Challenging Miss Valentine from
Astraea Press/Clean Reads
Ella Valentine doubts she’ll ever recover when her twin brother passes away in college. Four years later, living in a new city and working for a large corporation, she gets caught in a lie and saddled with a new boss who she wonders has lost his mind. Now he has her enacting insane acts of espionage while trying to catch the culprit who has embezzled money from their company. If it wasn’t for his deep brown eyes and lazy smile she just might quit. Is this God’s plan for her life? She isn’t even sure who she is anymore without her twin and the way things are going she just might end up in the loony bin.
Charles “Charlie” Murray II may be the heir presumptive to his father’s industrial dynasty, but all he really wants is to create—be it drawings or a marketing campaign. When he’s summoned to the home office to take over the position of CFO, he discovers his new assistant is the same woman who passed him a phony phone number in a diner the previous weekend. If he can figure out who’s been stealing from the company, he just might attain the position of his dreams or will he sacrifice it all to be with Ella.
Ella punched the button for the lobby and waited. Oh, why had she waited? Why hadn’t she taken the stairs? Behind her, she heard rapid steps thumping down the hallway. She peeked back to see Charlie Murray rushing toward her. He didn’t appear calm and mellow, like at the restaurant—not even charming and confident, as he’d been in the office. No, he was angry. Why on earth should he be angry? She’s the one who just lost her job.
Oh, dear Lord! I lost my job! No, I just quit my job. She held up the photograph. “George, I am a colossal idiot.”
What had she done? Obviously, she needed more prayer than she thought. And now what was Charlie planning to do to her? She decided not to stick around and find out. In a flash, she took off down the side hall toward the stairs. She pulled open the heavy steel door and glanced over to see Charlie still coming right for her, and this time he was jogging. After running through the doorway, she took the cement steps to the floor below as quickly as she could.
She paused on a step for just a second to peer up at Charlie staring down at her, a deep frown marring his handsome face.
“Stop following me. I quit, remember?”
“I remember. Now hold on. We need to discuss this.” He started down the stairs.
Her heart raced with panic. With his much longer legs, he was bound to catch up with her in no time. She launched herself down the next set of stairs. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Yes, there is,” he shouted back. “Now stand still, because I’m bringing you back to the office with me one way or another.”
She stopped and his footsteps ceased, as well. Would he actually force her back to the office? She could almost imagine him picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder fireman-style to carry her back to the office.
Carefully, she peeked up the stairwell. Shimmering brown eyes filled with determination met hers. Her breathing from all the running remained elevated.
“Ella…what are you running off…like that…for?”
Charlie stood right in front of her now, a little short of breath and patience, too. He couldn’t hide the flash of annoyance ruminating in his dark eyes, as he stared her down.
Like he had any right to be mad at her! What had she done? Not a thing. Except quit. And she had every right to do that. The longer she looked at him and ignored the cute dimple in his cheek, the angrier she got.
“Now, just take a step back, mister.” She held her palm out to him. “I quit, and you have no right to force me to come back.” With her wool coat in place, she felt incredibly warm. Why had she put it on when she was still inside the building? A trickle of perspiration formed at the back of her neck.
“You’re right.” The way he smiled just then made it absolutely impossible to ignore the dimple a second longer and her anger began to wane.
But then she remembered why she could never see this man again, never be in his presence, and most definitely never work for him. That Saturday night. The flirting. The fake number.
“Y…you should have told me,” she blurted out, “who you really are.” His eyes opened wider, as if confused. “At the diner. ‘Just Charlie.’” She firmed her mouth and tilted her head slightly.
In response, he gave her a relaxed smile. He leaned into the wall of the stairwell and placed his hands into his pockets. “I like just being Charlie. It fits me a whole lot better than Charles Murray II.”
His sincerity at that moment moved something deep inside her chest. It must have been her heartstrings. It had been a long time since someone had yanked on them. She’d done her very best to keep them hidden away. Away from the players, the liars and the commitment-a-phobes. Away from anyone looking one iota like Mr. Charles Murray II.
And yet she couldn’t help but think that Charlie wasn’t like many of the men she’d dated. He had eyes that seemed too direct and too earnest to ever intentionally hurt someone. And it seemed as if the boss’s son carried a burden of his own. You probably needed big shoulders to carry the Murray name around. Although, in point of fact, Charlie had mighty broad shoulders, now that she came to think of it.
Oh, she couldn’t think. Her emotions were a blur racing through her system. Pondering the width of Charlie’s shoulders was not helping. She lowered her eyes and leaned against the door to the third floor. If she looked into his eyes one more second, he could probably get her to do whatever he wanted. She glanced at the photograph and focused on George’s face. If only her brother were here now. He’d get her out of this mess.
New Release from Pelican Book Group
Andrea & the 5 Day Challenge
I need Your help and sooner would be better than later. Wouldn't you know it, just as soon as I decide to attempt the 5-Day Bible Study Challenge, my parents start heaping on loads of pressure to get me into Julliard. My friend Amy isn’t any better, urging me to ask Luke Ryan to homecoming. As if the cute, transfer jock would actually go out with me. I mean, we’re kinda friends, and I’ve enjoyed our Geometry study sessions, but in case Amy hasn’t noticed, I’m the invisible one at Aubrey Christian Academy, and I like it that way. On top of that, I have a feeling Luke’s concealing something behind those chocolate-brown eyes of his. I know I can be self-centered and a bit melodramatic, but I really do want to seek Your will for my life. Then maybe I’ll even figure out which direction points up.
Sincerely, Andrea Jamison
High School Junior
Change-o-phobic & complete neurotic
"Well, looky there.” Amy lifted her glasses and peered down the hall before returning her specs backto her nose. “Is it me or does Luke look like a mild- mannered reporter type?”
I glared at her. It was as though she’d read my mind. ”It’s you,” I snapped back. Seven thirty-eight inthe morning was way too early for all my synapses to be able to process this information. I was being rude and didn’t even know why.
“He’s like your Romeo in cargo pants.”
“He’s not wearing cargo pants. And don’t compare him to Romeo. That story is way too depressing.”
“OK, then he’s Mr. Darcy come to sweep you away from your mundane existence.”
“Amy, seriously, it’s time to lay off the romantic fiction. Besides, didn’t you tell me that crushes were for immature adolescents?”
“Crushes maybe, but Luke might just be the one for you. You know, the
One.” She did the quotes in the air thing to emphasize her statement.
“Are you missing your macaroons or something? I’m only sixteen.” I must have been missing mine because I hadn’t used that expression since sixth grade. I covered my face with my hands.
“Whatever, Andi. Here he comes. If you ask me, he’s trying to woo you. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” She tapped my shoulder before she traipsed away.
I barely took notice of her absence because I had mere seconds before Luke Ryan arrived. He didn’t even give Stephanie a glimpse as he passed by her down the hall. His gaze remained focused on me. I swiveled my stance to face my locker and pulled out the daisies, forming a half-dozen bouquet in my hand. How did he know daises were my favorite? Had I mentioned it? More importantly, was Amy right?
Could Luke really be trying to woo me like sometotally romantic gesture straight out of medieval, courtly love? I must have accidentally inhaled window cleaner or something because that just wasn’t possible. His note had only been meant as a thank you. Yes, that was it. He’d even said just that.
Sneaking a peek out of the corner of my eye, I could see he was almost upon me. My evil, impossible heart did a somersault in my chest. Oh, my gosh! Did I remember to put on deodorant this morning, because I was really starting to sweat. As if suffering from some horrifying form of hysteria, I stuffed my books into my locker as fast as I could. I had to get out of this hallway before he caught up to me.
Coming this December from Pelican Book Group's Watershed (Young Adult) line.
Book 1.5 in the Aubrey Christian Academy series: Luke's Crazy, California Christmas.
This book takes place about two months after the ending of Andrea and the 5 Day Challenge and it will be a book written from Luke Ryan’s perspective this time.
Readers have asked to know more about Luke. That’s exactly what you will get in this book. Everything you wanted to know about Luke.
More exciting details will be revealed as we move closer to release date.
For one mad moment Ella Valentine steps outside her comfort zone and ends up caught in a lie and saddled with a new boss who she suspects might be losing his mind. Now he has her enacting insane acts of espionage while trying to catch the culprit who has embezzled money from their company.
Charles “Charlie” Murray II might be heir to the Murray family dynasty, but he’d rather be off creating than running the CFO office. However, if he can discover who’s been stealing from the company then he just might attain the position of his dreams or will he sacrifice it all to be with Ella.
High school junior Andrea Jamison, self-proclaimed change-o-phobic and, incidentally, a fabulous pianist in her own right has lost faith in herself and her abilities. At the exact moment when her parents begin pressuring her about an opportunity that just might lead to Julliard, Andrea’s friend Amy meddles in her personal life trying to pair her up with the cute, transfer jock Luke Ryan. Will Andrea learn to accept her parents often repeated word FOCUS or will she finally start trusting in God’s strength instead of cowering in her own weaknesses?