Jeremy "JB" Edwards dreams of one thing: Having a loving wife and children of his own. Not a surprising ambition, since he was raised at the heart of a large, tight-knit family. Monica Kittelski spends her days at Sunny Horizons Daycare Center pouring her heart and faith into other people's children. But Monica harbors one impossible dream: Having children of her own someday. JB and Monica seem the perfect match, but what will come of their electric, sassy relationship when Jeremy learns of Monica's infertility? Hopes and reality collide when they must confront the idea of finding God's plan and following His will when a dearest hope is destined to remain unfulfilled. Can these two loving, passionate hearts survive a communion of dreams and reality?
2012 CSPA Book of the Year in Romance
Award of Excellence, Best Inspirational Romance for 2012 from Ancient City Romance Authors
Jeremy Edwards’s cell phone came to life. A vibration sizzled against his hip, and as he unclipped his BlackBerry, the display screen lit up with an incoming text:
HELP! Ur nephew is raging with 101 fever. Can u pick him up from daycare n keep him 4 a while? Txt, don’t call. Im in class. DESPERATE! APPRECIATE! C
Jeremy, JB to everyone who knew him best, re-read the missive from his brother, Collin. Collin’s wife, Daveny, was out of town, pitching a corporate landscaping project in southern Ohio. Collin would be teaching his high school English class for another—Jeremy flicked his wrist and quick-checked his watch—two hours or so, depending on student demands.
So he stopped painting freshly installed drywall and stepped off the ladder, calling out to one of the crewmen at work on the task. “Greg, I’m gone for a couple hours. Tell Mindy I’ll be back later tonight to install the dishwasher for her.”
“Will do. See ya, JB.”
Gotta love flexibility, Jeremy thought with honest gratitude. Leaving behind a living room buzzing with remodeling activity, he went to the kitchen of the modest, three-bedroom bungalow his construction company was helping to renovate. Gratis. There he grabbed his leather jacket from the spot where he had draped it over a chair at the dining table. After sliding it on, he texted his “yes” to Collin’s request and hit the send button.
The project he currently spearheaded was part of an effort to give back to his hometown, especially as summer construction activity slowed down and a fiery Michigan autumn bent toward winter. That fact drove itself home as soon as Jeremy stepped out the back door of the kitchen and found himself buffeted by a stiff, biting wind. He stuffed his hands in his coat pockets, lowering his head as he jogged to his pickup truck.
He auto-started the vehicle, then his thoughts zeroed in on Jeffrey, his nearly three-year-old nephew. Jeremy grinned to himself. He was happy to help Collin. After all, Jeremy absolutely doted on his nephew—and everyone else in his family.
Climbing into the cab of his truck was a welcome relief from the elements. Before leaving, he pulled out his phone once again and performed a location search on Sunny Horizons Day Care Center. He had a vague idea of where the facility was located, but had never been there.
Navigation in place, he backed down the bumpy driveway of Mindy Nather’s home, frowning at the cracks he saw in the asphalt.
“Needs work,” he muttered, driving toward the business district of Saint Clair Shores. Meanwhile, he mentally mapped out crews, supplies and the time necessary to repair the driveway, tacking that aspect of the job onto the living room and dining room renovations, which were nearly complete. He used downtime at a stoplight to open up a pack of cashews and pour a few into his mouth.
Crunching the snack, he shook out some more and moved forward, following traffic to an area of the city that featured a number of stand-alone retail buildings. Behind them were neighborhoods full of nice homes, still-green grass and trees gone spindly and barren. JB munched on more cashews, chewing while he kept watch for the address of Jeffrey’s daycare center. According to technology, he was getting close.
Sure enough, a minute or two later he spotted a wooden sign featuring a rainbow, a large sun full of rays, and the words Sunny Horizons painted in a variety of bold, primary colors. The moniker resided on a patch of grass in front of a well-maintained ranch-style home crafted of red brick that had been converted to commercial use.
Finishing up his get-me-through-to-a-late-dinner protein boost, Jeremy tossed the wrapper into a cup holder and turned into the parking lot. He brought the truck to a stop, thinking about his nephew. Poor Jeffrey. He’d take him straight home to Collin’s place where the boy could rest up and recover in his own bed.
But what, exactly, should somebody give a sick two-year-old? How much of that liquid medicine stuff would Jeffrey need? While he considered, and made plans to call Collin on that count, JB walked past the window line of the facility and glanced inside
That’s when his focus sharpened on the scene inside, and his footsteps came to an abrupt halt. A thought slipped into place with compelling impact: What a gorgeous woman. Long blonde hair fell forward in layers, framing a face that featured fair skin and expressive, baby-blue eyes. The straight, thick strands swung as she moved from place to place, spotting pre-school kids currently playing Twister, which caused his insides to spark. Jeans and an aqua colored sweater showed off a trim figure. She laughed easily, talking the kids through difficult moves and exclaiming when players tumbled and fell.
Quick as a blink he watched the lovely lady shift focus. She turned away from the Twister competition and whisked up one of the smaller toddlers who lingered shyly near her legs. Lovely Lady stepped into a clear space. Face alight with pleasure, she spun the toddler, who seemed to laugh and enjoy it just as much as her female charge.
In fact, the sensation was contagious. Jeremy smiled in response to the pair.
And I’m still riveted to the sidewalk. He silently chastised himself, performing a mental shake that jostled him back to the moment at hand. Stay on point, JB! Jeffrey. Nephew. Sick kid in need of help.
He approached the entryway and stepped inside. But rescue mission or not, he looked forward to meeting the woman.
Q1. The central theme of Hearts Communion centers around finding a way to maintain faith, and trust, when a call on your heart, a dearest held wish, is destined to remain unfulfilled. How have you, or someone you've known dealt with a necessary realignment of life-goals?
A1. Reader answer.
Q2. In what ways, both professional and emotional, does Monica compensate for her inability to have a biological child?
A2. Professionally she not only owns and operates a daycare center, she teaches ballet to pre-schoolers, channeling her energy into being a positive influence in their lives. Emotionally, especially when engaged in large, family celebrations, she shutters her heart, and her emotions, removing herself from the pain of being an outsider at such events and a sense of being denied that which she longs for the most.
Q3. Monica's first get-together with the entire Edwards family doesn't go particularaly well. What factors trigger her to close-off around both the kids, and the family at large? Why do you think she reacts this way?
A3. The day begins with Monica being overwhelmed by the number of family members and children in attendance. When Daveny and Collin's child, who is also one of her students, begs for attention, she gently, but firmly removes herself from his attention by teaming up with adults, rather than playing with the kids - a fact both Jeremy and his mother, Elise notice and find surprising. It's announced that Kiara and Daveny are pregnant. The announcement leaves Monica keenly aware of that which she is unable to ever bring to this loving, tight-knit family. She reacts by closing off, embattled by pain, and a sense of empty loss. She loves Jeremy, but can never be what he wants, and needs, the most.
Q4. How does Jeremy handle the resulting circumstances, both with Monica, and his mother? What is it about his faith and emotional approach that enables the relationship to keep from falling apart, and in fact, move forward?
A4. When Monica reveals her infertility issues, Jeremy calls her out on her reactions, but turns anger, and hurt, into a loving but emphatic plea for her to reach out to God, and gain a healthier perspective about her life. He urges a return to church, and asks her to meet with Ken Lucerne, the pastor of Woodland Church. Elise voices her concerns about Monica to Jeremy, but since Jeremy is privy to Monica's infertility and Elise is not, he defends Monica, and protects her as she sorts out her feelings and tries to move forward. Although he is as troubled as Monica, Jeremy's love, and faith, are revealed by the fact that he does not condemn, but rather supports Monica through this trial by defending her, and their relationship, even to his mother.
Q5. At Jeremy's urging, Monica initiates a meeting with Pastor Ken. Ken urges her to broaden her view and move away from what she lacks and focus instead on the avenues God has opened for her to be a positive influence on literally hundreds of children, rather than simply the few that belong to her by blood. Monica resists that philosophy, as well as the idea of adoption. Why do these seemingly reasonable perspectives serve to rankle her spirit?
A5. For Monica, this has been a lifelong battle. Motherhood, by blood, is a blessing she sought to embrace from the time she studied childhood education in college. She feels like God is denying, rather than opening up doors. Adoption, and her work at Sunny Horizons, to Monica's embattled spirit, feels like too simplistic and too 'pat' an answer to satisfy the deepest longing of her heart.
Q6. At a family wedding, Monica reveals her most debilitating self-doubt to Jeremy's mother: She feels she was marked by God as unworthy. Literally and figuratively she feels like she's less of a person, and less of a woman. Despite earlier tesions between them, how does Elise respond? Have you found it to be true that even when you have a strong faith, self-doubt and a sense of lowlines can be overwhelming. How did you overcome it?
A6. Elise grows to understand Monica's battles when Monica admits to her condiiton. This understanding leads to mutual affection, and a determination, by Elise, to support her son in his heart's choosing of Monica.
Q7. Monica begins to attend services at Woodland, and makes cautious, but heartfelt steps forward in her faith walk. She still feels uncertainty, but embraces the mercy and providence of Christ, even though she's not sure what her revised life-view will bring. When has uncertainty caused you to be hesitant about the closeness of God? When has the unexpected turn of chance turned into an enormous, equally unexpected blessing?
A7. Reader Answer