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Authors: Marianne Evans

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Jodie's Song

BOOK: Jodie's Song
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Praise

Prologue

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Thank You

Jodie's Song

 

 

Marianne Evans

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

Jodie's Song

 

COPYRIGHT 2014 by Marianne Evans

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

eBook editions are licensed for your personal enjoyment only. eBooks may not be re-sold, copied or given to other people. If you would like to share an eBook edition, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.

 

Contact Information: [email protected]

 

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(R),
NIV
(R),
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

Cover Art by
Nicola Martinez

 

White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC

www.pelicanbookgroup.com
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410

 

White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC

 

Publishing History

First White Rose Edition, 2014

Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-390-2

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to the hard working folks at WMUZ radio in Detroit. Thanks for bringing fantastic Christian music, and the Christian message, to listeners across southeast Michigan. You're such a blessing!

 

Praise

 

I felt like I was with these characters, walking with them, crying with them, and wanting to reach out a hand or shoulder to cry on. This book will leave you in awe. Praises, Marianne. ~ Hope P. on
Devotion

 

The characters in this story make you want to pray with them. They also make you want to take a closer look at yourself and what God might have in store for you. ~ Renette S. on
Devotion

 

This story is phenomenal. It felt so real the unwanted chemistry, the fears, the loss of trust. This story had me crying, hoping, and begging for them to make it. This is so realistic to the dangers every marriage faces. ~ Donna S. on
Devotion

 

Evans delivers hope, love and restored faith with fluent writing and a passion for the broken heart being made whole. ~ Karlene J. on
Hearts Key

 

One of Evans's many gifts is giving such life-like qualities to the characters that you feel they're your friends. You ache for them when they hurt; you glow with them when their lives have light. ~ Tanya B. on
Hearts Communion

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. ~l Tim. 6:12

 

Jodie Cunningham navigated her car into a corner turn, clutching the steering wheel. The final bit of roadway that led to The Falls Tabernacle stretched before her. Angel Falls, Texas. Home. Despite anxiety and the somber mood that rode shotgun, her lips twitched upward. Nothing in the rural flatlands of southeast Texas seemed to change. That was a good thing. Assuring somehow.

Except for today.

She gathered her breath into a bone-deep sigh. Today—over the past several weeks actually—everything seemed to be changing and draining her spirit rather than soothing her soul. She shook off a black cloud of dread and blinked to clear her mind. Brow furrowed, she peered through the windshield at a site as familiar to her as daybreak, the stone edifice and soaring cross spire of Falls Tabernacle. This was where she had been baptized. This was where she had dedicated herself to Christ and met her Savior heart-to-heart.

Unfolding from her low-slung sedan, Jodie stared and absorbed for a moment then pushed ahead. She focused on the click of her heels against smooth, even cement as she made her way to the doorway of the church, longing for anything that would distract from the heart-wrenching family drama set to unfold.

At that point, shiver-inducing feather strokes danced against her skin, followed promptly by a spine tingle. Angel wings seemed to beat against an ominous threat that brewed into an unseen tempest.

She slowed. Why did
everything
feel so
wrong
lately?

Squaring her shoulders, adjusting the strap of her black leather purse, Jodie stilled her nerves. Her outlook settled once she crossed the threshold of the church. Leaving behind the outside world felt akin to releasing a live wire. Sizzles of something indefinable—but potent—instantly left her senses. Thankful for that, she automatically scanned faces until she found the ones she sought.

First, she spotted her older sister. As always, Tracee and her husband and two kids—Alex and Melissa—occupied the third pew to the right. Head high, attention riveted, Tracee focused on the pastor, who was just beginning ten o'clock services. Jodie ignored the initial Scripture reading. Instead, different words crashed through her mind—the memory of her most recent telephone conversation with Tracee.

“Jodie, you have
got
to get down here and help me! Move away from that precious, ultra-glam career of yours just long enough to realize you have obligations outside of a pack of nameless radio fans! Step into the breach and help! Help Dad! He's fading fast, and I can't handle this anymore! He needs you.
I
need you.”

Echoes from that unusually scalding reprimand left Jodie to hang her head. Heat, a mercury marker of shame and regret, inched up her body. She eyed an empty space in the rear-most pew, but for the moment remained tucked in the corner—far from her sister.

Next, rather than pay attention to the start of the sermon, Jodie took in the rest of the parish members, her gaze settling at last upon her father, ensconced as always in his assigned spot as an usher. He stood straight and strong, a brass nameplate pinned just below the line of a deep blue kerchief that matched his perfectly knotted tie and lent a pop of color to an impeccable black suit. The vision of him was so timeless, so precious, it took her breath away.

Mom would have been so proud…so smitten.

Jodie's hand flew to her throat where a lump built fast and thick. Their love had been so beautiful. Maybe that's why she found it difficult to find her way to commitment. The bar had been set very high indeed.

Her father had always possessed such dignity and honor, especially when it came to matters of reverence toward Christ and the church. Without a doubt, his example gave birth to Jodie's passion for serving...and ministering. The thick tuft of gray hair, mustache, and gently weathered face were familiar, but she noticed something different in his shoulders. His posture struck her as newly frail, somewhat weaker than she recalled from her most recent visit home a month or so ago. Looking deeper, she saw strain in the lines around his eyes—strain and a layer of pain time would never erase. Not this side of Heaven, anyway.

Two years without his other half, Elizabeth, had done more than age Grayson Cunningham. They had ravaged him and drained him dry. Tracee was right. The effects showed. Jodie's gaze darted to her sister. Still, Tracee could've been a bit more gentle-spirited and tactful about the declaration. Her sister wasn't generally one to snap.

Fighting tears, Jodie finally tucked into the back pew, smoothing the lines of her slim, black skirt. Humidity built fast as spring came calling. Judging by the way her pink silk blouse already tacked to her warming skin, today promised to give folks an early taste of summer.

Crossing her legs, she settled and continued to watch her father. Something about his demeanor puzzled her. Dignified and respectful, he manned his usher station like always, but he didn't seem to be focused on the preacher. Instead, he stared ahead blankly, lips moving in silence while he clutched his hands into fists at his sides. Suddenly, the most awful, painful expression swept across his features.

“Daddy…” The word, the endearment, spilled forth on a whisper full of aching and sadness. “Daddy, what's
wrong
?”

In that instant, he swayed. His chest rose and fell in a shallow, unsteady way. Just as he blinked free of whatever trance-like moment held his mind, he lifted a trembling hand to his chest—right above his tender and massive heart.

Jodie let out a cry and lunged from her seat as her father collapsed.

 

 

 

 

1

 

A moving van ambled along the street not far from the spot where Kevin Mitchell knelt, cutting his spade into freshly cleared flower beds and tilling the soil. Rich black earth. Nothing felt like it, nothing smelled like it, and the arrival of spring only heightened his pleasure at being able to sculpt and tend the grounds of his uncle's apartment complex and the spot he called home as well, Heart's Haven.

When the vehicle neared the rental unit, Kevin paused from his outdoor preparations for its new occupant. He peeled off a pair of heavy duty work gloves and swiped residual dampness against his jean-clad thighs. Sure enough, the van slowed, brakes squealing a bit and disrupting a nest of hatchlings and their mama who swept briefly through the sky—then angled straight back home to the nest.

“Unit Fourteen. This is the spot.”

Those words drifted from the open window of the van, issued by the driver who soon hopped from the parked vehicle and rounded to the rear, releasing a hooked latch.

Kevin watched while the guy who rode shotgun disembarked as well and hoisted a dolly from inside the truck. The second mover propped his equipment against the back tire and helped extend a worn but sturdy looking steel ramp.
All systems go
, Kevin thought.

He was about to join them and initiate a get acquainted conversation, but his footsteps stalled when the soft purr of a car engine and the arrival of another vehicle claimed his attention. A white convertible glided to a neat stop behind the van. The pilot was a woman with peaches and cream skin and long waves of chestnut hair. Her eyes were hidden by a pair of oversized sunglasses, which only served to intrigue him all the more.

Was this the new tenant? Uncle Andy had told Kevin a woman ‘of about your age,' was arriving today. Kevin hadn't expected her to show up until later in the afternoon.

He switched direction and headed for her car instead of the moving van. Meanwhile, she bent to retrieve something from the floor of the passenger seat, giving him just enough time to be a southern gentleman and open the door for her.

She looked up as soon as the door came open, startled by his arrival no doubt, though the sunglasses provided a bit of a mask. She lifted them slowly away, and Kevin blinked when he absorbed the impact of luminous deep brown eyes that held a hint of surprise and what appeared to be a touch of shy pleasure at his gesture. Taking a woman by happy surprise made him feel good.

“Morning,” he greeted straight off, wanting to set her at ease. “I'm Kevin Mitchell. I work here at the Haven. I'm freshening the landscaping for you. You're Jodie Cunningham, right?”

“Yes. Thank you.” She lifted from the vehicle and when she stood, he realized the top of her head came right to his chin. What was it Uncle Andy and Aunt Vivian always said about a perfect man-to-woman fit? Kevin sensed it right now—but the stray thought made him want to laugh. Seriously. He had gone too long without female companionship if instant and unreasoned attraction spawned thoughts like this.

The new tenant dipped her head and cleared her throat, moving away and toward the entrance of unit fourteen. Tentative steps led her beneath an arched trellis currently covered by green vines. Freshly pruned, the climber would soon bloom with hundreds of deep pink bougainvillea.

Kevin puzzled briefly over her hesitance and the shell-shocked vibration of emotion he sensed from her, but he knew better than to push and rush. Years spent coaxing life from the depths of the earth had taught him patience and the reward to be found in careful tending. If his instincts were on target, Jodie Cunningham just might require both.

BOOK: Jodie's Song
3.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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