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Authors: Sally John

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Desert Gift

BOOK: Desert Gift
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Praise for
Ransomed Dreams
and other novels by Sally John

“This inspirational [story] reminds readers that it’s never too late for second chances. And when our hope is in God, nothing is impossible.”

Romantic Times,
4½-star review

“A thoughtful and engaging novel.”

Publishers Weekly

“John has penned an exciting, faith-based story. . . .”

Booklist

“Sally John has penned another moving tale.
Ransomed Dreams
asks hard questions about faith and forgiveness . . . but it also offers hope. It’s worth reading to discover the answer.”

Crosswalk.com

“John’s story is surprisingly refreshing and completely upholds biblical truths of faithfulness in marriage. Readers of this book will not only enjoy a good story, but they may also learn valuable truths along the way.”

Christianbookpreviews.com


Ransomed Dreams
is another wonderful weave of compelling characters, poignant pacing, and the twin truths that forgiveness is costly but love can meet the expense head-on. Sally John is an insightful, inspiring storyteller.”

Susan Meissner,
author of
The Shape of Mercy

“Sally John has done it again—interesting characters, exotic locations, and a compelling story line. The unexpected twists in the protagonist’s life left me evaluating the sources of my own sense of security. Thought provoking.”

Kathryn Cushman,
author of
Leaving Yesterday


Ransomed Dreams
is another inspiring story from Sally John that profoundly touches the heart. This novel will captivate readers with its characters, intrigue, and twists and turns. A must-read for anyone who has lost their way and their dreams to discover hope!”

Susan Wales,
author and producer

“Sally John delivers an intense and emotionally satisfying reminder that our lives can change in a heartbeat.”

Romantic Times
on
In a Heartbeat

“Talented author Sally John weaves a web around her readers, drawing them into her characters’ world. . . . Oh, what a satisfying read—one of the best of the year.”

Novel Journey
on
The Beach House

“[Sally John] writes an enthralling story with fully developed characters that are experiencing problems that many women of faith face daily. And she does it with warmth, realism, and sensitivity.”

Armchairinterviews.com
on
The Beach House

“Once in a very long time, a book comes along that has the ability to touch hearts, change lives, and inspire hope.
Castles in the Sand
is one such book . . . a profound, inspiring read of a family torn apart and the long road home.”

Readerviews.com

Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at
www.­tyndale.­com
.

Check out the latest about Sally John at
www.­sally-­john.­com
.

TYNDALE
and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Desert Gift

Copyright © 2011 by Sally John. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of woman copyright © Masterfile. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of road copyright © Masterfile. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of background woman copyright © RelaXimages/Corbis. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of mountains copyright © Jeffrey T. Kreulen/Shutterstock. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of cactus copyright © S1001/Shutterstock. All rights reserved.

Author photo by Elizabeth John. All rights reserved.

Designed by Jennifer Ghionzoli

Edited by Kathryn S. Olson

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920,
www.­alivecommunications.­com
.

Scripture quotations are taken from the
Holy Bible
, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

John, Sally, date.

Desert gift / Sally John.

p. cm. — (Side roads)

ISBN 978-1-4143-2786-0 (pbk.)

1. Marriage—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3560.O323D47 2011

813'.54—dc22 2011001191

For Troy and Elizabeth,

now Mr. and Mrs.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.

Hebrews 13:4

Acknowledgments

As always, a team supported my storytelling efforts. My heart overflows with gratitude to:

My readers, for the precious notes that affirm and uplift.

The late Myrna Strasser and the staff at WDLM-FM, East Moline, Illinois, for introducing me to radio.

Jane Hull and Peggy Hadacek, for insightful talks about marriage.

Carla and Chester Genack, for car repair information.

Patti John, for the ticket to Hollywood.

Gary and Millie Heniser, Leanne Payne, and Bill and Harriet Mouer, for teachings.

Christopher John, for the exquisite description of desert quiet.

Elizabeth and Troy Johnson and Tracy John, for research.

Tim, for being Tim for thirty-seven years.

Agent Lee Hough of Alive Communications and editors Karen Watson, Stephanie Broene, and Kathy Olson, for keeping me going.

Everyone at Tyndale House, for bringing it all together.

Blessings to you all.

Table of Contents

Prologue

Part 1

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Part 2

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Epilogue

A Note from the Author

Discussion Questions

About the Author

Prologue

Chicago

At precisely twelve minutes and thirty-five seconds past ten o’clock in the morning, Central Standard Time, Jillian Galloway’s world ceased to exist.

She noticed the time because she was a clock watcher, a habit born of working in radio, where fractions of moments truly mattered. When her mike was on and the clock’s second hand swept up toward the twelve and listeners were staying tuned in because they wanted to hear the national news at noon, she wasn’t about to introduce a new subject.

But there stood Jackson, her husband, introducing a new subject while at the front door, buttoning his black wool overcoat. An assortment of luggage was at his feet, packed and ready to go. Outside, a cab waited at the curb. Somewhere up in the stratosphere a jet soared, making its way to O’Hare airport, where, in a very, very, very short while, they would board it.

She shifted her gaze from the large wall clock beyond his shoulder and made eye contact with him. “What did you say?”

“I said I’m not going.” He repeated the words that simply did not fit into that morning’s time frame nor anywhere in her comprehension.

“Jack, what are you talking about?”

With a sigh—the exasperated one he seldom emitted except in the kitchen when one of his gourmet concoctions failed—he lowered his shoulder bag to the floor. “I can’t keep this up. I just can’t.” A wince settled into the lines around his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Honey, you’re not making any sense. We’re on our way out the door. What on earth . . . ? What can’t you keep up?”

“Us, Jill. Us. I can’t keep us up.”

Beneath her wintry layers of blouse, sweater, silk scarf, and wool jacket, perspiration trickled down her sides. Her gloved fingers ached around the handle of her laptop bag. Her ears burned from the slap of his words, forcing her to let them inside.

Jack’s grimace tightened until his hazel eyes were all but seamed shut. “I’m sorry.” He spoke in his professional doctor tone: soft, gentle, giving an unpleasant prognosis to an unsuspecting patient. “I can’t explain it. It just is.”

She swallowed, gulping around the sudden lump in her throat. “You’re tired. You haven’t had a real vacation in forever. We both need this trip. A little downtime in the sunshine. A little rest. Then we’ll talk. We’ll decipher whatever this is all about.”

“We
will
talk, but not now. I need some space, some serious space.” He shook his head. “The truth is, I want a divorce.”

The clock’s pendulum ticked and tocked, back and forth, back and forth. It carried off irretrievable moments. It divided time into a before and an after.

Jill blinked. She cleared her throat. The lump remained. She blinked again. “I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I.”

“Try.”

“I have been trying since I woke up this morning.”

“Since you woke up this morning? So it’s out of the blue, this . . . this . . . this need for space. That can’t be. People don’t wake up and say they want—want . . .” He hadn’t said it, had he? Not the
D
word. Not really. He didn’t mean it.

“Don’t, Jill, please. Don’t analyze. Don’t stick a label on it. It just is.” His face smoothed, the creases unfolding as if the burden of the prognosis were no longer his to carry. He opened the front door and grabbed hold of her two bags. “I’ll walk you out to the cab.”

“Jack! This is crazy! I can’t leave now.”

“Yes, yes, you can. So many fans are counting on you. Let this go for now and focus on your work. You don’t want to disappoint them.”

“We need to talk!”

“We will. When you get home.” He hurried outside, down the porch steps, and along the sidewalk he had scooped clear of snow before breakfast, knowing the whole entire time, with every shovelful thrown aside, that he wasn’t going with her.

They would talk when she got home. When she got home.

She wouldn’t be home for five weeks.

Jill stood, motionless. Her loving husband of twenty-four years had just announced that he wanted a divorce.

Behind her the clock chimed a quarter past the hour.

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