This story, a reminded me of Frank Peretti’s This present Darkness, in some ways. This story is the story of a hurting man and a hurting child, and showing how when demonic forces get involved with human sin how life can be a mess.
Jamie, a young girl longing for love, with a special gift, seeks out her beloved teacher at his home. She is seeking safety, but he is a mess himself. When he finds himself accused of harming her and possibly other crimes, he wonders what else is involved? Can he overcome the pain from the loss of his daughter in the past? Will he see his son again? Can he help Jamie?
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
WaterBrook Press (June 21, 2011)
***Special thanks to Lynette Kittle, Senior Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah, a Division of Random House for sending me a review copy.***
Sigmund Brouwer is the bestselling author of Broken Angel and nineteen other novels, with close to three million books in print. His work has appeared in Time, The Tennessean, on Good Morning America and other media. Sigmund is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two young daughters.
Visit the author’s website.
Jaimie is just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.
And all Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.
But when his student Jaimie comes to him terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, initiating a tangled web of bizarre events that sends them both spiraling toward destruction.
Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 21, 2011)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
She knew that they hurt the boy, because he told her, always, the mornings after he was returned.
She was the only one the boy trusted. She was five and he was four. Each time he was returned to the house, it seemed he had grown smaller.
Black walls and candles, he said. Hoods and robes, like the scary people in Scooby Doo cartoons. Except it wasn’t a cartoon. He couldn’t describe what the people in hoods and robes did to him because he would start shaking and sobbing as he made the attempt.
He told her it must be something they ate that made them so mean to him. Hales.
She didn’t know what hales were and neither did he. But he told her about two pieces of wood crossed, and how they trampled it and kept repeating about the hales they had ate in, but he never knew what they ate the hales in, because they never finished explaining. They just said ‘hales ate in’ and left it at that.
On the last night she saw the boy, she was in his bedroom at the foster home. They heard the car drive up and looked out the window and saw it was
them again. She had his toy bow and arrow set, and she vowed to the boy that she wouldn’t let them take him again.
She was ready when the man in the mask came into the bedroom. She aimed the arrow at the eyes of the tall man, and the rubber suction cup of the
toy arrow hit him squarely in his left eye. He cursed and lifted the mask and rubbed his eye before he realized that she was the one who had fired the arrow,
not the boy. He dropped the mask into place and, with a snort of rage, stepped forward and swept her away with a blow across her face.
“I am The Prince,” he said, as she struggled to her knees. He moved to stand over her. “Bow to me.”
His face. She had seen it before. He was someone she saw at church on Sundays. In a robe at the front, handing out bread to people as they bowed
down in front of him.
She did not want to bow.
Instead she rose in defiance and spit on his leg. He lashed out again, hitting her across the cheek. She tried to scream, but the pain was too great.
Another man in another mask stepped into the bedroom and pulled him away. Then they took the boy.
She never saw the boy again. He went to live at another house, the people at the house said.
But the man with the mask came back. He wore the mask while he hurt her again. In horrible ways. He promised if she told anyone, he could come
back and kill her and then kill the people of the house.
So she didn’t tell anyone. She tried to believe it was a dream. A very bad dream.
But some nights she would wake up and shiver and cry and wonder where the boy was. And she would wonder, too, what hales were and what they ate the hales in and how it was that hales could make people so horrible.
Evil hunted her.
It had driven her toward the beach, where, protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper crept toward the front window of a small bungalow a few
blocks off the ocean in Santa Monica.
She knew it was wrong, sneaking up on her schoolteacher like this, but she couldn’t help herself. She was afraid—really afraid—and she wanted his help.
First she had to make sure he was alone. If he was with someone else, she wouldn’t bother him.
The sound of night bugs was louder than the traffic on the main boulevard that intersected this quiet street. It was June, and the air was warm and
had the tangy smell of ocean. The grass was cool and wet. She felt the dew soaking through her canvas high-top Converse sneakers. Jaimie wasn’t one to
worry about fashion. She just liked the way the sneakers felt and looked. Okay, maybe she liked them too because none of the other kids her age wore them.
Jaimie was twelve. Slender and tall, she had long, fine hair that she tended to wear in a ponytail with a ball cap. If she let it hang loose, it softened her appearance to the point where others viewed her as girlie, something she hated.
The alternative was to cut it herself, because her foster parents didn’t like wasting money by sending her to a beauty salon, but cutting it herself would just remind her that she was nothing but a foster kid, so she just let it grow. And wore Converse sneakers that looked anything but girlie.
Not only was it wrong to be sneaking up on her teacher’s house, but it was wrong even to know where he lived. Jaimie knew that. But his wallet had been open on his desk once, with his driver’s license showing behind a clear plastic window, and she’d read it upside down while she was talking to him and had memorized his address.
Although this was the first time she’d stopped, she had ridden her bike past his house plenty of times, wondering what it would be like if she lived in
the little house near the beach.
It wasn’t the house that drew her. It was dreaming about what it would be like to have a family, and it seemed the perfect house for a family with a mom and a dad and a couple of girls.
A real family. A house that they had lived in for years and years, with a yard and a couple of dogs. Beagles. She loved beagles.
Her mom would be a little pudgy but someone who laughed all the time. Jaimie didn’t like the moms she saw who were cool and hip and trying to outdo their daughters in skinniness and tight-fitting jeans.
Her dad would not have perfect hair and drive a BMW. Jaimie didn’t have friends, because Jaimie wasn’t a friend kind of person, but she knew girls at
school with dads like that, and those girls didn’t seem happy. If Jaimie had a dad, he’d be the kind of guy who went to barbers, not stylists, and had hair that
was always a couple of weeks past needing a barber, who wore jeans and didn’t tuck in his shirt and always dropped everything to listen to whatever story his
girl wanted to tell him.
A dad like Mr. G, her teacher. He drove an old Jeep, the kind with canvas top and roll bars. Sometimes she’d see a surfboard strapped to the top of it, canvas top gone. Mr. G had that kind of surfer-dude look, with the long hair and a long nose bent a little. Not perfect kind of handsome, but a face you still
looked at twice. Some of the girls in her class had a crush on him.
She just wished she could have a dad like him and a house like the house he lived in. Sometimes when she was really lonely, she would ride her bike in the neighborhood, pretending it was her home and that when she got there, she’d be able to wheel up the sidewalk and drop her bike on the grass and leave
it there, because if it really was her family, no one would get upset about little things like that.
It wasn’t that she just had a good feeling about him. It was that Jaimie knew Mr. G could be trusted. Jaimie had a sense about people, a sense that sometimes haunted her.
Like earlier tonight, when she’d met a guy who had come to her house to talk to her foster parents. She’d watched his eyes as he checked the layout of the
house, standing in the kitchen, saying that he was from Social Services. She had taken her bracelet off to hand wash some dishes, and without it on her
wrist, she’d felt the Evil that radiated from him. Evil that hunted her.
So while the man with Evil was talking to her foster parents, she’d grabbed her bracelet and snuck out of the house and jumped on her bike. Dusk was just turning black when she began the twenty-minute ride from the large old house toward the ocean, where she often snuck at night anyway to walk the beach.
But the feeling of Evil was still so real she couldn’t shake it. She wanted—no, needed—to talk to someone about it. Wanted—no, needed—to feel safe. Somehow.
The one person who had promised to help wasn’t answering her phone. That only left Mr. G. The only other person in the world she could trust.
She made it to the side of the window at his house. She inched her head up to peek through the glass.
She saw a single candle.
And Mr. G on the couch. Holding a big book open in his lap.
She watched, knowing she shouldn’t watch.
It looked like he was talking to the book.
And then he glanced up, and for that split second, it seemed like he was staring right into her eyes.