A sample from ‘Second Chances’

I’ve posted a teaser for my novel, below. I hope you enjoy it!!

Chapter 1

Rachel sat back into the seat of the swing, extending her tanned, athletic legs. The sun streamed through the trees onto her face, warming her heart. She loved coming to this park to relax and reflect on life. It was moments like this when she liked to daydream about the future husband God would bring into her life – she didn’t know when and how, but she felt certain that it would happen.

She mentally went through the checklist she had committed to memory – 1. He had to be a Christian, that was non-negotiable, 2. Tall, dark and handsome, 3. Good with kids, 4. Athletic build…

“Excuse me” interrupted a small voice. Rachel looked down and saw a little girl with wild, dark hair.

“Why are you on the little kid’s swing?” asked the girl.

“Um, sorry” said Rachel as she quickly got off the swing, looking around to see if anyone was watching. Fortunately the girl’s frazzled mum was caught up caring for her other child.

Grabbing her cardigan, Rachel began the short walk home. A quick glance at her watch showed it was nearly time for dinner. A shudder ran through her when she then remembered the uni assignment that was due in a couple of days. She would have to get started on that tonight.

Rachel sighed, “Only one year left of uni to go” she told herself. She was studying a bachelor of teaching, but hadn’t felt passionate about it for some time. When she left school, the choice of what to study was largely made by her father, who was a school principal and had convinced her to do teaching. If she had wanted to study something else, maybe she would have asserted her independence, but in her heart, she just wanted to find something to do for a few years until she married and had kids. Then she wouldn’t have to work anymore and could absorb herself in school reading groups, athletics carnivals and canteen duty.

She’d always wanted to be a mum, ever since she was a little girl. Maybe that was why teaching seemed like the logical thing to do. However, in practice, she found all the paperwork frustrating. She hated writing lesson plans and she loathed marking – the only thing she enjoyed was putting stamps and stickers on the work. The supervising teachers had always been encouraging, but Rachel knew that teaching wasn’t for her.

As Rachel approached the house, she could smell the pleasing aroma of her mum’s cooking. Rachel entered the front door, lining up her shoes neatly at the front door, under the ‘Rachel’ label. Rachel’s dad had a bit of labelling obsession, ever since he had got a label maker for Christmas from her brother Jeremy. Jeremy was 10 years old and had been a bit of a surprise after her parents had given up hope of ever having another baby. Rachel was 12 when he was born, so she had been almost a second mother to him. This is where her love for kids had begun.

Rachel helped her mum to serve up dinner and the family ate together, as was the usual routine. Rachel’s dad told stories about the antics the kids at school had got up to, while Jeremy pulled faces and stuck beans up his nose – he was so embarrassing sometimes. “Imagine if I ever brought a guy home for dinner!” Rachel thought.

After dinner, Rachel reluctantly pulled out her study materials and spent the next hour writing, scrapping and then re-writing the first paragraph of her essay. Deciding it just wasn’t going to happen, she reached for her phone and called her best friend Hannah.

Hannah had attended high school with Rachel and now lived in Sydney studying fine arts at a prestigious art college. Rachel had always felt privileged that Hannah would want to be friends with her. After all, Hannah had been the most popular girl at school – but rather than letting it go to her head, she was completely humble, going out of her way to hang out with the unpopular students – like Rachel. They had met 7 years ago when Rachel, a gawky 15 year old, began attending Oakley Community High School. Rachel’s father had won a position as principal at Oakley Primary School, so they had uprooted from the outskirts of Melbourne to move to the regional town in northern NSW.

“Hey Han” Rachel greeted her friend. “I was bored and wondered what you were up to”.

“Rachel, you have perfect timing. Guess what?” Hannah screamed. “Tim just asked me to marry him, and I said yes!”

“Whaaat” exclaimed Rachel, caught completely off guard. She knew this day was coming, but found it hard to be happy for her friend. Immediately a feeling of guilt came over her. This was her best friend. She should be thrilled for her.

Rachel shook off her disappointment and listened as Hannah re-told the story of Tim’s proposal. It sounded perfect – a candlelit, evening picnic down by the beach with wine, strawberries and chocolate. Rachel gave her congratulations and accepted Hannah’s offer for her to be a bridesmaid. Hannah’s older sister, Alana, would be maid of honour. Hannah had enough brothers and sisters to make up an entire bridal party. She was one of six children. Rachel had secretly envied Hannah’s big family. Staying over at Hannah’s house was never dull. Rachel’s home was a stark contrast – everything was so routine and ordered. She loved her family, but she had often craved the adventure and chaos that comes with being in a large family.

After ending the call with Hannah, Rachel switched off her light and half buried herself under the cushions on her bed.

“When will it be my turn?” she softly called out to God in the silence of her bedroom.

As she gazed at the hazy light coming in through her window from the streetlight outside, she felt a peace come over her. Almost as if God were giving her a hug. Flicking on her lamp, she opened up her Bible randomly, eager to find some assurance from God. Her eyes were drawn to some words from the book of Matthew.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”.

Rachel sighed. Would she be willing to commit everything to God, even her hopes and dreams, in order to follow Him? She didn’t know it, but in the coming weeks, that was exactly the question she would be answering.

Chapter 2

Hannah woke up to the sound of a garbage truck clattering down the lane next to her small rental unit. Groaning, she pulled her pillow over her head and tried to block out the noise. Living in the city, she was used to a fair amount of noise, but this morning her head was pounding. She shouldn’t have gone to bed so late. As Hannah remembered the events of the previous night, a grin spread across her face. Tim had proposed. She was an engaged woman. She lifted her hand from beneath the covers and tried to focus on her beautiful engagement ring in the dim morning light. Tim had designed it himself. It was a beautiful square cut diamond on a platinum gold band. As Hannah admired her ring, her thoughts drifted to when she had first met her future husband.

Hannah had met Tim in the campus coffee shop two years ago. She was carrying her art portfolio under her arm and accidentally bumped into him as she entered the shop. Tim was carrying a Latte at the time. Needless to say, he had ended up very wet after that first encounter. Hannah was completely distraught, but Tim laughed it off.  He later joked about it being ‘Latte’ at first sight. Later that week, Hannah began a Bible Study group at her new church. Feeling quite nervous, she knocked on the door and who should answer the door, but Tim. It turned out that he was the Bible Study leader.

They had spent the past two years hanging out together – first as friends, and then as a couple. Their romance had been put on hold for three months recently when Tim went overseas on a mission trip to France. He had only returned a few weeks ago and the kiss he had given her at the airport told her he never wanted to leave again!

Tim had dark hair that he wore fairly short. He had a scattering of freckles across his nose and a mouth that could be easily persuaded to smile. He was by no means perfect. Hannah had spent enough time with him in the last two years to know that. But then, neither was she. They’d had a few arguments over the years, but over relatively minor things – like whether to use cling wrap or aluminium foil when wrapping leftover pizza, or whether cutlery goes handle up or handle down in the dishwasher – not that either of them owned a dishwasher. Hopefully that would be a luxury they could once they were married and enjoying the benefits of a double income.

Tim was studying at the same art college as Hannah. He was interested in graphic design, whereas Hannah was studying fine arts. He was a couple of years ahead of Hannah in his studies, even though they were the same age. After school, Hannah had deferred her studies, working in her hometown of Oakley as a medical receptionist. Studying art was her dream, and she had known that she needed to save up if she was going to live in Sydney.

Hannah thanked God again for the way he had brought the two of them together. She felt truly blessed. As Hannah’s alarm clock beeped, she quickly thumped the snooze button so she wouldn’t wake her flatmate Sue. She took a long, luxurious shower, took extra care with her hair and make-up and even sprayed on a bit of perfume. She was a changed woman and she wanted the world to notice.

She had an Art History lecture at 8am. She grabbed her keys and satchel and headed out the door with a spring in her step. On the way, she grabbed a takeaway coffee and croissant from her favourite bakery. Getting some caffeine into her seemed to soothe her headache, which had been the only thing dampening her terrific mood. She slipped her headphones into her ears as she carefully selected a track to listen to on her iPhone – something that would be a good soundtrack for her real-life romantic movie. She skipped down the road to the tunes of Michael Bublè. She looked forward to meeting up with Tim later in the day. They were going to have lunch at the Campus Coffee Shop and try to come up with a date for the wedding.

She waited at the bus stop for the No.480 bus to Camperdown, sculling the rest of her coffee as the bus pulled up and people scrambled on. Even standing on the crowded bus couldn’t dampen her mood today. As the bus pulled up to the first set of traffic lights, however, what she saw out the window caused her stomach to sink.

Want to see what happens next? Stay tuned for my ebook, which will be coming soon.

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