Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Spirit of Sweetgrass by Nicole Seitz

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Integrity/Thomas Nelson (March 6, 2007)



NICOLE SEITZ is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in South Carolina Magazine, Charleston Magazine, House Calls, The Island Packet and The Bluffton Packet.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole is an exhibiting artist in the Charleston, South Carolina area where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.


Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy. 17 in the company of her dead husband, Daddy Jim.

Inspired by her Auntie Leona, Essie Mae finally discovers her calling in life and weaves powerful "love baskets," praying fervently over them to affect the lives of those who visit her roadside stand.

Relations are strained with her daughter Henrietta, who thinks Essie belongs in a retirement center. If Essie can't pay $10,000 in back taxes to save her home, she may have no choice. More tensions: her grandson EJ wants to marry a white girl, Essie discovers that a handsome man she's trying to find a girl for is gay, and her daughter carries a hidden secret.

When she's faced with losing her home and her stand and being put in a nursing home, Daddy Jim talks her into coming on up to Heaven to meet sweet Jesus-something she's always wanted to do.

The SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS shifts less successfully to the afterlife, where her Gullah-Creole ancestors surround her; but soon, her heavenly peace is disrupted, for she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart. Together, with Daddy Jim, they team up to return to Earth and battle two spirits conjured up by Henrietta's voodoo that threatens to ruin an attempt to save the sweetgrass basket weaving culture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(The Occupational Hazards)

(WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007)



Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


Old School meets New School meets Homeschool

Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.

That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.

As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?

In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.

"Snitch is an engaging crime novel, balanced between sheer whimsy and genuine human drama."
....CHRIS WELL, author of Tribulation House

"A wonderful, fully developed ensemble cast makes Snitch an entertaining, engaging read. Rene's flair for a comedic, well-turned phrase shines here. Snitch is worth snatching."
...SUSAN MEISSNER, author of Widows and Orphans

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Little Pixie on the Corner

So, I'm gardening on my clay mound and sit down. The smell of mud and a fresh breeze along with the rosemary I just planted makes me sigh. Life is good. I've been working on getting all my little seedlings out into the garden before going on vacation.



Our first ever vacation that has nothing to do with visiting family or job hunting.

We are going to count it as school for the boys though. How can we do that? I'm glad you asked...

First off we are going to Jamestown, VA. It is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year!

I didn't even know about this, but they have actors who play being settlers and you get to go through the town watching them.

That night we will camp out...then off to the Wright Brothers Museum!

Camp again and off to Hatteras Island.
I miss the beach so much. Being a Californian, I grew up with the salty air and the mocking calls of the sea gulls. I cannot wait to share it with my kids!

We'll camp and go back to the Outer Banks the next day. We'll research pirates and collect seashells. After we play in the sand and surf all day, we will take the ferry down and camp.

A relatively short drive from camp will be the Battleship North Carolina. The boys are really excited about this. They can't stop talking and imagining about it.

Either the same day or the next we will go to the Pine Knoll Aquarium. I'm most excited about this part. I love sea life...I used to want to be an oceanographer. Still do in a way.
We may stay another day or head home. (Depends on how much money we have left! LOL.)
So, that is what we'll be doing starting on Monday the 21st! O-dark-early in the morning we will head out. Happy Day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Orchard of Hope by Ann Gabhart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Revell March 1, 2007)


Ann Gabhart


Ann H. Gabhart has published a number of adult and young adult novels with several different publishers. The author of The Scent of Lilacs, Ann and her husband live a mile from where she was born in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. She is active in her country church, and her husband sings bass in a southern gospel quartet.


Nothing will be the same after the summer of 1964.

Drought has gripped the quiet Kentucky town of Hollyhill, and the town seems as if it is holding its breath--waiting. Jocie Brooke is nervous about starting high school. Her sister Tabitha is experiencing the weariness of waiting for a new baby. Her father David is feeling the timidity of those first steps toward true love. All of these pivotal steps in life are awaiting the Brooke family.

Into this cloud of tense anticipation, a black family from Chicago, the Hearndons move here to plant an orchard outside of town. Fresh off the Freedom Train, Myra Hearndon is sensitive to what the color of her skin may mean in a Southern town. Her family will have to contend with more than the dry ground and blazing sun as they try to create their ORCHARD OF HOPE.

Jocie finds herself befrending a boy that some townspeople shun. Due to unspoken racial lines in this southern town, the presence of these newcomers sparks a smoldering fire of unrest that will change Hollyhill..and Jocie...forever.

In this close-knit community, everything is about to change.

Let this riveting novel take you along to experience unexpected love, new life, and renewed faith amid life's trials.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I've Been Tagged...First time in forever!

It has been so long since I've done a tag! Most likely because I've not blogged much except my lovely book reviews. But Delia, one of my FIRST members, has done it. So here goes:


1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and asking them to read your blog.


1. I hate my Internet. Not THE Internet, MY Internet. My connections are so bad that it takes forever to post let alone read e-mail. No joke, I keep a running game of Spider Solitaire open to play during saves and load ups. A solution may be at hand though! This Wednesday a phone guy is coming to see if he can install DSL. Horrah!

2. There was a tick in my car today and it really freaked me out. I think I killed it but then I couldn't find it! I cannot stand those things. I have nightmares that I'll find one bloated, sucking away...and will have to remove it but it will get its head stuck inside my skin and I'll get Lyme Disease. Yes, I am a bit creeped out by it...I'm still itching everywhere and startling myself, thinking a blood sucker is about to make its move!

3. I homeschool my kids. The really funny thing about this is that I used to think homeschoolers were strange. I thought parents weren't giving their kids the opportunity for socialization...not to mention education. My oldest begged me to homeschool him when he was in 3rd grade. I let him finish out the year in public school while I researched it. He is about to finish 5th now and the youngest, Kindergarten. We LOVE it! And they are not lacking socialization...I get to that in the next number...

4. On Tuesdays I teach a creative writing class for some local homeschoolers. We are going through the book, Learn to Write the Novel Way. Keegan is one of my students. While we are doing the class, another mom watches Evan and her other youngsters. Afterwards, we swim and play in a creek by the picnic shelter we use for the classroom. Ah, the joys of homeschooling!

5. I love Fantasy. All ages...but mostly Young Adult. Yes. I love the Harry Potter books. But I understand why many Christians don't, which is why I've written my own YA Fantasy that is Christian. I'm working on getting it published right now. VERY LONG PROCESS!

6. I have poison oak and poison sumac growing all over my yard. I am SO allergic to it. We are trying to get rid of it...any suggestions???

7. I love to garden (which makes the sumac problem even worse!) I'm attempting to landscape a hill that looks like a big mound of clay. But it will be gorgeous someday! I know it!

8. Wow! I'm at eight! I live in the most beautiful place I could have ever hoped for. God has taken us so many places and through so much stuff...we are finally feeling comfortable where He has put us. Right now I can hear the frogs croaking and see the fireflies flickering. North Carolina is a great state. It has taken me seven years to really understand that. Being Californian by birth (24 years) then living in the Mid-West (8 years)...the South was a bit strange and backward to me. I can honestly say that I've had my reservations about being here. My allergies are horrid here. Everyone has a strange accent. I do not hear English spoken correctly very often. BUT...I love it now. I might even have a bit of a twang now...and I don't mind too much... But y'all best not be sayin' I'm a hillbilly! Us mountain folk don't take too kindly to that kinda talk. Y'hear!

Now, I'm supposed to tag eight people. I don't think eight people read my blog anymore...I've been so out of touch about it. But let me see if I can think of some that MIGHT play along... How about:

Captain Picard
Ma Ingals with ADHD
Bonnie Wren

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tribulation House by Chris Well

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! An extra special post is coming out today, May 11th, for an extra special author. The man who started to ball rolling for FIRST, Chris Well, has a new book out and we have decided to give him an extra plug.

So, give all your attention to:

Chris Well

and his book:


(Harvest House 2007)


Chris Well is founder of FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.



I might as well just tell you right now, I killed Reverend Daniel Glory. Back there at the church, in his study.

But this is my story. Don't let anyone tell you different. My dad always said we all write our own story. Of course, I guess that's why it worked out so well for him.

Why did I kill Reverend Daniel Glory? Sure, it was an accident. More or less. At least, I think it was.

I don't know, we were arguing about the Rapture and it kind of got out of hand and then I just --

Wait. Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

This all started about three months ago, when Reverend Daniel Glory told us we needed to do our Tribulation House earlier than --

Oh. Wait.

Okay, I guess this actually started last year when Marvin Dobbs left the church. Our church. The Last Church of God's Imminent Will.

A year ago last summer, Marvin left with some of the other families to start a new church, and he took his Armageddon House" multimedia show with him.

You do know about Armageddon House, right? Every Halloween for the past three or four years, Marvin and our team put together a special multimedia presentation explaining the Great Tribulation, which ends with the Battle of Armageddon.

Wait -- you don't know about the Great Tribulation? It's that seven-year period between the Rapture and the Triumphant Return of Jesus Christ, as described in the prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel and the Apostles Paul and John. After the Lord Jesus takes His Bride home, there are going to be seven years of horrible judgment inflicted on those who are left b --

What? The murder of Reverend Glory? I'm getting to that.

Well, anyway, when Marvin left to form his little offshoot splinter group, we discovered he had actually trademarked the name "Armageddon House." Imagine that.

When the board at church met to discuss the matter, we considered doing Armageddon House anyway without him. Just reconstruct it from memory and copy or use materials from previous years. Use the same name, business as usual. Just ignore the cease-and-desist letter, let God and His angels work that out.

But we decided we didn't want to be associated with Armageddon House anymore. I mean, if Marvin and his new "fellowship" planned to stage their own Armageddon House, the risk of confusion in the marketplace was enough to rebuild ours as a brand-new event.

Which is how we ended up with Tribulation House. It was an opportunity for a new beginning. We went through a whole list of potential names -- I came up with Kingdom Come, but was voted down -- before we settled on Tribulation House.

We sat down and worked through the whole grid. Instead of imagining how to simply explain or show a picture of each bowl of wrath and each trumpet of judgment, we created an entire theatrical event.

Yeah, we could have set up the charts and graphs and the overhead projector. But today's audience, this last generation, they're kind of jaded about flannel graph presentations, know what I mean?

These kids today, with their Spongebob Squarepants and their American Bandstand and their Buffy The Vampire Slayer, they need the bells and whistles and the like.

The kids don't need a lot of explanation. They need a demonstration.

You see, that was the challenge, wasn't it? It's one thing to say "the moon was blackened" or "the waters turned to blood" or "men were stung by enormous flying scorpions" -- but how do you make it happen right here, right before their eyes?

In the end, we created Tribulation House: A full-sensory immersive interactive dramatic theatrical evangelistic event that simulates what it will actually be like to live through the events of the Great Tribulation. An entire full-service prophetic experience.

You'd be surprised how much of it we accomplished with sound and light. We developed the various rooms throughout the church basement. Some college kids created soundscapes for each event. We wrote up a full script for the actors; they played everything from people caught up in the events, to the world armies fighting the Most Holy, to the father of lies himself, bound and thrown into the pit for a millennium.

The murder of Reverend Daniel Glory? I'm getting to that.

So we were working out the blueprints for creating Tribulation House as a major theatrical evangelistic full-sensory ministry outreach. We had debated the merits of various slogans for the event -- the leading contenders were WE'LL SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU; GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT; and THE TIME IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. While the first slogan was a favorite of several board members, for its bracing, truthful stance, in the end we worried that the neighbors would misunderstand. So we went with the second slogan, for its simple, instructional message.

And I remember that our chief carpenter, Bill Broadstreet, was giving us his estimate for the physical construction to be done on the project. Suddenly, Reverend Daniel Glory burst in with some news.

"Friends!" There was a glow on the Reverend's face unlike we had seen before. The man stood there in the doorway to the church basement, leaning against the doorframe, wheezing to catch his breath. "Jesus is coming back!"

The room was silent. We all stared. At first, we wondered why he was saying this right then. After all, he preached on this topic every week. But then he dropped this bomb: "And I know when!"

Okay, that was a new one. Collectively, everyone in the room gasped. One of us, I don't even remember who it was, asked, "When, Reverend?"

"October 17."

Five months.

"5:51 a.m." Reverend Daniel Glory waved the papers clutched in his hand. Later, I would wonder what he was waving at us. His Bible study? His calculations? All I know is he grinned ear to ear and said, "The Rapture is going to happen at 5:51 a.m. on October 17."

Everyone around the meeting table reacted differently. Some were stunned into silence, others screamed with joy. One noisy woman loudly sobbed and clapped.

Reverend Daniel Glory came into room, face aglow with thrill and exhaustion, and dragged a chair from the wall over to our table. He sat, waiting until everyone was silent again. "I now have incontrovertible proof that the Rapture takes place this coming October."

I'm sure I grinned bigger than anyone in the room. "What reason do you have to say that?"

Reverend Daniel Glory looked at me and winked. "Why stop with one reason, boy? I got one hundred and seven of 'em!"

Of course, you know what this meant. We were going to have to step up the production of Tribulation House.

(I still can't believe it's not Kingdom Come.)

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Multnomah April 16, 2007)


Amy Wallace is a member of the CFBA and an avid Blogger. A self-confessed chocoholic, this freelance writer is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and serves as the liaison for the training division of the county police department. Amy is a contributing author of God Answers Moms' Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three daughters.


Drama. Tragedy. Thriller. Romance. Can these four actually go together? Amy Wallace's meaty first book of the Defenders of Hope Series, RANSOMED DREAMS, has successfully united these genres.

It is one of those books that after you read a little and put it down, the desire to see what will happen next is so strong that it will occupy your thoughts, compelling you to make the time to finish. But watch out! It is best consumed where no one will hear you cry because, if you have children, it will hit you like a stab in the gut and wrench you with a twist of the knife.

Although the subject at first depresses, the characters are so real and likable that you need to see what will become of them.

This book will NOT bore you.


Chained To Yesterday

When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future

An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both, and definitely doesn’t expect what’s coming next.

The Past Is the Key

A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?


Steeped in police intrigue and rich characters, Ransomed Dreams entertains, educates, and captivates. Amy Wallace is a fresh, vibrant voice in the Christian market

~Mark Mynheir, Homicide Detective and Author of The Void

Ransomed Dreams had me hooked from the start and didn't let go until the deeply satisfying ending.

~Kristin Billerbeck, Author of What a Girl Wants

Amy can be reached through the Contact link on her Peek-A-Boo ICU Blog

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tribulation House by Chris Well

This week


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Harvest House 2007)



Chris Well is a fellow member of the CFBA and founder of its sister organization, FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.



Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.

When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.

Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.

But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Heir by Paul Robertson

It is May 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Paul Robertson

and his book:


(Bethany House March 1, 2007)


Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and former independent bookstore owner in Blacksburg, Virginia. This is his first novel.


I couldn't take my eyes off the casket. It was expensive, and it glowed, resting among the candles and the heaps of flowers. It so perfectly expressed the man inside.

The dignitaries droned, and I didn't hear them. We knew it all. We knew what he had done with his life. If a man knows his purpose, then everyone else will know it, too.

They'd been told what to say and to keep it short, and they obeyed. They'd all gotten where they were by doing what they were told.

It was tribute by catalog listing: achievements, philanthropy, and Senate career. The real man was never mentioned—the companies he inherited, the rivals he crushed, the cold blood behind the politics—but everyone knew. Was anyone else listening? It's easy to eulogize a man who knew why he lived his life.

I just stared at that gleaming box and wondered why I was living mine.

We sang a hymn, and that brought me back—words obscure enough to drive any clear thoughts from a man's brain. A voice behind me sang off-key.

I watched the man's wife instead. Her name was Angela, and she was sitting between my brother, Eric, and me. I might have given her a hug, but she had always objected to my familiarity. It was nothing personal; she objected to anyone. Her brother and sister were not at the service.

She was his second wife. The other one died young of cancer, which had been worth a lot of sympathy in his first election. If he had grieved for her, I wouldn't know.

I looked back. The off-key voice behind me was another senator, a man I'd never liked. He had no speaking part. It was probably a snub.

For a moment it seemed a pity the whole thing was going by so fast. The church was flawless, and the funeral was such a good use for it. Now I even knew the true purpose of candles: to reflect off that casket. They were going to look tacky anywhere else. And there I was staring at it again.

Candles knew their purpose, but I didn't have a clue about mine.

The governor said his few words about what he had felt when he heard about the accident—the shock and sadness, the great man cut down in his prime, what a loss to the state. He shook his head at the whole sad mystery of life and death and checked his watch.


I pushed past Katie and got up to the pulpit. Now the box was right in front of me, shining like a waxed floor. I needed something else to look at.

The back wall of the place had a row of statues in it, saints or angels, and one had his hand up waving at me. I never had written anything to say.

"Why am I here?" The little saint seemed friendly, so I figured I'd just talk to him. "I wish I knew." Maybe it was a her, not a him. They all wear robes.

"I think he could have told me. He knew why he was here, what he was doing. He never doubted anything he did." Somehow, I was staring at the casket again. I found my friend on the wall. "Maybe he is now."

They were all watching me, but I watched the back of the church. "The one thing I ever really knew for sure in my life was that he was there. I only saw him a few times a year and I won't miss him for that. It's more like a mountain is gone—one you'd see off in the distance."

Katie wanted me to be impressive for the assembled personages. She knew they'd be measuring and calculating, putting me in their equations. After three years of marriage, she also knew me enough to know I didn't care. I did hope she wasn't embarrassed. Her mother was sitting behind her and she'd be embarrassed enough for all of us.

I wouldn't inherit anything anyway. It was all going to his foundation. Eric and I would just get our monthly checks, as we always had.

The saint's stone hand was palm up, as if it had been holding something that had just flown away. "Anyway, he's gone and we're still here, so we'll get by without him." I finally got myself to look at the people. What a well-dressed crowd. "And everything he knew about life is gone with him, so I'll get by without that, too."

I didn't have anything else to say. I smiled at Angela, and then I nodded at Eric on her other side.

I waited at the end of the pew as Eric got out, and he patted me on the back. Katie gave me a tight smile as I sat. She was annoyed, but not mad.

Eric was tall, dark, and clueless behind the heavy wood pulpit. We look alike, especially with him wearing one of my suits. For all the money he has, he'd never figured out how to buy clothes. It was loose on him, and maybe that was why he looked so young. Or maybe it was because he was so young. There were no questions about life beneath that spiky black hair.

But he kept his eyes on the audience the whole time and told them what a loving father the man had been. He did a good job. I appreciated him because he did the right thing, what I should have done, and maybe he thought what he said was true.

Then the priest said whatever he had to, and it was over. When I got out into the light of day, I was so glad it had lasted no longer than it did.

* * *

The rest of the festivities went about the same. In the limo, Katie chattered and Angela sighed about how nice the service had been. Eric was watching boats in the bay.

I watched them, too. I prefer water to land because land is unmoving; the water is never still and has nothing fixed. Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, Block Island Sound—we were surrounded by silent waters named for the lands that confined them.

Eric turned to me. "What did you mean, you wouldn't miss him?"

"That's not what I said."

"And what were you looking at?"


He turned back to the boats and I did, too. I would rather have been out there. Anyone whose ancestors lived on these coasts would feel the same pull.

Across from me, Katie was glaring, so maybe she was mad after all. She had her hair down straight, over her shoulders. Her simple, dark blue dress with the string of pearls was as perfect as the church. She had me done up just right, too, with the black suit she'd picked out a year ago for weddings and funerals. She had a tailor come every six months to keep all the suits fitted. That's why it hung so loose around Eric's shoulders.

Change the subject. "He really was a great man," I said to Angela.

She smiled, and it was genuine. The funeral had penetrated the pink plastic armor. She wasn't even fifty. Her husband had been fifteen years older, but she'd still expected a lot more years with him. They'd been married for nineteen.

Katie smiled at me, and I was out of trouble. I pushed my luck.

"What do you think he would have been most proud of?"

"Most proud?" Angela always spoke so quietly, like a kitten. I'd wondered if it was an act, but it was no asset to a political wife, being so fluffy. She wasn't striking or brilliant. Why did he marry her? He must have actually loved something about her. I wouldn't even recognize her without the platinum hair and bubblegum lipstick. "He did so much. He didn't enjoy Washington, but he accomplished so much there. He was happier here at home. And he was proud of his foundation. I think that's what he was most proud of."

Not of his sons. Not of his oldest son, anyway. "I hope it will keep going," I said.

"Mr. Kern will run it. He's always done such a good job there. And now he'll have charge of all of Melvin's companies."

Melvin. The name of the deceased hovered in the air for a moment like cigarette smoke, and Nathan Kern's name was the smell of stale beer that went with it so well. I was not a patron of that saloon. I'd get my little allowance, and the big wad would go to the foundation. Melvin had made it very clear that Eric and I should have no expectations beyond simply living in the style to which we had become accustomed.

We were born to be idle rich, Eric and I, and we'd never risen above it. I wondered what our new allowance would be. Katie was feeling constrained by our thirty thousand a month.

Ahead of us, the hearse turned onto the gravel road into the cemetery. We parked beside it. As we waited for the other cars to park, I walked to the open grave. What a view he'd have, of the cliffs and the waves breaking. I was about fifty feet from the edge of the grass, and it was twenty feet straight down from there into the violent water. In a thousand years the whole place would be gone, worn down by the surf. Usually he planned better than that, but while it lasted, it would definitely be a view to die for.

There were six pallbearers. Nathan Kern and the governor took the middle on each side, for show. The casket was heavy, though, and it needed at least four strong men out of the six. So Eric and I were in front, and two gardeners from the estate were in back. We walked the short distance slowly. The sun was bright, between clouds; the better to dramatize the moment. The mourners added darker colors to the brilliant blue and greens, and the brown of the earth piled by the grave.

Five minutes after we set the box down, we were done with the words and the gardeners were lowering it into the ground. I took the shovel they handed me and dropped some ceremonial dirt down on top of the box, and then a couple more good heavy loads just for the exercise. I was just kicking into gear, and I would have filled the whole pit, but then I had to stop. I felt lightheaded and my vision blurred and my breath stuck in my throat, and that was when I knew he was gone. I dropped the shovel and walked over to the cliff, and I didn't know if the pounding I heard was the waves or my own blood filling my ears.

Then Katie was beside me. "Jason? Are you all right, dear?"

I nodded. Wherever we all end up going, he was there now—where he knew the answers to all my questions and where I couldn't ask them of him. I looked around again at the strength and ferocity of that place with its hard stone and unrelenting breakers. It was everything hard, without mercy or forgiveness. I hoped he'd enjoy it.

"Come on, let's go back." Katie sounded nervous. She knew me well enough to want me away from the cliff.

"Don't worry." The moment was over. I took her hand and we strolled back to the others.

* * *

We stood for the right number of minutes in the rolling clouds and sun, nodding to the mourners, saying the proper words. The cloud shadows were chill, a reminder that the New England summer would soon have its own abrupt end.

"I'm getting cold, dear."

I hadn't noticed Francine next to us. The last I'd seen her, she'd been talking to the senator.

"You should go home, Mother," Katie said. "I'll call tonight." We watched her skitter across the grass, like a little crab.

"I'm getting cold, too," I said.

"No, you aren't."

"Let's go home anyway."

My own car was waiting for us. I was about to open the door for Katie when Melvin's lawyer waddled over to us.

Fred Spellman was a nice man. He must have been very smart to have been Privy Counsellor, but I'd never seen him in action. To us, he had always been Uncle Fred, and I had better childhood memories of him than of Melvin.

He gave me a paternal pat on the back and kissed Katie's hand, and I might have thought he'd been crying. But he took a deep breath and pulled himself together.

"Well, well." Then he paused and took another breath and tried again. "Well. We have some things to discuss, Jason, my boy. I need to have you and Eric come see me."

"Right. The reading of the will."

Melvin's secretary, Pamela, was next to us. She really had been crying, and she still was. She hugged Katie, patted my shoulder, and walked on, all without words. I watched her.

"It won't take long," Fred was saying. "Would tomorrow morning be too soon? Or do you need time to ... adjust? I don't want to hurry you, but there are some things that will need attention, sooner rather than later."

"That's fine. The body's still warm, but at least it's underground." I looked away from Pamela to my watch. "We could do it right now, sitting on his grave. That would be poetic. I'll call Eric."

"He's not serious," Katie said. "What time tomorrow?"

Maybe I had gone too far with him. He stared at me in a way I hadn't seen. "Nine o'clock?" he suggested. "Eric is available."

"What about Angela?" I said. "The grieving widow, you know. The scene wouldn't be complete."

"She will have her own meeting."

"Whatever." I opened the door and Katie slipped in. "May I bring my wife?"

"That will be at your discretion." He smiled, the old teddy bear smile. "I think you should. It helps to face these things together."

I shrugged. "It's really not a big deal, Fred. Not to me. We'll just putter along like always. Nathan Kern will have the headaches."

That look again. I couldn't read it, and it was not from the kindly family friend I'd always known. But then we both turned to watch Eric vroom vroom out of the cemetery on his Yamaha. Nice touch, or it would have been if the thought had occurred to him. I would have done the motorcycle-at-the-funeral thing to make some kind of statement. He did it because he was oblivious.

Or maybe the bike was the most presentable thing he had. None of his five cars was very solemn. The leather jacket was going to mangle the borrowed suit.

"Tomorrow morning, nine o'clock."

"I'll be there, Fred."

I got in the car, but not fast enough. Nathan Kern floated elegantly up to the window.

"Jason! I don't know what to say." Not that that had ever stopped him from saying it. "It just doesn't seem possible." If Fred was the king's chamberlain, Nathan was the archbishop.

"Apparently it was," I said. I was the court jester.

"We will need to talk. I know the foundation will be as important for you as for your father." Selfless nobility, thy name is Nathan Kern.

"I don't plan to have much part in it."

He was surprised at that, and he shouldn't have been. He knew me better. "But it was always Melvin's foremost concern." His elegant fingers were trembling. I thought the diamonds would fall out of his cuff links.

"He left his estate to it. I feel sorry for you, Mr. Kern. You have some big responsibilities now." I was getting tired of the day or I might have been a little nicer. I could feel Katie preparing the lecture. "Give me a week, and I'll be glad to come see you." By then I might even build up some curiosity about him and his world. There had to be something beneath the sanctimony.

"Yes, yes, of course," he said.

I took that as a good-bye and closed my window.

* * *

We finally got out onto the road. "You could have acted like an adult," Katie said.

"That's not my way."

We'd come up behind a truck, and there was no place to pass. The coast road went on a few more miles like this, two winding lanes. "Everyone there was looking to you to take your father's place."

"I'd rather die."


I punched the accelerator and passed blind on a curve. The road ahead was clear so I kept the speed up. Katie held on to her shoulder belt.

"You don't have to kill me, too."

I slowed down. "All right, I won't. But the only reason I'm not taking this car off a cliff is because I don't want to die the same way Melvin did."

"Thank you." She would have bitten through the guardrail, her jaw was clenched so tight. I needed to make a gesture.

There was a gas station after a few minutes, and I stopped beside some landscaping and pulled up two flowers.


She relented. "I accept your apology." We got back out on the road and she held them, treating them with far more respect than they deserved. "Why did I marry you, anyway?"

"For my money," I said.

"Then I made a big mistake." She said it with a smile, though, for which I was very grateful. "I don't know if your money is worth putting up with you. If you worked with those people—Nathan Kern and all the rest of them—you could be rich."

"I am rich."

"Not as rich as you could be." The edges of the smile hardened a little. "He'd put you on the board of the foundation, and you could get control of everything your father had." She looked out the window. "It should have been yours anyway."

"Look, all I did was get born into this family," I said. "It wasn't my choice. As long as they send my check each month, nobody gets hurt. If they want anything else I'll inflict damage." I waited until she looked back at me. The two daisies in her hand were a little damaged. "You like your flowers?"


The road was bending through hills, away from the ocean. I stopped again, just off the edge, where the guardrail actually was bitten through. Out of the car, I stood and looked down the hillside at the scraped dirt and torn bushes and the broken tree at the bottom. They'd cleaned away the wreckage, every piece of it.

Katie got out with me.

"Why am I here?" I said. "What is the point?"

She pulled a knot of wildflowers from the ground, much nicer than the daisies, and handed it to me.


"You don't need to apologize for anything," I said.

"I just want to give you some flowers."

I stood for a moment. Then I tossed them down the steep hill and the wind caught them and they landed just where his car had. I'd seen it there, with yellow police tape and spotlights, and the trucks pulling it up the embankment.

"He's gone, Jason," she said. "It might really be different now."

Excerpted from:The Heir by Paul Robertson

Copyright © 2007; ISBN-13 9780764203244

Published by Bethany House Publishers

Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.