Monday, August 13, 2018

BOOK: FREE! Calming the Storm by Melanie Snitker

A marriage of convenience isn't exactly 
what she had in mind.  
After a rocky start, Rachel Peters finally has her life on track. Then a tragic accident takes away her sister and leaves her to raise her niece, Kendra, alone. About to lose custody of her last blood relative, Rachel is desperate to prove she can adequately care for her niece. On the verge of running away to keep Kendra, a new friend offers Rachel an opportunity she can't refuse.

Brandon Barlow has long admired Rachel. When her world begins to fall apart, he feels led to help. A marriage of convenience would enable him to provide Rachel and Kendra with a stable place to live, proper health insurance, and a viable shot at staying together. Once Rachel gained full custody of her niece, the marriage could be annulled.

His plan provides the perfect solution, until Brandon realizes he's fallen in love with Rachel. Through love and patience, can he help Rachel realize that, even when she experiences storms in her life, she's never alone? 

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 Brandon felt like his heart was in his throat as he led the way outside. He thought they could walk to the pond. The path was pretty this time of year, and it would give him a few minutes to work up the courage he needed to ask her. He didn’t think he’d ever been this nervous before. God, please give me the words to say and the strength to say them. If this is Your will, soften Rachel’s heart to the idea.
“It really is so peaceful here,” Rachel commented at his side. She breathed in deeply. “It reminds us just how small we are in this world, doesn’t it?”
“It does,” Brandon agreed. He took in God’s handiwork around him and suddenly felt humbled. No matter what happens, Father, thank you for what You have done in my life.
As they approached the pond, he led them to a bench overlooking the still water. “Let’s sit here for a minute.”
Rachel did as he suggested. Kendra was admiring a small patch of flowers growing a few steps away in the grass. Rachel watched her niece for a moment, then turned to him. “What’s going on?”
Brandon willed his stomach to quit doing flips as he began. “I want to help you and Kendra. It isn’t fair that this is happening to you guys. You should stay together — you both deserve that.” 
Uncertainty marched across her face. He said another silent prayer and took a deep breath.
“Marry me, Rachel.”
As soon as the words were out, she jumped to her feet. He stood with her, holding a hand out to try and get her to wait. “Please, listen to me. I’ve got health insurance, the house, the job. It would hopefully be enough for you to get custody of Kendra. My parents were going to hire someone this year to help with the orchard. Melinda doesn’t need to be climbing ladders to pick apples in her condition, and she’s been tired lately between the pregnancy and Benjamin. They said they would love to hire you, which means you can put some more money away and Kendra can stay with you.” He smiled toward Kendra who had a small fistful of flowers and was on the search for more. “When it’s all over and the adoption is finalized, we can have the marriage annulled if that’s what you want.”
“If that’s what I want?” Rachel looked at him as though he’d suggested she hold her arms out and fly. “I would think it would be something we’d both want.” She put a hand to her head and closed her eyes, massaging her temple. “If I even agree to this crazy idea. This is insane.” She pointed a finger at his chest. “You’re insane!”
 “I just know I’ve been thinking about your situation, praying about it, and I can’t come up with any other way to give you a chance to keep Kendra.”
Rachel’s expression was quickly changing from surprise to annoyance. “Look, I appreciate your sense of responsibility, even if it is misguided.” She fingered her braid and then tossed it behind her. “But I’ve been on my own and I’ve survived. I’ll be fine here, too.”
 “And if you have to run?”
 “Then I’ll start over. I used to do it all the time when I was a kid. I’m no stranger to it.” The fire in her eyes dared him to contradict her.
Brandon could tell he was treading on thin ice at this point. He sent up a silent prayer for God to help him choose his words wisely. “I have no doubt that you are capable of starting over. You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.” He took a step closer to her. “But think about the details. If you run with Kendra, they’re going to put out a warrant for your arrest for kidnapping. When you get to your new destination, how are you going to find a job? You’re not going to be able to use your real name if you truly want to hide. They’re going to want your Social Security number, to see your driver’s license.” He paused, knowing that his words were upsetting her. But they had to be said. “You’re not being realistic. Going someplace and starting over like that is going to be complicated. You’ll have to figure out how to create a whole new identity.”
 “I can do that. I will find a way.” Rachel clenched her fist and opened her hand again. She turned back to the pond, working her jaw as she thought. Brandon paused for a few moments, knowing that she was going to have to think through it all to make a decision herself. He watched as she focused her attention on the little girl nearby.
 “Rachel.” He waited for her to look at him before continuing. “You deserve better."


Author Bio:
Melanie D. Snitker has enjoyed writing fiction for as long as she can remember. She started out creating episodes of cartoon shows she wanted to see as a child, and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children, who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs, who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crocheting, baking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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