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Hattie's Preacher

Hattie's Preacher by Sherry Derr-Wille
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David Long's life as a Philadelphia lawyer changes when God calls him to preach the Gospel. Nothing in David's training has prepared him for the set-in-their-ways congregation of his first church in Mortonville--to say nothing of the church pianist and her immediate affect on him. Hattie Fairchild's one act of defiance is to play piano for the church and to read novels during the sermons. Never in her wildest dreams does she ever envision the new minister turning her life upside down. David and Hattie are thrown together by circumstance but are drawn together by God’s will and their own desire. As Mortonville’s official Old Maid and its new unorthodox minister, they make quite a striking couple. It is only when David learns the truth about Hattie that the fur begins to fly.

Hattie has spent her life in the shadow of her father who beat her for minor infractions of his perception of how she should conduct herself. As he did so he spouted Bible verses and assured Hattie that women were the Lord’s leavings and not fit to go to church.

David is shocked to learn that not only doesn’t Hattie believe and she spends her Sunday mornings at church with her nose buried in one of her novels, but that a father could do something like this to his own child. Determined to help Hattie he finds the road to her acceptance is lined with many pitfalls.

David finds he must deal with his own jealousy as well as the vicious gossip of the town’s busy bodies. When all of the hurdles he finds thrown in his path new ones are sent by God to challenge not only his convictions but also Hattie’s new found faith.

Awe-Struck Publishing; November 2004
175 pages; ISBN 9781587494789
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Title: Hattie's Preacher
Author: Sherry Derr-Wille
You've become a fussy old maid, Hattie Fairchild, her inner voice declared. "I most certainly have," Hattie said aloud, as she closed the door to the church. "Did you say something to me?" " I was just muttering to myself. You must be the new minister." "Then you have me at a disadvantage." Hattie could feel a blush creep into her cheeks. "I-I'm Hattie Fairchild," she stammered, extending her hand. "I play the piano. I was on my way to meet you, since I didn't find a list of the hymns for tomorrow's service." David took her hand. As he did she became painfully aware of the feel of flesh against flesh. Any proper lady would have been wearing gloves if she were out for an afternoon stroll. Of course, Hattie wasn't strolling. She was cleaning, but no one knew that she carried lemon oil and soft cloths in her music bag on Saturday afternoon any more than they knew about the novels that occupied the same space on Sunday mornings. David smiled at her comment, the gesture causing a pair of deep dimples to appear in his clean-shaven cheeks. Instantly a comment her mother often made popped into her head. Dimples in a child's cheeks are the touch of the angels, a dimple in its chin is the mark of the devil. Hattie didn't believe in either angels or devils, but this man certainly looked angelic with those dimples, which were so deep she could get lost in them. "I just found Reverend Hall's note about the hymns," David continued, bringing Hattie back to the present. "I was hoping to get here before you arrived." Everyone had told him about the mysterious Miss Fairchild, from Jonathan to Ralph Mason. From what he'd heard, she came and went without people even seeing her. The general consensus, he concluded, was that Hattie Fairchild was an old maid and more than a bit strange. David didn't care how strange she was; the lady intrigued him. He couldn't help but wonder if her flaming red hair and emerald green eyes hid a tempter or a more passionate nature. Whichever, she certainly wasn't the woman everyone described. He couldn't be so cold as to call her old. If she'd seen her thirtieth birthday, he'd be surprised. He supposed by the rural standards of Mortonville she was old. In Philadelphia, he knew several women who opted to marry later in life. It certainly didn't make them old. "I'm sorry if I've caused you any inconvenience," he said, holding her hand a bit longer than necessary. He enjoyed the blush the gesture brought about. "That's--that's perfectly all right, Reverend Long. I usually take the list of hymns home to practice them." "I thought perhaps you practiced here on Saturday afternoons." He knew perfectly well what she did on Saturday afternoons. On Thursday he talked to the young girl who did the cleaning. When he asked her about cleaning in the balcony, she said no one ever went up there, so she never bothered. One trip to the balcony told him someone bothered. The pews up there were covered with a layer of dust, but the piano carried a high gloss shine. The keys were as perfectly white as they had been on the day they were installed. From other pianos he'd seen, keys often yellowed with lack of proper care. Only one person in the congregation would take such good care of the piano and she now stood in front of him. From the faint smell of lemon oil, he knew his assumptions were correct. "In the late afternoon the light is much better at my home than in the balcony," she said, in an attempt to explain why she didn't practice at the church. "I could light a lamp, but it seems a waste of good lamp oil." "Could I persuade you to play through them for me now?" David asked. "Since I'm not familiar with your technique, I prefer not to be surprised tomorrow morning."