Saturday, May 26, 2007

Snitch Blog Tour

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing SNITCH(The Occupational Hazards) (WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007) by Rene Gutteridge

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.

ABOUT THE BOOK: 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

Defiant Heart Blog Tour

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Defiant Heart (Avon Inspire May 8, 2007) by Tracey Bateman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracey Bateman lives in Missouri with her husband and four children. Their rural home provides a wonderful atmosphere for a writer'simagination to grow and produce characters, plots, and settings.

In 1994, with three children to raise, she and her husband agreed that she should go to college and earn a degree. In a freshman English class, her love for writing was rekindled, and she wrote a short story that she later turned into a book.

Her college career was cut short with the news of their fourth baby's impending arrival, but the seeds of hope for a writing career had already taken root. Over the next several years she wrote, exchanged ideas with critique partners, studied the craft of writing, and eventually all the hard work paid off.

She currently has over twenty-five books published in a variety of genres. Tracey Bateman believes completely that God has big plans for his Kids and that all things are possible to anyone who will put their hope and trust in God!

ABOUT THE BOOK: Will Fannie be able to keep her family...and her heart, safe and find a new life on the frontier?

Book One of the Westward Hearts series, orphans Fannie Caldwell and her two young siblings have spent the last three years as indentured servants under a cruel master. Desperately wanting a better life for her brother and sister, Fannie devises a plan to secretly join a wagon train heading west.

Her plan immediately runs into trouble when the handsome yet bullheaded wagon master Blake Tanner refuses to allow an unmarried woman on the train.

But Fannie's determined...she'll escape and go west with or without help!

As life on the trail tests everyone's endurance and faith, Fannie soon realizes the perils of being a single woman on the frontier. Witnessing Fannie fending off one scare after another, Blake slowly recognizes how much he cares for this alluring young woman.

Will Blake sacrifice his own dreams and guide Fannie to safety?
Or will Fannie's stubborn independence keep her from finding true love?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Orchard of Hope Blog Tour

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing ORCHARD OF HOPE (Revell March 1, 2007) by 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.

Friday, May 11, 2007

FIRST Post Tribulation House

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

So, give all your attention to:


and his


(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
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
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
does not disappoint!

Ransomed Dreams Blog Tour

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing RANSOMED DREAMS (Multnomah April 16, 2007) by Amy Wallace

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

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tribulation House Blog Tour

This week
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Harvest House 2007)
Chris Well

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!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

FIRST post: 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

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

"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

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

* * *

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

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

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

"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

"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

"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

Copyright ©
2007; ISBN-13 9780764203244

Published by Bethany House Publishers

Used by permission.
Unauthorized duplication prohibited.