Published by Astraea Press
Cover by Cora Graphics
About this author: Lynn Donovan spends her days chasing after her muses, trying to get
them to settle down and behave long enough to dictate their words and actions. The results have produced The Clockwork Dragon, a collection of nine short stories in which she wrote half (4.5 stories), The Wishing Well Curse, and Thorns of Betrayal, Rocking Horse Shadows, and Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds. A speculative fiction called Fertility Pirates is hovering out there somewhere. Lynn enjoys reading and writing Christian fiction, paranormal, and speculative fiction. But you never know what her muses will come up with for a story, so you could see a novel under any given genre. All we can tell you is keep your eyes open, cause these muses are not sitting still for long! Oops, there they go again…
Sneak Peek: "Well, hello!" Pastor Barbara greeted Grace at the front door of the church. Her slow, Southern accent drew out the salutation. The afternoon air had cooled enough for a jacket. The weather was unpredictable from one hour to the next, especially in December in south Texas.
Grace stepped up behind her, staring at Barbara's hands turning the over-burdened key ring. "Hi, Pastor."
She chewed on the inside of her cheek, mentally rehearsing her already worn-out speech. She hated what she had to do. Not that she regretted her reasons for doing it. Chris meant more to her than any activity in church. It was just that she knew how the pastor would react. It had been Barbara who had asked her to start signing with the praise team. She would be disappointed to have Grace leave the team. She hated disappointing anybody, especially Pastor Barbara.
Barbara unlocked the doors and led the way to her office toward the back of the administrative area. "Come on in. You want a water or somethin'?"
"No, I'm good," Grace said softly.
"Wonderful!" Barbara's voice boomed in the empty silence. She rotated her shoulder to coax her heavy sweater off. It seemed to cling to her shimmering blouse. Eventually, she managed to move and shake her arm to get the sweater low enough so gravity could do the rest.
She blew an exasperated sigh and shoved wiry black hair back into place. Her keys rattled as she set them on the corner of her desk. Her milk-chocolate skin was moist from her efforts. She flapped the collar of her blouse to cool her skin.
Her eyes met Grace's. "How's Chris?"
"He's…" Grace choked. "He's not so good." She could barely get the words out.
"Oh! Oh honey. I'm so sorry." Barbara tossed the sweater at her chair, and then gathered Grace into her arms.
She leaned down to bury her face against Barbara's shoulder and cried. The well-rehearsed speech escaped into a dark, hidden place in her mind.
Barbara patted Grace's back while her tears flowed.
She had not intended to break down like this. There was something about Pastor Barbara that allowed Grace to be vulnerable, to let down her armor. "I'm sorry."
Grace yanked a tissue from Barbara's tissue box and wiped her eyes. "I didn't mean to fall apart like that."
"It's all right. Burdens are not meant to be carried alone." Barbara pulled a tissue from the box and dotted makeup-beaded perspiration from her forehead. Sincere empathy glazed her dark-brown eyes.
"Now, tell me. Why this meeting? You wantin' ta take some time off ta spend with your hu-usband?" Barbara's accent over-emphasized the first syllable of the last word. Her unique pronunciation warmed Grace's heart.
She nodded, her speech poking back into the lighted area of her memory. "Chris is so weak right now, Barbara. I need to spend more time with him. I've got to reduce my activities."
Then her excellent speech fizzled away like an untied balloon. "I have two freelance contracts to wrap up, and then I'm going to hold off submitting anymore queries…for now. I've got some residuals to tie me over, and Chris has his disability."
She just couldn't stop herself. Her mouth had a mind of its own. "We don't owe anything except our mortgage. We'll be fine until…" The words stuck in her throat. She forced herself to continue even though her voice pitched from the constriction.
"I feel like I need to spend all my time making him as comfortable as possible."
"Well, now, let's not talk like that. Only the Good Lord knows our days. I understand, though. I'm sure you want to be with him as much as possible." Barbara clung to Grace's hand. "Have you prayed about this? We sure will miss your presence on the team, but we understand."
"Yes. I've prayed 'til I'm blue in the face." Grace stared at the ground and swallowed hard, trying not to cry. She couldn't help but expose her frustration. Her faith was slipping through her fingers, and she knew it. Her armor had been completely discarded.
"Oh, Grace. Bless your heart. Let's pray now." Barbara took both of Grace's hands and bowed her head. She prayed for strength, healing, and protection for her and Chris. She thanked God for His wisdom and perfect timing. Finally she asked it all in Jesus's name, and they both said "Amen."
Grace felt numb. Barbara's prayers usually gave her such peace. It was the words perfect timing that caught in Grace's heart. What if this was God's perfect timing? It did not reassure her that Chris would make it through this.
Barbara squeezed Grace's hands one last time and then released them.
"Thank you." Grace sniffed. But she didn't feel grateful.
Something stirred deep down in her gut. A longing, no, a need, to get to Chris. "I've gotta go."
"Of course, God bless you." Barbara drew her into another embrace, but Grace pulled away. The odd feeling intensified and curled around in her gut like a knot of snakes. She absolutely had to get home.
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