Read Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series) Online

Authors: Michelle Lynn Brown

Tags: #Fiction, #Christian Romance

Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series) (16 page)

BOOK: Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series)
9.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Hi, Ms. Talbot.”

“Nathan is going to take your dad down to get something to eat, and I’m just going to sit here with you, if you don’t mind." Barbara shook her head. Taking Barbara’s hand in hers, she finished, “You just get some rest.”

Barbara managed a weak smile, and turned her head. After several minutes, the girl turned back and said, “Thanks.”

“For what?” Kristina asked.

“For just being here.” Barbara said, and then turned her head back and closed her eyes.

After a while Kristina felt the grip on her hand loosen, and she began ease her hand gently out, only to have Barbara jerk awake. “I thought . . . I felt . . .”

Kristina again brushed the hair away from the girl’s swollen eye and said, “It’s okay; your safe.”

After a moment, the girl whispered, “I know, I just don’t feel okay.” Kristina heard it more with her heart than she did with her ears, and she said, "I know.”

Just then, the nurse came in and took her vitals, and gave her some medication for the pain. After she left, Kristina resumed her watch next to Barbara. The girl immediately grabbed for her hand, and Kristina looked down at her and smiled softly.

“Get some rest,” she said, “I’ll be right here."

Later, when Nathan returned with George, he found Barbara still holding Kristina’s hand. She turned at the soft whoosh of the door, but didn’t relinquish her hold of the girl’s hand until her father was next to her. The painkillers that the nurse gave her began to take effect, so she was undisturbed. Kristina sighed in relief.

Leaving George to sit by his daughter’s side, she quietly left the room. Nathan was waiting outside for her, and hesitated, but then placed his arms around her. Despite the lack of reciprocation, he held her like that a few moments until she ever so slightly relaxed into his arms.

To Kristina, the embrace was unnerving. She wanted to remain aloof, and retreat behind her safe and protective wall. The vision of Barbara swam behind her tears, and was a stark reminder that when you are strolling down life’s joyful lane, God can rip the sidewalk from underneath you, and leave you flat on your back starting up at Him in confusion and pain. She had been strolling down that lane with Nathan, but with one package, God had ripped all that away from her.

But for one sweet moment, she allowed herself to indulge in the comfort his arms offered. You might have heard her heart sigh in despair as she tucked it neatly away and pulled from his arms.

“Why don’t you take my truck and return home?” Nathan suggested.

When she was about to protest, he said, “She’s sleeping now and one of us is going to need to stay here for George. I’ll take the first shift and you can return in the morning. I’ll have my dad swing by for the truck in the morning.”

Though she didn’t want to leave Barbara, she saw the wisdom in what he was saying. They would be no good for either Barbara or George if they were both falling asleep.

“Okay,” she assented, “I’ll see you in the morning."

“I’ll walk you down . . .”

“No,” she said all too quickly. “George or Barbara might need you.”

The doors opened and as she stepped on, she turned and added, “Make sure he gets some rest too.”

“I will,” he said as the doors began to close.

“Nathan, please don’t leave her alone.”

As soon as he promised her he would stay by Barb’s side, she mumbled a goodbye and let the doors close. She leaned against the wall of the elevator as it made its way down.

To say her heart felt broken was an understatement. It felt more like it had been ground into a fine powder and carried off by the wind. As she pulled into her driveway, she sat in the cab of Nathan’s truck. She inhaled the familiar scent of his cologne, and cried for all that had been lost because of the selfishness and cruelty of a man. Barbara's life had been forever altered because of the cruelty of Bobby, just as her life had been.
Had been…it still is being torn to shreds!

She went inside and curled up in her bed, trying to sort out what she was going to do. People like Bobby and David wouldn’t stop on their own. And she couldn’t live with herself if Nathan ever ended up like Barbara, or worse.

The day’s tidal wave of emotions had sapped her strength, and before she realized it, she was fast asleep. Her dreams were filled with pictures of Nathan, his face so filled with love. But looming behind him was David, threatening, menacing, full of rage. She was glad when she was pulled from sleep by a knock on the door.

She crept to the door and checked the peep-hole, relieved to see that it was Andrew McKinley.

“I’m sorry to disturb you so early.” He pulled off his baseball cap and ran his hands through his white hair. She remembered the day after her arrival Nathan had done the same thing. Her heart felt as if it was being squeezed, and she fought back tears.

She invited him inside and grabbed the truck keys. He took them, but paused before heading out the door. “I see Deputy Clemson is parked outside. That’s probably a good idea; Bobby is in jail, but you never can be too careful with guys like him."

She didn’t bother to correct him…what could she say? Nevertheless, the truth of his words hurt her heart; she had been playing with the idea of staying, of fighting. But her dreams had reminded her that David threatened not only her safety, but Nathan's.

“You know, in situations like this, sometimes others are indirectly hurt. And Kristina, I can see by the circles around your eyes, that it is taking its toll on you. You’ve got more than concern for Barbara plaguing you.” She looked at him, tears pooling in her eyes. “You might not choose to lean on us, or on Nathan, but you definitely need to lean on God.”

She nodded her understanding, but in her heart, she knew what she must do. She would leave next week, but first, she would tell Nathan everything. He deserved that. And she needed for him to understand why he didn’t deserve her, and all the baggage she came with.


Chapter Seventeen


Nathan turned at the sound of the elevator doors opening, hoping it was Kristina. He wanted her to run into his arms, and cling to him. But it was his father who stepped off the elevator. “Thanks, Dad,” Nathan shoved his truck keys in his pockets. “How is Kristina doing?”

“She has a lot weighing down her heart; more than just this situation.”

Nathan sat down in the waiting room chair. “Don’t I know it? We were talking right before you called about Barb. She doesn’t think she’s worthy of my love…something in her past…” his voice trailed off, and he rested his head in his hands. “I don't know what to do Dad. I feel like we made all these strides forward, and now I’m losing her.”

Andrew sat beside his son for a few moments, quiet, thoughtful. “Son, you’ve got to understand you never had her in the first place.”

Nathan looked at his dad, “You mean she never cared for me?”

“No, Son, that’s not what I’m saying. Kristina doesn’t know how to accept your love. She doesn’t love herself, her past has somehow taught her that she isn’t worthy of your love, let alone God’s love."

“But she’s come so far…”

“You’re right, but if something like this can snatch it away, she didn’t have a hold of it with her heart.”

Nathan shook his head. He understood what his father was saying, but he didn’t know how to overcome this obstacle.

Running a hand through his hair, he didn’t know what to do. His heart belonged to this woman, but she refused to let him in when she needed him the most. He could help her figure out how to love and be loved, he could help her feel safe, and he could help her learn to trust…couldn't he? Maybe the problem was she didn’t want his help, because she didn’t want him.

He shook those thoughts from his head. That was just the emotion and stress of the past few hours coming to head. There was no doubt about the way she had kissed him. There was no doubt about the way she had grown over the past few months. And though there was no doubt that fear still ruled her actions, she didn’t fear him. At least he hoped she didn't.

When she returned to the hospital an hour later, he found her attitude cool and reserved as she stepped off the elevator. He quickly updated her on the situation. When he tried to touch her, she avoided his hands. When he tried to get her to speak to him, her words were short. And through the whole exchange, she refused to look at him. As if he disgusted her. His heart sank, and he left with a half-hearted farewell.

As he drove home, his mind, half numb from the exhaustion and stress of the day, played out his relationship with Kristina. He had come to love her, undoubtedly. But he couldn’t imagine spending his life with a woman he was so afraid of upsetting. This wasn’t even his doing, yet she held him accountable. She began telling him of her past, with this absurd notion that he would turn his back on her.

“Doesn’t she trust me to love her despite whatever she tells me?” he asked God.

He pulled up in his driveway and just stared at the dark, empty house waiting for him. The idea of going inside was just about as appealing as holding Kristina’s stiff and unresponsive body against his. Shifting the car into reverse, he backed out of the driveway and headed to his parents’ house.

He smiled wearily at the welcome sight of the warm glow from the lights inside his parent’s home. What he felt, as he parked the car and walked up the steps to the door, was what he wanted Kristina to feel when he pulled her into his embrace last night. He wanted her to feel like she was safe, loved, and welcomed. Instead, she remained coldly aloof.

When the door opened, he stepped inside and put Kristina from his mind for a moment. His mom embraced him, and then led him to the kitchen. As he caught his mom up to speed on the situation with Barbara, he began to relax. Aside from sitting in the midst of God’s presence, there was no better place to be than with his family, especially when he was troubled.

“Have you had breakfast yet, son?” she asked him.

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“Humph, that sounds like a no to me.”

The comforting sounds of his mom moving about the kitchen as she silently prepared breakfast surrounded him. As he sat sipping the cup of coffee his mom poured him, he lapsed into thought, wondering silently about how to overcome this latest obstacle with Kristina. When his mom placed his breakfast before him and came to join him, he smiled wearily at her. She sat silently sipping her coffee and waited until he took a bite.

“How is Kristina taking all of this?” his mom asked, as if she could read his thoughts. When he was a child, he thought she could.

Nathan paused, taking another bite of his eggs as he mulled over whether he should reveal what was on his heart. “She’s withdrawn from me again,” was all he said.

“And how are you taking that?”

“I’m hurt. I know she’s been hurt. She was telling me about her father last night, and about a boy in high school she dated. As far as I can tell, she's only had one man in her life that’s never let her down. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why she won’t trust me.” His mom arched an eyebrow at his words, and he corrected himself, “I mean, I can’t believe she doesn’t trust me. I have worked hard at showing her I’m going to be here, and I’m not going to be like any of the other men in her life. I thought we were making progress, but something dredged it all up again, because we are back at square one. She's behind her wall and I’m on the outside trying to figure how to get over.” Exasperation and exhaustion filled his voice, and he raked his hands through his hair in frustration.

“You aren’t supposed to get over the wall, honey.”

His head jerked up at her words. “What do you mean?”

“She has to let God take down her wall, and heal her hurt.” Placing her hand on her son’s cheek, she said tenderly, “When she does, then she’ll be able to be loved, as well as love you back.”

“Yeah, Dad said the same thing.” Pain filled his heart and his eyes misted as he asked the question that he really didn’t want answered, "What if she doesn’t let God take down her wall?”

Rising, Sandra said softly, “You can give her all of your love, all of your peace, and all of your hope. But unless she gets it first from God, yours will never be enough.” She kissed the top of her son’s head, as she did so often over his childhood years whenever he was hurt. “Stay in the guest room and get some rest. No sense in your driving home, tonight your dad and I will go with you to the hospital."


Chapter Eighteen


“What am I doing?” Kristina said to herself in frustration. This was the third time she’d gone to pack her clothes, and instead she stood staring at the depths of her closet. Barbara was released from the hospital yesterday, and though Nathan was there, they barely said anything to each other.

She knew she was hurting him, but she wasn’t prepared to play with his safety. She had written him a letter, but had torn it up. He didn’t deserve to be told in a letter.

As if her thoughts summoned him, the doorbell rang, and Nathan stood in her doorway. Her heart warmed at the sight of him, but she quickly tucked it away. She would pack her feelings, her love, her hopes and wishes in her suitcases. Hamilton and its inhabitants had no place in her life anymore.

BOOK: Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series)
9.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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