Today I’m sharing Alexis A. Goring’s third book, Love in Pictures. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
Love in Pictures
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Maryland Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Wedding photographer Michelle Hadley has a passion for diversity and believes that love comes in all colors. So, she’s working hard to convince editors to feature her clients’ images on the covers of the mainstream bridal and wedding magazines.
Despite having a career that focuses on celebrating forever love, Michelle has never actually been in a romantic relationship, and she’s not looking for love, until she meets the one man she cannot forget.
Since his fiancée broke his heart, Logan Emerson’s focus has been on his career. He’s won awards for his work as a print journalist and dreams of greater success on television as a broadcast journalist. But his personal struggle presents many challenges that might prevent his dreams from coming true.
Michelle doesn’t date often, and since his heartbreak, Logan has shied away from the dating scene. But something about Michelle awakens Logan’s desire to love again.
Michelle sat across the table from Juliana at their favorite coffee shop and sipped her ice water. “I can’t believe you drink that stuff.”
Juliana only grinned and sipped her caramel macchiato for a few more moments before placing her cup on the table and staring at Michelle. “Spill it.”
She sank deeper into her chair. Should she tell Juliana? She would be more
understanding than most. “He stutters.”
Juliana’s hazel eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Michelle. Logan stutters?”
Juliana reached across the table and held Michelle by the hands. “I know that must bring back a lot of sad memories.”
Michelle sighed. She withdrew from Juliana’s comforting touch and rubbed the sides of her head. As a young child, her cousin Malcolm’s school peers bullied him for his constant stuttering, and it hurt him deeply. It hurt him so much that he took his life. She shuddered as she remembered her aunt and uncle’s faces at their son’s funeral. Grief personified. He was only twelve. He hadn’t even really lived life, and due to those relentless taunts from those cruel bullies, he was dead.
Fire rose within her. She hated injustice in every form, especially when it affected a loved one. “He didn’t have to die. Kids can be so cruel.” Michelle fiddled with the straw in her tall, half-empty glass of water.
Juliana sipped her coffee. “Yeah, kids can be cruel, but Logan is a survivor. He didn’t let his stuttering stop him from living. Thank God. He found a way to cope and moved on. Think about it, Miche. He never would have met you.”
Michelle shrugged. “Yeah, I guess that’s a good thing.”
“And so is your empathy. He needs a friend who understands. Maybe this could draw you two closer.”
Michelle wiped a tear from her eye, reached for a napkin, and used it as a tissue. Juliana sat by, sipping her coffee as Michelle straightened the hem of her silk blouse and smoothed her hair. She then wrapped her hands around her half-full cup of ice water.
“Maybe you’re right.”
Juliana put her cup down and leaned in. “Amiga, of course I’m right. God brought this man into your life for a reason. I have great expectations for this relationship.”
A half laugh escaped Michelle. “We’re not in a relationship.”
Juliana raised an eyebrow. “Yet.” She smirked before glancing at her watch. “Alright, amiga. I need to get back to work before they fire me for being a few minutes late.”
Juliana was like the sister she never had. “Thanks, girl. I needed this talk.”
At the ringing of her phone, Juliana reached into her purse and stood. “Of course. That’s what friends are for. I’ve got to go and take this call. Later, amiga!” She blew air kisses before answering her phone and rushing out the door.
Michelle removed the straw from her glass and gulped down the remainder of its ice-cold water. The coolness refreshed her. She pulled out her phone and checked her calendar. What was Logan doing today? Was he okay? They hadn’t spoken since he left the photo shoot. She had his number from his business card. Maybe she should text him?
After sending up a prayer, she tapped the digital keyboard. She’d let him know she was thinking about him as a friend. Nothing flirty. Just a platonic message, reaching out to show she cared.
As Logan found a parking space near his mom’s private practice, a familiar,
lighthearted jingle let him know he had a text message. He reached for his phone. He only had a minute to spare before his appointment with his mother.
Oh, it was from Michelle. She asked how he was doing after the photo shoot. Very sweet and business-like. She said she would send a link to her online gallery of his headshots by tomorrow and that he would receive a CD containing the headshots in the mail by next week unless he wanted to meet her in person to pick it up.
Hmm, she left it open for them to meet in person. He wanted to see her again, but he didn’t want to embarrass himself by stuttering in her presence. He’d probably have to explain his disability the next time he saw her. But at the same time, he wanted to see her.
Picking up the CD of his headshots would be the perfect excuse to gaze into her honey-brown eyes.
Mom was expecting him. Michelle’s text would have to wait. He hustled inside where both a blast of cold air and the receptionist greeted him.
“Hey, Sara. I’m here to see my mom.”
The petite receptionist with fire-red hair and shamrock-green eyes looked up. “Hey, Logan. Go back to her office. She’s waiting for you.”
He gulped. His mom valued promptness. “Thanks.”
Sara nodded before returning her attention to the paperwork on her desk. He sauntered down the short hallway and turned the corner to face his mother’s closed office door. He paused before knocking.
“Who is it?” His mother’s voice was melodious and pitch-perfect. She was the reason Logan was able to manage his stuttering.
He broke free of his inner thoughts and opened the door. “H-h-hey.” He paused.
Mom came around her desk and engulfed him in a hug. “Hey, honey.”
Logan hugged her back. She pulled away. Logan shut her door then sank into the couch.
“We have an hour to work together. I take it your stuttering is resurfacing?”
Logan nodded. “When did this happen, and what were you doing when it happened?”
Thoughts of Michelle filled his mind and heat rose to his face. “It happened at a ph-ph-ph-photoshoot on Monday.”
Mom nodded. “Let’s do our fluency-shaping exercises.”
He placed his right hand over his voice box and recited his vowels.
He practiced the easy onset technique Mom taught him as she monitored his airflow and speech. He spent the hour with her, following her instructions as she guided him through their tried-and-true exercises. After their time was up, his confidence returned. Next time he met Michelle, he
wouldn’t stutter. “Thanks, Mom.”
“You’re welcome, honey. Now tell me about her.”
Logan raised his eyebrows. “Who?”
Mom tilted her head. “The girl that made you stutter.”
“I didn’t say it was a girl.”
“You didn’t have to. I know.”
He laughed. Whenever he had a crush on a girl and tried to talk to her, he would stutter. He thought he’d outgrown that flaw until he met Michelle.
Mom glanced at the clock. “You can tell me about her later. My next client should be here in a few minutes.”
He stood. “Thanks for helping.”
“Anytime, darling. I’m always here for you.”
Not until he settled into the driver seat of his car did he realize that he never replied to Michelle’s text. He retrieved his phone and typed a response. “Let’s meet tomorrow. At our place.”
Now, if he could just keep from stuttering.