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- Wounded Hero
- Small Town
A treasure worth having is a treasure worth facing your past for.
When Olivia came to Markarava, she found a place that gave her a voice and she didn’t have to hide herself or her ideas behind another person. Her insecurities shrunk, but her loneliness grew. Growing up in a traditional family, she was always told family or work. When she went to work her family didn’t understand why an attractive woman would turn away from the men who wanted to take care of her. As the town gets ready to celebrate the resilience of towns and families, she tries to leave only to find she’s been volunteered because she’s so good at organizing events.
Jeremy Collins can’t believe he’s working on the Families are Strong event. If it wasn’t for the fact that he needs the money to pay for a father in a home he wouldn’t even consider it. Jeremy knows he’s not good at relationships or families. Then when he’s teamed up with Livia from a nearby project, he’s sure he’ll be stuck with Ms. Bubbles. Instead, he finds a kindred soul. As they organize the event, and hear the stories that started the event, they find the past doesn’t look bleak, and maybe they can do the family and relationship thing, if they have the right person.
Will they have the courage to trust and open their hearts to one another?
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
fired after just settling in would be bad.
Lewis knew about being settled one day and having to move on. She had been put
in foster care and separated from her sister when they were twelve. It didn’t
matter that they had been at the foster home for two years. Since then, it was
something about the two-year mark of anything that gave Olivia the jitters.
Nothing lasted more than two years in her experience. She had hoped that bad streak would be
different here in Cooper’s Sand.
boss Ava Stansi at Markarava Consulting had told her she wanted to speak to her
after work today. The anticipation of what she wanted to talk about had ridden
her all day. Olivia had rechecked her accounting numbers. She had looked at the
consulting company’s projects for the next and last six months and had found no
errors, as well.
couldn’t imagine what it was, but she could tell from Ava’s tone that it wasn’t
going to be something pleasant. Olivia
had been down this road before. She had packed up her meager items into a box.
Because of her two-year curse she never brought in more than four items to put
on her desk. When she was let go, she didn’t want to be seen carrying out boxes
and facing the shame of leaving another company.
two-year anniversary had passed three days ago but obviously fate was just
waiting for her to relax before it threw its familiar monkey wrench into her
plans. With the last customer signed out, Olivia went to get her walking
papers. As she walked to the office, she felt the knots of dread forming in her
shoulders. The closer she got to the door, the harder the knots became. Olivia
was sure she’d just snap by the time she had to talk to Ava.
door was ajar and when Ava looked up, she looked harried and concerned. It took
a split second for her to switch to a more pleasant visage, but the momentary peek
had told Olivia all she needed to know. It was about to happen. Looking at
Ava’s desk the day hadn’t been a good one for her, either. Ava was extremely
organized and had managed to get three weddings done at once so all of the
bosses of Markarava could marry together.
had been left alone to run the shop. Not that Olivia minded but it did bring to
home who wasn’t married and not even on the road to being married. Olivia
brought her thoughts back to the present. The mess on Ava’s desk was definitely
make them stop!” Ava said to Olivia who walked in and started to gather up the
notices on her desk.
can’t be that bad,” Olivia said as she looked at the envelopes. None of them
were about her performance, complaints, or anything to do with her. There were
invites to committees, clubs, and events.
at those envelopes, those are just the ones from today. Yes, it can be that
bad. I am trying to run a business and they make it seem like you get it
started and then it runs on automatic.”
feathered through the envelopes as she listened to Ava. Yes, something was wrong,
but Olivia didn’t think she was about to be fired. The next big event Olivia’s
bosses were trying to coordinate were the births of new children. Olivia
couldn’t imagine having such close friends that she’d want to do everything
with them. For that matter, she couldn’t imagine having family like that. She
was hoping one day to find her family, although those efforts didn’t seem like
they were getting her anywhere these days.
Olivia wondered what happened to her younger sister. She had tried to find out information,
but the network of foster care protected the identity of their children with the
fierceness of a mama bear.
could see how all of the work was overwhelming to Ava. The company had taken
off in a big way. They had expanded their services and were looking for a new
building to create a Markarava II. Olivia didn’t know how Ava managed it all,
family, business, and life but she did. Now looking at Ava, it looked like there
was a price to pay for it.
what can I do? Would you like me to sort them to lessen what makes it to you?”
I had Margo sift through them and I think we’ve gotten it down to the necessary
ones and then the big kahuna.”
was confused. If they had already sorted through the invites, what was the
confused Ava. What would you like me to do?”
looked up and gathered all of the envelopes together and then presented one
large yellow envelope. It was then that Olivia became suspicious.
thought you were going to fire me,” Olivia said.
no! That wasn’t ever in my mind,” Ava said. Ava got up and went to reach for a
box. She opened it and inside were eclairs, Olivia’s favorite. Olivia was
pretty good at connecting the dots, but she hoped she was wrong this time.
“Firing you is the last thing on my mind.”
the obvious bribe, Olivia sighed at her weakness and looked over the treats.
ready. What is it that you want?”
you above all people know that I’m putting a lot of effort into the new place,”
Olivia replied suspiciously, while eyeing the fresh confections that called to
the truth of the matter is I don’t have time to go to any of these events,” Ava
was then that all of Olivia’s misgivings were confirmed. Olivia started shaking
her head in denial.
haven’t even heard the rest of it. We need to do something in the community
while we expand.”
can’t anyone else go?”
we weren’t opening a new spot, you would be right, but we looked through all of
them and the event that stuck out to us was the ‘Family Strong’ event. It will
be a one and done event for us.”
Strong,” Olivia said under her breath. The Family Strong Event was huge in
Cooper’s Sand. People presented their lineage and there was a dress up parade
that you could acknowledge your ancestry. With the pop up of so many genetic
testing places the event had just grown in popularity. It was an opportunity
for everyone to be proud of their beginnings.
was not an Olivia event. Family might mean love, peace, and endurance to some
but that was not her feeling. Thinking on family brought up memories of loss
and failure. It brought back death and heartache.
Ava, I’m sorry,” she told Ava. “I can’t do that event.” Olivia picked up the discarded envelopes and
pulled three of them randomly. “Maybe
these will do?”
looked at the envelopes.
invitation to cut the ribbon at the donkey festival, an invitation to
participate in the first three-legged race at the fair and an invite to judge
hogs,” Ava read off the envelopes. “These don’t sound like events we want to go
to, or we want to endorse. Olivia, before you say no just think about it. It
would be a great favor to us.”
unfair,” Olivia said.
right but you’re leaving me little wiggle room here. It’s a family event for
three days. It’ll be over before you know it. Just think about it.”
didn’t agree, she just left the office and went home. Olivia didn’t know a lot
of things but the one thing she knew for sure was she didn’t want to have anything
to do with a festival that promoted family or family strength.
* * *
Collins had been in town for three hours. During that time, he had been shown
to a nearby empty house he would be renting. He had been called by his friend
Daniel Porter to help with an up-and-coming business. The problem Jeremy had
was no one had come to talk to him about the business yet. He was next directed
to a diner where he was given a free meal until his meeting. What was
disturbing to Jeremy was how the realtor who gave him the key knew he had a meeting,
and he hadn’t known.
he was finished with his meal, a round man came in and sat down in the booth
smiling at him as if they were old friends.
so glad you’re here. We need to get started on the Family Strong Event as soon
didn’t stop stirring his coffee. He wasn’t going to give the man any reaction
because he knew from experience that giving a reaction encouraged people to
actually here to speak to Daniel Porter. I need to speak with him first to find
out what the priorities are.”
is one of our own. He’ll agree that the priority is the Family Strong Event,”
the man said with a firm nod. Then, as if he remembered his manners, his face
broke into a smile. “Oh, by the way I’m Williard Tillman. The Family Strong Event
is a big part of our traditions here. We need to make sure we feature a
different family class each day, you know the festival is for a week. I have to admit I thought about getting
everyone together here at the diner since you were here, but they are all
spread to the four winds today. No matter, I can let you know who you need to
visit and what their part is in the festival.”
could see the man was older and that was one of the only reasons he let him
ramble on. Jeremy may not get on with his father, but he had taught him to be
respectful of his elders. Mr. Tillman was obviously excited and misguided about
why he was here.
know, when Daniel told me how good you were, I thought right away that for this
festival we may want to build some large floats of the houses of the prominent.
You know I saw it on the screen for one of those big city parades and I know it
would work for us. It will be a celebration of the old with something new. I
know it’s a little late in the year and some people were saying we should have
the event inside of our community center, but I don’t think it would be the
same as going down Main Street. You know what I mean?”
didn’t answer. Instead, he tried to process the part where Daniel had already
told this man what he did.
there a project plan for this event?” he asked, trying to find out if there was
a person in charge of this event so he could excuse himself as soon as
I thought you were addressing that,” Tillman replied with a smile. “Daniel said
you would be able to jump right in and get things going. I’m sure there are
some notes here or there that summarize what was done. You’ll be able to work
off of that right?”
notes aren’t a recommended foundation to start a project,” Jeremy said, trying
to contain his questions and growing frustration with Daniel. Jeremy looked
around the diner hoping that any moment Daniel would show up but to no avail.
turned and motioned for a coffee from the waitress.
sure the notes will help provide an outline and then you can add your own
unique experience to make this event happen.”
to sound rude or pessimistic but, Mr. Tillman, you don’t know what my unique
experience might be,” Jeremy cautioned him, his concern rising as he noticed
that Tillman’s lack of knowledge about his background was in no way a
put five packets of sugar in his coffee and then poured some creamer into the
cup until it was at its brim.
know, Mr. Collins; do you mind if I call you Jeremy? Well, Jeremy, I know it
can be a big responsibility to come into such a big event, but Daniel vouched
for you and that was all we really needed. He knows us and we all looked at
your resume. It had lots of things we had no clue about, but Daniel assured us
we needed it.”
was trying not to squirm. They had read his resume and his ‘friend’ Daniel had
obviously talked him up.
haven’t talked with Daniel yet, but it seems like you know exactly what you want,
Mr. Tillman. I can’t imagine why you aren’t running this project,” Jeremy said.
The idea of doing a family focused event was just unthinkable. He was here
because of family. What he knew about families being strong and unified could
probably fit in a fortune cookie.
mother had died when he was young and his father and him hadn’t gotten along
since. They had received all of the interventions from the school who had said
he needed time. From the therapist who tried to explain to his father a young
boy needed time to cope with the loss of a mother. Jeremy had flunked out of
three colleges before going to the military. He became an engineer in the
service and made friendships with men that were more like brotherhoods. When
his father had confessed he was sick and was going into a home once again, he
and his father proved to them all that tragedy doesn’t always bring families together.
It was all about duty in the Collins house.
heard his name being called again and he looked up and nodded. Mr. Tillman gave
him a once over and then sat back in the booth.
been a bit quiet. I don’t like to intrude in a man’s life, but I noticed you’re
not married, and you don’t seem very motivated for this event,” Mr. Tillman
the one hand, Jeremy wanted to jump for joy that Mr. Tillman was finally paying
attention to him. However, until he got a chance to talk to Daniel, he wouldn’t
be burning any bridges.
am a big believer in the family unit. I think families should care for one
another,” Jeremy said trying to get Mr. Tillman back on the amicable road. “I’m
just thinking there are all types of families. I’m not sure just how much time
you will really need from me. I know there is such a wide variety of families
that trying to create an event for just one family type can be divisive and in
a small, close-knit town such as this one. It could offend someone and then the
Family Strong Event would be marred by a possible scandal and lawsuit.”
looked at Jeremy for about five seconds after he finished talking and then
started to laugh. Other people in the diner turned toward them wanting to see
what the laughing was about. Jeremy was at the table, and he wasn’t sure what
the laughing was about.
is Cooper’s Sand. We don’t call out family types,” Mr. Tillman said. “In
Cooper’s Sand everyone is family, that’s the joy. You can meet a person today and,
in a month, they could be like a son or a brother. No, no, you don’t have to
worry about that at all. We are all in this together and we understand that
sometimes the family that means the most is the one you choose. Daniel was right. I can see you will do fine.
We need someone with a big view picture.
got to go but it’s been great meeting you, and I’ll tell Daniel that he got
this one right on the head.”
Mr. Tillman didn’t
wait for a response, instead he got up and walked out of the diner. He called
for the check and did his best to be patient. Him in charge of a family event
when he hadn’t talked beyond necessary phrases with his father in two years, no,
this was a mistake of epic proportions, he just needed to get someone to