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Jonathan King

Copyright © 2020 by Jonathan King

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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, events, or places is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by James T. Egan, www.bookflydesigns.com

Created with Vellum

To my father,

who never let me give up


Chapter 1

Prayer Journal #1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Prayer Journal #2

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Prayer Journal #3

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Prayer Journal #4

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Prayer Journal #5

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Prayer Journal #6

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Prayer Journal #7

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Prayer Journal #8

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Prayer Journal #9

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32


About the Author


The paper boat sailed frantic circles in the puddle, beating against the shore, looking for some escape as the kid’s breath filled its newsprint sails.

Looks about right, Abel thought as he kneeled by the boy, avoiding the muddy spots. The Reverend would kill him if he got his Sunday clothes dirty. Well, not kill him outright, but the private sermon he’d get would take off skin.

Doggone it, he was seventeen, and it was a beautiful fall day right after a storm. He should be lying in the leaves, smelling the earth and enjoying the cool breeze. Instead, his father had roped him into yet another picnic fellowship. Sure, he was out in nature, but in a suit and tie listening to nice old ladies he didn’t know and eating fried chicken with a fork.

Still, he smiled at the kid. Just because his day was miserable didn’t mean he needed to spread that misery to anyone else. “Did you make that yourself?” he asked.

The boy nodded. “With my dad. He showed me how to fold it. He made lots of boats like this when he was little.”

“How does he keep them from sinking when the paper gets all wet?”

The kid grinned up at him, and even through the boy’s squinting eyelids, Abel saw a twinkle. “Magic,” the kid whispered.

“Wow,” breathed Abel, matching the kid’s hushed tone. “Your dad sounds really cool.”

“Your dad’s cool too,” said the boy.

It took all Abel’s self-control to keep his smile from slipping. “Oh sure, he’s a good preacher and all, but he doesn’t know the first thing about boat magic.”

“That’s a shame,” said a voice behind them. “I have a friend who specializes in that.”

Abel swiveled to look and lost his balance, his leg landing in the mud. Not that he was thinking much about his clothing anymore.

Standing behind him was a girl not much older than he was, but man was she gorgeous. It wasn’t just her raven hair, emerald eyes, and alabaster skin. Everything about her felt more alive and vibrant than anyone he’d ever known. Her eyes reminded him of the sky right before a storm, overwhelmingly present and crackling with potential energy. It made his mouth dry up and his pulse race.

“I’m gonna guess you’re new in town,” Abel said, trying his best to sound smooth and praying to God it worked.

The corner of the girl’s mouth quirked upward, but Abel couldn’t tell whether she was charmed or amused. She reached down, grabbed his hand, and pulled him to his feet as the kid went back to his boat. “Morgan Hammond. Just moved to Pepper’s Mill about a month ago.”

“Abel Whittaker.” Abel got his balance and suddenly became all too aware that Morgan was a good half head taller than he was. He cleared his throat. “I’m sure you’ve met my father.”

“Yeah, Cora gave me the whole introduction.” Morgan crossed her arms, and Abel noted how muscular they were. “Did he really leave a megachurch to come to this place?”

“It wasn’t really a megachurch,” Abel said, hoping to avoid any follow-up questions. “Less than a thousand people. Who’s Cora?”

Morgan nodded to a middle-aged woman chatting with a deacon’s wife. Abel winced. Cora herself looked normal, but her ruffled blouse was sea green … in that it was the green of the sea after someone puked into it.

“Is that your mother?” he asked.

The storm in Morgan’s eyes broke, darkening. “No. No, she’s not.”

Before Abel could ask what she meant, Cora spotted them and charged toward them in a shrill Southern accent and a cloud of vomit-colored seafoam silk.

“Morgan! What did I tell you about talking to strangers?” She pulled Morgan close and turned to shield her from Abel.

What is she, five? Abel thought. Then again, I’m the one who’s going to get a lecture over muddy clothes.

Morgan ignored her not-mother’s question. “Cora, this is Reverend Whittaker’s son.”

Cora’s mouth formed an O, and she reached out to shake his hand. She was still turned away from him, so she had to cross her arm awkwardly across her body to do it, but she refused to let go of Morgan. “I am so sorry, young man. It’s just that I’m very selective about the company my daughter keeps.”

Daughter. I guess she is Morgan’s mother after all. So what was all that venom about earlier?

“You know what the Good Book says about birds of a feather,” Cora went on.

“Do not be deceived; bad company corrupts good morals,” Abel spat out robotically.

Cora raised her eyebrows. “You really are your father’s son.”

Abel tried hard to fake a smile, but it fell as he heard the Reverend’s voice behind him and felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“My boy was South Carolina Bible Drill champion three years running. Would have been four, but he took sick with the flu right before the last competition.”

“Oh, what bad luck,” said Cora, pulling an exaggerated pout.

Reverend Whittaker shrugged. “It was the Lord’s will.

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