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Family Heirlooms Series, Book 1: Baby, Baby
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Family Heirlooms Series, Book 1: Baby, Baby


Score: 4.33 (votes: 3)
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Nuggets of faith can be passed down as family heirlooms from parent to child, sibling to sibling, spouse to spouse.


Book One Family Heirloom: Accepting God's will 

A Proverbs 31 wife wonders, does "submissive" mean giving up having anything of her own? 

Thirty-seven-year-old Tamara Wolfe married her childhood sweetheart, Robert, right out of high school and proceeded to have a passel of children who fill her life to capacity. With the last of her children in preschool, Tamara decides to make a business out of her long-time love of creating designer gift baskets. She doesn't expect Robert to be against it from her first word. 

Robert has always prided himself on giving Tamara the option of staying home to raise the children, just as his father did before him. Since birth, it's been drilled into him that a man who doesn't provide for his family is the worst kind of loser. What will happen if her business takes off? She won't have time to take care of the family. Worse, maybe she won't need him anymore. Although they'd agreed years before their family was complete, Robert considers that perhaps the cure for Tamara's restlessness is another baby. 

Tamara prays for wisdom. All she wants is a small space of time for herself. Is she being selfish? Or is God leading her to continue being an outdated model of the Proverbs 31 wife--submissive, but never equal? 


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  • Karen Wiesner
    Jan 6, 2018, 17:10
    2008 Ecataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award Winner
    5 star review from The Romance Studio
    The Romance Studio’s Sweetheart Award Winner
    The Romance Studio’s 2008 CAPA Award Winner
    5 star review from ReviewYourBook.com
    WDRF’s Top Read of Excellence
    5 star review from MyBookAddictionReviews
    5 star review from Classic Romance Revival
    5 star review for Ecataromance
    #5 on the Amazon Contemporary Christian Romance Bestseller List

    5 Stars! “I was pleased to find out Ms. Wiesner is doing a series of this community of Peaceful, Wisconsin. There are many supporting cast members who were screaming to be acknowledged during Tamara and Robert’s story. The sub characters were very important to the telling of the Wolfe family saga. Even though Tammy and Robert were deeply in love and took care of their family, they were constantly involved in their community and church. These characters, both siblings, parents, neighbors, and townsfolk were such loving and believable people that it was as if I was living in that small town. Tamara and Robert Wolfe’s story was told so beautifully. It was apparent at the beginning, even throughout their problems, that they each loved the other to distraction. This late-thirties couple was struggling not only financially but also emotionally. The expertise in revealing Ms. Wiesner’s storyline created a spell-binding tale that I just could not help but love. She is truly a gifted author with a remarkably talented way of expressing her story. I cannot wait for her next installment in this series. I highly recommend you read this book.” ~The Romance Studio
    5 Stars! "All couples go through different phases of their relationship. From loving newlyweds to empty nesters, life is constantly changing. Karen Wiesner offers readers a story that demonstrates how a marriage can not only survive, but also thrive in face of change. Tamara and Robert also demonstrate that the physical intimacy of marriage can continue throughout the years. I enjoyed the story, especially the Christian slant. Christian women will enjoy this new romance by Karen Wiesner." ~ReviewYourBook.com
    Top Read of Excellence! "Normally I don't like to read books that have a religious tone to them, but I am very glad to have read this book. I enjoyed this book very much. Karen Wiesner has penned a fabulous read and I highly recommend this to everyone. I think that anyone who is married, thinking about marriage or just thinking about long-term relationships should read this book. This book shows the work inherent in keeping a family/marriage whole. It’s not just the job of one person, but of the entire family. After reading this book, I felt the need to go hug my family and let them know that I loved them dearly. Any book that can make me do that is a powerful read indeed." ~WRDF Review
    5 Wings! "BABY, BABY by Karen Wiesner is a heart-warming inspirational that addresses the problem of adhering to biblical teaching in a modern world. Ms. Wiesner takes the reader expertly through Tamara Wolfe’s desire to accept God’s will, her desire to create a home-based business out of something she loves doing, and her desire to have a loving relationship with her husband, the love of her life. I could feel Tamara’s struggle and how unhappy Robert’s attitude made her. She becomes fearful that he will be like his father, a man who wanted to control every aspect of his wife’s life—including when she would have children. BABY, BABY shows the reader how God can change our attitudes, our lives, and our circumstances. All Tamara and Robert had to do was accept God’s will and wait for His timing. Thank you, Ms. Wiesner, for writing a charming book with insights that can help all of us in our daily struggles." ~Classic Romance Revival
    5 Stars! "I liked Tamara very much—the way she had to deal with a controlling husband. She always came through with God's help. She was very strong in [her faith]. She was like a cup of cold water. This could teach us a few things of how to trust God in our time of trials. I enjoyed this story very much.” ~My Book Addiction Reviews http://mybookaddictionreviews.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/babybaby-by-karen-wiesner-review/ 4.5 Stars! "Marriage is a dance and when the two dancers work harmoniously; leading and following becomes the most natural thing. Following your partner or taking the lead when you feel he has the wrong rhythm for this dance is a dilemma not easily solved. The realism and sincerity of this book and the way its author discloses the story from both points of view make this novel not only marvelous romantic reading but also a great input about marriage relationships. Karen Wiesner really excels at developing such an enchanting story that will captivate you from beginning to end, making you feel like more than just reading the story you had experienced it. I highly recommend this book." ~Ecataromance
    4 Stars! "In this first book of Wiesner's Family Heirlooms series, a number of couples are having marital problems. Their belief in God and his ability to see them through makes this a heartwarming and inspiring romance. The message of love and faith is presented in an entertaining and non-preachy way. " ~Romantic Times BOOKreviews
    4 Stars! “As I read the book’s description, I knew I would like the book, but I had no idea that I was going to be drawn in so completely. Karen Wiesner’s ability to paint such a wonderful picture with her words was outstanding! As I read Tamara and Robert’s story, I thought to myself... “She is writing about real people, who live real lives, and they have real struggles.” The love they shared for each other is what every marriage should be, but, when they actually discussed their problems, I was excited to read on... I love to read most any inspirational books, but Wiesner has me truly captivated with her characters and their real life situations. I’m excited to read the next book in the series!” ~Novel Editions
    4 Red Roses! "This is an interesting story that shows how faith can lead the faithful. For those that enjoy inspirational stories, you will greatly enjoy this one. The reader is taken on a journey as Robert and Tamara find their way through Tamara's decision of having her business and what it means for them together. It is interesting to see how they grow through the story. The characters are complex and well-written and move the story along very well. For readers that enjoy this genre, this is definitely a series to check out." ~Red Roses for Authors
    4 Cups! "I cannot express how loving BABY, BABY is with all the emotions that encircle in this moving relationship with Tamara and Robert. I enjoyed reading how they undergo so many different levels in their marriage. Watching them finally come together and reach that mark makes it all worthwhile. With well-developed players, and a love that tugs at the heart, Karen Wiesner remarkably brings believable people and a town to life. They are able to stay close-knit and work through matters, even with many obstacles. I love how she demonstrates how the years in a marriage can still hold faith, hope, charity and forgiveness in this tender story." ~Coffee Time Romance
    4 Stars! “I found this to be quite an interesting tale. In a lot of fiction stories, you find the lead couple young and never been married. Not so in this story. This lead couple has been married a number of years and their world is somewhat shifting because their youngest child is now in school. How things had always been were changing. Change can be a scary thing to an insecure person. Robert was insecure. I really liked Robert. He was sweet and loving to Tamara, but I felt like he was being unreasonable about Tamara's basket business—although as you get to know his background you can somewhat understand why he felt that way. Our emotions aren't always reasonable. I liked Tamara as a leading lady. She displayed an inner strength that helped her deal with her husband's issues in the right way. I also liked how this couple was determined to make things work. I think sometimes couples are just too quick to give up. So I appreciated the way they were determined to see it through. Tamara always strove to do the right thing in the right way. In the story, there is a male friend who has feelings for Tamara (unbeknownst to her) and he's very supportive to her when her husband is not. She confides in him that Robert isn't happy about her business. I think a valuable point was made in the story that it's not healthy for a married woman to have another man as a confidante. Very wise advice. I enjoyed the way the author allows us to see each of the characters internal struggles which is helpful in understanding why they think the way they do. I enjoyed all the secondary 'family' characters, too, and look forward to hearing their stories as well.” ~Love 2 Read Novels Blog
    4 Stars! “As far as the reader will see, this first novel is more about tolerance and letting the wife enjoy some time she desires with friends and get her business off the ground. What he does, is fine, but when two people clash like this, there are only two courses of action - divorce or compromise, and the reader will enjoy finding out which one will apply to the couple.” ~Love Romance Passion
    "In BABY, BABY, Karen Wiesner creates a heartwarming family and a sweet couple in Tamara and Robert. BABY, BABY does a great job showing a romance changing and growing even after years of marriage. Both Tamara and Robert look beyond their own wants and examine God’s will for their lives. This is truly a heartwarming story." ~Romance Junkies
    "Wiesner throws her characters headfirst into the Refiner's fire. To keep their marriage intact, Robert and Tamara have to overcome pride, trust and a bad parental role model. Wiesner shows the raw side of misplaced trust. Before the end, you'll be wincing at mistakes made and rejoicing at the choices made as a marriage emerges--newly formed--under God's grace." ~Diane Lesire Brandmeyer, author of Hearts on the Road
    "A refreshing look at family conflict wrapped in a sweet story of love, faith and forgiveness. I look forward to the next book in the Family Heirloom Series." ~author Robin Bayne
    Rating of 83! "I debated with myself for a while about whether I should read, much less review, Karen Wiesner's BABY, BABY. You see, this is an inspirational romance and in the past I have a very hard time identifying with the principles of the main characters in inspirational romances. Maybe I was just unlucky, but most of those inspirational romances that I'd attempted to read in the past make my blood boil, especially those where the hero was free to act like an *&^ as he judged and condemned a perpetually guilt-ridden and self-loathing "sinner" heroine whose sin would always turned out to be ridiculously minor for the amount of crap everyone gave her. BABY, BABY however turns out to be very different from those creepy inspirational romances. Fortunately for my blood pressure, Ms Wiesner's position in this story is that Robert is not absolutely correct. In fact, Tamara will not meekly submit to the husband like a timid little doormat but instead correctly views Robert's behavior as a lack of trust on his part on her ability to play her role as a wife and mother. I like Tamara and the secondary characters in this story. They are smart and reasonable characters. Thanks to them, the story turns out to be a well-written and even heartwarming read. I am not exactly a religious person but I find BABY, BABY a pleasant read nonetheless. This is mostly I can easily accept the actions of the main characters and the message behind the story. I can't say how this one will work for a reader of inspirational romances since I am not one of them, but I can say however that I do like this one and who knows, if you are like me, you may just do so too." ~mrsgiggles.com
    "This story was a nice, quick read. It wasn’t complicated; it wasn’t meant to confuse you; it was simply meant to be a nice story. Karen Wiesner does a great job giving her readers one of those books that is very light on the heart and a great summertime read. This is a simply a story of faith, love, and trust. This is a story is very real in the fact that couples get into arguments all the time and it’s how you handle them that decides the fate of your marriage. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light read. This would be especially good for Christian women. I myself am not a religious person, but still found this a pleasant read. I got a little angry at Robert’s ignorance and stubbornness when it came to the issue of women earning an income, but the end result put a contented smile on my face. This is definitely a great beach read!" ~Front Street Reviews and Ashley's Booktopia
    “The Wolfe family greatly resembles the Cleaver family from the old television show Leave It To Beaver. It is up to Tamara to care for the children, keep the house spotless, take the kids to (and be part of) all after school activities, and have a hot meal (usually made from scratch) waiting on the table when Robert comes home. Even Tamara's nights are not her own. All Robert must do is work his eight hours and come home for Tamara to pamper him. Author Karen Wiesner brings the Wolfe family into the new century. Though it is obviously due to the influence of Robert's father, the mind-set about only the man being allowed to financially support the family is a thing of the past. And I am in awe of Tamara. Personally, I can think of very few women who have been crafted from the same mold as Tamara. (Keeping the house totally spotless, cooking all the meals, and caring for all the kids more than makes a full time job. Yet instead of relaxing for the few precious hours that she has for herself, Tamara prefers to turn her hobby into a part time job!). I had a bit of trouble believing Robert's stubbornness at first, especially as I witnessed him down-playing the talents of a woman he was supposed to love, until it dawned on me HOW he came to be this way. My epiphany came from a minor character, Robert's sister. Wiesner's subtle inclusion of his sister is what finally, to me, made Robert's character believable. If you are looking for a sweet, Christian romance, you have no need to go any further than here.” ~Huntress Reviews
    “This is a reprint of the first entertaining Family Heirlooms inspirational family drama. The enjoyable story line is character-driven mostly by the lead couple, but ably supported by a strong support cast especially the extended family. Fans will appreciate Robert’s actions and reactions when Tamara announces her intention of a designer gift basket business; as he makes the tale worth reading.” ~Harriet Klausner
    4.25 Stars! “Tamara and Robert have had a nice marriage raising several children together. They have shared their ups and downs and most importantly have shared their faith. As their youngest child enters pre-school, Tamara is encouraged by a stranger to market the gift baskets that have been a labor of love for her to make special and give as gifts. Before she even realizes it, Tamara is buying the materials and passing out flyers through her friends and sister-in-law who think this is a grand idea. Unfortunately, when Tamara presents the idea to Robert, he is angered and threatened. Robert’s father had always insisted that it was the husband’s responsibility to provide for the family and his wife had no business going out to work. Robert had no idea how limiting this was for his mother, and he has managed to forget his mother’s unhappiness at the restrictions placed on her. Robert argues that setting up the basket business will effect Tamara’s household and family life. Also he insists that they don’t need the extra money that she could bring in—even if it would help with upcoming college expenses which will stress their budget if he doesn’t get the promotion he is fighting for at work. Robert is a worrier and has had times of depression that Tamara has patiently worked through. Now he gets more tense as the promotion looks like it will go to a less qualified co-worker. He also wonders if Tamara might be attracted to another man at their church who has had a secret crush on her for years. Tamara is concerned that Robert may even be trying to force her to get pregnant to keep her with young ones so she can’t develop this side interest. His behavior causes pain and hurt for Tamara and frightens his sister who thinks that he will be unreasonably dictatorial like their father. Tamara is a beautiful, loving and supportive character—I’d love a friend like her. Robert’s work stresses are very vivid to me as my husband had to deal with a similar situation. The tension builds and secrets are revealed. The couple experiences much stress and some estrangement before they can talk clearly and hear each other’s concerns and desires. This communication problem is so real in life, as are the problem of worrying too much and the issue of submission being improperly used as a tool of control in some Christian households. The writing flows well and kept me engaged in the interesting problems. I was anxious to learn how the matters were resolved. I highly recommend reading Ms. Wiesner’s works if you enjoy life-like stories that deal with real Christian issues.” ~Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf
    5 Stars! “An outstanding Christian romance! The main characters have realistic problems that many married couples face. As they struggle with what is the right thing to do in their lives, Robert and Tamara never forget their love for each other. Their prayers are poignant and revealing. I think Wiesner did an outstanding job of portraying a wonderful role model in Tamara as a strong woman wanting to please God and to keep her family intact. I highly recommend this inspirational romance. I look forward to reading more books by Karen Wiesner.” ~Author Diane Craver

  • MSEreads
    Aug 29, 2017, 04:46
    real to life characters in a warm, believable story.

    Tamara and Robert have had a nice marriage raising several children together. They have shared their ups and downs and most importantly have shared their faith. As their youngest child enters pre-school, Tamara is encouraged by a stranger to market the gift baskets that have been a labor of love for her to make special and give as gifts. Before she even realizes it Tamara is buying the materials and passing out flyers through her friends and sister-in-law who think this is a grand idea.

    Unfortunately, when Tamara presents the idea to Robert he is angered and threatened. Robert's father had always insisted that it was the husband's responsibility to provide for the family and his wife had no business going out to work. Robert had no idea how limiting this was for his mother and he has managed to forget his mother's unhappiness at the restrictions placed on her.

    Robert argues that setting up the basket business will effect Tamara's household and family life. Also he insists that they don't need the extra money that she could bring in. Even if it would help with upcoming college expenses which will stress their budget if he doesn't get the promotion he is fighting for at work.

    Robert is a worrier and has had times of depression that Tamara has patiently worked through. Now he gets more tense as the promotion looks like it will go to a less qualified co-worker. He also wonders if Tamara might be attracted to another man at their church who has had a secret crush on her for years. Tamara is concerned that Robert may even be trying to force her to get pregnant to keep her with young ones so she can't develop this side interest. His behavior causes pain and hurt for Tamara and frightens his sister who thinks that he will be unreasonably dictatorial like their father.

    Tamara is a beautiful, loving and supportive character - I'd love a friend like her. Robert's work stresses are very vivid to me as my husband had to deal with a similar situation. The tension builds and secrets are revealed. The couple experiences much stress and some estrangement before they can talk clearly and hear each other's concerns and desires. This communication problem is so real in life, as are the problem of worrying too much and the issue of submission being improperly used as a tool of control in some Christian households.

    The writing flows well and kept me engaged in the interesting problems. I was anxious to learn how the matters were resolved. I highly recommend reading Ms. Wiesner's works if you enjoy life-like stories that deal with real Christian issues.
  • Larena Hubble (Amazon customer)
    Aug 29, 2017, 04:44
    This is an interesting story that shows how faith can lead the faithful. For those that enjoy inspirational stories they will greatly enjoy this one. The reader is taken on a journey as Robert and Tamara find their way though Tamara’s decision of having her business and what it means for them together. It is interesting to see how they grow through the story. The characters are complex and well written and move the story along very well. For readers that enjoy this genre this is definitely a series to check out.

Chapter 1


Tamara Wolfe was in the middle of folding her third load of laundry when the doorbell rang. Still holding a pair of jeans, she opened the front door, a smile of greeting naturally lifting the corners of her mouth. The woman who stood on the wraparound porch was a stranger.

"Good afternoon," Tamara said. "Can I help you?"

"Well..." The older lady started with just a touch of nervousness. "You don't know me, dear, but I was walking past your lovely home, and I saw the baskets in the window." The woman pointed to the curved bay window at the front of the house which was Tamara's office and sunroom in the lower-floor turret. The many gift baskets she was working on for family and friends were displayed on the sun-drenched window seat.

Tamara started to explain her hobby, but the woman's headshake stopped her. "How much are they?"

Surprised, Tamara laughed at the idea. "Oh, I don't sell them."

"Do you design them yourself?"

"Down to the basket itself. But I've never sold any. I give them away to family and friends," Tamara told her. In all truth, she'd thought often about selling them and perhaps starting a small home business.

"That's so nice of you, dear, but, you see, my daughter is a corporate executive in Chicago. Her birthday is coming up in a few weeks...and, well, I saw your basket in the window. The one with all the loofahs and bath supplies. It's simply perfect for my daughter. Young women these days are so overworked. They make their own money so what do they need that they can't provide for themselves?"

Tamara nodded her understanding.

"I never know what my daughter will appreciate. But I think your basket is exactly the kind of gift she'd love and wouldn't purchase for herself. If it's not too presumptuous, my dear, would you allow me to see it?"

The woman's twinkling gray eyes and tentative, irresistible smile endeared Tamara. She ushered her inside the house.

"Mhm," the lady murmured on a deep inhale, "it smells simply delicious inside your home, dear."

Tamara smiled. "I make my own potpourri. Cinnamon this week."

She led her to her sunroom, where the lady pointed to the very basket that had caught her eye from the street. Tamara's relaxation basket, as she called it, had always been popular with friends and family. "That's it. That would be the perfect gift for my hard-to-buy-for daughter."

Spotlighted in the sunlight spilling in through the windows, Tamara admitted to herself that the basket looked even more irresistible. It hadn't been the first time someone suggested she sell the hand-woven gift baskets she designed, but never had anyone wanted one so adamantly. The woman wasn't interested in purchasing a similar gift basket from local shops or internet services. She wanted that particular basket, down to the color, the three-strand braided rim and the ribbon detail. Even when Tamara tried to offer one of the others she was working on, it was clear nothing else would do.

Even more astonished at having someone want one of her creations so aggressively, Tamara told her the final cost of the materials she put into the basket. Without hesitation, the woman pulled out her wallet and took out a hundred dollar bill.

"Can you duplicate that basket before next Monday, dear?"

Quickly, Tamara calculated the time she'd need to complete another basket. She didn't have another made exactly like that one, so she would have to start from scratch. Weaving the basket would take the most time, but she had many of the items to fill it on hand. If she weaved a few hours every day until Monday... "Yes, but I really couldn't accept--"

"I would pay twice as much. Please consider doing this. You'll save me so much distress." She handed over the money and a contact card, then turned on her heel and headed for the front door. "I'll be back on Monday for my basket!" she called out over her shoulder as she walked away down the driveway.

Tamara stood leaning in the doorway, staring at the woman long after she'd disappeared from Queen Anne Street. She couldn't shake off the feeling of shock. Someone was willing to pay as much as a hundred dollars for something she'd put together as a gift. Sure, her family and friends enjoyed her creations, but their over-the-top praise amounted to nothing more than appreciation.

Distracted, Tamara closed the front door.

Is it wrong for me to accept this money, to do this for a stranger? It isn't as if I paid anywhere near a hundred dollars for the whole thing. This has always been my way of ministering to those I love. Somehow making a profit seems wrong now.

The woman had been so insistent. How could she not agree? Was she cheating if she accepted such a generous profit over her material costs?

"I would pay twice as much," the lady had said, and Tamara couldn't help smiling in satisfaction. She'd just finished the basket that morning, planning to give it to Helen for her birthday when she brought the girls home from preschool. She'd been extremely pleased when she finished it. After taking digital photos of her creation for her scrapbook, she'd filed a printout of the photo with her receipts for materials.

For years, Tamara had thought about a custom-made gift basket business--whenever anyone commented on her newest creations. She'd thought about it but never considered it with anything resembling seriousness--what with family, the house, church activities, Boy Scouts.

Would I even have time? But then I've had gobs of free time I honestly haven't known what to do with since the kids went back to school and Cora started preschool. I might have time now. And we sure could use a little extra income...

Lord, is this something I should even be thinking about? Lead me, guide me, show me what You want me to do.

Tamara went back to her laundry and other chores, but her mind never left the hundred dollar bill or her prayers for wisdom for long. What if her loved ones hadn't been humoring her? What if she really could sell her baskets for a small profit without taking time away from the rest of her life? A year ago, she'd been the one to insist the Lord would provide without Robert having to take a second job, but things had been so tight since then. Maybe this was God's provision and could ease some of their financial burdens. If she did sell her baskets, nothing would change for the family. She could make them during the day. She could handle everything she always did and this! It was the perfect solution.

Tamara flitted from chore to chore, too excited to concentrate on what she was doing. What I wouldn't give to talk to Robert now! After the Lord, her husband was always the first person she wanted to talk with about anything. But, given his work situation at the moment... He might balk just because it was something new and unknown.

She let go of a sigh. She'd have to wait until after dinner tonight. How would she control herself until then? She was bursting to tell someone. Maybe once she talked to Robert, she could decide if selling her baskets qualified as insane or actually viable.

btflyline


Robert Wolfe groaned inside his head. Would the months of agony, since the plant manager had announced his upcoming retirement, end tonight? After Wayne mentioned that Dave wanted them to join him at The Mill for a drink following work, Robert couldn't help wondering if the torment would ever abate.

Looking at Wayne's retreating back and his cocky swagger, Robert shook his head before moving in the direction of the disinfection building to get an effluent sample.

The wastewater treatment plant in Peaceful, Wisconsin was city-run and all decisions about the plant were made by the city council. Glen Hargrove had managed the plant for over forty years. Robert himself had worked at the plant part-time as a teenager in high school, then full-time after graduation. With over twenty years of experience, he felt he should be a shoo-in for the plant management position. After all, the other full-time employee--Wayne Schumaker--had only five years of experience. But Wayne's leg up was his degree in wastewater treatment. Robert had all the necessary certifications and credits but no degree. Although he and Wayne were both qualified to manage the plant, Robert's solid seniority should have given him the edge, should have made it a non-issue.

Unfortunately, the plant manager tended toward wishy-washiness, and the city manager was an opinionated guy who liked to throw his weight and power around. Glen didn't have the fortitude to make the right choice, and Dave Kowalski would do it with a glad heart for him. Dave didn't know the first thing about wastewater treatment, but he enjoyed pretending he did. Any decision he made would be based solely on who he liked better. The city council would go along with anything Dave decided.

When his break rolled around in the afternoon, Robert headed for the break room. He dialed his home, hoping to get a few minutes of privacy before Wayne ambled in and started his ribbing.

Feeling warm, he unzipped his uniform jacket while waiting.

"Hello?" Tamara's husky, sweet voice made a shiver go through him from ear to toes.

"Hey, sweetheart."

"Robert," she greeted him personally.

"I'm gonna be late tonight. Dave wants me and Wayne to come out for a drink."

Her reply, "Oh," seemed slightly hesitant. Disappointment laced the simple word. Robert assumed it was because she didn't like him going into taverns like The Mill. But there were far worse places in town they could go. He didn't like it any more than she did. "I know. I'll conduct myself the way the Lord directs. Dave likes to play his little games. But you know I wouldn't cross that line, even for the promotion."

"Of course I know you won't, honey. I just wish you didn't have to go through this nonsense."

"Yeah." Robert let out a sigh. For the most part, he'd enjoyed his job. Until Wayne Schumaker had been hired.

"How late do you think you'll be?"

"I'm not sure. Probably six. Maybe seven, if he draws it out."

"I'll keep dinner warm for you."

The sound of footsteps coming down the hall drew Robert's attention, and he turned his back to the open door.

"I gotta go. Love you, Tammy."

"I love you, too. I'll see you later."

Robert hung up and turned in time to see Wayne's jeering grin as he feigned kisses. "Talkin' to your mistress, Wolfe?" He punched one of the buttons on the soda machine with more macho power than necessary.

"Don't have one, don't need one," Robert said on a shrug.

More times than he could count, Robert had endured Wayne's bad-natured taunts about his happy marriage and loving family, not to mention his Christian principles. After cheating on his wife, Wayne had lost his family and now lived his life with the gusto of a gigolo, including a stint in jail for not paying child support. Robert bit back words resting on the tip of his tongue and pressed his lips together. He'd always forced himself to get along with everyone, whether he liked them or not.

Once Wayne sauntered away from the soda machine, Robert moved over to it.

"So how is that fine wife of yours, Wolfie?"

"Tamara's fine."

"Oh yeah, I've seen that."

Robert ignored the lewd comment, complete with the leering smirk on Wayne's boyish face. Instead of sitting with him at the table, Robert leaned next to the microwave counter.

"You s'pose Dave's gonna put one of us outta our misery tonight?" Wayne's tone made it clear Robert would be the one put out of the managerial position. Wayne took a long swig of his soda, then let out a loud belch followed by his usual cursing. Robert masked his disgust.

Robert had no illusions that Dave would use any excuse to give Wayne the position when Glen retired. He was looking for Robert to cross the line. But Dave couldn't discount his long years of service and experience, even if he wanted to. At least he continued telling himself that, and Tamara reassured him of it every time he faltered in his convictions.

He shrugged at Wayne, who finished off his drink in one gulp.

"Yeah. Probably just wants to buy us a beer," Wayne said with a smirk that turned to laughter. He stood and sent his crushed can soaring into the recycling bin before leaving the room.

Robert couldn't have been happier to see his retreating back. Grimacing, he opened the break room fridge and got the soda he'd brought with him.

Robert needed the promotion and the raise. Never mind that he deserved it. He needed it. At almost forty years old, he'd expected to be managing the plant long ago. Matt, his oldest son, would be going to college next year. Living paycheck to paycheck the way they did had never bothered Robert so much until Glen announced he would retire on October first.

The Lord had always provided for them, and Robert believed He always would as long as he remained steady in his obligations. But a raise--a true raise with a manager's salary instead of an annual increase of fifty cents or less an hour every paycheck--would keep them from feeling so stretched every month, especially after Matt went off to college next year.

After taking a deep breath, Robert let it out in a slow rush during his count to ten. He hated the games he had to play just to get what, by all rights, belonged to him.


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