Charlie Jarvis is haunted by loss that fuels her desire to rid the world of drug traffickers. When her next assignment takes her back to her hometown, she has to confront her painful past. She has no interest in a relationship since God seems to kill everyone she loves.
Colton Thomas appreciates material things and the status of being a corporate pilot. When someone approaches him to deliver a package for a large sum of money that could wipe out his debts, temptation knocks loud on his door even as his partner, Marshall, slams it shut. Meeting Charlie challenges his non-committal stance with women. As he considers who he has become and the kind of man he would want to be for Charlie, he confronts his own shallow lifestyle and the fear that he would never be able to help her heal her wounds.
As Charlie pursues the man causing high school boys to die of overdoses, she struggles with the secrets she keeps from Colton. With people around them shining the light of God and encouraging their courtship, both Charlie and Colton have to face hard truths about life, death, love, and faith. And maybe find a fresh start for them both.
Copyright 2015 Paula Mowery
Charlie sidled up to the covered lump in the middle of the dank alley. She stooped, reaching for the corner of the sheet. A hand clutched her wrist. She wheeled about and stared into the eyes of Captain Roland.
“Don’t do it, Charlie.”
She swallowed at the knot in her throat and straightened.
“You don’t want to remember her that way.”
“I just wish…I should have…” Charlie massaged the back of her neck.
“There was nothing you could have done. This isn’t your fault.”
“No.” The Captain held her shoulders, looking directly into her eyes. “Don’t do this to yourself.”
“I was supposed to have her back.” Hot tears formed, threatening to spill.
Charlie shook her head and returned from the reverie which consumed many of her waking hours.
Attending the funeral of her partner this morning stirred the images and her guilt anew. She had not only failed her partner but was forced to face Brenda’s parents with that truth lodged in her mind. They voiced no blame, but their eyes told a different story.
Charlie paced through her small apartment like a caged animal.
Two more days remained of her leave time from the police department, but she couldn’t stare at these four walls any longer. Ten days off amounted to too short for her grief but too long alone with the memories.
Her cell phone chimed. She snatched it from her purse. The screen indicated Captain Roland, so she quickly hit accept.
“Charlie? Captain here. I wondered if you might come in tomorrow. I have something I need to discuss with you.” His tone was serious.
“Sure. I’ll be in first thing in the morning.”
“Great. I’ll see you then.”
Charlie ended the call and plunked onto the sofa. No indication of what this was all about. She’d followed everything the captain had asked of her, including seeing that good-for-nothing counselor. Though her stomach still roiled at what those drug dealers had done to Brenda, Charlie never let on that her mind overflowed with vengeance. Had the woman seen right through her? Would she still have a career after her meeting tomorrow? She was good at her job, right? Being a police officer had always been her dream and passion. Had she wrecked that by being too emotional? By befriending when she should have just remained aloof? Relationships always ended in tragedy with her.
She punched the throw pillow and then succumbed to weariness, sprawling on the couch. Upon waking, the clock teased a mere forty-minute nap. She heaved a sigh and loped to her bed for another fitful night. Her eyes glimpsed each hour, so she finally rose, showered, and munched a granola bar. Now it was time to stop guessing and meet her superior officer.
Captain Roland was sure to notice the dark circles under her eyes despite her efforts to cover them, but lack of sleep was hard to disguise. Charlie plunged through the front doors of the police station. Several “heys” and “sorry for your losses” echoed around her as she made her way to the captain’s office. She only responded with a courtesy nod to each.
She slowed, inhaled a deep breath, and knocked. Time to face the music.
A muffled “come in” penetrated the door. She opened it, stepped inside, and gently pushed it closed.
Captain Roland stood and nodded toward her. “Charlie, it’s good to see you. Please have a seat.” He waved a hand to the chair in front of his desk and eased back into his own, folding his hands on top of the desk. “How are you?”
Charlie shrugged. “I’m good.”
Captain narrowed his eyes. “Really?”
“As much as I can be. I’m going nuts being at home. But, other than that, I’ll make it.”
“Look, the reason I called you in here is an assignment came up that I think is ideal for you. But I just don’t want to push you into something too soon.”
Charlie scooted to the edge of the chair. “I’m listening.”
The captain snatched a paper from a tray. “I’ve been asked to supply my best undercover drug officer to another state. I’ve been toying with this for a couple of days. I want to make sure you’re ready because, of course, you are my number one choice.” His gaze intensified, studying her.
She sat up a little straighter. “I’m honored, sir. Really. And, I can do this. What state are we talking?”
Captain Roland propped his forearms and leaned forward.
“Tennessee. That’s the other question. I wasn’t sure about you returning to your hometown. I suppose you haven’t lived there in several years, but there is a past there I know you might have to deal with. So, it’s okay to say no.”
Her stomach tightened. “Can I hear about the assignment first?”
“Certainly. You would be undercover in Knoxville. The Captain there and I go way back, as you know. You would work at the department under the guise of a desk job but truly try to uncover information about a drug ring there that is wreaking havoc within a local high school and pretty much the whole town.”
Though returning to her hometown might take an extra measure of gumption, the assignment whetted her appetite for taking down drug traffickers. “I’m in.”
“Yes, sir. I can handle it.” She forced her tone to be firm and even.
“There’s a private plane scheduled to come in on Friday that the captain wants to arrange for you to catch. He’s arranging for a furnished apartment there. If you could pack up any additional clothes, linens, and such, we will ship that to you. I will see what kind of agreement we need to get from your current landlord to hold your apartment here.”
“Okay. That works for me.” Holding her home here in Florida was like a guarantee she would return and erased some of the reluctance building in the pit of her stomach.
Captain Roland stood and slid around to the front of his desk. Charlie jumped to her feet.
“You go on home and start packing. I’ll call you with further details as I get them.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you.”
“I just worry we’re throwing you back out there before you’re ready.” Captain Roland massaged the back of his neck.
She shook her head. “No, I’m ready.” Ready for the job, perhaps, not the location. But she would handle that when the time came. Nabbing drug dealers was her obsession, even more now than ever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paula Mowery is an author, acquiring editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. Be The Blessing won the Selah Award in 2014 in the novella category. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. This book went to number five on Amazon’s bestseller category, historical Christian romance. Legacy and Love was her first solo romance and its story, The Prayer Shawl, was a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards in 2015.
Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blog, Full Flavored Living. She wrote a section for Join the Insanity by Rhonda Rhea. She has devotionals included in several collaborative books.
Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and is on the author interview team. She was a member of the 2014 and 2015 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference faculty.
Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.
You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187. Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com.