Terry's Journey: Chapter 6

Be among the first to know when I post new chapters, to new books!

Click Here
Keep up-to-date on all the announcements and website news!

Subscribe today!
Email:

My policy is to follow the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12); I hate spam too, and will never sell or give away your email address.
Chapter Six
The Place Where Love Comes From

"Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:3 ~

The road looked familiar, as did the trees, the houses, that stretch of water growing bigger and bigger outside the rear window of the jeep. They recalled images she wished to forget. She had walked this road, on her way to nowhere, only to shudder against the wet cold and almost die. The memory of it caught in her throat, tasting like bile.

Why was she here? Why was Terry bringing her back to this place? Fear squeezed the air from her lungs. Wet stung her eyes. He was taking her back to the campground, to leave her where he had found her.

"Madison?" She looked into the mirror and saw Terry flick her a glance before returning his eyes to the road. "What's the matter? Please don't answer with a shrug. I can't hear a shrug. I heard a whimper back there, and I want to know if you're all right."

"I'm here."

"I know you're here." A smile sounded in Terry's voice. "That's not what I asked."

"Please"-- Madison forced down a dry swallow-- "where are we going?"

"We're going home. I told you that as we all left the MegaMart."

"But this isn't the way to the apartment."

"I meant, we're going to John and Izzy's home, the one they let me share with them. It'll only be for dinner, then I'll take you back to the apartment."

"Oh."

"That sounded shaky." The glance in the rear view mirror narrowed on her. He looked back at the road, let out a sigh. "As soon as we get home, you're putting on that painkilling ointment. You look like you've been put through the spin cycle on a washing machine."

Unspeakable relief flooded Madison. She wasn't going back to the wild.

The shimmer of the water no longer felt like an unforgiving glare pushing her from its view, though it still made her squint. She turned from the window, let her head rest against the glass. It bumped lightly when the tires began to crunch with the sound of gravel.

The jeep slowed to a stop in front of a wide white house. The front door opened, and the man Terry had introduced as John, stepped out with three cute little girls no taller than his waist. They tagged behind him like happy yellow ducklings following their parent to water. Madison knew, for she had once seen a nature show about waterfowl and their young.

"We're home," Terry said, unsnapping his seat belt.

Izzy opened the passenger door, a smile on her lips as John came to meet her.

"First day back to preschool, and everything went smooth," John said, planting a kiss on his wife's cheek. "No temper tantrums, no tears, just giggles and lots of finger painting." John lifted a girl, and she presented her mom with a paper covered in kiddie bright colors. It vaguely resembled a flower.

"Oh, my. It's beautiful, Lizzie. We'll put this up on the fridge."

The child beamed brightly at her mother's encouragement. Then the other two girls presented their gifts, equally unrecognizable masterpieces that had their mommy declaring the fridge was fast filling up with talented artists.

"I see we're having company." John said it to Izzy, though his look traveled to Madison.

Izzy put a hand on John's arm, leaned forward and whispered several somethings into his ear. It didn't take much to guess that Izzy was giving John the highlights of their outing.

A girl climbed into the jeep with a sheet of paper clasped in her right hand. Kneeling in the passenger seat her mother vacated, she peered into the back of the vehicle.

"Who's that?"

"Her name's Madison. She's going to have dinner with us." A relaxed look of parental pleasure crossed Terry's face as the girl continued to stare.

"Hi." The child blinked at Madison, a pearl white smile showing beneath a pair of large blue eyes and a fall of blonde hair. Those blue-blue eyes stared at her, waiting for a response.

Sucking in a breath, Madison pushed out a one word greeting. "Hi."

"My name's Debbie. I'm four years old and I go to preschool with my sisters."

"Oh." Madison didn't know what to say. Those eyes kept staring, as though expecting much more than she had to offer. "That's nice."

"Our favorite color is pink. What's yours?"

Madison looked to Terry for help, but he only smiled.

"I don't know."

"That's silly. Everyone knows their favorite."

A small tug on Debbie's shirt had the child looking at Terry. "We don't call our guests silly. If she doesn't know, then that's that."

"But, Uncle Terry--"

"Go help your mommy put the pictures on the fridge."

The child tossed him a bright smile, hopped out of the jeep and ran after her parents as they went inside.

"That was Debbie. She's precocious, as are the other two. I have to watch what I say around them, because they'll remember every word."

"They look alike."

Terry grinned hugely. "They're triplets. Not identical, but close enough to keep newcomers to Three Mile Bay guessing. Mix them up once in a while, and they'll love you for life." He stepped out of the jeep, circled the hood, came to Madison's door and opened it before she made up her mind to get out.

"Pass me your shopping bags. I'll snip the tags off, and get everything into the wash so you won't have to use the community laundry at the apartment. Come with me."

She obeyed without knowing why. Following Terry into the tidy white house snugged against trees and a stunning waterfront, she wondered why. That breathtaking view didn't hold the answer.

Because he said so. It was the only reason she could find.

Stepping through the front door, Madison found herself in a comfortably large room.

"Wait right here. I'll be back in a moment." Terry dropped the bags onto the living room carpet, then headed for another part of the house.

Feeling like the outsider she was, Madison slunk against a wall. The house had an upscale feel to it, like the owners had money but didn't like to flaunt it. Beneath the well-lived-in comfort, she saw an affluence that made her wonder who these people really were. As in Terry's apartment, the couch and recliner were of soft leather. Unlike Terry with his black and white decor, color hugged this room with hues of blues and browns. Yellow and green throw pillows sat on a chocolate sofa, powder blue curtains hung before a large bay window that filtered light onto blue-brown carpet. The carpet was new. She could tell, could almost smell the sharp scent of it peeking above the hungry aroma wafting through a door that probably led to the kitchen.

Izzy was fast. She already had something cooking.

A girl ran down a long hallway, darted through the living room with a flash of curiosity at Madison, then slowed to a stop. A large sheet of paper splashed with paint dangled from her hand.

"Who are you?" The question proved the girl couldn't be Debbie, despite the strong resemblance.

"I'm Madison. Which one are you?"

"Ruthie."

Though Madison wanted to say something further, her strength failed. Her knees buckled. She pressed a hand against the wall to keep the room from spinning.

The girl stared a few moments longer, then went in the direction of the aroma.

A second girl dashed through the room, this one not even noticing Madison, a stream of paper and bright colors fluttering behind her.

They were putting the pictures on the fridge.

"Hey! Wait for me!" John strode down the hall, paused when he saw Madison. "Go ahead and make yourself comfortable on the sofa. Terry will be with you in a moment."

Madison just stood there, braced against the wall, unable to speak.

With a sigh, John went into the kitchen where Madison could hear the clamors of children mixed with the sounds of pots and pans. Someone turned on a faucet, she heard the splashing water, then the clatter of something falling.

A child laughed, followed by John's hearty chuckle. From the sound of it, a mess had been made, though no one seemed too upset.

"What's going on in there?" Terry asked, striding into the living room with a large comforter in his arms. He didn't seem to expect an answer, but went about unfurling the blanket on the sofa. He gave her a sidelong glance. "If you think I'm going to let you stand, huddled against the wall like that all evening, you don't know me very well." He straightened, looked at the sofa as though he'd just done something brilliant. "There. All ready. But first things first." He pointed his chin down the hall. "First door on your right, through the office, there's a bathroom."

"I don't have to go."

"Yes, you do. You have to put on that medicine. Have you read the directions yet?"

She shook her head.

"Then you'd better sit down and start reading." He nodded to the sofa. "Go on. It's all for you."

"No thanks. I'd rather stand."

"You won't be standing for long, not the way you're bowed over, ready to collapse. Get over here, and sit down."

The force of his words had their effect. She obeyed.

When she tucked the printouts from the doctor's office beneath the comforter, the curiosity on Terry's face was obvious. He didn't ask what they said, though she knew he wanted to.

The small writing on the instructions that came with the ointment made Madison's eyes hurt. There were possible side effects-- none of them very likely. But still. The knowing it might, put a tight knot in her stomach.

Shouldered against the doorway that led to the kitchen, Terry waited and studied the carpet in silence. She stole a glance at him every few minutes, wondering when he might leave. He didn't budge, just stood there with his arms folded, his face thoughtful. When she spoke, he looked up with a ready smile.

"The bathroom?"

"First door on the right," he said, pointing down the hall. "Don't pay attention to the mess in the office. John and I haven't cleaned up in awhile."

A little girl came behind Terry, tugged at his hand with a plea to come see the fridge.

"Okay, Debbie. Just a moment." He looked at Madison. "Please don't wait much longer before you use that ointment. It's hard seeing you in so much pain."

"It's my pain."

His mouth opened, then closed without comment. When his back turned into the kitchen, Madison heard his voice turn playful. "Hey, we've got quite an art gallery going here! Looks like Jake isn't the only artist in the family."

It took effort to stand, move toward the hallway when her knees wanted to buckle. The unforgiving stress wore at her, made her hand shake as she pushed open the first door on the right.

So this was Terry's office. The one he and John shared. They worked from home? How lucky was that? Blessed was more like it, she thought, glancing around a room with heavy executive desks, plush leather chairs and filing cabinets of dark rich wood. A dartboard hung on the opposite wall, the pocked drywall evidence of someone's many misses. A basketball rested on a stack of folders on the floor. Laptops sat on the desks, one of them open and showing an aquarium screensaver. A shiny briefcase stood open beside one of the chairs, papers stuffed into its open jaws.

Tucked into all this was a metal rack loaded down with free weights. Large, intimidatingly solid, and after Madison stepped forward to look at the writing on some of the discs, as heavy as forty-five pounds. These guys did some serious workouts, she decided, taking in the elliptical bike and treadmill squeezed between the filing cabinets. A damp towel hung from the bike, evidence of its being used recently.

John. He probably did a workout while Terry and Izzy were away.

Did Terry use those forty-five pounders? She recalled the muscles beneath Terry's shirt when he lifted her in the rain, and concluded that he did. Dread made her shudder. Why did men have to become stronger? Weren't they strong enough?

The sound of footsteps in the hall forced Madison to locate the bathroom. She ducked inside, pulled the door shut behind her as someone entered the office.

The handle had a lock, and she used it.

Whoever it was, didn't say anything, and after several moments, Madison turned to her medicine. How she hoped it would take the edge off the pain.

* * * *

No sounds came from the bathroom, not even the splash of running water in the sink. Could he usually hear the faucet when it was on? Now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure. Crossing his ankles, he leaned back in the swivel chair and made a mental note to check later.

"There you are." John poked his head through the office door, grinned. "Dinner's almost ready. Where's you-know-who? I didn't see her on the sofa."

Terry inclined his head toward the bathroom. "Do we usually hear the sink running from here?"

"I don't know. Never thought to notice." John moved to Terry's work desk, folded his arms and took a deep breath. "What did the doctor have to say about the hip?"

"I don't know." Terry puffed out a sigh. "I guess she's all right. If it was really bad, wouldn't the doctor have given a prescription?"

"I guess."

Eyes fixed on the closed bathroom door, Terry shook his head. "All this not knowing is getting to me."

"Why don't you ask? It beats guessing."

The door cracked open. Like a mouse skirting danger by clinging to the walls, Madison made her way around John and Terry.

"Did it go all right?" Terry asked.

Without answering, she headed back to the living room.

John lightly punched Terry's arm. "She's not much for words, is she?"

Getting to his feet, Terry moved into the living room where he found Madison lingering by the front door. Her hand rested on the doorknob, her face a picture of indecision.

"You haven't eaten dinner yet."

"I'm not hungry."

"If you want me to take you back to the apartment, I will. Say the word, and we're gone. Before you leave though, I'd like you to get comfortable on the sofa so I can bring you some of Izzy's homemade dinner. What do you say? You need to eat."

The hand dropped from the doorknob.

"I know you're tired. Just hang on a little longer, and you'll start feeling better."

A mild scowl creased her mouth. "You can't promise that."

"Prove me wrong. Let me get you some food."

A sigh slipped from Madison. Her feet moved as though they weighed several pounds each, her slight frame tremored even though Terry knew she had to be exhausted. The way she eased herself onto the sofa had him grimacing.

"How's the pain? Let up any?"

She gave a weak shrug. "In places."

"How about your hip?"

"It still hurts."

"What did the doctor say was wrong?"

Sinking beneath the comforter, Madison looked like a small child snuggling to escape her troubles. She tucked her legs beneath her, rested her head against the back of the sofa. And closed her eyes.

Frustration nipped at Terry. He pushed into the kitchen, pulled the ibuprofen from the cupboard while Izzy watched.

"She won't tell me what's wrong. How can I make it better, if she won't tell me what's wrong? That's some doctor. She let Madison leave without anything for the pain." Terry dumped two pills into his hand as Debbie scooted past him with an armful of plastic plates. He was about to question the wisdom of the entire medical profession, when Ruthie got under foot on her way to the table with two handfuls of silverware. "Sorry." He maneuvered around the triplets, carrying his ibuprofen and frustration into the living room.

John met him coming down the hall. "Dinner ready yet?"

"I don't know. I guess. The girls are setting the table." Terry moved to the sofa, was about to hand Madison the bottled water and painkillers, when he noticed the slight rise and fall of her blanket.

Too late. She was fast asleep.

It wouldn't do any good to wake her, only to feed her ibuprofen. Terry set the water and the pills on the small end table beside the sofa. Then he saw them. The printouts Madison had received at the doctor's office, staring up at him from an edge of the blanket.

Temptation pushed hard at Terry. He wanted to take a small peek, to see what he was dealing with, how to help Madison, how to make her feel better. Surely, it would be all right.

A voice deep inside Terry sounded a warning. He knew it would violate trust. He had given his word. If Madison wanted to take her secrets to the grave, it was her decision. Not his. Her life wasn't in danger by keeping these things from him, and a doctor had examined her. She was in good hands.

He backed away, but not before tucking the papers beneath the blanket so they couldn't taunt him.

At least she wasn't in pain in her sleep.

* * * *

The girls were hungry, and John didn't see any reason to wait. He led the family in prayer over the food, then helped serve the children while his ears trained on the living room.

"Daddy?" Ruthie munched on a baby carrot, her eyes troubled in thought. "Why doesn't Uncle Terry want dinner? Isn't he hungry?" Two more sets of blue eyes looked to John for an answer, two more little girls worried about their Uncle Terry.

"Everything is all right. He has a lot on his mind right now, that's all. Mommy is keeping his food warm in the oven. He'll eat later."

"But why doesn't he eat now?" This time, Lizzie was asking the question. "Is Uncle Terry going to be sick again?"

He wasn't sick the last time, John thought with a sharp pang to his heart. How do you explain a weeping man to four-year-olds? And to do it without frightening them? Almost impossible.

"Daddy? What's wrong with Uncle Terry?"

"What's wrong?" Debbie and Ruthie chimed in.

As John prayed for wisdom, he saw Izumi's pained face and knew she was doing the same.

"Do you remember, the last time Uncle Terry didn't feel well, I said it was because his heart was hurting? It isn't the heart that pumps blood that hurts, but the heart in here"-- John touched his chest-- "the place where we feel things for each other. The place where love comes from. Your uncle knows what it's like to hurt inside, so when he sees someone else hurting, that place inside of him, hurts as well."

The girls exchanged looks among themselves, a silent form of communication between triplets that only they understood.

"Your Uncle Terry has a very big heart. Bigger than the Grand Canyon-- it's that big. And when he sees someone who needs help, his heart fills up so much he forgets his own needs." John looked from daughter to daughter to daughter, their somber faces a testament of love. "It's our job to take care of Uncle Terry. He's going to need lots and lots of hugs, and as many smiles and cuddles as we can give. Okay?"

Debbie sighed. "Daddy? Can I bring Uncle Terry his dinner?"

"I want to bring his grape juice!" Ruthie sat up straight. "Please, Daddy?"

Eager to do her part, Lizzie slid from the chair, gathered Terry's untouched fork and napkin and proceeded to take them into the living room.

With a nod of assent, Izumi retrieved one of the plates warming in the oven, made sure it wouldn't burn any little fingers, then gave it to Debbie.

A glass brimming with grape juice was pressed between Ruthie's small hands. After a promise to be very careful, she balanced her way into the living room while John held his breath.

"She spills that, you'll never get it off the carpet."

"This is good for them, John. They need to do something for their uncle."

John stood. "Give me the other plate. Madison needs to eat, and if she doesn't, I have a feeling neither will Terry."

* * * *

He only intended to stay for a few minutes, to keep watch over her sleep until he felt better about going into the kitchen for dinner. Then those sleeping lids flickered, the hands clenched, and those awful sounds struggled up from somewhere deep inside Madison. A soft writhing moan, hushed with fear, yet too painful to be absolutely quiet.

Grief tore at him. It didn't matter if he frightened her, she had to stop. She had to come out of that dream, whatever it was, and rejoin the living. Those sounds came from the grave, unearthly smothered wails that Terry doubted anyone in the house could hear but him.

If he hadn't been sitting in the overstuffed recliner, guarding her sleep, he would never have heard.

His hand trembled when he touched her arm.

Instead of waking, Madison turned beneath the comforter. Her body jerked at his touch, but mercifully, the keening stopped.

Thank God, it stopped.

Terry gripped his hands together to keep from shaking. He dropped into the recliner, bowed his head and prayed in silence.

He couldn't do this. He wasn't Abby, and Madison sure wasn't Jake. Please, God, not nightmares. Not flashbacks. Not her.

Not Madison.

The patter of feet had him looking up. Lizzie stood before him, a fork in one hand, a crumpled napkin in the other.

"What's this?" he asked in surprise.

"It's time to eat." Lizzie spoke with an air of self-importance. She handed him the fork, unfolded the napkin and tucked it beneath his chin. "Daddy says we have to take care of you."

"I appreciate the thought," he hushed his voice to coax Lizzie to do the same, "but I'm not very hungry right now."

Just then, Debbie entered the living room with a plate of leftover meatloaf. After her came Ruthie, balancing a precarious glass of carpet-staining juice in her little hands.

"I'll take that." Terry reached for the glass, puffed out a sigh of relief when it didn't spill. He set it on the end table, just as John came into the room with another plate.

"Why is she sleeping?" Debbie asked, staring at the woman on the sofa. "It's not time for bed yet. See? The clock doesn't say eight."

"Maybe she's sick." Ruthie joined her sister and they both stared at Madison. "Yup, definitely sick."

"Please, keep your voices down." Terry shifted the plate onto his knee, bent to pick up the fallen fork. "Madison is sleeping. She's had a busy day."

"So have I," Lizzie said, folding her small arms, "but I'm not sleeping before I have to."

"Hush-- you heard your uncle." John held a plate Terry suspected was for Madison. "Go back to the kitchen and finish your food. I'm sure Uncle Terry is glad you brought him his dinner."

"Yes," Terry smiled, careful to keep his voice to a near whisper, "I appreciate the meatloaf. Thanks."

The triplets flashed him a smile, then went back to the kitchen debating on whether or not the woman on the sofa was dying.

"She's not dying," Izumi said from the kitchen, her voice hushed but not so hushed Terry couldn't overhear. "Her name is Madison, and I'll thank you three not to wake her before she's ready."

John smiled, kept holding the plate and looking embarrassed. "We didn't know she was asleep," he said in a whisper.

"It's okay. I'm awake."

The men looked over at the sofa. Madison blinked back at them, her hands gripping the edge of the blanket.

"Since you're awake," John stepped forward to give her the plate, "you can have this. It's meatloaf, and it's leftover from... Wow. I don't know how long that's been in the freezer. Izumi cooks something, and if there's any leftovers, it sometimes gets shoved into the freezer until we get desperate." He shrugged. "I guess we got desperate. Save room for dessert. I hear there's pie and ice cream later."

John returned to the kitchen.

Terry pulled away the napkin under his chin. Those sweet munchkins. He had tried to tell them he wasn't hungry, but how could he turn away all that loving helpfulness? Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Madison pray, pick up her fork and try a bite. She tried another, then another, until she was eating without pause.

Good idea, John, Terry thought, starting in on his own plate of meatloaf. Getting the girls to bring him his dinner, and then John following up with a second plate, so they could coax Madison into eating.

Brilliant. He wished he had thought of it, himself.

* * * *

After dinner, the triplets came to say good night to Terry, stare at Madison, then scoot off to bed under protest. They had a nap during preschool that day, and were a little more wide-awake than usual. It was Izzy's approach to let them get good and tired, so by the end of the day, they would fall into bed, and not be ordered into it.

Tonight, they needed to be ordered.

From the recliner, Terry saw John picking up a discarded doll in the hallway. Madison sat tucked on the sofa with the comforter, her new clothes laundered and folded into grocery bags.

Pushing up from the recliner, Terry walked down the hall, looked at the doll in John's hand. "They sure are growing up fast. I remember when we brought them home from the hospital, just little dolls, themselves. Remember Abby? How she kept crying and we had to drive her around late at night, until she fell asleep? Those were the days."

John smiled dryly. "They sure were. Insomnia and poopy diapers. Can't beat that." He rubbed the back of his head, tossed a glance down the hall. Though John said nothing, Terry knew his friend wondered when Madison would go home.

All evening long, Terry postponed the inevitable. After dinner, Madison had fallen asleep for an hour, giving him a handy excuse for why they weren't leaving. Then a show came on television, and Terry decided to wait until it was over so they could see the end. Now it was bedtime for the triplets, and John and Izzy were making noises about turning in for the night.

Through it all, Madison remained snugged in the blanket, silent and watchful of all that went on around her. She offered no conversation, her passive eyes reflecting someone who lacked emotional energy. She had spent it all.

"Terry?" John's voice rose in growing alarm. "You are planning to take her back to the apartment, aren't you? She's welcome here, but shouldn't she leave for the night?"

The perception of his friend startled Terry, for Terry had been considering the question all evening long. "Why does she have to leave? She's not causing any trouble. She could sleep on our sofa, use the office bathroom--"

"Terry," John placed a hand on his shoulder, "it's not Madison I'm thinking of, it's you. You need to get away from all that sadness, and give yourself a breather."

"I'm fine. It's not me I'm worried about, it's her."

"Spoken like the person I know and admire." John shook his head, sighed deeply. "I don't know, Terry. I think it'd be best if she went home."

For a moment, Terry toyed with the idea of telling John about Madison's bad dreams. He didn't know if they were flashbacks, and in a way, he hated to speak in case John might think him slightly off his rocker. Someone has a nightmare, and automatically it means they're having flashbacks of abuse. It could just be a bad dream.

"Terry?" John's concerned voice broke through. "Are you all right? You've been awfully quiet tonight."

"Sorry. I was just thinking." Terry looked down the hall, not seeing anything but the image in his mind.

A limping puppy.

Well now. If he didn't get a hold of his emotions fast, and start thinking more rationally, the tears would come and he might lose all opportunity to help Madison. He would be of no good to her shattered.

"I guess you're right"-- he managed a smile at John-- "I need a break. Please try not to worry, I'll take her home."

John gave a long, thoughtful pause. "If you think it's necessary for her to stay the night, she can stay. Izumi and I are around, so it's not like there aren't any chaperons."

The very idea of John being a chaperon, gave Terry a twinge of bittersweet amusement. Terry had never had a girlfriend, or anyone who even came close to that special title. Even now, it didn't count. Madison was just someone who desperately needed help, and happened to be a woman.

"Thanks for the offer," Terry nodded to John, unable to bring a smile to his mouth though he tried hard, "I'll take her home."

Another long pause from John. His eyes narrowed. "If you were in over your head, would you tell me?"

"John--"

"You'd tell me? Right?"

A slow breath moved through Terry's lungs. "I'll admit the water is lapping at my chin right now, but I'll be all right. Every time I think I'm about to sink and touch bottom, I keep treading water."

"And if that water gets choppy?"

Terry forced an easy shrug. "It won't happen, but if I need help, I'll ask."

"That sounds like a non-answer." John straightened as Izzy emerged from the triplets' bedroom. "You'll ask me, or someone else?"

Terry let loose with a wide grin. "Someone else, if I can help it."

"Just as long as you ask someone," John continued. "I prefer it to be me, but ask. Don't drown and no one not know."

"We're just having another brother-to-brother talk," Terry said to Izzy. "Someone we both know and love is getting in over his head again, but"-- Terry gave John a hearty slap on the shoulder-- "I don't mind jumping in to save a buddy. He needs a lot of taking care of, this guy. Always needs something, but what's family for, right?"

"Very funny."

"Anytime, John."

Izzy folded her arms. "Does anyone care to tell me what's going on?"

Cracking a smile, John shook his head. "I'll explain later. Say goodbye to our knight in shining armor. He has to return his lady fair, then go fight some windmills."

"Funny." Terry nodded to John. "Very funny."

The sparring match had put a smile on Terry's face that stayed. He turned to leave, saw John grin at him. They were brothers. In every sense of the word but birthright.

The thought steadied Terry as he went into the living room to collect Madison for the drive back to Chaumont. He had solid ground beneath his feet, a foundation on which to face the world and everything in it.

As Terry watched Madison struggle off the sofa, he was reminded how very blessed he was. Resolve strengthened his heart. That blessing would not end with him. He would pass it on to someone else, or die trying.


"Freely ye have received, freely give."
~ Matthew 10:8 ~

end of chapter