The Keepsake (Love at the Crossroads)

BOOK: The Keepsake (Love at the Crossroads)
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The

Keepsake

Book III Love at the Crossroads series

 

PAT SIMMONS

 

Copyright © 201
4 Pat Simmons

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13
:
978-1496125828  
ISBN-10:
 1496125827

 

 

This is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, and places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual people, living or dead are entirely coincidental.

To read more books by this author, please visit www.patsimmons.net.

Printed in the United States of America

 

DEDICATION

 

 

I encourage newlyweds to read HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS by Willard F. Harley Jr. Let’s not give the devil the victory over Jesus’ most precious creation
. A man and his wife that are now one flesh.

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

Dedication

Other Titles

Praises for Pat

Chapter
1

Chapter
2

Chapter
3

Chapter
4

Chapter
5

Chapter
6

Chapter
7

Chapter
8

Chapter
9

Chapter
10

Chapter
11

Chapter
12

Chapter
13

Chapter
14

Chapter
15

Chapter
16

Chapter
17

Chapter
18

Chapter
19

 

Other Christian titles include:

 

The Jamieson Legacy

Book I
: Guilty by Association

Book II
: The Guilt Trip

Book III
: Free from Guilt

 

The Guilty Parties series

Book I
: The Acquittal

Book II
: The Confession (fall 2014)

 

The Carmen Sisters

Book I
: No Easy Catch

Book II:
untitled,
Spring 2015

 

Love at the Crossroads

Book I
: Stopping Traffic

Book II
: A Baby for Christmas

Book III
: The Keepsake 

 

Making Love Work Anthology

Book I:
Love at Work

Book II:
Words of Love

Book III:
A Mother’s Love

Praises for Pat Simmons

I love Christian Romance novels and Pat Simmons knows how to unlock the imagination and take it on a quick path of hope, love and Jesus. You will always find some sort of message in her books just like I found in Stopping Traffic. I smiled! …
Tamara Gatling, reader

 

Pat Simmons does it again and again!
 

Another great story from Pat Simmons! What I love about her books is they are all biblically based! She shows how we, as humans, are in need of healing, deliverance, forgiveness, etc. I really like her approach to the dating scene! It is refreshing from some other Christian novels that allow their characters to engage in sexual activity without being married! Thank you, Pat, for giving us some good, pure, interesting Christian materials to read!! I appreciate you! You and a handful of other Christian Authors are rare commodities in these last days!
… LeeLee, reader

 

Simmons has laid it all out on the line in this installment of the Jamieson legacy. This is pure Christian romance with a touch of heritage. There were moments in the middle that I wanted them to get it together but it turned out better than expected. The personal touch of genealogy is wonderful and will make you think about your own family heritage. Wanted to see more Grandma BB but loved the new character development. Simmons is on top of her genre...  Reviewed by M. Bruner “Deltareviewer” on Free from Guilt

 

Free from Guilt may be listed as Christian fiction, but it's so much more. You read about family history, romance and transformation. This is a great read and leaves the reader wanting more, with that being said I'm looking forward to the next Guilty installment… Reviewed by Melody Vernor-Bartel for Reader's Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ~
1~

 

 

“You cheated on me
,” Desiree “Desi” Bishop stated in a steady voice that contradicted her mental, chaotic emotions raging within her. Locking eyes on her husband of three years, she sucked in her breath. It had nothing to do with his good looks—smooth brown skin, silky black hair and mustache, brown eyes that always softened when he told her he loved her.  That always made her breathless—but not this time.

Reclined in her chair with a lifted chin and an “I got this” attitude,
Desi had never played a poker game in her life. But she prayed for this very moment, the moment of truth, that she had mastered the blank stare. She checked her watch, noting the time. It was the moment that she was calling her marriage quits.

More than anything, she didn’t want Michael to see
her
sweat.  She wasn’t going to beg him to choose her over his mistress—the adulteress, the home wrecker, the—nope she was stopping there. Profanity was never in her vocabulary. Desi wasn’t about to mention marriage counseling or pull a temper tantrum. She came into her marriage with dignity and she refused to go out without it.

At this point, Desi really wasn’t interested in hearing
his side of the story, not with the evidence stacked up against him. The private investigator’s report, which included pictures of the lovers’ embrace, along with Michael’s lies, had inflicted more pain on her than any incurable terminal illness. It was a no-win situation for her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Since accepting the truth,
Desi had experienced every reaction mentally possible: shock, disbelief, denial, anger, hatred and more. But it was the shame that made her suffer in silence.  She hadn’t told a soul: coworkers, church members, her family, or her pastor.

In the back of her mind, all she could hear was her grandmother’s words of wisdom the day before her wedding, “Keep folks out of your marriage. If you and Michael have a problem, work it out
between you two. Otherwise, after y’all have kissed and made up, the rest of us will still be holding a grudge and ready to put a switch to his behind…yours too, if need be.” Granny Rose hadn’t batted an eye.

Michael squirmed in his seat. His breathing was off. His gaze was veiled with compassion as he parted his full lips. “Desi, let me explain…” Everything faded to black.

Gasping for air, Desi fought the covers restraining her and sprung up in bed, panting. With her heart racing, her body shivered from a cold sweat. It was the dream again. But it was so real.

She
glanced around the dark room to get her bearing, then blinked and reached for her bedside lamp. The unfamiliar surroundings confirmed that her dream had actually been a living nightmare. Infidelity had entered her marriage. Desi thought she was all cried out, but the ache continued to seep out. Drawing her knees to her chest, she buried her face into her hands and sobbed uncontrollably.

“Jesus, why?”
Even the Lord seemed too far away to comfort her. Sniffing, Desi wiped her eyes and sighed. Now what? After all, weren’t Christian couples supposed to be the perfect reflection of God’s church? How could she admit that the devil had scored the victory in her marriage? She sniffed.

Fo
r four days, she had been holed up in an extended stay hotel, crying and trying to pray. But how could she get a prayer through when she felt betrayed not only by her husband, but God? Her life was over.

***

The dream always ended the same for Michael. The shattered hurt on his wife’s face before she calmly stood and sashayed out the room without a backward glance. He called her name, asking her to wait so he could explain. Following her out the door to an already packed car, Michael pleaded with her to hear him out. And that’s when the curtain seemed to slowly close on a stage in the dream. There had been no applause.

You did it to yourself, man. You don’t have anyone to blame but yourself,
his conscience chided him. Michael had no choice but to open his eyes and face another day without his wife.

Scooting up in his cold empty bed, the words seemed to slap him. “I know that!” Michael barked, then gritted his teeth. He rubbed his
head in frustration and disgust.

If anyone
had told him he would have cheated on his beautiful wife, Michael would have laughed at their off-handed remark. Too bad he wasn’t a little boy anymore. He wanted nothing more than to run to his mother so she could kiss him and make it better. But Michael Bishop was a thirty-three-year-old married man who had to take responsibility for his own actions, a man who truly loved his wife and he had hurt her. Plus, both of his parents were deceased.

“God, what do I do now?” It wasn’t the first time Michael had asked for direction since he came to himself
—the prodigal husband. A few days before Desi’s confrontation, Michael had called off the month long affair.

If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh,
God had repeatedly pointed him to Galatians 5:16 at the beginning of the temptation. Then the Lord’s voice grew silent.

Glancing at the clock,
he had two hours before he needed to get up and go to work. Michael closed his eyes, groaned and dropped his head into his hands. His place of employment had served as the Lion’s Den where the devil had begun to strip him of all his self-worth. Michael’s chest ached. His stomach churned. He had ruined his life. Without opening his eyes, he knew tears would blur his vision.

“Jesus, I’m so sorry. I know Your Word says You can keep us from falling…”
Michael knew Jude 1:24 well. That was his church’s golden text for sanctified living. And Michael had failed because at the time, he didn’t want to be kept.

Getting u
p, Michael reached for his Bible. Without his wife, he defaulted to the Word. It had been his constant companion. “God, I need help in fixing this. I need You and Desi to forgive me. I love her.”

You didn’t hide My Word in your heart, so you wouldn’t sin against Me
, the Lord whispered Psalm 119.

Michael pushed his Bible away. The guilt was not only beginning to erode his flesh like a
cid, it was draining his spirit. He couldn’t read right now. He was too ashamed to see his sins splattered on the pages.

He checked his cell phone again. No missed calls or texts
from Desi. She had even turned off her GPS tracking, so her whereabouts were unknown. Had she even listened to his voice messages? “Desi, I’m sorry. It should have never happened, but I had already broken it off…; Baby, I will accept whatever punishment you inflict, but don’t leave me…; It was never about love, but lust…” Or his texts:

Sorry can’t begin to explain…; Are you all right?; Five minutes, Desi. Can I have five minutes
of your time?

He wondered if Desi told their pastor or her family—no
, they would have broken down the front door by now. As the baby girl, her sisters were very protective of Desi, as they should be.

Whether Michael wanted to or not, life did go on and he had to
show up at the retail phone store he managed that had become the House of Horrors. Going through the motions, Michael showered, shaved and dressed.

His
stomach growled, although he had no appetite. What was the sense in taking care of his body when it didn’t matter anymore? He no longer had his wife to appreciate it. Gritting his teeth in frustration, Michael had to make it right, even if that meant getting his older brother in his business.

“Hey, bro. I need a favor.” Michael tried to sound low key instead of desperat
e when Zachary answered.

“Already
… on a Monday morning? What’s up?”

Michael swallowed
and rubbed the waves in his hair. “Will you call Desi at work for me?”

The silence on the other end of the phone was deafening as Michael waited for his brother
’s inquisition.

“And why can’t you call your own wife?”

“Ah, it’s complicated.”

“Well, you’ve got less than a minute to un
-complicate it if you need to involve me,” Zachary stated.

“Desi walked out on me last week.”

“Last week! And I’m just now finding out about it? What did you do, bro?”

It was no secret that the Bishop brothers and Desi’s family were close. Without any sisters, Zachary was
as protective of Desi as her two older sisters. They were one big happy family until… “I can’t talk about it now.”

“Then I guess we’ll have a lunch date, won’t we?”
Zachary’s tone was anything but a request.

Lunch date.
That had been his turning point from a faithful husband to a cheating scoundrel. “This is my first day back at work and I’ll have a lot of catching up to do. Why don’t you call Desi’s job for me and depending on the outcome of that conversation with her, maybe you can stop by later.”

Zachary grunted.
“Yeah. I’ll do that, and don’t even think about working overtime.”
Click.

When Michael walked into the
store he managed, his employees greeted him with fake smiles. He didn’t blame them. At one time, he had their highest respect as a Christian boss, man and husband. That was before they witnessed him succumb to lust and cheating on his wife.

“Mr. Bishop, you have three messages
. I left them on your desk,” Malinda Gray stated sharply.

Michael didn’t call her on the attitude. She happened to like his wife. He nodded and headed to his office. He wasn’t surprised to see
that Brenda Johnson’s name was among the callers. Although he had broken it off with her, she refused to accept that it was over.

Before he started in on his paperwork and time sheets, he called Malinda into his office. “Will you do me a favor
? If Miss Johnson comes into the store and asks for me, please tell her I’m unavailable and let another sales rep help her.”  His life seemed to be reduced to favors.

“’Bout time,” she mumbled loud enough for him to hear as she left his domain.

Taking a deep breath, Michael rubbed his face. That was another thing he had to fix. In the domino effect of his sin, he needed to apologize to his staff for disrespecting them. “David, how?” he whispered, referring to King David from the Bible. “How did you repent after your fall? How did you get back in God’s good graces? How?”

Have you not read t
o everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,
God whispered Ecclesiastes three.


God, how long will my season of being lost in a storm last? Jesus, how can my sin glorify You?”
             

Come unto me those who are heavy laden and you will find rest,
God whispered.

His smartphone rang. His brother’s name flashed on the screen. “Did you talk to her?” he answered, bypassing the usual cordial greeting.

“No
…it appears Mrs. Bishop is on vacation. Mickey,” Zachary reverted back to his childhood name whenever he wanted to show his authority as the older one, “I don’t know what went down between you two, but either you better get your lies straight or come clean. See you later.”

At least his brother didn’t hang up on him
this time. Taking a deep breath, Michael began to verify a couple of conference and Skype calls and focus on the backlog of emails. Michael’s long day went without incident. Instead of his wife waiting at home for him, he would have to deal with Zachary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER
~2~

 

 

After her third crying bout of the day, Desi
resolved that she had to do something. Surfing the internet, she found an attorney and hesitantly made an appointment.

“Attorney Rush doesn’t have an opening until next week…oh wait,” her receptionist said. “There was a cancellation this afternoon. Can you come in at three?”

“Yes,” she choked out, verified the address, disconnected, then counted down the time until she had to make that dreaded journey. 

T
ears blurred Desi’s vision as she drove closer to the two story brick building and turned into the parking lot. “Do I really want to do this?” she quizzed herself. Maybe Michael was drugged or tricked. “Stop making excuses for that man,” she chided.

God knew she didn’t get married
to one day file for a divorce. Then again, she believed in her heart she was getting a godly husband and he had willingly cheated on her. Desi checked her makeup to assess the puffiness under her eyes then got out her car. “Yes, I do,” she said, answering her earlier question. It struck her that it was the same three words that were part of her vows.

Desi’s steps to the entrance and down the hall seemed heavy. Without trying, she documented every movement, even the grip on the knob to open the office door. She introduced herself and was given a clipboard to fill out some information as if she were about to see a doctor for a routine checkup.

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