Read the Prologue from Lessons Learned
Posted on March 27th, 2016

Lessons Learned, my very first novel, is free on Amazon Kindle this weekend! Check out the Prologue and an excerpt below. Then click the buy link to grab the book while it's still a free read!


Voices roar through the high school cafeteria while students navigate their way to the tables. The cliques are easily spotted: the jocks, the geeks, the beauty queens, the slackers . . .

Where will he sit today?

Despite the fact he’s a handsome and impeccably dressed young man, he fades into the background. Knowing it’s pointless, the girls don’t bother to look his way, and the guys deliberately avoid his eyes.

He grips his tray tightly and heads toward the corner table with the rest of the outcasts. They nod hello, but that’s the end of any real attempt at conversation. It’s an unspoken rule of sorts. This is their refuge—a tiny bit of sanctuary in the hell that is public high school—and they’re content to sit in peace.

He takes a seat, and I can see the exhaustion on his face. It’s not a weariness that comes from too many sleepless nights. This is a bone-tired fatigue no seventeen-year-old kid should ever feel.

He’s giving in.

Giving up.

In my peripheral vision, I see a senior stalk into the cafeteria. He’s tall, with deep brown eyes and jet-black hair that won’t stay in place. He’s good looking, popular, and a little conceited, thanks to his father’s wealth and status.

He has a reputation to uphold.

Rumors to squash.

A score to settle.

He pulls the silver gun out of his jacket pocket. Amid the chaos, no one notices.

I notice.

I try to run, but I’m frozen in place.

I try to scream, but there’s no sound.

The first shot rings out, and suddenly, everyone’s on the cold tile.

Tears, prayers, screams.

Another shot, and for some reason, I’m the only one who can’t move. Who can’t scream. Who can’t do anything but watch as the young man’s body slumps over his tray.

Finally, I find my voice and scream his name.



After dropping off the groceries at home, I drove across town to Mr. Johnson’s Hardware Store. I was gazing in confusion at all the various paint samples when I heard a friendly voice.

“Sarah Bray, you’re as pretty as a picture.”

His hair was now completely gray, but his smile was still sweet.

“Hi, Mr. Johnson,” I said, grinning at the man. Thanks for taking care of the lawn. I hope you didn’t mow it yourself.”

He laughed. “I’m too old to mow, Sarah, but I was happy to find someone who could do it. Going to paint that old house of Grace’s?”

“Well, I’m going to buy the paint. I’m hoping to hire someone to paint it for me. You wouldn’t happen to know—”

“I know just the person!” Mr. Johnson smiled broadly. “I’ll be right back.”

Well, that was easy. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mr. Johnson knew everyone in Sycamore Falls.

I turned my attention back to the wall and thumbed through the shaded cards. There were literally forty shades of blue, and I groaned in frustration.

“I know. They all look the same to me, too.”

The accent was warm and soft and undeniably Northern. When I turned around, I was staring into a pair of beautiful crystal-blue eyes.

“Wow,” I whispered. I scanned the paint swatches, wondering if such a shade of blue would look good on the exterior of my house.

“Mr. Johnson said you might need help selecting paint.”

“It’s impossible,” I muttered. “I just wanted to buy some blue paint. Why is this so complicated?”

The handsome man stepped closer to my side. “It isn’t, really. Just pick what you like.”

I like crystal-blue.

Thankfully, I didn't say those words aloud.

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