Authors: Melody Carlson
“Heart-wrenching and heartwarming, Rachel’s story forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me a picture of what practical compassion looks like for a Christian. I highly recommend it!”
— ERYNN MANGUM,
author of the L
series and the M
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© 2012 by Melody Carlson
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Published in association with the literary agency of Sara A. Fortenberry
Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.
Unless otherwise identified, all Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version
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Deceived : lured from the truth / Melody Carlson.
pages cm -- (Secrets ; [bk. 5])
Summary: “Lured by the possibility of a relationship with a boy she likes, Rachel secretly attends his cult-like church. Slowly but surely, she is lured into a religion that goes against everything she’s ever been taught”-- Provided by publisher.
[1. Cults--Fiction. 2. Christian life--Fiction.] I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 / 16 15 14 13 12
othing in my life has prepared me for this. And I don’t mean spending my summer sweltering behind the counter of Nadine’s Natural Ice Cream Parlor either. I can handle scooping out sticky, drippy ice cream orders. And I know how to be polite to entitled rich kids — even the ones with zero manners. The personal disillusionment I’m referring to is the sad realization that I am now the product of a broken home. Yes, I know the term
is hopelessly old-fashioned. But so am I.
“It’s official,” my mom called to tell me at seven thirty this morning. “The papers came through, and as of midnight last night, your father and I are legally divorced.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.” I sat up in bed, blinking into the bright July sunlight streaming through the dusty window next to my bunk and trying to remember where I was … and
. Oh, yes, the women’s dormitory at Rock Canyon Lake Resort, a bare-bones barracks where summer workers are housed together like sardines … or inmates. I’ll admit I was thrilled to come here at first. I imagined myself working in one of the swanky restaurants, improving my culinary-art skills. Instead I’m peddling ice cream.
“I’m sorry too,” Mom said a bit too cheerily. “But I’m also greatly relieved. At least it’s finally over. I can get on with
I bit my tongue, knowing that getting on with
life was just another way of saying she was ready to start dating again. Although the truth is, she has already begun dating — on the sly since she knows how much I disapprove. But now that her marriage is legally “dissolved” and I’m living up here for the summer, I know she feels completely free to do whatever she wants with whomever she likes.
It’s futile for me to point out that divorce or no divorce, she and my dad are still breaking a sacred vow they made to God. I’ve watched their wedding video enough times to know that they got married in the church and promised to love each other and stay together “in sickness and in health” and “for richer or poorer” and so on and so forth until death forced them to part ways.
However, not even twenty years later and they’re still both very much alive … and according to Mom, they’re “legally” parted. And I could tell by her voice, she’s happy about it. In fact, I’ll bet she’s already planning a big date tonight to celebrate her newfound freedom.
After I grab my towel and shower bag, shuffling off toward the bathroom, I wonder if that wasn’t the real reason she farmed me off with her friend Nadine for the summer. “Just think of the money you can make for culinary school,” she told me as she drove me up here three weeks ago. “And living with a bunch of young people in the dorm — well, it’ll be so fun for you. I’m already starting to get jealous. Seriously, Rachel, with the lake right there and all the beautiful scenery, it’s like being on a paid vacation.”
Vacation-smacation. It was just her convenient way to get rid of me for a while.
I get in the shower line and estimate how long it will be until my turn. Not that I’m in any particular hurry since I’m up earlier than usual, but hopefully there’ll still be hot water.
“Mind if I take cuts?” a short blonde named Steffie asks me hopefully. “I have to be at the Blue Moose by nine and your ice cream parlor doesn’t open until later, right?”
I shrug. “Go ahead.” I don’t point out that although Nadine’s doesn’t open until eleven, I still have to be there at nine thirty to get the place ready to go, which means getting a head start on making waffle cones and receiving deliveries. Plus I try to air out the stuffy shop in the morning while it’s still cool, and I get everything cleaned up better than it was left the night before.
I also don’t point out to Steffie that the ice cream parlor is one of the hottest, stickiest places to work in the resort, thanks to the recent high temps. Washing dishes at the Blue Moose Café might be worse, although I doubt that’s Steffie’s job. I also doubt she’d care to hear me whining about Nadine’s. Everyone around here seems pretty self-absorbed. Their problems are major; mine are invisible.
No one cares that Nadine’s broken-down AC isn’t scheduled to be fixed anytime soon. Or that despite the two box fans Nadine dropped off on Tuesday, the lack of AC combined with the heat produced by the refrigeration units makes the ice cream parlor nearly uninhabitable.
But does that keep people from coming in there for their mocha fudge delight sundaes or their triple-berry yogurt smoothies? Think again. And when they have to wait very long, which is often the case, they get pretty impatient and grumpy. All they want is to grab their cool treats and escape the sweltering little sweatshop. Really, who can blame them?
A couple more girls entice me to give them cuts in the shower line before I finally put my foot down, which doesn’t endear me to anyone. Not that I particularly care as I jump into a shower that’s quickly turning lukewarm. I hurry to rub a special keratin conditioner into my hair before the spray turns icy cold. And I try not to listen to Steffie and another girl exchanging stories about their previous evening.
Shortly after arriving here several weeks ago, I learned that this is a party crowd. And if you go along with them — partying, I mean — they’ll all act like your very best friends. But if you stand up for your own personal convictions, like I attempted to do right from the start, they pretty much freeze you out. Kind of like the water is starting to do right now. I hear some warning yelps from other bathers, and just as I’m rinsing conditioner out of my long hair, I get my ice-cold wake-up call too. But I don’t scream like the others. What’s the point?
I turn off the water and grab my towel. Ignoring the snide comments from some of the restaurant girls still waiting in line — girls who should’ve partied less and gotten up earlier — I hurry back to my bunk to get dressed in the silly pink-and-white-striped uniform of camp shirt and shorty-shorts Nadine thinks is “just adorable.” Someone should make her wear it. However, being that Nadine is the boss and owner and pushing fifty, I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon.
And to be fair, Nadine is actually pretty nice. I appreciate how she trusts me enough to give me some managerial responsibilities including allowing me to open for her. Plus she pays me a fair wage. No, this isn’t about Nadine. It’s just that I’m in a foul mood today.
As I walk through the immaculately clean resort (Nadine told me they have a sanitation crew that goes through in the wee hours of the morning to ensure it’s “tidier than Disneyland”), I try to rally my spirits. When I first arrived at Rock Canyon Lake Resort, I was somewhat charmed by its well-maintained and old-fashioned decor. It was created to resemble an old west town with false-front buildings and boardwalks and old-fashioned businesses like Maybelle’s Mercantile or the Sarsaparilla Saloon, and it seemed like a great place to bring a family.
My first reaction was to assume that this resort was just my cup of tea. Kind of like going back in time, or so I imagined. I don’t like to admit to most people that I consider myself to be an old-fashioned girl, but I sometimes confide to close friends that I feel like I was born in the wrong era, that I would’ve fit in much better if I’d been born into my grandparents’ generation — they were teens in the late fifties. I even have Grandma Lindy’s old poodle skirt and oxfords to prove it.
But the problem with this resort is that the charm is skin deep. It only took a week to figure out that most of the people who stay here are wealthy, entitled, selfish, and impatient. They treat me like I’m less than them — or worse, like I’m invisible or have no feelings. And they almost never tip.
However, as I unlock the door to Nadine’s, I am suddenly encouraged by an unexpected thought.
Today is Thursday
. And although it’s not the end of my workweek, it does mean there’ll be an LSD delivery today. Okay, I’ll admit the first time Nadine said that to me, I nearly fell over. Was she really expecting a delivery of illegal drugs? But she quickly explained that LSD stands for Lost Springs Dairy and they deliver on Monday and Thursday mornings around ten thirty.