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Authors: Michael J. Sullivan

Necessary Heartbreak

BOOK: Necessary Heartbreak
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The man in the embroidered robe stared sternly at Michael. “So you're one of his followers?”

Michael wasn't sure how to answer. Then he weakly replied, “No.”

“Good.” The man nodded approvingly, then added, “But your daughter has committed a crime.”

“No, she hasn't!” Michael said desperately. “My daughter and
I were only trying to help this man. We didn't know he was a

Michael looked over at Elizabeth. She was starting to weep again, and he felt powerless. She looked much smaller surrounded by as many as ten soldiers.
I love you
, Michael mouthed, causing fresh tears to roll down her face.

A soldier stepped forward. “Your Excellence, what would you like us to do with these prisoners?”

The man commanded his soldiers: “Bring me Barabbas!”

“Michael J. Sullivan draws us quickly in . . . [and] provides the detail and heart that make us want to believe. There is real emotion here. . . .”

—Eric Wilson,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Haunt of Jackals

“Michael J. Sullivan is a born novelist. . . . This entrancing tale of mysteries both temporal and spiritual is sure to take up residence under your skin.”

—Sam Hamm, screenwriter (the

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Gallery Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by Michael J. Sullivan

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions
thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Gallery Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Gallery Books trade paperback edition March 2010

GALLERY BOOKS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases,
please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949
or [email protected].

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event.
For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at

Designed by Stephanie D. Walker

Manufactured in the United States of America

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Sullivan, M. J.
Necessary heartbreak / Michael J. Sullivan.—1st Gallery Books trade pbk. ed.
p. cm.
1. Single fathers—Fiction. 2. Teenage girls—Fiction.
3. Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Time travel—Fiction. 5. First century, A.D.—Fiction. 6. Jerusalem—Fiction. 7. Faith—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3619.U44N43 2010
813'.6—dc22 2009044471

ISBN 978-1-4391-8423-3

ISBN 978-1-4391-8425-7 (ebook)



“Let's save each other some time today, Elizabeth. What are you wearing?”

“In a sec, Dad.”

Michael sighed and looked in the mirror. His head was pounding from a few glasses of pity wine the previous night, and he noticed a web of inflamed capillaries spreading across the corner of his left eye.
I look awful
, he thought.

Disgusted, he retreated to his bedroom and pulled open the top drawer of his worn dresser. A thin layer of dust was across the top, and absentmindedly he brushed it away. He stared down sullenly into the contents of the drawer and pushed aside a few pairs of socks. There it was at the bottom—a simple gold band. He turned it sideways to read the inscription:

Michael sighed and rubbed it gently against his T-shirt. He rarely wore it, except when he wanted to prevent any awkward encounters with unattached women. One look at the ring and they would be sure to leave him alone.

He slipped the ring on his finger and rubbed his stomach, uncomfortably aware of how his belly was gaining a foothold over the worn elastic waistband of his pajamas. He was beginning to understand
why women complained about feeling bloated all the time. Adding to his misery was the humidity of the April day, so he chose a simple white T-shirt, light gray sweats, and a pair of his favorite old sandals. He pulled the sweats above his belly and sighed.
Now I look like Fred Mertz

He dressed conservatively these days even though he was just forty. With his daughter now a teenager, he believed he needed to set a good example. Michael had seen what the kids wore at the local middle school, where Elizabeth was in the eighth grade. She was becoming a young adult, and sometimes he felt alone against the world in protecting her. No matter how hard he tried to be open, there was no way he could agree with belly rings and low-cut shirts.

I hope she doesn't come down in another skimpy tank top
. He was well trained by this point. She would wait upstairs until they were miserably late, with no time to spare. Then it would be a last-second struggle: he would barely see her run past him on the way to the car, leaving him time to register only the most horrific thing she was wearing.

Today, though, he felt ready for the dress-code war.

His determination was swayed by the startling ring of the phone. “Elizabeth, are you going to get that?” Michael shouted upstairs. He chided himself for waiting for an answer; her friends called almost exclusively on her cell, meaning that she wouldn't waste time picking up the house phone.

He ran into the living room and saw the phone out of its holder, along with the empty wine bottle sitting on the side table near his recliner. He bent down and dug furiously along the cushion of the chair. “Got it,” he muttered. He noticed the caller ID said
. His stomach lurched and he threw the phone back onto the recliner.
Probably the bank again. Why can't they leave me alone?

Elizabeth, sandals on her feet, T-shirt tied up to her navel, and oversize shorts hanging low on her waist, sprinted down with the upstairs phone in her hand. “Sure, he's here, hold on.” She glanced up and saw her father scowl. “Oops,” she whispered as she handed it to him.

“Hello?” He paused, looking annoyed. “Yes, I understand my financial obligations. I'm working as hard as I can and as fast as I can to keep up. I need a couple more weeks. My boss cut my salary in half, sir. So I'm trying to find other ways to make it up. Can you give me more time?”

Elizabeth stood motionless on the stairs, watching her father's brow furrow. For the first time, she noticed some strands of gray hair peeking through the sides of his head, near his ears.

BOOK: Necessary Heartbreak
13.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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