Excerpt from The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham

“Simple is as simple loves.”

Susan Combs had long ago found the love of her life. The only problem was the other party still didn’t know he had been found. 

Every day Susan saw Calder Hurtz, her next door neighbor and childhood best friend. They always enjoyed the short drive to school down the dusty streets of their small Texas town. She was happy in those perfect moments, for her life at home was most imperfect. The challenging homestead she inhabited was also the favorite subject of local gossip.

But one autumn day she overhears two boys having a conversation. This occasion of accidental audience sets Susan’s life on an unforeseen path. In the seasons to come, her future will be changed by two hospitalizations, two confessions of love, and one betrayal.

Compulsively readable, The Simple Soul of Susan is an engaging, soul-endearing romance and a mesmerizing debut.

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Goat Skedaddles

Susan grabbed at the “Have a Nice Day” sticker and pulled it off.

“The greeter said I had been a ‘really good girl’ so he gave me a sticker. I tried to reach out for it, but he just stuck it on me…there. He…he was just being nice.”

“Susan.” Calder put his hand on the buggy to stop her. “He was not just being nice.”

“I don’t think…”

“You should report him.”

“It’s just a sticker, and I’m… I mean, they can’t prove anything.”

“I can tell you didn’t like that.”

“Well, no, but…”

“No buts. He shouldn’t have done that to you.”

“I’ll just forgive and forget…”

“I won’t.” He turned around and headed back to the store.

“Calder, really there isn’t anything that can be done…”

“Be right back,” he called.

Susan loaded the lantana into the back of the truck and wondered what Calder was doing in the store. Seven minutes later Calder was back. He jumped in the passenger’s seat and put on his seat belt.

“What did you do?” she asked suspiciously.

“Nothing.” He smirked.

“Tell me!”

He wouldn’t.

 

After a quick stop at the sheriff’s office to drop off food for Calder’s dad, they unloaded the plants together, first heading to Susan’s barn to grab a wheelbarrow.

As they rounded the corner from the house, Calder stopped and stared. “Whoa. Did you paint the barn?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Susan replied dismissively. “And reinforced the supporting beams. The city was going to write a violation.”

Calder scratched his head. “But where did you—” he began.

“What is the mulch for?” Susan interrupted, nodding to a small bag Calder carried.

“Hiding the evidence,” he concluded with a wink.

They confirmed that Goat was still where they had left her in the shed. Goat shot them a rebellious glare regarding her confinement. Calder had procured a shovel and was removing the bushes when Susan came back outside after putting away a few groceries she had bought.

“Hey, what are we going to do with these old ones?” Calder asked, grunting with the effort of pulling a plant while trying not to tear the root system.

“Oh, I know! I’ll buy them from you and put them in my yard,” Susan offered.

“Sounds good, minus the buying part,” Calder said as he pulled.

“No, I will pay you back. It was my fault Goat got out.”

“They’re a really early birthday present. This way you’ll get flowers from me every year,” Calder quipped.

“It’s a nice thought, but what if the frost gets them before then?”

“Then I guess I’ll just have to buy you some,” Calder said as he loaded a newly excavated plant into the rusty wheelbarrow.

It was a sweet answer, but Susan didn’t take him with any degree of seriousness. He always said nice things to girls, and she knew better than to take his words to heart.

“Why are there stickers all over your rear end?” Susan exclaimed as Calder turned from the wheelbarrow to retrieve his shovel.

“Ha, dagnabit! I forgot to take them off!”

He pulled off one of his work gloves and threw it down to begin pulling the stickers off one by one.

“Calder, what happened? Just tell me!”

“Nope. Did I miss any?” He looked over his left shoulder and then the right to inspect the back of his work jeans.

“I’ll use your middle name,” Susan threatened, ignoring his previous statement.

“Sue! Is that how you treat your friends?”

“Friend. I only have one apparently, remember?”

“I wanted you to hear it from the gossips in town,” he almost whined.

“Just tell me!” Susan ordered, all playfulness set aside.

“Fine. I passed the greeter who did that to you and demanded a sticker for my rear. He refused, so I made a comment about him putting stickers in inappropriate places for other ‘youngsters.’ And then I grabbed one and made a scene.”

Susan laughed. “Thanks, Calder. But how did you end up getting so many stickers from him?”

He stopped shoveling, crossed his hands at the top of the shovel, and rested his chin on top of them. “Well, you see, Sue, I was a really, really good boy.”

Born and raised in a small Texas town, Noel Branham started her career
in digital communications after graduating with a degree in English. An
award winning communicator, she now writes from her home in Florida about
things closest to the heart: home, family, and love. Her debut novel will
be published Fall 2017.

 

Social Links:
Instagram: Branham.noel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelbranham/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/branhamnoel/

 

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Excerpt – The Duke Needs a Wife

ThedukeneedsawifeThe Duke needs a Wife new cover copyOn the untimely demise of her parents, Miss Cassandra Whitney endures abject poverty raising her siblings. She faces further torment as her landlord, the odious Baron Scudder, threatens her with eviction, if she refuses to assent to his offer of marriage to her younger sister Belle. As Cassandra fights to save her family, she inherits a titled estate and a ruin of a castle.
News of Casandra’s inheritance travels fast, reaching the highest circles in the ton. The Dowager Duchess of Taunton immediately sees her as a worthy match for her son Maximillian the 6th Duke of Taunton a renowned rakehell. The dowager also plans to take control over the castle which would be a prestigious venue for her many balls and hunting weekends. However, neither Cassandra nor Maximillian has any desire to wed. The Duke is more than inclined to enjoy his various mistresses without the entanglement of matrimony; besides his time is mainly caught up with horses, gaming and his club. What with her siblings, the estate and a ruin of a castle to renovate Cassandra could not possibly entertain the idea of courtship.
Both did not anticipate the manipulative powers of the dowager who slyly arranges a meeting between them.
On seeing Cassandra, Max is suitably impressed with her wit and ironic humour. Already tiring of one of his mistresses, she would be a welcome replacement. Although charmed with his handsome looks and seductive overtures, Cassandra puts him firmly in his place.
Can Cassandra resist the devilish overtures of the Duke and the devious ploys of the dowager?

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‘Looks to me like you’re in one hell of a fix; Matilda’s a diamond of the first water.’ Lord George Ormesby arched fine blond eyebrows as he lounged in a leather armchair. He was lucky to get it; the club was full today.

‘Hmm, Treadham’s threatening to sue me.’ Maximillian, the sixth Duke of Taunton, lolling in a Louis XV armchair, glowered. ‘I don’t think he’ll settle for less than twenty thousand.’

‘Trouble is Max old boy; she is his wife, his property.’ George pursed his lips. ‘He’s invested heavily in her, what with the gowns, gems and a pied de terre during the season.’

‘Invested? Deuce George, we’re not talking about a bloody horse; Matilda has a brain albeit filled with feathers.’ He shrugged, toned muscles filling out the blue superfine coat.

‘It’s the feather-brained lasses who have us men brawling over them, or rather their titties.’ His friend smiled wryly, tapping long elegant fingers.

‘I offered him satisfaction; pistols at dawn, but the blighter’s turned me down, insists his wife’s damaged property, and demands I pay for it.’

‘If you meddle with the married ones, do it behind closed doors m’boy.’

‘Well I hardly shouted it from the roof tops.’ Max exclaimed, thrumming his fingers on the table.

About the author:

katy

My main loves are writing, painting and singing. I began work as a PA but to my joy was spotted by an agent in London and had an exciting career as a singer, meeting and singing with some wonderful people. Singing meant a lot of travelling both in the UK and abroad. At one time, I toured Germany and Turkey singing for the American troops, which was a fantastic experience. But then, my husband and I wanted a family, so I said good-bye to the singing career, although I did the occasional gig. Having children is such a precious time, and I would say to anyone, treasure it, it goes so quickly and before you know it, you’re waving them off to Uni or pursuing their own dreams and their own homes.

I have always had a deep interest in psychology for various reasons, and especially the area of neurosis arising from abuse. Later, I was to study how we could use our body, mind and spirit to relieve pain and overcome some life-threatening diseases. One important thing here is, I always told my patients to continue with medical treatment along with the complementary and spiritual methods, for I believe medical research and medication is also a gift from God, Spirit or the Universe, as each of us wishes to name it.

I have loved writing from a child and during the years of study, research and treating some wonderful people, whom I called my friends, I would write at night, mainly short stories, and reams of poetry. I wanted to learn how to write self-help books for my clients, so I took creative writing courses at university, which led to writing a novel. So self-help novels turned to fiction but even so, I hope the novels help the reader through their own challenges, as the characters experience love, loss, passion, jealousy, illness, joy and conflict, even the threat of death.

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