WELCOME TO DAY 3 OF THE SUMMER LOVIN READ-A-THON!!!
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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!
Mike Dellosso is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. He is an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College and frequent contributor to Christian websites and newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and FaithWriters, and he plans to join International Thriller Writers. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters.
Visit the author’s website.
When a nine-year-old girl named Louisa mysteriously appears in the middle of a house fire with no memory of how she got there or where she came from, Jim and Amy Spencer agree to take her in. Wrestling with the recent loss of their own child, Amy is hurt and angry while Jim is just trying to make it through each day and hold their marriage together.
For Jim, Louisa is the daughter he always wanted, but Amy isn’t as comfortable with her. The girl has a special gift, and soon that gift will unknowingly push them all into contact with a serial killer who has been terrorizing the small town of Virginia Mills. Only by uniting can Jim and Amy save themselves and Louisa before it’s too late.
List Price: $11.28
Publisher Realms (May 7, 2013)
CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF FEARLESS!!!
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Jake Tucker hacked, a forceful bark that brought up a wad of phlegm, and awoke. Thick, acrid smoke filled his living room. He’d fallen asleep on the sofa while watching the evening news and . . . and what? He’d been waiting for something. Something to cook. But what? Panic seized him.
He rolled to the floor where he found a layer of cool, fresh air. Pulling it in through his nose, he coughed again, expelled soot and smoke from his lungs. The kitchen was engulfed in flames. Wicked things as tall as a man and angry, they clawed and licked at the doorway to the living room, blackened the jamb and molding. The linoleum peeled and melted, curled around the edges.
But what had he been cooking? What had caused the fire? Jake thought of heading for the front door, but there was something he needed to get, something he was forgetting. He drew in another breath and hacked again.
Yes, Jovie, his cat. He’d put her in the cellar but couldn’t remember why. The cellar door was in the kitchen, though, the kitchen that was now an inferno. But he couldn’t just leave her down there. She was family to him. Pushing to his knees then his feet, Jake pulled his T-shirt over his nose and mouth and stumbled through the smoke. He struck his knee on something hard. The coffee table. He was moving in the wrong direction.
The fire roared like a living beast hungry for the flesh of man, but it sounded like it was all around him. It was spreading fast, growing, gaining strength, sucking the oxygen from the air. Oxygen he so desperately needed. He wheezed, coughed. His eyes burned and watered. But still he felt his way through the gloom. Sweat droplets dotted his forehead and cheeks now, soaked his shirt. The temperature in the house rose exponentially, slowly baking him.
Over the raging flames he heard a low meow. Jovie. She was just on the other side of the door. If he could only make his way to her. He tried to follow the sound of her yowling but the smoke and fire were so disorienting he repeatedly came back to the same wall, the one with the family photos on it. His parents and grandparents. His siblings. Marta, his wife, his long-mourned wife. And Raymond, his son. Dear Raymond.
Jake leaned against the wall. His mind was slowing, trudging through mud. His chest felt like it was in a vise. Pressure grew around his lungs and heart, squeezing his ribs until they hurt. The pain, a deeply intense ache, radiated down his left arm and up into the left side of his neck and face.
“Raymond!” But Raymond couldn’t hear him. He was three thousand miles away in California. “Raymond, I’m sorry. Please.”
He coughed again and this time brought up some blood. The pressure in his chest worsened, like someone was standing on him. His left shoulder blade felt like it was being ripped from his back.
Still Jovie meowed, over and over, rhythmic, like seconds ticking off time on a clock. The charcoal smoke swelled around Jake; the heat built. He dropped to his knees and tried to crawl to the sound of Jovie’s cries. His eyes burned and watered so badly he couldn’t see a thing.
Raymond was on his mind, though. His son, Raymond. He’d never see him again. Never . . .
The eggs. Yes, that was it. He’d put eggs on the stove to boil then went to lie on the sofa and watch the eleven o’clock news. The pot must have burned dry and started the fire.
In one last moment of semi-clarity Jake Tucker almost laughed at the irony of it all. Done in by a pot of eggs.
He fell to his side and rolled onto his back. A ceiling of smoke hung above him like a phantom. Maybe it was a ghost; maybe it was the angel of death come to take him over to the other side where he could see Marta, hold her again, tell her face-to-face all the words he’d spoken to her photo over the past five years.
Somewhere in the distance but not too far Jovie still wailed. But her holler faded quickly as if she was on a boat drifting away into the fog, farther and farther away, so far that he could no longer hear her. Jovie.
The weight on his chest had increased, and his left arm had numbed. He couldn’t feel the left side of his face either.
Then the swirling smoke began to change colors, red and white and blue. It flashed and stuttered, red-red-white-blue, red-redwhite- blue. His mind fixated on it, on the colors, the rhythm. They must be the colors of heaven. The gates were opening and welcoming him home, bidding him come near and see his Marta.
Jake coughed again; his chest spasmed. Smoke was such an awful thing to inhale. He had to remember to turn the stove off next time. He still couldn’t remember why he’d put Jovie in the cellar. He couldn’t hear her anymore.
Something in the house cracked. Sounded like wood busting, splintering. A hideous sound. But he didn’t open his eyes. He was being pulled under, just like in his dream, but instead of fighting it he had succumbed to it. There was no way out now. This was how it was going to end. And how it would all begin.
Suddenly he felt a presence there with him and opened his eyes. A face materialized out of the smoke, hovered over him. Small, soft, white . . . the face of an angel. Blue eyes that seemed to glow from their own light. Hair the color of flax and pulled back off her face. A girl. A young girl, just a child. She smiled at him and placed her hand on his chest. Her smile was sweet and innocent, the smile of a child who’s never known the worst of this world. Oddly, in the midst of such chaos, such hellfire, she showed no signs of fear.
When she spoke, her voice was meek, the voice of all that is pure and right. “Mr. Tucker, you can’t go yet. Raymond needs you.”
Raymond. His son. His dear son. How did she know about Raymond?
“He loves you.” She smoothed his hair with her hand. “He needs his father.”
She had freckles across her nose, a spattering of them shaped like a butterfly.
“Tell Raymond you love him. Tell him how much you love him. Tell him you forgive him.”
Her hand lifted from his head, and she faded from view. She was an angel, had to have been. His time had arrived, and he was about to be ushered into eternity by this precious little angel.
In the distance, so far away, he heard a faint knocking, then more wood breaking. The house was falling apart around him, but he didn’t care anymore.
“Live, Mr. Tucker. Live. God has given you life.”
He heard his name. A man calling him. Muffled. Another angel. They were coming to get him, coming to give him eternal life. A strong hand wrapped around his ankle and pulled. Something went over his face, something cool. He was floating now, breathing in the clean, fresh air of the heavens. His chest no longer ached, and the numbness was gone in his arm and face. He felt new again. Whole. Young.
Check out the other books I’ll be reading for the Read-a-Thon…