Book Review for THISTLE DOWN by Sherrie Hansen

Title: Thistle Down
Author: Sherrie Hansen
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Genre: Romance
ISBN: 978-1938101496

thistle

Thistle Down
by Sherrie Hansen

Book review by David Pereda

THISTLE DOWN reads like a made for TV character-driven, episode of a series filmed in Scotland. The character of the pastor, Ian McCraig, is engaging and authentic. The characterizations of Emily, Benjamin, Greg, and Chelsea are unique and believable. The descriptions are vivid, and the story flows smoothly, leaving a few lose ends to tie, I suppose, in future episodes — like the stolen church items and the relationship between love-struck Chelsea and selfish Greg. All in all, it’s a nice read for a Sunday afternoon. I would have preferred to have seen all these loose ends resolved in this episode instead of left as dangling carrots to entice the reading of subsequent episodes. I admit I was a little disappointed and even considered making this a three-star review — but the strength of Sherrie Hansen’s writing, her keen eye for description, and her perceptive characterizations won me over in the end. A four-star review it is.

____________
 DavidPeredaDavid Pereda is an award-winning author who enjoys crafting political thrillers and mainstream novels. His books have won the Lighthouse Book Awards twice, the Royal Palm Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Readers Favorite Awards twice. He has traveled to more than thirty countries around the world and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, Pereda had a rich and successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others. Visit David online at: www.davidpereda.com Other titles by David Pereda: However Long the Night Havana: Top Secret Havana: Killing Castro
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Excerpt From “Thistle Down” and “Wild Rose” by Sherrie Hansen

wildroseWhen Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.

Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.

Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.

Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?

EXCERPT:

Rose Wilson turned away from the wind that whistled across Loch Awe in a futile attempt to keep her hair from being blown into a tangled knot.

Something nipped at her ankle and she reached down to swat it away. Pesky midgies.

Ouch! Her hand scratched against the thorny stem of a thistle. One more thing. As if the sticky wicket she’d gotten herself into hadn’t already worked her into enough of a dither. She glanced up at the lofty spires of St. Conan’s Kirk. If she were at all religious, she might think God was trying to tell her something.

Where could he be? It had been nigh on three years since she’d stood waiting, and waiting, and waiting at Robert’s and her favorite restaurant. When he never showed up, she’d been angry – thought he’d gotten too busy at work, forgotten she was waiting, or, worse yet, remembered and blown her off.

How could she have known he was dead?

Here she was again. So it was a kirk and not a restaurant. A man she didn’t know all that well instead of her husband. The emotions felt the same. She was peeved. So peeved she could almost forget what it was like to feel abandoned, to hurt so badly she could barely keep her head about her.

She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Would she ever get over being scared that something horrible had happened every time someone was a wee bit tardy?

He was almost an hour later than he’d said he’d be. She peeked through the hedge and tried to see round the bend that led to the village.

What were the odds that two men she was supposed to meet would die en route to their rendezvous point? She paced up and down the path that led to the kirk, squelching her nervous energy only long enough to look at a bee dipping into a rhody that was a lovely shade of lavender. And then, she was back at it, scanning the roadside for Digby’s car, checking the time on her mobile every few seconds, and imagining the worst.

She’d been waiting for an hour – plenty long enough for Digby to get there even if he’d been temporarily detained at work, gotten a speeding ticket, or stopped by the mini-mart to buy her flowers. Besides, the man had a mobile.

She clicked hers open and pressed the green button twice. Still no answer.

Where could he be? And why now? Was it because she’d been too intimate with him? Not intimate enough?

“Excuse me, ma’am.”

She blinked and looked in the direction of the voice, but the sun was in her eyes, and all she could see was a soft sheen of light backlighting the silhouette of a very tall man. Too tall to be Digby. She raised her hand to her eyes to shade the light but the sun was still blinding, clinging to his head like a halo.

“Forgive me,” the man said, just as she saw his collar, the white square gleaming brightly between the black, and thought, shouldn’t it be me saying that?

“Sorry to intrude,” he continued. “I couldn’t help noticing that you seem to be looking for someone.”

So much for her and Dig having the place to themselves. Of course, as of this moment, there wasn’t a “them” anyway, so it mattered little if they had privacy. Besides, she had been going to tell him that they couldn’t do it again, that it was too soon, that what had happened shouldn’t have. Not yet. That didn’t mean she didn’t want to be alone with him, to do something. She probably did, eventually. Just not so much, or quite so fast.

“I’m waiting for a friend,” she said.

“You’ve still plenty of time,” he said. “Worship doesn’t begin for another half hour.”

The sun wasn’t in his eyes, but behind him, illuminating her face. She knew, even without being able to see his eyes, that he could read hers perfectly.

“I didn’t realize…”

“We’ve a small but active congregation,” the man said, extending his hand. “Ian MacCraig. St. Conan’s pastor.”

***

One question you’d like commenters to answer relative to your post:  If your pastor was single, would it bother you if he or she started to date a woman or man who had been caught in a compromising situation , and who didn’t share his or her religious beliefs?

Tell us about yourself:

Twenty-one years ago, I bought a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa so I could move home and be nearer my family. I rescued an amazing but very run-down old house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Since then, welcoming guests, running the business and cooking wonderful food has consumed the largest chunk of my life.

Before that, I lived in Colorado Springs, CO, and before that, Augsburg, Germany. I attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and spent one life-changing summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.

After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when I couldn’t sleep (mostly because I was so keyed up from working 12 hour days at my B&B), I met and married my real-life, romantic hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. I enjoy playing the piano with the worship team at church, needlepointing, photography, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with my nieces and nephews.

I live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and write on the run, whenever I have a spare minute. “Wild Rose” is my sixth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

Links (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, book buy links, etc.):

http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenDecker,

http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/,

https://twitter.com/#!/SherrieHansen,

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=24

Excerpt From “Love Notes” by Sherrie Hansen Decker

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Even Tommy Love’s is melting around the edges. They both want Rainbow Lake Lodge. Only one of them can have it. For Hope, recreating the past – reopening the lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again — means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy. For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home – peace, quiet, seclusion – and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect. Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

Excerpt:

Tommy lifted his suitcase chest high, handed it to her, and eyed a handful of scraggly, roadside weeds that looked sturdier than they were because of the half-inch of ice coating them. Grabbing a handful, he tried to hoist himself up out of the ditch. And slid backwards. Three times.

“It’s wicked stuff,” she said, trying to hide a laugh. “Here. I can help if I set these down.” She laid his suitcase on the snow-covered ground and perched his precious guitar on top of it.

So she was gorgeous and thoughtful. That didn’t mean she could run Rainbow Lake Lodge all by herself.

She took off her mittens and dug the heels of her boots into the gravel at the shoulder. “Let me give you a hand.”

“I’m fine,” he said. And he was, once she’d helped him out. The woman had a strong grip – he’d give her that.

“What brings you to Rainbow Lake?” Hope asked as they headed into the woods, toward the lodge he was going to bulldoze.

“Um… I had a gig at the Indian Casino at Fortune Bay the night before last,” he said, not wanting to say too much. “I have a small plane that I use when I’m in Minnesota. I was on my way to the airport.”

She looked over her shoulder at the Porsche as if realizing that his car was pointed in exactly the opposite direction that it would have been had he been telling the truth.

“I must have taken a wrong turn,” Tommy said, stopping to shift his weight as he skated along on the icy road. His guitar was lighter than his suitcase and he felt totally unbalanced. “I couldn’t see a thing with that sleet coming down.”

“I was just thinking that you’re mighty fortunate that you weren’t in the air when this weather started up. Or it could have been your plane that crashed instead of your car. In a lake instead of a ditch.”

He looked her in the eye for the first time and nodded.

“I learned a long time ago that God has ways of getting us where he wants us to be,” she said. “Usually at the precise moment he needs us to be there.”

He assimilated her words and chose not to respond. What he wanted to say was, if you really believe this, how do you make sense of the fact that a drunk driver just happened to come around a blind curve on the wrong side of the centerline at the exact moment your husband was coming upon the same curve from the opposite direction? He wanted to ask it, but how could he, when he wasn’t supposed to know her, or that her husband was dead?

“I grew up in Embarrass, you know,” he said, not knowing whether he should just keep his mouth shut or try to distract her from asking him point blank what he was doing in her ditch, and why he was snooping around her property.

“I think David did mention it now that I think about it. I didn’t grow up around here, so I’m a bit clueless when it comes to who went to school with whom and that sort of thing.”

“Then I guess I could ask you the same question,” he said, feeling safe, for the moment anyway. “About what brought you to Rainbow Lake.”

“I’m renovating a lodge and a cluster of cabins that’s been in my late husband’s family for almost half a century”, she said, not mincing any words. “I hope to be ready to reopen on Memorial Day weekend, but there have been a few glitches and things aren’t moving along quite as quickly as I’d hoped.”

“They never do,” Tommy said, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t the jerk he felt like. She needed to sell this place — it was what was best for her. Everyone knew it except for her. Besides, it wasn’t as though he had just randomly decided he had to have her land. Billy had made it clear that Hope was going to lose the property regardless of the fact that Tommy was in the picture. Somebody was going to buy the place. Why shouldn’t it be him?

He’d nearly convinced himself he was right when they turned a corner and he saw the lodge poking through the trees off in the distance, looking as big and grand as the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road.

Maybe it was the snow, or the fact that he was chilled to the bone. Maybe it was the way Hope kept referring to the lodge with such love in her voice — whatever, he was mesmerized at first sight. Until that moment, he’d only seen the roof and the top few feet of the exterior that had been visible from the lake. The plane had revealed even less because of the dense ground cover and tall trees. He’d really had no concept of what the place was like. So when the rough hewn timbers and river rocks and old green mortar started to appear through the thick veil of lacy snowflakes falling from the sky, he felt like he was on the inside of some kind of pretty little snow globe, walking toward the fairy-tale-like building in the center.

Get a grip, he told himself. Stay cool. Be objective.

“This is it,” she said. “‘Home Sweet Home.’”

Don’t let her get to you. It wasn’t as though he was going to be evicting her and her six children. She was young. She had options – or would have, when Billy convinced her she needed to relinquish the land and Tommy paid her more than it was worth.

Who was he kidding? Not only was he inside the snow globe, some maniacal kid was shaking it as hard as he could. He was so shook up he could barely swallow.

***

Sherrie Hansen Decker lives in a 116-year-old Victorian house in northern Iowa who, just like her, got a second chance when she rescued it from the bulldozers grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Love Notes is Sherrie’s fifth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing, and her debut Christian Inspirational novel. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and University of Maryland, European Division, in Augsburg, Germany. Her husband, Rev. Mark Decker, is a pastor and Sherrie’s real life hero. She enjoys playing the piano with their worship team, needlepointing, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on adventures with her nieces and nephews.

Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.

Click here for an interview with: Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”

Merry Go Round by Sherrie Hansen

Tracy’s supposedly perfect life as a pastor’s wife and mother of three is turned upside down when her husband leaves  her for a man.

Clay Alexander’s charmed existence starts spinning out of control when his father threatens to shut down Maple Valley’s  woolen mill – unless Clay conforms to his family’s expectations.

Is Tracy and Clay’s love meant to be, or will they forever be on opposite sides of the merry-go-round?

Her children. His parents. Her pride. His honor. The welfare of an entire town.

MERRY GO ROUND… Hang on for dear life.

Excerpt:

Their mother went to the door and looked out. “Did Trevor have trouble finding a place to park?”

“He’s not here,” Tracy told her with feigned surprise. “I’m sorry. I thought I told you he wouldn’t be able to make it.”

“I’m sure you didn’t, dear.”

Her mind went blank. Panic clutched at her side. What was wrong with her tonight? She was a master at keeping a straight face when she was trapped in a half-truth and had to find the right words to cover her tracks. She’d been practicing since she was what – eight or nine? She knew hundreds of ways to bend words, to get out of a jam without actually lying. Sadly, the web of deceit she and Trevor had woven since he’d asked her for a divorce had stretched even her reserves.

“Um…” She had already nursed the counseling-a-hurting-parishioner angle to death, and given the excuse about Trevor having to visit a very ill member of the con­gregation too many times over the last few weeks for it to be plausible. Their church wasn’t big enough to warrant such never-ending pain and suffering among its members. Be­sides, the children were still within earshot. Whatever she said now would have to jive with what she had told them ear­lier.

“I’m sure I told you about the conference, Mom.” She kept her tone light. “He’s been gone all week. He did call the other night though, and he told me to give Ian a big birthday hug. Is he downstairs with his daddy?” Tracy was halfway across the spacious kitchen by the time she finished speaking and around the corner before her mother could for­mulate the words to disagree with her again.

“Conference? Something to do with the church?” She heard her dad ask.

“I have no idea,” she heard her mother say.

Tracy gripped the handrail at the top of the stairs and stood concealed from the sight of the others. She could hear Jake’s melodious voice, Mac’s deep, rumbling laughter, and Timothy’s high-pitched squeal of excitement mingling with the noisy clatter of the other children’s voices.

It wasn’t really lying, she tried to convince herself. Keeping your troubles to yourself was just what the Joneses did. Problems, personal flaws, shortcomings, and weaknesses of the flesh were squelched –
squashed if necessary – and made to disappear long before they ever became public knowledge. These people lived victorious Christian lives even if it killed them.

Unless you were taken with a serious disease, of course. No one asked to be sick. There was no shame in sharing your woes when one of you was ill. She certainly didn’t wish Trevor any harm, but him being
sick would have been easier to explain than what was really going on.

She herself was feeling ill just imagining what people would say if they knew their perfect pastor / son-in-law / husband of the year was gay.

***

By day, Sherrie Hansen owns and operates a Victorian bed and breakfast and tea house in Northern Iowa called the Blue Belle Inn. By night, she enjoys not only writing, but traveling, reading, needlework, quilting, and renovating and decorating old houses. She is the author of three additional books, Night and Day, Stormy Weather (Book One of the Maple Valley Trilogy) and Water Lily (Book Two of the Maple Valley Trilogy).

Click here to read first chapter of: Merry Go Round

Click here to buy: Merry Go Round

Celebrating Four New Novels from Second Wind Publishing – Win an Ebook!

Four people, chosen at random, will win an ecopy of one of Second Wind Publishing’s new releases. Just go to the Second Wind blog (click here),  leave a comment to say which book you’d like to read, and you might be a winner. (You can even list all of them if you wish.) Contest ends on October 6, 2010. Hope you win! 

Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen:

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school.

Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. Being with his old friends is like guest starring in a favorite episode of Cheers. Everybody knows your name. Everybody’s glad you came. 

The last thing Michelle wants to do is dredge up a lot of old memories and relive a part of her past that wasn’t that great in the first place.

Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

Click here to read the first chapter: Water Lily

The Pirate’s Bastard by Laura Wharton:

A rollicking ride through colonial North Carolina and beyond with Edward Marshall, bastard son of infamous pirate Stede Bonnet, as he tries hard to separate his past from his future. But will his father’s former right-hand man ruin it all with blackmail?


Click here to read the first chapter: The Pirate’s Bastard

An Altar by the River by Christine Husom:

A frantic man phones the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department reporting his brother is armed with a large dagger and on his way there, intent to sacrifice himself. Sergeant Corinne Aleckson takes the call, learning the alarming reasons behind the young man’s death wish. When the department investigates, they plunge into the alleged criminal activities of a hidden cult and the disturbing cover-up of an old closed-case shooting death. The cult members have everything to lose and will do whatever it takes to prevent the truth coming to light. But will they find An Altar by the River in time to save the young man?

Click here to read the first chapter: An Altar by the River

Redstone by George Wright:

Everything that mattered to the old man was gone.  One by one he had lost his job. his wife and his health. Then  he took matters into his own hands.

A hidden valley, a lost Indian tribe and a cougar named Kitten led him to an adventurous new life, a life that fulfills his every dream.

As he establishes his kingdom in the mountains, some people call him Sasquatch, some call him crazy. He calls himself Chief of the Ruby Indians.

Click here to read the first chapter: Redstone

Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school.

Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. Being with his old friends is like guest starring in a favorite episode of Cheers. Everybody knows your name. Everybody’s glad you came. 

The last thing Michelle wants to do is dredge up a lot of old memories and relive a part of her past that wasn’t that great in the first place.

Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

Excerpts: 

 
    “I would change a lot of things about that night if I could.”
    She said nothing. She didn’t want to say it hadn’t mattered when it had. This was ridiculous. What was he doing here, and why was she even… Oh, Lord. He was going to ask her to dance.
    “I blew it the night of the reunion. I’m hoping you’ll give me a second chance.” Jake held out a hand.  “Michelle Jones, would you do me the honor of dancing with me?”
She frowned, but it was hard work. She really felt like smiling – like dancing. But this was Jake Sheffield, and starting something that would just come back to haunt her was so not a good idea.
    “I can’t dance with you here. Now.”
    “I owe you a dance,” Jake said, sounding uncharacteristically stubborn. “If you won’t… If I… What would you like me to do?”
    “Go away and let me forget that the 1980’s ever happened?”
    His face caught her off guard. He looked genuinely sad, and very tired. For a second, her heart went out to him.
    “What was so bad about the 80’s?”
    She closed the chink and folded her arms over her chest. “Nothing if you like constant rejection and perpetual humiliation.”
    An expression that she couldn’t quite place – except that it was definitely unsympathetic – flitted over his face. He seemed truly disappointed. Not just about the dance, but in her.
    She turned away from him. Why was he doing this? Rooting around in places best left undisturbed was only going to… “High school was just a bad time for me. It was nothing you did.” No. It was her mother telling her she had stringy hair, crooked teeth, a fat face, big knees, and bad posture. It was Tracy teasing her about her wiggly tits and freckles. It was Liz Allen, and the fact that women like her existed. And in a way, it was Jake, and every other man who appreciated beauty more than brains.
    “You need to start accentuating the positive,” Jake said. “If you look hard enough, you can always find the good in things.”
    She probably looked at skeptical as she felt.
    “There was some great music in the 1980’s.” He set his boom box on the old walnut church pew that lined the wall of the foyer and flipped a switch. Chris De Burgh started to sing Lady in Red just like he used to in the 1980’s.
        I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight
        I’ve never seen you shine so bright…
    “Michelle Jones, may I have this dance?”
    Okay. So he was trying very hard to make things up to her. Which was very nice of him, but… “Don’t you think the moment has passed?”
    Jake reached out his hand and waited.
        I’ve never seen that dress you’re wearing…
    “This is ridiculous. I’m in my nightgown. We can’t just…” She wrinkled her brow.
    “You’re beautiful just the way you are.”
        Or the highlights in your hair that catch your eyes.
        I have been blind…

    Her hand reached out to take his as though it had a life of its own and could act independently of her brain.
        The lady in red is dancing with me,
        Cheek to cheek.
        There’s nobody here,
        It’s just you and me.
        It’s where I wanna be.
        But I hardly know this beauty by my side.
        I’ll never forget the way you look tonight…
    It was her fantasy come to life. Jake’s hand caressed her back through her silk robe, then pulled her close.
    His cheek was cool against hers, just-shaved soft. She melted into his arms, their bodies seamlessly joined.
        I’ve never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight,
        I’ve never seen you shine so bright – you were amazing.
       Her heart fluttered with excitement. It had to be a dream – another crazy dream, just like the others she’d been having ever since the reunion…Jake’s body – his hard, muscular body – pressed into her soft, womanly curves. Trust me, her body said. This is no dream.
        And when you turned to me and smiled it took my breath away.
        And I have never had such a feeling such a feeling
        Of complete and utter love, as I do tonight.
        The lady in red is dancing with me,
        Cheek to cheek.
        There’s nobody here.
        It’s just you and me.
    Jake swirled her around the room, taking her with him on a magic ride from just-left-of-the-moon fantasy to modern day reality. This was happening. It was really happening.
        But I hardly know this beauty by my side.
        I’ll never forget the way you look tonight.
        The lady in red,
        My lady in red,
        I love you.
    The song ended and Jake continued to hold her in a tender embrace. It took her a few seconds to come back to her senses, but she did.
    She pulled away before he did. “I never did look good in red.”
    He caught her arm. “You have red highlights in your hair.”
    “It’s not red,” she said, feeling cantankerous and not even knowing why. “Maybe strawberry blond.”
    “Your cheeks turn red when you blush,” Jake said.
    “Rose. They’re rosy. My cheeks,” she said, taking another step back. The only thing red about her was going to be her eyes when Jake left and she was alone again, crying her heart out.
    “Can we at least agree it’s a good song?”
    “Yes.” She looked down. “I’m sorry, Jake. I just can’t…”
    “Why?”
    “Too many bad memories, I guess. Past, present…”
    “Yah. Well. Life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for a lot of us,” he said.

_______________________________

    “So, what kind of clothes do you need?” Michelle said.
    “It’s for Heritage Week,” Theodora said. “Every day we have to wear clothes from a different decade. Thursday is the 1980’s.”
    Fine, better now than a week from now when she’d re-forgotten Jake Sheffield existed. “Your mother must have clothes from when she was in high school.”
    “She’s not a pack rat like you are,” Theodora said, then blushed, realizing too late that the phrase she was repeating might not have been meant as a compliment. “Besides, I’m built like you. Mom’s stuff is all too small.”
    “I don’t think you look anything like me!” Michelle kept the rest of her thoughts to herself. She didn’t want to give Theodora a complex like her mother had her. “But I do have quite a few things tucked away. I loved playing dress-up when I was younger, so I saved some classic pieces from each era.” Thinking her own children would play with them. “We’ll just have to see what fits.”
    She really doubted anything would – Theodora wasn’t fat like she’d been. Big boned like many of their family, and nicely developed, as opposed to Tracy, who always had always had a boyish figure, but not at all fat. She doubted she had anything that wasn’t going to be absolutely huge on Theodora’s girlish figure. Theodora was twice as skinny as she’d been at thirteen.
    Theodora picked out a few things she liked and slipped into the bathroom to try on the clothes.
    “I could call Rae and see if she could come for lunch if you can stay that long,” Michelle said while she and Tracy were waiting. “Ian is getting so cute.”
    Tracy wrinkled her nose. “We really have to get going. Trevor’s out of town and Titus is home alone watching Timothy. I promised I wouldn’t be gone for too long.”
    Michelle was biting her tongue when Theodora came strutting out in a pair of tight Jordache jeans and a fitted crop top that Michelle had worn under a baggy big shirt.
    “You… look great!” Michelle said, shock rippling through her body.
    The jeans she’d worn in high school fit Theodora to perfection. The top accentuated her niece’s small, high breasts and the indention of her waist. Her first thought was that she’d been insane to be dissatisfied with that body, that beautiful body, her second, to be furious with her mother. She’d grown up believing that she was unforgivably fat and inherently unlovable, when all the time, she’d looked like that?
    She reeled as the truth peeled years of misconceptions from her eyes. Her whole self-concept was based on a lie. The only one who had though she was fat in high school was her mother – her mother, and the daughter who had been insecure enough to believe her.
    “Do you like it, Mom?” Theodora asked.
    Tracy hesitated.
    “You look incredible, Theodora,” Michelle said again. “You’re beautiful – absolutely beautiful.”
    Tracy cleared her throat. “My baby is growing up.”
    “Mo-oo-mmm,” Theodora said.

***

Sherrie Hansen is a 1975 graduate of Austin High School, and the daughter of Everett and Mary Ann Hansen of rural Austin. Sherrie was co-editor of the Austinian, sang in High School Choir, and was active in Enterprise 4-H Club and Grace Baptist Church. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, and University of Maryland, European Division, while living in Augsburg, Germany. She moved back to the Midwest to be nearer to her family and opened the Blue Belle Inn Bed and Breakfast and Tea House after living in Colorado Springs, CO for 11 years. She is married to the Rev. Mark Decker, Bethany Lutheran Church, Thompson, IA, who formerly served at St. Olaf Church, Austin, MN.

 

Click here to buy: Water Lily