Sometimes the last thing we think we need is exactly what God has planned.
After the death of his parents, Jake Samuels has enough on his plate—including a fledgling church to lead and a mischievous younger brother to raise. The last thing he needs is a rambunctious woman to contend with.
Carin O'Malley is dealing with the death of her brother and a new job as an English teacher at East Ridge Middle School where Corey Samuels reigns as King of Chaos. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with a man...especially a handsome and complicated preacher like Corey’s brother Jake.
But when Corey's antics toss Carin and Jake together, the two must draw from God’s wisdom to find refuge in His perfect plan for them.
She tucked a stray curl behind one ear and trained those pretty green eyes on him. “I need to speak with the pastor of this church. I was hoping you could help me locate him.”
“Maybe I can.” Jake leaned lazily against the mower. She was neat and tidy, all business, while he stood sweaty and covered head to toe in mulched grass that had been swept up on a breeze. Maybe it was the heat, or her smug expression, or perhaps the fact he was in a bit of a foul mood and only human, after all, but he decided to have a little fun. “Which pastor are you looking for—youth or senior?”
“I…um…I don’t know.” She caught her lower lip between her teeth, gnawed for a moment and then let go. “I didn’t think to ask. I suppose he must be the youth pastor. Senior pastors tend to be older, I assume.”
Jake stifled a groan. She’d conveyed the typical sentiment. By all accounts, he should be a balding, stooped over, crotchety old man. The thought raised his ire even more. “Well, the youth pastor stepped out for a while. Meetings and planning sessions…you know how pressing church matters can be. Was he expecting you?”
“No, but…I was hoping to speak with him, confidentially.”
The disappointment in her gaze caused Jake a slight prick of guilt. His voice softened, and he remembered why he was here at the church in the first place. “Is what you need to speak about an emergency of some sort?”
“No!” Carin emphasized the word. “I mean, no, I wouldn’t want to worry him. It’s not pressing. I just need to…” The words died in her throat.
“Are you sure it’s not an emergency?” He couldn’t leave her hanging if it truly was a pressing issue.
“Sure, I’m sure.”
Jake debated. It wasn’t an emergency, and she’d be back in a day or so if he played his cards right. Then he wouldn’t be in a hurry to get Corey, and he’d have all the time in the world to talk with her—a better prospect, all the way around.
“Tell you what,” Jake coaxed. “Why don’t you come back Sunday morning for the ten o’clock service, when both pastors are sure to be here, and I can personally guarantee that following the service whichever pastor you need to speak with will give you his undivided attention for as long as you’d like.”
“You’re positive?” One eyebrow rose into a smooth little arch. “What I need to speak about could take a while.”
She jostled the bag on her shoulder and sighed, her gaze scanning the steps that led into the church. “Well…that’s just the day after tomorrow. I suppose it can wait until then. Ten o’clock, you said?”
“For the service, yes. And you can do your talking afterwards.”
“I don’t want to divulge the details.” Her forehead creased as her eyebrows knit together. “But perhaps I should leave a short message in the office, maybe a note with the secretary.”
“No need.” Jake tried not to glance at his watch. Corey would be waiting at the ball field, and who knew what kind of mischief he’d get into if Jake was delayed too long. “Besides, the secretary’s gone home for the day. But you have my word; the pastor will be OK with you showing up.”
Jake eyed her…abundant ringlets of soft blonde curls, tidy appearance, and eyes that said she didn’t think he could possibly know anything about the pastor. The slight prick of guilt he’d felt fled. “I’m sure.”
“Well…‛ Carin wound a strand of curl around an index finger. “Thank you…I guess.”
“No problem.” The late-afternoon sun silhouetted her figure. She had to be a runner—or perhaps a dancer. Though her figure was slight, Jake noticed the definition of supple calf muscles below the hem of her skirt. He drew his gaze away. “I’d better get back to work now…unless you’d care to stay and help.”
She pressed a finger to the forehead crease and gnawed her lower lip again while readjusting the tote. “No. I’ve…um…got errands to run.”
Yeah, right, Jake thought as she backed away. You wouldn’t want to dirty those freshly-manicured nails.
“Well, the invitation’s open…anytime.” He swept a hand across the clipping-littered sidewalk. “There’s always plenty of lawn to mow.”
Here's the link to get it for yourself: http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/wisdom-tree-softcover
I loved this story! Jake is such a cool pastor, and the loving devotion he shows for his little brother is heartwarming after the loss they both suffered. Add to that a sweet, caring teacher who's willing to go the extra mile even with all she's gone through and going through. Corey really keeps them on their toes! I also love the way she and Jake slide into a relationship neither one is looking for and all they have to go through to work things out. Wonderful story!
About the author:
During the school year, she teaches middle-schoolers reading and Algebra. In her free time, she likes to garden, take long walks with her husband, and read romance novels in a hammock beneath century-old shade trees.
For more about Mary Manners and her books stop by her site: http://www.marymannersromance.com/