Authors: Carla Rossi
Tags: #christian Fiction
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT 2014 by Carla Rossi
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
eBook editions are licensed for your personal enjoyment only. eBooks may not be re-sold, copied or given to other people. If you would like to share an eBook edition, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
Contact Information: [email protected]
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
Cover Art by Nicola Martinez
White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410
White Rose Publishing Circle and Rosebud logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC
First White Rose Edition, 2014
Print Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-394-0
Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-392-6
Published in the United States of America
This book is dedicated to Justin Meaders. Without you and your generous insight and total honesty, I could not have completed this work. Thank you for being a truly exceptional and incredibly strong man.
Many thanks to Nicola Martinez whom I’ve worked with since 2008. Lisa McCaskill and my Pelican Book Group family is extraordinary, and my writing life has been a joy, a blessing, and a gift from God.
Much love to Cheri Jetton and Kim Ford. Best critique partners ever.
How Nick and Holly Wrecked…Saved Christmas
I couldn't find a thing not to like about this sweet, fun Christmas story. Teenagers and kitties and old folks and romance....pure perfection, and well-written too! I think I've found another favorite Christian author... ~ Delia Latham, author
There are no murders, but
a book about second chances and forgiveness for serious past mistakes, with a little romance and mystery thrown in. ~ Nightstand Book Reviews
Carla Rossi spins a web of a tale that leads to many lessons about forgiveness, faith, hope, grace, and the church. Beginning with a lesson on judging others by what we see on the outside. Rossi brings lessons from the Bible to life in our present times. Her style goes beyond storytelling, to something much more similar to a modern day parable. ~ Bonita, Radiant Lit
Dr. Noah and the Sugar Plum Fairy
Jane and Noah are adorable together and the cast of family are sure to engage you every step of the way. Light, enjoyable and fabulously Christmas. You won't regret one minute of this holiday story. And seriously, how can you not love this title! ~ Kat, Goodreads
It Happened One Hurricane
An action packed story, with heartwarming characters, this well-written tale keeps your attention from cover to cover. ~ Clare Revell, author
Rocky Lionakis didn’t know what hit him. Last he remembered, he’d tucked his Bible beside him in his wheelchair and turned to leave the platform. Now he was flat on his back on the wooden ramp, gazing at the blue east Texas sky through a canopy of tall pines. It would have been a beautiful summer afternoon sight if he’d
to be looking at it.
He lifted his head and then decided it felt better to stay down. Voices grew softer, and bubbly chatter faded as camp staff herded the junior and senior high audience for his last talk away from the outdoor stage and down the path toward the dining hall.
Somewhere the wheel of his chair spun with a rhythmic swish and put him in mind of an old bicycle he had as a child. It slowed, and he closed his eyes. Normally a tumble from his chair ended with a quick recovery. Propelled by sheer embarrassment, he could usually steady the lightweight titanium contraption and be upright in seconds. This time his scattered thoughts and developing headache told him he’d fallen harder than he realized. For all he knew, his chair had landed in another zip code because it sure wasn’t beside him on the ramp.
He felt for his Bible and discovered it under his left hip. Everything was quiet except for the coo of a mourning dove somewhere high above him and the scrape of a squirrel’s feet as it scampered up a tree.
As he started to relax, all pain dissipated. Maybe the fall had killed him...
The scent of something earthy and sweet reached his nose. He sniffed the air. Heaven smelled like strawberries.
He opened his eyes and looked up into a warm chocolate-brown gaze. An angel stood over him. Strands of long dark hair slid off her shoulders and hung almost to his face as she bent over him.
She smiled and knelt beside him. “Fall off your horse there, cowboy?”
He blinked. If this was Heaven, God had sent him one sassy angel to welcome him home. Nice.
Her hand was comforting against his shoulder. Her cheerful expression turned to worry. “Don’t move. I’ll get the camp nurse. I think you hit your head.”
“No.” He pulled himself up to rest on his elbows. The pain came rushing back. He knew it was too good to be true. “No. Thanks. I don’t need the nurse.”
She leaned in. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Aw, c’mon, I’m fine.”
“At least tell me you know where you are.”
“I hoped this was Heaven,” he snapped, “but judging by how annoyed I am, I must still be at Camp Towering Pines.”
She stood and dusted her hands across the seat of her navy cargo shorts. “I’m getting the nurse. The first aid station is—”
“No nurse.” He sat up to survey the situation. His lifeless legs were crossed at the ankle and slightly bent as if he’d been lying out in a field stargazing and decided to get up in a hurry. He used the fabric of his khaki slacks to tug them into place. “I appreciate it, but I’m fine.”
“At least let me get something to clean up that scrape.”
He had a scrape? That would explain all the burning and stinging. He stretched out his arm and twisted it until he could see the oozing mass. “It’s nothing. I’ll take care of it when I get home.”
She swept a clump of long hair off her shoulder and smiled. “Can I get—”
She stepped back from the blast. The word was clearly too harsh, but really, couldn’t she see how embarrassing this was for him? He was laid out like a misshapen pretzel while she stood there all cute and caring with soft, fawn-like eyes and silky dark hair that could star in its own shampoo commercial. He hadn’t met many of the camp staff, but if he could pick out one he’d like to know it would be her—which would make her the
one he’d want to see him like this. “Sorry.” He softened his tone. “I’m really OK. Thanks for your concern.”
“No problem. I’ll leave you to it so I can get back to the kids. I’ll see you here next week,” she added as she turned to leave, “and if you’re still trying to retrieve your chair from those bushes down there, perhaps you’ll accept my help then.”
This was no angel.
“I got it,” he shot back.
She glanced over her shoulder and rolled her eyes as she sashayed off the ramp and back across the stage.
As the fog cleared from his brain, Rocky looked around and tried to reconstruct the fall that had left him stunned. He spotted a patch of wrinkled, non-skid covering that had come loose from the ramp. That wouldn’t have tripped him up except that pine cone and acorn debris was lodged underneath the black, sandpaper-like tarp. He still should have been able to easily maneuver the bump, but yet, here he was. From there his chair must have continued down the slope, tumbled off the end and down the embankment, and bounced into a nest of brush. He could get it. He wasn’t worried about that. He’d dragged himself across worse terrain and pulled himself out of trickier situations.
But first, he’d have to get to the bottom of the ramp.
That meant a scratchy journey of pulling his once muscular legs behind him until he was off the ramp, but still lying at the top of the bank above his chair. From there he’d roll onto his back with his head pointed down the hill, pull his legs straight, and let gravity help with the rest.
Fine, dusty, dirt swirled around him like a cloud as he quickly slid head first toward the chair. Ants scurried on the ground with him. He avoided the red ones and ignored the black ones. As for the spiders, what he didn’t
crawl up his pant leg couldn’t bother him—and he would keep telling himself that until he could get home and into a hot shower.
A thin sheen of perspiration turned into trickling sweat. It burned the gash on his arm and caused dirt to stick to his skin. When he reached the tangled mess of palmetto and yaupon, he tugged on the wheel of his chair. It didn’t come loose.
You’ve got to be kidding me...
He scooted closer to the brush, still flat on his back, and used both arms to yank it free. Fluttering white moths came with it from their daytime resting place among the leaves, while buzzing mosquitoes signaled the fading sun and hovered around him for an evening meal.
He turned again—
with his head pointing up the hill—and considered his choices. The ground was too uneven for him to comfortably get back in the chair. Even if he could, it would mean he’d have to wheel himself to the top.
“That’s a no-brainer,” he muttered to himself as he swatted at bugs and eyed the steep grade.
He laid his chair on its side and began to scoot backward up the hill with his ride in tow. Once at the top, he set it upright on the sidewalk and reached for the railing near the ramp. He tugged his legs into a cross-legged position and hoisted himself into his seat.
He spun around and prepared to make a mad dash to his car. He’d assess the damage to his ride and to himself later. Right now he needed to scram before one more beautiful woman caught him like this.
“Impressive.” The familiar voice came from the top of the ramp. “I almost didn’t get here in time.”
His breath caught in his chest. The nightmare continued.
“In time for what?”
She rushed toward him, her arms laden with water, peroxide, gauze, and first aid tape. “I can see you have amazing upper body strength and can take care of yourself, but did you really think I wasn’t going to make sure you got out of the jungle OK?”
“I told you I had it.”
She tossed him a bottle of water. “Well, forgive me if I wanted to make sure. No one will be back in this part of camp tonight. After dinner we go back to our cabins for evening devotionals, and then it’s campfire and night games. If you had gotten hung up down there, it would have been a while before someone found you.”
“I have a cell phone.”
“Good for you. Does that and the wheelchair make you immune to snake, scorpion, and man-eating mosquito bites?”
Now it was his turn to roll his eyes as a response.
She dropped her stash near his feet. “Are you always this charming or are you making an extra effort just for me?”
He cringed at her remark. He usually
charming. And polite and easy-going and generally a nice guy. She evidently brought out the worst in him. “I thought you had to get back to your kids.”
“I used the nurse’s radio to let the others know I’d been delayed. As long as they’re eating, they can’t get into too much trouble. Hold out your arm.”
Like a fool, he did what she said. He immediately regretted it when she poured icy water across his shredded skin.
“For cryin’ out loud, woman! Do I get a say in this?”
“Nope.” She dropped the empty water bottle and reached for the peroxide. She took hold of his hand so he couldn’t pull back. “This wound was already bad enough, then you had to thrash around in the dirt a while and make it worse.”