The Gifts of Faith - The Return (Ch. 13)

Faith collapsed onto the chair of this antique desk and spoke her fears
Faith collapsed onto the chair of this antique desk and spoke her fears | Source

How to clean antique furniture

Faith was a nervous wreck. She busied herself by straightening things up around the shop to keep her mind off seeing Nathaniel again.

Today was the day and she was scared shitless.

Sarah has no idea how frightened I am of seeing Nathaniel again. And I need to get a hold of myself. Keep busy, Faith. Keep Busy.

“Faith, you’re going to bore a hole in that desk your dad gave you if you don’t quit it! What’s up with you?” Sarah snatched the polishing rag out of Faith’s hand.

Sarah grabbed Faith by the shoulders and forced her to look her in the eyes. “Tell me what’s wrong, Faith. You didn’t eat breakfast and you barely spoke on the way to work this morning. You’ve spent the last hour straightening up the shop. Who are you expecting, the President?”

Sarah had never seen what she now saw in Faith’s eyes. She saw fear. With all Faith had experienced in her life, fear never came into play. Not that Sarah had ever seen, anyway.

“What is it? What has you so frightened, Faith? And don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. I see what I see, whether you admit it or not!”

Faith collapsed onto the chair of the antique desk Daddy had gifted to her. “Sarah, when I first met Nathaniel I was terrified of what I saw in his soul. Now I’ve invited him here and I don’t think I have the strength to see him again and not react. It took all I had in me to carry on a normal conversation with him the first time. Now that I know what I know…. Well, I just don’t think I can handle seeing him again.”

Sarah sat next to her friend, took her face in her hands and forced her to look into her eyes. “Sweetie, if Nathaniel was meant to hurt you, he would have when you first met.”

Faith lowered her gaze, contemplating her friend’s words. It wasn’t until Faith regained eye contact that Sarah continued. “Faith, you see souls. I don’t know of anyone else who has that gift. I have no idea what mine looks like, other than what you tell me. Chances are Nathaniel has no idea of what you see. Chances are the infection you see in his soul is through no fault of his own. Did you ever think of that?”

Again, Faith turned away from Sarah. She needed time to think. Sarah put the rag and furniture polish away, allowing her friend time with her thoughts. Let her think about what you just laid on her, Sarah. She forgets that most people don’t see what she sees.


The girls worked in silence while serving several customers that morning.

Finally, Sarah broke the ice. “When do you expect to see Nathanial again?”

“Today at lunchtime.” Faith checked the shelf under the counter as she spoke and avoided looking at Sarah as she did. She didn’t want her to know that’s where she’d stashed Julie’s ring.

“What? Are you kidding me? Honey, that’s in a couple hours! Come here. Sit down. Listen to me.” Sarah pulled Faith to the back room where they put flower arrangements together and literally pushed her into a chair.

Sarah pulled up a chair within inches of Faith’s face and straddled it backwards. She pushed her long blond hair behind her shoulders and rested her arms on the back of the chair.

Faith realized Sarah had something important to say and she had better listen.

Sarah pulled Faith into the back room where they put flower arrangements together
Sarah pulled Faith into the back room where they put flower arrangements together | Source

“First of all, I want to remind you that you’re the strongest person I know. You made it through the ridicule that was thrown your way when you were little. You made it through your mother’s death and you’ll make it through this.”

Faith opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, she waited for Sarah to get to the point.

“Like I said, I don’t think Nathaniel means you any harm. Shoot, from what you told me, it sounds like he’s got eyes for you. Now think back to when you revisited your mom’s room when she was dying. The day Nathaniel’s flowers took you back in time. What did you see?”

Faith lifted her head and stared at the ceiling trying to recall the memory. “I – I saw a little boy rubbing Mama’s arms. I thought he was trying to hurt her. Then I saw some stuff move out of Mama and into the little boy. Then the rainbow. Hope’s rainbow. And mist. Then the little boy was gone and so was Mama.” Tears welled in Faith’s eyes as she remembered how helpless she felt that day.

God, I miss Mama so much!

Sarah went to the mini-fridge they kept in the back room and returned with two bottles of water, offering one to Faith. After taking a long drink, Sarah spoke. “Remember what Hope told us? She said Nathaniel was there to take the cancer away from your mom. That was the day you first met Hope in the meadow. She said had she gotten back to your mom’s room in time, she would have been there to help Nathaniel extract the cancer. He wasn't supposed to absorb it – that’s why Hope needed to be there. But she was too late. I think what you saw in Nathaniel’s soul may be your mama’s cancer and you mistook it for evil. Not that cancer’s not evil – it is – but it could explain what you saw in him that day.”

For the first time since Faith arranged the meeting with Nathaniel, she felt she could breathe.

“Sarah, what would I do without you? You’re a good friend. Now, let’s get back to work!”


Nathaniel's 1952 MG
Nathaniel's 1952 MG | Source
Nathaniel was even more handsome than Faith remembered
Nathaniel was even more handsome than Faith remembered | Source

Shortly after the girls returned to the storefront a red MG pulled up outside of the entrance. Faith found herself nervously smoothing her blouse and fussing with her hair as the all-too-familiar butterflies started their belly dance. “He’s here!”

Sarah looked out the window just as Nathaniel was climbing out of the sports car and closing the door. “Wow, Faith. He’s gorgeous! How on Earth could you ever be afraid of a hottie like that?”

Ting-a-ling rang the bell over the door as Nathaniel made his entrance into Bouquets and Rainbows.

He was even more handsome than Faith remembered. This time it was his sparkling blue eyes that held her attention.

“Hello, Faith. I take it this is your allusive partner?” Nathaniel approached the counter with a confident air and friendly smile.

“Hi, Nathaniel. It’s nice to see you again. Yes, this is my partner Sarah Barnes. Sarah, this is Nathaniel Baxter.”

Sarah stepped out from behind the counter, shook Nathaniel’s hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Nathaniel.” She could feel a blush creeping on her face as she spoke.

Faith noticed that Nathaniel’s soul wasn't nearly as scary as it had been on the first meeting. In fact, the ick seemed to fade the closer he got to the counter. She reached underneath, found what she was looking for, and tucked Julie’s ring in her pocket.

Following random chit-chat about the weather, the shop, and the drive over from Oakwood, Nathaniel re-directed the conversation. “Faith, you mentioned you have something that may be of interest to me. Care to fill me in over lunch? My treat. You too, Sarah. I’d love for you to join us. Do you think the shop can do without the two of you for an hour or so?”

Faith was relieved she wouldn't have to be alone with Nathaniel. She shot Sarah a sideways glance that said don’t you dare say no.

“That sounds great. I’m famished. Give me a minute while I get the Out to Lunch sign for the door and grab my purse.” Sarah flipped the plastic hands to 2:00 and hung the sign in the window as Faith locked the door behind them.

“Where to?” Nathaniel situated himself between the women, gently placing a hand on each of their shoulders, looking for guidance.

Sarah and Faith spoke at the same time. “There’s a great diner at the end of the block.” This elicited giggles from the girls.

“Well, I guess it’s unanimous then. The diner it is! Lead the way, ladies.”


Faith and Nathaniel ordered the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and cornbread
Faith and Nathaniel ordered the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and cornbread | Source
Faith handed Julie's ring to its rightful heir
Faith handed Julie's ring to its rightful heir | Source

Sarah ordered her usual fried chicken fix. Nathaniel and Faith both opted for the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and corn bread. The waitress brought their drinks – sweet tea all the way around – and placed their orders.

While they were waiting, Faith pulled the ring from her pocket and presented it to Nathaniel. “I believe this belongs to you.”

Nathaniel raised his right eyebrow as he stared at the tiny jewel. “I don’t understand. This looks like a little girl’s ring. I don’t have any children or even a little sister.” Nevertheless, he took it from Faith, holding it gingerly between his thumb and forefinger, inspecting it as he spoke.

At that moment Faith knew she was right in returning Julie’s ring to the son she would never know. The butterflies stopped doing their dance when she handed it over.

Faith did most of the talking during lunch. She told Nathaniel how she’d found the ring buried in the dirt while she and Sarah were tending to the gardens. Of course, she left out most of the details. After all, he’d probably think she was crazy if she started talking about butterflies, rainbows, and premonitions. She went on to tell him about their online search to find out the history of the property and how, after a lot of digging, they discovered the White family had lived there originally.

“That’s all very interesting, but what does this have to do with the ring and why should it be of interest to me?” Nathaniel spun the tiny ring on the table as he posed the question.

“I’m getting to that. Be patient.” Faith took a bite of her catfish. “The White family had a little girl named Julie who was born in 1956. She was their only child. We wanted to know more about Julie so we did some more digging. We found a newspaper headline dated April 17, 1976 announcing the wedding of Julie White and Haywood Baxter.”

Nathaniel about choked on his sweet tea. “So, Julie White was my mother? But how did you put the pieces together? How did you know Haywood Baxter is my father?”

Faith chose her words carefully. She didn’t want Nathaniel to know how shaken she’d been after their first meeting. “When you came into the shop a couple of months back I was – well, suffice it to say I was a bit curious about you. I asked my father if he new of the Baxters in Oakwood. Turns out your dad hired my dad to build custom furniture for his clients back in the day. In fact, they did business together for years.”

Nathaniel leaned back in the booth and smiled. “You mean Hal Montgomery is your father?”

“He is.” Faith was feeling more at ease as the conversation went on.

“Sometimes, I’d ride along when my dad made a run to pick up the furniture. I don’t ever remember meeting you, though.” Nathaniel put his napkin on the table and signaled for the waitress to bring the check.

“Nor I you, Nathaniel. Most likely I was off playing in the meadow. I did that a lot when I was a little girl.”

As the trio got up to leave, Nathaniel muttered, “It certainly is a small world.”

For the first time since they sat down, Sarah joined in the conversation. “You have no idea.”

Faith turned to give her friend a warning look when she noticed the soft glimmer of Sarah’s rainbow.

What’s more, the frightful ugliness she’d seen in Nathaniel’s soul on that first meeting was all but gone.

Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

All Rights Reserved

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling

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Comments 48 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well I'll be darned if I'm going to comment twice. :)

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

It's a good thing I read my email first or I'd have no clue what you're talking about, Bill!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sha.....This is definitely some of the best, most intriguing, flowing fiction I have read in a long ARE a natural, my dear friend. I see your dream coming true, right before my eyes.

Simply wonderful writing....and no doubt Master teacher/author Bill has shared his opinion with you...(I've just started reading "Resurrecting Tobias,"....and can barely set it down!) I vowed to read it in one sitting.....but that's a stupid thing for me to think is even possible in my crazy life.

I truly do love your work, Sha.....I hope that you would know by now that I always shoot straight from the BS from me! Just continue to let those magical fingers do their thing, girl!...UP+++

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Paula, if anyone is who she is and be-damned anyone who doesn't like it, it's you! It thrills me that you're loving my fiction. I love writing it. It's far more enjoyable than writing content. I can put myself into fiction. Rather, my characters can put themselves into me!

I'm reading Bill's new novel, too. I finished up something I was reading on Saturday and immediately picked up Resurrecting Tobias. I spent 4 hours Sunday with Toby, Pete and Maria. I don't see how you can expect to cover it in one sitting. It's 508 pages in paperback. I'm almost halfway through. Unfortunately, I only have the weekends for pleasure reading. This coming weekend is out. My son's birthday is Sunday, so I'll be shopping Saturday and baking Sunday. His cake of choice this year is German Chocolate. I bake from scratch, so I'll be in the kitchen all day. That particular cake is about a 6-8 hour ordeal from start to finish. But he's worth it.

Again, thanx for your awesome comment, support and friendship. You are certainly a cyber-friend I've grown to cherish.

RachaelOhalloran profile image

RachaelOhalloran 2 years ago from United States

I'm finally caught up in reading the chapters and I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this story, Shauna! The characters are wonderfully spun and I just love the settings. Also, I love the pix you found for Nathaniel. He sure is a dreamboat! lol. You are a very gifted writer, Shauna. :)

always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

This story is coming together for me and i love it! So much more to find out and the way you write the chapters makes me want more and more. I must tell you that you are a gifted writer. Your writing is exceptional in that you write in a down to earth style, yet it's exciting and unusual. Keep pecking away, i'll be back.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you so much, Rachael. Your words are music to this writer's ears! Nathaniel is a fox, isn't he? Whoo doggie! If I was 30 years younger I'd have to hunt that man down!

It means a lot to me that you are enjoying this story. It might take me 'leventy-forty years to complete it, but I'm enjoying the journey. Thanx for hanging in with me.

One thing I'd like to say to all who comment is our (my) mentor, Bill gave me his feedback privately. I have to tell you I was extremely pleased with what he had to say!

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Ruby, I appreciate you taking the time you did to catch up to this story. Now you can rest. It takes me a bit between chapters. I guess life gets in the way and sometimes it takes a while for my characters to speak to me. Maybe they wait for that proverbial window. However, with each chapter I write I get ideas for where I want the story to go and I jot down the general 'jist'.

Thank you so much for thinking I'm gifted. Can I call you for a pep talk when I doubt myself?

What I like about fiction is I can be down to earth because the characters I create are a part of me. They allow me to be myself in my writing. Yeah, I hear my writing coach in the back of my mind, and I hear Bill in the back of my mind, but when it comes down to it, fiction is the most freeing form of writing for me. Well, aside from my poetry - that's completely my soul bared for all to see.

The reason I'm posting these chapters as I write my novel is to get feedback. I'm getting more than that; I'm getting encouragement. For that, I thank you for taking the time to follow this story.

Barbara cook 2 years ago

I'm intrigued beyond words. Have I missed something in the beginning? I can't remember why the child, Nathaniel, would have been at the bedside of Faith's dying Mother. Where has he been all these years, background as an adult and why has he come back into Faith's life?? I must reread the book to date and it will be a pleasure. (Must be a defect in my attention span). Lol!!Your writing is so flowing and coherent.

I'm going to read BillyBuc's book.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Mom, read Chapter 5 to know where Nathaniel first came into play. You may want to read on from there. I know you've been following this story, but it's hard to remember what has happened when the author (me) takes so long to write/post each subsequent chapter.

You will see why Nathaniel has come back into Faith's life, but not until I write those chapters. He doesn't know what Faith knows and she and Sarah only have an inkling. It all reverts back to Hope.

Mom, please do read Billybuc's book. I also recommend you read his first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today. I flew threw it in 2 days. It's an awesome read. You can find both of them on Amazon. His name is William D Holland. If you can't find them, let me know and I'll contact Bill. I know he has hard copies of his first novel on hand and can send you one.

Ghost32 2 years ago

I still see this story as a chick flick, Sha--which I normally don't care for, but this is excellent in its genre.

Of course, wouldn't you know my favorite line is,

--Today was the day and she was scared shitless.--

There's probably not a human being out there who can't relate to that sentiment!

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Ghost, that's why I don't hold back on the cuss words. It's the way we think and it's the way we talk when we're amongst friends.

I know this isn't your preferred genre, which is why I so appreciate your support. Perhaps let Pam read the chapters and let her put words in your mouth. Ha ha. Just kidding, my friend. Well, not really but you get the idea....

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Home made German Choc Cake!!! What a Super MOM!! Yes, they are worth it, much as I hate to admit it sometimes.......LOL....Spoiled Brats!

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

He would happen to choose the most time consuming cake, but my brother used to choose it, too. My mom started the tradition of letting us kids choose our cakes (she's a scratch cook, too. Know where I get it from?) and I'm carrying on the tradition. I don't mind. I'm not much of a sweet eater, but you can't beat from-scratch cakes! Yummmm!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Nothing beats free advertising. :) Thanks to those who are reading my book...and thanks again, Sha, for your friendship.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Bill, it's not just friendship. It's love, respect, and gratitude.

Forever, my friend!



Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Damn Sha, why did you invite me to read this? Now I'm I have to go back and read all the previous 12 chapters. I usually avoid reading ongoing stories but this one is too good to ignore. You are one fine writer in all genres. Well done. Voted up.

prey profile image

prey 2 years ago from places you should hope we never meet

Hi Shauna, for some reason you asked for my honest feedback but that’s all i would give anyway. So far the chapters I have read this one pulls at my heartstrings and screams 'read me.’


Just one thing is here; Today was the day and she was scared shitless.

It would be so much stronger rather than using profanity specifically here at the beginning is to use words for emotions. I wouldn’t throw all those feelings into the word ‘shitless’ the alternative also builds character. thank you

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Sha,

Another solid chapter to this captivating some of your other faithful readers, I will enjoy reading from start to finish again to fully appreciate the entire picture.

I must say I am also enjoying the comment stream. You're appealing to a variety of personalities which is awesome! Way to go...Love, Maria

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Ha ha, John. I'm glad I got you hooked. Thanx for the kind words. I look forward to hearing what you think of the story leading up to this chapter.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanx for the feedback prey. I wrote that line the way I would describe the feeling if I were in Faith's shoes. And that's exactly the way I would have said it.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Maria, one day this novel will be finished. Perhaps you'd like to wait until then to re-read the chapters. Then again, it takes me so long between each one, I can see how the reader can forget what's going on.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Oh Sha how gifted you are and how real you have made these characters become. I love this series and you really are a truly gifted writer.

Here's to many many more and I have to say just how special friendship is ;I have realised this more than ever after being away for over a month. Keep these coming Sha and I send you lots of love from my little corner of Wales.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Eddy, there's much more to come. I plan on this story spanning Faith's lifetime. It started when she was six. Now she's 26. I've already written the ending paragraph so there's tons yet to come!

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DJ Anderson 2 years ago

Sha, sorry I am just now getting to read your works. Seems I am 'a day late and a dollar short' these last few weeks. But, this is about you.

If there ever was a Cinderella on HP, it is you. I have watch you grow

into a remarkable writer. I am truly stunned with each additional chapter. Your story is running fluidly with an easy movement and a polished style. You are a natural born story teller with just enough mystery to keep your readers begging for more.

I like how your story has developed and I like how it may be heading.

You have worked hard, Sha, and it shows. Cheers to you, my friend!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

DJ, it's nice to hear that I've grown as a writer. Sometimes we don't realize our growth because we're not on the outside looking in. Thank you for your awesome feedback.

And don't apologize for being late. I only actually posted this yesterday, so you're not a dollar short! :-)

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

So many of the details have come together now. You certainly do have a love for his genre and it shows.

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 2 years ago from South Carolina

I love the descriptions of Nathaniel and Faith's visions, plus the difficulty she had in determining what the evil was that she saw.

The reader learns it, as she does which made this very appealing and interesting.

Beautiful story so far. Voted up across the board except for funny.

Hugs & Love,


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Flourish, I do love this genre. Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to share them with me.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanx for the votes, Gail! It pleases me that my readers haven't been able to guess what's coming next. That tells me I'm doing something right!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hiya, I keep popping into different chapters! lol! and after reading this one I really need to sit down, and go back to read from the beginning, get a cuppa tea and just read! I love your writing!

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Nell, make sure you have a pot of tea ready! Fortunately, the chapters aren't very long. You definitely need to catch up in order to understand the mysteries that are starting to become clear in this chapter.

Thank you for loving my writing. I love readers like you! You're writing's not too shabby either, my friend!

Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland


It is good to see Nathaniel back; he is a very intriguing character!

Again I have to say you have expressed the friendship bond between the girls so well... so much so I am wondering if there is something in their family histories in years long gone past; which is yet to surface, which makes them connected in some way.

I am looking forward to finding out what happens now that Nathaniel has been moved in closer to the girls circle.

Anna :)

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Anna, things should start picking up now. I find it interesting you feel there's something more binding between the girls than friendship. I guess you'll just have to wait and see!

Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Loved reading the interaction between the three people. How interesting how you linked Faith and Nathaniel through her dad and the ring. Well done. Your writing runs very well. xxx

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you Nadine. It's a small world even in fiction!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Another engaging read on this series. I found the conversation between the characters quite interesting.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it Dianna. Great conversations can be had over comfort food!

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Interesting development. I am truly curious to know more about Nathaniel :':)

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Martie, Nathaniel will have more of a presence from here on out. In what capacity remains to be seen.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Each chapter keeps getting better and with much added intrigue. The dialogue between the characters is spot on. I felt as thought I was right there. Woo, that Nathaniel is irresistible ... at least to most, but maybe Faith has much self-control : ) Glad that initial ugliness has dissipated!

Up and more and away

Blessings always

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Faith, I'm glad the ugliness is waning as well. He's too pretty to be ugly. Then again lots of good looking men are scoundrels.

Thanx for the visit!

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I wanted to offer you encouragement in moving forward with your story whatever that may entail. You have grown as a writer and it has been good to see you so that. I hope you'll self publish.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Flourish, I have every intention of moving forward with this story. Thank you for the encouragement. When I (finally) finish it, I'd like to try to go the traditional publishing route. I self-published my poetry book in 2013 and haven't sold very many copies. I suck at marketing myself!

btrbell profile image

btrbell 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Shauna, this is really great. Each chapter gets more interesting as your writing gets more and more natural! Up+

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thank you Randi. That's nice to hear!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

I love it! I've missed some chapters but your writing is so good it almost doesn't matter. As I started to read the trio were like old friends!

This will make a marvelous book. Your writing is so earthy and true to life, psychic or not!

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida Author

Mary, thank you for your awesome comment. I have full intentions of trying to get this published once I've completed the first draft. I still have a long way to go.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the story. I hope you can catch up when you have the time.

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