The Women of Valley View: Terri 

Terri Hayes chewed her bottom lip and prayed. Outside her windows on this sunny Friday afternoon, the Oklahoma summer persisted in spite of the September date circled on her calendar. Her hands sweated, and she clasped them behind her back. She would have raked them through her hair, but she wanted to telegraph calm and collected, not the nervous anticipation churning like ocean waves in her stomach. The weeks of preparation, the evenings spent in class, the hours of prayer, all came down to this.
The curly black head of her visitor vanished under the kitchen sink. Terri heard grunts and clanks as the woman shifted and examined the contents of the cabinet. Her visitor stood and yanked the top of her crisply tailored red suit back into place, her stern face thoughtful as she tapped notes into her tablet.
Despite Terri’s desire for calm, her lip chewing graduated to nail biting. Could she have overlooked something? “Ms. Wilson, I...”
Cindy Wilson held up a hand. “Please, Ms. Hayes, I prefer to conduct my investigation uninterrupted. We’ll discuss my findings when I’m done.”
Terri swallowed her comments with a nod and trailed behind the imposing African-American woman whose job it was to poke and prod into every corner of Terri’s home. She ran through her own mental checklist as they proceeded from room to room.
Outlets covered, medicines locked away, cleaning supplies stored out of reach, covers on all of her trash cans. A second perusal of Ms. Wilson’s expression produced no further insight.
Pass or fail? Terri shook her head. I wonder if this woman plays poker.
Terri opened the door to the larger of her two spare bedrooms. The odor of fresh paint drifted out to greet them. This was the pride of her summer. She motioned her guest inside, aching to point out the highlights of what she’d worked so hard to accomplish, but she held her peace in the face of Ms. Wilson’s strident and silent inspection. More notes on the clipboard, murmurs, and hums. Approval or disapproval? How can I tell?
Inspection completed, Terri followed her visitor back to her sunken living room and made an effort to gain some control over the situation. “Have a seat, Ms. Wilson. I have iced tea or soda if you’d like something to drink.”
“No, thank you.” Ms. Wilson sat on the sofa and studied her notes. Her pen tapped an annoying beat as she read. Terri took a chair across from her and waited in helpless anticipation.
“It says here that your decision to apply to our program was motivated by a television show. Can you clarify that for me, please?”
Terri clasped white-knuckled hands in her lap. “It was a documentary. I cried for the whole hour. It broke my heart to see so much to be done and so few people willing to make a difference.”
“So this is an emotional decision on your part?”
“Yes...I mean no. I—”
Ms. Wilson continued. “Ms. Hayes, you’re a single young woman with a business to run. I’m told your day care center next door is a busy place. You spend every day in the company of other people’s children. By all reports, you do an excellent job. You’re already making a difference. I need you to tell me why you want to take it further.”
“That’s a difficult question to answer in a few words.”
“You need to try. I take my job very seriously. If I approve you for our program, it’s only going to be after I’m sure you’re proceeding for legitimate reasons, not a passing emotional whim.”
“Surely you’ve looked at all the paperwork I’ve already filled out.”
“My decision will not be based on your answers to a standard questionnaire. Lives are at stake here. You need to convince me of your ability to handle this job.”
Terri slumped back in her chair and exhaled a deep breath. Jesus, I need wisdom. With those four words she found peace. She pushed herself to the edge of her seat and leaned forward, elbows braced on her knees. “Are you a Christian, Ms. Wilson?”
“I like to think so, but I’m not the one being interviewed.”
“But you understand the power of prayer, the direction of God in our lives?”
Ms. Wilson nodded.
“That television show moved me in ways I still don’t understand. It was an emotional hour. Emotional because I desire God’s will for my life, and I finally had the direction I’ve been looking for. I prayed for days before I made the initial call to your office. I have experience and a heart full of love to share. If you’re looking for a lifetime commitment to your program,”—Terri shook her head—”I can’t promise that. But I know God has led me to this place and time. Somewhere there’s a child, a family, who needs me.”
The two women studied each other for a few heartbeats. Terri’s eyes held those of the social worker. It’s now or never, Father. This isn’t what I’ve pictured for my future. I always saw myself with a husband before there were children, but if this is Your will for me...
Cindy Wilson’s eyes cut back to her notes, and Terri swallowed hard. I blew it. “Ms. Wilson...”
A smile transformed Ms. Wilson’s forbidding countenance. She held out a hand. “Call me Cindy. You’re going to make a wonderful foster parent.”

Sean hurled the first thing he could lay his hand on.
From the corner of his eye he saw Ella flinch a split second before the vase shattered against the far wall.
“Get off my case!” Sean screamed. He ran an unsteady hand through his hair. “Nag, nag, nag. That’s all you do anymore. It’s Saturday...take the weekend off.”
Ella crossed the room, stooped down, and began to gather the larger pieces of glass. She pricked the tip of her finger on a sharp edge and stared at the welling drop of blood. She looked up, her brown eyes moist with tears. “That vase belonged to my grandma.”
Sean looked at the pieces of broken glass littering the apartment’s threadbare carpet. Ella’s tears made him pause. Tears of anger, sorrow, or fright at his show of temper? Hard to tell. He took a deep breath and tried to steady the trembling that racked his body. His heart raced out of control. He could almost hear the blood rushing through his veins. A headache pounded so hard behind his eyes he thought his head might explode like the vase had done. Why did he feel this way?
“Did you hear me, Sean? My grandmother gave us this vase when we got married. How could you—”
Sean held up a hand. “You need to be quiet.”
Ella stood and closed the distance between them, facing him nose to nose, her brown eyes even with his blue ones. He saw the answer to his question in the hard line of her mouth. He’d never seen his wife so angry.
“I need to be quiet?” She met his temper with her own unaccustomed display of rage. “What’s wrong with you lately? I’m not nagging. I just need to know if you got paid. The rent is past due. We need groceries, and Kelsey’s shoes are falling apart. Did you get paid? It’s a simple question.”
Sean managed to take a step back, winning a hard- fought battle to keep his hands to himself. I’ve never laid a hand on a woman in my life. Why was the temptation so strong today? He frowned as his head continued to pound. “No.”
“No what? No you didn’t get paid, or no, you won’t answer me?”
Sean struggled for control. Every word she spoke made his skin itch. What more did she expect him to do? Working fourteen and sixteen hours a day left him functioning on no sleep. Energy drinks and some pills he’d bought at the truck stop were all that kept him moving between long days on the construction site and moonlighting at McDonald’s. He was so jittery right now he could hardly stand in one place. He made a conscious effort to calm down.
“McDonald’s let me go.”
”Sean.” Panic and criticism laced his wife’s voice.
“What do you want me to do, Ella? The frame crew has work. They expect me to stay on the job until they’re done for the day. I was late for my shift at McDonald’s three times this week. I’m not surprised that they fired me. Construction jobs pay three times as much—”
“When they pay.”
”You know we get paid when the job is done.”
“And next week, when the crew is dead again? What are we supposed to do then?” Ella’s voice rose with each word.
Sean’s insides revved up once more. He turned away in an effort to prevent another outburst.
“Sean Michael Anderson, don’t you dare turn your back on me. We’re a week away from being evicted. What are we going to do?”
He lost the battle. With one swipe of his hand he cleared the top of a nearby bookcase. Picture frames and glass knickknacks crashed to the floor, joining the broken glass of the vase.
“Enough!” he yelled.
They both turned to the hallway where their three- year-old daughter stood, rubbing her afternoon nap from her eyes. Those eyes brightened at the sight of her father.
Sean held out his arms. A smile softened his features. “There’s Daddy’s baby girl. Come give me a kiss.”
Ella put up a hand up to block her progress. “Go back to your room, baby. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Kelsey ignored the request and rushed forward. Ella grabbed her daughter and swung her up off the floor.
”What?” Sean raised his voice again. “Now you’re going to keep my daughter away from me?”
Ella raised her own voice to compete with his ranting. “Are you blind as well as stupid? There’s broken glass all over the floor and she’s barefoot.”
“Hard to worry about a little glass when this place is such a pigsty. You’re nagging me about my job. When was the last time your hands saw dishwater or touched a broom?” He held out his arms. “Now give me my daughter, and go fix me something to eat.”
“You want dinner? So do we. We need groceries. Remember?”
Sean glared at his wife. He jammed his hand into his pocket and threw a single twenty-dollar bill at her feet. “There’s your grocery money. Now get out of my face.” He reached for his daughter again.
The toddler shrunk from his hands, buried her face in her mother’s neck, and clung with both arms.
“You’ve turned her against me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. She’s scared by the yelling. When you calm down, she’ll be fine.”
His actions were deliberate. Sean reached back into his pocket and pulled out a baggie containing a single, half-smoked, crudely rolled cigarette. He lit it and took a deep breath, anxious for the calm he knew the drug would bring.
Ella’s expression changed from confrontational to fearful. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Calming down.”
”You brought drugs into our house—”
Sean cursed, his words hung in the air with the smoke. Where was the calm?
The child continued to wail, her sobbing a pathetic accent to the loud pounding on the front door of their apartment. Ella lifted a shaking hand to move the window shade aside. Her panicked gasp filled the room.
Sean joined her at the window and nudged her aside. He choked on his own smoke when he saw the black and white car parked at the curb four floors below.

Terri hummed along to the soft music coming from the Ipod docked on her dresser, hands on the task in front of her, ears tuned to hear the timer in her kitchen, her heart filled with anticipation. Passing the home inspection yesterday had been the last hurdle. She tucked the corners of the freshly laundered sheets under the edge of the mattress on the toddler bed and smoothed the blanket. The room was ready, and so was she.
The oven timer dinged, prompting her return to the kitchen. Terri transferred the final pan of hot chocolate chip cookies to a wire rack to cool. Giving into temptation, she grabbed one of the gooey treats, blowing on it as she retreated to her bedroom to finish getting ready. Terri exchanged her flour-streaked T- shirt for a clean cotton blouse, brushed pale pink blush across her cheeks, and swiped on clear lip gloss. Blue eyes framed by a short, shaggy brown haircut gazed back at her from the vanity mirror. She finger combed her hair and gave her head a quick shake to settle the strays. Looking good, girl. The party at Steve’s would last most of the afternoon. She wanted to look her best without the effort being too obvious. A spritz of her favorite perfume, and she was done.
She went to the closet to grab her new sandals. Her gaze fell on the zippered garment bag tucked into the back corner. The words stenciled on the plastic jumped out at her. Princess for a Day Bridal Shoppe.
Terri pulled the bag from the rack and hugged it to her chest. Time ticked away, but there was always time to dream. She lowered the zipper slowly, almost reverently, brushing the shimmering white satin it protected with gentle fingers. “I remember you.” The perfect wedding dress came along only once in a lifetime. The fact this one had been hidden in her closet for three years, without a single proposal, made Terri either optimistic or pathetic. Since her own feelings on the subject vacillated with her mood, she tried to ignore the gown’s presence as much as possible. But a girl was allowed to enjoy a fantasy here and there, wasn’t she?
So many faces flooded her memory. Kyle, her first love from junior high. Aaron’s innocent blue eyes as he stole that first high school kiss. Cris and Duke from her college years. Ino, dark and handsome. Darrick’s brown eyes, Mike’s sweet smile. Gary...Gary. She’d been so sure that each was the one God picked for her. Each had retreated from her life with hardly a ripple. What would Steve say if he knew he held the starring role in those dreams now?
Terri lifted the dress from its bag and held it against her while she studied her reflection in the full- length mirror. She knew just how she’d look on her special day. Today Steve’s face occupied the space beside her, with his piercing blue eyes, collar-length black hair, and swashbuckler good looks. Terri shook the image from her mind.
Samantha’s party took center stage in her attention today. Terri smiled at the thought of Steve’s daughters. Sam and Iris had come so far over the summer, their lives changed by salvation and Steve’s return. This was Sam’s special day. Terri’s future with Steve, if there ever was one, would work itself out in due time.
Terri replaced the dress and hurried from the room. She stopped on her way down the hall and opened the door that led to the most immediate step in her future. Her birthday was less than a month away. My big three-oh. The things she wanted hadn’t changed: a husband, children of her own, the fairytale wedding she’d dreamed about all her life. This room represented a new layer, a new direction. The Mickey Mouse clock on the night stand chimed softly, interrupting her musings. Two o’clock. Better get a move on. She closed the door. She hadn’t shared her decision to become a foster parent with anyone. She knew the girls would be thrilled, she couldn’t wait to see Steve’s reaction to her news.

Reviews for Terri

Diana Brandmeyer rated it 5 of 5 stars false I'm excited that I was able to read this copy before it is available thanks to the author.
Now's the time to pick up Callie before Terri is released so you'll be in on the beginning of the series. Not to worry that you won't be able to follow Terri, while part of as series it is a goodread on it's on.

Terri Hayes runs a day care center but her biggest desire is to have a family of her own. She hasn’t found the right man to marry and she’s almost 30. Terri decides she won’t wait to be a mom. Without telling her friends she applies to become a foster parent knowing she can handle working and being a mom.

To her surprise things don’t go well. Anyone who is a mom will relate with “I’ve been there!” and sometimes laughter as problem after problem arrives along with the first child she fosters.
I enjoyed Terri even more than Callie, Srock’s first book because the story line felt so real. Right down to the uncertainty about the new man in her life—the one that already has teenage children and doesn’t want anymore.

Will Terri be strong enough to break it off with Steve because her dream includes having a baby and his doesn’t?

There is much more to say about Terri, but then it would spoil the book for you. The Women of Valley View is turning out to be a delightful series. 

Robin Patchen rated it 5 of 5 stars false Sharon Srock scores another winner with the second in her Valley View series, Terri. Terri's learned to live with her single-ness, but after watching a program about foster kids, she realizes it's time to pour her love into a child. The day she accepts a little girl from the foster care system, her well-ordered life begins to crumble, beginning with a flood in her house and going downhill from there.

Sometimes funny and often moving, Terri will touch your heart and remind you that not only is it okay to open your heart up to others--little ones and full-grown ones alike--it's the greatest blessing of all.

Cheri Swalwell rated it 5 of 5 stars false I just finished reading the second book in the Women of Valley View series, Terri. I was privileged to be able to read an advanced reader's copy. As with Callie, the first book, I couldn’t put it down. Despite my busy schedule of late, it took me only three sittings to read it from beginning to end. Not because it’s short, but because I didn’t want to quit reading.

We were introduced to the main characters in this novel in Callie, and that right there set me up to like the story. I love connecting with fictional people and then continuing my “friendship” with them in another book. The great part about it is that there are four books in this series, so I have a feeling that I will get to keep seeing Callie and Benton, and now Terri, for two more books.

However, that alone doesn’t draw me into a book and keep me coming back. The characters have to be realistic and I have to somehow feel a connection and want to care about them. All that is accomplished and much more. There is humor, romance, and just realistic living portrayed in the pages of this series that make me want to continue to be a part of the community of Valley View.

I also love how Ms. Srock doesn’t portray all the characters as carbon copies of each other. Some of the character have been raised in a more sheltered Christian environment so their experiences are a little naïve, but other characters have had more life experiences, allowing them to relate to people on a different level. I love how they all interact with each other and the real sense of community that is portrayed really drew me in. The aspects in the Bible where God talks about us fellowshipping with other believers, having a community of love and understanding as well as accountability and keeping each other “on the right road” isn’t preached in these books, it’s lived out through the pages. It’s a town I would love to live in.

There is a lot of humor and fun and just an overall great storyline, yet there were many instances too where I found myself tearing up. I could feel the emotions that Terri was feeling. Ms. Srock does a great job portraying not only Terri’s struggles but also those of the men in the book. Too many times, even in well-written fiction, men sound more like women and take on women qualities and feelings. Ms. Srock does a great job keeping the men “men” and the women “women.” That just adds to the overall sense of reality that flows throughout the entire story.

If you haven’t read Callie yet, I would encourage you to pick it up today. If you have read Callie and are eagerly waiting to read Terri, it will be released on April 12th, which will be here before you know it. It’s my opinion that this is definitely one book you want to put on your “must be read” list.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Sharon you did it again! Love this story!!!, June 4, 2013
After reading Callie, the first book of this set, I was so intrigued by Terri's character and couldn't wait to get to know her more. Wow, Terri, your compassion, dedication, the love you share, you wow me in every chapter! I related to you so much. Your story is powerful and oh so heartwarming. The turns within your life, you show us how to not only conquer the world but to trust our hearts with Gods guidance and loving embrace. Sharon, you have done it again, this set is one of my all time favorite reads! I'm very excited for Pam's story! Thank you for bringing these awesome characters into our hearts! 
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, May 29, 2013

By Linda Weaver Clarke - Terri is a delightful story, the second book in Women of Valley View. The humor is great and the author had me bursting into laughter several times. The romance is delectable and I found myself sighing and rereading the sweet romance scenes between Terri and Steve. The storyline is so interesting, dealing with being a foster parent, and seeing the other side of the problem. The author doesn't portray the parents whose child is taken away as bad people, but someone who needs help. This is just a minor part of the story but it shows how social services can help people get back on their feet and be better parents. I have several favorite quotes from this book and here is one I'll share with you: "The workings of a woman's brain have been a mystery since Eve."  

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for next book!!!!, May 10, 2013

By Finally Living
This review is from: Terri (Women of Valley View) (Kindle Ed After reading Callie this week, couldn't wait to read Terri!!! What a great story of a young woman holding onto God's promises for her life. Definitely could relate with all the children in the story line. What a great story for the young and the old. Definitely recommend this book for the young teenage girl looking for her promises.
I cried, laughed and cried again. Never have I read a book plus its sequel in a weeks time. Now my son has started reading the first book in this series, at the age of 15. Thank you Sharon for sharing your dreams with the world!!!

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited about Terri. I am also excited about the Facebook party.
    This book sounds so good and I can't wait to get it. Maxie