Congratulations to Pam Zarate, winner of ANGEL SONG in last week's drawing!
Can two roadside crosses and two wounded hearts equal one precious love?
Can two roadside crosses and two wounded hearts equal one precious love?
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3~
Kylie Jordan’s gaze swept to the roadside as her car idled at a red light. Soft music from the radio soothed and sunlight warmed her through the windshield, chasing a sense of sadness that crept in whenever she looked at the small white cross plunged into damp earth and set back just a bit from the curb. The painted wood was buried in weeds—easy to miss if you didn’t know it was nestled there.
She knew it was there, though—twenty-four seven.
The name carved into the weathered wood belonged to her older sister, Faith. Kylie thought of Faith now, as she always did when she came to this corner… tall and lithe and flashing the brilliant smile that lit up warm caramel eyes. Separated in age by merely eighteen months, Faith had been Kylie’s best friend. Kylie preferred to remember Faith before the accident that took her life, not the way she was for the few days that followed while she lay in limbo, still and shadowed like a house without its lights on.
Kylie thought of her own life as a play with two acts—Before and After. Before was bright and colorful, a canvas of happy times when Faith was there to share things with, to laugh and dream with. After was a sequence of mundane black-and-white photos…the rush of a chill after the laughter died. The sharing had ended abruptly when a drunk driver took Faith’s life—and the life of her unborn son. The “after” tugged at Kylie like a raw wound that just refused to heal, even though nearly a year had passed.
She was beginning to wonder if the pain ever would fade. Was she destined to live in this sepia vacuum while the rest of the world scuttled around her, racing toward its future?
She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in time to the music and drew her gaze back to the road. As the light changed, she made a mental note to stop by the intersection within the next few days to weed the area at the base of the cross. The weather was turning warm again. Signs of spring burst all around. Bradford Pears danced along the neat row of shop fronts, tossing pollen into the breeze that made Kylie’s eyes itch, and the scent of lilac sweetened the air as she crested a hill going west along the four-lane road.
New Hope Church soared into view, its steeple a beacon against the cloudless blue horizon. Kylie smiled as a rush of warmth spread through her. This evening, same as every Thursday evening, she’d be among friends…people who understood and shared her sadness. The tight-knit group was like a family—the only family she had close now that Faith was gone and her parents had retired to the other side of the country.
Kylie turned into the church’s black-topped parking lot and slipped her sedan into a space near the entrance. The grief support group she led was due to start in half an hour, and Pastor Thompson had left a message for her to expect a new member tonight—a man from Knoxville who’d lost his brother in a horrible car accident nearly a year ago.
How ironic. She didn’t even know the guy, and already she felt a kinship with him. She looked forward to bringing another grieving soul into the fold. Together, God willing, they might find their way through the dark, cold tunnel of emptiness to sunlight that beckoned on the horizon beyond.
Mason Bennett switched off the car’s stereo and leaned on the steering wheel, letting cool air from the dashboard vent rush over him. His chest felt tight, and he drew a ragged breath as sweat pooled along his lower back where his T-shirt clung to the leather seat. Across the church parking lot, men and women made their way toward the sanctuary entrance. Their chatter, occasionally punctuated by laughter, drifted across the twilight.
Did people who’d lost someone they loved really still laugh as though they didn’t have a care in the world? So far, he hadn’t figured out how to do that. He hoped the support group would change things and guide him in a new direction.
If only he could pry his fingers from the steering wheel and go inside. The scar that crossed his forehead near his right temple throbbed, as it still did from time to time. The ridge of rough skin was a constant reminder of that night—and his loss.
A tap on the driver’s window startled Mason, and he turned to find a pair of large blue eyes staring at him. His gut gave a little jolt, coupled by an odd zap to his heart, and for the slightest moment, he wondered what the reaction was all about. The woman was
“You coming inside?” The blue eyes were capped by long lashes. Sleek blonde hair gathered into a neat ponytail that hung in one large curl to the middle of her back. As she spoke, his gaze followed the outline of glossed, full lips. “It will be lonely here in the parking lot.”
“Oh, yeah, right.” He pulled off his baseball cap and set it in the passenger seat, then ran a hand through matted black hair. He’d rushed through a shower after a quick workout at the gym, and his hair was still a little damp. “I was just…thinking.”
“Uh huh.” She offered a hand through the open window, nodding. “I’m Kylie Jordan. I lead the grief support group here at New Hope. And you’re…”
“Mason Bennett.” He grasped the long, delicate fingers, felt the tiny jolt once again. Her skin was smooth and warm, and a dimple appeared at the corner of her mouth when she smiled. “I…it’s my first time.”
“I promise we don’t bite.” She laughed softly, letting go and backing up. His gaze followed. He couldn’t seem to draw it away. There was something about her, something almost…magnetic. Her eyes danced beneath the waning sun. “But I’ll walk you in anyway, if you’d like.”
Mason opened the car door and slipped out, unfolding himself to face her. The perspiration across his back caused a slight shiver as the breeze whispered over his T-shirt. She was tall—nearly as tall as him— and slender, like a dancer. And there was a familiarity about her, something that made him feel as if he’d seen her once before. He shook off the feeling and jammed his hands into his pockets. He’d remember those eyes—and that smile—if he’d seen them, even only once in passing.
“I didn’t bring anything? Was I supposed to?”
“No…just you.” She turned toward the church, the heels of her calf-high boots clicking along the pavement. The cuffs of stone-washed jeans were tucked inside, and she wore a peach-colored blouse that billowed in the breeze as he fell in step beside her. Colorful, beaded earrings dangled from her lobes. “We have coffee inside. Are you a coffee-drinker?”
“You bet.” His hands felt clammy, and he removed them from his pockets as Kylie neared the sanctuary entrance. He held the door open and she slipped through.
“Let’s grab a cup and I’ll introduce you to the group.” Her ponytail spilled like a waterfall as she tossed him a look over one shoulder while starting down the hall. “Tonight, Mason, your life is going to change. Are you ready?”
Be sure to LEAVE YOUR COMMENT below to be entered in the drawing for this week's giveaway.
Purchase WOUNDED FAITH:
Pelican Book Group (ePub or Adobe PDF)