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Monday, October 03, 2016

Hot Chocolate in October

Only 99 cents for limited time.

Cocoa Tanner is determined to make it through life on her own, without help from anyone, even God. Bill James, still reeling from the tragedy of losing his wife and twins in a car accident, is not yet ready to open the door for God to return to his life. Two people, thoroughly disenchanted with their perception of God, turn to one another, only to find out there's more to God than meets the eye.



Excerpt...


Chapter 1
Grand Rapids, Michigan




Cocoa Walker unlocked the door and flipped the sign. This was it. Make or break, her business had officially opened. Too bad no ribbons adorned the front door, and she didn’t stand out front with the mayor holding big scissors in her hands. Pipe dreams. She exhaled, praying that someone would walk in the door. Anyone. She squared her shoulders and turned to wait close to the wonderful smelling coffee brewing in the background. No sooner had she stepped behind the counter than the chimes above the door jingled, and her first customer walked in.


A real person, coming to buy her coffee. She’d dreamed of it, but fear had caused her to doubt her ability to do this. Fear that people would stay far away from the doors of the Common Ground. After all, what was one more coffee shop in a land of many?

But this, this was a customer. A customer! Cocoa couldn’t stop herself from running around the counter. She flung herself into the man’s arms. He staggered under her unexpected attack.


“My very first customer. Congratulations.” Cocoa stepped away. “Your coffee is on the house.”


The man, a stranger, looked around as if checking for other patrons, red creeping up his neck. “Are you going to greet all your customers like that? Or am I the lucky one?”


Cocoa laughed and shrugged. Heat warmed her cheeks. “What would you like to drink, sir?” She pulled at the hem of her short pink skirt, and moved behind the counter.


The man eyed her. “You look like a dark haired Barbie doll. My niece has several; she doesn’t like the blonde ones. She dresses them in pink mini dresses and high heels too.”


Cocoa giggled. She knew she didn’t look anything like Barbie’s friend, but it sure sounded good. “You’re my friend for life.”


“Do you have any hot chocolate? It’s awful cold out there.”


“Sure. Coming right up.”


“I’ll take it to go,” the man said.

Cocoa prepared his hot chocolate and set it on the counter. The man handed her exact change.

“I told you it was on the house.” Cocoa shoved the money toward him and watched as he pocketed it.

“Thanks. I work a couple buildings away. I’ll be back. Do you serve lunch here?”


“Not yet. Right now it’s strictly coffee. But we do have donuts.” She gestured toward a glass display case displaying the goodies she’d purchased from a local bakery, at a discount, because she was friends with the owner. “I’d eventually like to expand to serving deli sandwiches.”


The chimes jingled again, and the man stepped away from the counter. “See you tomorrow.” He nodded to an older lady wearing a pink knit cap and jacket, then disappeared out the door.

Cocoa watched him go, admiring his strong stride. She let out a deep breath. “Wow. He’s cute.” Not that she was interested.

“Don’t waste your time.” The woman glanced after him. “I work the floor above his, and all the young ladies pant after him. Mr. James is married to his job. I’ll take a hazelnut coffee and a chocolate donut to go.”

“Coming right up.” Cocoa stopped herself from asking what Mr. James did for a living.

Bill’s brain whirled as he strode away from the new coffeehouse. It had been a long time since he held a woman in his arms. Not since his wife, Beth… He took a deep ragged breath. He couldn’t allow himself to think about it. If he did, he’d fall apart. He poured himself into his job so he wouldn’t have to cope with his loss. Losses.


He frowned at the pedestrian light as he waited for it to turn green. As if that would make it change any faster. That woman at the new coffee shop had seemed very alive in his arms. He could get used to that. It would do him well to stay far away from her and her little shop. But—he didn’t want to.
What had possessed him to mention her looks? That comment came out of nowhere and left him reeling. He must have reacted to her impulsive personality. Any guy who got to catch a beautiful, enthusiastic stranger would react with confusion.


The light changed and Bill joined the crowd crossing the street. The disposable cup in his hand was warm. Warmer than his heart. Sometimes it seemed like he had died along with his family. Instead of living, he’d become a deep aching chasm.


“Hi, Bill.”

He froze at the seductive voice that interrupted his thoughts seconds before he reached his office building. He glanced to the side, and his eyes met the dark gaze of the building’s beauty, Miranda Lowe.


“Miranda. You’re a bit early today, aren’t you?” Bill glanced at his watch.


“I wanted to catch you. It’s been awhile since we talked. Are you free for lunch?”


Panic caused his stomach to churn. “No. No, I’m not. Sorry, I have another engagement.” And he would. If nothing else came up, he’d hang out at the coffeehouse and talk to the green-eyed owner.





Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Birdhouse. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is contracted for another three book Amish series set in the Jamesport area, with the first book, The Amish Firefighter, planned for April 2016.

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