“You can’t go around sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong,” Gabe said.
“No one else will believe Grams,” Kristina asserted defensively.
“It’s difficult to believe such accusations without concrete proof.” He eased the car out of the parking lot and back onto the road leading to Boston.
“Well that’s what I’m trying to do, find proof,” she shot back.
“But you could get hurt.”
Gabe sighed. She touched his arm, drawing his gaze. There was no mistaking the sincerity in her eyes. “God sent you to protect me.”
Gabe’s stomach sank. “That kind of thinking can get you killed.”
At an early age Terri Reed discovered the wonderful world of fiction and declared she would one day write a book. Now she is fulfilling that dream and enjoys writing for Steeple Hill. Her second book, A Sheltering Love, was a 2006 RITA® Award Finalist and a 2005 National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist. Her book Strictly Confidential, book five of the Faith at the Crossroads continuity series, took third place in the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award, and Her Christmas Protector took third place in 2008. She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband, two wonderful children and an array of critters. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing with her dogs.
You can write to Terri at P.O. Box 19555, Portland, OR 97280. Visit her on the Web at www.loveinspiredauthors.com, leave comments on her blog at ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com or e-mail her at [email protected]
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
In loving memory of my grandmother Vida
and my grandfather William.
Thank you to Sherry Mundt, Marketing Representative for SpringRidge at Charbonneau Campus, for answering all my questions and taking me on a tour. Any mistakes or liberties taken in this story are purely mine.
Also, thank you to my editor, Emily Rodmell, for her patience with me. I really appreciate you.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
“People are disappearing!”
Kris Worth barely refrained from rolling her eyes. Her maternal grandmother had a flair for the dramatic, something that Kris had inherited, according to her parents. “Grams, what are you talking about?”
Sadie Arnold shut the door of her studio apartment in Miller’s Rest Retirement Center and shuffled across the carpeted floor in her soft leather shoes to point one thin, shaky finger at her granddaughter. “I’m telling you, people are vanishing in the dark of the night.”
Colored lights glowing from the small decorated Christmas tree in the corner cast a garish glow over Sadie, emphasizing the pallor of her complexion and making the elderly woman seem infinitely older than she had just two days ago.
Today was Sunday when they normally headed to the small community church at the nearby high school, but Sadie wasn’t dressed for an outing. And there was no disguising that Sadie’s shoulders hunched slightly more than normal beneath her powder-blue fuzzy sweater.
Her degenerative discs must be bothering her today. Kris made a mental note to talk with the duty nurse about her grandmother’s care. “You read too many murder mysteries.”
Sadie waved away the comment. “First there was Lena Street. One night we’re playing board games and the next day she’s gone. And then night before last, Carl Remming was here with us, having some of Mrs. Tipple’s delicious tea, and in the morning, he was gone, too.”
Kris remembered Carl pretty well. He was a big man with a big laugh, who had done some time in prison when he was young. Gangster stuff, Sadie had whispered.
A tidbit Kris had kept to herself, lest her mother find out and then insist that Sadie move into a more “selective” retirement community. Something Sadie had fought against because she had no intention of rubbing elbows with “uppity people.” Still, Miller’s Rest wasn’t exactly cheap.
As for Lena, Kris didn’t have a mental image of the woman. “Maybe they passed on?”
Sadie shook her head and frowned. “No. They didn’t die. They just disappeared.” Sadie fumbled with the pocket of her sweater before producing a man’s black wallet. “Carl wouldn’t go anywhere without this.”
“Grams, where did you get that?”
“I found it on the janitor’s cart, hidden beneath some towels.”
Kris couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What were you doing searching through the janitor’s stuff?”
“Looking for clues,” Sadie stated, as if it were obvious. “That janitor did something with my friends.”
“I’m sure there’s a logical explanation,” Kris said in a soothing tone, hoping to calm her grandmother’s growing agitation. “Maybe he found the wallet on the ground somewhere.”
Sadie pursed her lips for a moment. “I know what I know. Don’t patronize me, dearie.”
A smile tugged at the corner of Kris’s mouth. Her grandmother had always been a pistol. While growing up, Kris had loved spending as much time with her as her parents would allow. “I wouldn’t dream of patronizing you, Grams. I love you.”
To prove the point, Kris rose from the edge of Sadie’s bed and went to hug the only relative whose love she had never questioned. Sadie let Kris be herself. Kris thanked God every day for having blessed her with the best grandmother.
Sadie inspired a loyalty Kris didn’t feel for her own mother and father, who wanted her to be a cookie-cutter, clichéd socialite. But Kris wanted more out of life. She wanted to use her talent as a photographer to glorify God, not climb the social ladder of Boston society.
Sadie patted Kris’s back. “Don’t get mushy on me, Krissy. It isn’t polite.”
Kris chuckled as she released Sadie. “You sound like Grandmother Worthington.”