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Mandi Blake Books

A Thousand Words - Signed Paperback

A Thousand Words - Signed Paperback

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One word can lead to a thousand, but one secret might cost them everything.

A Thousand Words is the prequel to the Unfailing Love series. 

Main Tropes

  • Opposites Attract
  • Brother's Best friend
  • Grumpy Sunshine


One word can lead to a thousand, but one secret might cost them everything.

Tyler’s last year of residency is all work and no play, just the way he likes it. His life would be smooth sailing into his medical career if he could improve his bedside manner. He agrees to a blind date but only to practice communication skills. Then, he’s speechless when he sees who is across the table.

Sissy isn’t one to turn down an adventure, especially not a blind date with a reportedly handsome doctor. When the blind date turns out to be her brother’s friend, Tyler, she’s not at all disappointed. Can she convince him to go with the flow for once?

He’s cautious, and she throws caution to the wind. When Tyler’s loyalty is torn between his friend and the woman he’s falling for, one unspoken word could be enough to change everything.

A Thousand Words is the prequel to the best-selling Unfailing Love series. It's a full-length novel with a satisfying happily ever after.

Read Chapter One

Sissy’s heart beat wildly, as if someone was banging against the walls of her chest. Her deep breaths were coming faster, and she tried to remember to inhale through her nose and exhale through her mouth. Coach Painter used to chant that helpful tip during softball practice back in high school.

Feeling too young to be this winded so early on in the game, she pushed harder as she neared the finish line—a rust-stained privacy fence at the back of the Wilsons’ yard. She’d have to consider purchasing a gym membership if a ten-year-old outran her.

“Go, go, go! You’ve got him beat!” Claire screamed from somewhere behind Sissy.

Ahead, Jared faced her with his arms reaching out to his sides—one for Sissy and one for Cody, who raced beside her. His quick steps set a pace for her to match if she wanted to beat the kid in the sprint across the yard.

With a wide smile that strained her cheeks, Sissy slapped Jared’s hand and tried to slow her all-out run. Cody collided with the fence seconds before Sissy did the same. Her open palms stung against the wood where she tried to brace herself for the impact.

Hoots and cheers mingled in the yard. She couldn’t figure out who’d won over all the yelling.

Jared lifted Cody’s hand like a referee in a boxing ring. The commotion the kids made over the race could rival a prime time title fight.

“She had you!” Claire yelled with a finger pointed at her older brother, Cody.

A triumphant smile spread across the kid’s face. “When? Because I’m pretty sure she ate my dust.”

Sissy propped her hands on her hips. “Wait just a minute. I think eating your dust is a little much.”

“Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” Cody chanted as he did a celebratory dance. He had decent moves for a kid.

“Okay. I can be a good loser,” Sissy said. “I’ll just remember that I always beat you at Pictionary.”

Cody playfully glared at her. “That game is rigged.”

Sissy laughed and wrapped her arms around the kid before swinging him around in a circle.

Claire bounced on her toes as Sissy slowed the whirl to a stop. She and Cody staggered and held onto each other as they tried to regain their balance.

“My turn! My turn!” Claire cried. Her strawberry-blonde curls fluttered as she hopped.

Sissy stumbled over to Claire who giggled in delight as they spun around.

“Mom!” Jared shouted as he dashed across the yard.

Sissy slowed the twirl to a stop and set Claire’s feet on the ground before looking for Dr. Wilson. She was home earlier than Sissy had expected.

“Hey!” Sissy raised her hand in greeting as the rest of her body fell to the ground like a log.

The kids laughed as Sissy shook the dizziness from her vision. Thankfully, the Wilsons had an over-landscaped yard with that fluffy grass that seemed to stay pretty year-round, so the fall hadn’t caused any damage.

Claire giggled as she stumbled to her mother. “Mommy!”

Marie Wilson wrapped her daughter in a tight hug. “Hey, sweet pea.”

Claire kissed her mother’s cheek before running away. “I’m not done playing!”

Sissy stood and wiped a few stray blades of grass from her jean shorts. “I didn’t expect you back until later.”

Sissy watched the Wilson kids almost every weekday after school, until Marie and David got home from work. Every once in a while, she got a call to babysit on the weekends. Today, the Wilsons had gone to lunch with some friends.

Marie stood to her full height and greeted Sissy with a smile. “Denise got a call from their daughter during lunch. She was having contractions, and they decided to head on over to the hospital.” Marie shrugged. “It’s their first grandbaby, so they’re excited.”

Marie and David were in their early fifties with young kids who weren’t near the age of giving them grandkids. Sissy still had a hard time picturing her boss’s friends having grandkids already. The Wilsons’ kids were siblings they adopted a few years ago after enduring decades of infertility struggles.

Sissy rested her hands on her hips, still trying to catch her breath from the race and the twirling. “I bet they’re over the moon.”

Marie tilted her head toward the house while keeping her attention on the kids. “Come on in. Let me get your payment for the week.”

Sissy followed Marie inside. The Wilson’s home was a Carolina-blue Victorian built in the early 1900s, and Sissy had fallen in love with it when Marie had hired her to redesign the kitchen and dining room two years ago.

Sissy had a favorite room in almost every house she worked on, and the kitchen won that title for the Wilson’s house by a landslide. Her favorite colors were silvers and pale blues. When Marie and David had agreed to this design, Sissy knew she’d be saving it for her own house one day. Even if she felt lightyears away from getting her own house and settling down with a family, she could always dream.

Marie sniffed the air. “It smells amazing in here.”

“We made cookies. Would you believe the boys helped?”

“No, I don’t believe it. I’m also reluctant to try them now.”

Sissy laughed and swiped the cookie crumbs from the kitchen table into her hand.

“How were the kids today?” Marie asked as she opened the sub-zero fridge.

“Perfect. Claire ate her entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Marie handed Sissy a bottle of water. “Good. I know she’ll eat when she’s hungry, but sometimes I worry about her size.” Claire had a small build, even for a six-year-old, and her appetite was sometimes non-existent.

Sissy sat on a barstool where she had a clear view of the kids in the backyard and chugged the water. Georgia summers were brutal, and she spent a quarter of the afternoons reapplying sunscreen on the kids. Her own dark complexion wasn’t as prone to burning, but she slathered the sunscreen on herself a few times a day just in case.

“Any plans this weekend?” Marie asked as she pulled a wallet out of her purse.

“You’re lookin’ at ‘em.”

“No dates?” Marie’s eyes squinted the slightest fraction, giving Sissy a pitying look.

Sissy waved a dismissive hand. “It’s fine. I think I’ve had enough first dates to last me through the decade.” She wasn’t sure how she felt about the dating scene, but she was tired of the long string of bad dates she’d been on this year.

“Not every date is going to end up with your drink in his face,” Marie assured.

Sissy chuckled and covered her cheeks with her hands. Her skin was too tan to show much of a blush, but the mention of her last disaster of a date had her face heating up.

“Don’t get me wrong. He deserved it,” Marie said as she handed Sissy a few bills.

Sissy accepted the payment and tucked it into her pocket. “I know. I still feel bad about the mess I made. Not all of it landed on his face.” She’d hung around to help the waitress clean up while apologizing profusely. She left an extra-generous tip when she paid the full dinner bill, and the waitress had been nice enough to pack up her meal to go.

Marie tilted her chin up. “He deserved every drop, and I expect you to continue to stand your ground when a man proposes something like that on the first date.”

Sissy rested her forehead on the cool counter, unwilling to look at Marie after she brought up the crude things that guy had talked about.

Lifting her head, Sissy made a clicking noise behind her teeth. “I’m starting to wonder if guys are just like that these days. Dating is so fast paced, and everyone is…” She couldn’t even finish the sentence. Sissy was strong in her faith in the Lord and in her commitment to waiting until marriage for anything physical beyond a kiss, yet the guy had been blunt about what he expected to happen after dinner. He’d practically asked for the sweet tea she’d tossed his way.

“Don’t settle,” Marie said sternly. “What about Christy? Any plans with her?”

“I’m sure we’ll do something. There’s a new movie she’s been talking about.”

Sissy’s roommate, Christy, was a huge movie buff, and they usually ended up at the theater at least once a month.

It wasn’t that Sissy minded hanging out with her roommate. She just preferred romantic comedies. Christy watched anything and everything, and that usually included crude humor or violence that made Sissy’s stomach turn.

A small wrinkle formed between Marie’s brows as she studied Sissy. “You know, there’s a man I work with that might be a good match for you.”

Sissy straightened. “Really?” She loved the fun side of dating, just not the train wrecks. And she was a huge romantic. She hadn’t grown out of the fairytale phase of her childhood, and she could binge watch the Hallmark channel, despite Christy’s critiques of the made-for-TV movies.

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. He’s a gentleman, he’s intelligent, and he’s a Christian.” Marie’s eyes widened. “He’s perfect for you.”

“Sounds like my kinda man. You know, the ones who are too good to be true.”

“Tyler is a sweetheart.” Marie tapped on her phone before looking up. “But he can be a bit gruff at times. He’s not rude or anything. Just a little too serious sometimes.”

“Oh.” Sissy’s excitement faded. She knew all about Type-A men. They tended to be more put out by her free spirit than romantically interested.

Marie placed a hand over Sissy’s. “I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think the two of you might truly work out. He needs someone like you to nudge him out of his comfort zone.”

“That’s the thing. I’ve been down that road before. It leads to a dead end.” Sissy propped her elbow on the counter and watched the kids in the backyard with her chin in her hand.

“Oh, come on. If anyone can show him a good time, it’s you.”

“Yeah, but serious people don’t always like me. I’m their worst nightmare.”

Marie chuckled. “You’re serious about the things that matter. You’re great at taking care of the kids. I never worry about them when you’re here. You pay your bills on time, you change the oil in your car, and you’re a wonderful business woman.” Marie held up her hands, indicating the stunning kitchen. “You did a better job on this house than most professionals could have done.”

Once again, Sissy was thankful her friend Brian’s mom had introduced her to Marie when she first moved to Atlanta for college.

“How about I tell him about you on Monday, and the two of you can have some time to think about it or text before you consider meeting up?”

Sissy tilted her head back and forth as she considered. “Okay. You can give him my number if he’s interested.”

“I just sent his to you. Just so you’ll know who’s calling.”

“Thanks for this. I am kind of excited. You said you work with him?”

Marie leaned on the island. “He’s a doctor at the clinic. He’s in his last year of residency.”

Sissy’s brows lifted. “Impressive. I’m not sure what I’ll have in common with a doctor, though.”

“You get along with me just fine,” Marie reminded her.

“That’s true. What does he look like?”

Marie grinned. “He’s handsome. Probably about twenty-eight years old. Medium-brown hair and dark eyes.”

“You had me at Christian and handsome,” Sissy said, rising from the barstool. “I hope that means his clothes won’t be tea stained by the end of dinner.”

“Great.” Marie placed a hand on Sissy’s shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “I’m excited for you. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before.”

“Probably because I have a new terrible date story every time I see you.”

Marie nodded. “And I can’t see Tyler being anything but kind to a woman on a date. Yep, I think this is a great idea.”

Sissy hugged Marie. “Thanks again.”

“Anytime. I’m proud of you.”

Sissy leaned back. “For what?”

“For not giving in. I admire you for sticking to your morals. You’re special, and I’m glad you aren’t giving up on finding that special someone that the Lord will send just for you.”

Sissy shrugged. “You know what they say. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

“That’s my girl.” Marie patted Sissy on the back. “See you Monday.”

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