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Marita Mercer adjusted the icicle-thin strap of her leopard print camisole and then tugged once, twice, three times. Perfect. Enough cleavage to look casually sexy, but not so much that Jim could brand her a wanton woman unworthy of her own daughter.

“Mom, do you have to wear that?” Twelve-year-old Charli flopped onto Marita’s bed. “Isn’t it bad enough that Dad’s dragging us through this mediation? Are you trying to make it easy for him to win?”

“Of course not. Besides, you’ll barely see it.” Marita slipped a black jacket on over the camisole. “See? A sensible black suit. Sober and appropriate for all proceedings.”

“Didn’t you wear that to work yesterday?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. But yesterday, this suit was a uniform for a court reporter. Today, it’s outward proof that I can be boring and follow the rules.”

Can two women united by a man one loves and the other despises work together for the good of a child?
Chasing a Second Chance.png
Will anyone get a second chance
for Christmas?

Charlotte Mercer Alessio sat in the aisle seat of the fifth pew at Holy Redeemer Community Church, nibbling on a lime green thumbnail and wondering if the service would ever be over. Dad and Angel thought they were doing her some big favor bringing her to the Sunday night contemporary service, but, the truth was, it was a bore. The music was lame, and the guest speaker was rambling on about chastity and the evils of the secular world. Or not. She'd stopped listening once he'd started trashing technology. Anna was so lucky. She got to come to the late service on Sunday — the one all the cute boys in their youth group went to.

Slumping in her seat, Charli tried to find a comfortable position in the worn, wooden pew. If she looked fascinated, maybe her father would lose the disapproving stare -- the one he hauled out every time she changed position.

Her stepmother nudged her and Charli pulled her thumbnail out of her mouth. Forcing a smile, she turned to look at Angel who held out a small tube of hand lotion.

Charli shook her head and stuffed her hand in her pocket.

Courting Peace 2.png
Maybe Charli’s right — maybe boys are doofuses. But does that mean grown men have to be too?

Marita dashed into Diner on Main and slid into a booth across from her best friend Bets. "Breakfast? You wanted to meet for breakfast? Since when are you a morning person?"

"Since never, but we haven't seen each other since Christmas. I need my Ri-Ri fix."

"Hey, I'm not the one who went on a cruise for Christmas." Marita shrugged off her coat and signaled the server. "How was it?"

Bets picked up her water glass. The diamond glittering on her left hand was half the size of one of the ice cubes.

"Bets! Is that—"

"Trevor and I are engaged!" Bets set down her glass and thrust out her hand, wiggling her fingers so the ring caught the light.

Marita grabbed her friend's hand and pulled it closer, examining the ring. "Wow. That's gorgeous."

Bets's smile faded. "What? No congratulations?"


Jersey Girls Don't Rule.png

Sometimes I think my daddy exists just to torment me. I mean, if he really loved me, he wouldn't be marryin' Pam and letting' her move in here with her two brats. He'd send them back to New Jersey where they belong, and then he and I could love happily ever after.

Pam's okay I guess. It's her kids that bug me. Desi's ten and thinks she's all that and Myrtle's four and wants to be. I'm twelve and smart enough to know that neither of them even comes close.


I glare at Daddy who just walked into my room without even knocking. "Yeah?"

He ignores my tine and moves it along. "Dinner's ready."

I turn my back to him, scoochin' deeper into my leopard-print beanbag chair. "I'm not eatin' with them."

"If you want dinner, you're gonna have to eat with them. This ain't no truck stop. Food's ready now. Come and get it or wait till breakfast."

Why is Daddy giving Pam and
her kids the life he never
gave her and Momma?



When it comes to organizing, there are two kinds of people. There are Type A organizers, for whom organizing is easy and automatic. Practical, time-tested tools work for them. They’ve successfully (and consistently) mastered the use of three-ring binders, file cabinets, and pocket folders. Type A organizers are the embodiment of the phrase “a place for every- thing and everything in its place.”

And then there are the rest of us.

We want to get organized, we really do. Tired of feeling scattered, we buy three-hole punches so we can corral all those loose papers into binders. We buy boxes of multi-colored file folders in an effort to restore order; and we spend hours setting up filing systems only to be stymied by them later and revert to stuffing, cramming, jamming, and putting things in “safe places.”

We know that getting organized is a worthwhile goal — a life skill we should cultivate. We understand that we save time and energy when we can find what we need when we need it. We secretly (or not so secretly) envy our put-together, Type A organized friends who make it look so simple.

But for us, it’s not.

When it comes to organizing,
one size doesn't fit all.
Chasing a Second Chance
Casting the First Stone
Courting Peace
Know Thyself
Jersey Girls Don't Rule
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