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Hating Jeremy Walters
First love. Ex-fiancé. New boss?
Natalie Groves was meant for great things. Preferably youth ministry with a side gig as an M&M connoisseur.
But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s evangelist father was diagnosed with cancer. Her grand plans evaporated . . . and God has seemed disappointed ever since.
Seven years later a church internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny, but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer is worse than a life sentence of tofu.
Seven years ago, Jeremy ‘Jem’ Walters left Charlottesville, Virginia to escape his father, God, and heartbreak over Natalie.
Now he’s back in town, a committed Christian, and desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili—who’s hiding an explosive family secret.
When Natalie and Jem join forces, sparks fly. But will they be burned in the process?
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Hating Jeremy Walters
By Jessica Kate
Natalie Groves eyed the bag of gingerbread M&M’s on the other side of the office meeting room and prayed for a divine intervention of Red Sea proportions.
In forty-five minutes, two goons from the head office of Harvey’s Bathroom Supplies would walk through the door and give her fifteen minutes from their busy mornings to convince them not to close the Charlottesville branch—the last one left in this half of Virginia.
In forty-five seconds, she might topple out of her office chair, curl up in a ball under this wobbly table, and hide.
“Natalie.” Frank, one of the salesmen, plugged Natalie’s five-year-old laptop into the projector. A muscle jerked in his sandpaper-like cheek. Was that meant to be a smile? Hard to tell. “Those corporate idiots won’t know what hit them.”
Natalie manufactured a smile and stretched it across her lips. “Thanks, Frank.”
He opened the laptop lid. “You look like you’re about to throw up. Just get it over and done with before the presentation.”
Great. Nothing said ‘confidence’ like vomit.
She took a deep breath and ignored the Mexican jumping beans in her stomach. Nothing mattered now except her presentation notes.
Suck it up, Buttercup. This isn’t about you.
No, it was about eight coworkers’ jobs and her ability to pay Dad’s medical bills.
Forget her teenage dreams of a college degree and a job in Dad’s itinerant ministry—a career that would’ve provided a tad more sense of meaning than ‘secretary at the toilet shop’.
No, now saving that toilet shop secretarial job was priority number one. At twenty-six, she’d just scraped together the cash to leave home and get an apartment. Medical bills kept coming, and between her parents’ increasing copay and dwindling savings, money was beyond tight. The past seven years had been a never-ending Monday morning.
Ever since Dad’s doctor said, “It’s cancer.”
By rights, their boss, Maria, should have been giving this presentation—not the girl who answered phones. But Maria had been struck down with an epic case of food poisoning, and Natalie was the one who’d written a business plan to save them. It was amazing what she’d been able to piece together with half a business degree and a bucket load of desperation. And in return for all that effort, she was the one condemned to public speaking.
Frank pressed a button on the laptop. Natalie, watching him in her peripheral vision, waited for the familiar whir of the fan. Nothing happened.
She peered over at him. “Did you press the right button?”
He picked up the computer and shook it. “Three times. Why do you have such an old laptop?”
Because this week’s budget was down to whatever coins she could scrounge from the back of the sofa, but he didn’t need to know that.
She dropped the notes on the table and walked toward him, smoothing her borrowed business jacket as she went. She’d hoped a power suit would boost her confidence. She’d even donned black pumps and straightened her rebellious hair.
All to no avail. But who needed confidence when you had bulldog determination?
Her cell rang, vibrating against the chipped wood veneer of the table. Probably Mom.
She paused, tempted to ignore it. Mom knew how important this morning was— someone had better be dying.
Then again, maybe Dad was.
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Jessica Kate is a twenty-something Australian writer. She prefers the term writer because it’s too hard to say ‘journalist, online training developer and author’ in one sentence.
Her manuscript Hating Jeremy Walters was a finalist in the 2015 Frasier Contest, run by My Book Therapy, a finalist in the 2017 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis competition and is a current finalist in the 2018 Genesis competition.
She is now penning her second novel, Stuck With You.