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Authors: Sally Bradley

Kept

BOOK: Kept
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Praise for
Kept

 

Filled with relevant issues that are handled with delicate poignancy,
Kept
is a refreshing change to the normal Christian fare. I urge every woman to read this book. Too often, I found myself on its pages as one character or another, and more than once I became so immersed in the characters, I forgot they weren’t real people. I related to them, I cried for them. I laughed with them, and most of all, I hoped for them. One of the most surprising and best books I’ve read this year.

—MaryLu Tyndall, best-selling author of Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

 

 

Gutsy and fast-paced,
Kept
sweeps the reader in and doesn’t let go until the final, riveting page. With keen insight into human nature and the tangled relationships of our times, author and pastor’s wife Sally Bradley explores romance against the backdrop of God’s infinite, redeeming grace.

—Laura Frantz, author of
Love’s Reckoning

 

 

Sally Bradley’s
Kept
is one of the top ten books I’ve ever read. The story captivated me from the first page and held me until the last. It’s one of the few novels I’ve ever read where I totally believed the character’s surrender to Christ. It’s honest and real. Miska’s fragility and strength were so true to life, I experienced each high and low with her. The story was not predictable, and Bradley made me totally suspend disbelief. I fell in love with these characters. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation.

—Ane Mulligan, president of
novelrocket.com
, author of
Chapel Springs Revival

 

 

Vibrant characters, compelling questions, modern-day issues…
Kept
is a contemporary Christian classic along the lines of
Redeeming Love
. Impossible to put down, this story pulls us into the heart of Chicago and shows us how God’s hand can work, even when we repeatedly make the wrong choices. Sally Bradley’s voice is gripping and clear, and her debut is a shining beacon of how very relevant Christian fiction can be.

—Heather Day Gilbert, author of
God’s Daughter
(Amazon Norse bestseller) and
Miranda Warning

 

 

At the intersection of immorality and redemption, Sally Bradley’s
Kept
will redefine contemporary Christian romance. Rife with engaging characters, powerful storytelling, and authentic emotion, this romance will challenge how we view the fallen and reaffirm the swoon-worthiest men are those whose deepest passion is for Christ.

—Nancy Kimball, award-winning author of
Chasing the Lion

KEPT

 

 

 

By Sally Bradley

 

Kept

Copyright © 2014 by Sally Bradley

 

Visit Sally Bradley at
www.sallybradley.com

 

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, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews and articles, without the prior written consent of the author.

 

Cover Design by J-shan Art Studios

Edited by Christina Tarabochia

Interior Design and Formatting by Polgarus Studio
www.polgarusstudio.com

Author Photo © 2014 by Janene Snyder, Top Spot Photography.

 

Published by Salena House Publishers

 

Scripture within the text is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Use by permission. All Rights Reserved.

 

All other Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction. When real establishments, organizations, events, or locales appear, they are used fictitiously. All other elements and all characters in the novel are drawn from the author’s imagination.

 
To Steve

For promises kept

 
I Corinthians 6:11—“And such were some of you…”

Table of Contents
Chapter One

Mark was leaving—again.

Miska Tomlinson let the gauzy curtain fall across her living room window, obscuring the view of Chicago’s lakefront eighteen stories below. If she’d known a year ago that their relationship would stall like this, she might have thought twice about accepting his offer of a drink. That would have saved her this roller coaster of pleasure and pain.

The pain was worth it, though, wasn’t it? The two of them hiding out in her condo three or four days at a time. No one hassling them, no one knowing…

She fingered a curl. Why was he packing his bag a good two hours before he had to be at the ballpark?

“Miska. Baby.” Mark’s voice drifted from the bedroom into the living room. “Have you seen my wallet?”

“Didn’t you put it on the nightstand?”

Something thumped in her room. “Oh, yeah. Found it.”

Right. She smiled at his words.
He’d
found it. Next he’d be searching for his phone, his keys, his shoes. Maybe even his toothbrush.

He wandered into view, stopped at the end of her bed where his duffel sat, and tucked his shaving kit and toothbrush inside.

All pleasure from the last three days vanished.

She returned to the window. She couldn’t obsess. He probably had a good reason for leaving early. If she just waited…

Miska scanned the view that had convinced her to risk her inheritance and live house poor. Grant Park, Chicago’s version of Central Park, spread below her, treetops finally decked out in vibrant spring green. The faded-jean blue of the sky contrasted with Lake Michigan’s cerulean waters, and a handful of white boats dotted Monroe Harbor.

But the jewel of the park was Buckingham Fountain. The massive fountain of granite and pink marble held court in the park’s center. Any second now the ten-o’clock water show would begin, the first of the year. The center jet would soar a hundred fifty feet into the air, and dozens of other jets would try to catch it.

Someday, maybe, she’d take Mark down there and share it with him, his hand in hers as the music played and the water danced. Someday, when he belonged to her.

Mark’s bag zipped shut. His footsteps crossed to the kitchen island behind her, bag thumping to the floor, then turned her way. “What’re you looking at?”

“Buckingham Fountain. Isn’t it beautiful?”

He wrapped his arms around her and pressed himself to her back. “Mmm. Very.”

The fountain’s center jet leaped high into the air. Smiling, she relaxed against him while the rest of the jets sprayed high then low, splashing to a song she couldn’t hear.

He said nothing while the fountain played, just held her.

When the hundred-plus jets fell back to their usual height, she turned in his arms and slid her palms across his defined chest. Her gaze trailed over his full mouth and square jaw, both so tempting. But she couldn’t bring herself to meet his eyes. “Your bag’s packed?”

“Yep.” He cleared his throat, then ran a hand through his thick blond hair until it stood on end. “It’s too beautiful to stay inside. We should go out for breakfast—or brunch. For something.”

Out? In public? She held still. “You want to go somewhere? Together?”

“If you’re not comfortable with it, we don’t have to.”

“No, I’d love that.” Of course she was comfortable with it. Her smile morphed into a grin. He matched it, and she stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek, just a peck so he didn’t get any new ideas. “Where should we go?”

“There’s a great diner a few blocks from here. Best hash browns and French toast anywhere.”

“Sounds perfect, except I’ll have to run twice today.”

He followed her to the kitchen island where her Kate Spade bag—the last purse Mom had bought—lay beside his keys, phone, and baseball cap. He picked up the worn hat. “Wish I could run with you.”

He could, if he really wanted to. “Next time you’re in town.”

A thud sounded in the hallway outside her condo. Then another, followed by deep muffled voices. She ignored it as she slipped her purse strap onto her shoulder.

But Mark, filling his pockets, glanced toward her front door. “What’s going on out there?”

“The condo next door sold. Someone’s moving in.”

He tugged the hat’s curved brim low. Bag over his shoulder, he followed her to the front door where he held up a hand and listened.

Silence.

Miska opened the door and stepped into the empty hallway. Mark followed and locked the deadbolt with his key. “Ready?” he asked with that aw-shucks grin that had won her over.

So ready. This changed everything. She grabbed his hand and tugged him forward, flashing him a flirtatious look. “Let’s go.”

His fingers tightened around hers, pulling her to a stop just steps from her door. That longing smile hinted around his mouth.

What would he do? They were in public, after all, even if the hallway was empty.

Mark didn’t do public.

He stepped up against her and slipped an arm around her waist. His head lowered, and she closed her eyes with him, already warm from a barely begun kiss in a silent hallway where anyone could walk out—

A doorknob clicked.

Miska opened her eyes.

A tall, dark-haired man burst through the doorway beside Mark and plowed into him.

Mark’s weight fell against her, and she backpedaled into the wall, the back of her head smacking it, while Mark crashed beside her.

Tall-Dark-and-Klutzy stared at them, his mouth hanging open. “Oh, man, I’m sorry.” He offered his hand to Miska where she half-sat, half-leaned against the wall. “Are you okay?”

She grabbed his hand, all knuckles and long fingers, and let him pull her up. He was incredibly tall—well over six feet, maybe closer to seven. She scanned his lean face and the scruff he hadn’t shaved that morning, pausing on his nice brown eyes. “I’m fine.”

“I didn’t realize anybody was out here.” He looked at Mark. “You all right?”

Mark tugged the hat over his forehead. “We’re good.”

The guy towered over Mark’s six-three height.

Mark reached down for the duffel bag, and the man’s lips parted. His eyebrows rose.

Great. He’d recognized Mark.

Behind Tall-Dark-and-Klutzy, a second man—not as tall but similar enough in looks that they had to be related—stepped out of the condo and laughed. He smacked Klutzy’s back. “Dude, why couldn’t you run over Mark Scheider yesterday? Before he shut out the Cubs?” He shot Mark a grin. “Sorry about my brother. You’d think he’d have grown into those feet by now.” He shrugged as if it were a lost cause. “I’m Garrett Foster. This is my brother, Dillan. Could we get an autograph?”

BOOK: Kept
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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