Monday, April 27, 2009

FirstTour - Enduring Justice

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Enduring Justice (Defenders of Hope Series #3)

Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)


Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a homeschool mom, and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Visit the author's

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420145
ISBN-13: 978-1601420145


The wall she’d built with years of secrecy started to crack.

Hanna Kessler wrapped trembling arms around her waist and stared through the glass door into her parents’ backyard. A place she’d avoided her whole stay. Sunlight danced in the still water of her mother’s koi pond and highlighted all the landscaping changes Dad had made since Mom’s death.

Hanna closed her eyes against warring memories of past and present. As a child, she’d loved feeding the beautiful orange fish and hearing Mom laugh as the koi swarmed to the food. Now the little pond area was the only bit of her mother remaining. Maybe that was why she’d glanced outside and then stood transfixed. She needed her mom now more than ever.

Swallowing hard, she opened her eyes and focused on Mom’s teakwood dolphin statue and the white rocks around the water, glinting in the late afternoon sun. She reached out to touch the warm glass but couldn’t force herself to open the door. Goose bumps trailed her arms and she shivered.

She couldn’t go outside.

But she had to do something. Had to get away. So she stumbled into the rustic living room, her favorite place in the house. The surrounding family snapshots reminded her of simpler times. Boating on Kentucky Lake. Thunder over Louisville. Playing at Iroquois Park. Times when Mom and Dad and her brother, Steven, had wrapped her in their protection and love.

The front door rattled, then creaked open. “Anyone home?” A man’s deep voice carried through the safe place she’d escaped to months ago. It wasn’t safe anymore.

But her frozen feet refused to move. Where could she hide? Footsteps thundered through the front hall, drawing closer. She had to get out.

Choking down the lump of panic in her throat, she ran back to the sliding glass doors and forced her feet to move outside, onto the concrete patio. She could get to her car from there. The keys! Turning back to the house, she focused on the tall form stepping out of the house and walking toward her.

“Hanna-girl, what’s gotten into you?”

Her brain snapped to attention. The man in front of her was no threat.

“Daddy!” She ran into his outstretched arms.

Andrew Kessler kissed the top of her head and chuckled. “You looked like you’d seen a ghost. Didn’t you get the message I left this morning?”

Heartbeat still pounding out of her rib cage, she inhaled a few deep breaths before answering. She hadn’t checked messages today. And no way could she admit she’d listened to most of the messages her family had left, never intending to return the calls. “I…I must have missed it. Sorry, Daddy.”

Try as she might to hide it, calling her father Daddy only happened when she was terrified. Or hiding. And she’d done a lot of hiding.

Dad stepped back and tilted his head, still holding her in his arms. “Well, I’m in Louisville for the weekend and had to see my girl. I miss you. So does everyone back in Alexandria.”

Even Michael? She wouldn’t ask. She had no right. Not after ignoring all the calls and letters he’d sent. The ones declaring his love even though she’d run away from everyone after her brother’s wedding. She couldn’t meet Dad’s eyes.

“Hanna, look at me.” He tilted her chin up. She fought to not pull away. “Steven asks about you every day. I’m surprised your brother and Clint and the rest of their FBI friends haven’t hightailed it up here to drag you home.”

“They wouldn’t.” Especially not Michael. Not after almost two months of her frosty silence.

Dad laughed again. He had no idea the pain his questions, his presence here, caused. “Steven’s planned it. So has Michael. But they’re waiting for you to come back, on your terms.” As if that would happen. “Susannah’s birthday party is a week from Saturday. Clint and the rest of us are praying you’ll come. Take pictures. Let us show you how much we love having you in Alexandria.”

A week from Saturday. The twenty-fifth of August. She wouldn’t be there. Couldn’t face Clint Rollins. Not after her negligence had nearly cost Clint’s son his life.

Tears slipped past her clenched eyes.

“Oh, honey.” Dad gathered her back into his arms. “No one blames you, Hanna. No one. You need to let the past go. Everyone is safe now. All the Rollins clan. Even Conor.”

So Sara’s baby was still alive. Just like Steven’s and Clint’s messages had said. Relief rushed through her, causing her knees to wobble. But other guilt arrows pierced her heart. All the lies she’d told Steven and Michael. Dad too. Clint’s son wasn’t the only reason she’d fled Alexandria.

“You’ll be there for Susannah’s party, right?” His hopeful blue eyes begged.

She pulled out of his arms and walked back into the house. Dad followed. “I…I need a Kleenex.” Searching through the oak cabinets in the kitchen didn’t produce any tissues. So she grabbed a paper towel from the counter. “What brings you in town? During our phone calls last week, you never mentioned coming home.”

“If I had, would you have been here?”

Ouch. “Yes, Daddy.” Another lie. “So are you here to check on the Mall St. Matthews coffee shop? I’ve been working there every day, just like you arranged. It’s going well.” And she was babbling.

“I’m here to meet with some old friends on Friday and talk about upcoming business opportunities.”

Old friends. The memories rushing in unbidden surfaced more tears. And more cracks in the wall of secrecy. She needed to get out of the house, out of the neighborhood. Now. Maybe then she could exhibit some self-control.

“Why don’t we grab a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory? After your long drive you’re bound to be hungry, right?” She forced a smile.

“Okay, Hanna-girl.” He wiped away one of her stray tears. “On one condition.”

Please don’t ask about the party, Daddy. Please.

He lifted his bushy graying eyebrows. “Promise you’ll come back to us and take pictures at Susannah’s birthday party next week.”

The very thing she couldn’t do. How would she get out of this without telling more lies or spilling everything? She had to avoid that. Maybe one last fib would get her though the weekend with Dad.

Then she could find somewhere else to run.

Excerpted from Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace. Copyright© 2009 by Amy Nicole Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. First Two Chapters of Enduring Justice Dark Chocolate Suspense Newsletter

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Pressure's On

Wow! Micca Campbell is fabulous. I am blogging tonight about her book An Untroubled Heart, which we are reading for our Yes to God Bible Study. This week's chapter is just as awesome as last weeks. So, let's dig in!

***All text in blue is a direct quote from the book***

Micca said: "One of our greatest fears is that someone will discover the truth: We can't really juggle it all." I used to have this problem but I've been freed from it. I no longer care if people know I can't juggle it all. You know why? Neither can they! HA! There I said it. LOL No one can do it all, juggle it all, be great at it all, etc.

Next she gives us the names of God's bodyguards for us, Goodness and Mercy. You can find an introduction to them in Psalm 23. Go on. Read it. I'll wait.

Did you read it? Okay. Let's continue. "We often mislabel Goodness and Mercy. We call them luck or coincidence." I have to raise my hand here in confession. I have said "Oh I got lucky" or said something happened "coincidentally". I am learning not to steal God's glory that way. Because in the end, that's what we are doing. As Micca tells us, "You and I must believe that every benefit that comes our way is God's Goodness and Mercy following after us." AMEN!

Micca discussed contentment. My pastor just taught on this a few weeks ago. I needed to be reminded again. Micca tells us that, "Balance comes when I lay my to-do list before God and allow Him to prioritize my life." Do I do that? Most often, I do not. But now I will. This ought to be exciting!

One other thing she pointed out was that "In wanting more, we place undue pressures on ourselves in an attempt to get what God hasn't provided." Like a house or a nicer, newer car. So Mari, when and if God is ready, He'll provide. Either way, be content with what you have. What He's blessed you with is already more than you deserve.

The other thing that really spoke to me was when Micca said "...peace isn't the absence of pressure. It's the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress." I'd like to end with that. Just ponder that. It is a powerful statement that can really change your life. Think on it. That's what I'll be doing over the next week.

As always, be blessed everyone! And please be sure to stop by and visit Lelia who is hosting this wonderful study.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Ahhh Teenagers

Have you ever seen a 14 year old throw a tantrum? It's not cute. Not. Cute. At. All.

My elder princess threw a tantrum on Resurrection front of all our company. This was her second offense. Apparently she did not learn her lesson the first time around. That didn't go over so well with the dictators, I mean my husband and I. Hubby and elder princess had a little "talk" upstairs.

Fast forward to Wednesday.......

Elder princess wants to know if she can spend the night at a friend's house. Que? Say what? Are. you. kidding. me? The dictators had already decided that since she could not be good company when we had guests over to our house where we, the dictators, pay the bills, she was not going to be have company or be company to anyone else for at least 2 weeks. You know, one week for each offense. We had no idea at the time that the pronouncement of sentencing would come so soon.

You know what I love? When they (kids) have caused a situation and want to take no responsibility for it. When her sentencing was announced, she whined about it not being fair. Smug mommy dictator said that her behavior on Sunday was not fair either. And by the way princess, there is no avenue for appeal.

But she tried.......

Thursday she cleaned her room with a "B+ effort" as I was informed. (Wonder what an A+ effort would like like? ) Oh yes, the clean room. It was beautiful. Elder princess was proud and smug. She came to mommy dictator and asked if she could spend the night at her friends house.

Mom dictator: "Ummm, no. I already told you that. "

Elder Princess: "But I cleaned my room!"

Mom dictator: "Yes and did a fine job, well because that is your job. But your sentence stands. The answer is no."

Elder Princess: "But I only cleaned it because I thought it would make you let me go."

Mom dictator: "I see. Well you would have had to clean it anyway. Answer is still no."

Elder Princess: "I'm going to ask again tomorrow."

Ahhh teenagers, they are a rare kind!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Untroubled Heart - Fashioned For Faith - Not Fear

Hi Everyone,

I know I missed posting for Yes to God Tuesday last week but I'm back this week. My fibromyalgia is in what I call a mini-flare so I'm operating under about 50% capacity. I didn't want to miss another week though of this wonderful study with Lelia. We are reading and studying Micca Campbell's An Untroubled Heart. Good stuff I tell you!

Well this week, I'm posting a bit differently. I'm in a reflective mood so I want you to come along for that journey. What I'm going to do is draw out the statements in each sub chapter that impacted me most and let you "chew on them" a bit. I've inserted a little commentary on some of the statements, cause I know you want to know what's going in my head. (teehee) And you get to imagine how my copy is highlighted in bright yellow! I know that's been your life dream HAHAHA. Leave me a comment if one touches you particularly.

**All the blue items are direct quotes from the book**

Under God's Sheltering Wing

"There is safety in God. "

"Safety is not found in doing nothing or living in a bubble. It's found under the sheltering wings of God."

"Just as it makes sense to shelter ourselves from the rain, it makes even more sense for us to take cover under the sheltering wings of God during life's storms. "

Micca referred to Psalm 91 in this section. How I love that Psalm. You must read it because it sums up these quotes so well! God always has a vacancy sign for us at His shelter!

Casting Your Cares

"We are to throw the cares that distract us, wound our bodies and souls, and lie heavily on our hearts upon the wise and gracious providence of God. You can do that because "he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

"It's easy to cast my cares upon God. The hard part is not taking them back."
Mari says: Oh goodness I need a big huge AMEN here!! I'm way too good at the taking them back.

"At first, the weight is lifted, but oftentimes God doesn't respond to our need as we think He should. Then we are quick to retrieve the burden."
Mari says: Ahem, I resemble this statement far, far too often.

"In other words, what won't destroy us, God uses to better us."
Mari says: Like allowing my husband to be unemployed or underemployed for nearly three years to solidify our marriage and draw us deep into fellowship at our new church home in Raleigh.

"'s God's job to provide and it's my job to seek the Provider"

Who's In Control

"One of the hardest things to do is to give up control of our lives and trust someone other than ourselves.Placing the very thing that worries us most in God's hands is scary"
Mari says: Yes it is. Even though I know God is good and He really does love me and want what's best for me, I struggle with my flesh. I want it to turn out how *I* imagined it, thank you very much. And God usually has a whole different idea in mind. Hmph!

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

"He poured the oceans from the palm of His hand!"
Mari says: Just think of the size of every ocean! And they fit in His palm!! WOW!!!

"Certainly, we can place our trust in a God so big that even the ocean waves obey their boundaries"

"I need to remind myself daily of His greatness. In doing so, all my fears tend to fade in the light of His presence."
Mari says: Really, doesn't the greatness of His presence just eclipse any fear you have? It does mine!

Genuine Faith
(A lot of wisdom packed into this tiny sub chapter)

"Faith is only as good as its object"

"It's not faith that moves mountains, anyway; it's God."
Mari says: I almost jumped out of my chair to shout at this one! Whew!

"Faith is not a principle of 'name it and claim it'. It's based on the person of Jesus Christ."
Mari says: I have often had discussions with my elder relatives about "name it and claim it". I claim Jesus. He handles all else. "Nuf said!

"Faith comes by knowing God."

"Genuine faith is not what you and I profess to believe, but in whom we believe."
Mari says: This reminds me of the "Got Milk" ads. I'd love to see one that says, 'Got Jesus? Got faith!'

Live Like You Believe
(I could have highlighted 90% of this sub chapter! Whew! i picked my "top statements" but please read this sub chapter with some intensity. It's that good!)

"The Bible is the best place to go to get to know God."
Mari says: I love the Word. I cannot even begin to explain the depths of it, but I **LOVE** the Word. God is in the Word. God breathed the Word. God is the Word. Need I say more?

"Satan is a liar"
Mari says: In case he told you he wasn't....he lied! That is all.

"Faith is standing on the firm foundation of Christ."
Mari says: And yes, He is "all that"!

"When Satan tries to pull concerns down over your eyes of faith, simply declare God's sufficiency and watch Satan's fear tactics go up in smoke."
Mari says: Did we mention that Satan is a liar? Yeah. Don't listen to him. Hear God and tell Satan to scatter!

"Worry is unnecessary when Our God is able and willing to bear our burdens for us. When you and I worry, we denying the wisdom, love and provision of God."
Mari says: Well Micca just stab me in the heart. I'm Mari and I am a worrier. I am in recovery. Thank you Micca for giving me what I need to know that I must not worry. I never want to deny God's power in my life or anyone else's.

Living Aware of His Presence

"...we are to be haunted not by the concerns of this world, but by God. Not in a scary way, but in a conscious way."

"I want to become so aware of God's abiding presence in my life that I fall asleep in His arms at night and awake to His presence in the morning."
Mari says: Me too Micca. Me too!

"Our fears and worries should drive us into the safety of God's arms"

"In God's loving care, our spirit is renewed, and we know for certain there is no safer place on earth."

"In every pressured situation, we can be certain that God will remain true."

And Mari says Amen!

If you do not have this book, get it. Really. Get it.

As always, be blessed and be sure to stop by Lelia's, our insightful bible study leader!

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Look - If Tomorrow Never Comes

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Multnomah Books (March 17, 2009)


Marlo Schalesky is the author of several books, including Beyond the Night and Empty Womb, Aching Heart. A graduate of Stanford University, Marlo also has a masters of theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. Married over twenty years, she lives with her husband, Bryan, and their five children in California.

Visit the author's

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (March 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420242
ISBN-13: 978-1601420244


Only the fog is real. Only the sand. Only the crashing of the sea upon the restless shore. The rest is a dream. It has to be. I say it again and again until I believe it, because I cannot be here. Not now. Not with mist dusting my eyelashes, sand tickling my toes, salt bitter on my lips. Not when the whole world has narrowed to a strip of beach, a puff of fog, and a single gull crying in an invisible sky.

This is crazy. Impossible. And I’m too old for crazy. I won’t be some loony old woman with a house full of cats. I refuse to be. Besides, I prefer dogs. I touch my neck, and my breath stops. The chain is gone. My


My mother’s voice teases me. “Not impossible, hon. Improbable. Because with God all things are possible.” Her words, spoken in that ancient, quavering tone, hide a laugh turned wheezy with age. I hear her again. “Someday you’ll lose that locket, The a Jean. You just wait.” Her grin turns the sides of her eyes into folds of old parchment. “And that’s when the adventure will really begin.” But I don’t want any adventure. All I want is a comfortable chair, a good book, the sounds of my grandchildren playing tag under the California sun, and my boxer at my feet. I want to go home.

I glance out over the ripples of Monterey Bay. White-capped waves. Dark water. And then I know. That’s what I need to wake me up, get me home. I need a cold slap in the face. Something to shake me from this crazy-old-cat-lady delusion. I stride forward until the surf kisses my feet, the waves swirl around my ankles, knees, waist, arms. Cold. Icy. Welcome. The water engulfs me. And suddenly it doesn’t feel like a


Fog closed in around Kinna Henley as she fell to her knees and pawed in the sand. The grains bit into her hands, filled her fingernails like black soot. And still she dug. Deep into the oozing wetness. Deep enough to bury her sin. Or at least the evidence of it. No, not sin. She wouldn’t call it that. Desperation, maybe. Determination. But not sin. God wouldn’t bless that, and He had to bless today. He just had to. She was betting everything on it. Kinna glanced over her shoulder. Somewhere, a gull cried. Once. Only once. Somewhere, water broke along rocks and sand. Somewhere, the sun rose over the horizon. But not here. Here, there was nothing but the fog and the shore and the sand beneath her fingers. Alone. Barren. She hated that word.

With a deep breath, Kinna reached into the pocket of her nurse’s smock and pulled out six empty prescription vials that didn’t bear her name. She held them in her palm. Minute bits of liquid shimmered in the bottoms, reflecting only gray, all that was left of the medication that held her hope, flowed through her veins, and ended in her ovaries. Expensive medication she couldn’t afford on her own. But she needed it. She’d tried too long, prayed too long, believed too long…for nothing.

This medication, this Perganol, would change all that. It had to. She closed her fist. What’s done is done. I had to take it, God. Don’t You see? I had to. She turned her hand over, opened it, and dropped the vials into the hole. Then she covered them and pushed a fat, heavy rock over the top. Gone. Buried.

She wouldn’t think of how those vials had been accidentally sent to the hospital. Of how they were supposed to be returned. Of how she said they had been. Or how she slipped them into the pocket of her smock instead. She’d told herself it didn’t matter, no one would know, no one would care, no one would be hurt. She made herself believe this was the only way. And it was. Nothing else had worked. Not charting her temperature, not a million tests, not herbal remedies, not two failed attempts at adoption. Not even prayer. A dozen long years of it all had taught her that. God promised happily ever after, but so far, all she’d gotten was month after month of disappointment, pain, and the fear that nothing may ever change. But now, change would come. The medication was gone, the vials hidden, her ovaries full to bursting.

Finally. A sound came. A shout, maybe. Kinna leaped up and turned, but no one was there. No one walking down the beach. No one swimming in the surf. No one making sandcastles along the shore. She wouldn’t think of that now. She would not remember the first time she had knelt in this sand, dug in it, made castles at the edge of the water. She wouldn’t remember the boy who made her believe fairy tales could come true. Or what happened between them after that. That was gone. Past. All that remained was the promise that had flowed out of those stolen vials and into her blood. That was all that mattered. Today, everything would change.

Kinna picked up her bag and strode down the silent beach, her elbows bent, her arms swinging. Fast, determined. Five minutes up, five minutes back, turn and go again. Twice more, and she’d check exercise off her list for the day. Once, she exercised for fun. Now, it was a means to an end, a way to prepare her body, to convince herself that she was doing everything she could, everything she should. That’s what life had


She sighed and quickened her pace. She missed the old Kinna, the one who laughed easily, who teased, who jogged along the beach just to feel the breeze in her hair and to smell the salty scent of the sea. The Kinna who still believed in fairy tales. But soon she would believe again. She would laugh, tease, but not jog. Not for nine months, anyway. Because now her dreams would come true and the pain would end. God would finally do for her what she’d asked, begged, and pleaded for so many years. Once, she’d been so sure that God would answer. So sure of her faith. God would not disappoint her, would not let her down. But the years eroded that faith, washing it away, bit by bit, as surely as the sea washed out the sand on the shore. Until today.

Now she had faith again. She would stop being that woman filled with pain and doubt. She would be filled with faith…and more. Right, God? She slowed. Doctor’s orders. Or at least, nurse’s orders. God didn’t answer.

But it didn’t matter. She’d waited long enough. Tried, prayed, hoped. And finally, she’d happened upon those vials as if they were meant for her. As though it didn’t matter if she just slipped them into her pocket. A simple act. Easy. So why did she still have to bury them in the sand?

She knew the signs of guilt. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter taught her that. She knew a lot about guilt. I did what I had to do. That’s all. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s got to change.

She’d done what she never would have believed. Kinna Henley had become a thief. She gripped her bag until it creased in her hand, pressing into the flesh of her fingers. Once, she’d wept and stormed, screamed and threatened. She’d sobbed into too many pillows, curled in too many corners, slammed too many doors. Until now.

A chill slipped under her nurse’s smock and twirled around the short hairs near her neck. It was so cold here, so lonely. Not even the call of a gull or the chatter of a sea lion kept her company. Nothing but endless waves and the eerie silence of the mist.

And God, just as silent. This time, God, don’t let me down. Please… Not again. This time she’d made plans, acted on them. This time, she’d sold her soul. No, it’s not that bad. It’s not! What if…? What if I fail again?

But it wouldn’t come to that. It couldn’t. God would listen. God would relent. Kinna didn’t want fame or fortune, shoes, clothes, or the latest Prada handbag. She didn’t want a new car, a new house, or even a new job. All she wanted was a child, a baby of her own. What she’d always wanted, as long as she could remember. A husband, a baby, and happily ever after.

Didn’t God say that to His faithful? Didn’t He say that all she had to do was pray? How could it be too much to ask for only what every other woman in the world seemed to have? Just a baby. To be a mother. Nothing more. It seemed so simple, so normal, so impossible. This was her last chance. At least that’s what the doctor said. “One more cycle, Kinna.” Cycles, not months. Everything was measured in cycles now. “And then you need to consider in vitro fertilization.” But she couldn’t afford IVF. She couldn’t even afford Perganol. The credit cards were maxed, the house mortgaged and mortgaged again. And Jimmy had said no more debt.

She closed her eyes. She’d done everything right. Perfect. She’d taken her prenatal vitamins, eaten her vegetables, not allowed a drop of caffeine to touch her lips, walked each afternoon. She’d charted her basal body temperature for a week, logged the dates, bought not one but two ovulation predictor kits with seven sticks each. She’d tested every day, twice a day, from day eleven to day fifteen. And this day, the time was finally right—the perfect time to conceive. And, of course, there were the vials.

Around her, the fog swirled and thickened. The ocean murmured words of doubt. She wouldn’t listen to that. Not anymore. She kicked a bit of sand at her feet. A string of dried kelp slid between her toes and sandals. She flicked it away, then reached into her bag and took out the ovulation predictor stick she’d put there. Two lines, both thick, equal. She squeezed it in her hand and then pulled a picture from her bag, a funny photo of a laughing baby with tulips scattered around her. The perfect baby.

Her thumb brushed the baby’s face. She blinked. Stop it, Kinna. God wouldn’t let you f ind that picture if He didn’t intend to answer your prayers. She glanced up. Don’t forget, God. I have faith.

Kinna reached the end of the beach and turned. Then she saw a glimmer in the sand. Silver buried in the tan-and-white blanket of a million tiny grains. She stooped and picked up the long chain, the dull necklace. She turned it over. An oval locket, old and worn. She grimaced. She had one just like it, except hers was new. A gift from Jimmy, who claimed it was an original. How like him to get a cheap knockoff and pretend it was something more. She ran her finger over the intricate double-tulip design on the locket’s surface. She opened it, and a bit of sand fell onto her fingers. She brushed it away.

Inside were two photos—an old man and an old woman, their faces wrinkled but still unfaded by time, clear enough that she could see their smiles, could tell they were happy. Happy faces, content faces, his half hidden behind thick glasses, hers yellowed by the years. Faces that made her ache. Once, she thought she would look happy like that when she grew old. She and Jimmy. And they would. Just as soon as God answered her prayers. Kinna closed the locket, dropped it into her bag, and listened as the chain rattled against the ovulation stick. And then someone screamed.

Someone get me a cat, because I think I really have lost my mind. What was I thinking? This isn’t a dream. The water is real. Too real. God is making fun of me, sending me here like this.

But it’s not His fault I’m in these waves. I shouldn’t blame Him. I’ve done this stupid thing. Batty old lady. That much, at least, seems true. I’d laugh, except my mouth would fill with salt water. It claws at me with freezing fingers. Reaches, grabs, forces my head under its black surface. And then I feel the first tendrils of fear. Of real, honest-to-goodness terror. What have I done?

I fight and scream. My arms flail, my hands wave in air too gray, too heavy. The waves pull at me, drag me farther from the shore. My eyes go blind in the salty surf.

One wave. Another. I shout again. My throat burns and I can no longer scream. Stupid. Crazy. Nuts.

The water grows colder. Arms of ice, embracing, drawing me down. Pulling me to the land of many cats. Maybe I should have known. Should have seen the truth the moment I knew the locket was gone.


But this is crazy.

This is real.


What happens if you die in your dreams?

Kinna whirled toward the sound of the scream. It came again, a shriek like a blade across her nerves. She faced the water. The sound echoed off the waves.

A cry. A shout. A scream for help. She heard frantic splashing, a final, desperate cry. She threw her bag onto the sand and raced to the edge of the sea. There! She could see the figure now, a black shadow on the water’s surface.

A wave crested and the figure vanished. No other sound came. Kinna kicked off her shoes and dove into the water. Cold surrounded her. Waves plunged against her, stinging her eyes, lifting her higher, crashing her down. For an instant she glimpsed the figure in the water. A woman, older than Kinna, her arms thrashing, her head dipping beneath the waves. Sounds came again. Words and shouts that she could no longer distinguish.The woman went under.

Kinna put her head down and swam. Hard. Fast. Fighting against the surf and current. Water silenced any further sounds, filled her ears with only the roar of the tide. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Water in her mouth. Salt and bitterness. She paused, glanced up. She couldn’t see the woman. Oh no. God, help… A flash. An arm. Was that…? Then, nothing.

She swam toward the spot. Hoping, praying. Though God had never answered her before, still she prayed, believing, driving herself into the undulating waves. And then she was there. A froth of white on the surface of the sea. Floundering limbs. Gulping mouth. A final stroke and she was beside the woman, then behind her. “It’s okay. I’ve got—” A wave silenced her words, drowning them in a salty onslaught.

The woman thrashed. Her arm slammed against Kinna’s temple. The world turned black, then gray and green again. Kinna blinked, gasped for air.

The woman twisted and reached out, shouting words Kinna couldn’t hear, couldn’t understand. She started to climb, thin feet kicking into Kinna’s legs. Weak hands, suddenly strong, shoved Kinna’s shoulders deeper into the roiling waves. Water closed over Kinna’s head. She shoved the woman away, fought back to the surface. Air stung her lungs, water blinded her eyes. The woman grabbed for her, but this time, Kinna was ready. She grasped the woman beneath the arms, turning her by force. A foot impacted her stomach. A hand scratched her face. She shouted in the woman’s ear. “Relax! I’ve got you.” The woman shuddered.

“Don’t fight me.” Stiff arms stopped clawing. Kicking legs slowed. “That’s it. Stay loose now.”

Kinna secured her grip, turned on her side, and swam one-armed toward the shore. After six strokes the woman grew limp. “Stay with me.”

The woman’s breath rasped in Kinna’s ear. She would be all right. They would make it safely to the shore. A wave broke over them and still she swam, the woman pliable but breathing. A gasp. A cough. The waves came quicker, pushing them. Short, choppy, breaking in rolls of froth. Then Kinna’s toes found the bottom. She fought against the last of the surf, the final stretch of the sea. Her feet pressed into soggy sand,

her body rose from the water. And then they were free. Kinna dragged the woman onto the beach and fell to her knees beside her. She spat out a mouthful of water, then leaned, trembling, over the woman’s pale face.

The woman’s eyes fluttered open and fixed on Kinna. “You?” A single word, barely spoken. Then her eyes fell closed. “No!” Kinna grabbed the woman’s shoulders, pulling her upright and shaking her.

The woman’s eyes opened again, staring. Her mouth moved, muttering words Kinna could not hear. She leaned closer.

“The faces. Not crazy. Not.” The words were slurred. “Not a dream.” The woman’s head tilted, her breath ragged and unsure. “Shhh. We’ll get you to a doctor. You’ll be all right.” A hand gripped Kinna’s arm. The woman’s fingers tightened and pulled her closer. Her mouth moved again, and this time, the words were clear.

“You’re Kinna Henley.”

Kinna shivered. “How do you know me?”

The woman gave another shuddering breath, then fell back.

And breathed no more.