Writing her Own Happy Ending (Preview)

Chapter One

Linda Mackay brushed her hands through her tangled hair, wrestling it into a ponytail. She was late, again. She stood from the side of the bed and pulled the blankets haphazardly up around the pillows. So much for making her bed in the morning. She bit back a holler as she stubbed her toe on the corner of the door frame. 

Anna’s room was right next to hers and yet, somehow, her fourteen-year-old sister managed to avoid hearing Linda’s alarm. Linda stepped into her sister’s room. It was surprisingly neat and tidy for being inhabited by a fourteen-year-old. Her sister loved to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Linda attributed her habits to the careful training done by their mother. Linda herself had not done a well enough job to take any of the credit. 

Linda paused for a moment, looking down at her sister sleeping peacefully. She was so beautiful and innocent when she was asleep—there was no angry scowl or talking back. 

Linda sighed, then pulled back the covers. “Up you go, Anna. You’re going to be late for school.”

Anna groaned, her eyelids jamming shut even tighter as her hand fished for the missing blanket. 

“Come on, Linda! Give me five more minutes.” 

“Anna, I’m serious. I’m going to make you breakfast and you’d better be in there in five minutes. You’ve been late three times this week. Let’s not make it four. Besides, it’s Friday. Let’s make the last day count.” 

Anna said nothing, so Linda turned and rushed back to the kitchen. She missed the thirteen-year-old from last year who was bubbly and friendly and always had something funny to say. She had thought for the longest time that teenagers didn’t need to be grumpy all of the time. Apparently, she had been wrong. Something had changed about Anna in the past few weeks. Everything had changed for both of them, really. 

Drew popped into her mind, but Linda pushed the image away. She was supposed to stop thinking about Drew. He was taking up too much of her time for not even being in her life anymore. 

She grabbed some eggs from the refrigerator and cracked four into a skillet. She stirred them with a spatula, scrambling the eggs without getting another dish dirty. Once the eggs were done, she threw two slices of bread into the skillet and searched the counter for some fruit. She found an apple, which she split in half. 

The bus was going to be passing for Anna in fifteen minutes, which gave her exactly fourteen to get ready and eat her breakfast before running down to the curb. If she didn’t make it, Linda would have to drive her to school. 

“How long do I have?” Anna’s groggy voice came from the doorway. She had put on a clean T-shirt, a skirt, and some leggings. She looked nice except for her hair, which was sticking up in ten different directions. Linda couldn’t tell if she had brushed her teeth or not. 

“Fourteen, no, thirteen minutes. Sit down and I’ll do your hair while you eat.” 

To Linda’s surprise, Anna did not protest but slid into one of the chairs at their two-person table. Linda had downsized everything after she had taken over caring for Anna. It just made their lives more manageable. 

She grabbed the hairbrush from the counter and ran it through Anna’s light blond hair, pulling it into a high ponytail at the back of her head. 

“There you go. You’re officially ready.” Linda took the last thing on Anna’s plate—her half of the apple—and shoved it into her little sister’s hand. “Eat this on the way. You have to eat well to have energy, and here’s your backpack. Go! The bus is going to be here any minute.” 

“I’m going, I’m going,” Anna grumbled. “Thanks for the breakfast.” 

Linda almost smiled at the kind words. They were so rare these days. 

“Have a great day, Anna!” she called out as the door closed. 

She loved her little sister, but lately it was like she didn’t know how to deal with her. She wished she understood everything Anna was going through—maybe then she would have an easier time relating to her. 

Once the rush of getting Anna out the door was over, Linda slumped down on the couch with her plate of cold eggs and toast. She was starving and was only realizing it now. She took her time eating, then pushed off the couch. 

Her eyes landed on the typewriter sitting on the table by the window. She should work on her book, the second book in a series of three. Ever since her breakup with Drew, however, the idea of writing made her want to groan with dread. She wanted to write, but it just didn’t feel the same. Everything felt lousy, without meaning, useless. 

She sighed and pulled on a light sweater before heading out the door and down the hall. Two apartments over, her best friend, Ella, lived with her husband and twin boys. After knocking a few times, Linda cracked the door open. Shrieks of happiness filled the house as the two boys ran around the small apartment, chasing each other. 

“Ella? Are you in here?” she called out. Sometimes, Ella couldn’t hear her knocking over the sound of the boys. They were only two and they made enough noise to make anyone think that Ella had five children. 

“Over here! Come on in!” Ella called from the living room, Linda guessed, and she walked through the entrance into the kitchen. At the end of the hall was a doorway that led to the living room. It was a two-bedroom apartment, just like the one Linda shared with Anna. 

“Linda! I was wondering when you would show up.” Ella was sitting in the middle of the hardwood floor with boxes spread out around her. 

“What are you doing?” Linda asked, surveying the mess that looked very much like packing. 

“Oh, I was hoping you would come today so I could tell you in person. Remember how Chester has an uncle in Wisconsin?”

“I guess so?” Linda didn’t really remember. Ella had told her about a whole host of relatives they had all over the country. Linda had long ago gotten confused with too many names and details and stopped remembering most of them. She did briefly remember Ella mentioning Wisconsin before. 

“Well, Chester’s uncle apparently has an old milk farm there. He was planning on selling it but has had a hard time finding a buyer. He knew we wanted to raise the boys in a place somewhere in the country, so he told Chester that if we wanted the farm, we could have it.” 

“What?” Linda’s head spun. “Does that mean you’re moving?”

“I guess it does. I’m sorry, Linda. I just found out this morning and I know how busy you are in the mornings. I figured it would be best to wait until you came over here. I actually wanted to ask you to come with us. After what happened with Drew, a change of pace and a new start might be helpful to you.” 

“Come with you to Wisconsin?” Linda dropped down into the dapper brown couch. 

She felt like she had to be imagining that Ella and Chester were moving away. Ella her best friend—she made everything better when Linda needed someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Thinking about having to do life all alone, without even Ella was terrifying. Whenever she’d needed help up to this point, Ella was two doors down in the same building. 

“Yes! I know that after Drew, you have been struggling with your writing. Just think, you could help us work on the farm. It needs to be fixed up; it hasn’t been lived in for years. It would be an adventure. Being out in the open fields, away from the city and around the animals, might just inspire you again.” 

“I do not know. What about Anna?”

“She would just have to do one semester over in Fenton, Wisconsin—that’s the name of the town. They have a great school. Then the two of you could spend vacation there, and come back here for the new school year if you didn’t want to stay forever. Promise me you’ll think about it. As much as living in the country and starting our own farm is my dream, I really want you to come even if it is for just a short time. And who knows? Maybe you’ll fall in love with it and want to move permanently.” 

“I don’t know. It sounds like a really big commitment.” Though Linda was skeptical, she couldn’t deny the proposal sounded interesting. 

There had been a time when she’d wanted to live in the country, too. The idea of maintaining a country home, an income, and her sister all alone somewhere strange was too much to take on, so she had never considered it. Maybe with Ella’s offer, she could have both. 

“Anna and I have been having some tough times lately,” she admitted. “Everything is a fight with her.” 

“Maybe Anna needs a move to the country, too. Changes in scenery and being with friends are always a good thing. Why don’t you talk with Anna and see what she thinks? Chester is friends with lots of people back in Fenton, and I know a couple of people, too. It wouldn’t be a problem to get her transferred. It’s a much smaller school. She might even make some friends.” 

“All right, all right. I’ll think about it. In the meantime, can I help?”

Ella laughed, throwing Linda a pile of clothes. “You can fold those and put them into that box. I knew I could count on you, even if you don’t want me to leave.” 

“That’s right. I am your best friend for a reason, you know.” Linda giggled and started packing the box. 

She tried to hide the sadness and fear that was washing over her. She didn’t want Ella to leave, or anything to change between them, no matter how good of an idea it seemed.

Chapter Two

Linda stared down at the typewriter keys. She had been sitting in front of the little machine for the last half hour and hadn’t turned out a single word. What was wrong with her? She sighed. She used to love writing. It was the one thing she knew how to do, that she enjoyed doing. She loved weaving the words together to create a picture for the readers. 

She closed her eyes for a second and remembered the thrilling feelings she had experienced when she’d first found out that she was accepted by a publishing house. It was her dream come true. She finally had a chance to make a living as an author. 

Then Drew had come into her life. He had seemed like the one thing that was missing. He made her laugh, and he made her feel like her life was making a turn for the better. Then he had walked away a few days before they were supposed to make it official and get married. 

She folded her arms on the table and buried her face in them. She was such a failure. She should have seen the signs. She never should have let Drew get so intertwined with her and Anna. They had been doing just fine before he showed up. 

The apartment door slammed and Anna appeared in the living room doorway a few seconds later. She looked like she had been crying and she had a scowl on her face. 

“What’s the matter? What happened?” Linda jumped up and crossed the room. 

Anna brushed past her. “Nothing, just a bad day!” she shouted. 

She continued down the hall and slammed the door to her bedroom behind her. Linda grabbed her hair and gave it a gentle pull. Why was everything in her life falling apart? 

Linda slumped on the couch. Maybe Ella was right. They needed to get out of this city. They needed new surroundings, new people, and new experiences in their lives. 

Anna was going to be furious when she heard she was going to have to move schools at the end of the year. Still, it couldn’t be any worse than her current school—Anna showing up looking like she had been crying wasn’t something new. 

Pushing herself off the couch, Linda walked down the hall to Anna’s bedroom door. She knocked softly, then waited for an answer. When she got none, she tucked her hands in her pockets and leaned against the door with her shoulder. 

“Anna? We need to talk about something important.” 

After a few long minutes of wondering whether Anna would let her in, the door creaked open. 

“What?” Anna stared down at her feet. The ponytail Linda had put in her hair earlier that morning was gone, and her hair fell like a shield around her face. 

“I had a talk with Ella today and they’re moving to Wisconsin.” 

“Why does that matter?” Anna asked. Although she feigned indifference, Linda saw the worry in her eyes. Anna loved playing with Ella’s little boys. Lately, it was the one thing that made her seem really happy. 

“They’ve asked us to come with them.” 

“What? We can’t go anywhere. I’d have to change schools, and I have friends here.” Anna’s voice rose as she became defensive. 

“Friends?”

“Yes, friends. You can’t just decide that we’re moving without asking me.” Anna crossed her arms, planting her feet in a fighter’s stance. Linda was about to tell her that she could, in fact, decide to move without Anna’s permission, but she bit her words back. 

“Anna, I think this will be good for us. We can go out to the country and get a new perspective on things. You can have a chance to make new friends.” 

“I don’t want new friends. I don’t want to move. How is that so hard to understand?” 

“Look, we won’t be moving permanently. Ella and her family need some help setting up an old milk farm. I think we can help with that and then we can come back here and everything will go back to normal. Tops, we will be out there for three or four months. It’s not that bad.” 

“Not that bad? Do you even remember what it was like to go to high school? What if the people there like me less than they do here?” 

“No, Anna. Wait, do the kids at school give you issues?

Anna shrugged. 

“Talk to me, Anna. What has been going on at school?”

Anna walked back into her room and sat down on the edge of her bed. She scooted back until her back was against the headboard and pulled her knees up to her chest. 

“Maybe some of the kids at school make fun of me. They say I can’t afford nice things because I don’t have parents.” 

“That is just cruel and not true. What is it that you can’t afford? You have everything your classmates do.” 

“I know, but they just say mean things. The other day, someone said that…” Anna stopped, choking on her words. 

“It’s okay, you can tell me.” Linda scooted forward just a bit. 

“They said you should put me in an orphanage so I can get new parents.” 

Linda felt rage rush through her. She had forgotten how cruel young people could be. She hadn’t exactly been popular when she went to school, but she had been invisible enough that most people didn’t mess with her. She had hoped for the same thing for Anna. 

“We’re moving to Wisconsin, then. You can get a break from whoever is telling you these nasty things, and then we’ll be back next year if we still want to. We’re going to help Ella get her ranch in working order. It’s going to be fun, you’ll see.” 

“It’s not going to be fun, Linda. I’d rather just finish out the school year here and get it over with. Why do I need to go to a new school where no one is going to like me just to suffer for a month or two?” 

Anna looked like she wanted to cry. If Linda thought her sister would let her give her a hug, then she would have. 

“Change can be a good thing. I know you aren’t convinced, but you’ll come around.” Linda stood and left Anna’s room before her sister’s angry glare could change her mind. 

She kept repeating Ella’s words to herself. This was going to be good for them. She had a feeling that it was going to be. When Anna emerged from her room a few hours later, she was moody and avoiding conversation, but she had a resigned air about her. Maybe she was coming to accept the decision to move already.

“I thought we would head over to Ella and Chester’s for dinner. Do you want to come?” Linda occasionally left Anna in the apartment if she was just going to run down the hall to talk with Ella, but she didn’t like leaving her behind for long. 

“Sure, why not?” Anna shrugged, and Linda tossed her a light sweater. Maybe some time with the twins would cheer her up. 

—*—

Dinner at Ella and Chester’s was more of a success than Linda could have hoped for. Anna had occupied herself with the twins right away and had been laughing and playing with them all evening. Linda was sitting on the couch with Ella. 

“So, have you thought about what we talked about earlier?” Ella asked. “I know it’s a little soon, but we are leaving in a week already. I cannot believe Chester set such a quick date. I thought I would have a couple of months to pack.” 

“I know it sounds strange, but I did decide. We’re going to come.” 

Ella’s eyes widened. “Really? Wow! I didn’t think you would actually agree to come.” 

“Well, I am. I need to get over Drew. I don’t know how to do that, but I don’t think it’s helping me to stay in the city. I keep on remembering him no matter what I do.” 

“It’s not that strange. After you spend two years with someone and expect to marry them, it can be hard to say goodbye to that.” 

Linda bit her lower lip. “I keep wondering what I did wrong. I keep thinking about all the things I could have done differently and maybe he would have stayed, you know?”

“I know, but Linda, there was nothing else you could have done. Even if Drew hadn’t told you his feelings, you would have been making a mistake. In a couple of years, he would have left you and that would have been worse.” Ella’s face was full of sympathy. Linda wasn’t sure if what she needed was sympathy or anger from Ella. She wished she didn’t need either. 

“I don’t know how to get my confidence back. I just feel so inadequate, like I will be alone forever. I see you and Chester and how you are getting ready for this big move for your family. It’s amazing and it is going to be great for you. I can’t help thinking that I should have been doing something similar with Drew and Anna.” 

Linda fought tears. The crippling sadness she had felt for the past couple of months almost paralyzed her. She had been in love with Drew, so certain that he was the next stage of her life. Then he had ruined it all only two days before they made things official. 

“Linda, it’s not a bad thing that you don’t have anyone right now. One day, you will have someone.” 

“Thanks. I don’t know if that’s true, but thanks anyway.” Linda wrapped her hands around the warm cup of tea she was drinking. “Maybe this move to Wisconsin will help, as you said. We won’t be able to leave with you right away, though—we’ll drive up in a couple of weeks, so the school situation gets worked out properly.” 

“Drive up? You could take the bus.” 

“No. I want to drive. There’s something about having your own car, you know?” Linda loved having the use of her own car. She couldn’t imagine being in a strange town without her car to get around in. It was like an extension of herself. “It will work out just fine,” she assured her friend.

“I know what you mean. I’m just happy you’re coming. Even if we don’t see each other for a few weeks, I’ll know you aren’t far away.” 

Linda nodded. She hoped she was making the right decision for her and her sister. 

She had never thought she would be responsible for another human being at eighteen. She hadn’t planned to lose her parents. The day they’d received the news was the day after her eighteenth birthday. Linda had been babysitting Anna. They were sitting on the couch, watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Show when a police car pulled up outside of their one-story townhouse. Her sister falling under her responsibility had changed her life in every way possible. 

She clearly had so much to learn still. Going to Wisconsin was going to be an adventure, and she had no way of knowing how it would affect her and Anna. She could only hope for the best.

Chapter Three

Shawn Parker slapped a stack of yellow manila files on his desk. The complaints were piling in. He sat down in his chair and flipped open the first file. 

“Shawn! How’s it going this morning?” His partner—and one of the best policemen in the precinct—walked up to his desk, leaning on his hands against it. Any progress on the case?”

“Honestly? No. If you were expecting some sort of breakthrough, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. Whoever these people are, they know what they’re doing.” 

“It’s vandalism.” Hiram shook his head. “I’ll bet they’re a bunch of teenagers. I remember when I was young, everyone was doing it. If my parents had been a little less strict, I might have ended up somewhere very different.” 

Evan popped into Shawn’s head. His best friend used to say the same thing. 

“I know, I know. The question is, how do they always manage to avoid getting caught? This has to be stopped. They’ve broken windows, spray painted stores, and an endless list of other petty crimes. While they aren’t killing anyone, these things are more than a small nuisance.” 

Hiram frowned. “We will catch them eventually, and when we do, they’ll be sitting in a cell thinking about what they’ve done.” 

“All right then, we just have to make a plan.” 

“What about a stakeout? We might be able to guess where they’re planning on striking next by evaluating everywhere else they’ve done it.” 

“It’s worth a shot.” Hiram reached over and grabbed half the files. “Why don’t you write down any patterns from those cases and I’ll do the same with these?” 

“Sounds like a plan.” Shawn pulled a pad of paper over and a pen. He started jotting down details in neat lists. This was the only option they had left, even though it looked like boring paperwork. Being a policeman wasn’t always about action and excitement. Still, the idea of actually catching the people responsible for all the vandalism in town after being after them for the last two months was exciting. 

Shawn’s excitement was short-lived. After several hours of poring over police reports, he and Hiram had managed to narrow down the activity to three possible locations. There was no guarantee that they would show up at any of the three locations, but he and Hiram still arranged to stage a stakeout the next day. 

Shawn stood from his desk and left all of his paperwork in two neat stacks. 

“You’re heading home?” Hiram asked, setting his own files back on Shawn’s desk. 

“Yeah. I wish we could have found something a bit more definite today.” 

“Me too. For a second, I thought we were about to have some sort of a breakthrough. But maybe tomorrow we’ll be lucky and pick the right potential location. That would be pretty exciting, huh? Maybe then, we could get a more exciting case.” 

Shawn nodded, trying not to show his exhaustion. “I have to get back, otherwise I would suggest a stakeout today.” 

“That’s fine. I’m sure they will still be around. I’ll see you tomorrow, Shawn.” Hiram ran a hand through his black hair then pulled on his police jacket. 

He and Hiram had gone to the police academy together. While Evan had always been Shawn’s best friend, Hiram was a close second. They always understood each other’s humor and had each other’s backs—which was important when working as a police officer. 

While there wasn’t much hard crime in Fenton, Wisconsin, it was still important to have a partner who was skillful and always on his feet. Knowing what he did about working in law enforcement, Shawn would be hard-pressed to work with any other partner besides Hiram. The two of them had been through a lot together. 

Shawn reached over and gave Hiram’s shoulder a firm clap. “See you later, Hiram.”  

He grabbed his own jacket and left the station. His pickup truck was one of the last vehicles in the parking lot. Most everyone was going home. Only a few officers would stay on for the night shift, which Shawn rarely volunteered to cover. His father depended on him to help with the farm, and he didn’t feel right bowing out of that responsibility. Besides, he hated working at night and sleeping in the day. 

The truck’s motor roared to life as he twisted the key, and then he was off toward home. His father always had the dream of running a successful farm. It was something he had worked toward for years—and six years ago, he had finally had the money to purchase a medium-sized piece of land. 

It was enough to have a few cows and some fields for crops, and Shawn had to agree: farming was a great profession. He enjoyed the time he spent with the animals and with his father in the fields. Whenever he could, he tried to improve the farm. They weren’t making a large amount of money on the farm, but it was at least enough to maintain the place as a business. 

His father was happy, so that was what counted. Shawn drove up the driveway to the little farmhouse he shared with his father. Only two years ago, his mother shared the house with them, too—and then she had passed away unexpectedly, changing their world forever. Shawn tried to ignore the emptiness that plagued him when he thought of it. 

His father was sitting in the rocking chair on the porch when he arrived. Shawn had made the rocking chair himself last year. His father loved to sit on the porch and got backaches with a normal chair. Shawn closed the truck door and joined his father, pulling up a wooden stool. 

“There you are. I was wondering if you were coming home today.” 

“Why wouldn’t I? I know I stayed a little longer than usual, but I’ll always come back.” Shawn chuckled. “How did the chores go today? We need more help around here, don’t we?”

“Yes, we do. If we were making a little more, maybe we could hire some people from town. I know there have been folks looking for work. How was your day at the precinct?”

“It was all right. We still haven’t caught the people responsible for vandalizing.” Shawn leaned back. “I wonder why they do it? I mean, it’s just rude, to begin with, but destroying other people’s property—which they have worked for and paid for? It’s terrible.” 

“I know what you mean. I can’t stand it. Mark my words, I would bet it’s young people these days. Back in my day, we wouldn’t get away with any of that, but these days, parents aren’t as observant or as strict as they used to be.”

“Maybe they need help, or maybe they don’t have good parents if they are young people, to begin with.” 

Sympathy washed through Shawn. He hated the idea of anyone not having good parents. His parents had made his life enjoyable, made him feel loved, and taught him how to work hard and be successful. He knew many people, like his friend Evan, didn’t have that. 

“I don’t know. Some people just don’t want help.” 

Shawn thought about his father’s words. Maybe that was the case, but maybe people didn’t know what they needed or wanted anymore. He shrugged the thoughts away. Regardless of the motivations the culprits had, they were hurting others, they needed to be stopped, it was his job.

“I guess I had better head out to the barn. I can take care of the evening chores.” 

“You sure? I can try to help.” 

His father looked tired. Today, he had taken care of the chores in the morning and then throughout the day. His father was getting older, and Shawn knew the farm work was growing harder for him.

“All right then, I’ll go heat up supper in the meantime.” Shawn’s father groaned as he pushed out of his chair. Shawn watched him go inside before he headed to the barn. He had plenty to do before he had dinner. He was tired just thinking about it, but chores had to be done. 

He smiled at the thought of his younger self volunteering to do chores. The idea would have been ludicrous to him. Now, he was happy to help out wherever things he could.


“Writing her Own Happy Ending” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

After her parents’ death, Linda Mackay managed to get her life together while caring for her sister. However, everything is thrown off track again, when her fiancé leaves her just before their wedding. Since then, she’s been left questioning her self-worth and now she can’t even do the one thing she does best: write her next book. When her best friend, Ella, invites her and her sister to Wisconsin, Linda jumps at the chance, thinking it will help her move forward. As she approaches the town, lost in her thoughts, she is pulled over by a rude deputy for speeding. In an unexpected twist of fate, she soon discovers that he is good friends with Ella’s husband, and before she even realizes it, she finds herself drawn to him. Will she be able to open up and allow herself to heal from the past, giving love a second chance?

Shawn Parker loves being a policeman and he is also very proud of the small farm he started from scratch. What he has been hiding carefully is that he has lost more in his life than he cares to talk about. The woman he thought he would marry wasn’t eager to spend her days in a small town, so she abandoned him and broke his heart into a million pieces. However, when he meets Linda, he quickly feels intrigued by her, even though they don’t get off to a great start. Yet he still feels confused, as he can’t risk falling in love with someone who will leave him, too. Will Shawn give in to his feelings or will he keep his distance out of fear?

Shawn and Linda start to form a bond over their traumas, and their souls are more similar than they would care to admit. Is there a way for two people who are so determined to guard their hearts to imagine a happy future together? Will they fail to honor their promise to keep their feelings secured at all costs by letting themselves be consumed by their undeniable connection?

“Writing her Own Happy Ending” is an inspirational western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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