Coming attractions, p.27
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       Coming Attractions, p.27

           Robin Jones Gunn
 
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  “I think so. Aren’t you going to need more cash than that?” Christy opened her wallet and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and some ones.

  “All I need is a dollar. Now, can you sign this and mail it for me?”

  “What is it?”

  “The pink slip on Clover.”

  “Clover?”

  “My car. I just sold her to you for a dollar. Sign here, and she’s yours.”

  “Katie!”

  “Don’t make a scene, Mrs. Spencer. What am I going to do with a car? You need one, I don’t. You just bought it.”

  Christy and Todd thanked Katie way more than was necessary.

  “If this blows up on me, I may buy it back from you for a dollar. Oh, and tell your landlord I withdraw my rental application. Shred the check for me too, will you?”

  After pulling together a few more loose ends, the three of them rolled down the freeway at three o’clock in the morning. The hazy half-moon slipped behind a rolled-up fist of clouds, and Katie bit her lower lip.

  “Tell me again why this is a good idea?”

  Christy said. “As soon as Eli sees you, you’ll know.”

  Todd and Christy went into the airport with her and escorted her as far as they could through check-in. Eli wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

  “I’m not boarding the plane if he’s not on it,” Katie said.

  “He could be running late,” Todd suggested.

  “Or he could already be through security and at the gate,” Christy said. “You should go on through security, Katie. You have your phone; mine is on. We’ll wait out here, and if he’s not there by the time the plane boards, then don’t get on. Call us, and we’ll figure something out.”

  “Okay. Well, ’bye.” The lump in Katie’s throat was too big to swallow as she realized she was saying good-bye to her friends for a very long time.

  Christy’s eyes brimmed with tears, but her confident grin was still in place as she hugged Katie. Todd placed his large hand on Katie’s perspiring forehead and blessed her. “Katie, may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you his peace. And may you always love Jesus first, above all else.”

  With a barely whispered, “Thank you,” Katie entered the security line. As soon as she was through security, she hurried to the gate, watching for Eli. She had no idea what she was going to say to him when she did see him. If she did see him.

  This is crazy.

  Arriving at the gate out of breath, Katie checked every passenger seated in the waiting area. No Eli. She walked over to the adjoining waiting area. No Eli.

  What if Todd had the wrong day? Or the wrong airport? What if the flight is really at 6:30 tonight? This has to be the most on-a-whim thing I’ve ever done during my entire career as a peculiar treasure. So what happens to my luggage if I don’t board the plane? Does it go to Nairobi without me?

  The stampeding buffalos were demolishing what she had left of her empty digestive track.

  Just then her cell rang. She scrambled to answer.

  “He’s here,” Christy whispered. “We just saw him get dropped off at the curb. We’re hiding behind a pillar so he can’t see us. He’s checking his luggage right now with a skycap. He’s wearing a brown jacket and a baseball cap.”

  Katie didn’t know if she should stay there and wait or retrace her steps back toward security to meet him there. “What should I do: Stay or go back to security?”

  Todd’s voice came on the line. “Meet him halfway, Isaac and Rebekah style. Every working relationship is between two people who are willing to meet each other halfway. Go!”

  Katie snatched up her bag, picked up her pace, and ran back toward security. She felt like the woman in Song of Solomon who ran through the streets trying to find her beloved.

  Her stomach hurt. She couldn’t breathe. Slowing her pace, she drew in a breath, and then she saw him. He was picking up his carry-on from the security scanner and wiggling his right foot into his shoe.

  Eli!

  She stopped right where she was and waited, her heart pounding like an African drum.

  Eli looped his backpack over one arm and lifted his carry-on with the other. He held his boarding pass in his right hand and stopped at the electronic schedule board, checking his pass and then checking the board once again.

  He was only ten feet away. Katie waited for him to see her.

  Turning away from the board, Eli walked three steps before looking up. That’s when he saw Katie right there in front of him. He blinked as if she were a dream. Then he dropped his luggage.

  “You’re here!”

  “I’m here.”

  “Why?”

  “I’m…”

  “You’re coming to Nairobi, aren’t you?” Eli’s face lit up.

  “That’s what my ticket says.”

  “When? When did you…”

  “Last night. This morning. A few hours ago. I don’t know. Todd and Christy made me.”

  Eli’s stunned expression relaxed into a grin. “Did you tell my parents you’re coming?”

  “No. I should have emailed your dad, but everything happened so fast.”

  Eli reached over and smoothed the back of his fingers across Katie’s cheek. “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. I think they know.”

  “How?”

  “My mother told me you might be coming.”

  “Your mom? How did she know?”

  Eli dipped his chin and looked at Katie with one of his rich, mesmerizing looks. “My mother is a praying woman.”

  Katie felt her eyes tear up. Everything inside told her this was right. This was true. A place had been prepared for her even before she realized it. Even while she was being obstinate and fearful. All the hesitancy was gone. Katie knew she was right where she was supposed to be, doing what she was supposed to be doing.

  Her stomach rumbled, and she knew her appetite was back. So was her deep and humble amazement of God and his intricate design for her life. Love had come to her on its own schedule, and it had been inconvenient and organic. She had every reason to believe this was very real.

  Releasing her breath, Katie took one step back. She lifted her arm and opened her hand. With her gaze fixed on Eli, she tapped the palm of her open hand against her heart three times.

  Eli’s expression made it clear he had received the message. He reached for her, took her face in his strong hands, and looked into her eyes.

  “Are you sure?”

  “Yes, I’m sure.”

  “Then I’m going to kiss you.”

  And he did.

  Eli kissed Katie with all the astonished tenderness of a man whose prayers have just been answered.

  Katie received his kiss, feeling as if a magnificent dawn were rising inside her as vivid and transforming as the mountain sunrise they had experienced together. The darkness was gone. She could see wide-open possibilities ahead of them.

  This man was a warrior. A prayer warrior.

  He pressed his forehead against hers and then pulled back far enough to look her in the eye. What Katie read in his gaze was deep and mysterious, like a midnight meteor shower, shining with tiny shivers of light.

  Eli took her hand in his and led the way to the departure gate.

  Katie knew right then and there that the Author and Finisher of her life story was about to start a new chapter in the book of her days. This chapter would be filled with everything she had dreamed of — adventure, mystery, hope, and love. Yes, most definitely love.

  She gave Eli’s hand a squeeze. “I guess this means we’re going together.”

  Eli grinned. “Yes, we are. We’re going together. And you know what that means, don’t you?”

  Katie remembered the African saying Eli had spoken to her in the cafeteria. “It means we’ll go far.”

  As soon as she spoke the words, Katie was aware of the sweet sense of peace that had been weaving back and forth between them. And that’s when she knew. God’s Spirit was doing h
is work. He was knitting their hearts together.

  At last.

  Dear Peculiar Treasure,

  Okay, so I know Katie isn’t a real person.

  But I felt so close to her as I was writing this story that I woke up several mornings realizing I’d been dreaming about her. When I wrote the last few pages, I cried because I felt so happy for her. At last the door of opportunity she had been waiting for ever since she first appeared at the sleepover in the second Christy Miller book had swung wide open.

  What will happen to Katie now? I don’t know. To be honest, I never know what will happen when I start a book. That’s one of the ways I’ve always felt connected to Katie and the rest of the gang. The possibilities are endless. The next step is always a surprise. God keeps us wondering about what the next “coming attraction” will be. And that’s one of the many reasons I love him so much. What an adventure!

  With each of the Katie books a portion of the sales has gone to ministries. This time the ministry is Media Associates International (www.littworld.org). MAI is committed to training writers and publishers in difficult places in the world. As you might guess, one of the locations for MAI training is in, yes, Nairobi, Kenya. Lord willing, I’ll be at the next training session, and you can be sure I’ll catch myself looking around for Katie and Eli.

  What are the “coming attractions” God has just around the corner for you? Be assured that you have been set free to soar. I love the way this thought is expressed in Isaiah 44:21b–22 “I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget to help you. I have swept away your sins like the morning mists. I have scattered your offenses like the clouds. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (NLT).

  So, fly, be free, dear Peculiar Treasure! Keep on trusting the Lord no matter what happens. He has his hand on your life.

  With a joyful heart,

  Robin Jones Gunn

  I love keeping in touch! I hope you’ll stop by www.robingunn.com

  and sign up for the Robin’s Nest e-newsletters.

  KATIE WELDON SERIES

  Peculiar Treasures

  Robin Jones Gunn,

  Bestselling Author

  of the Christy Miller Series

  Katie Weldon catches more than just the bouquet at the wedding of her best friend, Christy Miller. She also snags a job offer that launches her into an adventure she never imagined.

  Katie eagerly accepts the job as resident assistant at Rancho Corona University only to find herself in a community of conflict. She thought this was where God wanted her, but how can God use her — love her — when everything is falling apart? Especially with her boyfriend, Rick.

  Katie turns to the women in her life for solace. In the safety of their love and encouragement she finally allows herself to spill her heart about her relationship with Rick. But even their advice can’t postpone the decision Katie must face, a decision that will define who she is and the woman she’s becoming.

  The first book in the Katie Weldon Series, Peculiar Treasures follows Katie as she struggles to believe that God can love her, faults and all.

  Softcover: 978-0-310-27656-2

  Pick up a copy today at your favorite bookstore!

  Read the first chapter 1

  of Peculiar Treasures,

  Book 1 in the

  Katie Weldon Series!

  Katie picked up the skirt of her bridesmaid dress and playfully elbowed her way through the gathering circle of female wedding guests. “Pardon me. Coming through. Woman on a mission, here! Make room.”

  Most of the guests knew Katie and responded with equally high-spirited comments. Katie planted herself front and center and took her softball outfielder’s stance as demurely as she could before flipping her swishy red hair behind her ears and calling out, “Right here, Christy! I’m ready for ya’ now.”

  The other young women crowded closer and called their own directions to the bride.

  “No playing favorites, Christy!”

  “Over here. On your left. Throw it to me on your left!”

  “No! Throw it to me, Christy! Me! Here!”

  The bride kept her back to all of them as her ever-efficient aunt bustled into the moment. Aunt Marti adjusted Christy’s position so her profile was just right for the photographer’s lens.

  “Keep your shoulders back, Christy-darling,” Aunt Marti directed. “Turn your chin slightly to the right. No, not so far. Back… there. Just like that.”

  The camera flash captured the pose before the bride could breathe or blink. Another flash came, aimed this time at Katie and the other restless women. Katie was a little taller than many of the high school girls bunched beside her. So far the competition didn’t look too challenging.

  “Maid of honor, right here!” Katie called out. “Follow the sound of my voice, Christy!”

  From the sidelines, someone called out, “Throw it high!”

  Katie knew that voice. It belonged to Rick Doyle, her “almost” boyfriend. Rick had joined the rest of the groomsmen on the edge of the crowd of women. The other guys, all surfers at heart, had removed their ties long before the toasts were offered an hour ago. They were ready to more comfortably enjoy the warm southern California afternoon. Rick was the only one who had remained “camera ready,” as Aunt Marti called it. She indicated she was pleased with Rick but exasperated with the others, including the groom, Todd, who had peeled off his tux coat right after he and Christy had cut the cake.

  Tall, good-looking, brown-eyed Rick cupped his hand to his mouth and called out again, “Throw it high, Christy!”

  Why is he saying that? I’m right up front. Katie turned her head to see who Rick was looking at in the back row of the eager bouquet catchers. Before she could spot anyone in particular, something smushy and fragrant hit the left side of her head.

  All the women around her screamed.

  Katie’s quick reflexes prompted her to pull the flying object close to her side. A young woman bumped against Katie in her attempt to make her own crazy, off-balance lurch for the flowers.

  “Hey!” Katie felt herself topple and knew the bouquet was about to be snatched from her haphazard grasp.

  Just then, Sierra, a friend of Katie’s, swung her arm forward without making clear trajectory calculations and unwittingly launched the bundle into the air. The bouquet was back in play!

  From the sidelines the guys yelled. From inside the huddle of surprised women a chorus of squeals rose. All arms were up in the air.

  The runaway bouquet seemed to enjoy its moment of flight and tagged the fingers of one eager-reaching wedding guest, who batted at it like a badminton birdie. With a hop and a skip the white ball of mischief released a single white rose to the woman with the longest arm before Katie regained her balance, leaped forward, and seized the bouquet. Carpe bouquetum!

  The tall girl beside Katie blinked at the single rose in her hand. Katie raised her arm and let her cheer be heard across the meadow. “I caught it!”

  “I almost had it,” muttered Sierra.

  Christy, who had turned around to watch the momentary circus act, broke into a wide grin when she saw where the bouquet had landed.

  Katie echoed her best friend’s delighted expression, beaming back at her. The two of them had speculated about this moment for years. Many years. Both of them seemed to know that Christy would be the first to marry. Katie always maintained that Christy’s groom would be Todd, even during those seasons when Christy had her doubts. To boost her friend’s confidence during those dreamy-yet-doubting moments, Katie’s best cheer-up line for Christy had been, “Just promise you’ll throw the bouquet to me.”

  That line always caused the two of them to smile at each other the same way they were smiling at this moment.

  Mission accomplished.

  Spinning around once in a twirl of triumph, Katie caught Rick’s gaze. Whomever or whatever his “throw it high” comment referred to no longer mattered. Rick was watching her with his chocolate brown eyes, and she f
elt herself melting a little inside, just as she had ever since her first, puppy-dog crush on him in junior high.

  “Look over this way, please,” the photographer said.

  Katie tilted her head and gave him her widest smile.

  “One more. This time a bit more subdued.”

  Drawing the fragrant, gardenia-and-white-rose bouquet up to her nose, Katie dipped her chin and took a lingering breath of the pure white sweetness.

  So this is what getting married smells like.

  The photographer captured the shot, readjusted the camera’s angle, and took another. “Great. Thanks.”

  Katie glanced up, ready to twinkle one of her bright, green-eyed looks of alluring charm at Rick, but her smile fell. Rick was no longer watching her. He had turned his attention to the single guys, who were lining up to catch the garter. She ambled over to join the group, brushing her hair off her forehead.

  Being so dressed up and having her picture taken felt strange. Yet it was a nice sort of strange. An improvement over how she usually ran around. Katie’s clothing selections had long been in the realm of jeans and a T-shirt or sweatshirt. During the past year, however, she had done what she called a “Katie-version” of a makeover. It started with a haircut that gave her swishy, red mane a more sophisticated, yet easy, wash-and-go style. She added some fun skirts to her wardrobe and went in search of comfortable but feminine tops. This bridesmaid outfit was way beyond anything she would normally wear, but Katie liked how sophisticated she felt in it.

  A casually dressed guy with a trim goatee and distinctive, rectangular sunglasses leaned toward Katie as she stood to the side of the group of guys. Without turning to look at her, he said in a low voice, “Your halo is slipping.”

  She squinted into the late afternoon sun and blinked at him, not sure if his comment had been aimed at her. The guy kept his face forward. He didn’t repeat his comment or return her glance. Behind his left ear she noticed a thin, white scar in the shape of a backward “L.”

 
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