Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27: from ACCIDENTAL HEARTS

Their group emerged into the bright lights of the gift shop and Abby saw who was the long-suffering adult chaperon of the boys behind her. Tyler, of course. He had a grip on both boys' shoulders and a tightness in his jaw, a smoldering fire in his eyes that spoke to her of long-building frustration. Most encouraging were the signs of respectful fear the boys gave him as they stepped through the door -- and the way they skipped free, running across the gift shop to join their buddies when Tyler released them.
"Oh -- hi." Tyler colored a little when he wiped his forehead, sighed, and then saw Abby and her two girls facing him. "I suppose you caught most of the floor show?"
"I have this feeling it would have been ten times worse if you hadn't been there."
"God save us from that!" He tried to smile, but he just looked downright tired.
"Come on, mister, let me buy you a coffee." Abby slid her hands free of the two little girls. "Did your moms give you some money for souvenirs?" she asked. Both girls nodded, but she suspected a dollar or two wouldn't go very far. "Find something really fun, okay? Totally useless, but fun." She dug into her pocket and pulled out her wallet and gave them another dollar each. The girls' eyes widened and they both hugged her, nearly knocking her off her feet, then dashed away to the clearly displayed candy counter.
"You're probably the most popular lady in town right now," Tyler said.
"Only because I slipped Candy and Chad a five each before we got to the church. It would not look good if they didn't come home with some junk."
"A very wise woman. Though you have to tell me how you got away with only five each. Pam got me and her mother for five each, and Danny cleaned out all the change in my pocket and the cup holder in my car."
"Uncle Soft-touch." She shook her head, enjoying the warm humming that spread through her at the humor lighting his face.
"Guilty." He offered her his arm with a grand bow. She took it with an attempt at a curtsey, and they were both chuckling wearily as he led her to the snack bar a good twenty feet away from the gift shop.
By some miracle, they had french vanilla cappuccino in the snack bar -- whipped by machine, not the cheap mix in a packet, poured into hot water. Tyler tried to pull out his wallet to pay for both of them, but Abby got her money out first and tossed it to the chubby Middle Eastern boy working the counter. He scowled at her, but she only laughed.
"You can spring for ice cream on the way back," she offered.
"Well... all right." Laughter sparkled in his eyes and he took both cups before she could reach for hers. "Lead the way, Madame."
The alarm went off just as they were settling down in the mostly vacant eating area. Abby jerked and knocked her cup over, barely succeeding in catching it before it spilled more than a quarter cup on the simulated wood-grain table. Tyler choked, having taken a sip just a moment before the alarm sent a deafening rasping honk through the entire building.
He turned, some horrid premonition crossing his face. Abby turned too, her attention caught by a red and blue flashing light at the corner of her vision.
"Thank goodness," Tyler said.
"What?" she asked, still turning to see where the source of the light was.
"Danny's not in trouble."
             "No." She gasped as she realized the light was over the entrance into the caverns -- and the neon green and orange tee-shirt of Ethan Pluch had just vanished through the door.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26: from ACCIDENTAL HEARTS

Abby was late arriving to pick up the children from adventure club. Dead tired from a courier run that took her into the edge of a bad thunderstorm over Detroit, she thought she was hallucinating when she saw the black Corvette sitting in the three-quarters empty parking lot behind the church. Usually Tanya picked them up on her way home from work. Then she saw Tyler's long, lean, dark form towering above the four children who played Tag, or something vaguely like it, while he talked with Mrs. Polavshenko.
"Abby, help me!" he called, laughing, as she got out of the Jeep and took slow steps across the pavement.
She ached, from the tension and from the bumpy ride of that storm. Seeing him smile at her and hearing her name spoken in that chocolate voice soothed away half the aches. Abby wished she could curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book and a bag of Dove chocolates, and Tyler to talk with for the rest of the day. And that stupid Detroit storm pounding outside to keep them both indoors.
"I need to speak with you, too, Miss Abby," Mrs. Polavshenko said, nodding her gray head.
"Uh oh." Abby had learned that summer that when Mrs. Polavshenko used "Miss" or "Mr." when addressing the varied parents or guardians of the children, she wanted something from them. She used just first names when everything was fine -- last names when she was angry.
"When I let the children join adventure club," the woman said with a nod for punctuation, "you signed paper. You agree to help with an activity."
"Plane rides for the kids?" Abby offered, feeling that moment of panic that always hit when Chad or Candy wanted her to be a room mother at school. "Room mother" always seemed to require cupcakes or leading a fundraising activity, like selling magazine subscriptions and overpriced chocolate bars, or making decorations with nothing but construction paper, dull scissors and glue. Abby would much rather fly blind in a thunderstorm at night with one wing damaged. She felt far more competent doing that sort of thing.
"Maybe next spring, but I need some adult chaperons next week."
                "For what and going where?" Abby glanced at Tyler, but he just shook his head and his lips twitched slightly as he fought not to grin. Could she really trust his expression, anyway? He was an actor, after all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25: from DETOURS

Amy was in as blue a mood as she thought she could possibly get. Bekka was out gallivanting around the county with Shane on one of the rare days that they both had free from their numerous jobs. Kat was at school, doing massive amounts of work before she caught her evening flight for New York with her mother, to spend mid-term break visiting Morgan. Amy was stuck in the apartment, doing laundry.
It was her own laundry, so she couldn't exactly blame someone else for the chore.
Still, she found herself stopping and sighing and glancing over at the answering machine between every piece she folded. Joe hadn't called in two weeks.
Amy was ready to break every CD and tape in the apartment that had maudlin songs about lovers being apart -- or worse yet, separated lovers who reunited after years apart. It was the 'years' part that infuriated her.
A teardrop rolled down Amy's cheek, surprising her into stillness. As she sat and watched it slide out of sight, then reappear as it fell from her chin to the floor, the doorbell rang. Sighing, she got up and went to the door.
Joe knelt in the doorway, with an open jeweler's box sitting flat on the palm of one hand. A ring with a tiny diamond glistened in the dim hallway light.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Look Back: from THE MISSION

From September 8

"Are you okay?" Tommy wheeled up next to Claire on the steps leading down to the playground behind the Mission.
She knew he was worried, because he didn't indulge in his latest game of sliding down the new wheelchair ramp, wheeling backwards up it again, and then sliding down again popped up in a wheelie. Or as he sometimes called it, the shuttle position.
"Fine." She glanced over the playing children. Their innocence and lack of awareness soothed her.
"He's not here."
"Who?" Her voice was a little sharper than she intended.
"The jerk."
"It doesn't matter."
"Yeah, it matters. You needed even more to shred him than I did. If there's any justice in the world, he'll show up again. Since the schmooze job didn't work, he'll threaten you into making a place for him. More lies."
"Pastor Wally knows the truth. He doesn't have a chance in this town." She felt some choking tightness leave her chest and throat as the words spilled out. Claire decided that maybe she needed to say those words aloud, instead of just thinking them.
"But don't you wonder, sometimes?" He waited until she looked at him. "Wonder if he'll finally show up genuinely sorry, wanting to make things right, be a family again?"
"It's too late. I know it's not a very Christian thing to do, a bad attitude, but he had plenty of opportunities to make things right while Mom was alive. When he showed up at her funeral with his band, insisting he needed to sing a tribute to her to make up for hurting her..." She looked out over the playground again, needing the soothing of watching the children play, refusing to spill that hurt from those memories.
"You didn't believe him."
"Hey, even I learn after a while. The last time I let him play me was when he claimed Stephanie didn't want to be friends, didn't want to be sisters. I stayed away. I believed him. And when she cried to him that I wouldn't accept her as my sister-in-law, he claimed I told him I didn't want her in our family." She let out a rattling, deep sigh. "Burn someone often enough, even if you finally speak the truth, nobody believes you."
"We're not leaving town again, Claire." Tommy grabbed hold of her hand, making her turn to look down at him. His eyes were hard, brows lowered in determination. "This is our place, our fresh start. We're not leaving town just to get away from all his poison."
            "No. We're not leaving, even if he does settle here and try to turn everyone against us. This is our home, our place. No more running away. No more hiding. No more being afraid of him trying to run our lives."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Look Back: from FIRESONG

From September 7:

Dani insisted on staying at the hospital with the Greens. She knew Andy would want her to be there for Katie. She wandered down the hall, away from the waiting room where it seemed half the church had come to camp, just like when the Randolphs were hurt. She needed to be alone. She needed to listen for the hissing sound that seemed to fill the air, like a bubble enclosing her, cutting her off from everything and everyone. If she listened long enough, maybe she could understand it and make it go away.
She found a waiting room that was blessedly empty, and sank down on a couch. It took her a few seconds to realize the TV hanging in the corner by the ceiling was still on. She debated ignoring it, like a fly buzzing and banging against the window.
A woman said "Firesong," and jerked her into double alert awareness, piercing the hissing bubble. Dani stared at the TV screen. The TV anchor looked familiar, but she couldn't remember what local station she was with.
Then the image shifted to the big, wooden, white arch of the secondary gate into the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. That irritating reporter who had invaded before the crusade stood there, talking about the crusade and how Firesong had been a driving force during the week-long event.
"Yeah, shows just how much attention you paid to what was going on," Dani muttered. She wrapped her arms around herself, shuddering from a cold that came from deep inside.
"-- their former manager, Troy Danziger, who was shocked at the sad news," the reporter said.
A photo of Danziger, about ten years out of date, appeared on the screen, and his staticky voice buzzed through the speaker.
"I'm just heartbroken. They were all good kids, but Andy, he was the heart and soul, the driving force of Firesong. It made me so proud when the kids turned their backs on a skyrocketing career to dedicate themselves to working with Allen Michaels and his fine organization," Danziger said. "Without Andy, I don't know how they can go on."
"We'll go on, you lying slimebag," Dani ground out between gritted teeth. Somehow she was on her feet, standing directly under the TV, staring up at the screen. "You couldn't stop us, and Andy wouldn't want us to give up." Her breath caught in her chest like a hard, cold fist.
She staggered back to the couch, shaking, a burning sensation at the backs of her eyes. It took all her energy to breathe. She couldn't cry.
Not even when Kurt arrived at the hospital and found her in the other waiting room and wrapped his arms around her. Even when his warmth drove away the cold that made her shudder until she ached, she couldn't cry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Look Back: from THE MISSION

September 6

Doug heard voices coming from the lobby and automatically continued down the hallway to see who was there. Even if he was sweaty and holding his shirt in his hand, it was better than leaving Jennifer -- and Puck, of course -- to handle things all by themselves. Especially if Pastor Wally seemed to be tied up with something serious.
"Hey, Doug, buddy. Great to see you." Jarod Donnelly grinned widely and took a few steps away from Jennifer, holding out his hand to shake.
Puck moved from his position between Jennifer and Jarod, and put himself between Doug and Jarod. Doug had seen the Arc Foundation's dogs and their owners in action, and heard enough stories to know that Puck didn't like Jarod. Jennifer trusted her guard's reading on people and situations, and he decided in that moment, that was good enough for him.
"Whoa. Hey. Down, boy." Jarod grinned and backed up a few steps, holding up his hands in surrender.
"Doug, you know him?" Jennifer crossed her arms at her waist and adjusted her stance a little wider. He had an impression she was ready to stand right there as long as necessary.
"Uh -- yeah -- we went to the same church. He says he's Claire's brother," Doug added slowly, feeling a flare of warning rise up inside. He remembered some of the things others had said about Claire and Tommy in the last week, what Jarod had said about his sister. And the fact he had said next to nothing about Tommy.
Doug had the awful feeling he had made a big mistake, and everything was coming to roost right now. It was a good thing Claire was away from the Mission today.
"Says?" Jarod laughed again. "Buddy, what's going on here? I was able to come to town and drop in on my little sister sooner than I thought -- thanks for keeping my secret, by the way. Didn't want to ruin the surprise."
"I completely forgot you said anything," Doug hurried to say, responding to the glance Jennifer shot at him. As if she accused him of betraying her, or Claire.
"Works out fine, doesn't it? Hey, I went by Claire's place. Nobody home."
"Claire is busy today. If you came to look for her here, you're out of luck," Jennifer said.
"That's fine. I was really interested in this place. You know, me and the wife, we were talking, and we'd really like to shift gears. Move into more full-time ministry. The things I've read about the Arc Foundation, coming on to sponsor this place..." He shook his head, eyes sparkling. "I was thinking it'd be great if my little sister could put in a good word for me, get the ball moving. Maybe let me go back to school, work here, really get involved in serving the Lord. And my wife is the administrator at a little Christian school back home. She'd be perfect to slide in and take over some of the important work here."
"That's interesting phrasing," Pastor Wally said. "Taking over." He stood in the doorway of the office, leaning against the frame, his expression somber as he gazed at Jarod.
"You've gotta be Pastor Wally," Jarod said. "I've heard a lot about you. It's an honor to meet you, sir." He held out his hand and started across the lobby, and again Puck moved to intercept him. "Hey, what's with this guy?"
"Puck doesn't like you," Jennifer said. "That should be obvious."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flashback: from FIRESONG

Another piece from the events of September 6 in FIRESONG:

Just before the gates, she ran right into Officer Mike Nicholls, who was off-duty and had volunteered to head up security for the rally.
"Just what do you think you're doing, young lady?" he said, laughing, and guided her through the gate.
"Andy needs me -- the hospital -- Katie--" She choked, not wanting to say the words that would make the situation more real.
"Go." He patted her arm and reached for his walkie talkie. Dani guessed he was passing the word to the security people backstage, so no one would stop her. She headed down the stairs to the field level.
There were too many benefits to name, she suddenly realized, from living in a small town and going to a church where people really did consider themselves family.
"You," a man growled.
A big hand grabbed Dani by her upper arm, stopping her. But her feet kept moving for a few steps and the momentum nearly pulled her shoulder out of the socket. She let out a yelp, cut off half a heartbeat later when the mate to that big hand grabbed her other arm and slammed her up against the concrete wall of the stairs.
The man was big, rough-hewn, handsome in an action hero way, with wavy golden hair, blue eyes, and a dimple in his chin. But his eyes were filled with ice and he snarled at Dani as she gasped for breath.
"Where is she?" His hands squeezed tighter, as if he would pierce her sleeves and draw blood in another moment.
"She who?"
"Don't play stupid. Amber. I saw you take her behind stage." His snarl changed to a sneer when Dani's eyes widened and she realized this had to be the nasty boyfriend. Funny, but if Amber had said his name, Dani couldn't remember. "Where is she?"
"On her way out of the state by now."
She flinched instinctively when he let go of one arm, but never saw him raise his hand or swing down. Her head slammed back against the wall and she saw stars for a few seconds. Everything spun around her, and when she could see again, he was dragging her up the stairs again, toward the gates.
"You know who has her, so you can just get on the phone and call and make them bring her back," he said, his words spat out like hailstones, punctuated by his stomping steps.
"Hold on there," Mike Nicholls called, stepping into their path, holding out a hand as if he would grab hold of Amber's boyfriend.
The next moment, he stepped back, raising his hands. Dani turned, stunned at his easy capitulation, and staggered when she saw the gun now in her captor's hand. She went to her knees. He let go of her arm to grab her by her hair. Despite the pain in her scalp, she couldn't stand up. She stumbled onward, half-falling, as he dragged her through the gates and out of the stadium.
           Please, God, please... the words stuttered through her brain, running in the same circle.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Looking back: FIRESONG

Since we have a HUGE gap until more "events" in Tabor Heights, we're going to look back at "events" that you might have missed out on in the last few months.

(Hey, I can do this, because it's my blog!)

From September 6:

Firesong was two songs into their portion of the school year kick-off rally at the Gilley Stadium at Butler-Williams University. Dani stepped to the back of the stage, letting Jason and Jim be the focus as they sang their duet. She scanned the crowd in the bleachers and wondered if the rally would have to be rearranged next year, to use both sides of the field. Maybe put chairs on the field itself. Her satisfaction in the high attendance numbers dropped for a moment, when she remembered that Firesong most likely wouldn't be involved in the rally that all the churches in Tabor Heights and surrounding communities sponsored every year. Next fall, Firesong would be on the road for Allen Michaels.
Change is good, she told herself for probably the hundredth time that week.
Fighting not to look at Andy, who only had four more concerts with Firesong, she turned to study the crowd. Familiar faces in the front row on the far left of the stage made her smile. She waved at the knot of girls she had counseled multiple times during the crusade. Megan, Beth, Theresa, and several other girls who had only come once. Dani was pleased to see them.
The brothers finished their duet and she moved up to join them as Andy changed keys and played the bridge to the next song. She almost turned to glare at her brother when she realized he had changed the order of songs. Not just changed, either -- he had slipped in a song Firesong hadn't sung in three years. A song she had hoped never to have to sing again.
There was nothing wrong with Michael W. Smith's "Friends", in fact it was highly appropriate, since it had been written to say farewell to a friend who was moving away, but Dani had always secretly hated the song. There was something painful about it. She suspected Andy knew how much she disliked the song, and was making her sing it, just as a final jab of on-stage teasing.
I'll get you for this, she mouthed, turning to Andy. Her brother fluttered his eyelashes at her and gave her his cheesiest grin. It was all she could do not to burst out laughing, just two beats before she had to sing.
Two songs later, their part of the opening of the rally was finished. Firesong was free to do what they wanted for the next two hours, while the various speakers and the drama team from a church in Padua took their turns. Firesong was slated to come back on stage and close it with two more songs.
"Dani?" Megan and another girl pushed through to the path to the backstage area, neatly slipping around one of the security team in their bright orange tee-shirts. "Can we talk to you?"
"It's okay," Dani said, seeing the tears streaking the other girl's face -- what was her name again? Amber? -- just as she saw the bypassed guard reach for Megan's arm. "What's wrong?" She signaled the guard that it was all right, lifted the gate latch to swing it open and let them in. A few moments later, she led the two girls off to a seating area behind the stage, where they were hidden from the crowds filling that half of the stadium.
"Dani?" Andy ran up to her, holding out his cell phone. "Rearrange the closing songs, would you? Katie's--" He swallowed hard. "Mom Green just called. She's having seizures. They're taking her to the hospital. If I don't get back in time--"
"Don't come back at all. Katie needs you." She hugged her brother hard and gave him a shove in the general direction of the parking lot.
"What's going on?" Amber asked, watching Andy run.
"His wife has brain tumors." Dani rubbed at her eyes, refusing to burst into tears.
"That's rough."
             "God gives the strength." She managed a shrug. "Okay, you look like something's bothering you. What can I do?"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13: from FIRESONG

Some time during the second day of solitude, riding her bike around the island and stopping at secluded coves to look out over the lake, a few thoughts came clear and settled in her mind and heart. Fragments from the funeral service finally made sense, as if she had recorded the words to think about later.
Dani discovered she was angry with God, and the very idea terrified her. Who was she to be angry at what God had ordained? And yet, as she struggled through it, she realized she wasn't being rebellious, just expressing her hurt. How many of the Psalms had bothered her during the years, because they were so full of anger and pain and pleading for God's justice and vengeance? It had taken a speaker during summer camp when she was fourteen, who pointed out that the Psalms were honest conversations between hurting, wounded humans and the God they loved and trusted, before the Psalms made sense. It was impossible to express hurt and anger in full honesty, except with someone who was utterly trusted.
Had she lost her trust in God? Dani didn't think so. She hadn't lost her faith in God when her parents died. Katie didn't have to wake up and learn Andy had been killed. In a way, that was the greatest mercy God could have granted her. Andy didn't have to watch Katie fade away and suffer, she didn't have to see his sorrow for her, and she didn't even know Andy was gone.
They had died with a future still ahead of them and plans for what time they had left. They had been happy. They had been together. They had stayed dedicated to God despite what He had allowed to happen to them.
What right did Dani Paul have to be angry, when in the final analysis, God was being merciful?
"I have to let go," she whispered to the gulls that swooped around the rocky shores and took the bits of crackers she tossed to them. "Keeping a strangle hold will only crush everything I love, and I won't be able to accept anything else in my life. I have to let go." She choked on tears, knowing it would be hard.
Echoes of years before filtered through her mind, as if Andy were right next to her, speaking words of comfort through his own pain and confusion.
"Why did God make them die?" Dani whispered, hearing her child's voice inside her own.
I don't know, Andy whispered on the wind.
"We need them. Right here."
Hey, idiot -- you're talking about God, remember? Since when do we tell Him what He can do? Andy's memory seemed to laugh at her. No matter what happens, God knows best. Just because we don't understand, doesn't mean there isn't a good reason.
Do you really believe that? the child she had been asked.
I know it's the truth. It's just going to take a little while to get down to my heart, the wind whispered.
Perched on the damp rock where she could look out across the water toward Sandusky, Dani whispered, "It's just going to take a little while to get down to my heart."
It was time to think about Kurt. Had she been afraid to trust him? Even afraid to trust God? Suppose she opened up her heart to Kurt and they got married? And had children?
"Stop it," she scolded herself, much later. Laughter instead of tears choked her. "If Kurt can set up crusades in three different cities and get CDs recorded and ride herd on bands, and a thousand other things, he can handle a couple of babies on the road, can't he?"
Dani felt dizzy as she realized what she had just done. Not only had she considered marriage with Kurt, she had considered children. How had that happened?
One thing she did know, when she finally conceded defeat to the twilight and cycled back to her bed & breakfast. It was time to go home and face the world again. She had found as much peace and balance here as she could. She had a career and a life waiting for her, and a chance at love that might not wait very long.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12: from FIRESONG

Okay, maybe you've noticed I was kind of "silent" here for two weeks. So we're going to do some catching up and doubling up on excerpts -- especially when more than one story was happening on the same date.

At the double funeral, everyone cried, but Dani. Kurt sat in the front pew with his Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ben, the Gibsons beyond them, and watched Dani. Her voice wavered a little as she and her cousins sang Rich Mullins' "Elijah", but for the rest of the service, she moved as if in a dream. Or made of ice.
She didn't talk, didn't seem to hear anything until someone spoke directly to her. He had watched during visitation at the funeral home, and then at church before the service, and she couldn't take her gaze off the caskets. When the families got in the limousines to drive to the cemetery, she followed the hearse with her gaze as if it would vanish if she looked away. She held herself straight and tall and moved as if she were totally alone, even in a crowd.
Kurt called himself a thousand names for coward, aching for her and hesitating to approach because he had no idea what to say. How could he offer any comfort when those harsh words from their last conversation were still between them -- and he ached so badly with loss himself?
When the reception moved to the Gibsons' farm, he stayed on the sidelines, listening to people talk. Tom brought the stereo outside where the tables were set up for the luncheon and played all Firesong's CDs, old and new.
Dani flinched every time Andy sang a solo part. She turned white and ran for the barn when her duet with Andy came up. Kurt remembered how they had clowned during the song at the crusade, their love for each other bright in their eyes. Something cracked and shattered inside him and he ran after her.
She stood alone, shuddering, her hands resting flat on Andy's keyboard. Still no tears.
Her head jerked up and he saw the aching little girl he remembered from so long ago. Terrified and so tight with tension, he thought she would break all her bones. Her eyes gleamed, but not with tears.
"Please, I want--"
"No. I'm not leaving you alone, Dani. Not ever." Kurt reached across the keyboard and grabbed hold of her arms. "You're not alone, Dani. You hear me? You're not alone."
The tears came. With waterfall force, nearly tearing her from his grasp. Kurt twisted sideways, to get around the keyboard without letting go of her. He knew Dani would fall if he didn't hold her up. She crumpled as he drew her tight into his arms and a quiet part of his mind marveled at how light she was. Like a bird, so full of energy but no substance.
As if her silent grief had eaten her hollow.
"I love you, Dani," he whispered as she dug her fingers into his arms and buried her face in his shoulder. "I'll always be here. Forever. I'll never leave you alone."
             If she heard him, he had no idea. Dani shivered and soaked his shirt and sobbed quietly but with wrenching depth that made him afraid for her. And when it went on too long, he carried her back outside to look for help.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11: from THE MISSION

As she tended to Lisa in the hospital, holding her hand and offering support, Claire's thoughts kept turning to Paul, and the possibilities and daydreams that had ambushed her in unguarded moments, ever since that sadly sweet conversation with him in the library. Was it so selfish to want to be Sammy's mother, to claim the love Paul seemed to be offering? Everything seemed to be wrapped up so neatly in a nice, tidy package. Sammy loved Tommy. Paul and Tommy got along, almost to the point of frightening her. Claire had often joked that people who understood and enjoyed her brother's sometimes warped sense of humor were dangerous and frightened her.
What frightened her, she admitted now, as she held Lisa's hand and listened to her breathe and count, was that she feared maybe she wanted Sammy and Paul because they made a nice, neat, logical package. The house she and Tommy shared had more than enough room for the four of them. What if she wanted Paul because he got along with her brother, more than she wanted him for him? What if he wanted her because of Sammy, more than he wanted her for her?
Okay, Lord, could You give us a sign? Is it too soon to start thinking about the future? Or is it already late, and a sign Paul is having second thoughts? Please, did You create this, or am I imagining things? I want this, no matter how much it scares me. She offered a smile to Lisa and held the cup of ice chips for her to take a few more. Please, Lord, I want Paul and Sammy in our lives. I want us to be a family. And if it isn't Your will, Your plan, could you let us know fast?
It was almost a relief when Todd staggered into the birthing room, trailing the nurse who was helping him put on the sterile gown and gloves. Claire prepared to leave, to let the little family welcome their first child in privacy, but Todd startled her when he asked her to stay.
"My sisters are on their way, but we want as many friends as we can to be here," he said, grabbing hold of Lisa's hand. "I know the funeral is today, so I'm not expecting... you're here, and we'd really love it if you'd stay."
Claire held back her tears until after Nicholas Joseph Montgomery was born, squalling and struggling, measured and cleaned and wrapped up warm. Then she escaped to the waiting room, glad to have some time to think and absorb what she had seen and felt and thought.
But that wasn't to be. Todd's sisters and their husbands arrived, and she had to share what she knew until the nurse let them go in to meet their new nephew.
More important, Paul was there. He had volunteered to drive to the airport to meet Todd and bring him right over. He offered her that crooked, slightly sheepish grin she had grown to love when she just stood there and looked at him, once they were alone in the waiting room.
            "What are you doing here?" Her face warmed. That was a ridiculous question. "I mean, you don't have to stay -- I mean--" She flung her hands upward and dropped down into the nearest seat. Her thoughts during Lisa's labor came rushing back into her mind. Was there something in the air of the hospital that made her think of things, want things, she hadn't let herself want in years?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Coming in Year Two of Tabor Heights

I just got this from the art department at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Isn't it great? I love what the artists at DBP do.

This is just a sneak peek at what you can look forward to in Year Two of the Tabor Heights books.

INVITATION TO A WEDDING will be released this December.

But before that, we're having a "New Year's Eve" party, to celebrate the end of Year One and the start of Year Two. Check back here, and on my other blog, Living Proof, for more information as the date draws near!