Guest Post: Cheri Swalwell Winner: Robin
Updated: Nov 27, 2022
Welcome to Cheri, another writer I met virtually through Blue Ridge Readers--they're a lovely group!
Hi, my name is Cheri Swalwell. I’m known for mixing up metaphors and being geographically challenged. I need to “turn right at the barn.” If someone tears down the barn, I’m automatically lost.
Tell us about your book?
Path of Grace, book 5 in The Redemption of Green Pines series (six books in all).
Everyone knows that Ariana does not get rejected.
Used to getting her own way, Ariana grew up having her daddy wrapped around her little finger—and he still is. As an adult, she goes through life expecting that all men will give into her whims. When the one man she sets her sights on won’t give her the time of day, Ariana is truly baffled.
Matt avoids Ariana whenever possible. The young woman has no way of knowing that she reminds Matt of his mother and the heartbreaking memories that he worked hard to bury. If Matt has his way, there won’t ever be a reason to discuss the issue.
But when Ariana’s life is turned upside down, and rumors about Matt could destroy everything that he’s worked so hard to achieve, it will take a heavenly amount of grace to prevent history from repeating itself. Will Matt and Ariana accept God’s plan for their lives?
If you like wholesome fiction with a faith-filled message, explore the Path to Grace, the fifth book in the heartwarming Redemption of Green Pines series today. Each book is meant to be read in the series.
Ariana did not get rejected. She posed in the mirror, first one way and then the other. No, it couldn’t be her looks if the body staring back at her in the barely-there bikini was any indicator.
Who did he think he was? First Matthew, all summer long. Now Brock too, if Ariana were honest with herself. Oh no, that wasn’t going to happen. Brock may be second place, but Ariana did not get rejected. She did the rejecting. Everyone knew that.
Ariana glanced at her phone, still laying on the floor where it had bounced after she threw it across the room in a fit of rage.
What was Brock’s problem anyway? Did he think Ariana was too drunk last night to notice him hanging all over Sabrina? Everyone knows she’s a major flirt. Just because she was a few years older, and more mature, didn’t give him the right to push Ariana aside like yesterday’s leftovers.
Besides, didn’t their physical connection mean anything to Brock? After having finally given in to his never-ending pleas, she thought it would have taken their relationship to a new level. That’s what Brock promised anyway. That’s why Ariana finally said yes.
Oh, it was a new level alright. A new low. Ariana could barely stand to look at him. She didn’t know what all the hype was about. It was over in about five minutes. She’s not sure why she had resisted him for months, because that certainly wasn’t anything worth remembering. It was so impersonal, and painful, that Ariana hadn’t let him touch her since.
She shook her head. It didn’t pay to try and examine her feelings. Nothing good ever came from that. Besides, there was only one feeling that mattered.
Turning around one more time to admire the image staring back, Ariana smiled for the first time that morning. Pleased with what she saw, she reached down for her wrap, paused, and decided what she proclaimed spoke louder without it. She picked up her bag, sunglasses, and bottle of water before heading to her car.
When she arrived at the beach party, she was fairly certain Brock would get the message loud and clear. Ariana did not get rejected.
Matt looked up from hammering in the last shingle long enough to wipe the sweat dripping into his eyes. In his peripheral vision he caught sight of Ariana, too much of Ariana, and quickly lowered his gaze back to the work at hand. Sheesh. Not the image he needed branded into his mind so early in the morning.
The old Matt would have stared. The new Matt wanted to treat women as gifts from God, the way he wished the men in his mom’s life had treated her. Maybe if she had dated men more like Pastor Jace and less like Brock, Ariana’s boyfriend, he and his brother Nathaniel could have lived with her instead of their grandparents. Maybe they wouldn’t have made the choices they did….
Matt shook his head. No use going there. He was responsible for his choices. He was grateful for the gift Jesus gave him on the cross years ago, and he was grateful for real men, like Pastor Jace, Pastor Paul, and Officer Dave who shared with him what a true relationship with God means. He was learning. It would take time, as Pastor J was always reminding him, but he was learning. He was better today than he was yesterday and tomorrow would be even better.
Giving his head a little shake, Matt’s thoughts went back to the Byrne sisters. Wynn and Ariana couldn’t be more opposite. Matt had figured that out quickly in the two months he’d been working at their house. He wondered if it was partly due to the way their parents treated them. Ariana was pampered. There was no other way to say it.
Wynn was not. Ariana was spoiled. Wynn had always been kind, but lately she seemed different. Bubbly? Matt almost laughed out loud. No, Wynn wouldn’t be described as bubbly. Happy? Maybe. She was dating Zane and they seemed happy together. Really happy.
So why did Matt seem to be drawn to Ariana despite all her flaws? Please, God, tell me I’m not so shallow that I’m attracted to her outward appearance.
Matt was jolted from his musing when Axel dropped another load of shingles by his shoulder.
“Hey there, buddy, where were you?” Axel asked mischievously. "I know society describes us as hormone-driven men, but we accepted a higher standard than that when we chose a relationship with Jesus. She’s someone’s daughter, you know. We were hired by her dad.”
Matt’s face turned crimson. “It’s not what you’re thinking. Yes, I was distracted, momentarily, but that’s not where my head was. I was actually thinking about my mom.”
“Your mom?” Axel kneeled down next to Matt and began nailing in shingles. “Normally when someone sees a bikini-clad female, thoughts don’t automatically go to his mom.”
Matt rolled his eyes, realizing how bad that sounded. But this was Axel, his friend. They had gotten close in the last two months. He knew his thoughts were safe with him. With all the crew, actually. They had been family to him more than his flesh and blood grandfather, or twin brother, ever had. He could trust Axel.
“I was just thinking about my mom and the choices she made, one bad decision after another. She eventually lost custody of my brother and me. We ended up having to live with my grandparents, and, well, you know how that turned out.”
Axel nodded sympathetically, staying silent.
Matt reached for another shingle, and working opposite Axel, he continued. “I was wondering if my mom started out that way. Spoiled, pampered. Although it’s hard to see my grandfather pampering anyone, actually. I wonder how she got herself stuck so deep she couldn’t get out.”
Axel was quiet for a few more minutes. “Are you trying to tell me all the times I’ve caught you staring at her these past two months have strictly been because she reminds you of your mom?”
“No, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think she was hot. But she has enough guys, namely Brock, to tell her that. She’s not in my league. Even if she was, I wouldn’t want to get hooked up with her. It’d only spell trouble. Been there. Done that. I’m still on probation, anyway. If I get caught doing anything, I’m facing even more time. No thanks. I like crashing at your place. I like eating when I want, what I want, and even cleaning the apartment. I like freedom. No girl is worth the price of losing that again.”
“Good choice, man. Girls like her spell trouble,” Axel agreed.
Matt was silent for a minute, then added, “Yeah, but back to my mom. If only someone like Pastor J or another ‘nice guy’ had taken the time to show her there were other choices, maybe we would’ve grown up with her instead of with my grandparents…Maybe.”
Ask the blog reader a quirky question or two?
What is one thing you tend to always forget or mix up? I mix up names … All. The. Time. If your name is Sandy and I call you Sarah … I’m so sorry.
What’s your favorite thing to do in December? I love sitting with the Christmas tree lights on, reading a great book and drinking (usually) hot chocolate in my pajamas.
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Path to Grace is available here: https://amzn.to/3F5vNdX
Thank you, Cheri, for being a guest and sharing your time with us!