Christian Fiction at Amazon

Monday

The Alexandria Link

Also posted at Infuzemag.com


In Steve Berry’s The Alexandria Link, the real Abrahamic Covenant—that is, before it was altered by Jewish and Christian agenda-driven translators—is about to be unearthed. An international finance cartel, some power-hungry politicians, and a few hired assassins race to find the lost Library of Alexandria and seize its extant Hebrew manuscript that declares the original site of the Promised Land. He who holds the Covenant controls the political future of the Middle East.

Although The Alexandria Link is a stand alone novel, Berry’s character Cotton Malone, returns from The Templar Legacy. Malone, who Berry says thinks and acts a lot like him, is a middle-aged, government intelligence officer tired of the agency. Malone’s hysterical ex-wife shows up on his doorstep in Copenhagen, where he owns a rare book shop, announcing the kidnapping of their teenage son. She hands Malone a cryptic note of instructions: the kidnappers hope to force him to reveal the hiding place of George Haddad, a Palestinian Bible scholar, who they believe can lead them to the ancient library. The kidnappers attack Malone’s shop, engulfing it in flames to urge him into action—his angry ex-wife in tow.

Malone, while protecting his ex-wife and locating his kidnapped son, must keep Haddad’s location secret and reach the Library before the bad guys; but can Malone trust the tag-along mercenary who saved his life? Can he trust his government, his ex-agency or his ex-wife?

Berry’s themes of corrupt organized religion and power politics play out in this fast-paced, international suspense to find the ancient world’s greatest library. Destroyed before the seventh century, it held the Hebrew text believed to have been the source for the Septuagint, the first Greek translation that became the source for the Latin Vulgate.

The Catholic Church’s history, rife with corrupt priests in powerful positions, plays negative roles in his novels. But, Berry, a Catholic, says his aim is to entertain—not offend his religious readers; and Berry emphasizes that The Alexandria Link is fiction, not fact.

With that said, however, The Alexandria Link promises to be as controversial as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. In fact, Brown endorsed Berry’s book. And like The Da Vinci Code, The Alexandria Link won’t be appreciated by readers offended by controversial treatment of Biblical subjects.

While The Da Vinci Code speculates on the romantic relationship (groundless) between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, The Alexandria Link is based on revisionist history that is hostile to Israel in the age-old Palestinian-Israeli land squabble.Berry credits Kamal Salibi’s book, The Bible Came from Arabia, for the idea to write The Alexandria Link.

Revisionists like Salibi, a Lebanese historian, claim that Jews and Christians intended to cement Israel’s Biblical and historical claim to Arab lands, and tampered with Scripture while translating it. Haddad, Berry’s fictional Bible scholar says, “What if the Old Testament, as we know it, is not, and never was, the Old Testament from its original time? Now, that could change many things.”
Haddad, along with Salibi, believes that Israel’s Biblical history occurred someplace other than Palestine: “Archeologists have dug in the Holy Land with a vengeance all to prove the Bible as historical fact—not one shred of physical evidence has been unearthed that confirms the Old Testament—nothing found to prove it—an evidentiary void,” says Haddad.

Berry supplies a “writer’s note” to separate fact from fiction in The Alexandria Link, and this is where my criticism lies. Berry acknowledges that the “idea that the land promised by God in the Abrahamic covenant lies in a region far removed” from modern-day Palestine is controversial. But, Berry agrees with Salibi that archaeology could “easily prove or dismiss” the premise

Yet, he fails to mention the myriad archaeology—the Dead Sea Scrolls, the discovery of King David’s palace, and the walls of the First Temple, to name a few—that refute Salibi’s and Haddad’s claims. Hershell Shanks, editor of "Biblical Archaeology Review," describes the Dead Sea Scrolls found in caves near Jerusalem in 1947: "The oldest Hebrew texts were two manuscripts from the 10th or possibly the early 11th century known as the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex” The Qumran texts date a thousand years earlier, before Biblical texts were standardized.

The Qumran Texts are Biblical texts, written between 250 BC and 68 AD, when the Romans destroyed the settlement.The caves held 800 texts written more than 2000 years ago, which included all the Old Testament books except for Esther, and confirmed the Septuagint translation as reliable. So, when Haddad underscores his point to Malone by saying, “The oldest surviving Hebrew Bible [was] produced nearly 2000 years after the original text from who knows what?” Perhaps he should consult the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Haddad also questions the lack of physical evidence to support the Old Testament. He says, “Archaeologists have found not one shred of physical evidence” to confirm the Old Testament as fact. But, apparently he hasn’t heard that since 2005 archaeologists have found King David’s palace, which dates to the 10th century BC, near the walls of the Old City or that a First Temple wall has been uncovered in Jerusalem’s City of David.

The Alexandria Link is a well-written, suspenseful high-speed chase—good guys versus bad with guns blazing—to seize control, ultimately, of Israel’s future. Berry’s interesting characters and research of locales in Denmark, Portugal and D.C. add dimension and credibility to the novel. However, as Berry notes, “the final story is a blend of fact and fiction.” The Alexandria Link is excellent fiction. But, in order to draw the line between historical of fact and Berry’s fiction, readers will need to rely on their own research, rather than depend on Berry’s.

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish by Elise Blackwell

While Hurricane Katrina’s baleful eye bores down on the Gulf Coast and newscasters call for mass evacuation, predicting inundation of New Orleans, time pauses for Louis Proby. Perceiving the irony of his fate, Louis remembers another calamity: the 1927 flood when “men with money and the power to change things” persuaded Louisiana’s governor to order the levee protecting his home town, Cypress Parish, dynamited to save New Orleans.

The weather reports fade to the background as Louis opens a binder containing his research of Cypress Parish’s natural history. He recalls his youthful innocence and idealism, and their loss before his 17th birthday — all part of life before the flood. But, mostly Louis remembers loving Nanette Lancon.

Blackwell’s literary novel, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, is based on fact. She credits John M. Barry’s Rising Tide, and her grandfather’s unpublished memoirs as history sources for her narrative that examines the poor and powerless of Cypress Parish pitted against the rich and powerful of New Orleans at the approach of impending disaster. “If you want to understand how something works… threaten that society… and its true nature will reveal itself,” writes Barry. That hypothesis is the core of Blackwell’s Cypress Parish.

Louis Proby narrates a dismal reality of people living in dirt poverty compounded by instinctive shame in "where they came from.” He tells of “men whose names mattered before the flood” inviting him to their world of money and power; a world of uneducated men wise in wisdom gained from experience; and a world of racism and hard-won friendship. He tells of his family and the parish people whose lives were changed forever — disrupted by the flood.

Blackwell’s literary gift lies in her ability to create a sense of place that comes from growing up “south of south” in Louisiana. Louis explains, “Who I am remains intimately gnarled with where I came from.” He sees himself and the land as one, “marked by the conditions where the tree was grown.” Elise Blackwell’s writing is steeped in the same rich soil.

The cypress tree symbolizes the parish and Blackwell’s themes of loss, destruction and life disrupted by man’s short-sighted intervention. Louis says: "The most important thing I had written, I understood, was that the bald cypress could live three-thousand years. It takes more than a century for a cypress tree to mature enough to produce good lumber; today cypress is mostly harvested young and sold as mulch."

Blackwell’s characters are hauntingly memorable. They change the way trees change that have endured the onslaught of decades of harsh weather — change that scars more than grows; but, perhaps on a deeper level survival is growth. Louis is like the Cypress tree, he survives. Now on the eve of Hurricane Katrina at age 95, he remembers his unfinished life in Cypress Parish, and he regrets that he didn’t say good-bye to Nanette.

Aside from the sheer enjoyment of reading Blackwell’s writing, I grew in my understanding of humanity through Cypress Parish. I recommend it highly.

You can read original reporting of the 1927 Flood at Time Archives and experience original voices and graphics of the flood at PBS Fatal Flood of 1927. You can also listen to Unbridled Aloud Podcasts.

On writing "The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish," Blackwell said:


My fictional Cypress Parish is a combination of St. Bernard Parish (where the 1927 levee breech occured), Livingston Parish (where my grandfather grew up) and Vermillion Parish (where my grandfather wooed my grandmother away from a house of pretty French sisters).

When I was a kid, my grandfather saw that I liked to write and offered to pay me a dollar a story. When I became too prolific for his wallet, he told me to keep writing but not for money. Late in his life, he picked up a pen of his own and started chronicling his years growing up in rural Louisiana as well as his later experiences in war, study, and life. He did this not with an eye toward publication but so that his grandchildren would know him better, would know more family history. He gave us the new chapters every Christmas, the white copy-shop boxes sitting under the tree with our other presents. He wrote these memoirs on a cypress desk and under a lumber company map of the parish where he grew up. It would take me a long time to get around to this material, but the image stayed with me. I knew from the start that desk and map would sneak into the novel.


Blackwell's debut novel is Hunger. She is on the English faculty at The University of South Carolina.


The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, Elise Blackwell, Book, Not yet published
Hunger, Elise Blackwell
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
John M. Barry

Wednesday

A Bigger Life, by Annette Smith

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Introduces A BIGGER LIFE
by Annette Smith

About Annette Smith: 1997, Annette worked as a home health nurse. She traveled the back roads house to house, caring for the ill, injured, and homebound. Because of her unique position in the lives of relative strangers, she often found herself bearing solitary witness to intimate behind-the-scenes situations full of grace and meaning.
Annette's desire to honor both a particular patient, and a poignant scene involving the woman and her husband, prompted Annette to write a fictionalized story, The Anniversary.

The story ran as a column in the Houston Chronicle, and as an essay in Today’s Christian Woman. Later, it became a chapter in Annette’s first, and best-selling, book of short stories, The Whispers of Angels, which sold more than 100,000 copies.

Since then, Annette has penned four more books of stories, two volumes on parenting, and the Coming Home to Ruby Prairie trilogy.

Annette and her husband Randy, a High School teacher and coach, make their home on a wooded lot in Quitman, Texas. They are the parents of two young adult children, Russell and Rachel, both out on their own. Wally, a grateful, rescued mutt provides warmth and entertainment, and keeps the Smith’s empty nest from feeling too lonely.
In addition to writing, Annette continues to serve part-time as a registered nurse. She finds the people she works with and the patients she cares for provide great inspiration for her fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK: Joel Carpenter did not plan for his life to turn out like this. He never meant to be a single dad, working at a hair salon in Eden Plain, Texas. But after making a careless choice four years ago, his marriage was permanently shattered. Now at twenty-seven, he finds himself juggling custody of his preschool son with Kari, the ex-wife he still loves, and sharing Sunday dinners with a group of other single dads. Joel regrets the choices that brought him to this place, but it's not until the worst happens that he learns how much he still has to give. In the midst of deep tragedy, he learns that forgiveness is way more important than freedom. Hopefully it's not too late!A BIGGER LIFE is a story of love in the midst of heartache, and friendship in the midst of real, everyday life.

Sunday

Wishing on Dandelions, by Mary E. DeMuth



It is April 1st,
time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!)
The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her
latest book's FIRST chapter!





This month's feature is:




Mary E.
DeMuth

and her book:

Wishing on Dandelions

(NavPress
Publishing, 2006)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

This month's feature is very special. The author is
one of the FIRST Day Blog Alliance Members!!! Click here for her Blogspot! MARY E. DeMUTH has spent the
last fifteen years as a writer. Winner of the 2003 Mount Herman
Christian Writers Conference's Pacesetter's Award, she now splits her time between writing and planting a new church with her husband, Patrick, and two other families.

Wishing on Dandelions is the second book in the Maranatha Series. The first was the critically praised book, Watching the Tree
Limbs
. She has also written two parenting books. Building the
Christian Family You Never Had
and a new one called Authentic
Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
which will release this
summer with Harvest House. Mary, Patrick, and their three children make
their home in Texas.

DeMuth honestly describes the shame and guilt that abuse victims often own and use against themselves, a self-view that can only be made whole by seeing themselves through God's love. Wishing on Dandelions is beautifully written.




AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
I n t r o d u c t i o n
I still can’t tell my story up close, like it was me in
it,breathing the tangled wisteria on the fence posts of Burl, Texas. There
are times I still can’t bear to say it was me. The book of mylife
continues to open, painful word by painful word, page after page. I get real
close to typing the whole story with the word I in it, but I hit delete
every time, replacing me with she.
Zady tells me I’m ready to write my story honest, but I’m not so sure.
She says she’s there to help me remember my healing,even as she puts an
arm around my shoulder when a tear slips through. “It hurts,” she says.
“Real bad. Lord, I wish it didn’t rip at you so.”

She tells me I survived that story — that I should be proud — yet her
presence brings back its horrid validity written on the backdrop of her
tender love. Reminds me in a kind, wild way that this is my
story even if I can’t seem to admit it on the page.

***

Summer 1983
Burl, Texas

Uncle Zane appeared disheveled when Maranatha pestered
him. His silvery hair, normally combed and parted in the exact
same place, was instead bunched and unkempt, his part like a
winding Burl road.

“Camilla and me, well, we want to go to the fair. Can you drive us?
Please?” Maranatha practically danced, shifting her weight from one foot
to the other.

“No,” he shouted, an odd outburst for such a quiet man.

Gangly and with a sinewy will of her own, she pled, “C’mon,Uncle Zane.
Everyone will be there. Besides, Camilla promised we’d shoot the fair —
ride every single ride from the merry-goround to the Zipper. This year
I promised her I’d do it without getting sick.”

“I said no.”

Three plain words. Maranatha almost turned away in a thirteen-year-old
huff, but she lingered long enough to see him sit down in a parlor
chair, then bend forward, pressing palms to temple.

“We’ll ride our bikes,” she told him. The room echoed her words. “I’ll
be back later.” Her words stung even as she said
them, particularly because Uncle Zane, usually a man without
reaction, looked up at her with a strange sort of look in his blue
eyes. A look that pleaded, Please stay.

She left him there. And didn’t look back.



***

Camilla and Maranatha raced down the road toward the embrace of the
fair, miles away. “You’re going to barf on me, I know it,” Camilla teased.

“I will not. My stomach’s better.”

“Oh, right. Now that you’re a teenager, you’re not nauseous? If I were
you, I’d be cautious. I don’t trust your stomach. Neither should you.”

They raced, tire to tire, until Camilla saw a wrought-iron gate and,
behind it, a burnt skeleton of a house. “I smell mystery,” she said. She
stopped her bike. Maranatha nearly crashed into her.

In lieu of a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and despite Uncle Zane’s pained
blue eyes, Maranatha and Camilla climbed over the gate. They searched
the scorched scene, pretending to be arson investigators.

They concluded a cat had set fire to the house, taking feline revenge
on an evil master. “All scary houses have names. This one’s Black, sure
as night,” Camilla said.

As the day’s shadows lengthened, after they’d explored the woods behind
the house whose once-grand pillars stood charred against the Texas sky,
Camilla said, “I want to come back here another day.” She put her hands
on her hips and tilted her head back. “Let’s go back to Black.” She
wailed and screamed the words like AC/DC. Maranatha laughed so hard, she
nearly wet her pants.



***

Maranatha and Camilla never made it to the fair.

Tired from their investigating, they pedaled lazily back to town. “I’ll
see you soon, baboon.” Camilla waved a good-bye to
Maranatha.

Something niggled at Maranatha as she walked the stairs of the big
white house. Everything looked the same, but nothing felt that way.

“I’m home, Uncle Zane.” Her voice echoed, bouncing off tall ceilings.
She called Zady’s name, though she knew it was unlikely the housekeeper
would be there on a weekend. She shivered. Loneliness pierced her.

She walked past the parlor to look out the kitchen window at Uncle
Zane’s parking spot, figuring he’d probably left to look for her — again.
He had swung on a wild pendulum from disinterest to overprotection the
day her name changed from Mara to Maranatha three years ago, but his
protection kicked into high gear when she turned thirteen. On her
birthday, he gave her a bike that sported a crudely shaped bow. He handed her a
hockey helmet. “Be careful,” he said. And he meant it.

She stopped in front of the window. Uncle Zane’s white Cadillac sat
silent in the driveway, the same place it’d been when she’d ridden away
earlier.

Panic ripped through her.

Maranatha ran to the parlor. On the floor, Uncle Zane lay prostrate,
face kissing the oriental rug, arms and legs outstretched like he was
making a prone snow angel.

“Wake up,” she wailed.

But he didn’t. An ambulance came and whisked him away, while the word
stroke hung in the hot Burl evening.

***

Zady’d tried to soothe Maranatha during his long rehabilitation. “It’s
not your fault, Natha,” she said. “I should’ve checked on him. He
seemed altered, and I should’ve known.”

Though Zady wore guilt in the lengthening lines around her eyes, she
pestered Maranatha with all sorts of don’t-blameyourself words,
meaningless blather that never made it past Maranatha’s terrible heart. The best
way Maranatha could explain it to Camilla was that she and Zady stood
before a giant chalkboard, with the words should have and could have
scrawled over and over again like naughty kids’ sentences. While Zady
tried to erase Maranatha’s coulds and shoulds, Maranatha rewrote them line
by line.


O n e

Summer 1987
Burl, Texas

Every year on the anniversary of his stroke, and many times in
between, Maranatha retraced the route she and Camilla had ridden that day.
In front of her bike tire beckoned a serpentine of gray pavement
radiating heat. The more her shirt clung to her body in a sticky embrace, the
better she liked it.

Penance.

She’d learned the word from Bishop Renny. He said something about
trying to make things right by abusing yourself. Said Jesus took the need
for all that away. But she knew Jesus would say something different to
her, considering how she’d nearly killed Uncle Zane because of her
selfishness.

The hot Burl breeze tangled Maranatha’s hair so that it whipped and
wrangled about her face. She didn’t mind, didn’t even brush a casual hand
to her face to clear the hair from her eyes. At seventeen, she welcomed
the wildness, wearing her tangles like a needed mask. A gust of
sideways wind whipped the mask from her face.

Maranatha passed the costume shop where, behind a cracked front window,
one headless mannequin sported a faded Santa suit and another, a
sequined Twenties dress. She pedaled past the farm implement shop whose yard
was dotted with ancient rusty plows. This strip of road held most of
Burl’s broken dreams — a turn-of-the-century white farmhouse, now
converted into a bed and breakfast that no one visited, a handpainted For Sale
sign declaring the dream dead. A mobile home stood way back on a fine
piece of property, the structure tilted oddly to the left where the
cement blocks had deteriorated. A goat preened on its roof, claiming it for
himself. Four years ago, children had played out front. She and Camilla
had even waved to them. So carefree for such a day.

Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, she
glanced down at the too-small bike, despising it, as if it had once held her
hostage, carrying her away from Uncle Zane’s need four years ago when
she and Camilla had been drawn toward the lure of cotton candy and
caramel apples.

Maranatha veered onto the familiar gravel driveway flanked by crepe
myrtles. She stopped, straddling her bike, catching her breath. She
listened for cars but heard only the labored noise of a tractor, far away,
until the engine sputtered and died.

The silence roared at her.

It should have blessed her with peace; instead, she remembered Uncle
Zane’s hair askew and wondered why God let a selfish girl like her take
up space in this world.

She looked behind her. Her thoughts shifted as a deeper worry played at
her, taunting her. Though she never voiced it, she lived with a
constant fear that someone would burst from the silence and grab her. She
hated that she always looked behind, like she was expecting some crouching
phantom to nab her. She’d been running from monsters bent on destroying
her ever since General first drawled, “Hey, Beautiful” in her ear. Even
though she was sheltered in Uncle Zane’s white house and safety was no
longer elusive, she always felt the presence of evil five steps behind
her. Ready to suffocate her.

She glanced at her wrist to soothe her fears. Circling it was her name,
maranatha, each sterling letter separated by a bead. Zady’d given it to
her a year after she found out that her real name wasn’t Mara but
Maranatha. Part of her quest in discovering her identity was a need for a
name that meant more than “bitter.” When she learned that her real name
meant “Come, Lord Jesus,” a part of her heart enlivened, as if it knew
she was named that all along. She touched each letter, thanking God that
He added Natha to the end of her name, that He changed her from bitter
to a heart where Jesus could live. If He wanted to, that is.

She got off her bike. The same wrought-iron gate stood erect before
her, chalkboard black and foreboding, with an out-of-place silhouette of a
squirrel at its arched top. It always reminded her of Willy Wonka’s
gate, the gate that prohibited children from seeing the mysteries within
the glorious Chocolate Factory. She laid her bike in its familiar dusty
place behind the crepe myrtles
and approached the gate. Locked.

As usual.

Heart thumping, she tried the handle, a ritual she performed every time
she ventured to this place, the scene of her selfishness. Why she
thought it would magically open today, she didn’t know. When she tugged at
it, the gate creaked a warning, but it didn’t budge. Looking back toward
the road, she listened again. Nothing. Only the sound of a dove calling
to its lover and the crackle of too-dry grass rubbing against itself
like a fiddle against its bow. She breathed in the hot air and touched
the angry wrought iron. She returned to the bike, unzipped the pouch
behind her seat, and stretched on her bike gloves. Attacking the gate
again, she pulled herself up, up, up until she could swing her leg over the
gate’s pointed top. She scampered down, preferring to jump the last
three feet.

Maranatha smiled. Before her was an open field whose hair was littered
with dandelions past their prime. Bits of dandelion white floated in
front of her like an idle snowfall, only these flurries drifted toward
the sun, away from the ground, in lazy worship. Beyond the field stood
the remains of the charred mansion.

Now shaded by the house’s pillars, she remembered Uncle Zane’s eyes the
day of his stroke. The smile left her face.

She ran to the middle of the field, trying to shake the memory — her
laughing, laughing, laughing while Uncle Zane pled for her. She stopped.
Maranatha picked one dandelion, held it to her mouth, and blew a warm
breeze over its head, scattering wishes toward the has-been mansion.
Jesus, You know my name. I want to live up to it. I want my heart to
be a place where You want to come. But I’m afraid it’s too dark there.
What I’ve done. What’s been done to me. . . . I’m sorry I’m so needy,
but I have to know, have to know it in my gut. Please show me You love me
anyway. Whatever it takes.


It had been her wish since she met Jesus under the pecan tree at her
home, back in the days when Uncle Zane had a quiet will and Zady, his
housekeeper and her friend, kept house without the intrusions of
Georgeanne, who had invaded their peaceful home with her schemes. Zady dished
out helpings and helpings of His love every day at Uncle Zane’s table,
but Maranatha never seemed to be able to digest even a scrap. She
experienced Jesus at church, surrounded by Mama Frankie and faces darker than
her own. When dark-skinned Denim spoke or his pale-faced stepdaughter
Camilla rhymed truth, Maranatha thanked God for making unique folks, for
giving her friends. Still, Jesus’ love seemed far away, and she,
undeserving.

A portion of her little girl’s heart had been abducted by General, the
boy-turned-man who violated her so many years ago. His pocked face
visited her in nightmares where she had no voice, no safety, no escape. He
seemed to lurk behind every stray noise. He didn’t haunt Burl anymore,
but he lived firmly in her mind, igniting dread. She feared he’d stolen
the only part of her that could have understood God’s love. She feared
he held the middle piece to the puzzle of her life.

Am I wishing for something I’ll never have?

Maranatha shielded her eyes from the pursuing sun and walked toward the
burnt house. Four once-white pillars stood tall, blackened by angry
flames. She remembered when she’d first seen Uncle Zane’s home nearly a
decade ago, how it loomed large on its street, how she’d longed to be the
owner there someday. But reality was more complicated than that. Sure,
she lived there now. Little by little, she was renovating it to
splendor, but lately the joy of transforming it had waned thin, like a pilled
swimsuit at summer’s end. Fixing things was hard. She’d painted and
painted until her fingernails were permanently speckled. Then the pier and
beam foundation settled further, cracking her handiwork.

As she gazed upward at the four pillars that reached for the sky, where
the abandoned house’s roof once lived, she wondered if she’d ever have
a home of her own, children about her legs, a husband to love her. The
thought of marriage both repulsed her and pulsed through her. Hatred
and longing — all in one girl.

She walked through the rubbish, darkening her red-dirted shoes, looking
for a sign from heaven. She played this game sometimes, asking God for
signs, for sacred objects that showed her that He saw her, that He knew
she existed. That He cared.

Something glinted off and on as the sun played hide-and-seek through
the trees. She bent low to the ashes, her body blocking the sun. The
glinting stopped, so she stood and let the sun have its way again. There,
spotlighted beneath the gaze of the pillars, was a simple, thick-banded
gold ring. She retrieved it, dusted the ashes from the gold, and
examined it, turning it over and over in her hand.

Inside the ring was a faint engraving. Forever my love.

“Thank You,” she whispered, but her words melted in a hot wind. Dark
clouds obscured the sun. The sky purpled. She’d seen a sky like that
before. She slipped the ring into her shirt pocket and ran toward her bike,
climbed the hot gate like a criminal pursued, and dropped on the other
side.

She mounted her bike. From behind she heard a bustled scurrying, like
the furious bending of too-dry alfalfa.

Then darkness.

Someone’s hands suffocated her eyes, obscuring the day, stealing her
screaming breath. She kicked her leg over the tenspeed, struggling to
free herself from the firm grip, and tried to holler. Like in her
nightmares, she was mute from terror. Though she knew General’s presence was
illogical — he’d been shipped off to some sort of juvenile-offender boot
camp — she could almost smell his breath as she gasped for her own. She
heard a laugh but couldn’t place it. It sounded familiar, like family.

She kicked and elbowed like a kindergarten boy proving his manhood
against a playground bully, but the hands stayed enlaced around her eyes.

More laughter. Even more familiar.

She took a deep breath and screamed. Real loud.

Thunder answered back.

**************************************

Sample from Wishing on Dandelions / ISBN 1576839532
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order copies of
this resource, come back to http://www.navpress.com/.

Mary E. DeMuth's website: http://www.relevantprose.com/
Mary E. DeMuth's Blogs: http://www.relevantblog.blogspot.com/ and http://www.pioneerparenting.blogspot.com/