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Barbara Johannsen


I began writing short stories in grade school. On rainy days, the teacher would let me read one or two for the class. I had a beat up old binder that I wrote all my literary treasures in. In high school, I realized my earlier work stank—but by then, I was determined to become a writer. As time passed—and it does quickly, I found—my writing improved, my ability to tell a story, and my determination increased tenfold. Life got in the way when I married and even more so when our daughter was born. When our little princess was three, I began writing short Christian stories and submitting them to Christian magazines. I was thrilled when my first story was accepted.

Many magazine stories and Sunday school lessons later, I’m trying my hand at longer works. I write Inspirational romance as well as paranormal and fantasy romance. I love reading mysteries and may one day try to write one.

When I’m not at my computer, I enjoy traveling with my husband and spending time with our daughter. I love to shop, entertain at home, and meet new people. One of my favorite pastimes is reading.

I’d love to hear from readers.

Email : barbarajohannsen@prodigy.net

A Time to Heal

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Rachael Walters is a social worker. She identifies with remorse and sorrow almost every day. But it wasn’t a...

The hinge squeaked as the door of the food pantry was opened. Rachael turned from the desk, putting aside the thought of returning Coach Montgomery’s call. The afternoon promised to be busy. Several of the regular families the donated food was given to each month would be stopping by. Leaving the office, she pulled the door closed and tried to put her mind on helping whoever had stopped by. She brought a smile to her lips and strode into the main room of the building.

The man she had seen in the park stood near the front door, his gaze surveying the interior of the pantry. Rachael halted and stood watching him as he appeared to be taking in the entire inventory of the room. He had his hands poked into the pockets of his long coat and a serious expression wreathed his face. She drew in a quick breath as he turned his head and she was able to see his features clearly. Angled planes and deep-set brown eyes complimented tanned skin and a chiseled jaw. His dark hair was neatly trimmed and just grazed the top of his crisp white dress shirt. Rachael saw his expensive looking suit beneath the heavy overcoat and her gaze followed his lean length all the way down to the polished leather shoes on his feet.

Her heart fluttered oddly in her chest. She raised one hand and clutched the neck of her blouse, trying to identify what she was feeling. It was so uncommon. True, she had met men in the past that aroused her interest, but she had never actually stared at one so handsome and felt her heart beating a rapid tattoo against her ribs.

“We meet again,” he said, turning a smiling face toward Rachael.

Rachael had to force her feet to move across the floor. She moved her hand from her throat and stepped behind the counter at the end of the room. As she met his gaze, she felt a surge of strange warmth flush her cheeks. Defensively, she raised her hand and smoothed the fall of hair across the scar on her face. Tipping her head to one side so that the scar remained hidden, she smiled slightly.

“Yes, so we do,” she said, her voice a bit raspy. She knew by his appearance that he wasn’t there to solicit food for himself, or perhaps anyone in his social network. He was far too well dressed and good looking to be in need of much of anything. The thought almost made her chuckle. Why should she think that good-looking men weren’t in need of much? Dashing the thought before something irrational came from her mouth she drew in a deep breath. “And what can I do for you?”

“Are you Rachael Walters?”

“Yes.” Puzzlement pulled her brows together.

The man walked past the rows of canned goods, poked out his hand and came straight toward her. “I’m Tom Montgomery.”

Coach Montgomery? The name streaked across her mind seconds before he stepped up to the counter and offered to shake hands with her. Rachael lowered her gaze to the open hand, noting the smooth palm and the long tapered fingers.

Rachael Walters is a social worker. She identifies with remorse and sorrow almost every day. But it wasn’t always the case. Once, she was a carefree young woman with goals and ambitions, but then a tragic accident left her scared physically and emotionally. Now, just getting through the day, proves to be a challenge. But then a kindly high school teacher, Coach Tom Montgomery, walks into her life and she can’t deny the attraction she feels. But what man would want a disfigured woman? Or one that carries emotional baggage? Can Rachael come to grips with her past and return the love Tom is offering?
Price: $3.99 $1.29
Candle in the Window

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

When Jim Trask lands a job on a commercial fishing boat, his wife, Becca, fears the worst. She has lived by the oc...

Becca Trask cleared the dishes from the table and wiped up the spills, then carried the tray to the restaurant kitchen. The muscles in her arms ached. Lifting heavy trays of food, then empty dishes, was putting a strain on her body. She sighed and carried the dishes to the sink. Betty Thorn, the kitchen helper, smiled at her.

“Are you getting used to the harried atmosphere of the diner?”

Becca grimaced, then forced a smile. Since having taken the job, she had been the only one of the crew to complain about sore muscles. “I should be more active. Then I wouldn’t have sore muscles.” She rubbed her left arm. “I don’t suppose the owner would hire a busboy to clear tables.”

Betty shook her head. “Sam is barely making ends meet as it is, honey.” She nodded her head toward the dining room. “Business has slowed down to what it used to be before the steel mill closed.”

“I know. I’m grateful for the job, Betty.” She smiled but she didn’t feel the glee accompanying the action. Jim had lost his job when the mill closed nine months ago and just two months ago, they were forced to give up their house. Moving back home with her dad was the last thing she ever dreamed of but circumstances just became too dire otherwise.

“I suppose Harold likes having you back home, even though he knows it’s only temporary.”

Becca shrugged one shoulder. “Dad misses Mom and I guess having someone else in the house takes a bit of the loneliness away.”

A year ago, Sondra Newman suffered a fatal heart attack. It had been totally unexpected. She was only fifty years old and thought to be in excellent health. Becca fought the rush of tears to her eyes. Sometimes she just didn’t understand God’s ways. First, He took her mother, and a few months later, Jim’s job. Neither event made any sense. Grief still gripped her heart and just looking at her poor dad, made tears come to her eyes. He and her mom had been high school sweethearts and their marriage was ideal. Her dad still surprised her mom with fresh flowers occasionally and invited her out for impromptu dates.

“Time heals all,” Betty said, placing the soiled dishes in the dishwasher. “Or so they say. I, personally, find time only prolongs the hurt.”

Betty had lost her husband ten years ago and came to work at the café to make ends meet. She cooked and managed the kitchen when Sam needed time off. She was a tall woman with gray hair that she wore in a tight knot on the back of her head. Becca had known her since childhood, when she used to trick or treat on Halloween. Her house was just down the shore line from her father’s. When Jim lost his job, and she finally won the argument about returning to work, she was glad to have Betty as a coworker. Seeing a familiar face at the workplace took the edge off having to learn to be a waitress.

Becca returned to the front of the restaurant. As she pushed through the swinging door separating the rooms, she saw a couple just seating themselves. She took her pad and pen from her apron pocket and stretched a smile across her face.

The afternoon crowd at the restaurant was smaller than the morning customers. Working people crowded into the diner for Sam’s hot coffee before work. Some were regulars to have breakfast and others ordered Betty’s homemade cinnamon rolls to take with them. It was hectic for about two hours, beginning at five o’clock in the morning. She stifled a yawn and wrote the couple’s order on her pad. As she turned toward the kitchen, she glimpsed Jim coming through the front door. She paused, made eye contact with him, then resumed her trek to the kitchen.

Once Becca placed the order, she glanced at the front counter and saw Jim sitting on the end stool. She surveyed the tables with customers, making certain she could take a minute, before rounding the end of the counter and joining him. He smiled as she came toward him. Oh dear God. She hadn’t seen him smile so broadly since he lost his job. Her stomach quivered with uncertainty as she made her way over to him.

“Why are you grinning?” She stared at his face, the handsome countenance she had adored since her teenage years. He had boyish good looks, a spray of freckles across his nose and blue eyes that seemed to light up when he was happy. She reached one hand to his forehead and brushed a stray blond curl back. “You could really use a haircut, hon.”

“That’s not important now, Becca. I just found a job.”

Relief surged through Becca’s insides like a mountainous tidal wave. “Oh, honey, really?” She stepped closer to the counter, even though the urge to announce the good news to all in the restaurant inched up her throat. “What kind of a job?”

“Mack Harvey just hired me. I’m an official crewmember on the Ambassador.”

Becca drew in a quick breath. “The fishing boat? Jim, you don’t know anything about—”

“I know. That’s why I’ll be the rookie on the next trip out.” He stared at Becca, the grin on his face waning.

“That’s such dangerous work.” A shard of fright sliced across her stomach. “Why did you even think of asking Mack for a job?”

Jim reached across the counter and took Becca’s hand. “Because I’ve been to every plant and business in this town and no one is hiring. There are no jobs in this area, Becca. It’s either take what I can find or move to another town.” He drew in a long breath. “I’m not crazy about being gone for a six week stretch either, or fighting the cold and wet onboard the fishing boat, but at least we’ll have an income.” He looked away, the smile leaving his face. “Tom will be going out with the crew. He put in a good word for me, honey. I’ll learn from him.”

“Tom! Tom Fischer is about as reliable as a broken leg on a hillside.”

Jim laughed and shook his head. “He’s my cousin and I can rely on him. Everything will be fine. And besides, every crewmember gets a cut of the total value of the catch. I could come home with ten thousand dollars.”

Or you might not come home at all.

When Jim Trask lands a job on a commercial fishing boat, his wife, Becca, fears the worst. She has lived by the ocean all her life and never managed to overcome her fear of it. Coping with Jim’s absence is a chore, then her worry becomes reality when all communication with the boat is lost. Panicked, Becca searches for a beacon of hope, a way to cope with the awful fear that her beloved Jim may be lost at sea. Can Becca find solace while she waits to learn of Jim’s fate? Can anything ease her fears? Or can Becca finally put Jim’s fate in God’s hands and resign herself to His will?
Price: $3.99
Forever, My Love

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Julie Newcastle and Michael Ramsey have been in love since third grade. Their marriage was eminent, but then Ameri...

Julie tried to steel her emotions as she poked her head around the door facing of the hospital room. The two male nurses were in the process of getting Michael settled in bed, adjusting the series of machines that would keep record of his breathing and pulse. Even though it was obvious to both nurses that Michael couldn't use the call button, one of them pulled the cord within reach and fastened the buzzer to the corner of the sheet.

  "Can we come in, Jimmy?" Julie asked in a quiet voice.

  The big male nurse turned and smiled at Julie. "We've made him as comfortable as we can, Julie. The rest is up to God."

  Julie heard the quick intake of air Dean sucked in. She turned and wrapped her arms around his neck before stepping into Michael's room. "We have to help each other," she whispered in his ear. The tightening of Dean's arms around her waist assured her that he had heard her soft whisper.

  The nurses stepped into the hall as Julie and Dean went into the room. From the door, Michael appeared to be sleeping peacefully. His features were relaxed and his eyes closed. His hands and arms were exposed above the covering of white sheet. His right arm was in a cast. Julie's gaze dropped to the plaster form. Through the sheen of tears misting her eyes, she glimpsed the scrawled names in red and blue ink running in random patterns across the plaster.

  "Oh, my God," Dean exclaimed. He approached the bed and reached out to touch Michael. As he laid one open hand on his son's chest, he turned a tearful face to Julie. "How are we ever going to stand seeing him this way, Julie?"

  Pain shot through Julie's insides. The remorse in Dean's eyes nearly broke her heart. Surely seeing Michael in this awful way brought back memories of Sharon's battle with cancer he had tried to bury. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him close.

  Dean broke the hug and wiped a hand across his eyes. "I'm sorry, Julie. I know I should be stronger, but the sight of him lying there, so still and lifeless got the better of me. We don't even know if he will regain consciousness.

  A combination of emotions surged through Julie's insides as she looked down at Michael. There was an aura of silence about him that she couldn't find the courage to accept. She reached out one hand and touched his cheek, lightly pressing her palm against his jaw. His skin was warm and the familiar feel of beard stubble made her close her eyes for a moment. The years they were separated seemed to melt away, lost in a sea of hurt and time. Resisting the urge to gather his still body into her arms, Julie pulled her hand away and looked at his father.

  "I want to get a look at his chart--and speak with Doctor Murdock."

  "I'll stay here," Dean said, drawing a chair up beside Michael's bed. "I want to be here when he wakes up."

Julie Newcastle and Michael Ramsey have been in love since third grade. Their marriage was eminent, but then America was attacked and Michael felt he should serve his country. Heartbroken, Julie waits, but eighteen months later, Michael returns and breaks their engagement. Can life get any worse? Picking up the pieces, Julie becomes a nurse--only to have Michael turn up in the hospital where she works--severely injured and in a coma. Julie still loves Michael, but is her love strong enough to see him through his crisis? Can true love endure all obstacles?
Price: $3.99
Tender Persuasion

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

When Ronda Miller agrees to pet sit for her Aunt Claire, she has no idea that her aunt’s handsome neighbor,...

The moment Jingle Bells began playing on the car radio, Ronda Miller grimaced and reached to change the station. After three hours of nerve wracking driving on slick, snow encrusted highways, she didn't need reminded that Christmas was only four weeks away. She hated the holiday season.

Taking her eyes off the road for only a second, she rolled the dial through the channels, looking for a weather report, only to discover most of the stations were playing the usual assortment of seasonal music. Switching the dial off, she returned her gaze to the road--just in time to see the red pickup truck sliding crossways in her path.

Acting by instinct, she slammed her foot down hard on the brake pedal, momentarily forgetting the slick surroundings. The rear of the car fishtailed slightly before its tires found a dry stretch of pavement and lurched to a stop. Startled by the sudden mishap, Ronda sat frozen, gripping the steering wheel with both hands. "What the--"

The driver's door on the pickup opened and a male body in jeans and sweatshirt emerged--looking like some hunk from a wish book. Ronda stared with wide eyes as he made his way over to the side of her car. He was tall and trim, with wide shoulders that filled out the bright green sweatshirt to unusual proportions. His lower body was encased in worn denim that bore the remnants of oil stains and grease smears.

Fright briefly gave way to anger when Ronda glimpsed the broad smile he flashed at her. In the next instant, she grabbed the window crank and furiously rolled the glass out of the way so she could unleash her frustration on him.

"I hope I didn't scare you too badly," he said.

"You sure as hell scared me!" Ronda yelped. She realized then her heart was thudding against her ribcage and her neck was sweating beneath the collar of her sweater. "Why were you so careless?"

He chuckled slightly, shaking his head. "I'm having a problem with my gas pedal sticking," he explained, his gaze sliding over the tight-lipped stare she aimed at him and her tousled chestnut colored hair. "You must be Ronda," he said, smiling again. "I'm Nick Austin, your aunt's neighbor." He thrust his right hand through the open window in greeting.

"Will you move your truck, please?" Ronda quipped, ignoring the hand only inches from her face. She'd already had enough of this stranger's cheery mood and his lack of sincerity for having nearly scared her to death. At this point, she only wanted it to end so she could drive the rest of the way to her Aunt Claire's house up the road.

"Sure," he said, pulling his hand back. "Just as soon as you accept my apology."

Ronda aimed a speculative look at him. There was nothing like running head first into a brick wall and then realizing you were to blame for the encounter. "If that is what it takes to get you to move your truck out of the road," she said between tight lips.

"That's what it takes," Nick returned, his smiling mouth fully teasing her.

It was then his sweatshirt blinked at her.

A series of colored flashes assaulted her green eyes and all but totally erased her anger. A decorated Christmas tree loomed at her from the front of Nick's shirt.

"You like it," he admonished with a chuckle. "Everybody does. I designed it myself. It plays music, too," he added, reaching one hand to activate the sound. "Listen."

When Ronda Miller agrees to pet sit for her Aunt Claire, she has no idea that her aunt’s handsome neighbor, Nick Austin, will be at her disposal. Ronda has her own set of rules to live by and they don’t include a handsome fireman with a ready smile and an antique truck. But Nick is persistent. He’s always around to help—when he isn’t rushing into burning buildings and rescuing people. Is it too late for Ronda to change her life? Can she get beyond the self-imposed rules she has set for herself and fall under Nick’s Tender Persuasion?
Price: $4.99
The Bewitching Hour

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

Shortly after witch Gema McKnight met Professor Derrick Scottsdale, she realized she loved him. A witch in love wi...

Gema raised her hands and closed her eyes. Littered on the chamber floor were rose petals and dried nightshade. The witch swirled her hands into the air and the clutter at her feet began to swirl. The petals melded with the deadly nightshade and rose upward, gathering about Gema's legs and the hem of her long gown.

 

The candle in the center of the room flickered, waned, then regained its bright yellow-tipped flame. The rose petals and nightshade rose to swirl around the candle base while Gema chanted her spell and raised her arms. The mixture rose as the flame elongated on the candle. The mix rose upward and circled the flame, then drew the blaze to the tips of the petals. A fragrance of sweet essence fused with the smoke created by the fire. The red petals singed, gave off their aroma, then became engulfed in the blaze.

 

The deadly nightshade swirled around the room, hovering near the candle, twirling in the acidic smoke of the flame before gathering at the open window and disappearing into the murky darkness. Gema lowered her arms, leaned on the table. The fire went out, throwing the room into total darkness. The witch snapped her fingers and the overhead light illuminated.

 

"You're very good at casting spells, Gema," the Metta remarked, slipping inside the room. She flew to the window seat and stretched out, her cylinder-shaped form draped across a plush pillow. "Did you speak with your mother?"

 

"Yes," Gema replied, scrutinizing the old creature. "And how was your flight? I trust you did not annoy any of the townspeople while you were out."

 

"No, dear. I merely flew to one end of the town and then the other, although I was tempted to investigate the Scottsdale mansion before I returned. Derrick's Uncle Leonard is busy with party decorations. He has his servants working in the main ballroom."

 

Gema shrugged. "Derrick said it would be quite a celebration. He's seems very excited about it." Her brows drew together. "Mother warned me about Uncle Leonard. And I suppose I should warn Derrick."

 

"I smelled the rose petals on the breeze and saw the nightshade slip out the window. Is your spell for Derrick or his uncle?"

 

"Both." Her cheeks pinked. "I cast a two-fold spell, Midnight. I desire to keep Derrick safe and to deter any ill plans his Uncle Leonard might have in mind."

 

"I'm certain the deadly nightshade will do its job, Gema. It is the most powerful herb we have as witches."

She cocked her head. "I have no intention of allowing Leonard Scottsdale to harm Derrick."

 

The Metta nodded, making her amber hair swish lazily. "I understand mortal love is a wonderful thing. Should you desire I tend to Uncle Leonard--"

 

"I wish him no harm, Midnight."

 

The worm-like creature smiled, displaying fang-like teeth behind pale pink lips. "You may change your mind, my dear, when you learn what Leonard Scottsdale has in store for your beloved Derrick."

 

"If you know, why don't you tell me?"

 

The Metta wagged one thin finger. "I am here to protect you--not Derrick Scottsdale."

Shortly after witch Gema McKnight met Professor Derrick Scottsdale, she realized she loved him. A witch in love with a mortal? Even the mystic protector Gema's mother sent to protect her thinks it is a bad idea. The match seems unlikely--but then Halloween arrives and the bewitching hour chimes. Derrick is set to inherit the family fortune--if he can survive the devious plan his Uncle Leonard has arranged. The witch loves the Professor and though she is reluctant to reveal her heritage to him, she refuses to stand by and let him be harmed. Can the young witch foil the evil uncle's plan and save her beloved professor? Will the teacher still want the witch when he witnesses her bizarre talents? Will the centuries old protector stand idly by and allow her young charge to take on evil Uncle Leonard?
Price: $3.99
The Soldier's Widow

Written By: Barbara Johannsen
Published By: Devine Destinies
Heat Level:

When Charlie Barrett was killed in Iraq, he left behind a grieving widow. Charlie was the love of Annie’s li...

Annie sat in the car and looked across the cemetery. The gravestones were illuminated in the soft white light given off by the streetlights along the winding road that snaked through the grounds. Massive stones with deeply etched inscriptions stood like bleak sentinels overlooking family plots. Yellowed leaves of oak trees fluttered in the late October breeze. The rustle sounded through the car windows, bringing a fall chill to Annie's body. She gathered her coat collar around her neck and poked her hands deeper into her pockets.

When Annie left the airport terminal, her heart on her sleeve, she wanted to come to the cemetery and throw herself on Charlie's grave. The need to feel close to him was almost more than she could bear some times. It didn't seem like three long years had passed since she laid him to rest. A tear coursed down her cheek and she didn't bother to brush it away. There was no one there but her, alone with her misery and concealed by the darkness.

Charlie had been her world. Her every other thought had been of him and when he was suddenly taken away, she lost all will to go on. For months she had stayed in her house, not having the desire to work or have friends in. Even her family was pushed aside in lieu of being alone and trying to understand what had happened to ruin her life. Finally, after two months, she awoke one day and realized that Charlie had been taken from her and there wasn't a single thing she could do about it. He was gone, she would never see him again, and despite the hurt clenching her insides, she had to get a grip and go on with her life.

She immersed herself in work, taking on several board jobs for herself and a few of her fellow teachers. She began tutoring mid-grade students in math after school, a job she found very rewarding. Most of the children were latch key kids with both parents working and thus they went home to an empty house every afternoon. Annie found the kids fun to be around, once their lessons were completed for the day. Without consciously realizing it, she found her spirits being lifted.

The wind seemed to kick up, blowing the dried leaves across the cemetery and catching Annie's eye. Headlights appeared, shining through the back window of her car. She roused and sat up straighter in the seat. The lights dimmed and went out, signaling that someone had parked behind her and shut off the motor of the car. A tremor of fright raced through Annie's insides. She reached for the key and started the ignition. Even though her doors were locked and there hadn't been any violence in Montgomery for months, there was no sense taking chances.

As Annie shifted the car into gear and inched away from the curb, she saw a figure exiting the car behind her. Keeping an eye on the rearview mirror, she recognized the figure as male. He closed the driver's door and opened the rear door, extracting a bouquet of flowers. Annie's foot hesitated on the gas pedal as she recognized the soldier she had drawn the map for at the USO.

Curiosity rose inside Annie. She braked the car and watched the man as he walked into the cemetery. He strode along the roadway, then walked amid the gravestones, pausing to place the flowers on a grave. Annie bit her bottom lip as new tears came to her eyes. Did the soldier have a loved one buried in the cemetery? Or had he laid flowers on the grave of a fellow comrade? There were hundreds of local men buried in the cemetery, those whose families wanted them nearby instead of in a military graveyard in another state. The thought of not having Charlie close had brought about her own decision regarding his final resting place. Though he was due an honorary place because of his undying sacrifice, she knew she would love him forever and someday take her place beside him, again.

When Charlie Barrett was killed in Iraq, he left behind a grieving widow. Charlie was the love of Annie’s life and three years later, she still cannot put the past to rest. Lee McCord is on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. He knows the impact war has on a soldier and he understands Annie’s pain. Can Lee help Annie get on with her life? Will Annie reveal the depth of her hurt and find the solace she so desperately needs? Is it possible for a grieving widow to put the memory of her dead husband to rest?
Price: $3.99