Alice Anderson’s wild alaskan salmon. Luckily he wasn’t injured, nor was the salmon, nor Alice Anderson.

She was glad tomorrow was Sunday. She’d be able to gather up the myriad of receipts, paperwork and notes and create a report out of the hodge-podge.

Tapestry Jones and her sometime assistant/sometime boyfriend came walking into the room with a dolly loaded to the brim with boxes.

“Hi Chance,” Pure said, giving him a hug and a quick peck on the cheek.

“Hey, Pure, how’d it go?”

“Sheer perfection. And, thank God it’s over,” Purity leaned forward and whispered the latter half.

“Pure likes to plan and organize and make to-do lists but when it comes to the actual event, she loses interest,” Tapestry explained to Chance. “Is it okay if we start taking stuff down now?”

“Absolutely. Do you need any help?”

“Nope, I’ve got my muscley lover here to help me.” Tapestry linked arms with Chance and led him toward the far corner of the room.

Sheila approached Purity and told her the folks from Kathy’s Rentals had arrived to retrieve their tableware and Marsha Persimmony and her crew were all packed up and ready to head out.

“Sheila, you’re amazing. This event would not have gone as smoothly if you had not been involved. You’re taking Monday off, right?”

“I hadn’t planned to take Monday off, but if you okay it, I’d really love to,” Sheila said, gratitude evident in her voice.

“It is well-earned. I think you can head for home now, too. I’ll stay until Tapestry and Chance are done taking down the raindrops and then I’ll follow the procedures for returning the keys, turning off the lights and heat, and securing the building.”

“Great,” Sheila said, more than ready to slide her tired body between her favorite cotton sheets and curl up for a good night’s rest.

As soon as the “official” vendors were out of the building and the doors had been locked, Pure took off her shoes, sat down by Tapestry and Chance and breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

“Did you get a chance to spend much time with Amazing Assed Alex?” Tapestry asked.

 “No. He didn’t stay for the entire event. I didn’t even get to exchange two words with him. I saw him talking with the president, but then he was gone.”

“Do you think you’ll get the job?” Chance asked, carefully putting a glass raindrop in bubble wrap before placing it in a thick cardboard box.

“She’ll get it,” Tap answered with confidence..

“I hope so,” Pure said.

After all the raindrops were safely packed away, the trio headed out the door, with one last check to make sure everything was as it should be and the doors were secure.

“Lunch next week sometime?” Tap asked.

“Definitely. E-mail me.”

“Good to see you, again, Purity,” Chance said.

“You, too, Chance.”

As they all left the parking lot, Pure felt a twinge of jealousy that Tapestry had someone special to share her life with. Someone who could be trusted and counted on.

Within fifteen minutes, Purity was pulling into her apartment complex, thankful the managers believed in lighting every nook and cranny of the parking area and landscaping. It made her feel more comfortable when she came home late in the evening since she hardly knew any of her neighbors, even though she’d lived in the complex for almost five years.

Pure grabbed her briefcase, and the Diet Coke she had gotten from the McDonalds drive-through, and headed toward her home.

It always felt good when she opened her door and the familiar surroundings embraced her. The warm color scheme of creams, beiges, and taupes, offset by a few splashes of burgundy and a deep turquoise, brought rest to her spirit.

Right now her little haven needed a good cleaning and a shovel to make a path through all the debris.

Once she got the job as events coordinator, Pure promised herself she’d get back into a routine. She missed doing Yoga and hadn’t been on her stationary exercise bike in weeks, which she always considered the very least amount of exercise she could do.

Purity slipped her shoes off and began to undress. She couldn’t wait to change into her well-worn pajamas and head for the internet. Meg and Courtney would be waiting to hear how things went at the fundraiser.

While flossing her teeth, something her dental hygienist had finally gotten her to do on a daily basis, Pure remembered when the three women met nine years ago.

The Methodist Church she attended was having a women’s retreat. Pure had not wanted to go, but several of the women she met said they were going and it had been a huge success the previous year, so Purity signed up.

The first few hours of the retreat, Pure found herself wondering what she had gotten herself into. The group was supposed to reflect on obstacles they had experienced in their faith journey. As if she was going to spill her guts to people she barely knew. Well, the women that began sharing talked about how they never lost faith, never doubted, and if you just believed in God, everything would be fine.

Pure knew she was in the wrong place. Practically everyone in the Bible had doubted at one time or another and here these women were saying you should never doubt, or ask questions, or wonder why. Were they kidding?

There was a half hour break and Purity was deciding how she was going to make a graceful exit and head back home when Meg Silvers and Courtney Abrams came walking over from opposite directions. The three women almost collided, as they were all lost in their own thoughts.

“Woah, sorry,” Meg said. “Guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”

“Me either,” agreed Courtney.

“I was paying attention,” Purity said. “Paying attention to where the road out of here is.”

 “I was thinking the same thing,” Meg replied with giggles ringing in her voice.

“Me, too!” Courtney exclaimed. “Just what in the hell is all this crap about just believing and never having any doubts? I have a ton of doubts.”

“You swore! You’re going to hell,” Meg said, her smile contradicting her words.

“Are you really going to leave?” Courtney asked Purity.

“I don’t know.” Pure looked down at her feet.

“If you stay, I’ll stay,” Courtney said.

“If you stay, I’ll stay,” Meg joined in, meeting Courtney’s eyes and then Purity’s.

“Well, if we’re going to hell, we might as well all go together,” Purity said and put her hand into the middle of the circle the women had created.

Meg put her hand on top of Purity’s, then Courtney put her hand on top of Meg’s, then Pure again, and Meg again, and Courtney again until there was a frenzy of hand slapping going on.

“I’m actually looking forward to this retreat now!” Meg said excitedly. “Let’s go move our stuff into the same room.”

As they walked toward the cabins on a windy gravel trail flanked by pine trees, Pure thought about her new friends and thanked God for having their paths cross at just the right time.

“Hey!” Courtney stopped walking, turned around and looked at the two women. “What’s your name?”

They exchanged names and continued walking, the scent of lavender and hyacinth filling their senses as they followed the path.

Meg had ash blonde hair, cut short in a bob with the ends in the front hanging a bit longer than the ends in the back. Freckles crossed the bridge of her pert little nose. She resembled a pixie with a lilting voice and a radiant smile.

Courtney was the complete opposite with straight blue-black hair, one visible peace symbol tattoo on her left ankle, ten piercings in her ears, and more black and silver jewelry on her arms than Purity owned. She was striking with her olive skin, blood red lips, and black eyeliner.

Rinsing her mouth with Listerine, Purity’s thoughts came back to the present. Yep, they would be waiting to hear news of the night’s events and if she didn’t e-mail them soon, they’d be calling, even though it was almost midnight.

Courtney was a night owl. As long as Pure had known her she couldn’t call her house before 11am or Court would spend the first ten minutes of their conversation demanding to know what was so important that she had to be woken up to hear it.

 Pure curled up on the sofa with her laptop. As soon as she logged on to the internet she heard Courtney’s duck quack, signifying she had received an instant message.

“How’d it go?” Court wanted to know.

Purity sent a message back. “Superb! Wonderful! Fabulous! And, best of all IT’S OVER!!!!!”

“Five exclamation points. That’s a good sign,”

“How was your night?”

“You don’t even want to know.”

“What! Why?”

“It’s hard enough to fend off a guy with two hands, let alone one who seems to have twenty. I couldn’t say good-bye fast enough.”

“Sorry,” Pure replied.

“Such is life. You think God’s trying to tell me something?”

“Look before you leap?”

“Ha! I was looking, he was leaping! LOL.”

Purity sent Court a smiley face icon, then wrote, “I’m beat, Court, I’m skipping church tomorrow and sleeping in. Want to get together in the afternoon?”

“Skipping church? You bad girl. Tomorrow afternoon sounds great. How about around 2:00pm? I’ll bring Ben and Jerry if you bring pasta-something-or-other.”

“Consider it done. See ya tomorrow.”

Purity fired off an e-mail to Meg asking her to pick up some french bread and swing by her place the next day around 2:00pm, then added that everything went great with the event.

Pure ignored the rest of her e-mails. They could wait until morning. She logged off the internet, then went into the kitchen and peered into her refrigerator. She hoped she still had a bag of mixed salad greens so she could throw together a salad for tomorrow’s meal. The salad would help balance out the calories from the ice cream, she reasoned. There it was and it wasn’t even slimy. Score! Now it was time for some shut-eye.

 

 

 

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