Sara's Promise

Award Winning Romance Novel

Sara's Promise
Cover by Tugboat Design

 Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two wonderful children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?  

 Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise?

**Sara's Promise is a 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist in Romance**

**Sara's Promise is a semi-finalist in Romance in The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards**

Contemporary Romance
Family Drama
Contemporary Women's Fiction

Buy Sara's Promise on:

Amazon Kindle $4.99

Paperback on Amazon $11.99

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Enjoy the first chapter of Sara's Promise:

Chapter One

"Mom, you just don't understand." Fifteen-year-old Sandra Grafton sighed loudly as she pushed aside a stray strand of strawberry blonde hair that had escaped its ponytail. "Everyone, I mean everyone has one."

"Yes, dear, I do understand. But no, you still can't have one," Sara said calmly as she continued preparing dinner. It was past six and her husband was due home any minute from his office in Beaverton. She always tried to have dinner ready for him when he arrived, knowing how hungry he was after his long day of work and his commute between his office and their home in Seaside. She also hoped to have Sandy subdued before he walked through the door.

"You just don't want me to fit in. You want me to be shunned by all my friends," Sandy dramatically accused her mother. "You don't want me to be like everyone else."

Sara turned from the sink where she was filling a pan with water and stared at her teenaged daughter. She wore tight bell-bottomed jeans, platforms, and a form-fitting purple sweater with fringe hanging from the sleeves, along with the color of the day, purple, streaked in her blonde hair. Her face was covered with as much makeup as Sara would allow and from her ears hung long, gold mesh earrings suitable for evening wear only. She was as much a seventies throwback as any of the other teenagers Sara saw coming out of Seaside High School, so fitting in was not a problem. This much Sara would allow, for clothes could be changed and hair could be washed. But she had her limits.

"Not everyone has one, dear," Sara said calmly, returning to filling the pan. "Your friend Brittany doesn't."

"Brittany isn't cool and doesn't hang out with the right people. Do you want me to be uncool like her? Hanging out with the geeks of the school?"

Sara sighed as she headed to the stove and placed the pan of water on the burner. She wasn't agreeing or disagreeing with Sandy, she was just tired of this conversation. "Honey, why don't you let me finish in here? Then I'll make us each a nice mug of hot cocoa and we can talk this over calmly."

Sandy rolled her eyes. "Mom, I'm not three years old anymore. You can't talk me out of it with cocoa."

"Three large marshmallows, just how you like it," Sara said with a wink.


"Why don't you give Mom a break?" Sammy interrupted as he entered the kitchen looking for a snack. At thirteen, Sammy was as tall as his older sister and slender too, growing so fast Sara could hardly keep him in pants or food. Today he had on tan Dockers that threatened to brush his ankles at any moment and a red polo shirt, clothes he wore when he played his favorite sport, golf. He was the lead player on the middle school team and there was already talk of him playing high school golf a year early. Right now though, he was in search of one thing, food.

"Shut up, club head," Sandy told him angrily. To her, golf was the stupidest game in the world. "This is none of your business."

Sammy shrugged and captured the last chocolate chip cookie from the cookie jar. Giving his mom an "I tried" look, he sauntered back into the living room.

"Sandy, don't call your brother names, and the answer is still no."

Sandy's blue eyes flashed. "I hate you. You're the meanest mother in the world." Turning on her heel, she clomped out of the kitchen and up the stairs, ending her dramatic departure by slamming her bedroom door.

"Why does she hate you today?" William Grafton entered the kitchen loosening his tie and slipping off his suit jacket. Kissing Sara lightly on the cheek, he gave her that knowing smile of a parent who'd walked in on this scene many times before.

"For the same reason she hated me yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. I can put up with purple hair and funky clothes, but I refuse to let her pierce her nose," Sara said lightly. She rarely got angry, especially when it concerned the children. She had an easy way of handling everyone and everything, making it appear she was a pushover, yet usually quietly getting her way in the end.

William smiled at his wife's calm demeanor. In their seventeen years of marriage, he couldn't remember ever seeing her blood-boiling mad, a complete opposite of their daughter who seemed to always be in a rage.

"So, how was your day?" she asked as she started cutting carrots.

"Better than yours I bet," he told her with a mischievous smirk.

Sara stared over at him and rolled her eyes, acknowledging that being with the kids wasn't always easy. She continued watching her husband, appreciating his tousled dark hair and animated brown eyes as he told her about the new house plans he was drawing up for a client. She knew there was much more to tell but he rarely spoke of the larger projects the firm was working on or bidding for. Designing homes was his passion, imaginative and personal spaces like the home he'd built for them here in Seaside. The other projects brought in the big money, but she knew the homes brought him the most personal satisfaction.

The rest of the evening went as it usually did with the family of four eating their evening meal, Sandy sulking in her seat and Sammy discussing his latest golf swing. Later, Sammy left with a friend to hit balls at the driving range before dark and William headed to his den to work on the house plans he'd been discussing earlier. Sandy flew off to her room again after another refusal from her mom to let her pierce her nose, playing her music at an ear-deafening volume and no doubt calling her best friend to rant about the unfairness of evil mothers.

Sara went through her usual routine of cleaning up the evening dishes and wiping down the kitchen to sparkling perfection. She wandered through the house, picking up stray items the kids had left out. She fluffed sofa pillows, folded towels in the laundry room and made sure all was tidy and in its place. Only after she felt everything was perfect did she let herself sit and relax on the deck outside the living room, a cup of herbal tea to keep her company and the view of the Pacific Ocean to calm her.

It had been a perfect March day on the Oregon coast, and even though the air was chilly, it felt good to Sara as she sipped her tea and reflected upon her day. Like all of her days, today had been a busy one, running the kids to and from school, running errands and doing housework. Her days were filled from early morning until late evening, yet sometimes she wondered what she'd accomplished after a long day. Once a week, she volunteered at the middle school library, helping sort and reshelve books. Then there was the local community art center, where she volunteered her time typing up their monthly newsletter, reporting the accomplishments of local artists and writers, and offering information on workshops and grant funds. She didn't attend the workshops. She didn't sell paintings or win contests. She only reported other artists' accomplishments. And sometimes, in a quiet moment like this, she wondered about her life and where she was headed, if anywhere. But then all she had to do was look around her beautiful home, see the smile on her son's flushed face as he recounted his latest golf achievement, or occasionally capture a giggle from her fast-maturing daughter to remember what her life was all about and to remind her it was all worth it.

Later that evening, when all was quiet and both children were tucked away for the night, in the safety of their rooms, Sara walked into her own bedroom and slowly began to undress for bed. The master bedroom suite was spacious with an expanse of windows facing the ocean and a fireplace on the opposite wall. They had the luxury of their own private bathroom and two walk-in closets. The room held a king-size bed covered with a blue striped, down quilt, a heavy, oak dresser and mirror, two fat, blue chairs and ottomans by the brick fireplace, and other miscellaneous pieces of furniture. But what the room boasted was the brilliant sunlight during the day that the wall of windows permitted.

In the far corner stood an easel, an unfinished painting upon it, and a table beside it, holding brushes and paints that hadn't been touched in months. Sara walked over to the painting and examined it, running her hand lightly over the watercolors, the soft blues and tans that were the beginnings of a beach and ocean scene. When had she started this painting? She couldn't remember. When would she finish it? She had no idea.

"Daydreaming?" William asked as he quietly entered the room. Sara turned, startled at first, then gave him one of those smiles, the kind that made her whole face light up and her blue-green eyes sparkle. In truth, William had been watching her from the doorway for a while, standing there only in her sweater. He admired how her long legs still curved in all the right places, and how her slender arms and hands still moved with the grace of a dancer. At thirty-six, her blonde hair still shined bright from the touch of the sun, and not a trace of age had etched itself upon her face. She was as beautiful as the day he'd met her in college, when she was only eighteen and full of joy, hope and promise. And although her classic features and tall, slender body had always made men take a second glance, it was her brilliant blue-green eyes that held William's attraction. They had attracted him to her all those years ago, and they still captivated him.

Sara continued to smile at him as she headed to her closet and stepped inside, slipping the heavy sweater off and replacing it with a satin nightgown. She walked again past the painting to the dresser mirror to brush her hair. This time she ignored the half-finished watercolor painting as if it were of no importance.

William came up behind her and placed a soft kiss on the nape of her neck. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, he asked gently, "When will you finish it?"

Sara shrugged. "When I have time," she said casually, although inside she felt a tug at her heart. She had no idea where that time would come from.

"When you make the time, you mean," William said softly, as if reading her thoughts. He kissed her again then headed into the bathroom to get ready for bed, as Sara pulled back the comforter and sheets. But again, she found her eyes, then herself, drifting back to the painting in the corner. Most days, she found it easy to ignore the fact that she wasn't painting, wasn't creating illusions of colors floating on canvas. She could busy herself with everything else that came with the job of wife and mother. But tonight, it seemed to haunt her, this need to create, to use her God-given talents, the ones that didn't include minivans, washing machines, or computers.

She sighed as she looked at the brochures piled on the paint table, brochures telling of upcoming painting workshops, contests, and fellowships. They were there to include in the monthly newsletter, but they were also there to remind her of what she was missing out on.

She had been good once, more than good, accomplished, and she could revive her talents as easily as she could whip up a batch of cookies. At the young age of eighteen, her first year of college, she'd already won several awards for her paintings and even had one circulated in a national art show, showing at art galleries across the country. Her teachers saw her talent and nurtured her in the two years she attended school. But by then, she'd met William, an architecture major, who was two years ahead of her in school. When he graduated, they married, and she left school behind but not her painting. As he began his career designing homes, she continued painting, winning more contests and awards. But then Sandra was born, and two years later, Samuel, and Sara found her time filled with diapers, feedings, playgroups, and all else motherhood entailed. Then William and his partner started their own firm and his hours became long, so Sara threw herself completely into the kids. They built their dream house, which Sara helped design and completely decorated from top to bottom. And the years went on, with each passing year Sara telling herself she would find more time for painting as the children grew older. But each year she found her time became more precious as she ran the kids around and attended their various activities. The only painting she'd completed in all those years was the one of their house, the one that hung proudly over the mantel in the living room. Others were started but usually sat, like the one in the corner now, until they were put away in a closet when she could no longer bear to look at the unfinished canvases. Maybe this one would join them, she thought sadly, as she continued to study it. Maybe that was where they all belonged.

William came back into the room, wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, catching Sara's eye as she turned from the painting once more. Both smiled, and she padded across the soft carpet to crawl into bed beside him. Taking a tube of cucumber-melon hand lotion out of the nightstand drawer, she squeezed a bead of lotion into her palm before dropping it back into the drawer. Slowly, she started rubbing the lotion into her hands and arms.

William smiled at her as he watched her nightly routine of rubbing into her hands and arms. "You really should make time for yourself to paint again. The kids don't need you half as much as you think."

Sara looked up at him, the man she'd spent almost half her life with, the man she knew she'd spend forever with. His wavy black hair was damp from the shower, curling gently at his temples and neck. He wore it longer than fashion dictated these days, and she liked it on him that way. She always had. She placed her hand on his chest and snuggled up next to him. He felt warm and smelled of soap and shampoo. He felt good.

"They still need me more than they think, even at their ages," she said into his chest.

William wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "From what I heard today, they don't appreciate you as much as they should," he said gently, adding softly, "None of us do."

Sara smiled appreciatively. It was rare for William to acknowledge all that she did. She knew he appreciated it all and depended upon her completely. He worked long hours at his business, as well as putting in several more hours each night at home, and her being available to the kids twenty-four hours a day made it easier for him. He never had to worry about being home at a certain time, who'd feed the kids, who'd pick up the dry cleaning or who'd fill the refrigerator with groceries. It was all done, magically, quietly, completely, by Sara. Holidays, birthdays, vacations, everything was planned by her and her alone. And she loved doing it. But it did make it feel all the more worthwhile when he acknowledged the work she put into family and home.

"You know, you've spoiled us all," William continued, pulling her even closer. "We would be completely lost without you."

Sara pulled away and looked up at him, her expression serious. "Then it's a good thing none of you will ever know what that's like," she said with certainty.

He smiled. "How can you be so sure?"

"I just know," Sara said. "Even if something happened to me, I'd still find a way to be here for you and the kids. That's how strong our bond is."

William looked at her, half-amused, half-skeptical, making Sara laugh softly.

"Oh, Billy," she said, calling him by the nickname of long ago that only she still used. "I've told you a thousand times, we're soul mates. We were together before we met, we'll be together long after we're gone. And even if we cannot be together for a time, I'll find a way to make sure you and the kids are happy and cared for, one way or another."

It was William's turn to laugh, not unkindly. He loved her artistic ways in everything she did. Especially in the way she viewed love and life.

"You are forever the romantic," he told her, kissing her gently on the forehead. "And I hope you're right."

Sara raised her lips to his, and they kissed, soft and sweet at first, then turning warm and passionate. Soon they were naked in each other's arms with a passion that only years of loving one person can bring, and Sara once again showed him just how sweet forever could be.


What People Are Saying About SARA'S PROMISE

As featured on USA Today's Happily Ever After Blog -- "A rather charming love story, which should appeal to incurable romantics in search of a pleasant diversion. --Catherine Langrehr, IndieReader

 "Realistic descriptions and well-developed characters make Sara's Promise come to life for the reader." - Crystal Marie - Amazon

"The characters are real. They will make you cry, cheer, and cringe, but they won't let you down." - Ann Swann, Author - Amazon

"Sara's Promise grabbed my attention from the get go and hasn't let go, even after turning the last page. The characters were solid and true to themselves and the story was very compelling." - Norma Budden, Book Blogger - Amazon

"I have to say honestly that every book written by Deanna gets better and better. I have a lot of favorite authors such as Danielle Steel, Karen Kingsbury, but Deanna Sletten is right up there with them. I cannot wait until the next and the next and the next. She is completely awesome.

"This story touched the very inner feelings of my heart. Whether you believe this could happen or not is strictly your decision. But, I can guarantee you will be very happy that you read it." - Dianne Kennedy - Goodreads

"Realistic and well-developed characters draw you in from the start and keep your interest up as they battle personal conflicts while striving to hold together as a family." - Sandra - Goodreads

Visit SARA'S PROMISE on Goodreads and add it to your Books-To-Read.

~A big thank you to Deborah at Tugboat Design for creating the book cover for Sara's Promise.~