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Authors: Lauralee Bliss

A Storybook Finish

BOOK: A Storybook Finish
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A STORYBOOK FINISH

by Lauralee Bliss

3 LAURALEE BLISS is a multi-published author of award-winning inspirational

fiction. Lauralee enjoys writing

novels that are reminiscent of

a roller coaster ride for the reader.

Her desire is that readers will turn

the pages until they reach the end

and come away with both an entertaining

story and a lesson that ministers

to the heart. Besides writing, Lauralee

home schools her son and enjoys gardening, roaming

yard sales, visiting historical sites, and hiking a mountain

trail. She invites you to visit her web site at:

www.lauraleebliss.com

Books by Lauralee Bliss

HEARTSONG PRESENTS

HP249—Mountaintop

HP333—Behind the Mask

HP457—A Rose Among Thorns

Don’t miss out on any of our super romances. Write to us at the

following

address for information on our newest releases and club

information.

Heartsong Presents Readers’ Service

PO Box 719

Uhrichsville, OH 44683

Or visit www.heartsongpresents.com

4 A Storybook

Finish

Lauralee Bliss

5 To the fundraising reps and workers of Great American and

their families, many of whom are ardent readers and supporters

of my books. Thank you so much!

With thanks to Stephen McDowell and the Providence

Foundation for the use of their book, “In God We Trust Tour

Guide” in the writing of this novel.

A note from the author:

I love to hear from my readers! You may correspond

with me by writing:

Laura lee Bliss

Author Relations

PO Box 719

Uhrichsville, OH 44683

ISBN 1-58660-8347

A STORYBOOK FINISH

Copyright 2003 by Lauralee Bliss. All rights reserved. Except for

use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in

whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or

other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the permission of Heartsong Presents, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., PO Box

719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of

the Bible.

All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any

resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events

is purely coincidental.

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

6 Once upon a time lived a crazy, stressed-out, fundraising

consultant.

She arranged programs for schoolteachers who wanted to raise

money for student projects. He, a mean, grizzly man taught in a

dark foreboding classroom at Western High, and he was the one she

feared the most. Every day he would pace back and forth before his

chalkboard, wondering how he would tongue-lash the poor fundraising

consultant the next time she called. And every day she

would brave the phone lines to carry on a decent conversation with

him. She tried to help him organize a program that would raise the

money he needed But, alas, she didn’t know if triumph or failure

existed in her future.

Lindsay Thomas snapped open her eyes and giggled. What

a fairy tale that would make. The mean teacher versus the innocent

fundraising consultant. The only question was, Would it

have a happy ending? She shook her head. Enough of that. I

have work to do.

She pulled out a checklist and scanned it. Sponsor folders,

prize poster fliers, classroom envelopes, team goal charts. Uh,

prize bag full of toys, prospect lists—” She halted and whirled

to the empty cabinet. “My brochures for the sale! If my

brochures aren’t delivered today, I can’t kick off that fundraiser

in the morning at Western High. That history teacher

will have my head on a silver platter.

Wading through the cardboard boxes in her office that

contained previous shipments, Lindsay managed to reach the

7 front door of her apartment. On the stone steps sat three

mangled boxes bound with tape, dropped off by the delivery

man. No doubt they had been tossed in the back of some

dirty truck like garbage. The ripped corners of the boxes

revealed the slick, colored paper poking out of their shrink

wrap. The corners were crinkled from the rough treatment.

With a groan, Lindsay dragged in the first box that

must have weighed forty pounds. She inhaled a breath to calm her

rapid heartbeat and lugged in the other boxes. She then

plopped down on the carpet to complete the destruction the

delivery service had apparently started.

At least they’re here. She sighed. The brochures showed pictures

of chocolates and other treats the students would sell to

family and friends. Now she had everything to kick off the

fundraising event bright and early the next morning.

When the history teacher, Jeff Wheeler, had called on the

phone a few weeks back, asking her for a painless promotion

so the junior class could raise money for the prom, Lindsay

was delighted. She loved the idea of doing a program at her

alma mater, Western High. She talked him into signing up

for a program in which the students would sell items from a

brochure and which guaranteed the money he requested.

Instead of the usual enthusiasm she received from teachers

eager for revenue to meet their needs, Jeff Wheeler had

grumbled. “Why I was appointed to do this is beyond me,” he

said gruffly. “I’ve been in this school only a year, and they lay

this responsibility on me. They must like the idea of initiating

fresh blood. ‘Here’s the peon of the teaching force. Let him

run the fundraiser for the junior class.’”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but—”

“I was hired to teach history, the same as you’re hired to

8 conduct fundraisers. I never spotted the junior prom on my

list of teaching responsibilities. It’s just another thing I have

to do. My plate is full enough as it is.”

Lindsay wondered if the guy was really this uptight or if life

in general treated him badly. Maybe his wife had burnt the

morning toast or shrunk his favorite Rugby shirt in the wash.

He rattled on about the quizzes he still had to correct while

Lindsay thought back to her own junior prom and the wonderful

time she’d had with a guy named Ron. She had pleasant

memories of the evening—great dancing, good food, and a

lovely corsage with a scent that carried her across the dance

floor. She’d never spent more on a dress in her life.

Unfortunately, after graduation, Ron left for college on the West

Coast. They hadn’t spoken in years.

Jeff Wheeler continued. These students need history more

than a prom, if you ask me. No one can tell you anything about

the history of our nation. When I ask the classes what ship the

Pilgrims sailed on, they say the Carnival Cruise Line.”

“i’m sure they’re just joking,” Lindsay managed to say when

Jeff paused to draw a breath. She never knew guys to be talkative,

but this one had already outdone himself in ten minutes.

Maybe he had to get things offhis chest.

“One student actually put that answer on a test. I took ten

points off his paper. His father called me up, asking me why I

took off ten points when the question was worth only three.

When I told him I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of answer on a

test, the father said I had no sense of humor. He said I should

give the kid twenty points for creativity. Sure I would, if this

were a creative writing class. This is history. They’re supposed

to know historical facts. I wish the parents would also understand

that.”

9 Lindsay looked at her watch, thinking about the other

clients still awaiting her attention that day. She wondered

how long he would ramble on. This was a primary fault of

hers, the inability to cut off clients when they were in the

midst of a diatribe. She felt that if she did interrupt she would

face a cancelled contract. That would mean less in sales and

less money in her pocket.

“And I might as well tell you,” he went on, “I’m not thrilled

about working with salespeople. I’ve had bad experiences with

telemarketers. And those vacuum cleaning people who knock

on your door in the middle of dinner, forcing you to eat a

plate of cold spaghetti—”

Lindsay dearly wanted to interrupt and move on to other

things. She prayed the sales figures for this group would outweigh

the time lost in contacting other clients.

Jeff continued. “The kind that want to pick your pocket

when your back is turned. I don’t trust them. The only reason

I’m even doing this project is to try to get my foot in the door

of this school. I want to do some great things, like a history

club, for example. Or maybe even a history quiz bowl. But all

that needs money.”

“Sounds like some fine ideas the students would appreciate,”

Lindsay interjected, surprised she could sneak a word in edgewise.

“Perhaps after this project you would consider raising

money for those events?”

“This is plenty for me to handle right now. If this fundraiser

is a bust, then it won’t happen. How do you plan to ensure its

Success?”

“We have a wonderful prize program to motivate the students

to sell.”

“What kind of prizes? Not that cheap stuff you spend five

10 bucks to win at the county fair.”

Lindsay proceeded to tell him about the prizes: animated

phones, lava lamps, cameras, CD players. She also told him

about the first-day prizes and how the beginning of the sale

was critical to its success.

“Well, Miss Thomas, I expect it to be painless and profitable.

I haven’t the time or the gumption to deal with problems.

Fundraising is a necessary evil, but there’s nothing I

can do about it. I’m saddled with it. You understand, correct?”

Lindsay offered a salute to the phone sitting on the desk

while answering with a calm, “I’ll do my best to ensure a

satisfactory program, Mr. Wheeler.” She knew the importance

of instilling confidence in an irate teacher as she had been

taught to do in sales school. Yet all she wanted to do was get

off the phone and run to the bathroom for an aspirin to

relieve her headache.

“Just be sure you raise me the money I need, and everything

will be dandy.”

This guy’s a genuine toad on a lily pad, she thought, returning

to her prep work for the fundraising start. How someone

could live with a person like that went beyond her sense of

reasoning. During the last few days leading up to the sale,

Lindsay contemplated the success of the project. The idea of

initiating a program with an agitated sponsor did not bode

well for its success. Lindsay, however, was determined to make

it work. She had dealt with teachers’ emotions in the past.

She would put her best foot forward and do what needed to be

done to raise Jeff Wheeler the money he required. In the end,

he would sing her praises. That was the essence of her job as a

fundraising consultant.

Lindsay carried a stack of brochures to the office, nearly

11 tripping over a cardboard box left from a shipment of prizes.

Prizes, she knew, were the key to motivating the students to

sell. If they sold a certain number of items from the brochure,

they won the prizes: from banks filled with candy to stuffed

cartoon characters, to a radio or even a talking telephone.

She had sat up for hours one night studying the prizes,

making mental notes on how she would present the items to

generate enthusiasm among the students. In the conferences

she attended, the speakers told the sales reps how to make

the most out of their presentations. Playing with the prizes

in front of the student body was part of the game plan. She

went over it all step by step, everything she would need to

relate to the students, all the information in the mere twenty

minutes Jeff Wheeler had allotted for the assembly. Again,

she winced at the tone of his voice that spoke of his control

over the situation.

“You get a twenty-minute assembly, and that’s all I can

give,” he’d told her when she discussed aspects of the presentation

only yesterday. “I have enough trying to teach my

classes with the amount of time they give me on the schedule.

Please don’t waste time going over details unrelated to the

sale. Make it short and simple.”

“I feel sorry for his wife,” Lindsay grumbled, placing the

materials she would need for the next day inside a crate. The

Bible says contentious wives are the ones that live in the corner

of a roof. What about contentious men? Do they live in the basement?

Actually, he belongs in a pond where he can croak out his problems

to his heart’s content. I’m not to blame for his predicament with

the junior class. She exhaled loudly. Her breath fluffed the pale

brown bangs sweeping across her forehead. All I do in this job

is deal with other people’s hang-ups. No wonder I have no energy

12 left to handle my own.

Her hands began to shake while trying to put a folder of

envelopes inside the crate. This pent-up anxiety over Jeff

Wheeler and the presentation would never help her in the

end. She paused in her work to offer up a prayer for God’s

favor. Not long ago, she had heard a famous preacher share

words of wisdom about one’s thought life. No matter what she

might construe about Jeff and his personality, she must shift

her mind to good thoughts about the upcoming program.

Think on things that are true and of good repute, she recalled

from Scripture. Okay. The students are gonna love the prizes. The

Silly Slammers and Goofy phone will talk right on cue so the entire

assembly goes wild. In the end, Jeff Wheeler will smile and thank

me for a job well done. Lindsay nodded at this array of thoughts

that replaced the doubt.

That evening she doused any remaining flames of worry

with music from her favorite CD, along with a relaxing bubble

bath. Everything will go fine, she reasoned to herself, tracing a

path through the bubbles. Jeff Wheeler will be civil, and the

fundraising program will be a huge success. Oh, Lord, only You can

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