A story of love, betrayal and redemption…
In this exciting sequel to LOVE’S HIDDEN FACE, wrongly convicted Jack King continues his desperate search for his girlfriend’s real killer…
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by John D. Garrison
Jack King is an ex-con unjustly convicted of killing his girlfriend, Kate, by a corrupt district attorney and a prejudiced jury. Now he is out of prison and looking for the real killer.
Kate’s sister, Georgia, is slowly beginning to believe that Jack is innocent, but she still has doubts. Jim Terrell is out to kill Jack because he believes Jack killed Kate. Nadine Sand is also attracted to Jack and is hiding from a terrible past. She hates Jack and all men, but Jack is stirring something new in her, something she hasn’t felt in a long time. Then there is Ann Banks, Jack’s old girlfriend who dumped him in high school for a better prospect, and now wants him back. If she can’t have him, no one will.
Looming over all of this is Kate’s killer. That killer has already tried to kill Jack once. Jack knows that killer will strike again, but he refuses to stop looking for Kate’s killer. Jack’s search for the real killer could be the death of him.
Praise for earlier books by John D. Garrison:
“…catches your attention from the first page to the last…suspenseful…”
“Keeps you interested and guessing…”
an excerpt from
by John D. Garrison
Kate stood in the entrance to his cabin, all smiles and very happy. Jack King watched her with happiness in his heart. They were going to be married soon. After years of dating, they would finally be married.
For some reason, Kate didn’t speak, just stood there, looking intently at him. Then the cabin suddenly grew dark, and she was gone.
Jack rushed toward the door where she had stood only moments before, but was too late. She was nowhere to be found. Sudden sadness overwhelmed him. He knew that she was gone forever. That was when he woke up.
Jack rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stood up from the chair he had fallen asleep in. Kate still haunted his dreams on occasion and would continue to do so until he caught her killer. She would have no rest nor would he.
Jack walked to his cabin door and opened it, looking out over the woods as the evening sun set. It was a peaceful evening. He could hear the tree locusts singing their evening lullaby. So much was changing in his life as he hunted for Kate’s killer.
Of course people in Gulfview still thought he had killed Kate, his girlfriend, in a fit of rage. He had been sent to prison for three years on manslaughter charges for that, then released recently on a technicality, but only a few believed in his innocence. To everyone else, he was an ex-con that should still be in prison.
He uttered a deep sigh of frustration as he stood on the cabin porch. Would he always be an ex-con? Would everyone always consider him a murderer? He had to clear his name somehow.
Jack was a handsome man in his middle twenties with coal black hair and green eyes. His lean six foot, one inch, frame was all hard muscle. He had pumped iron while he was in prison, developing lean abs and hard muscles. You had to be strong to survive in prison.
Jack walked back inside the cabin. He reached for a lamp to turn on a light as the darkness gathered inside his cabin. Just as his hand touched the lamp, the lamp exploded and Jack hit the floor as a rifle shot echoed from the woods. Someone had just tried to kill him.
He crawled to the gun cabinet and retrieved his father’s shotgun, quickly loading the long barrel gun. Then he crawled over to a corner of his cabin and stood up. The corner angled away from the main room of the cabin and gave him some protection from the cabin front door. He could not be seen from that doorway, which still hung open.
He waited. His would-be assassin had two choices: leave and assume he was dead or come find out for sure. Jack was betting on the latter option. There was absolute silence in the woods, even the tree locust had stopped singing.
As Jack stood huddled in the corner of the cabin with his shotgun pointed toward the cabin entrance, he wondered who was trying to kill him. There had been one attempt already on his life, but that assassin had used a pistol. This one was using a rifle which tended to make Jack think this was a different person.
He wiped the sweat from his brow as he waited. His heart continued to beat rapidly. That bullet had narrowly missed him. The assassin must have lined his shot up with the open door to his cabin and fired just as he reached for the lamp. The gathering shadows of the cabin had probably saved his life, obscuring the assassin’s target.
Jack heard someone stepping up on the cabin porch. Jack pulled the hammers back on both barrels of his shotgun. He saw the barrel of the rifle first as it was pushed through the cabin doorway, then a man followed, clutching the rife tightly as he stepped into the cabin. He stopped for a moment as his eyes swept the room, searching for Jack’s body. Then he moved into the room further, swinging his rifle away from Jack’s position as he searched for the body he felt sure must be there somewhere.
Jack stepped out from his hidden position and pointed his shotgun at the man’s back. He took a small breathe and said, “Freeze, I have a shotgun pointed at your back, and at this range, I can’t miss. Drop the rifle.”
The man had frozen instantly at Jack’s voice, hesitated, then started to turn. Jack couldn’t allow that.
“Drop the rifle now or I shoot.”
The man stopped turning, but still clutched his rifle. They both stood there in the darkness debating their next move. Jack couldn’t understand why the man hadn’t dropped his rifle.
“What’s wrong with you? Do you want to die?” Jack asked.
“I’m dead already,” the voice said.
Jack knew that voice. Jim Terrell was standing in his cabin. It all made a crazy sort of sense. Terrell believed that Jack had killed Kate just like everyone else in Gulfview. He had come seeking revenge.
“Dying isn’t going to help Kate, now drop your rifle,” Jack snapped.
Reluctantly, Terrell dropped his rifle on the floor of the cabin. He stood there in the gathering darkness with shoulders slumped–defeated.
“Now turn around,” Jack said.
Terrell turned around and stared at Jack with hatred burning in his eyes. Terrell had been seeing Jack’s girlfriend, Kate, before she died. Terrell was the reason that Jack had broken up with Kate. He was the last straw in her long line of infidelities. With a great deal of pain and soul searching, Jack had told Kate that it was over between them. The next day Kate was found dead by Jack who became the number one suspect and was eventually convicted of her death.
His conviction had been engineered by a crooked district attorney and a jury all too willing to believe Jack had killed Kate in a fit of anger. He had been convicted by that jury before the trial had even began.
Terrell continued to stare at Jack, then finally asked, “Now what?”
Jack turned on another lamp, flooding the room with light. He studied Terrell for a moment. Terrell was tall and well-built with curly black hair and brown eyes. His voice had a deep bass quality to it. He was a handsome man in his late twenties. Jack could see why Kate had been attracted to him.
“Now you go home.”
“You aren’t going to call the police?”
“No, I understand your pain. No one knows better than I how painful Kate’s death was to the people that loved her. That’s why I intend to find Kate’s killer. You would like to find out who really killed Kate, wouldn’t you?”
“You’re lying. You killed Kate,” Terrell said, anger in his voice.
“You can believe what you want, but consider this. What if I am telling the truth? What does it cost you to wait a little while to find out?”
Terrell stood there a moment, his brows knit together in intense concentration. With a tight, intense frown, he said, “I guess I can wait, but not for long. What about my rifle?”
“I’ll return it to you later, after you have had a little time to cool down.”
Terrell nodded slowly, then started moving toward the door of the cabin. He didn’t look back as he exited the cabin. Jack stood in the doorway and watched Terrell disappear into the woods. His vehicle was probably parked on the other side of the woods where the dirt road curved back toward the highway.
Jack picked the rifle up from the floor and walked to the gun cabinet in the back of the cabin. He placed both the rifle and his shotgun inside the gun cabinet. He closed the cabinet door and let out a deep, long sigh. He had come close to meeting his maker tonight. God help me survive and find Kate’s killer.
Matt King was a handsome man with coal black hair and brown eyes. He had an athletic build and resembled his younger brother Jack, who he had always been jealous of. He was nearing thirty and had just had a severe setback in his career.
Matt looked up as his father, Lee King, strolled into his small office. Lee was in his early sixties with graying hair that had once been black, the same as his sons. He was a tall, broad shouldered man and still in good shape for a man of his age. He had an easy going personality that put people at ease, which made him a good CEO of the Starlight Corporation.
Once Matt had been a vice president of Starlight, but his father fired him when Matt tried to take over the company and force his father out. Because Matt was his son, Lee King gave him another chance and hired him as a marketing manager at half of the pay of his former position. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Matt.
But Matt was determined to work himself back into the good graces of his father by working hard and showing that he could be trusted. It was a difficult road to travel, starting from a zero trust position. Matt knew that it would take a lot for his father to trust him again.
“What can I do for you, Dad,” Matt asked as he stood up, somewhat nervous at this unexpected visit.
“Just wanted to see how you were doing, son. Please sat down,” Lee said as he sat down in a chair across from his son’s desk.
“I’m doing okay. I have a lot to learn in this position, but my boss is showing me the ropes.” Matt paused for a moment, then said, “Let me apologize again for what I did. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Blind ambition can be a terrible master. If you aren’t careful, you can hurt a lot of people trying to achieve your ambition. A man has to have integrity and honor to guide him, else he can become a ruthless individual, not caring who he hurts as long as he gets what he wants.”
“Sort of like I was. Something inside of me drove me, Dad. I felt I had to be the best at any cost. I shut everything else out. My wife tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen.”
“I’ve always liked Lidia. If I had a wife like that, I wouldn’t have made such a mess of things with my family. That’s partly why I am here, Matt. I have let us drift apart. I should have been closer to you and been a better father. I let my business and my blindness in regards to your mother interfere with my relationship with you. So, you see, what you did was partly my fault.”
“You mean that?” Matt said, hope on his face.
“I do. Why don’t we wipe the slate clean and start over. I was thinking about inviting you and Lidia to supper tonight if you are available.”
“That would be great.”
“Good, I look forward to that. There’s another matter that I want to discuss with you. You already know I am divorcing your mother, and you know part of the reason why. I would like to explain the rest of my reason.”
“Sure, Dad,” Matt replied hesitantly. Matt loved his mother and they had always been close. It was difficult to hear that his dad was divorcing his mother.
“When I was young, like all young men, I thought I was invincible and knew everything. When I met your mother, I fell in love with her quickly and was desperate to marry her. My father tried to counsel me about Helen, but I wouldn’t listen. He knew that she wasn’t the wife for me. He even suggested that I attend a church counseling session for people planning to be married. In my arrogance, I turned him down. There was nothing anyone could say or do to prevent me from marrying your mother.
“I was a fool, and it has cost me. My children were the true victims of my folly. I was prepared to do anything to keep Helen happy, overlook anything. Between her and building my business, you and your siblings were neglected. I apologize for that.”
“Dad, you don’t need to apologize.”
“But I do. I see now more clearly than I ever have before. I was married to a vain, self-centered woman who cared only for herself. Between her neglect and mine, it is a small miracle that my children turned out as well as they did. I want to make amends for that, starting with you. I don’t think I have ever said this enough, but I love you, son.”
“Is there any way that you and mom can get back together?” Matt asked hopefully.
“No son, there isn’t. I know you are close to your mother, and I am sorry it had to end this way. I’m not saying everything is your mother’s fault. I played a part in this too, but it is time to go our separate ways.”
“Whatever you decide, I will do my best to help you both. But right now, I just want a fresh start with you. I want to get to know my dad again.”
Matt rose from his chair and walked around his desk. His father rose from his chair and they hugged. Tears gathered in the corners of Matt’s eyes. He had found his father at last.
It was late Monday morning and Jack sat at the kitchen table in his cabin, staring at three folders laying on the table. He took another sip of coffee and glanced at Glenda Logan, the Gulfview News reporter that was helping him search for Kate’s killer, and shook his head.
Glenda was a tall, thin woman with long black hair and brown eyes. She was energetic and outgoing, in her early thirties. She was a career woman and proud of it. No husband or family for her. She didn’t keep a boyfriend long either, particularly when they discovered that the relationship would never be anything but temporary.
Jack frowned as he looked at the folders. These were the only suspects they had been able to come up with in connection with Kate’s death. They had found nothing to place any of these suspects at Kate’s home at the time of her death. They needed more information.
“As for as I am concerned, Robert Trace is still at the top of the list. The way he lost his temper when I questioned him about Kate indicates a very volatile nature. He could have easily lost his temper with Kate and killed her.”
“What do we know about his movements on the day that Kate died?” Jack asked.
“Nothing so far. I will need to do some more digging,” Glenda said with a frown.
“What about these other two: Ben Grass and Roger Toth?”
“Neither of them seems to have had a connection with Kate, but both of them have a white four door sedan. The same kind of white four door sedan seen at Kate’s home before she was murdered.”
Jack leaned back in his chair with a deep look of concentration. Then he picked up Ben Grass’s folder. “I know this guy. We were in high school together. He is Ann Bank’s brother.”
“How well do you know him?”
“Met him a few times in high school, but I haven’t seen him since. Seemed like a nice enough kid back then.”
“So we keep digging,” Glenda said with some frustration.
“Yes, we need more background. I have a feeling I am missing something here that is important, but I can’t put my finger on it.”
“You want to follow up with Ben Grass since you know him?”
“I doubt that he will even remember me, but I can follow up with him and Robert Trace.”
“Be careful with Trace. He could be trouble.”
“Don’t worry, I know about trouble.”
“We may have to face an unpleasant fact. None of these suspects could be our killer,” Glenda said with a frown.
“Maybe, but I am not ready to admit that yet.”
“Okay, I will take Toth then. Maybe meet back in a few days and see where we are at?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Jack rose from the table and walked back into the living room, then out onto the porch and sat down in one of the wooden porch chairs. He sat there frowning as his glaze swept the surrounding woods. He wondered if they would ever find Kate’s killer or was he just on a wild goose chase?
“Penny for your thoughts,” Glenda said as she walked out onto the porch and stopped beside Jack. She flashed a pleasant smile, pushing back some of her long black hair that had fallen in her face. Her soft brown eyes studied the face of an unhappy man.
“You don’t won’t to know my thoughts. They are somewhat grim,” Jack said gloomily.
“Maybe it’s time to start thinking beyond this search for Kate’s killer. Whether you find the killer or not, you are going to have to go on with your life.”
“I’ve thought about that, but how I proceed with my life will depend on whether people still think I killed Kate. I don’t want to be known as the ex-con who got away with killing Kate, serving only a light sentence.”
“That’s a valid point. If you can’t find her killer, I would suggest you move to somewhere else where they don’t know you.”
Jack gave her a grim smile and picked up a newspaper off of the table by his chair. He handed it to her.
“I was reading that when you drove up. It’s one of the national papers. Seems like I have made the headlines. There isn’t anywhere I can go now that they won’t know who I am.”
Glenda read the article on Jack. A Bernard Jarman, running for the U.S. senate, had charged Mark King with corruption, using his influence to free a killer, Jack King. It was all there, a recap of the trial and the details about Kate’s death. She shook her head in disbelief. Jack was now national news.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” Glenda said.
“My uncle warned me that things might get ugly in his senate campaign. He was right. It’s more important than ever to find Kate’s killer. Not only my future, but my uncle’s future may be riding on the outcome of our search.”
John Arrowsmith was six feet tall with light sandy hair and piercing blue eyes with a slight scar above his left eyebrow and dimples at the corners of his mouth when he smiled. His narrow face made him attractive, but not quite handsome. He had been a police detective once, but now was an associate pastor at Ocean Front Church, which was a rather dramatic change for him. He was still struggling with becoming a minister, but God had given him a special talent for healing and reaching troubled individuals.
Jack strolled into John Arrowsmith’s small church office with a smile. Arrowsmith walked out from behind his desk and shook hands with Jack. Then pointed to a nearby leather couch.
When Jack first met Arrowsmith, he was working at the church mission on Southside, serving food to the homeless and hungry. When Arrowsmith began preaching to those poor souls gathered there, Jack felt peace settle into his spirit for the first time in a long time. All the anger and rage he felt for the injustices he had suffered went away for awhile. He felt almost whole. He was anxious to pursue that peace, to be free of his anger and rage so he had sought Arrowsmith out again.
“Why don’t we sit over there?”
“I was surprised when you called for an appointment this afternoon. It’s been awhile since we last talked.”
“I had some thinking to do. You opened some doors into rooms I needed to explore.”
“Well put,” Arrowsmith laughed, “that often happens. We lock away many things that happen to us in life, some happy, some sad. They can be like rooms. Some of those rooms can have heavy locks on them.”
“I am finding that out. There are areas of my life that I don’t want to look at too closely. I spent three years in prison, and I did some terrible things while I was locked away. Sometimes I feel like I am unclean inside. Can God ever forgive me?”
“Of course He can. Nothing is too great for God to accomplish, but first you have to forgive yourself and put all those past acts behind you.”
“How do I do that?”
“Jack, as you draw closer to God, he will help you unlock the doors to those rooms and deal with what is behind those doors. That is his promise to all who follow Jesus. He will set you free, but to be set free, the truth must be embraced. We can’t lie to others, and most important of all, we can’t lie to ourselves.”
“How does one lie to himself?” Jack asked, puzzled by what Arrowsmith had said.
“Sometimes, people can build a world of illusions. This is a world they want, not necessarily that is real, but they lie to themselves every day that this imaginary world is the real world.”
“I think I understand. I thought Kate was someone she wasn’t. I refused to see what she really was. My illusion fell apart when I discovered the truth.”
“The truth often destroys illusions and pierces the lies that we tell ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes, those lies can last a life time.”
“Which brings me to why I am here,” Jack said, frowning.
“I know the last time we talked, you were concerned about salvation. You didn’t think you could be saved.”
Jack nodded and said, “I have been studying the Bible lately and asking myself some soul searching questions. I want to be saved, but I don’t know how. I don’t want to just join a church. How do I receive salvation?”
“You’ve just taken the first step, Jack. You realize that there is something more that is needed in your life. Sometimes we don’t realize that God is even missing in our lives until we touch him, and we touch him through prayer. Have you been praying over what you have read in the Bible?”
“Yes, but I don’t know if God hears me.”
“He always hears you.”
“I have another question that troubles me. Do unsaved people really go to hell?”
“Yes,” Arrowsmith replied.
“That seems sort of harsh. There are a lot of good people in the world.”
“I think the Bible answered that question a long time ago. The Bible says there are none that are good, not one, except God. God has a different measuring tool for what is good. Man doesn’t measure up. That’s why we have to believe in Jesus. As Christians, God cleans us up, and we then belong to his kingdom.”
“You are talking about heaven,” Jack said.
“Yes, but more than that. His kingdom also exists here on earth wherever a Christian walks.”
“I had a lot of hate and anger when I got out of prison. I realize now that I have to get rid of that hate. I’m trying. I pray about the anger and bitterness. I pray for peace, but it is a slow going process.”
“God does everything in his own time. Continue to pray, attend church, and read the Bible. Then come as often as you like to talk to me. Believe me, you will find God and salvation. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen immediately. Now, let’s pray together for guidance.”
As Arrowsmith prayed with him, Jack felt peace slowly enfold him. All of the turbulent violent emotions he carried within him subsided, and he felt a gentle joy settle over him. Perhaps he could be saved.
Once he thought finding Kate’s killer would bring peace to him as well as justice. But he realized now that finding Kate’s killer was only part of the solution. He needed to dump all the anger and hate, to clean himself up so he would be fit company, and to do that, he needed to find God and salvation.
Georgia Fairfax sat in her living room waiting for her date to pick her up. So far he was not making a good impression. He was late. His name was Tom Taylor, and she had seen him around church. They would often stop and chat before church. Finally, he had asked her out.
Georgia Fairfax was a beautiful young woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She was short and very pretty. She was Kate’s younger sister, just turned nineteen. She had been very attached to Kate. Kate’s death had been a severe blow to her.
Georgia’s thoughts turned back to Kate and Jack, the two people she loved best in the world. One was dead, and the other had been convicted of her sister’s murder. She had thought at first that Jack had killed Kate, and she had hated him for it. But now she wasn’t sure. She had begun to think that he was innocent, but she was virtually alone in that conviction. Her father thought he had killed Kate and so did all of her friends. She so much wanted to believe he was innocent. How could she love someone who had killed her sister?
She had always loved Jack even when he was dating Kate. Kate knew and had told her it was merely an infatuation, and she would grow out of it. Only, she hadn’t. She had never revealed her true feelings to anyone else except her best friend. She had tried to forget Jack, but somehow he was ever in her thoughts. If she could just find someone else to love, all of her problems would be solved. Hence the date tonight.
She had been a little surprised when Tom asked her out. Her first impulse was to refuse, but then she thought why not? Maybe it was time to think about someone else besides Jack. Her best friend had been encouraging her to see other guys. She needed to find someone that could offer her a future, someone else she could love besides Jack.
Her situation with Jack was impossible. How could she become involved with a man that was supposed to have killed her sister? Her father, her friends, no one would ever understand that.
She had a choice to make. She could either mope around the house feeling sorry for herself or pick herself up and get on with her life. Tonight was her first attempt at a new life without Jack.
Georgia glanced at her wrist watch again and shook her head. Had she been stood up? Tom had seemed such a nice man, caring and considerate. She stood up and walked to the mantel. She stared at the picture of her sister resting on the mantel.
She still had nightmares about her sister’s death. They had been close. Jack and Kate had included Georgia on many of their outings to her delight. She had been young, still in grammar school when Kate had first started dating Jack, following her sister and her boyfriend around. Kate had kidded her about having a crush on Jack, but it had all been in good fun.
As Georgia grew older and entered high school, she tried to downplay her feelings about Jack for the sake of her sister. She would never do anything to hurt her sister. Jack and Kate were made for each other.
Then, suddenly, Kate was gone and Jack was in prison. Her entire world had crumbled and sent her on an emotional roller coaster that she was only now recovering from. Her life had changed drastically the day her sister died.
There was a knock at the door. She crossed the living room and opened the door to find Tom standing there full of apologizes for being late. Perhaps this evening would end well after all.
“It was nice of your dad to take us to supper tonight. He seemed to be genuinely trying to be nice to you.”
“I will say this for the old man. He doesn’t hold grudges.”
“Thank God for that. Not many men are that forgiving when someone tries to steal their company from them,” Lidia said, shaking her head. She still couldn’t believe her husband had tried to do that.
Matt winced at her words. He knew that he had done a terrible thing. He thought it would take years to get back into the good graces of his father after that fiasco, but then his father had showed up at work today and bent over backwards trying to mend fences between them. He had been stunned to say the least, and overjoyed that his father wanted him back in his life again.
He had felt something break inside of him when his father had hugged him and told him that he loved him. It was as if he was a kid again with his father’s loving arms around him. He felt all the bitterness and resentment in him towards his father melt away. He very much wanted his father back in his life again.
Matt had felt like a new man driving back home tonight. He told Lidia as much. She had been happy to hear it. She hated seeing Matt at odds with his family.
“I think that with time I may be able to climb back up the corporate ladder again. I’m going to work my butt off to prove to my dad that I deserve to be promoted.”
“I’m sure that in time he will promote you, dear,” Lidia said.
“I’ve always felt like it was my dad and Jack against me and my mother. Tonight for the first time, I think I have my dad back. You don’t know what that means to me.”
“Have you thought about mending fences with your brother?”
“That bastard? Never.”
“Why do you hate your brother so much? Surely, you can forgive him for whatever past transgressions he may have committed. If your father can forgive you, why can’t you forgive Jack?”
“I just can’t, that’s all. Sometimes I wish that I could, but there is just too much against it.”
“Perhaps you need to ask Pastor Arrowsmith about this unreasoning hatred you have of your brother. Maybe he can help.”
Matt looked at his wife in shock. “I’m not going to air the family laundry in public. No one needs to know my business but us.”
“You are supposed to be a Christian, Matt. Christians forgive.”
“Then I’m not a very good Christian.”
“Oh Matt, don’t say that. I think this animosity you have toward your brother is poisoning you. You need to get rid of it.”
“Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Lidia watched her husband walk off. He was in pain. She knew that, and she knew what to do about it. She would save her husband despite his objections. She would contact Pastor Arrowsmith and set up an appointment for her husband.
John Arrowsmith kneeled at the prayer rail in front of the church sanctuary, both of his hands folded together in prayer and resting gently on the wooden rail. John was struggling with the new direction that his life had taken. Everything had happened so fast in his life.
He had come home to Gulfview, a disgraced cop of twenty years, fired for something that wasn’t his fault. He had been at the bottom of his life, wounded and no place to go. Pastor Michael Phillips of Ocean Front Church had taken him in and nurtured him, renewing his faith in God and giving him a new direction.
Then the most amazing thing happened to him. During a prayer session, he had fallen to the floor unconscious and was out for almost ten minutes. When he came to, he could swear that he heard angels singing, but, of course, no one else had heard anything. The deacons helped him to his feet, and he sat down in a nearby pew. Nothing like that had ever happened to him before. He felt different somehow.
Later, he had prayed for an elderly lady, and she was instantly healed. He didn’t make the connection until he prayed for another person who was also healed. He began to think that he was responsible for the healing, but then he prayed for others and no healing took place. His healing ability seemed to be sporadic. There was no consistency to it. He was both terrified and mystified. He tried to downplay his healing ability, but people kept coming to him.
Finally, he had turned everything over to God. After all, it was God who did the healing, not him. Then his second gift became manifest. When he prayed with people, healing of their spirit seemed to take place. This was not sporadic, but happened every time he prayed with someone. He reached deep down into people and opened their spirit to God’s divine love. He couldn’t explain that anymore than he could explain the physical healing.
John had spent long hours with his pastor, Michael Phillips, trying to make sense of it all. These gifts as Phillips liked to call them had all started when he had passed out at the prayer rail. Something had happened to him, changed him. He wasn’t sure he liked what had happened to him. For the most part, he felt confused and unsure.
But Phillips had encouraged him to turn everything over to God and let things happen as they would. It was not for John to figure out what God intended to do with him. He should just rely on his faith and go where that faith led him. That was easy for Phillips to say, John thought, but very hard to do.
So he came here to the Ocean Front Church sanctuary every evening and prayed for guidance. He needed direction in his life. Because of his gifts, Pastor Phillips had made him an associate pastor of the church, but he had no formal religious training to justify such an appointment. Somehow, the position he had been given didn’t feel right. He still thought of himself as a cop.
John finished his prayers and stood up, frowning slightly. That was when he heard the tapping sound. He turned and saw a woman coming slowly up the church aisle. She leaned heavily on a cane as she dragged her left foot behind her. A young woman accompanied her, daughter maybe. He shook his head. He knew what they wanted, what they all wanted, healing.
John couldn’t turn anyone away who sought prayer and healing, but it hurt when the healing did not come. He saw the disappointment and anguish in their faces when he failed them. It was hard to live with.
They stopped in front of him and the older woman asked, “Are you John Arrowsmith?”
“Yes, I am.”
“My daughter says you heal people.”
“God heals. I merely provide a channel for that healing.”
“As you can see, I need some healing. Can you do it?” the woman asked. There was doubt in her voice.
“Do you believe in God? Are you saved?”
“Yes, of course I am, or I wouldn’t be here,” she snapped.
“Healing relies heavily on faith,” John cautioned.
“I have faith enough to come here. Isn’t that enough?”
“I can’t guarantee anything. I can pray with you, but healing is up to God.”
“Never thought otherwise,” She snapped again.
John glanced at the daughter, then said, “Please help your mother up to the prayer rail. Can you kneel?”
“Kneeling isn’t a problem. It’s the getting up that’s hard,” the crippled woman said with a frown.
When the crippled woman reached the prayer rail, John and her daughter helped the woman to kneel. Then with his hand touching her forehead, he began to pray for the woman.
“Believe that God can heal you. Release any anger you may have. Forgive those who have wronged you. Let the divine power flow through you.”
At first nothing happened, then slowly a warmth began to spread over John, rising from within him. The warmth spread to his hand, to his fingertips that touched the woman’s forehead. Suddenly, she jerked.
“My left leg hurts,” she complained.
“Continue to pray and hold to your faith,” John urged.
The warmth increased and flowed out of John even stronger than before. He felt close to the Creator, as if he had a foot in heaven already. It was always this way when he healed someone. Some of that divine power washed over him bringing joy and peace.
Then, as suddenly as the power had come, it ended. John stood there a moment, enjoying the wonder of it all as that heavenly joy slowly faded away. Then with a sigh, he opened his eyes and looked at the crippled woman beside him.
“Why don’t you stand up?”
The woman nodded and began to stand, but it was still difficult for her. John and her daughter helped. Finally, the woman was on her feet. She shook their hands off of her.
“Let me stand on my own. Something has happened to me. I can feel it. I feel real joy.”
The woman threw her cane away and began to walk, unsteadily at first, but as she continued to walk down the church aisle toward the rear of the church, her left leg seemed to grow stronger. She had started out limping, then the limping vanished, and she was walking normally.
“Hallelujah, I can walk!” she shouted.
Her daughter turned to John with tears in her eyes and said, “You don’t know what this means to us. She has been crippled so long.”
The elderly woman returned smiling and hugged John. Then she turned away without saying anything and went to her daughter.
“God has healed me, child. Thank you for bringing me. We can go home now.”
John watched them leave. This time he had not failed.
Blake Stone was a middle aged man with black hair and brown eyes. He was dressed in a blue pin-striped suit. He wondered how long this was going to take.
Currently, Stone sat handcuffed to a table in the police interrogation room waiting for someone to tell him if the current district attorney had accepted his deal. He didn’t know who had taken his place as district attorney. He had heard they had appointed someone outside of his department to clean up the district attorney’s office. He imagined a few people would be fired, particularly anyone that had close ties with him, the old district attorney.
There were a lot of charges piled up against him, including trial tampering in Jack King’s case. Jack had started all of this with his search for Kate Fairfax’s killer. All of his backdoor deals and maneuvering to get Jack King convicted had been exposed, which had led to other corruption charges.
Stone was trying to cut a deal with the cops and the district attorney. He had information on at least a dozen other crimes in Gulfview and the state. He could name names. If they would guarantee him no jail time, he would give them that information. It was a strong card to play.
He knew there was no chance of getting his job back as district attorney, and he would probably lose his license to practice law, but at least he would be free to start over someplace else. He was finished here, but first he had a debt to pay. Jack King must be dealt with; Blake promised himself that revenge. Jack King was responsible for all of his troubles.
Then there was Ann Banks. Even now, he could visualize her–tall, blond with those piercing blue eyes. How he loved that woman. There had to be a way to get her back. He knew that she didn’t care for him, but that didn’t matter. He had to have her. He would find a way.
Finally, the door to his interrogation room opened, and Detective Sergeant Bret Walker walked in with a grim frown. Walker was a veteran police officer. He was short with red hair and green eyes in his early forties. He possessed a strong sense of morality.
He stared down at Stone for a moment, then shook his head. The current district attorney and the state attorney general had accepted the deal that Blake Stone had offered. Walker didn’t like deals. He felt that all criminals should go to jail, regardless of what deals were offered.
“Looks like they are going to approve the deal, Stone. I don’t like it, but apparently my opinion doesn’t matter. The district attorney will send over the paperwork shortly. Once you accept the deal, I want full details about the crimes you have witnessed.”
“Of course,” Blake smugly smiled.
Once he was released, he would begin planning his revenge against Jack. Ann might like that. Maybe that would be a way to buy her affections.
It was a little past nine o’clock on a Tuesday morning when Jack knocked on Robert Trace’s apartment door. He could hear sounds beyond the door of someone stirring around. He would have to be careful. According to Glenda, the man could be violent and had a hair trigger.
The door opened, revealing a man in shirt sleeves and pants with a tie hanging around his neck, yet to be tied. Apparently, Jack had caught Trace in the middle of dressing.
“Who are you? I don’t have time to talk to you. I am on my way to work.”
“This won’t take long,” Jack said as he pushed his way into Trace’s apartment, closing the door behind him.
“What the hell… You can’t just force your way into my apartment,” Trace snapped.
Trace was tall with dark hair and brown eyes that were rapidly filling with anger. People didn’t shove him around.
“I need to talk to you about Kate Fairfax,” Jack said sternly.
“And just who the hell are you?”
“I’m Jack King,” Jack said quietly.
“The man that killed Kate!” Trace yelled, then attacked Jack.
Jack blocked Trace’s first punch and sent one of his own, a strong right uppercut to Trace’s jaw that staggered him. Before Trace could recover from the blow, Jack sent a left punch into Trace’s stomach, doubling him over. Trace fell to his knees gasping for breath.
“Your temper will get you into trouble,” Jack said as he stood over Trace.
Trace slowly staggered to his feet, rubbing his jaw, trying to shake off the effects of Jack’s punches. There was still anger in Trace’s eyes, but now there was also fear. He realized this man could hurt him.
“What do you want?” he snapped.
“I want to know where you were the day Kate died?”
“Why would Kate’s killer want to know anything about me?”
“I didn’t kill Kate. I’m trying to find out who did,” Jack replied.
“You think I killed her?” Trace replied, puzzlement in his voice. “I would never harm Kate. I loved her.”
“Someone saw a bruise on her face after she met you,” Jack pushed.
Trace turned away from Jack and walked over to a small bar in the corner of his apartment and poured himself a Scotch and downed it in a single gulp. Then he poured himself another and turned to face Jack.
“I have a temper. Sometimes it gets out of control. I regret ever striking Kate. I tried to apologize to her, but she stormed out. That was the last time I saw her. I tried to call her, but she refused to answer my calls. I thought if I gave her a little time, maybe she would forgive me, but she died before that happened.”
“You didn’t go over to her house that afternoon, around five o’clock?”
“No, I had a late class that day. Ask anyone at the school. I was nowhere near Kate when she died, and that’s the truth. I thought you killed her.”
“Would I be here asking questions if I had killed Kate?”
Trace finished his drink, paused a moment, and then stared back at Jack. “I guess not. If you didn’t kill Kate, who did?”
“That’s what I am trying to find out,” Jack said as he turned toward the door.
“I hope you find the bastard, whoever he is,” Trace called after him.
Jack didn’t reply as he exited Trace’s apartment. He had found out what he wanted to know. If Trace’s story checked out, Jack could cross him off his list which only left two suspects, neither of which looked very strong for the murder of Kate.
Glenda might be right. What if he never found Kate’s killer?
Pat Springfield was a short blond woman with deep blue eyes that were currently focused on Lee King. Lee sat in a chair across from her in her home, a deep frown on his face.
“Helen is talking about going to court over this divorce. She is making unreasonable demands.”
“What are you going to do?” Pat said.
“I don’t know,” Lee replied. “I don’t want to drag my family through a long court battle, but I will if I must.”
“Have you met with her yet?”
“The lawyers have set up a pre-trial meeting to see if we can work things out instead of going to court. I will be fair in my dealings with her, but I am not going to give away the store.”
Pat nodded as she walked over to stand beside Lee. She placed her hand on his shoulder. He covered her hand with his own.
“We will find a way to make things work out,” she said.
“If I didn’t have you, this would be almost more than I could bear,” Lee said. “When Helen and I split up, I never thought I would find anyone else that I could love. Then I suddenly realized you were more than a business partner. You were a caring and considerate person who comforted me when I was down. You were the kind of woman that I always wanted, that I thought Helen was, until I found out otherwise.”
“Sometimes we see only what we want to see,” Pat said softly.
“My father tried to warn me about her before our marriage. She was a selfish, self-serving woman with little consideration for anyone else. I didn’t see that. I was in love and wanted to spend my life with Helen. I wouldn’t listen to anyone, even my father. I have paid dearly for that stubborn pride of mine. I have a dysfunctional family that is at each other’s throats half the time.”
“You told me you had a nice chat with Matt. That seems like progress.”
“Yes, that went well. I’m trying to knit my family back together. Between my drive to build a company and a self-indulgent wife, my children were badly neglected in the early years of our marriage. It’s a wonder they turned out as well as they did. Well, I have had my eyes opened. I see my marriage for what it really was, not what I wanted it to be.”
“I know such revelations can be painful,” Pat said.
“You have no idea. To suddenly realize you are married to an uncaring, selfish woman that cares only about herself, that has little love for me, that was painful. Then to sell me out by trying to have me replaced as president of my company, all for the sake of gaining some money–well, that was too much. I suddenly realized what kind of woman I had been married to. The blinders came off, and I had to face facts. My marriage had failed, had been failing for a long time. I just refused to admit it.”
Pat leaned down and kissed Lee gently, then said, “We have each other now. We will put this behind us and build our own happiness.”
Lee smiled for the first time. “You have given me hope. I am going to do my best to mend my fences with my children and be the kind of father they deserve, particularly Matt and Mary. I’ll do what I must to put this divorce behind me and start to live life again with you by my side.”
“What about Jack? Is he still searching for Kate’s killer?”
Lee frowned and shook his head. “I’m worried about Jack; about what this searching for a killer will do to him. He seems sort of lost, not like his old self. There is no joy or peace in his eyes when he looks at me.”
“I imagine that prison was rough on Jack. It will probably take time to get over that experience.”
“A lifetime I expect. There is a hardness in Jack now, a ruthlessness, that scares me. I know he had to do some terrible things just to survive in prison. He has said as much.”
“Prison can be a brutal place.”
“I also worry about Jack finding this killer. What will he do when he does? If Jack kills Kate’s murderer, he could wind back up in prison. But then I worry about what happens if Jack doesn’t find Kate’s killer. What will happen to Jack? He will forever be branded as a killer. I don’t know if Jack can live with that. I fear what might happen.”
“Perhaps you worry too much. You’re his father. It is only right that you worry about your son, but maybe things aren’t as bad as you think.”
“I hope so, for Jack’s sake,” Lee said.
Lee didn’t speak for a few minutes, staring off into space, thinking. His son was lost in a sea of misery and trying to make it back to shore, to a world where the sun shone brightly and no one thought of him as an ex-con, a killer. Lee would do everything in his power to help him. He just didn’t know what to do.
George Banks sat at his desk at the First National Bank of Gulfview and wondered how much longer he would be employed. He was a loan officer at one of the largest banks in town and that bank was failing. Rumors were rife throughout the bank about the coming collapse of the bank. A large number of people had already been laid off.
George was a short, heavy set man in his late thirties with thinning brown hair and deep brown eyes. He had always been an easygoing man who tried to do a good job. His career at the bank had been less than stellar. A fact that his wife constantly reminded him about.
If he lost his job, he could well lose his wife. Ann had made it abundantly clear what she thought of him and his failure to fulfill his promises to her. She was eighteen when he married her, and he was thirty. He had turned her head with promises of wealth and prestige. He had promised her that she would be somebody important with social status if she married him. None of those promises had come true. A fact that Ann reminded him of every single damn day.
She had been dating Jack King when he enticed her away from Jack. He thought with time and success that Ann would come to love him as much as she had loved Jack, but that had turned to dust. He was so much older than Ann and now pretty much a failure. Would she divorce him? He felt she was close to doing exactly that. What would he do if she left him? She was the love of his life.
“I just heard from a friend of mine in personnel. They are letting some more people go today. They are sending the e-mails out now,” Tim Hillyer said.
Tim was one of the loan officers that worked with George. He was a young man of only twenty-four, bright and energetic.
“Surely they wouldn’t let any more people go. They have fired so many already,” George complained.
“George, haven’t you been paying attention? I’ve told you this bank is going under. You had better start looking for a job somewhere else. I started looking days ago.”
“Have you found anything?”
“Not in banking, but there may be some opportunities in some of the smaller finance companies. Of course, they don’t pay much, nothing like this bank. But, hey, any port in a storm, right?”
“But I don’t know how to do anything else?” George said, worry plain on his face.
“Hey, look, I know it’s harder for you older guys to learn new jobs, but banks aren’t hiring. You are going to have to find a job doing something else.”
“What will I do?”
Tim shook his head. George wasn’t exactly the sharpest tack in the box, though he didn’t seem to realize that. He should have been further along in his career. My God, Tim thought, the man has worked at this bank for almost twenty years and was still only a loan officer. He should have at least been a loan manager.
“George,” Tim said as gently as he knew how, “you need to start looking for other employment. There is bound to be something out there for you.”
George slowly nodded as he checked his e-mail. There was a notice from the personnel department, setting up an appointment for him. The email didn’t mention anything about him being fired, but did indicate the meeting was urgent due to recent company developments.
Fear clinched his stomach. George thought he might throw up. What would happen to him? What would happen to his marriage?
Ann Banks was a striking tall, blond woman with blue eyes in her middle twenties. When she entered a room, heads turned. Men found her very attractive. She knew that and counted on it to get her way.
She sat on her patio and stared at the red roses that were blooming beside her. She sat in a swing and gently pushed the swing. She enjoyed the swinging motion. The air was cool this morning, invigorating. She felt almost happy until she remembered her present circumstances.
Her beauty had failed her with George. She had attracted the wrong man, but didn’t realize it until much later. George had been handsome at thirty and had filled her young head with wonderful promises of wealth and happiness. She had been in high school and gullible. Although she loved Jack, she wanted more. She thought she could love George just as well Jack. She had been wrong on all counts.
George was considerate and kind; she should have been able to feel something for him, but she felt nothing. All through the early years of her marriage to George, she had waited for a spark, a feeling, something, anything, to bloom between them. She wanted desperately to love George. She was married to him after all, but it was as if her heart was made of stone, except when she thought of Jack.
As the years had passed in her loveless marriage, her thoughts had gradually turned back to the times she had been happy. When she thought of those past times, she thought of Jack and how she had felt about him. Then she felt those old powerful emotions of love and passion begin to churn within her. She had gradually come to realize there would never be anyone else for her but Jack. She grew increasingly desperate to change her circumstances.
Unfortunately, her need to feel love had driven her to frivolous and brief affairs with other men. The result was always the same, exciting at first with promise, only to end in disappointment.
She had talked to other women who had loved again. When other women talked about finding love again, they made it sound so easy. Some had been in love multiple times. What was it about her that she could only love once?
She shook her head sadly. She had made so many foolish mistakes. She thought about Jack often now, but every advance she had made toward him had been rebuffed. Jack wanted nothing to do with her, which only infuriated her.
Now she was straddled with a middle aged man with thinning hair who was going nowhere. And worst of all, she wasn’t in love with him, and never would be. She lived in a very modest home and wore cloth coats instead of the furs that George had promised her. She was a bitter woman wondering what her future held.
If George lost his job, they would have even less. It was time to abandon ship. She had stayed far too long as it was. But she hesitated. She had no job experience. She had been dependent on George to take care of her. She would need to find someone else to take care of her, but who? Until she had new prospects, she would have to stay with George. She hated that realization most of all. She felt trapped.
If only Jack would realize what they could have together. They had been good together once, and Ann felt they could recapture that magic if only Jack would try. Instead, he dated other women and ignored her, which infuriated her.
In recent years, Ann had begun to fantasize about Jack, about their past together, and about what their future could be like together. She dreamed of a home and children, of a new life, the life that should have been before she was sidetracked with George.
But now that life seemed even further away. Jack just didn’t seem to be interested, and she didn’t know how to change that. There had to be a way.
Somehow she had to make Jack love her again, but he kept seeing other woman which made Ann jealous. Couldn’t he see what was in front of him? Other men found her attractive and desirable. Why couldn’t Jack find her attractive? Once he did.
With renewed determination, she vowed to herself to find a way to make Jack love her again. She was clever. She would find a way.
Bernice stood over Jim Terrell, her brother, and shook her head. The crazy fool had actually tried to kill Jack King. He was fortunate indeed that Jack King had decided not to press charges.
Bernice was in her mid-forties and plain faced with a husband and family of her own, but she loved her brother so took time away from that family to come here this afternoon and talk to her brother. She was surprised to find that he was not in jail today.
“So Jack King just turned you loose after you tried to kill him?” Bernice said, amazement still in her voice, even after hearing her brother’s account of what happened.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Why? He should have called the police and had you locked up for attempted murder.”
“He said that he knew how I felt, but that he didn’t kill Kate. He is looking for Kate’s killer. He asked me to withhold judgment for a while and let him find that killer. I…I think I believe him,” Jim Terrell said as he passed a hand through his curly black hair.
“What are you going to do?” Bernice asked.
“Wait and watch. Someone has got to pay for Kate’s death. I loved her, and I will not allow her killer to escape justice.”
“Look Jim, you’ve been given a second chance. Take it. Forget about Kate and this entire mess. Start fresh and put your life back together.”
“Don’t you think I want to do that? But I can’t. Kate haunts my life, my dreams. Kate’s death left a hole in my heart that I can’t seem to fill. I have tried dating other women, tried putting Kate behind me, but nothing works. I keep seeing Kate’s smiling face whenever I close my eyes, and I feel intense pain when I think that I will never see that beautiful face again. I have to do something. I will never have peace until Kate’s killer is brought to justice.”
Bernice shook her head. Her brother was seriously broken. She had tried everything she knew to make her brother see reason, but he was fixated on Kate and nothing she said would move him away from Kate.
She had thought about seeking medical help for Jim. She had even mentioned seeking professional help to Jim, but he refused to even consider any sort of medical help. She needed to do something. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed or sent to jail when he tried to murder Jack. Next time he might not be so lucky, and Bernice knew there would be a next time unless she found a way to prevent it.
Jack stood in Glenda’s office at the newspaper. He had strolled in right after lunch, hoping to catch up with her and talk about their progress in the hunt for Kate’s killer. He found her typing on her personal computer and muttering to herself.
“You looked worried,” Jack said.
“I am. I have a deadline to reach, and I am behind. My editor gets sort of upset when I miss a deadline.”
“I thought we might discuss our case, but if you are too busy, I can come back later.”
“No, stick around. I can spare a few minutes. I need a break anyway.”
Jack sat down in a straight back, wooden chair and smiled at Glenda. She was still frowning as she stared at her computer screen. “This newspaper piece I am writing refuses to cooperate. Something is wrong with it, but I can’t put my finger on it.”
“As you said, maybe you need a break.”
She glanced at him then and smiled. She pushed away from her computer and folded her arms.
“You have my undivided attention.”
Jack shrugged and said, “Trace says that he was teaching a class at the time of Kate’s death. If that checks out, he has a solid alibi.”
”You think he is telling the truth?” Glenda Logan said, puzzlement evident on her face. She had felt sure that he was their number one suspect after meeting him at the college.
“Hard to tell.”
“I will check with the school and see if I can find anyone who attended his class on that day. If he told you the truth, that only leaves Toth and Grass,” Glenda said.
“Did you interview Toth?”
“Yeah, nothing there. He has no alibi, but I can find no connection between him and Kate. He didn’t know her, didn’t even travel in the same social circles. Seems to be a dead end.”
“Which leaves only Grass. Seems like we are striking out all the way around,” Jack said with a frown.
“We have talked about this before, Jack. There may be no good suspects.”
“I can’t accept that. There has to be someone, Glenda. We have missed something. Kate had to know her killer. There were no signs of forced entry, and whoever killed her, knew her well enough to get into an argument with her and kill her.”
“So who could that be?”
Jack stood up from his chair and started pacing. “I don’t know. I have looked at this case from every angle, and I am coming up blank. I’ve got nothing so far. I will talk to Grass. Maybe there is something there.”
“Grass is a long shot. I read his bio, and he doesn’t seem like a good suspect,” Glenda said.
“Yeah, I know, but right now, he’s all we got.”
“Maybe we should start over. Start interviewing everyone that knew her.”
“That sounds too much like a dead end, like we are giving up. I’m not ready to do that,” Jack said.
Jack knew that he was missing something. There had to be some piece of evidence they had overlooked, something that would give them a clue as to who killed Kate.
Seth Fairfax sat in his black recliner and relaxed. He had just gotten in from work. He rubbed his gray streaked black hair and smiled at his youngest daughter, Georgia, sitting on the couch. He loved Georgia and her sweet, innocent personality. He tried not to think about Kate, his oldest daughter. She was dead, killed by Jack King, although Jack still claimed his innocence. Seth wasn’t ready to accept that yet, but he was beginning to doubt his once strong conviction that Jack had killed Kate, particularly after meeting with him.
Kate had always been wild, going her own way. He knew that she was cheating on Jack. He had even tried to talk to her about it, but she had just brushed him off with that small laugh of hers and told him not to worry. Seth thought Kate genuinely loved Jack, but couldn’t seem to leave other men alone. He shook his head slowly. Maybe if her mother had lived, she would have made a difference in Kate’s life.
“What’s wrong, Dad. You look sad,” Georgia asked, a look of concern on her face.
“Just thinking about the tragic events of the past.” Then he forced a smile and asked, “How did the date go last night?”
“Okay, I guess. He is nice enough.”
“No sparks yet?”
Georgia laughed and replied, “No sparks yet, but it’s early.”
“Well, it can take time. I’m glad you are dating again. You need to have a life. I was afraid for awhile that you were never going to start living again.”
“Kate’s death affected me deeply, Dad. I just needed time.”
“It affected us all, sweetheart, but we need to put that tragedy behind us and get on with our lives.”
“What are we having for supper?” Seth asked.
“Your favorite–fried pork chops.”
“Sounds good. Well, let me wash up, and we’ll have supper,” Seth said as he rose to his feet.
Georgia watched her father leave