Excerpts

Second Chances

Chapter 1
As the night turned to day, the man, with much hesitation, fastened the black scarf behind his head one last time, picked up the gun, looked in the mirror, and mumbled the same muffled words he had repeated throughout the night. …. Suddenly his attention was drawn to something on the mantel that was gleaming as a stray beam of sunlight touched it. He reached over and picked it up. It was a cross necklace, which he had been given as a child, and it was something he had worn every day of his life until yesterday. A tear formed in his eye and flowed freely down his face as he placed the necklace back on the fireplace mantel. He purposefully turned his back to the cross, and he took a deep breath as if he were attempting to force himself to maintain his resolve. With the gun still in his hand, he then began shuffling his way out the screen door and down four rotting wooden porch steps toward a rusty 1969 Ford pickup. Chapter 2 Wade did not even notice the brush of Jacob’s bloody hand against his leg, but he happened to glance down at Jacob for a moment as he stood nearby, holding Jacob’s briefcase and wiping cold sweat from his face with a paper towel that someone in the crowd had given him. ……. “Post the story. He has to pay. My password,” Jacob started to whisper, but before he could finish, the hallway around him faded into nothingness, and Jacob lay completely still, as still as his deceased client lay beside him. Chapter 15 “Violence is not the path of Allah,” the professor had stated emphatically. “Islam is a religion of peace, and using it for the purpose of violence is a perversion. Submission of oneself to Allah is the only way one may achieve peace. And that submission must be a personal choice. Peace cannot be achieved by forcing others to submit to a perversion of Islam.” As Detective Dean now pulled out of the parking lot of Hartsfield State University, he pondered the professor’s passionate words. He believed this man to be genuine, and yet he did sense that the professor had been holding something back. Chapter 24 “I believe that there are three things that are required of each of us, Jacob, as individual human beings. There are three basic guidelines that lead to ethical human behavior. To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. I think that if we can find a way to balance each of those three principles in our lives, then God will work out the details of every situation that life might possibly bring to us….”

 

Chapter 5


Kate’s secret was something Andy had not planned for five years ago.  He had discovered it entirely by accident while searching for Trey’s medical records.  Wanting to find out all he could about her son,  Edward Gerrard Ross III, he had followed the medical paper trail back to a family clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Kate had taken Trey for his first round of immunizations after birth.  That same clinic is where he had happened upon a set of records for “Katherine S. Ross.”   He had been excited by the discovery, although he had not been sure how it would work into his scheme.  Now, with Kate’s election at stake, it gave him another weapon to use against the woman he hated more than anyone in the world. …

Chapter 22


After she had finished, she had become very serious again and had asked, “I guess now that you know all of this, you think I am an awful person, right?”

Pastor John now looked Kate in the eye and responded, “It really isn’t my place to make that call, Ms. Ross.  Only God has the right to judge a person.  But you see, the thing is, he would much rather just forgive each of us for whatever wrongs we’ve committed in our lives.”

“I realize that now.  Winter calls it grace,” said Kate.

The pastor nodded in agreement.

“Yes.  Grace is the most precious gift a human being can accept, or give, for that matter.  You see, Ms. Ross, I believe grace is intended to flow in two directions.  First, it flows down in its purest form, vertically, from Heaven and reaches each of us where ever we are.   After we accept it, it should flow horizontally from each of us to anyone else who needs it,” he explained.

Kate understood completely.  She suddenly realized that, for many years, her devoted friend Winter had been living evidence of the kind of grace that Pastor John had just described.  She felt humbled. …

Chapter 24


“I do know about your mother, son,” Wade started, but Andy interrupted him.

He screamed, “Don’t ever call me that!  I am not your son.  You can pretend that Trey is if you want, but nobody calls me that unless I tell them to!  Do you understand?”

Andy leaned over the desk and pointed the knife directly into Wade’s face as he spoke. Wade was completely unnerved, but he managed to keep his composure, replying, “I’m sorry.  I meant nothing by it, I assure you.”

Andy seemed momentarily pacified and pulled himself back into a chair.  Wade was afraid to speak for fear of angering him again.  Andy felt empowered by the fear he had invoked in Wade.

He stared at Wade a moment and then, in a scoffing tone, said, “So you think you put it all together, you smart little lawyer man, huh?”

Wade nodded.

“You don’t know the truth,” said Andy emphatically.

“So please enlighten me, if that’s why you’re here,” said Wade, wondering if Andy would rather kill him instead.

“Kate Ross is not who you think she is.  She uses people, like her rich ex-husband and you, to get what she wants.  She only cares about money and power.  She doesn’t give a damn about the lives she destroys!” said Andy, as his face reddened with anger.

He pointed the knife at Wade and continued, “You need to know who she really is!  You need to understand why she has to be punished.”

Andy then pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and tossed it onto the desk.

“Go ahead.  Open it!” he ordered.

Wade unfolded the paper and quickly scanned over it.  He read a highlighted notation on the document.  He stared at it in disbelief, then looked at Andy. …

 

Always

Chapter 3


Trey remembered a Biblical passage his Sunday school class had discussed regarding the way people should love others. Love always trusts, he was reminded. He felt that it would be noble to be able to take that approach with his brother, but he had to admit that he was not sure how you can do that for someone you barely know. After all, he asked himself, you shouldn’t be completely naïve about the potential evil in someone, right?

Chapter 13

“You have to go to the police! They can protect you. Reece, Please!” Rena begged.

“Nobody can protect me,” Reece strained to say, again swallowing to choke back tears.

“What are you going to do? Do you want to end up dead or in prison for the rest of your life?” she asked desperately.

“People who talk and people who walk end up dead,” he responded, reciting the cold words he had heard many times and had been reminded of via text message just a few days ago. …

Chapter 19


Redemption begins with humility, he was reminded. It was something Reece remembered his grandfather having stated very sincerely once during one of their heated arguments regarding the old man’s secrets and how his mistakes had harmed his grandchildren. At the time his grandfather had been attempting to persuade Reece to release his resentment toward Trey and allow the young man into their lives. Reece was not yet ready to stop hating Trey, but he did wish he could have just one more opportunity to hug his grandfather. However, Reece believed that it was too late for that kind of redemption, that he would never see anyone in his family again, and that the only redemption possible at this point was to rescue Lisa from the grip of Peg Leg. …

Chapter 20


Trey remembered Sarah’s angry words just days ago about how most of the people of Mason tend to ignore the poverty and crime that abounds on the Brookridge side of town. He painfully realized now that the murder of Jessica Rice would bring the ugly truth to light, that the seemingly quiet, pristine town of Mason had a growing darkness, a cancer that his own brother had helped spread. …

 

Mercy of the Weak

Chapter 1

As the night turned to day, the man, with much hesitation, fastened the black scarf behind his head one last time, picked up the gun, looked in the mirror, and mumbled the same muffled words he had repeated throughout the night. …. Suddenly his attention was drawn to something on the mantel that was gleaming as a stray beam of sunlight touched it. He reached over and picked it up. It was a cross necklace, which he had been given as a child, and it was something he had worn every day of his life until yesterday. A tear formed in his eye and flowed freely down his face as he placed the necklace back on the fireplace mantel. He purposefully turned his back to the cross, and he took a deep breath as if he were attempting to force himself to maintain his resolve. With the gun still in his hand, he then began shuffling his way out the screen door and down four rotting wooden porch steps toward a rusty 1969 Ford pickup.

Chapter 2

Wade did not even notice the brush of Jacob’s bloody hand against his leg, but he happened to glance down at Jacob for a moment as he stood nearby, holding Jacob’s briefcase and wiping cold sweat from his face with a paper towel that someone in the crowd had given him. ……. “Post the story. He has to pay. My password,” Jacob started to whisper, but before he could finish, the hallway around him faded into nothingness, and Jacob lay completely still, as still as his deceased client lay beside him.

Chapter 15

“Violence is not the path of Allah,” the professor had stated emphatically. “Islam is a religion of peace, and using it for the purpose of violence is a perversion. Submission of oneself to Allah is the only way one may achieve peace. And that submission must be a personal choice. Peace cannot be achieved by forcing others to submit to a perversion of Islam.” As Detective Dean now pulled out of the parking lot of Hartsfield State University, he pondered the professor’s passionate words. He believed this man to be genuine, and yet he did sense that the professor had been holding something back.

Chapter 24

“I believe that there are three things that are required of each of us, Jacob, as individual human beings. There are three basic guidelines that lead to ethical human behavior. To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. I think that if we can find a way to balance each of those three principles in our lives, then God will work out the details of every situation that life might possibly bring to us….”