Gentle suspense. Tortured heroes. Mischievous heroines.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jenny says: "Three Gifts is a must read this Christmas Season!"

Three Gifts [Kindle Edition]

Claire Sanders 

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Kindle Price:$0.95 includes free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet

Molly Hanson knows that the Lord has sent her a good, loving man and that marriage is the next step. But her fiancé won’t set a date until he’s landed a steady job, and that’s not easy in today’s economy.


Raised by his grandmother, Jack Stewart can’t imagine abandoning her. He not only loves his grandmother, he feels responsible for her care now that her health is failing. But if he doesn’t find a good-paying job soon, he may be forced to choose between life with Molly and life as a dutiful grandson.


On Christmas morning, Jack receives three precious gifts of the heart, three gifts that open his eyes to the tender grace of true love.

  • Excerpt
    Copyright © 2012 Claire Sanders

    Jack Stewart threw his suit jacket onto the passenger’s seat of his pickup truck and kicked the door shut. How many more job interviews would it take? Sure, he was a good candidate. Of course, they’d love to hire him if they could, but there were other experienced applicants willing to relocate to corporate headquarters, or work on distant sites.
    He clenched his fists at his sides. Was he wrong to stay close to home? Abandoning his family didn’t seem like the right thing.
    Jack loosened his tie as he slid into the driver’s seat, and let out a breath full of anxiety and disappointment. Rejection never got easier. How many job interviews had he had since graduation? Ten? Twelve? Maybe he should just give up.
    A familiar queasiness lodged in his gut. Whenever he was about to make a bad decision, his body signaled its displeasure. It was sort of like having a guardian angel give him a swift elbow in the ribs.
    “Okay, okay,” he muttered to the empty truck. “I’ll keep trying to find a job. But if there’s something I’m overlooking, I’d sure appreciate a shove in the right direction.”
    Part of his grandmother’s favorite Bible verse floated through his mind. The plans I have for you will give you a future and a hope.
    Jack smiled at the memory of Nana reading her Bible every morning during breakfast. She had scripture etched on her heart. He leaned back in the seat and rolled down the truck windows, allowing the crisp November air to flow through the cab. It would be all right. At least, that’s what his grandmother always told him.
    Jack glanced at the dashboard clock as he pulled out of the parking spot. Maybe Molly could have lunch with him today. Her job at the retirement home kept her busy, but his fiancée usually found time for a quick bite. And there was nothing like a little dose of Molly to chase away the blues.
    *  *  *
    Molly Hanson double-checked the medication cart and locked it. Afternoon meds were a vital responsibility. Although she was the youngest nurse working that day, she was the only R.N. and the other workers had eagerly turned over the duty.
    Molly knocked on Mr. Lancaster’s door and waited for his response.
    A gravelly voice answered, “Come on in, Molly.”
    She pushed the cart through the wide door. “How’d you know it was me, Mr. Lancaster?”
    The white-haired man rolled his wheelchair toward her. “You’re the only one who knocks.”
    Molly had to admit it was true. Many of her coworkers didn’t bother to warn the residents before they barged into their rooms, but Molly tried to put herself in the patient’s place. She’d hate the loss of control a simple knock gave. “Some people can’t hear a knock.”
    Mr. Lancaster ran a hand along his stubbled cheek. “Yes, but some of us can. You’re the only one who seems to remember that.”
    Molly handed Mr. Lancaster a small plastic cup containing two pills. He tossed the medication into his mouth and washed it down with water. “Where’s that boyfriend of yours? Haven’t seen him around here lately.”
    “Jack has another job interview today. I’ve got my fingers crossed on this one.”
    Mr. Lancaster handed the empty cup to Molly. “Times are hard, no doubt about it. My grandson’s having the same problem. He can get a job, but not the kind that leads to a career. What about you? Did you talk to Dr. Wheaton at Westside Memorial Hospital?”
    Molly made a notation on Mr. Lancaster’s medical chart. “As a matter of fact, I went yesterday. He remembered you well, but not even your recommendation could land me a position.”
    The lines on Mr. Lancaster’s face deepened as he frowned. “Your dream is to help children, not old people who are too sick to care for themselves. Don’t let go of your dream, Molly. I settled for less. I married young, and then I had children to raise, and then I was too old. Don’t let that happen to you.”
    Regret was a common theme among the residents of Poplar Bluff Retirement Home. Many people voiced their speculations about how their lives might have been different.
    “Your grandchildren and I grew up together, Mr. Lancaster. I know firsthand how much your family loves you.”
    The older man wagged a finger in the air. “I’m not saying I didn’t have a good life. My wife was a fine woman, and we had three healthy children. My family was everything. But I can’t help wondering how things would have been if I’d joined the military like I’d wanted.”
    Perhaps reflecting on the paths not taken came with age. Molly tried to listen patiently to all the advice the residents eagerly shared, but their remorse and grief was sometimes too much to endure. At twenty-four, Molly was at the dreaming end of life. Someday, she and Jack would be married. They’d have good jobs, a home of their own, and children to make their family complete.
    “I’ll see you later, Mr. Lancaster,” Molly said as she wheeled the medication cart through the door.
    “I’ll give Dr. Wheaton a call,” the older gentleman answered. “A young woman as dedicated as you would be an asset to his program.”
    Molly smiled her thanks and closed the door. As the head of pediatrics at Westside Memorial Hospital, Dr. Wheaton was the most direct link to a job, but he’d given little hope for finding a position close to home.
    For now, she’d do what she could for the people in her care. Molly looked down the hallway at the residents who ambled along the corridor. Some were cheerful, gentle souls who faced each day with interest. Others carried their sour attitudes into old age, tarnishing their golden years with rust. It was a lesson for the taking, Molly thought. She knew which one she wanted to be in sixty years.
    Just as she was about to move to the next resident’s room, a familiar voice caused her heart to skip a beat. Jack stood at the nurses’ station, smiling like a star on a dark night. How could she not fall in love with such a handsome man? Even though she saw him every day, her heart still fluttered when he was near.
    “Hey, you,” she said with a broad smile.
    Jack turned at the sound of her voice and returned her smile. “How’s my best girl?”
    “Busy. How’d it go this morning?”
    Something flickered in Jack’s eyes, but he shrugged it away. “Same old story. Got time for lunch?”
    Molly’s heart fell a few inches. How hard it must be for Jack to keep up his spirits after so many rejections. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and cuddle him close, but the hallway was becoming unusually crowded with geriatric spectators. “No lunch until I finish the meds. I thought you were meeting your grandmother at the building supply this afternoon.”
    Jack moved to her side and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m not meeting Nana until two o’clock. Besides, I think better when my stomach isn’t growling.”
    Molly smiled at the man she loved. She’d known him since junior high, but she’d never given him more than a passing thought. Jack Stewart had been a year older, active in every sport Poplar Bluff High School offered, and not in her circle of friends. But college had been a different story. There, she’d discovered a tenderhearted boy hiding behind Jack’s athletic swagger. “Go to the dining room and order a spinach salad for me. I’ll be along in a few minutes.”
    Jack leaned down and placed his mouth close to Molly’s ear. “How about a kiss for your future husband?”
    Molly grinned and stepped back. “Later,” she whispered. “When we’re not being watched.”
    Jack straightened and scanned the area, his cheeks growing an adorable shade of peony pink as he realized every resident’s gaze was fixed on him. “Good idea,” he muttered as he turned and walked toward the dining room.

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