Shannon here: Jennifer Slattery shares an excerpt from her latest Women’s Fiction title, Healing Love. Chance to win an e-book copy. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated July 11 – 14 to enter the drawing. Deadline: July 22nd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jennifer:
Ubaldo suppressed a heavy sigh. How could he feel such intense emotions for a woman he’d known for such a short time? And a North American at that?
He couldn’t let her go. Say goodbye, and yet, he was powerless to keep her.
Guiding Brooke by the elbow, he led her through the inner courtyard to the sliding metal door, now bolted. Carmela joined them and pulled a set of keys from her bathrobe pocket. While she freed the padlock, he looked back toward the living quarters. In the pale moonlight, faces peered from each second-story window.
Brooke stared at the girls, a lone tear trickling down cheek. He thumbed it away, traced the soft contours of her face. His gaze dropped to her mouth, and he groaned inwardly. Oh, to kiss her! To taste her tears and pull her against him.
Never to let go.
He leaned toward her, his breath shallow, lifted her chin. Ran the pad of his thumb along her bottom lip.
The door clanked open, and she startled. Took half a step back and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
Carmela. He’d been so mesmerized by Brooke, he’d forgotten she was there.
He closed his eyes, trying to gain some emotional distance. Motioned with his head toward the street.
Brooke hugged Carmela one more time before falling into step beside him. At the van, he held her door open for her, then rounded the vehicle and slid in. A heavy silence pressed down on them as they drove back to the hotel. She sat with her face toward the window, dabbing her tears with a wadded tissue.
She turned to him with red-ringed eyes. “There’s a verse my father used to say to me every night before I went to bed. He told me if I held on to it, made it my life verse, everything else would fall into place.” She spread her wadded tissue in her lap and smoothed out the wrinkles. “It’s Ephesians 2:10. For we are…” Fresh tears fell.
“his workmanship.” He finished for her. “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
She nodded. “He said God has a plan for each of us.” She paused. “I kept that verse with me through high school and college. Repeated it often during graduate school—almost like a good luck charm.”
The headlights stretched before them, piercing the thick cloak of darkness and reflecting off the oil-sheened street.
She picked at a cuticle. “And Psalm 139 tells me God’s in control—that each day of my life is written in His book before one of them came to be.”
Raindrops splotched on the windshield, growing in momentum. He turned on the wipers, the steady swish-plunk merging with the rhythmic pattering of rain on the van roof.
“Do you believe that?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“That God’s in control of all this?”
“I believe God’s in control, yes.”
“Then why does He allow girls like Dinora and Fatima to suffer? Is this—death, hunger, pain—all part of His plan? And if not, why doesn’t He do something about it?”
Something told Ubaldo her question extended beyond tonight and her experience in El Salvador. “I believe God’s in control, but no, I don’t believe our world runs how He intended it. He created a very good world free of sin, death, and suffering, but we messed it up when we rebelled against him. I don’t understand where man’s choice and God’s sovereignty merge, or how all that works. But I know He provided a solution in His Son. Jesus Christ.
“And I know He’s called us to show His love to others, especially the hurting. The orphans. That verse in Ephesians says we were created anew in Christ Jesus to do the works God planned. I believe that’s where we see the line in the sand. It’s when we’re in Christ Jesus—in His will and surrendered to His plan—that our lives begin to operate according to His purpose. But there will always be those who are not in Christ Jesus.”
He turned off the main road and parked outside the heavy metal door securing the hotel grounds. “All we can do is focus on our part, trusting God to work it all out in the end.”
“I just wish I knew what my role is.”
“He’ll show you when the time is right.”
Ubaldo honked and waited for the hotel clerk to let them in. The rain lessened to a steady drizzle, the windshield wipers streaking the glass. Clusters of stars re-emerged as clouds receded.
The metal door in front of them screeched open, and the clerk soon appeared holding a shotgun. His stance relaxed when his gaze fell first to the van, then to Ubaldo. He nodded and motioned them in, then closed the door behind them.
The van bounced as Ubaldo sloshed through the parking lot puddles and pulled to the curb. “Here we are.” He turned to face her, his gaze sweeping across her shiny eyes to her pink-tipped nose before resting on her rose-tinted lips. The lips he’d almost kissed. “Are you going to be okay?”
Her gaze latched onto his. As if …
He leaned closer, his pulse accelerating. Close enough to feel her warm breath on his face. She titled her chin, and he reached for her. Placed his hand on the back of her head, twined his fingers in her soft, silky hair. Lowered his mouth to hers, his kiss tentative at first. But then she reached for his neck, sending a jolt of electricity through him. He closed his eyes and deepened his kiss. Knowing all too soon, their kiss, and whatever was building between them, would end.
He’d have to release her. For good. But he’d never forget her, nor would his love for her lessen.
About Jennifer: Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.
Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com
About the book – Healing Love:
A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.
Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.
Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.
When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?
Question for Readers: Have you or anyone you know ever been on a mission trip? If not and you you had the chance to go on one, where would you want to go?