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Her First Love Sneak Peek

Chapter 1 - Israel

Israel’s mouth pulled into a wide grin as he looked over the offer. “Are you serious?” He looked up at Chance, sure that his friend was playing a joke on him.

“Dead serious, my man.” Chance leaned back and shook his head. “Our lead maintenance man just up and quit last week, and I can’t think of anyone more qualified to run the department than you.”

The opportunity was just the thing Israel had been looking for, but it was so sudden. After all, he’d just moved into Courage a week ago. He hadn’t expected to find a job this soon, much less this job. It was almost a dream come true, but… “What about the other guys in the maintenance department? They’ve been here longer. Shouldn’t you promote one of them?”

“I would if one of them wanted the job.” Chance leaned forward and folded his hands on his desk. “I asked them when the last guy left. Our lead right now, Dustin, is about to have his first child. While he recognizes the raise would be nice, he also knows the hours are longer. He and his wife discussed it, and he doesn’t want to take it on. The rest of the crew are either too young or not sure they want to stay in Courage long term. The short of it is, no one wants it, so not only would you be great at it, but you would be doing me a huge favor.”

Israel liked the idea of helping Chance out. The man had been there for him countless times, and if he could repay him with something this simple and that would solve his problem as well, then he would be a fool not to take it. Plus, he would enjoy working with his friend, and-

“And Tiffany is around most days, so you could get to know her.” Chance smiled as if he’d been reading Israel’s mind.

Tiffany. The beautiful blonde he’d spotted at Chance’s wedding. He hadn’t had the opportunity to talk with her much that night, but she definitely intrigued him, and he wouldn’t mind the chance to get to know her better. “Okay, where do I sign?”

Chance’s smile widened, and he scooted a paper over for Israel to sign. “Right here, my man.”

Israel scrawled his name across the contract, a sense of pride and purpose swelling within him. He’d known it was time to get out of the military - the horrors he’d witnessed weighed heavily on him and the physical demand was taxing his body - but he hadn’t expected everything to fall into place so neatly. He should have though. The desire to come to Courage and settle down had been his own, but he was almost certain it was what God had planned for him as well, and he was not one to ignore proddings from God. Not anymore.

“Great, now let’s get you set up with security clearance and then I’ll show you around.” Chance tucked the contract in a manilla folder and placed it in a tray that was labeled Merribeth. Israel didn’t know Merribeth as well as he knew Chance, but it was obvious she kept him organized, and a tiny seed of jealousy sprouted within Israel. He was happy for his friend, but he also wanted what Chance had found - a woman he could share his life with.

He’d thought he’d found that once, but deployments and the stress of military life had worn on their relationship and eventually she’d ended it. He’d been disappointed at first, but he was happy for her now, and he’d realized they were better friends than partners. Still, he hoped that he might get a second chance at love now that he was out of the military and his life was more stable.

As Israel followed Chance to the security office, he took in the environment around him. It was a habit from the military to always know his exits and the lay of every place he worked, and as head of maintenance, he would need to know this building inside and out.

“Here we are.” Chance stopped outside a door marked Security and gestured for Israel to enter. The room itself wasn’t large which made the man sitting behind the desk appear even larger. He stood as they approached, and Israel blinked at the sheer size of the man. Israel was not a small man, but his average 5’10 build was nothing compared to this man who was built like a tank with broad shoulders and a massive chest. His dark hair was cut close though not as short as military regulation and he sported a neatly trimmed beard and mustache.

“Israel, this is Teddy Douglas, head of security.”

“But everyone just calls me Dougie,” the man said, sticking out his hand.

Israel clasped Dougie’s hand, unsurprised by the strength in the man’s shake. “Pleased to meet you, Dougie. Were you a bouncer before coming here?”

Dougie smiled and chuckled. “No, but you’d be surprised how often I hear that. I assume you’re joining the family here?”

Chance smiled and clapped Israel on the back. “He is. This is my friend Israel Martinez. He’s taking over as head of maintenance, so can you get him set up with a badge and keys?”

“You bet. Why don’t you step over here to the camera and I’ll get the card made first and then I’ll get you the key.”

Israel stepped to the place Dougie had pointed out, feeling very much like he had when he received his first military ID. He’d been nervous yet full of hope back then, and a similar sensation surged within him now as well. There was something about having a direction and a sense of purpose that made him feel grounded and safe. The camera clicked and then a machine hummed, spitting out a hard plastic card a minute later.

“Here you go.” Dougie handed him the card, and Israel studied it. Though grainy, it seemed to capture him perfectly and more than that, it was his. A tether to this community that felt a little like coming home.

“That also serves as your key card and will get you into the resort.” He reached into a drawer and pulled out a single gold key on a small ring. “This is the key to the maintenance room. You’ll find all the equipment you need inside. Everyone on your crew has one, but no one outside maintenance besides Chance and myself do, so try not to lose it.”

Israel nodded. He was not in the habit of losing things in general, much less something as important as this, but Dougie didn’t know that, didn’t know him, so Israel took no offense to the words. Dougie struck him as a brother in arms - a rule follower who took pride in his work. Israel had no doubt the two would be good friends.

“Thank you, Dougie. All right, Iz, let me show you the room and your office and you can meet the guys.”

Israel thanked Dougie and then followed Chance down the hall to the maintenance room. Like Security, it was on the ground floor, but it was much bigger inside. There was a large desk and several smaller cubicles to the left and to the right was a massive shelving unit that held all the tools Isreal might need for his job - tool boxes, plungers, electrical tape. It was all there. “Wow, this is amazing.” He could not remember the last time he’d had this much space or a key to his own office.

“Well, we do have to keep the place working and looking good,” Chance said, clapping him on the back. “It’s not the newest building, so it does have its share of issues. That being said, if you need anything else, be sure to let myself or Merribeth know.”

“I will. So, how many men do I have?” Israel was already running calculations in his head, and he knew that he would need at least five to keep the hotel running in top shape. More would obviously be better.

“There are four plus you, however, one of the guys is only part-time.”

“Part-time? Is there any chance I can hire one more guy then?” He could probably make due with what he had, but if the option was available, he would certainly rather have five full time people.

Chance smiled. “Let me check with the boss, and I’ll see what I can do.”

“I thought you were the boss, man.”

With a chuckle, Chance shook his head. “Iz, you got a lot to learn about married life. Come on, let’s meet the guys.”