The Villain Who Saved Christmas Release Day (Eeek!!)

GUYS! The Villain Who Saved Christmas is now up on Amazon!!! I’m so excited for you guys to read this short story. If you have a chance, you should definitely check it out. I’m also looking for more reviewers, so if you’d be interested in that, let me know!

The Villain Who Saved Christmas is only $0.99, and Twinepathy is now free, for only a few days. So be sure to check that out, and let your friends know, too! If you’ve already read Twinepathy, I would love for you to review it on Amazon. It only takes a few minutes, and it really helps out a lot!

And speaking of reviews, here are a few for The Villain Who Saved Christmas! These guys are awesome, so make sure to go ahead and check out their blogs, and you can see more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, too.

The Page Dreamer – Deborah O’Carroll

Lit Aflame – Julia

Pause for Tales – Jes Drew

More to be added soon!

Are you excited about the release? What’s your favorite Christmas book or movie? Comment below! I’d love to talk to you!

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A Christmas Short Story and Release Tour Sign-Ups!

Hello, everyone! I apologize once again for disappearing for so long. It seems like just yesterday that the school semester started, and now it’s pretty much over. Where did the time go???

But in spite of the craziness of this semester, I’ve still been able to get some things done… like getting my Christmas short story, The Villain Who Saved Christmas, ready for publishing! There’s still a lot left to do, but I’ve set an official release date: December 24th. That’s only 10 days away, but I can’t wait for it to be out!

I posted about this story when I did the 777 Challenge, and I’m very excited to finally be sharing this with all of you. So here are the cover and the blurb!

This may be Becca’s last Christmas, and all she wants is a white Christmas. But with no snow in the forecast, her brother and sister know that might not happen… until they get the idea to track down supervillain Hypothermia for help. With his ice powers, he could create a white Christmas for their sister. There’s only one problem—they have to find him first. Can they discover where Hypothermia is hiding and convince him to make it snow?

So here’s where I need your help…

I’m not planning on doing official dates for a release tour, because I know how crazy this time of year is for everyone, and how last minute this is! Instead, if you want to help out, you can post whenever you want. The book will be releasing on December 24th, and I’m looking to have as many reviews then as I can, so feel free to share this post or the form below with anyone who may be interested!

Also, for the release, Twinepathy will be free on Kindle from December 24th-28th! If you haven’t gotten a copy of Twinepathy yet, that’s the perfect time to get a copy on Kindle.

I’m so excited to be sharing this book with all of you! Are you excited? Share any thoughts, comments, and questions you have below!

The 777 Challenge | The Villain Who Saved Christmas

Well, look who’s posting two weeks in a row! Earlier this week, Claire posted her snippets for the 777 Challenge, and today, Deborah tagged me for the challenge! Unfortunately, IDIA book 3 is still in the brainstorming stage… but I just got over 7 pages on my Christmas superhero short story, which also now has a title: The Villain Who Saved Christmas! I’m very excited about this story, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. For now, you can add it on Goodreads. First, the rules:

Rules

  1. Open your WIP to the seventh page
  2. Scroll past the seventh line
  3. Copy the next seven paragraphs and paste them on your blog for THE WORLD to read
  4. Tag seven people

And here’s my snippet! (For reference, Scott is a supervillain with ice powers named Hypothermia, and Reflex is a superhero, Scott’s archnemesis.)

Continue reading

Quest For Leviathan Blog Tour – Book Review

Hullo, everyone! I’m so excited to be participating in the release tour for Amanda Tero’s new short story, Quest For Leviathan. It was such a fun historical fiction adventure! You can check out the book on Amazon and see more release tour happenings on Amanda Tero’s blog, along with a fun giveaway. I’ll be posting the full schedule down below! But first, my review.

This was such a good short story! I usually don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I was really able to enjoy this story in spite of that. Quest for Leviathan was based on Job 41, which provided a great basis for the story. The characters had great story arcs, there was plenty of action, and the story itself had a great message. Since it was a short story, it’s hard to say much without spoiling anything, but it was definitely a fun, fast-paced read. Along with that, the story had great themes and was completely clean. I definitely recommend reading it!

About the Book

Leviathan took the life of his father.

Anath has spent three years preparing for the voyage that will end the threat of Leviathan. Yet as the Valor launches into the depths of the Mediterranean, an inward quest also begins, taking Anath to depths he is not willing to face.

Purchase an e-copy on Amazon or order a paperback.

Add to your Goodreads shelf.

 

About the Author

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com

Website: http://amandatero.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amandateroauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/

Blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

 

Tour Schedule

June 8

With a Joyful Noise (Release Day Post)

Resting Life (Spotlight, Review)

The World of the Writer (Review)

Authoring Arrowheads (Review)

Purely by Faith Review (Review, Interview)

June 9

Victoria’s Book Nook (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

Bekah’s Books (Spotlight, Review, Interview)

June 11

Clothed with Scarlet (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

Reveries Reviews (Review)

June 12

Chosen Vessels (Spotlight, Review)

My Purple Pen (Review)

Read Another Page (Review)

June 13

Once Upon an Ordinary (Review)

Maidens for Modesty (Review)

Yahweh Sisters (Review)

June 14

Honey Rock Hills (Review)

Life of Heritage Corner (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)

Kaylee’s Kind of Writes (Review, Interview)

June 15

The Red-Hooded Writer (Review)

Blossoms and Blessings (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)

Lit Aflame (Review, Interview)

June 16

The Left-Handed Typist (Review)

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review, Interview, Giveaway)

June 18

Great Books for God’s Girls (Review, Interview)

Peculiar Miss Darcy (Character Interview)

June 19

Done in Love (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)

Creating Romance (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 20

Keturah’s Korner (Review, Interview)

Rock and Minerals 4 Him (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 21

A Baker’s Perspective (Review, Giveaway, Character Spotlight)

Christian Author: A.M. Heath (Review, Interview)

June 22

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections (Review)

Views from the Window Friend (Review)

Hunting for Truth (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 23

Reading on the Edge (Spotlight)

Summer Snowflakes (Review, Giveaway)

June 25

With a Joyful Noise (Giveaway Winner Announced)

 

A Few Updates And A New Project

Hullo, everyone! I haven’t gotten a chance to write any of the posts that you all voted on in that poll a while back, but I did have a few updates to share with you. Most of you probably saw the cover reveal for Lightporter, of course, but several other cool things have happened.

First, I got to do an awesome author interview over at Books and Teacup Reviews! I had a lot of fun answering Yesha’s questions. You can also check out her review of Twinepathy here.

Second, I’ve been getting feedback from betas on Lightporter, and I’m super excited about how close I’m getting to editing. Editing may not be fun, but it means it’s one step closer to being in your hands, so that’s worth celebrating! I’m excited to see how this book turns out.

I also have a post planned for a few days from now with a review of a new Christian dystopian novel that I got an eARC of, and I really enjoyed, so stay tuned for that!

I’m also super excited to tell you about my new project! I’m actually not working on book 3 of the IDIA series yet. I’ve worked on some plotting for it, but I chose to start a different project first–a superhero retelling of Snow White for the Rooglewood Press short story contest! I’m really excited about this story, and even if it doesn’t win the contest, I hope to be able to share it with all of you. It’s definitely been an exciting change from the IDIA universe, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

And a final announcement that I’m hoping you can all help me with. Twinepathy‘s one-year birthday is July 4th! Because of that, I’m going to be holding the first IDIA Fan Contest. In this contest, you’ll be able to submit any fanart, fanfiction, or other fan-created material to win a prize (which is yet to be determined). I also haven’t decided if I’ll be picking my favorite or if you guys will be voting for your favorites. The contest will open July 4th and run through the end of July. I’m announcing it now so that you’ll have plenty of time to think of ideas! There may be prizes for different categories, depending on the number of submissions. You will be able to submit anything IDIA-related: quote pictures, drawings, fan fiction, costumes, pictures of the book, your own mask, recipes, anything! (If you’re looking for ideas, you can check out the IDIA group board on Pinterest!) Comment below with any suggestions or ideas you have for the contest, and if you’re excited about it or plan on participating!

Thanks so much for reading through these updates! You guys are awesome, and thanks for sticking with me even with the irregular blogging schedule! 🙂

Musings of Avarice

I wrote this story for a Faithwriters.com challenge with the topic of Greed. It got third place in my category! I’d love to hear what you think! 😀 Read some of my other stories on Faithwriters here.

My name is Avarice. I was born greedy, my daddy said. Took my momma’s life when I came out. My name was my momma’s dyin’ wish after she gave birth to me. My daddy said, years ago, that she’d probably heard it somewhere and didn’t know that it meant greed. I must say, over the years it’s become fittin’. Everyone says I’m the greediest person they’ve ever met.

How can I not be greedy? Greed defines my life.

Greed defines everyone’s life.

Sometimes I’ll laugh in people’s faces when they say that I’m nothin’ but a greedy, miserly old woman. They judge me, but they don’t see how greedy they themselves have been. I’ve lived long on this lousy earth, and I know for a fact that greed don’t just control my life, it controls everyone’s life.

I’ve seen people ruinin’ other people’s lives, eliminatin’ other people’s lives, just for greed. And I’ve seen –

Put down those cookies. They’re mine.

Now, where was I… I know what you’re thinkin’. You’re thinkin’ that some people ain’t quite so bad. I’ve heard you say those Christian do-gooders ain’t greedy. Listen here, I’ve seen Christians doin’ their greedy things right along with the rest of us. I’ve even seen some murder people. There are a few good ones; they’re the ones I admire. Resistin’ greed is one of the toughest things out there, hon. But mostly, they pretend they’re all high and mighty, actin’ better than the rest of us, even though they ain’t. They’re doin’ the same things we are, bein’ greedy for more just like we are.

Greed can make even the best of people evil. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. You may be thinkin’ of a greedy person you know, and let me tell you you’re just as bad as that person. Greed can make even a perfectly innocent person like myself and turn them into someone like Fred in the room next door. He stole my green beans at lunch. Greed leads to worse sins. Somethin’ I remember from the one time I went to church – a mighty long time ago, let me tell you – was something about how if you broke one commandment, you was breakin’ them all. Let me tell you, greed can sure do that.

Wait, you’re leavin’ so soon? Ah, yes, I’m sure you have much better things to do than visit grumpy old ladies like me that are stuck in a nursin’ home… what? No, you can’t have a cookie! Get out of here you greedy little…

Well, that got rid of him quick.

The Holdup

Did you know that Hershey’s Bars were first invented in 1900?!?! The things you learn from writing research! This is a short story I wrote for an English assignment based off a news story I wrote for Creative Writing. If you’re nerdy like me, you might recognize these names right off the bat. If not, don’t worry. You’ll find out at the end. Enjoy, and I’d love to hear your opinions!

“That’ll be ten dollars and ninety five cents,” the young girl behind the counter told him. Timothy Dugan slid the money to her, and picked up his snacks. Most truck stops along the route he and James Montgomery Falsworth, better known as Montgomery or Major, were taking had reasonable prices. This one, not so much. Timothy settled his portly frame down on a bench near the door, waiting for Montgomery to join him. The sky outside the front windows was black, pitch black, with dark clouds covering the moon. The harsh lights from inside the convenience glinted off the shiny silver 1951 Mercedes-Benz he and Montgomery had rented. It was only a couple years old.

Timothy opened his Hershey bar, smoothing his mustache away from his mouth. He wasn’t a big fan of chocolate, but it was one of the cheapest things in the store. The wrapper cheerily proclaimed the fiftieth anniversary of Hershey bars. The bell on the front door jingled and Timothy just caught a glimpse of the two darkly-dressed men as they walked past him. He looked outside and saw their car parked next to the rental. He couldn’t help admiring the dark lines of their small car, but he couldn’t see the make of the car or the license plate number.

He heard Montgomery whistling as the bathroom door slammed shut, and then the whistling stopped abruptly. Timothy looked up to see the taller of the two men pointing a gun at Montgomery’s back. A cold hand yanked Timothy off the bench and the short, fat man pointed a gun at Timothy. A holdup. Hope this doesn’t become the last day of the road trip.

“Give us the money from the cash register,” the taller man ordered. Both men had their faces covered, and were wearing long sleeves and gloves. Timothy pitied the frightened girl, who looked like she was only in her twenties. Timothy glanced at Montgomery. Here they were, two World War II veterans, and not only that, but two who had served next to the best captain in the army, and they were unable to do anything to help stop a robbery.

The girl opened the cash register and handed off the money to them. “This one’s for you, Rogers,” Timothy whispered. He shoved his elbow into his captor’s stomach. The man doubled over, letting go of Timothy and the gun, but he recovered quick enough to race outside, his partner covering for him and picking up the dropped gun. The tall man studied them. “Stay at the back of the room and don’t try anything, or you’ll regret it.” Then he disappeared out the door and into the car outside, which roared to life and sped down the road.

Timothy immediately reached for the phone and called the police, alerting them to what happened. Montgomery patted his shoulder. “Well done, Dugan. Rogers would’ve been proud.”

Timothy smiles at his friend, rubbing his red moustache. He missed his old nickname. Montgomery hadn’t called him Dum Dum since the plane crash. “He would’ve done better. But I’m not a super soldier.” The police filed into the building, getting their testimonies and contact information. Then they let them go, and the two veterans headed back onto the open road.

Still don’t know who our World War II veterans are? Dum Dum and the Major, two members of Captain America’s “barbershop quartet”! Surprise!

Eric – Behind the Names

For those of you who have been guessing about the significance of the names of Eric and Joseph, the big moment is here!

The names are actually simply hints to a lesson found in the story. A simple sentence.

Jesus died for Everyone.

Jeremiah died for Eric.

Hope you enjoyed this story, and I’d love to hear what you have to say! 🙂 Did you enjoy the parallel, and did you figure out the names?

A Maze of Lies – Part Three

The last part in the story of lies, deception, and wrong choices. Click for Part One and Part Two. I’d love feedback! 😀

The next week passed quickly. Spring break also flew past, and it seemed like there hadn’t been a spare minute to breathe for Hailey. On Saturday night, she headed over to Melanie’s house for an end-of-spring-break sleepover.

“Hey, Hailey, I’m in the kitchen!” Melanie called when Hailey came in. Hailey slipped into the kitchen.

“You’re the first one here,” Melanie told her, grinning.

“Well, that’s a first!” Hailey joked. She reached over her friend’s shoulder and grabbed a kettle chip out of the bowl on the counter. “Who all is coming?” she asked, crunching.

“Kaitlyn’s out of town, so she’s not going to be here, but Brenna is going to be able to make it this time.” Melanie grabbed her own chip out of the bowl and popped it in her mouth. And then grabbed a few more.

Hailey picked up the bowl to take it into the living room. “Too bad Kaitlyn can’t come. We had a lot of fun last time. When is she getting back?”

“Monday, but she’ll be back at school on Tuesday.” Melanie picked up a bowl of popcorn. “Maybe we’ll actually pull an all-nighter tonight.”

Hailey laughed. “Knowing Brenna, we will.”

~~~

Hailey strolled home slowly on Monday afternoon. She hadn’t been able to avoid the daily bullying scene. Jason had been on vacation until the night before, and he had got back late, so she had hoped that he wouldn’t be there. Unfortunately he had.

“Hailey, wait up!” She heard a voice call from behind her. She turned and looked. It was Jason.

“Hi, Jason,” she said when he caught up.

“Hi.” He grinned, shoving his blond hair back from his forehead. “How come I’m always running to catch up with you?”

Hailey laughed. “I guess I’m just a lot faster than you.”

He smiled. “So, did you go to church on Sunday?”

“Yeah.” The words popped out of Hailey’s mouth before she could even think. “I went to the youth group meeting thing.” Hailey couldn’t believe what she’d just said.

“That’s awesome!” Jason exclaimed enthusiastically. “So, did you like it?”

“Not really,” Hailey replied reluctantly. She couldn’t think of anything else to say. What had she done?

Jason’s face fell. “Oh,” he said resignedly. He suddenly looked at his watch. “I’ve got to get home. Let’s talk more later, okay?”

“Sure,” Hailey replied reluctantly. He turned away, his shoulders somewhat slumped. Hailey was overcome by a desire to run after him, to grab his arm, to tell him the truth about everything. She wanted to stop lying to him.

But she didn’t. She didn’t want to lose her popularity and her other friends. She didn’t want to lose Jason’s trust. And she didn’t want to lose him as a friend.

~~~

Hailey slammed her locker door shut angrily after her classes on Tuesday. Every time she had seen Jason, she had felt a pang from her conscience. She was completely tired of it all. She spotted Jason at his locker a few feet away and debated whether or not to talk to him.

“Hi, guys!” Kaitlyn called, waving to Hailey and Melanie. She expertly wove through the crowd of teenagers. She finally reached them, breathless.

“Hi, Kaitlyn! Did you have a good trip?” Melanie asked, hugging her friend.

“It was great!” Kaitlyn exclaimed, her voice loud and clear like Melanie’s, as usual. “How was the sleepover on Saturday?”

“It was awesome, right, Hailey?” Melanie replied.

“Yeah, it was,” Hailey agreed distractedly. She knew that Jason couldn’t help but hear everything, and she knew that this was going to ruin everything.

“It was great!” Melanie confirmed. “We ended up pulling an all-nighter. We totally slept until four. Hailey was the one to wake us all up.” Hailey gave a half-hearted grin.

“You slept later than the one two weeks ago, then?” Kaitlyn asked. “We only slept until two.”

“Yeah.” Melanie smiled and continued chattering. Jason’s eyes met Hailey’s. He immediately read the guilt on her face. Astonishment swept over his face and was immediately replaced by hurt and anger, and then sadness. He turned and walked towards a side door, probably so he could escape the daily bullying scene. Hailey felt sick as she realized the pain she had caused Jason. Ignoring the chatter of her friends, she gathered her things and took off after Jason. She had to make things right.

~~~

“Jason, wait up!” Hailey called after Jason when she spotted him walking down the street ahead of her. Either he didn’t hear her, or he was ignoring her, because he kept walking. Hailey finally caught up to him and grabbed his arm.

“Please, Jason,” she pleaded desperately. “We need to talk. I-I’m sorry.” She finished in a whisper.

Jason turned around to face her, pain and sadness filling his green eyes. Hailey gulped, knowing that this would be hard. “I’m sorry. I just— couldn’t stop. I wanted you to stop asking me to go to church with you. I didn’t want to lose all of my other friends because of going to church, so I just kept lying and making up excuses. It was like everything kept getting more and more tangled up, and I-I just couldn’t stop. It was like being stuck in a maze.” The tears started flowing down her cheeks.

Jason hugged her gently and gave a weak smile. “It’s okay, Hailey. I’m hurt, and I’m upset that you lied to me, but… I’ve already decided to forgive you.”

“But how?” Hailey asked, confused. “I mean, I lied to you so many times! How can you just – forgive me?”

Jason smiled again. “I can’t do it on my own. God gives me the power to forgive. He’s the only One who can help me to let go of the hurt.”

“Thanks,” Hailey said softly. “And maybe I can come to church with you sometime?”

Jason’s grin broadened. “That would be awesome. Jesus is the best way out of the maze of lies.”

A Maze of Lies – Part Two

Continuing the story of lies, deception, and wrong choices. Click for Part One. I’d love feedback! 😀

Hailey yawned. She could feel the heat of the sun on the side of her face. She finally mustered enough strength… to open her eyes. The sun was shining brightly through the window. She sleepily sat up and glanced at the clock. It was already well past noon. Melanie and Kaitlyn were still sleeping soundly in their sleeping bags. Hailey automatically reached for a pillow.

“Oof!” Melanie grunted groggily. She pushed the pillow off her face. She looked over at Hailey, who was trying her best to fend off laughter and look innocent. Melanie rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t very nice,” she stated.

Hailey gazed at her solemnly. “You’re going to use the pillow to wake up Kaitlyn, right?”

“Of course.” Melanie snorted. “Do you think I would pass up an opportunity like this?” Hailey grinned at her.

Five minutes of pillow-pounding later, a very grumpy Kaitlyn was sitting up in her sleeping bag. “What time is it?” she grumbled.

“Almost two,” Hailey informed her.

“What time did we fall asleep?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Well, I remember popping the seventh bag of popcorn around five, and we never did finish it.” Melanie nodded to the half-empty bowl. “So, I think it was around six.”

Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “No wonder,” she muttered. “We’d better get dressed and eat something. My mom’s coming to pick me up in half an hour.”

~~~

“Hi, Hailey, Melanie!” Brenna called, winding her way to the other girls through the post-class traffic. She finally reached them. “How was the sleepover?” she asked. “I wish I hadn’t missed it.”

“It was great,” Melanie told Brenna, mentioning all of the best parts. Of course, she left out the part about Finding Nemo.

Kaitlyn walked over to them. “Hey, guys. I was actually able to make it through today. Apparently the kid that the guys are usually messing with isn’t here today.”

Hailey didn’t say anything, but looked up, relieved, although she did wonder where Jason was. The girls left the school together and split up, heading their separate ways.

Once at home, Hailey couldn’t focus on her homework. She kept wondering why Jason hadn’t been at school. Finally she picked up the phone.

“Hello, Craywell residence.” The voice didn’t sound like Jason’s.

“Hi, can I talk to Jason?” she asked hesitantly, feeling awkward. She and Jason hadn’t really talked lately, after all.

“This is he. Who is this?” Hailey still didn’t think it sounded like him.

“It’s Hailey.”

“Hi, Hailey!” A smile leapt into his voice. “What’s up?”

“Not much. I was just wondering why you weren’t at school today.” Hailey fiddled with her pencil.

“Oh, Kelly got a cold and passed it on to me. I’ll probably be back tomorrow, though. Thanks for thinking of me! I missed church on Sunday, too.” He sounded genuinely happy to hear from her.

“Do you need any of the assignments?” Hailey asked quickly, changing the subject.

“Sure!” Jason replied eagerly.

Hailey found the assignments for the classes they were in together and listed them. As she waited for him to write them down, an idea hit her. Jason was always asking her to go to church with him. She had always refused, coming up with various excuses. This was her chance to get him off her back once and for all.

“Thanks, Hailey. I guess I have something to do tonight.” They laughed. A short silence followed. Hailey twirled her hair around her finger nervously as she tried to think of something to say. Finally Jason broke the silence.

“So, do you want to, uh, come to church with me on Wednesday?” he asked somewhat awkwardly.

This was the question Hailey had been waiting for. “Nah,” she replied after a moment. “I didn’t really enjoy it much when I went on Sunday. I had wondered where you were—”

“You went yesterday?” Jason interrupted excitedly. “Aw, you should have called me. I wish I could’ve been there! Did you like it?”

“Not really,” Hailey replied hesitantly. Jason’s enthusiasm was starting to make her regret her lie.

“Oh.” Jason said thoughtfully. There was a short pause. “I’ve got to go, Hailey, my dad’s calling me. Feel free to call me later.”

“All right, ‘bye,” Hailey replied. She hung up the phone with the guilt weighing down heavily on her shoulders. She tried to concentrate on her schoolwork, but she couldn’t keep her mind on it. She couldn’t help hoping that this would be the last of all of the church invitations.

~~~

“Hey, Timothy!” Jason called as he slipped into the nearly-empty youth room that Wednesday.

The kid sitting at one of the small tables looked up, brushing his short brown hair out of his eyes and adjusted his glasses. He slipped a bookmark into his book and grinned. “Hey, Jason, I’ve got an open seat over here that has your name on it!”

Jason grinned and slid into one of the open chairs. “How’s it going, Timothy?”

“Pretty good,” the boy replied. “We missed you here on Sunday.”

Jason made a face. “Yeah. I was at home, sick. You’re still working on Moby Dick, huh?” Timothy nodded. “Oh,” Jason began, remembering. “A friend of mine came on Sunday. Did you get to meet her? Her name’s Hailey, she’s got red hair. She’s not very easy to miss.”

Timothy thought for a little while, unconsciously chewing on the eraser on his pencil. Finally he shook his head. “No, I didn’t see her. There were only a few people here on Sunday, and they were all regulars.”

Jason frowned. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Timothy nodded.

That’s weird, Jason thought. I guess I’ll ask Hailey about it tomorrow after school.

~~~

All week long Hailey’s friends had dragged her over to watch Jason getting bullied. She was finally tired of it. She was barely able to escape through one of the side entrances. She had plenty of time to get home since she had made it out of school early, so she strolled leisurely down the sidewalk.

Hailey had almost made it to her house when she heard running footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw Jason running towards her.

“Hi, Hailey!” he called, catching up to her.

“Oh, hi, Jason,” she replied somewhat nervously. She felt a twinge of guilt as she thought about the phone call.

“Hi,” Jason gasped as he finally reached her. “How’re you doing?”

“Pretty good,” Hailey replied. “What about you?”

“I’m fine,” he replied, still trying to catch his breath. “Oh, last night at church I asked a friend of mine if he’d met you, and he said he hadn’t seen you in youth.”

It only took a split second for Hailey to realize how bad this could be for her, and another one for her to come up with a reply. “Oh, I stayed in the main sanctuary, you know, with the adults. That’s probably why he didn’t see me.”

Jason laughed. “That makes sense. It also explains why you disliked it, too. Youth’s a lot of fun, while the adult service… not so much.” Hailey mentally groaned. She knew what was coming up next.

“So, do you want to come again on Sunday? You can try out the youth group. It’s a lot better than the sermons in the sanctuary,” Jason suggested eagerly.

“No, I don’t think so. I’ve got a big project due on Monday since it’s the week before spring break.” Hailey lied again. “We’re going shopping on Saturday, so I won’t have much time the rest of the weekend.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jason nodded understandingly. “Those teachers always dump extra homework on us right before spring break.”

Hailey laughed, relaxing. “Yeah. Well, I’ve gotta get home. I’ll talk to you later.”

Jason nodded. “Okay. See ya tomorrow!” he called over his shoulder as he jogged back towards his house. Hailey continued down to her house, breathing in the scent of the flowers blooming in the flowerbeds. She was really glad to have dodged two more tough spots, but she wondered how many more would follow.