Sampler: Shadows of Hope by J.B. Hawker

She’s an ex-marine, but can toned muscles and self-defense techniques shield her from the dangers and heartache ahead?

Hope Masterson, who first appears in the popular Tillamook Tillie series, is an independent-minded ex-Marine. Currently teaching self-defense in the seaside community of Bannoch, Oregon, and recently married to Reverend Gideon Hopkins, himself a former Army Ranger.

Hope finds herself on unusually shaky ground as she adjusts to the unfamiliar challenges facing a pastor’s wife.
Although the members of the First Ladies Club are eager to help her.

Hope’s prior struggles have left her reluctant to lean on anyone.

Hope’s efforts to find her footing are further complicated by the expectations of her new congregation, the needs of a wayward teen, a disastrous weekend camping trip, and even being targeted by murderous drug dealers.

Can toned muscles and self-defense techniques shield her from the dangers and heartache ahead?

j.B. Hawker

Sampler: Shadows of Hope

A chill wind blew off the ocean and clouds filled the sky as Hope bumped her aging Jeep onto the rutted verge of the gravel driveway of a weather-beaten two-story Victorian house. She turned off the engine and sat with her hands gripping the wheel, trying to calm her nervous stomach.

A large, distinguished-looking black woman mounted the steps to the home’s slightly sagging wrap-around veranda and Hope recognized Peggy Burt, wife of the Missionary Baptist pastor. Seeing Peggy, a talented musician, a formidable organizer, and an ideal pastor’s wife caused the butterflies in Hope’s stomach to flutter even more.

She gave herself a mental pep talk and was unbuckling her seatbelt when she was jolted forward as a beat-up twenty-year-old station wagon slammed into her back bumper.

“Sorry!” sang out the wagon’s driver, struggling to disentangle a flowing tie-dyed scarf from her gearshift as she backed out of the car.

Judy Falls, wife of a retired Presbyterian pastor, looked up and grinned; her shaggy blond hair drooping messily over her full, rosy cheeks.

She wiggled her fingers in greeting, and then dove into the backseat to retrieve a large tapestry tote bag, displaying her impressive backside in a colorful peasant skirt, its hem sagging. Both the skirt and Judy’s wrinkled organic all-cotton blouse were badly in need of a wash and her faux-leather thong sandals revealed toes coated with dirt.

A throwback to the hippy era, Judy somehow managed to maintain her voluptuously unrestrained figure on a strict vegan diet. Some of her attitudes were eccentric, but her genuine love of the Lord had earned her a grudging tolerance, if not outright welcome, from her husband’s conservative Presbyterian congregations.

As a founding member of the First Ladies group, her kind heart and enthusiasm were always welcome at the meetings.

“I don’t think I did any damage,” Judy said, glancing at the Jeep’s bumper as she approached Hope’s car window.

Hope had remained in her car, stunned by this colorful apparition.

“Are you okay?” Judy asked, noticing Hope’s pale face.

“Yes, fine. No harm done,” Hope managed to reply, opening her car door and stepping out.

“Have we met?” Judy asked, peering up at Hope through her thick, uneven bangs.

“No, I don’t think so. This is my first meeting. I’m Hope Masters… uh, Hopkins,” she said, holding out her hand.

She was still getting used to her new married name and it didn’t come naturally, yet.

Clutching her scarf, Judy attempted to transfer her overloaded tote bag into the same hand and dropped both the bag and the scarf onto the gravel.

With a shrug and a what-the-heck grin, she threw her arms around Hope, enveloping her in a welcoming hug.

“I’m Judy. Judy Falls,” she said, stepping back and picking up her things. “Who’s your husband? Mine used to pastor the Prez church, but he retired to take care of our second set of twins. Boys. River and Forrest. Late-in-life surprises are the best kind, don’t you think? I run a recycling and up-cycling boutique downtown and write a blog for vegans and other eco-minded types. Too busy to wrangle twins, this time around. My girls are both off on their own. You got any kids?” she asked, pausing for breath.

“I’m newly married to the pastor of Mount Zion…” Hope began.

“Come on, we’d better get inside. We can’t stand here gabbing and keep the other ladies waiting,” Judy said, scurrying ahead of Hope toward the house.

Her head spinning, Hope followed, wondering what she had gotten herself into.

When she arrived at the front door, it was standing open

“Hi, Hope! I’m so glad you could make it today,” Naidenne Davidson said, stepping forward.

“Well, I’ve wanted to come before, but you know how busy it can be…” Hope murmured.

“Of course!” Naidenne said. “We all do. Every member of this group was a new wife once upon a time. That’s one of the reasons we formed this little club of pastors’ wives in the first place.”

The women of the club represented a wide range of Christian religious traditions and styles. All the members shared a love of God and a desire to serve Him in their community. Besides providing emotional support to each other, the club held regular fund-raisers for various community improvement projects, always being mindful not to compete with fund-raisers or other activities of the local churches.

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