Love’s Forgiving Heart

SERIES: Written for the First Street Church Romances Kindle World
GENRE: Clean and Wholesome Romance, Inspirational/Spiritual
TYPE OF ROMANCE: Happily Ever After (HEA)
WORD COUNT: 20,000 to 34,999 (small novella)
HERO’S AGE: 30-39 years old
HEROINE’S AGE: 30-39 years old
HEAT LEVEL: Mostly Sweet (Shut The Door, Honey)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: None (as in zero, or no more than 1)


Three weeks ago, Graysen (Gray) Malone almost made the worst mistake of his life, and the guilt is about to destroy him, not to mention his marriage. He made promises to his loving wife, Madeline, and their two rambunctious sons that he’s failed to keep. While on the outside, he looks in control and the envy of their friends, deep down, he knows his world is about to implode.

Madeline (Maddie) Malone has known for several weeks her husband has been hiding something because the guilt is written all over his face. She just hadn’t known the source of his anguish until a week ago. Blindsided and hurt by his deceit, she can no longer look him in the face, let alone share his bed. The vows they pledged to one another on their wedding day meant something to her, but obviously not to him. Now, it will take all of her faith to weather the storm that’s brewing because she will not become her mother.

Will Maddie be able to forgive and forget Gray’s indiscretion? Will Gray be able to face his sins before it’s too late? Will their faith be strong enough to hold each other and their family together? Only time will tell, but be forewarned, things aren’t always what they seem.


It had been a typical morning in the Malone house. The twins couldn’t find their backpacks; Gray couldn’t find his keys; and everyone was running late. Again. Thank goodness school would be out in a few days. Although Maddie loved the boys and her husband, it was days like this she missed being young and single. But in all honesty, she wouldn’t have traded her life for anything in the world.

She still needed to make a quick run to the grocery store, pick up the twins birthday cake, stop by the party store for birthday favors, and drop the clothes off at the cleaners that had been sitting in their closet for over two weeks. While being a stay at home mom kept her busy, there was a part of her that missed corporate America. The hustle and bustle of city life that came along with business meetings, cocktail dinners, collaborating and brainstorming new ideas with actual adults instead of two rambunctious five year old boys, and the high you get from pitching an ad campaign that knocked the client’s socks off. Oh, the good ole’ days.

While she had love staying at home with the twins when they were babies, it was supposed to be temporary. The plan had been she would return to work once the boys had begun school. Mr. Singer had assured her that anytime she wanted her job back as an advertising executive, it would be waiting for her with open arms, but she had yet to call him.

Why? She wasn’t sure. Maybe it was because she secretly enjoyed the freedom of being at home with the kids. Maybe it was because the rat race had survived with one less rat in the maze. Maybe it was because her gut was screaming that a storm was coming that would turn her life upside down in more ways than one.

“Stop being paranoid,” Maddie reprimanded under her breath, as she shook off her rambling thoughts and headed toward the bedroom to grab the clothes for the cleaners.

Like always, she went through each of Gray’s pockets to pull out the loose change and any scribbled notes he’d jotted down while on his last business trip. The man was infamous for tossing his worn suits in the cleaner’s pile without checking his pockets. When she grabbed his blue, pinstriped jacket, her heart sank. Near his lapel was several smudges of a woman’s lipstick, and she knew that it wasn’t hers because she would never wear such a bold, daring shade of red.

“No. He wouldn’t do this to me,” Maddie whispered, as her composure slowly began to slip.

When the memories from the past flooded her brain like an overflowing river with no end in sight, she sank to the bed and let the tears fall. The anger, heartache, resentment and disappointment her father had left in his wake by cheating on her mother made her nauseous and unable to move.

She flashed back to twenty years earlier. She had been seventeen and her baby sister, Lizzy, had been seven. Her parents had forgotten that it was early release day, so she and her sister had walked in on them arguing. Her mom was in tears and yelling at her father to get out, but he was refusing—begging her to listen and kept insisting that she was being unreasonable. She remembered her sister crying and screaming at them to stop fighting. Then, begging their father not to leave when he finally conceded. She remembered being angry that her mother would force her father to leave their house. They lived in little ole’ Sweet Grove, a small town where gossip spread like wildfire. The family would be mortified when everyone discovered their parents were having marital problems. They wouldn’t be able to hold their heads up in church on Sunday.

Before Maddie could spiral further down the dark, rabbit hole Gray’s indiscretion had caused, her telephone rang. She wiped her eyes, cleared her voice, regained her composure before getting off her bed, and walked over to the nightstand. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the telephone receiver, and in a calm voice said, “Hello.”

“Oh Madeline, I’m so glad that I caught you,” her mother said in a panicked voice.

“Mom, what’s wrong?” she quickly asked.

“It’s your father, Madeline. He’s been diagnosed with bone cancer. I need you to come home.”

Maddie instinctively bristled at the mention of her father. Once she had discovered why her mother had been so upset that horrible day, so long ago, she had found her father and given him a piece of her mind. Ever since then, their relationship had been strained. Although her mother had eventually forgiven their father and taken him back, she couldn’t. No, wouldn’t forgive him for all the pain and anguish he had caused their family.

When she hadn’t spoken, her mother said, “Madeline. Did you hear what I said? Your father has cancer and I need you to come home.”

“I heard you, mom. Let me talk to Gray, and see what I can do. I will call you back this evening and let you know my plans.”

“Honey. I know you and your father haven’t been on speaking terms ever since that incident so many years ago, but it’s time to let it go. We need to band together as a family during this difficult time in our lives. Please, Maddie. If not for your father, then for me,” her mother pleaded.

Head spinning, Maddie simply nodded in agreement until she realized that her mother couldn’t see her head bobbing up and down. Finally, she said, “I’ll be there, mom. The boys will be out of school in a couple of days. Once they’re done, we’ll head toward Sweet Grove. Until then, try to remain calm. Everything will be okay.”

Maddie was positive her last comment was more for herself than her mother. Her marriage was falling apart at the seams; her father had cancer, and she had been clueless about all of it. When had she become a spectator in her own life? The more she thought about Gray’s recklessness, the more his odd behavior over the last couple of weeks began to make sense. The distance. The guilty look on his face. The way he avoided eye contact whenever possible. The clipped responses. How had she missed all of the signs?

She had just assumed he was tired from work and all of the traveling. It seemed as though their client-base had increased full-fold after they had taken on several Dallas Cowboys as clients, but it also meant that Gray, Malcolm, and Garrett were traveling more. Their risk of opening up their own entertainment law firm was finally starting to pay off.

Yeah, it’s paying off alright—at the expense of my marriage, Maddie thought, as she snatched up the rest of the clothes that needed to go to the cleaners and headed downstairs. She was a busy woman and didn’t have time for the nervous breakdown she rightfully deserved. She had errands to run and children who needed picking up from school. She’d deal with her husband later on.

* * *

Maddie had been unable to confront Gray later on that night. Although she was hurt by his deceit and could no longer look him in the face, let alone share his bed, she didn’t want her children overhearing their conversation. The memories of her parents fighting and her mother screaming at her father to leave were continuously playing on a movie reel in her head. She remembered the feeling of loss and confusion, which was why she was determined her children would never have to experience those same emotions at her hand.

I just need to get through the next week, make sure the boys have an amazing birthday, and then I’ll confront Gray right before we leave for Sweet Grove, she thought, before turning out the light and doing her best to rest. She had feigned that a sinus infection slash cold was coming on and announced that she would be sleeping in the guest room to prevent Gray from getting sick. Although the look he gave her made it clear he wasn’t buying her story, she simply smiled and continued her conversation with Quinn and Jacob.

Once she’d tucked the boys in and kissed them good night, she’d tried to quickly retreat to the guest room, but Gray had been waiting for her outside of the boys’ bedroom. He silently took her hand and led her to their bedroom.

“What’s going on Maddie?” Gray asked in a hushed voice, as he closed their bedroom door in an effort not to disturb their sons.

“Nothing. I told you, I’m not feeling well and don’t want you or the boys getting sick,” she replied, doing her best to keep a straight face. God, please forgive me for this little white lie, but I’m not sure what to do at this point, and I can’t handle this conversation right now, she silently prayed while doing her best to maintain eye contact with her husband.

“I don’t believe you. Something is wrong. You were not yourself all night,” he insisted.

Why isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black, Maddie thought. “I told you, Gray. I’m a little under the weather and it would be better if I slept in the guest room this week. I know you’re swamped at work and I wouldn’t want you or the boys to get sick, especially since school is almost out and they’re looking forward to their birthday party with all of their friends.”

Gray knew there was more going on with his wife than she was letting on. He still needed to tell her about the incident that had occurred in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, but obviously, tonight was not the time. He had felt so guilty about the entire situation that it was eating him alive. When his older brother, Malcolm, had called him out earlier in the day on his odd behavior, he had spilled the beans like a sixteen-year-old girl in trouble with her parents for the first time. He had gone from wallowing in guilt to drowning in it, the longer he kept the truth from his wife. What would she think? Would she look at him differently? Had he damaged their marriage beyond repair with his deceit? The questions swirling around in his head, and the fear of the unknown left him dizzy and overwhelmed with guilt and angst.

“Gray. Did you hear what I said?” Maddie asked a little louder this time.

“Huh! I’m sorry, sweetheart. What did you say?” he finally replied.

“I said that I’m going to bed. It’s been a long day and I’m tired,” she answered before leaving the room with her blanket and pillows.

When had she grabbed her blanket, pillows and night clothes? he wondered as he watched her unlock their bedroom door.

“Maddie. Sweetheart. Wait! We need to talk.” he pleaded.

“Not tonight, Gray. I’ve had enough for one day,” she whispered in a choked voice before walking out the door.

Why was she crying? he thought as a lump the size of Mount Everest settled in his stomach. Instinctively, Gray knew things would get worse before they got better. He just had no idea how bad it would be, or when it would get better.


After years of reading romance novels and getting lost in characters’ worlds, Isabel Micheals finally decided to try her hand at writing. Inspired by Lucy Kevin’s Four Weddings and a Fiasco, she summoned her courage, got to writing, and submitted her first novel, The Wedding Chaos, to Ms. Kevin’s Kindle World. Now she’s been bitten by the writing bug and hopes to make a career of it. Isabel encourages you to join her on this amazing and exciting journey as the characters in her head come to life.

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