The scent of roses perfumed the air. The flickering light from the candles softened the familiar lines of the sanctuary, rendering it intimate and romantic. No one would have guessed today was the result of less than a month of non-stop activity for Callie and her friends. 
Sister Gordon had mentioned, in passing, that she’d never had the chance to enjoy the sort of traditional wedding she’d dreamed of as a young girl. That was all Callie needed to hear. Seven quick phone calls later, three to her friends and four to Elizabeth’s children, and the wedding plans had begun.
Callie chewed her lip and considered Karla’s question.  Was it possible that Benton had mentioned Cozumel when her mind had been on other things? 
The wedding march started. From his place at the front of the stage, Benjamin motioned for everyone to stand.  Hannah proceeded up the aisle on the arm of her bother Aaron. Once they reached the front, they separated, Aaron to the left, taking his place next to his father, Hannah to the right. The music changed and Elizabeth started up the aisle on the arm of her beaming son. The dress she’d called frivolous and un-necessary shimmered in the shifting candle light. She held her bouquet of pastel colored roses at her waist like a shield.  At seventy-three she was still a lovely woman. Tonight she was a radiant bride. Callie stole a look at the groom and her eyes filled at the expression of love on his weathered face. Obviously fifty years together hadn’t dimmed the emotions that burned between these two precious people.
Callie’s attention shifted to the aggravating man at her side. She compared the sandy Cozumel beach and fourteen lazy days with Benton to the crowd and rushed itinerary of a cruise.  There were things she wanted to show him. The view from the lighthouse on the south end of the island, the turquoise blue waves throwing themselves against the shoreline, and snorkeling. Maybe they could take the ferry across to the mainland one day and spend a few hours at Xel-Ha. Then there was the shopping. The town square across from the ferry pier always amazed her with its color and variety. Maybe Benton hadn’t been hasty after all.
“I do.”
The words drew Callie’s attention back to the flower strewn stage where Jacob had just given his mother to his father.  She watched as he kissed her on the cheek, placed her hand in the groom’s, and stepped aside.
Callie wiped her eyes and reached for Benton’s hand. “I love you.”
***Sharon here*** This instalment ends our first get acquainted story. Next week I have the beginnings of a Terri story for you.  Don't forget to check out the individual pages. Pam has posted a new recipe and I added dates so you could see what was new since your last visit. As always feel free to post comments about anything on the Blog under the main entry. I'd love to hear your thoughts about the women.
Benton ran a finger around the collar of his new shirt, trying for just a centimeter of extra space between his neck and the starched fabric. He looked up when Mitch gave a low whistle.
“That was ugly.”
“Hum?” Benton frowned.
“You better be glad you’re facing this way, Bud. Callie just served you a look hot enough to toast your soul.”
“Crispy,” Harrison Jones agreed. “So what did you do this time?”
Benton shook his head. His response more than a little confused. “I booked a vacation for our anniversary.”
“And for this you’re getting the look?” Mitch asked, sounding almost as puzzled as his friend. “I thought that particular female weapon was reserved for when we forgot special dates.”
“Yeah well, apparently it has multiple uses,” Benton cautioned them. “You know how our wives always tell us we don’t pay attention to what they say?”
The other two men nodded.
“This time I’m in trouble for listening.”
“Do tell,” Mitch encouraged.
“Where is Callie’s favorite vacation spot?”
“Cozumel,” Harrison and Mitch answered in unison.
Benton held his hands out in surrender. “See? Even you guys know that. A few days ago, one of my customers was complaining that they’d put a deposit on a Cozumel vacation. Two weeks on the beach. They were upset because their plans had suddenly changed and now they were out the non-refundable $1000.00 deposit.”
The lines around Harrison’s eye’s deepened in a frown. “Ouch.”
“That was my first thought. Then I remembered all the times Callie has begged me to take this trip with her. I told the guy I might be interested in bailing him out.” Benton shrugged. “I’ll admit, she did have fourteen lists scattered on the table in front of her when I mentioned Cozumel, and we had discussed an Alaskan cruise. But in my defense,” he paused when Harrison laughed out loud.
 “You’re a lawyer,” Benton grumbled, “pay attention. In my defense,” he continued, “she looked at me and I know she heard me. I thought she agreed.”
Harrison shook his head. “You thought? You booked a vacation, different from the one you’d already discussed on a thought? Without Callie’s direct consent?” He clapped Benton on the shoulder.  “You better pray for an all male jury.”
Benton hung his head and shuffled through the auditorium doors to join the women. He wasn’t sure, at this point, which was worse, wives or friends.
To be continued...

***Sharon here***
I hope you are enjoying our little continuing story.  I've added a lot to the page over the last few days.  Please take a look at the "pages" tabs to the right. Each of the ladies and I have individual pages now. Just some fun things to read and enjoy.  If you happen to click on a blank page, please revisit it later. I'm working, writing and getting ready for the ACFW conference, and probably just haven't had a chance to develop it yet. Please feel free to come back here and leave a comment about anything that catches your attention. Thanks for stopping by.
“Uh oh,” Pam said.  “That wasn’t a happy look. Benton’s in the doghouse. What did he do?”
Callie shook her head. “Oh nothing. He’s…he’s just such a…man.
Karla tipped her chin down and looked at Callie over her glasses. “You’ve been married for almost thirty-five years. You’re just now figuring that out?”
Callie ignored Karla’s question and turned to Terri instead. “Stay single, sweetheart. You don’t know how truly blessed you are not to have to mess with a man in your life.”
Terri put an arm around Callie’s waist. “Ah, you don’t mean that. You and Benton have one of the best relationships I’ve ever seen.”
She laid her head on Terri’s shoulder. “No, I don’t. But sometimes he frustrates me so much.”
“What did he do?” Pam asked again.
“Booked a trip to Cozumel for our anniversary.”
Terri took a step back. “And you have a problem with this, how?”
Callie shrugged. They are going to think I’m crazy “I had my heart set on that Alaskan cruise. We talked about an Alaskan cruise. He knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Three pair of raise eyebrows met her response. “Come on, girls. I’ve been to Cozumel four times—”
“All without Benton,” Pam reminded her.
“And each time you’ve complained that he wouldn’t go with you,” Terri chimed in.
Karla motioned to Terri and Pam. “What they said and a question. How many times have we all heard you say there were things on the Island you wished you could share with him?”
“You’re right,” Callie admitted. She chewed her lip, looking for a way to make them understand. “I wanted this trip to be special. Thirty-five years of marriage is a landmark, I wanted it to be a fresh adventure for both of us. I wanted the opportunity to experience new things together.” She waved her hand in dismissal. “Never mind. I guess it’s just me.”
“Well, I think it’s sweet,” Terri told her. “Not just that he’s finally going somewhere you’ve wanted to take him, but that he surprised you with it.”
“I don’t think he intended it as a surprise. He swears he mentioned it to me days ago.  When I had no clue what he was talking about, he was the one who was surprised.”
“Callie,” Karla began. “You’ve been awfully pre-occupied putting this together for Bro. and Sis. Gordon. We all have. Are you sure he didn’t mention it to you? Could it have gotten lost in the madness of organizing this ceremony, start to finish, in less than four weeks?
“I’m sure,” Callie answered. She glared over her shoulder with narrowed eyes. “There’s no way I would have missed that.”
to be continued...
While you wait, please check out the new pages.

Meet The Women, and Men, of Valley View

Callie dressed for the evening in silence.  Her anger at Benton over their argument last night still smoldered, but it wasn’t enough to cast a pall over this occasion.  She smoothed the lines of her pale blue dress, slid her arms into the matching jacket, and tried to refocus her thoughts on this evening’s activities.  
Tonight their pastors, Anthony and Elizabeth Gordon, would celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary by renewing their vows. Their eldest son, Benjamin, would perform the ceremony. Their daughter, Hannah, would walk down the aisle in front of her mother as matron of honor. Aaron, their third child would stand for his father as best man, and their baby Jacob, thirty-three-years old and six foot three, would give the bride away. Callie grinned into the mirror. Nice how that worked out. She looked up at a noise in the doorway.
 “Are you about ready to go?” Benton asked.
Callie nodded, unwilling to break the silence that continued to stretch between them.  She fastened her earring and sailed passed her husband without a word. His neatly trimmed beard brushed the top of her head as she scooted through the doorway.
He followed her down the hall. “You look nice tonight.”
She gathered her bag. “Thanks.” Callie heard the ice in her voice, apparently Benton did as well. He ushered her out the door without further attempt at conversation.
The drive to the church was equally quiet.  Benton’s eyes on the road, Callie still stewing over last night’s discussion about their vacation. They’d agreed, months ago, on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.  I thought. Last night’s announcement that he’d leased a beach side cottage in Cozumel still made her teeth clench.  He said he’d mentioned it to her, she was quite sure he hadn’t.  But the non-refundable deposit had been paid. Men! 
Callie stepped into the vestibule of Valley View Church ahead of her husband and gravitated to a corner where her three best friends and co-planners of this event, Karla Black, Pam Jones, and Terri Hayes were gathered, waiting for the ceremony to start.
Terri shifted to make room and reached out to touch the beadwork surrounding the neck of Callie’s jacket. “What a wonderful dress. Where did you find it?”
Callie put an arm around the youngest of her three friends. “At the mall a couple of months ago. It was a just in case purchase, too dressy for work or church, but perfect for an occasion like this.” She studied the other ladies. Karla looked wonderful, her short, plump figure draped in a flattering black pantsuit, her silver hair shinning in the in the low lighting. Pam had chosen purple for the evening. No surprise there since purple was her favorite color and always complimented her dark hair and brown eyes. Terri’s choice of a clingy silver fabric accented her slender I’ve never had kids figure and even went well with her shaggy, finger combed, hair style.  “I’d say we’re all looking pretty good tonight.”
“Yep,” Karla agreed. She nodded to where their husbands were standing in their own little segregated knot. “I had to fight to get Mitchell to buy a new suit, but he liked it once the battle was over.  Harrison and Benton clean up nice too.”
Callie rolled her eyes and angled her back more firmly to the men.
(To be continued)
My name is Sharon Srock and I am an unpublished writer.
Writer? Me? That’s scary.  Let me look at that again.
My name is Sharon Srock and I am an unpublished writer.
Not much more believable the second time.
Oh well.
My name is Sharon Srock and I am an unpublished writer, trying hard to get “un” erased from my bio.
As scary as that public admission is, I have another one.
I hear voices.
Voices…in my head…every day. At first I thought it was approaching senility. I’ll celebrate my 55th birthday next month. Believing in senility was easier than believing in the voices.
Then it got worse.
One day the voices began to develop individual personalities. They started whispering their stories in my ears and insisting I write them down. The voices can be VERY persistent and pushy.
Guess what? The voices all live in the same little town. A small place called Garfield, OK.  I haven’t been able to locate Garfield on any map, but the Garfield Dwellers (sounds less spooky than “voices”) assure me that if you pick just about any small town in Oklahoma, you’ll recognize Garfield. Single street downtown, friendly people, a church on just about every corner.
Speaking of churches. The Dwellers all go to the same church in this little town, Valley View Church. There’s a group of ladies in that church, I call them the Women of Valley View, who live amazing lives. They’re just ordinary women. They have kids and grand kids. They have jobs, teach Sunday school, and fight with their spouses. And they use their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. I’d admit to liking them if they were the least bit real.
These ladies, it’s not enough that I’ve written down some of their stories, that I’m doing everything humanly possible to get them published, now these women want a blog.
I’ve tried to convince them that blogs are for REAL people, but they aren’t buying it. And, yes, this means that in addition to hearing the voices, I’m talking to them. Their offer of compromise is to allow me to blog about myself, on their site, when I have something interesting to say. Since the only thing interesting happening in my life, besides the voices, is my yearly vacation, you probably won’t hear from me very often.
So, since my next vacation is several months away, unless the men in the white jackets arrange for one sooner, I’ve decided to introduce the Women of Valley View to the world. It is, after all, what God called me to do twenty five years ago. (But that’s a scary story for another day.)
I hope you enjoy my characters as much as I do. Please share this page with your friends. More importantly, please join me in prayer that God will have his way with the stories, here, and the ones waiting to be published.
If your memory is better than mine, you can check back next week for our first visit to Garfield. If you don’t trust your memory, please go to Face Book and “like” my fan page (Sharon Srock) or leave your email address in the block on the first page of this blog. That way, you’ll get the posts automatically.
The journey begins…