Charity Fields has everything she has ever wanted. She has just married her childhood sweetheart and has landed her first leading role in a major motion film production. But soon a terrible lie and a heartbreaking betrayal turns her life upside down, and she has to rethink her entire future. Charity realizes she needs to put some distance between her and her old love, so she relocates to California to begin a new life. When she’s faced yet again with another loss and betrayal she doesn’t think her heart can handle the pain. Through it all Charity discovers that she has strength she never knew she had, and even if she has to keep her new love concealed in her heart, she will survive no matter what.
Events were moving much too fast. She was just a little country girl from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. One moment, she had been starring in a play for a drama class at the university and out of the blue, Mr. Bennett had emerged from the audience and hired her to be his leading lady. She had never doubted her ability to carry the role, until the journalists pointed out how much money was riding on her ability and unproven talent.
Charity shrugged those feelings off and focused on calling her husband. The phone only rang once before the garage’s office manager answered, “Field and Son Automobile Repair, Cindy speaking.”
It was good to hear a familiar voice even if she didn’t particularly care for the garage’s office manager. Charity sat on the edge of the nearest chair. She leaned forward and pressed the phone closer to her ear as if that would be enough to bring Tennessee and Johnny into the room with her. She drew in a long breath before speaking into the handset. “Cindy. This is Charity. Is Johnny too busy to talk?”
Cindy gave a hoot that could have punctured a car tire. “I’m so glad you called! That man of yours has been driving everybody crazy. He’s only asked me a hundred times if you’ve called yet. He’s out in the break room with a soda right now. I’ll go get him. Hold on.”
Charity could picture Cindy in her poured-on jeans with the skimpiest top she could buy, wear, and not be arrested for wearing in public. When Johnny had first started working with his dad at the repair shop, she had been jealous of Cindy’s flirtatious style, but Johnny finally convinced her that was just Cindy’s way around everyone.
Johnny was out of breath when he answered, "Charity? I didn't think you were ever going to call. You alright? The flight go okay? You all settled in?"
Charity laughed, "How about only one question at a time? I'm alright. The flight was fine. No, I’m going to work before I get to settle in at the hotel.”
"I’m not surprised. Mr. Bennett strikes me as the type of man who always gets his money’s worth out of everything and everyone."
Charity nodded even though Johnny couldn’t see the gesture. With a sigh she said, "Mom and I both thought we would have some time to get settled into our rooms and have time to rest up a bit, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
She let Johnny’s slow southern drawl sooth all of her ruffled feathers. He always made her feel better, no matter what madness was going on. She listened to him ramble on about what had been happening since dropping her off at the airport. When there was finally a pause in the conversation, she jumped in, “You’ll never believe where I am this very minute. I bet you’ll never guess in a million years.”
Johnny laughed at her excited tone. “Well tell me then.”
Charity giggled first, then said, “The entire cast is at the Dallas Cowboy’s stadium! This place is huge. You would love it here, but of course there aren’t any of the real football players or cheerleaders here. If I see any, I’ll try and get an autograph for you.”
Johnny’s laugh was deep and rich. It was one of his most endearing qualities. “You’re going to be okay, baby.”
Charity sighed as she slouched backwards, then said, “I’m that obvious, huh?”
There was silence over the phone line. After a long pause, Johnny finally said, “I could see how nervous you were this morning.” And then with excitement in the tone of his voice, “You can do this. You just have to keep believing in yourself. I believe in you.”
“I really needed to hear that, and to hear your voice more than anything else. As soon as mom and I walked off the airplane we were surrounded by reporters. It was brutal. They hated me right off the bat. I realized just what a dog eat dog world the movie industry is.” She twirled the phone cord around her finger, the sick feeling in her stomach slowly dissipating the longer she sat there.
Charity ran her free hand through her hair and crossed her legs. Her skirt inched up with the motion, but went unnoticed while her focus was on each and every little thing about Johnny’s voice and words.
"I already miss you so much.” She hoped he heard the deep sincerity in her voice.
Johnny blew a kiss into the receiver. "You call me anytime you need to talk. I don’t care what time of day or night it is. I’m not going to be able to sleep until I know how your day went.”
Charity’s voice trembled with emotion, "It's going to be a long six months. Isn't it?"
He didn’t answer immediately, but then said, "We knew it from the start. I love you. Everything will be okay. Just remember, don’t let other people bring you down. They’ll see how good you are, and then they’ll have to eat crow for ever doubting you.”
Charity cupped both hands around the receiver and sat forward to say, "I’ll try, but it’s hard. I love you too. I'll call you later.”
The moment she replaced the receiver in its cradle, she leaned back and rested her head on the chair. The sound of Johnny’s voice had been all it took to restore her confidence and to calm her jangled nerves. It was funny how she could still see him the way he had looked on his first day at her school. He had been tall for his age and it hadn’t taken long to discover he had a big, gentle heart.
She had been standing three students behind him in the cafeteria line when the class bully threw a bowl of lime Jell-O. The slimy mess had hit Johnny square in the back and slid all the way down his brand new white shirt. Any other seventh grade boy would have gotten into a fight over the assault, but Johnny had simply pulled the leftover Jell-O out of his collar, placed it onto his food tray, and turned to introduced himself to the other boy. As soon as they had shaken hands, he’d looked up and caught her staring at him. The moment he smiled, her heart melted, and they had become inseparable from that day on. While he had always been her biggest fan, there was no doubt she was his, too.
My newly released full-length romance, Concealed in My Heart, is on sale for .99 until September 21.