Brad’s gaze landed on her nails. He stared. And stared.
Callie’s comment visibly jarred him.
“The polish.” She wiggled her fingers. “You like it?”
With a blank stare, he said, “As you can see, we serve coffee and donuts here, so if you skip going to the bakery, you might actually get here on time.”
Her happy day paled a bit.
“Is it the nail polish? Admittedly not a great color for me.”
He said nothing.
“I’ll skip my trip to the bakery in the morning,” Callie said.
“So, you’ll be here by eight-thirty tomorrow morning, right?” Noticeable edge to his voice there.
“Good.” He then explained the program to her, but she didn’t hear a word of it. She couldn’t image how this rude, arrogant man was the same suave, debonair man she’d met at the bakery that morning. She couldn’t believe she’d given up a perfectly good peach scone for this guy. It wouldn’t happen again.
Bestselling author Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She admits to seeing the world from a slightly different angle than most, and she will do just about anything (within reason) for chocolate. Since 2001, she has published three novellas and fifteen novels, including a Women of Faith novel.
Diann lives in Indiana with her real-life hero-husband of 33 years who continually lavishes her with chocolate—well, she can imagine it, can’t she? She’s a fiction writer, after all.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Dedicated to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who continually guides my steps.
Special thanks to my editor, Tina Colombo, for her hard work and for joining me with this project! I am blessed to be a part of the Love Inspired team!
Questions for Discussion
The strike of the judge’s gavel reverberated through the room, announcing to the entire town of Burrow, Ohio, that she, Callie Easton, had committed a crime. She could almost see the stern glares of the city’s forefathers.
Who knew that lost parking tickets could cause such a problem?
Heather Rinker, Callie’s good friend and attorney, leaned toward her. “You okay?”
“I’ve just been ordered to do community service, Heather. Would you be okay?”
“No, but then I don’t lose things.” She gathered her copious papers into tidy little stacks and placed them in her folder.
“It’s the handbag. I wouldn’t be in this mess if not for the handbag.” Callie hiccupped. Her usual reaction to life’s crises.
Heather turned to her. “What?”
“It was on sale. I love the smell of leather—did I ever tell you that?—and this leather bag looked so cute. It was the right price, and—”
Heather sighed and tucked her file carefully into her portfolio. “Callie—”
“—it has a million pockets, Heather. Pockets, where things are stored, never to be found again.” Callie slumped further into her chair, trying to swallow past the shame that had settled rock solid in her throat. “What am I going to do? Aunt Bonnie needs me.”
“Do you think if I told the judge that spring is one of the busiest seasons of the year for our salon that he would pick another time? I mean, since I’m not a big-city crime boss and all.” She bit her lower lip. “This is an awful time to desert Aunt Bonnie.” Callie rubbed her aching temples. “Why don’t they just fine me or something?”
“This is how it’s done in Burrow, Callie.” A flicker of sympathy lit Heather’s eyes. A rare occurrence, indeed.
“Any chance you could ask him to reconsider?” Callie asked.
“You’re kidding, right?” Heather picked up her leather briefcase and started to briskly walk toward the door. To others, her five-foot-two frame may have looked dainty in her smart beige suit and fashionable heels, but Callie knew that inside that petite body lurked the strength of a five-hundred-pound prison matron. She was sheer grit and discipline, that one. How the two of them could be such great friends was a mystery to everyone who knew and loved them.
A new set of witnesses and onlookers shuffled inside the court, tingeing the air with the scent of stale tobacco and sweet perfumes.
Putting all self-respect behind her, Callie slung her handbag over her shoulder, hauled her five-foot-seven self after Heather, practically jogging to keep up, and said—between great heaving breaths—“No, I’m not kidding.”
Heather stopped dead center in front of Callie and point-blank stared her in the face. Her friend’s eyes turned positively beady.
“It’s the price you pay for losing your parking tickets.”
Heather turned and headed into the hallway. Callie continued her jog to keep up. “That was harsh, Heather. Even for you.” Three gum wrappers slipped from an outside pocket of Callie’s handbag and drifted to the floor. She picked them up, stuffed them into the nearest hole in her bag and shifted the strap on her shoulder.
“It’s what I’ve been telling you, Cal. You have to get organized. You can’t afford to lose important documents.”
Pockets. She had to stay away from pockets and nasty little corners where important papers could hide. She’d better dump out her handbag when she got home and take a look. Who knew what else lurked there.
“Aunt Bonnie, Heather. You know she needs me—especially during prom season. You know how you love her peach scones? She’d make you some if—”
Heather stopped, horror on her face. “Are you trying to bribe me?”
“Well, no, I don’t think so. I just thought—”
“Well, don’t think. Just do your duty as a good citizen—”
“Please don’t make me do this over a couple of old parking