Finding Faith (Love's Compass Book 4)

BOOK: Finding Faith (Love's Compass Book 4)
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Love’s Compass

Book Four

Finding Faith

 

Melanie D. Snitker

Finding Faith (Love’s Compass: Book 4)
© 2016 Melanie D. Snitker

 

Cover:
Blue Valley Author Services

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Please purchase only authorized editions.

 

For permission requests, please contact the author at the e-mail below or through her website.

 

Melanie D. Snitker

[email protected]

www.melaniedsnitker.com

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Love’s Compass: Book Four
Finding Faith
By Melanie D. Snitker

All rights reserved
Copyright © 2016 Melanie D. Snitker

ASIN:
B01AOHP5YO

 

For our amazing son, Xander.

You are a mighty warrior and

I couldn’t be more proud of you.

I love you!

Chapter One

Mid-June

 

 

Serenity Chandler scanned the headlines displayed on the various magazines in the checkout line. Most were so outrageous, she had no desire to flip through the pages. A cooking title caught her eye. Fancy summer cakes shaped like watermelons and flowers decorated the cover. Beautiful? Yes. Did she have time to bake something that detailed? Absolutely not.

Even if she did, she’d probably cringe the first time she had to cut into it. Nope, the extent of her baking this summer would be opening up a box of Hostess cakes and calling it a day.

They inched forward and stopped next to the candy display. Gideon grabbed her hand and pulled on it.

“What is it, big guy?” He pointed to the orange Tic Tacs sitting above his head. Serenity picked up a container and handed it to him. “You have to wait until we get back to the car to eat them, though.”

He cupped the candy in his hands and smiled brightly. She wondered if her son was the only five-year-old who would happily pass up the vast selection of chocolate for one little box of orange mints. He certainly didn’t get that from her.

The woman in front of her placed a dozen or more cans of soup on the conveyor belt before turning to her. “Too much chocolate, not enough time, huh?”

Serenity blinked at her. “Yeah. Something like that.” She might have been tempted to choose a chocolate bar for herself. Heaven knew she could use one. But the woman in front of her must have used half a bottle of perfume. The musk tangoed with the scent of meatloaf and gravy that Serenity had spilled on her uniform at work. The combination didn’t exactly elicit a desire to eat chocolate or anything else.

She scratched at the skin beneath the collar of her shirt. It would have been nice if she could’ve changed before going to the store. As it was, she was glad she’d made it to the school in time to pick Gideon up from his special needs program. Now, if she could get through this line and out again before breakfast tomorrow, that would be a wonderful bonus.

By the time Serenity reached the cashier, she was so ready to get out of the store, her legs ached. “Put your candy up there, Gideon.”

He did as she asked, staying beside it as their groceries moved towards the guy scanning their items.

Once she got the grocery cart situated near the bags, Serenity positioned her debit card above the reader, prepared to slide it through. Small hands grabbed her elbow, the card missing its mark. She took in a deep breath and glanced down at Gideon.

He tugged on her elbow again and emphatically pointed to the red exit sign on the electronic door. A desperate look filled his brown eyes.

“I know, big guy. We’re almost done.” She just started sliding her card again when another tug brought her arm down. If possible, Gideon’s eyes were even wider. She took his hand and placed it on the handle of the shopping cart. “Five more minutes. Keep your hand on the basket, please.”

Her third attempt worked and Serenity waited for the machine to show the payment was being processed. She bounced on the balls of her feet as sweat followed a path between her shoulder blades and down her back. It never mattered what time of the year it was, this grocery store was always too hot. Management could afford to repair the air conditioner with the money she spent there alone. She ought to start shopping at the store across town. That’d show them.

Who was she kidding? She shopped here because she knew the layout and it was close to home. The last thing she had time for was navigating an unknown store.

She ruffled Gideon’s hair. If his flushed cheeks turned any redder, they’d match the shirt he was wearing. She couldn’t blame him for being impatient, especially when she had to hold the record for picking the world’s longest checkout line. She stared at the display on the card reader, releasing a breath when the transaction completed.

The cashier gave Gideon a kind smile. “I don’t like going shopping, either.” The boy said nothing. The cashier handed the long receipt to Serenity. “Not very talkative, is he?”

Too exhausted to go into an explanation of how her son had autism and was non-verbal, Serenity put a hand on either side of Gideon’s. “No, he isn’t. Thank you.” Together, they pushed the basket away from the checkout.

“You’re welcome, have a great day.”

“You too.” The cashier probably didn’t hear her, but the need to escape the confines of the store took precedence. Gideon used one hand to fish around in a plastic bag for his candy while the other pointed to the exit sign. “Absolutely. Let’s get out of here.” 

It was funny how the June Texas heat felt less stifling than the recycled air they left behind in the store. She breathed deeply, welcoming the hot breeze.

Pushing the basket down a row of cars, she watched Gideon hop from oil spot to oil spot as if he were using stepping stones to traverse a creek. There was a time when she tried to convince him that the oil only made his shoes dirty. Now she appreciated the expression of contentment on his face.

Normally, after his special needs program at the local school, he was stressed and moody. He only went twice a week, but it was enough to make her dread sending him to school full time in the fall. She had a gut feeling public school wasn’t going to be a good fit for him. For the hundredth time that summer, she wished she had the money to get him into a good private school. Somewhere he would thrive.

Once reaching their car, Serenity held the button on her key remote until the trunk clicked open. She loaded the groceries and then settled Gideon into his five-point harness. She brushed the dark hair out of his eyes. “I love you, big guy.”

             

~

 

Serenity stretched her legs and shifted in the chair on the backyard patio. The sun warmed her skin as she watched Gideon scoop sand and pour it into an ever-growing pile.

The sound of the screen door opening dragged Serenity’s attention from the notepad on her lap to her sister. Lexi closed it again behind her and sank into a second patio chair nearby.

“Hey! Did you just get here?”

Lexi motioned towards the house with her thumb. “I had some coupons to drop off for Grams. I figured I’d do that on the way home.”

“I’m sure she appreciated it. Where’s your significant other?”

“Lance is at the workshop. He said he had to finish staining a set of bunk beds before he could head home tonight. I figured I may as well come by and say hi.”

“I’m surprised that new husband of yours is even letting you out of his sight.” Serenity winked at her.

Lexi rolled her eyes, but the smile on her face showed how content she was. Serenity enjoyed seeing it. After Lexi’s battle with cancer the previous fall, she deserved every bit of happiness she got.

Gideon observed them and Lexi waved at him. “What are you up to?”

Serenity held up her pad. “Just making a to-do list for this coming week.”

Lexi threw her a slightly disapproving glare, the kind only big sisters can manage. “And here I thought you were out here relaxing for a change.”

A short bark of a laugh escaped Serenity’s throat. Relax? This was as close as she came to that. As it was, she was struggling to keep her eyes open long enough to get through dinner and make it to bedtime.

Her exhaustion must have shone on her face because Lexi’s own filled with concern. “It’s not good for you to be this stressed out.”

“I know.” Serenity reached over to gently finger the short strands that barely covered the tips of Lexi’s ears. “It’s getting longer. I think it might be a little lighter than it was before.” Watching Lexi lose her hair during the cancer treatments had hit the whole family hard.

Lexi’s head bobbed. “I think so, too.” She ran a hand over the short-cropped hair. “I’m glad it’s finally growing back. Going through winter with a bald head was an interesting experience. I’ll be happy to not repeat that again.”

Serenity pulled some of her waist-length hair around to her chest. “I’m tempted to cut mine. I’m ready for a change.”

“Are we talking about your hair? Or something else?”

Serenity threw her a glare. Lexi was way too good at picking up the subtleties. She thought about redirecting the conversation. Instead, she shifted and withdrew a pamphlet from her back pocket. “Maybe both.” She handed it over.

Lexi took in the “Hope Academy” title across the top. Her eyes widened as she scanned over the information. “This school’s in the Dallas area. Are you considering it for Gideon?”

Serenity had been ever since she received the pamphlet in the mail a few weeks ago. How the special needs private school got her name and address in the first place, she didn’t know. After nearly throwing it away several times, Serenity had finally sat down and read through it. Everything about the school sounded like a Godsend for Gideon — from the student-led curriculum schedule to the music, speech, and occupational therapies.

There was no way she would be able to afford something like this, though. And that had kept her from even giving them a call. Until the other day.

Serenity shrugged. “Possibly. It’s a long shot, but they have scholarships. And an administrative job opening.” She threw a cautious glance at the back door. This was not a conversation she was ready to have with Mom or Grams. Not yet. “Every time I try to let the idea go, I feel like God brings it to mind again. I think I’m going to apply for the scholarships and send in my resume. Insane, right?”

Her stomach was a bundle of nerves as she watched Lexi digest her words. She fully expected to hear all the reasons why she shouldn’t even think about it. How moving away from Kitner and her family would be a mistake.

With her elbows on her knees, Lexi studied Serenity as if she were trying to diagnose one of her pediatric patients. “Are you content with your life?”

What kind of question was that? “I have the best kid in the world and I’m close to all of my family. I don’t really have anything to complain about.”

“That’s not what I asked you. Are you content with where you are in your life right now?”

Serenity sank into the nylon backing of her chair and released a breath. “No. I hate my job, Lexi. Some days, it’s all I can do to walk into that restaurant. And the thought of Gideon going to Powell — that school is going to eat him alive.” Imagining her son falling through the cracks brought tears to her eyes. “I sometimes feel like I’m stuck in a hole that just keeps getting deeper and deeper.”

Lexi tapped the brochure with a finger. “Then perhaps this is God’s way of throwing you a ladder so you can climb back out. Look, you allow yourself to stay shackled to things in the past. To Jay and everything that happened between the two of you. And it isn’t right. You deserve to be happy. If it takes making a drastic change in your life before you find that happiness, then so be it.”

Serenity let the words wash over her. Maybe — just maybe — a new beginning was what she needed. “It doesn’t hurt to send the application and resume, right?”

With a mischievous wink, Lexi crossed one ankle over her knee and grinned. “No, it certainly doesn’t.”

BOOK: Finding Faith (Love's Compass Book 4)
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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