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“I’ve invited you here because you’ve
indicated that at one point or another you wanted to change. Am I correct? Do
you crave change in your life? Change your outlook? Your perception? Change
your goals? How about this?” He watched as the crowd listened intently. “How
about changing your future?”
The crowd applauded. Excitement evident in
The speaker's voice got lower and his
diction more carefully pronounced. His British accent enhancing his already
“With change, anything and everything is
possible. Do you want to change the way you go about your day? Change those
feelings of hopelessness and despair to those of hope and happiness? Change the
opportunity for blinding success?”
“Let me ask you this…and this, my friends,
is the question of the hour. Is it possible for you to embrace change?”
He glanced around the room, his eyes all
knowing, predicting their reaction. His confidence evident, his posture erect.
He got their attention. His penetrating stare suggested a hint of arrogance,
and as he gazed around, his eyes seemingly locked with everyone. His voice
lowered. He was empowered, and he knew it. He portrayed himself as a visionary,
and everyone wanted to share that vision.
“If you want to change, then this workshop
is for you. If not, please take a moment to gather your things, collect your
refund at the door, and leave. I assure you; I won’t be the least bit
Ellie Dawson had been watching his show
for years. Though it was only televised once in a while, she never missed an
episode. His words had motivated many. They had indeed changed lives. He not
only had his own venue, but also spoke for schools, businesses, and even, at one
point, religious groups. He was the guru of motivational speaking, the icon of
inspiration. He grasped people’s attention from the moment they started
watching, from the minute they began listening. Oddly enough, no one had ever
taken his offer to leave—possibly because they believed in his words, possibly
because they were too afraid.
Jeff was an intelligent man. He knew what
he wanted and how to get it. He was financially set for life. His wife, Rose,
and his children never wanted for anything. Rose was a staple to his image. She
stood by his side in photographs with a wide smile etched on her face. He was a
family man, a supportive listener. He made people laugh and always offered a
smile. He provided a shoulder to cry on. People leaned on him.
He was also the type of person who
listened carefully when people spoke, retained only the useful tidbits,
processed it, and then recited it as his own. His sense of humor might’ve just
been an image he wanted to reflect, a personality he had stolen and emulated as
if it were his. He regurgitated stories told by people he’d met as if they had
truly happened to him.
He seemed to be the most transparent
person, but realistically, he was the least.
People trusted him and admired him. It is
safe to say that some worshipped him.
He gave people a purpose for living. For
some he took it away.
In the end Ellie didn’t know what made him
call her. At least that was what she told people. Deep down, in a part of her
that she feared, she knew exactly why he called her. For reasons unknown to
her, he liked her. What scared her, though—what kept her up at night and
tortured her—was that she liked him, too. Undeniably, there was a connection.
And at one point, she respected him.
So when she agreed to answer his call, she
appeared confused, though for whatever strange and chilling reason, she wasn’t.
Her gut told her to pretend to be for one reason and one reason only.
After all, what would be said of her had
she admitted that she expected that phone call and wasn’t surprised in the
least upon receiving it?
She wished it hadn’t come to this. In her
heart she believed she could’ve stopped it, prevented at least some of it. She
wished she would’ve spoken up sooner.
Because deep down, she knew. When the news
broadcasted and it hit every cover story, she knew. She felt it in the pit of
her stomach. The realization caused her insides to wretch. She felt the blood
rush to her face, like heat of blazing fire. Dozens of memories flooded back. A
tidal wave crested with lies—meetings that were missed, inconsistencies that
alone meant nothing but collectively were driving clues. Puzzle piece upon
puzzle piece flowing together in a fluid-like motion, snapping into place with
the force of a magnet. A thud only she could hear.
She couldn’t believe it to be true.
Although it all made perfect sense. Now.
Ed and Ellie Dawson had been married for
five years. Joined by family and friends, they celebrated their love in the
typical Vegas fashion, including an Elvis impersonator singing “Love Me Tender”
before and after they said the magical words I do.
Ed had captured her attention immediately
when they first met at the library.He
just happened to be returning the very book she had been looking for and his
rugged and well-toned physique caused her to do a double-take. His baby blue
eyes dazzled her immediately and the small scar on his chin made him even more
attractive.After only speaking for a
few minutes, they found they had a lot in common, including the same birthday
month—four years apart with Ed being older— and they begun their courtship that
Though they were both level-headed and
determined individuals, Ellie was more of the dreamer with a twist of creative
flair. Both were intelligent go-getters and chased their dreams without
While Ed worked in the financial industry,
Ellie delved into a few different outlets, including computer science,
artistry, and writing. Her most current—and most lucrative—love was advertising
and marketing. While her passion was painting and writing, opportunity hadn’t
yet come her way in those fields, so she had to seek a living elsewhere,
knowing that one day, she would land the job of her dreams—an occupation that
would twist all of her passions together.
At one time she had considered becoming a
model. She had the looks of one with her deep brown eyes, long eye-lashes and
porcelain skin.Her silky dark brown
hair reached the center of her back and whichever way it was styled, it always accentuated
her soft features. She rarely wore makeup and when she did, it was only a dab
of mascara and a light lip gloss to moisten her full lips.She had one dimple high up in the center of
her cheek, rather than on either side of her mouth— a unique but endearing
quality.Regardless of her good looks, becoming
a model was not her true passion so she never pursued it further.
Ellie was born and raised in Las Vegas,
Nevada, spending some time living in the quaint town of Boulder City before
settling in Bullhorn County with her husband, Ed.
Although many Nevada natives dream of
pursuing a life in other states, Ellie had always loved Vegas and its
neighboring towns, with Bullhorn County being her favorite. She had no desire
to leave. She loved that the skies were almost always a bright, cerulean
blue—and when the sun retired for the evening and the skies darkened, a full
constellation appeared, illuminating the city with dozens of stars for children
to wish upon—hoping their dreams came true.
She grew accustomed to the neatly
manicured sidewalks, parkways decorated with murals and statues, and the
colorful array of desert flowers that were the staple to every community. Only
in Vegas could tropical palm trees and pines be planted near each other to
create the perfect aesthetically pleasing landscape. Eye candy for the soul, as
she liked to call it.
Although many complained about the
transient dwellers, she had become used to it and made a handful of
relationships that stayed for the long haul, including her husband Ed.
Since growing up in Vegas, she had seen
her share of celebrities—including the Elvis impersonators—on the Las Vegas
strip as well as in normal commoner locations, such as grocery stores, banks,
and gyms. Without all of their flashy costumes and makeup, they were just like
everyone else. She had met and maintained normal conversations with many of
them, which resulted in Ellie becoming immune to the term star struck. To her,
celebrities were ordinary, only famously so.
Suffice it to say, the first time Ellie
met Jeff Rourke, she wasn’t nervous, although others might not have shared the
same sentiment. He was the most talked-about man in Las Vegas and perhaps the
most prestigious. No doubt he was one of the most successful. His sector in the
world of motivational speaking was well known, and his seminars were always
sought after by those who lived locally and tourists alike. One would go as far
to say that he was indeed a celebrity.
With his light-brown hair and eyes to
match, he had the dashing looks of a movie star, and his dress code was
impeccable—a fashionable suit always neatly pressed, his hair meticulously
groomed, and his eye glasses the latest designer label. He was in his
mid-forties when she met him. Ellie was a few years shy of thirty. To say she
was in awe of him was an understatement. He’d become a millionaire by
thirty-five and a multimillionaire by forty. How could one not be impressed?
He shared his life and his good fortune
with his beautiful wife, Rose, and their two children in a luxurious home overlooking
the city, complete with a well-tended garden and palm trees on the west side of
By financial standards Rose never had to
work a day in her life, but she chose to do so three days a week at an elegant
boutique less than a mile away. On the other two days, she catered to her
children, Eric and Paul. Some tried to classify her as a pretentious type
mother, as most were who resided in her neighborhood, but the truth was that
she loved her children more than anything—including her husband—and didn’t
follow the rules of high-class society. She was a woman who respected the law
and obeyed within its boundaries.
When Ellie first met Jeff, he also came
off as a down-to-earth, normal, but established man. An average guy who just
happened to have an abundance of money.
Jeff's office clearly represented his
exquisite taste. His executive U-shaped desk was of made of real cherry wood
with a shiny black base. A matching hutch and file cabinets stood in the
corner, directly under the expanded window. A subtle but rich-looking lamp
hovered above, and his chair was top-grain leather with all of the ergonomics
in place. There were two guest chairs in his spacious office as well, both
sizable, leather, contemporary, comfortable looking, and inviting to any guest.
When she took a seat on one of the plush
chairs in his office, he encouraged her to get comfortable, making the
interview more of a conversation between friends rather than a formal
He looked her straight in the eyes,
treated her kindly, and poured her a cup of gourmet coffee from his
As they spoke her cheeks hurt from
smiling. The interview was a monumentally huge moment in Ellie’s life. The more
he described the position, the more she realized that it was the perfect fit.
This was a job she had only dreamed about. Working for Jeff Rourke would be the
opportunity of a lifetime. While she remained on guard during the interview,
his polished charm wasn’t lost on her. He was easy to talk to. He had to have
known he was more established than Ellie and much more knowledgeable, yet he
spoke to her without an ounce of condescension.
The interview lasted for over two hours.
They not only discussed the job, but also talked in length about his family,
her family, his previous dreams, how he got to where he was today, his goals
and accomplishments, and Ellie’s future.
It seemed as though the sky was the limit.
The doors of communication were wide open, and he had cordially invited her
As a motivational speaker, he was
accustomed to making it easy for people to talk to him.
Much to her own chagrin, she found herself
divulging information about her family and previous relationships as well as
her current relationship with her husband and how they met. She didn’t even
know how they arrived at that point, but somehow, over two cups of coffee, he
knew more about her personal life than some of her closest friends.
“It’s so nice, Ellie, to hear successful
stories about a marriage like the one you and your husband have. At my age all
you hear about is divorce...or about spouses dying, believe it or not.” He
chuckled. “But in all seriousness, it's clear to see you’re a woman with a good
head on your shoulders. You’re on the right track to achieving your goals.”
During their conversation he kept within
his boundaries and not once did he step over the line. Not that she expected
him to, but when she told friends and relatives where she was interviewing,
rumor had it that someone as good-looking as Jeff Rourke simply had to be a womanizer.
After meeting with him, Ellie felt nothing could be further from the truth. He
more or less acted as a father figure would. Or at least a close uncle. He
showed interest. And when the interview was over, he scribbled a few notes,
shook her hand, thanked her for her time, and promised he’d be in touch.
When she left, she wanted the job more
than anything. She had butterflies in her stomach, but not the kind that
accompany a crush. Like a plant thirsty for water, she wanted to soak up the
knowledge that made him who he was today. She wanted to be a part of something
big. Something that would make a difference in this world.
And that something was Jeff Rourke and
Associates—the associate being herself.
Traffic had prevented Ellie from arriving
home as quickly as she would’ve liked. A three-car pileup on Interstate 215
caused a jam for at least two miles. Too excited to wait any longer, she called
her husband from her hands-free phone, admiring the colorful murals that had
been painted on the dividing walls on the belt. It was the one thing that kept
her mind off of the congestion.
Though the job hadn’t yet been offered, in
her mind it was all hers. The rapport had been wonderful, the location was
convenient, and the description could’ve been written specifically for Ellie.
There couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.
“He was amazing, honey. We really hit it
off from the moment we met. And just in case you were worried, he’s not a
womanizer like everyone thought he was. He’s pragmatic, very sociable. He
showed the utmost respect for me. Would you believe he even made me a cup of
“OK, well, calm down for a minute. Don’t
worry so much about making the coffee. Wait until he at least makes you an
offer. And I wasn’t worried about him being a womanizer, but now perhaps I
should be,” he joked.
Choosing to ignore his last comment, she
rambled on. Jealousy wasn’t something that consumed their relationship. “He
will call. Seriously, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life. And the
job description could have been tailor-made for me. He’s been in the business
of motivational speaking for over ten years, but he wants to expand. He needs
some creative talent to do the marketing, take photographs, create business
cards and manuals, and help during the seminars. Who better to do all of that
than yours truly?”
“Well, I have to admit, it sounds fitting.
Come home, and we’ll go have lunch, but not to celebrate…yet. Let’s not get
your hopes up until it’s final.”
Reluctantly, Ellie took his advice. It was
a Thursday afternoon, and her husband was off from work.
They enjoyed lunch on the patio of a
popular café that specialized in a unique variety of delectable crepes. It was
located in the heart of town and surrounded by expensive boutiques; they
expected to have to wait to get a seat, but since it was the middle of the day
on a weekday, there were some empty tables available.
Ed was always Ellie’s most reliable
support system. He was happy to celebrate the good times, be there for her in
the bad times, and rein her in before she got too excited about something that
hadn’t yet happened. A few years older, he had more experience in the
job-hunting world, so he rarely got his hopes up until he had an offer letter
in his hands, and even then, he still reserved his excitement until he was
sitting at his new desk.
He conveyed that same thought process to
his overzealous wife during lunch and tried to bring her back down to earth.
Though his attempts were futile, she had understood his point.
Eventually, it had sunken in, and so had
Jeff Rourke promised he’d call by Friday,
but Friday came and went, leaving the weekend without promise and a diminishing
glimmer of hope. Perhaps the interview didn’t go as well as she had thought. It
was possible she had misinterpreted their rapport for nothing more than
amiability. It hadn’t been the first time she was wrong about someone she first
met. As a matter of fact, she rarely erred on the side of caution. It wasn’t
part of her naturally optimistic personality.
But perhaps he already had someone else in
mind—a better candidate to suit his needs. It wasn’t the outcome she had
planned for, but it was conceivable and something she had to consider.
On the east side of the vacant street, the
couple pulled up to the gas station early Friday morning, and the man stepped
out of the car, stretched his long legs, and walked over to remove the gas cap.
They had gotten an early start and wanted
to get to the cabin as soon as possible. The sun hadn’t yet risen, and it
seemed as though their neighborhood had turned into a deserted ghost town. Only
one other car pulled up behind them—a shiny black sedan that looked like it had
just left the showroom.
Frankie watched as the man exited the car.
He was tall and built, possessing an air of arrogance as he strolled right past
Frankie. He turned toward Frankie's direction, but seemed to look right through
him, as if Frankie didn’t even exist.
As Frankie got a closer look, he noted a simple
decal on the front of the man’s shirt and his muscular calves, black socks, and
white sneakers. He looked at the man's face but didn't look him in the eyes.
He wondered if it was fear that prevented
him from locking eyes with him. But fear of what?
Frankie watched him walk into the mini
mart. His stride was slow, seemingly calculated. Frankie removed the gas nozzle
and let it hang from the tether while keeping his eyes fixated on the strangely
Frankie pumped his gas, replaced his gas
cap, and tilted his head. He looked inside the store and then swung his head to
take notice of his beautiful wife sitting in the passenger seat, her head
resting comfortably on the headrest with her blond hair cascading over the
edge. Without a logical reason, he rushed to get inside the car before slamming
the door behind him.
From where he sat, he had a perfect view. Within
seconds, it all made sense. Inside the mini mart, he could see the man’s
shoulders rise and his elbows lock. He rested an object on the palm of his left
hand. Frankie squinted to get a better look as his wife also caught a glimpse.
Reality hit just as the bullet did.
Ribbons of red splattered the glass door of the mini mart.
Just as Frankie’s foot pushed on the gas
pedal, the man strolled out, smiling. The decal on his shirt now speckled with
blood. He was crazy enough to wave to the couple as they sped past. Frankie
watched in his rearview mirror as the man strolled to his car slowly, as if he
were on a sightseeing tour. As if he hadn’t just killed a man.
Frankie stopped long enough to see a
figure. After his eyes focused, he realized it was a woman. She rose up from
the backseat, What he couldn't possibly hear, were her desperate screams
blaring and no longer muffled from the gag she tore loose.
Frankie Spencer and his wife, Kayla, sped
off and called the police station, hoping to God that the killer didn’t take
notice of their license plate number or catch a good glimpse of them.
Once they reported the killer and the
woman in the backseat, they sat in silence as Frankie concentrated on the road,
his knuckles white as they clutched the steering wheel. The only noise was the
sound of their tires running over the grooved pavement. The silence more
deafening than the gun blast.
He wanted nothing more than to turn around
and help the woman in the backseat, providing she wasn't there voluntarily, but
the killer was clearly armed and dangerous. By going back, he’d be putting his
and his wife’s lives in jeopardy. It was best that the police handle it. After
all, they were better equipped and more adequately prepared. Even though logic
prevailed, he still felt like a coward and a helpless one at that. A lump had
taken residence in his throat, the horrid scene playing repetitively in his
Only six months prior, Frankie had read
about a situation that went bad when a domestic dispute got out of control and
a neighbor tried to break up the fight. He got in the middle of the husband and
wife’s argument and consequently was killed. So was the wife. Frankie thought
if he was ever in that situation, he would’ve done the same thing, but now he
thought differently. In this situation he knew he’d wind up dead.
Once he and his wife felt they were out of
any immediate danger, Frankie parked on the side of the road in a feeble
attempt to calm their nerves while keeping an eye out for any signs of the
Within seconds a parade of cop cars flew
by, their sirens on full blast, heading toward the very gas station, on the
lookout for the killer.
There was nothing more that Frankie and
Kayla could do. They had given the police all of the information that they
could offer and, against Kayla’s wishes, their contact information. For now it
was time they moved on. They pulled out onto the open road and continued with
their original plan.
It might’ve been an hour before either of
them spoke. Streams of images clouded their minds, the sounds of gunshots
replaying over and over on a painful, continuous loop.
It is the soft look
on a baby's face as they really notice you for the first time.The second their beautiful eyes open and gaze
lovingly into your own while their tiny fingers grip your hand.The feel of your heart as it leaps happily in
your chest, overcome with a clarity, a joy unmatched by any other.You could swear you see clearly into the
depths of their precious soul.The
moments you fall in love with them over and over again.
It is the need
for a puppy to curl up at your feet only to bounce up and follow you wherever
you may go.The writhing of their body
as you bend down to cradle them in your arms.The smell of their breath as they nestle their furry face next to yours.
It is the look
of complete and utter trust as your toddler puts their faith in you to love
them, teach them and keep them out of harm's way.Or the feel of their tiny arms wrapped around
you as they lay their heads down to sleep at night. The gentle sound of their
voice as they whisper they love you.
It is the exhilarated
tail wag as your senior dog awaits your arrival.The unbridled enthusiasm as you greet them at
purity.These are the makings of real
and tender love, most often found in children and dogs, and often recognized by
These are the
very terms that describe Hearts of Gold.
Chapter 1-The Sanctity of Marriage
The inside of a home should be cozy and warm,
blanketed by the love between husband and wife, not chilled by a hatred that a
blazing fire couldn't kindle.
the moment of inception, and quite conceivably some time before, an insurmountable
grief had been bestowed upon Peyton's young life—a period when innocence and
youth should have gone hand in hand, a time when the only darkness should have always
been accompanied by a comforting bedtime story and a favorite teddy bear.
her darkness began in the wee hours of almost every morning and continued until
her tiny body lay to rest at night.
horrors were measured by how well her mother could keep her father's temper at
bay. With his short fuse, the method of measurement was almost always cut in
could blame the frigid weather for the constant chill in the air. It would have
been more accurate to blame the bitterness on the likes of Wayne Henry Bishop, Peyton's
often it was Peyton's mother, Morgan, who suffered the brunt of the beatings, Wayne
was not shy about raising his fist to his daughter on occasion or assaulting
her with words, mostly those meant to diminish her self-esteem. He had all the
ammunition he needed, like the neighborhood bully, and fired away at his
daughter every chance he saw fit.
no way could he even be classified as a caregiver to Peyton.
mother on the other hand did what she could to give Peyton a normal life,
though it wasn't much. With her petite build, porcelain skin, beautiful light
brown hair, and cerulean blue eyes, most men would've agreed that Morgan was a
catch. If they were smart, they would consider themselves lucky just to be in
her presence. Her husband's awareness of her beauty only made him more
determined to maintain control. He dangled her very life in front of her like a
carrot before a starving bunny.
could remember when it first started—the beatings. Back then it was more of a slap
here or a push there.
first, it amounted to nothing more than a shock, a burst of confusion, a blow
to her ego.
was always confident, never submissive. She was also capable of a hot temper
when warranted, but she was no match for his brawny build of six foot four or
the fiery beast that grew within.
the slaps turned into punches, her foolish pride was what initially kept her in
a marriage that her parents hadn't approved of from the very beginning.
wasn't long before she had a change of heart. She would trade her pride for her
life any day. But she wondered now if it was too late.
Morgan's pregnancy, Wayne flaunted his masculinity by using her stomach as a
punching bag when things didn't go his way, which was quite frequently according
the bruises she sustained, it was a miracle that she survived his abuse, no
less managed to carry her pregnancy to full term.
felt that by "punishing"her,
he would teach her a very valuable lesson. And what a teacher he was.
to her in private, claiming that he was making her tough and the baby even
tougher. He held their lives by a string; they were mere puppets to do what he
wanted when he commanded it be done.
the rare occasions where she chose to fight back, he put her in her place with
frequent threats."I can kill you
in a heartbeat.You're just lucky that I
choose not to, Morgan."
charming personality was his saving grace around all of Morgan's friends. No
one in their right minds would ever suspect he was capable of hurting so much
as a hair on her head.
addition, he kept his arrogant comments to himself, especially when she came imminently
close to death in the hospital after a severe beating. The doctors were
pleasantly surprised when she recovered, though they weren't naive. When the physician
on call questioned him about Morgan's dire condition, Wayne adamantly denied
any allegations of abuse to his young wife. He rattled off one lame excuse
after the other, an act he'd improved upon subsequent to each beating. If lying
was a muscle, his was definitely toned.
Morgan's always hurting herself. She's been like that since the day I met
her.Thankfully I was around otherwise
who knows what would've happened!"
nurses predicted that Morgan would deny any abuse, and they were right. As soon
as Morgan recovered enough that she could speak, she stuck up for her husband,
an act she'd perfected and one she thought she performed flawlessly.
it was common for the hospital staff to see women admitted into emergency rooms
with a bloody nose or a broken leg. It was also common that these same women
suffered with battered woman syndrome.
was no different, fitting the cookie-cutter image to a genuine fault.
to be a loyal wife, or at least threatened if she didn't behave as such, she
never admitted anything was wrong with her marriage. Until she took those
difficult first steps, no one would be able to help her.
excuses always seemed viable for the many bruises she wore. Friends had
witnessed firsthand how clumsy Morgan appeared.
friend Tracy had even seen Morgan take a spill down the front steps outside of
her apartment in a snowstorm. She surmised that Morgan fell because the steps
were icy. It seemed like a logical explanation at the time.
Tracy didn't know—and couldn't know—was that Morgan fell due to a beating Wayne
had given her moments earlier.
irrational gripe? Morgan had made plans to go out without asking his permission
first. He accused her of having an affair, even though he was quite aware that she
was going shopping with Tracy, her lifelong best friend.
when Morgan stepped out onto the steps, she was still shaking from the pain her
husband had inflicted, causing her legs to give out beneath her and take a
tumble. Like the coward that he was, he made sure not to bruise her in any
obvious areas. Her stomach was the first place he usually aimed.
Tracy asked if she was okay, Morgan responded with, "Oh, yea. I'm so
clumsy.I should've known better than to
wear these shoes."She dismissed
the fall as if it were completely normal, even though she was in agonizing
Morgan never did share her misery with Tracy. To the outside world, Morgan and Wayne
had the ideal marriage, aside from their financial issues. But hey, who didn't
have problems with the economy in despair? And Wayne wouldn't have it any other
way. He threatened that if she told a soul, he would kill her and their unborn
me you'll do as I say or they'll be hell to pay, Morgan.Do I make myself clear?"
typically answered with a nod.She was
backed into a corner, given no choice.
believed he'd make good on his promise. He'd brought her close to death many
times before but then nursed her back to health after his rampage was over. His
beatings came simultaneously when he had a strong buzz on. His alcohol of
choice was good old Jack Daniels. Once he was able to see straight again, he'd "fix
up"his wife, as he called it,
apologize, and expect to start anew without any repercussions, as if it were
perfectly acceptable to beat someone weaker than him.There was always a reason as well.
you only hadn't said this, Morgan."Or, "If you only hadn't said that."
was never his wrongdoing.In his mind,
Morgan was the only one at fault.
had planned to leave him once Peyton was born, but her plan went awry when he
discovered her hidden stash of money. That was when the big beating came down
on her, teaching her a lesson she'd never forget: don't ever cross Wayne
she didn't forget. Now, she learned to be more careful.
Introducing my latest book, Paw Prints in the Sand-Available on Kindle, Nook and in paperback on Amazon.com
A dog is not a
thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is
not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you
can ever own.
buildings are always the same; old rusty cages, the unmistakable smell of fear;
desperate dogs begging for loving homes, their raspy cries echoing throughout
the lonely and frigid hallways.
you trudge up and down the aisles of a kill shelter, you see that each crate
houses an abandoned animal whose yearning eyes plead while your heart melts
into a roaring sea of helplessness. How did they get here? Why them? No one
want so badly to rescue them. You’d love to take all of them home, but of
course, it isn’t feasible.
you look into the innocent eyes of each dog, you know it’ll be less than a week
before the older ones lose their life, and the young “vicious” dogs, as they
have been stereotypically labeled, only have a few more days at most.
you’re there, you can’t help but wonder, do they know? Is there any possible
way the dogs realize what cruelty fate has in store for them? Admitting that
painful truth to yourself is harder than you ever imagined.
thought races out of your mind as quickly as it had entered. Not because you
don’t care—God knows you care more than anything—but because it is too
difficult to accept the harsh reality.
alas, there’s still that somewhat gratifying feeling of knowing that you are
there to make a difference in at least one of their lives.
have a spot, or maybe even two, in your home and more than enough love in your
heart to accommodate these precious creatures and hopefully free up some room
for another unfortunate stray at the facility in the process.
least that’s how it happened for Chelsea and Anthony Shelton.
Chapter 1: Love
There will always be detours in
the fascinating game called life. Find the path to your heart’s desires, and
stay on course.
and Anthony had been teenage sweethearts, who, like most at that young age,
broke up for a short while to sow their oats before realizing they were true
they got back together, they each dabbled in the party scene and enjoyed a few
drinking binges, complete with the dreaded hangovers the next day, but realized
that wasn't the permanent lifestyle they sought after.Eventually, they found their way back into
each other’s hearts in their early twenties and had been together ever since.
became successful, conscientious individuals and though they occasionally had
arguments like every married couple, they respected and genuinely cared for one
weren't considered glamorous by any means, but were definitely average in
looks.Chelsea had long, brown hair and light
green eyes and Anthony was blessed with a muscular physique and full head of
thick, sandy brown hair.
only four years, they’d already experienced their share of hardships with
trying to start their family. They wanted nothing more than to have a child of
their own, but after they both underwent a series of medical tests, the doctors
revealed that it just wasn’t in the cards for them.A major disappointment as since the day they
were married, they’d always imagined sharing their lives with at least two
children, and a family dog to complete the picture.
the support of their beloved family and friends, they got over the initial
shock of their misfortune, and moved forward with plans to adopt a child. The
downside was that according to the adoption agency, it might take years. And there
were no guarantees.
they were understandably disappointed, they decided that in the interim they
would still consummate the second portion of their plan. After giving it some
thought, there was no valid reason to put their lives on hold.
been prepared to rescue a shelter dog and each time they sat through the
tear-jerking commercials on the television, they realized in their heart that
now was as good a time as any.
was an early Saturday morning when they drove down to the town shelter. The
building itself rested at the end of a cul-de-sac, surrounded by nothing but
trees and a broken-up parking lot to match the brokenhearted pups inside.
they ambled in through the double-glass doors, the middle-age volunteer greeted
them with a personality as lively as a crumbled piece of that parking lot. Barely
acknowledging their arrival, she merely pointed the way toward the gray, metal
door that housed the dogs. Then she buried her face in her fitness magazine.
establishment was known as a kill-shelter, and Chelsea speculated that to
volunteer in the facility, it was probably better off that one didn’t show any
emotion, as demonstrated by the detached woman occupying the front desk.
so many dogs being neglected, abandoned, dumped, abused, and everything in
between, there are never enough facilities to provide shelter for all of them. What
adds to the devastation is that often shelter dogs fail to get adopted due to
their seemingly aggressive behavior, even if they were once friendly on the
times out of ten, something changes their disposition once they get locked up. Their
personalities shift, whether it be from the fear, the isolation, the confusion,
the cold cement floors, or the lack of toys. Or it may be from being bereft of exercise,
deprived of love, or simply because they can smell the death of their canine
peers from the euthanasia rooms. The necessity to survive causes them to lose
their trust and more importantly, their confidence.
unfamiliar noises and lonely environment do nothing to mollify their fears. Since
they appear aggressive, the likeliness of them finding a good home diminishes. It’s
the same doleful story in every facility, yet their population continues to
the door slammed behind Chelsea and Anthony, it resonated, setting off a chorus
of frenzied barks from the distressed occupants. The couple walked gingerly
past the countless rows of crates, trying their best not to frighten any of the
dogs, each one looking more desperate than the last.
it not been for one dog’s demanding howl, Chelsea might have run out of the
building empty handed. The absolute realization and heartache was too much for
her to bear.
was the single thing that caused her to laugh when she was on the verge of
tears. That demanding howl, combined with the act of the dog maneuvering his
scrawny paw through the cage in a sincere effort to grab her leg, as if to say,
“Hey, get over here. Come be my new mom.”
from his disheveled exterior, he was indubitably striking. Like most shelter
dogs, he was in dire need of a thorough grooming, as his knotted hair was
course and his skin flaky. The hardened goop under his eyes appeared as if it
hadn’t ever been cleaned.
that tangle of golden fur was a bright-eyed, energetic sweetheart of a dog. His
fox-like ears bent forward toward his light brown eyes, which revealed an
expression that couldn’t be mistaken for anything but hope.
sparkling personality shined through like an illuminating star, and those same
hopeful eyes translated a heartfelt story that words would never be able to accurately
the cage directly across from him sat a more demure canine that appeared to be
his twin. She wasn’t nearly as vocal, but just as stunning, if not more so. Her
golden fur was also knotted right behind the ears, and her paws were caked with
mud, presumably from yesterday’s rainfall. She sat erect, the previously white
tuft on her chest now gray and soiled. Both of the dogs had clearly been
neglected even before they had arrived at the shelter.
had already made up her mind when she turned back to catch Anthony’s eyes, who
was grinning from ear to ear. He didn’t have to say a word.
she whispered, knowing her husband well enough to read his mind.
nodded. “Absolutely.” Though he was a man broad in stature, he was normally not
flagrant with his emotions. This time, however, tears pooled in the corners of
his hazel eyes. Apparently, the dismal environment was heart wrenching for him
they discussed it, another volunteer turned the corner and greeted them. This
one seemed to have notably more compassion than the woman occupying the front
desk. She smiled warmly at them before realizing that they were interested.
you decided on which dog you’d like to take home today?” she asked Chelsea. After
helping out at the shelter for so many years, it was easy for the volunteer to
recognize the vibrant sparkle in Chelsea’s eyes that could signify only love at
first sight—the special kind that often transpires between human and dog.
couldn’t wait for Anthony to speak, so she took the lead. “Yes, please. We’re
interested in these two.” She pointed to the female and male. The male was ignoring
the conversation, focusing on reaching through the bars, trying to grasp the
shoelaces on Chelsea’s sneaker.
asked the volunteer a number of questions, including whether or not the dogs
were related, wondering if perhaps they were brother and sister. The volunteer said
that, to the best of her knowledge, they were not.
informed them that they had been surrendered within two days of each other. The
male’s age was estimated to be approximately a year and a half, while the
female was about a year old.
were unmistakably purebred Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. They had all
the markings, the white tuft, the fox-like ears, the pink nose and lips, and
the light eyes that matched their golden coat.
some families have no other choice but to surrender their dogs because of
hardships, financial difficulty or medical issues, these dogs were given up
the male was given up because he barked incessantly, and his owners couldn’t
handle the atrocious noise level. They admitted that they didn't have the time
or the patience to train him.
female was turned in because she wasn’t housebroken yet, even though that was
due to no fault of her own. Rather than train her, the previous owners argued
that dogs should instinctively know how to take care of business. They voiced
their frustration and said they wanted her out of the house as soon as
possible.The shelter took her in that
their heartbreaking stories further confirmed their decision, and it took only moments
for Chelsea and Anthony to fill out the necessary paperwork.
an hour, the dogs were on their way to their new home, finally given a second
chance at enjoying their lives as they should, which was an opportunity many
other dogs are never granted.
the pair was hesitant to meander out of the facility. Both dogs tucked their
tails between their legs, both were frightened and shy—most likely stemming
from their stay at the shelter.
once they walked outside with their new owners, the warm breeze wafted a
plethora of new scents to their keen noses, allowing them to do what came
naturally to them—just be dogs. To a dog, smelling the scents of other dogs,
humans, or creatures that had visited a path before them is a luxury in itself.
the natural songs of the wildlife, even smelling something simple such as
flowers that are in bloom, is a wondrous joy. To them, each unique scent tells
a captivating story and is a vibrant indication that they are still alive, and
more importantly, it signifies that there is hope.
long, the two dogs slowly began to wag their tails with unbridled enthusiasm. Moments
later, they even danced around each other, demonstrating the customary canine
greeting that initiates a friendship and builds the foundation for an everlasting
relationship. It was a sight to remember.
leaving the shelter, Chelsea and Anthony had been advised that the female had
been spayed, but the male had not yet been altered. So the first thing they did
once the adoption was finalized was make an appointment at the vet to have
Spice neutered. The appointment was set for the first of March, three weeks
after his adoption date. Sugar wouldn’t have to go to the vet for shots until a
As promised, here's the final instructions for Step I of Word. Congratulations-you finished!!
Small disclaimer here. I'm in no way employed or affiliated with Microsoft. I am not selling this information-it is completely free. While I've made a genuine effort to ensure the quality of this manual, there is no warranty provided and I disclaim any accountability and liability for any damages resulting from the utilization of the data provided in this manual or products described in it. All sample exercises and files are fictional and any similarity to real people is strictly coincidental.
Backgrounds Themes Inserting a Table Converting Text to Table Converting Table to Text Hiding Gridlines Undo/Redo Word Count Help!
SUPPOSE THAT YOU HAVE JUST TYPED AN ENTIRE SENTENCE AND REALIZE ONLY NOW THAT YOUR CAPS LOCK WAS ON. You can easily change this by selecting ‘Format’ from the toolbar. Then change ‘Change case.’
The following screen will appear. From here, you can then choose ‘Sentence case’ to make the above sentence appear normal again.
There is an option to create a more exciting background to your layout if you plan to use your document on a web layout or browser. To add a background to your documents, click on Format>> Background to view the following screen.
You are brought to your basic color dialog box for which you may or may not be familiar. To choose a background color, just click on the color of your choice. For even more choices, (can you stand the excitement?), click on the “more colors” or “fill effects” options to enhance your choice.
To choose a theme for your document, click on Format>>Theme. On the left will be a list of the titles of the themes and on the right you will see a preview. Just click on the theme you would like and Click Ok.
Inserting a Table
This is a great tool for many reasons. Primarily, many worksheets or surveys that you see every day are either created in Excel or believe it or not, Word. The advantage to using a Word’s table is that if you already in a Word document, you can add the table, survey or worksheet right there. No need to create a whole new document. Secondly, the table in word can be a stand-alone table or an actual excel table!
To insert a table, simply click on Insert Table to add a stand-alone table. In this next screen, choose the number of columns and the number of rows you wish to appear in your column. (If you change your mind later, you can always add or delete rows and columns).
It should look a little something like this:
If you need to delete any cells, highlight the cells you wish to delete. Then go to Table>> Delete >> Cells. The following screen will appear.
You can then choose the layout of where you want the remaining cells to be positioned.
To insert additional rows or columns simply highlight your existing table, then go to Table>>Insert>>Columns to the left or right, or rows above or below or cells.
To Merge cells (combine two cells together), highlight the cells you wish to merge and then click on Table>>Merge Cells.
To Split cells (Put a “table like” cell inside of another cell). Highlight the cells you wish to split and click on Table>>Split Cells.
Converting Text to Table
Word has included a neat little feature to save you some time….and a lot of aggravation. Suppose that you have just typed a full paragraph, but realize that you want this in a table. All you need to do is highlight the text and go to Table>Convert>Text to Table.
The following screen will appear:
Choose the number of columns and/or rows you wish, along with the column width and where you want to separate text. I.e. separate text at ‘Paragraphs’.
Your paragraph will now look like this example:
Choose the number of columns and/or rows you wish, along with the column width and where you want to separate text. I.e. separate text at ‘Paragraphs’.
To make matters even easier, you can take the above table and convert it to text as I will explain in…….
Converting Table to Text
Amazingly, just as you can convert text to a table, you can also convert a table to text. Suppose you create this big, beautiful table that you are proud of (the spreadsheet kind, not the wooden kind) and your boss begins to tell you that he/she wants it to be in letter format, not a table. Well, now you can just change that back to text. No problem. All you do is highlight the forbidden table and follow these instructions.
Easy enough, but just in case you are wondering. If you have a table, but do not want the actual lines in the table to show…Highlight the table, go to Table>Hide Gridlines. The Gridlines will now be hidden and this option will now be dimmed. To show the gridlines, go back to Table>Hide Gridlines (it should now NOT be dimmed) and the table will have gridlines.
Sounds like a song…but its not, as far as I know. This option, you may already know if you are familiar with Microsoft products. In case you do not…
Let’s say that you have just inserted a symbol, but have decided you did not want it there. You can just go to Edit>Undo (or the counterclockwise arrow on the toolbar). But, if you now decide you want it there after all, you can click Edit>Redo (or the clockwise arrow on the toolbar, if it is there).
Whether you are writing a report for school, or a column for your businesses’ newspaper, this feature will save you a lot of time! All you have to do to count how many words are in your document is:
1. Highlight the paragraph(s) you wish to count, or you can highlight the whole document by selecting Edit> Select All.
2. Go to Tools
3. Word Count
4. A dialog box will appear showing you the following information in a matter of seconds!
This section is designed to familiarize you with the available Help menu that is included with Word. It is a very concise tool for helping you do many of the functions available. At the very least, it will explain how the functions are utilized.
Once you click on ‘Help’ located on the toolbar, you will be brought to the following screen where you can ‘Search for’ help in the search line.
Once you enter your item in the search line, a new dialog box will appear with some choices to choose from that most closely resembles the issue or question you are having. Make your selection and then follow the instructions on the screen.
One other feature that is available in the Help menu is the word ‘About.’ All this does is let you know the version of Word that you are currently using. This is helpful if you are ever trying to ask for assistance, but do not know which version you are using. The person that is assisting you may need to know this information, as each version differs from the next, so it will help narrow down the issue at hand.