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Authors: Sally John

Just to See You Smile

BOOK: Just to See You Smile
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A moment in the snow…
Christmas magic…

She glanced at him. He wore khakis and a forest green V-necked sweater. It would bring out the green in his eyes, but she didn't look for it. What was wrong with her? The tips of her ears felt warm, and her throat was closing up. She had thought about him through the short night, first thing in the morning, and all day until practice at one this afternoon, when at last the matter at hand took precedence over that other, whatever that was. Adrenaline…a crush…a moment in the snow…Christmas magic…

He reached across the distance between them and squeezed her shoulder. “Miss O, you look like a deer caught in headlights.”

She'd heard that one before!

“If it helps any,” he said, “my deer's wearing a mask.”

She turned toward him at last. He was smiling his rare smile; the one that diminished the ever-present military aura, the one that tricked her body into believing it was on a roller coaster, on the whooshing down side of the steepest climb. “I was trying to chalk it up to Christmas magic.”

“Me, too.”

The roller coaster careened around a curve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally John
is the author of several novels, including the popular The Other Way Home and In a Heartbeat series. She has recently coauthored a book with Gary Smalley,
A Time to Mend,
in Nelson's Safe Harbor series. A two-time finalist for The Christy Award and a former teacher, Sally lives in Southern California with her husband, Tim.

JUST TO SEE
YOU SMILE
SALLY
JOHN

HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS

EUGENE, OREGON

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The New English Bible, copyright © Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press 1961, 1970. All rights reserved.

Cover by Garborg Design Works, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

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

JUST TO SEE YOU SMILE

Copyright © 2003 by Sally John

Published by Harvest House Publishers

Eugene, Oregon 97402

www.harvesthousepublishers.com

ISBN-13: 978-0-7369-2093-3

ISBN-10: 0-7369-2093-5

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

John, Sally D., 1951-

Just to see you smile / Sally John.

         p. cm.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7369-0883-2 (pbk.)

ISBN-10: 0-7369-0883-8 (pbk.)

1. Christian fiction, American. 2. Love stories, American. I. Title.

PS3610.028J64 2003

813‘.54—dc21                                                                 2002009617

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America

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To
Cindi, Tom, Jeff,
and our mother,
Mary Carlson

Contents

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Other Books by Sally John

Other Books by Harvest House Publishers

Acknowledgments

When a project like this is finished, the heart overflows with gratitude for those who had a hand in its creation. My thanks go to:

Friend Rhonda Cox, for her teacher's heart, for answering all my basketball questions without laughing, and for her devotion to coaching. Any mistakes are mine. Keep in mind the book is fiction.

Kelly Farmer, U.S. Marine wife, for graciously devoting time to answer a myriad of questions and thereby giving substance to “Joel.” Technical mistakes are mine. I hope he lives up to the Corps' honorable traditions. If not, keep in mind he is fiction.

Daughter Elizabeth John, for clueing me in on athletic details and life.

Stephanie Begley and Anna Rehder, for the team stories.

Donna Begley and Judy Rehder, for the winter night bleacher memories.

Editor Kim Moore, for her unfailing sense of direction.

Tim, for believing in the possibility.

Prologue

Love one another; as I have loved you, so you are to love one another. If there is this love among you, then all will know that you are my disciples.

—John 13:34-35

A tiny woman with primly curled silver hair stood outside the high school gym doors, encircled by a sea of graduation caps and gowns. One by one, boys in royal blue and girls in yellow gold bent to return her hug, to wait for the twinkling blue eyes to register recognition, to receive a personal story. “I remember when you…”

“And this,” she said to each one as she smiled at the child standing beside her, “is my great-niece. She wants to be a teacher.”

The girl confidently shook their hands, repeating “Congratulations” in a crystal-clear voice. Her close-set blue eyes focused intensely as if she memorized each face; her head tilted as if to better catch every word. Though her blonde braids and chubby cheeks indicated she was only about nine, she was already as tall as the woman.

As the students moved on through the crowd of wellwishers, the girl's eyes widened. “Did you teach
all
of them kindergarten?”

“I did, honey. Do you want to know how I remember them?”

The child nodded.

“Because I loved each and every one of them as if they were my own children. In a way, every class is a family. My job is to make sure each member feels that they belong, that they make a difference. Can you be that kind of teacher?”

Again the girl nodded solemnly, her mind almost audibly clicking, storing away the sage advice for future use.

Across the open, central area inside the small-town high school, a young couple faced each other, unconcealed adoration evident in their gaze. She wore the yellow gold cap and gown, her long black hair cascading to her waist. He wore dress slacks, and his football shoulders strained against the white button-down collared shirt. A certain air about him declared that his diploma was already gathering dust.

The girl reached up and brushed a dark brown curl from the young man's forehead. “You want me to open it now? Here?”

He nodded, smiling.

In her palm was a tiny, gold-foil-wrapped gift. Giggling, she swiftly opened it and pulled out a ring box. Her smile rounded into an oval. Lifting the lid, she uttered a small cry.

“It's a promise ring,” he explained. “Not an engagement ring.”

“But it's a diamond!”

“It's called a chip.” He removed the narrow gold band from the box, took her left hand, and slid the ring onto the third finger. “I promise to always be on your side, to always take care of you. No matter what.”

Halfway across the country on the West Coast, an outdoor ceremony had just been completed. A slender young man stood before an older couple. His face, partially shaded by the dark bill of his white cap, was fresh, teetering on the brink of manhood. Yet, somehow, he exuded the sense he was already there.

He wore the Marine dress blues of the Honor Grad as if the uniform had graced his closet for some time, waiting only until the boy's height and breadth would fill the white-belted blue jacket and blue pants with the red stripe along the sides. Something evident in his sharp eyes, square jaw, and rigid posture added years that had scarcely begun to accumulate.

The older man spoke. “Son, you'll make a fine Marine.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The woman dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. “I'm very proud of you.”

“Thank you, ma'am.”

She clutched his white-gloved hand and laughed. “But I would appreciate a little eye contact and a smile!”

He grinned and looked down at her. “Sorry, Mom.”

His father asked, “Are you still thinking career?”

“Yes, sir. I don't foresee a reason to ever leave the Corps.”

“It's what you've always wanted.” He smiled, nodding in approval.

The woman tucked her handkerchief into her purse. “Just don't forget to call me on Christmas.”


Semper fidelis
, Mom. I'll always be faithful to you, my country, and my fellow Marines.”

BOOK: Just to See You Smile
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