Book One in the Grace Series
Is Viviane’s Only Living Relative Dying?
Viviane Stanton-Mays spent the last ten years making a life in Atlanta but finds herself worried the Grandmother who raised her is hiding a serious illness. Headed back to Cartersville to visit her Grand for a month to determine how sick she is. Forced to face her high school sweetheart, Cole West, the man who broke her heart since he is now the current youth minister at their hometown church which her Grandmother is very involved in helping.
Viviane doesn’t know her Grandmother’s concocted a plan to bring her back to face Cole and marry the man she let get away ten years ago. Trouble abounds because Grand doesn’t know why the couple broke up and only knows that Viviane and Cole are meant for each other. She will do whatever it takes to see them reunited and that includes fibbing a little.
Will Grand’s plan succeed or will Viviane and Cole’s past keep them apart?
Continue Below for a Sneak Preview of the First Chapter in Restoring Grace: Book One in the Grace Series
Traffic on I-75 South was horrendous at all times, but on this particular Thursday night, it seemed worse than usual. “Erica, you need to be in the far right lane, not the far left. We have to turn at this exit and you’re going to miss it. Move over.” Daphne said using her whole body to show Erica.
“Daphne you’re such a backseat driver. I knew you should’ve sat in the back, but nooo you said you’d control yourself. Well, you lied!” Erica complained as she whipped in and out of traffic, her little red Honda moving closer to the exit only half a mile away.
“Are you crazy? You’re going to get us killed. Don’t move over there…” Daphne screeched as she covered her eyes. “And I said I’d control myself if you’d drive like a sane person, which you aren’t!”
“Guys, please calm down. We’re almost off the interstate,” Viviane said, secretly laughing in the back seat. I’m going to miss the girl’s antics and need to store up their laughter for the coming weeks.
“Daph, do we go left or right up here? I can’t remember.” Erica asked, pulling up to the red light. “I think we turn left.”
Erica leaned closer to Daphne, letting Viviane clearly see her two best friends from the back seat. She was tall at 5’9”, short blonde hair that barely curled around Erica Cain’s ears, while Daphne Reynolds had dark, cocoa-colored skin, curly brown hair to her shoulders, and was around Viviane’s own 5’7” height. Erica and Viviane became friends during the first week of college, living in the same dorm, they met when they sat next to each other in a dorm meeting. The two girls immediately hit it off. They met Daphne two years after college when she moved to Atlanta graduation.
“Right Erica then left.” Daphne said, turning her chocolate brown eyes toward Viviane, “You should’ve driven since you’ve been to this Chinese place before and said it was good.” Pausing she noticed her friends blue eyes were red-rimmed and asked, “You’re quiet tonight. Is everything okay?”
“I’m fine Daph. Don’t worry.” Viviane said pointing to a strip mall off Peachtree. “Hey, Erica it’s right over there. See that big sign?”
“I see it. I see it,” Erica said as she turned into the parking lot, whipping her car into an open spot near the front.
“Let’s go eat, I’m starving,” Daphne said while climbing out of the car, making sure her knee-length skirt was in place. She had come straight from the pharmacy where she worked.
Erica who felt dressed up wearing tinted Chapstick, jeans with a fitted shirt growled, “You’re always hungry and the fact you stay so thin is disgusting.”
It didn’t take long for the ladies to be seated and for a young waiter to take their drink orders, “Good evening ladies. What can I get you to drink?”
A chorus of waters sounded around the table, and the women looked at each other and laughed. After the waiter went to get their drinks, Viviane said, “Grand always says a Southern lady should drink water, since it’s good for you. I just never see her drink anything but sweet tea, which she calls the wine of the south.”
Erica nodded her head, “My family’s the same way, but I really love my coffee.”
The waiter came back with their drinks and took their orders. Afterward, Daphne turned to Viviane and asked, “I know you call your Grandmother, Grand but I don’t know why. Is it a Southern thing?”
Daphne grew up in Michigan and was constantly told it’s a southern thing. “No, it actually happened about a year after I moved in with my grandmother. You know my parents died when I was nine.” She waited for Daphne to nod then continued, “It was hard for both of us, she lost a daughter and son-in-law in the car accident and I lost my parents. I spent a lot of the next year struggling to make friends in a new town and trying to make sense of my new reality. Generally, I wanted to be left alone to read.” Her voice lowered thinking of the hard time she and Grand had at the beginning.
“One day, I was in Grand’s parlor and was bored. I told her I had nothing to read and everything was for babies and I wasn’t a baby, anymore. She had a collection of books that were special. I was never allowed to touch them when I visited and was shocked when she went over and handed one to me. She said they were very special books she read when she was newly married and my mom had started reading them when she was about my age. ‘They’re written by Grace Livingston Hill, a prominent Christian author and I think you’re finally old enough to enjoy them. This was your mother’s favorite.’”
Viviane paused to take a deep breath, “I read it and spent the next year reading every book in her collection.” She still remembered the special thrill she felt knowing her mother read those very same books. “One of the first books I read had a guy who meets his grandfather for the first time and gets to know him. He called him Grand.” Tears in her eyes thinking of her sick Grandmother, she continued, “I liked it and thought of how my grandmother wasn’t just a grandmother anymore, but I couldn’t call her mom either. The new name fits our situation perfectly and lets her know she was more than just a grandmother to me.”
She took a sip of water to give her time to compose herself, and after she sat her glass down, her two friends reached out their hands to take hers. “It’s okay, Viv. Whatever’s bothering you will work out,” Erica said, squeezing her hand. “We’ve seen the sad look in your eyes and we’re worried. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you this sad.”
“Yes, you’re strong and can get through anything. Look at what you’ve been through already. God can help you and give you the strength to face whatever’s wrong,” Daphne said firmly.
The waiter came bringing their food, breaking the moment. The women divided up the dishes, and placing fried rice on her plate Erica said, “I’ll pray you guys.”
Bowing their heads, Erica prayed, “Dear Father, you know what’s going on in Viv’s heart and you’re the best friend she could ever have, though Daph and I are pretty close. Please touch her heart, give her peace, comfort her, and give her wisdom for whatever situation she’s facing. Amen.”
Viviane lifted her head and looked at her friends. “I’m so blessed to have the two of you in my life. I’m glad we were able to get together tonight. I’ve been worried about Grand, but it can wait. Let’s eat.”
For a few minutes, the women stopped talking to eat their dinner. Viviane thought of the last conversation with her grandmother and how it went absolutely nowhere. She hadn’t seen her in weeks. Grand usually came to Atlanta for long visits and Viviane had even offered to pick her up, but Grand said she was tired and maybe next week. The only problem was she had said that for the last three weeks and with other things she had slipped in a few phone conversations over the last month, Viviane was worried about her.
About halfway through her moo goo gai pan, she began to tell her friends about Grand possibly being sick, the cancellations, all the hints she accidentally slipped.
She made sure to mention how uncertain she felt because Grand wouldn’t be honest with her.
Feeling lost and sacred, Viviane sighed, “I just don’t know, so I’m going home tomorrow to see for myself. I’ll be staying a few weeks to prevent her from hiding her symptoms from me. I asked my boss Kathie for the month off from location photoshoots since August is a slow month for weddings, I can do edits from home.” Wiping a tear from her eye she added, “Kathie’s wonderful, and said take all the time I need, since she will be traveling for a few weeks, and it means can do editing work from Grand’s house.”
“Oh Viv, that’s awful. Of course, you need to go home and see how Grand’s really doing. Only…” Erica paused, looking at Daphne with a question in her hazel eyes.
“What we really want to know is how are you going to handle seeing Cole? It’s been over ten years since you saw him,” Daphne asked without missing a beat.
Viviane smiled through her tears because she knew her friends understood how hard it was for her to go back. It was the place where her heart had been broken and even now she was still waiting for God to heal a crack or two.
Cole had been her best friend and first love, since high school.
He had broken up with her in their junior year of college and she had limped back to Atlanta to eventually mend and heal. She had never been able to go back or call Cartersville home again without it breaking her heart.
It had taken years to get to a place where she felt happy and whole again. God had been working on her for a long time, but she had never been able to face Cole. He didn’t know how broken she had been, and she didn’t know how to erase the hurt she still felt.
All she could do was go back to Cartersville for quick visits with Grand, and get back to Atlanta as fast as possible. Grand understood, and spent much of Viviane’s free time in Atlanta at her apartment. This was the main reason she was worried because she hadn’t seen Grand in over a month.
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