Abiding Hope

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Abiding Hope, Book 2 in the Genesis House series

AWARDS and RECOGNITION

Winner, EMMA Award for ...
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Overview

Abiding Hope, Book 2 in the Genesis House series

AWARDS and RECOGNITION

Winner, EMMA Award for Best Inspirational Romance
Finalist, Best Inspirational Romance of the Year, Shades of Romance Magazine
Finalist, Reviewer’s Choice Award, Romance in Color

ABOUT the BOOK

Will their marriage survive their loss?

Marvin and Shay Taylor lost themselves and their ministry after the death of their six-year-old son. Time and God’s grace brought them back to a place of renewal. As they step back into their ministry, Shay also wants to step back into motherhood. But Marvin’s fears make him reluctant to share her dream. Can this couple come together to overcome the pain of the past and build the family they’ve always wanted or will their fears and mistrust destroy their marriage?

If you want an emotional and uplifting read, Shay and Marvin’s story is for you. Order your copy of Abiding Hope today!

The GENESIS HOUSE Series
Awakening Mercy, Book 1
Abiding Hope, Book 2
The Amen Sisters, a Genesis House novel
Enduring Love, Book 3 (coming in 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Renee Williams
ABIDING HOPE was a very deep, emotional read. I could not imagine having to bury my only child, or any child for that matter. Ms. Benson did an excellent job of showing the character's sorrow and how it affected their lives. . .There were many times I found myself wanting to reach in and offer a consoling hug and words of encouragement. Kudos to Ms. Benson for such a touching read.
Romantic Times
This is well-written, non-stereotypical fiction! Ms. Benson's secondary characters are as interesting as the hero and heroine, and it would seem that their story will be next.
Romance in Color
Abiding Hope takes a look at faith and the importance of it in each of our lives. . .This is a wonderful story that is sure to make the reader reflect on his/her own spiritual life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583143230
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Series: New Spirit, #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Angela Benson is the award winning and bestselling author of fourteen novels, two novellas and a non-fiction writing book. Her most recent print work is Delilah’s Daughters (Avon, 2014). Her next print book, The Summer of Me, will be released by Avon in early 2015. While you’re waiting for Angela’s new title, be sure to check out her backlist recently released in eBook format. You can visit with Angela on the web at facebook.com/AngelaBensonBooks, AngelaBenson.com and twitter.com/eAngelaBenson.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

There was no baby.

Sharonetta "Shay" Taylor bit down on her lower lip and tried to stifle her tears. She didn't want her husband to know how much she wanted another child, or the level of devastation she felt because she wasn't pregnant. It seemed disappointment and loss had permanently attached themselves to her and Marvin, and she didn't want to burden him with yet another negative to add to the list. Soon the tide would turn for them. She was sure of it.

"You're going to cry yourself dry, baby."

Shay's heart quickened at Marvin's whispered words. She'd deliberately turned her face to the passenger window of their five-year-old Altima so her husband wouldn't see the tears that had filled her eyes without warning.

"Are you going to be all right?" he asked when she didn't answer.

Shay wiped at her tears and, taking great gulps of air, turned in her husband's direction. "I'll be fine," she said, hoping her voice sounded stronger than she felt.

Apparently it didn't, because Marvin took one hand off the steering wheel, reached across the gear shift console, and hugged her to him. "You've been saying that since we left Atlanta," he said, a bright smile splitting his deep chocolate face. "Somehow I don't have much faith in the words. You aren't having second thoughts, are you?"

Knowing she couldn't give in to the despair she felt, Shay brushed her hand across the short curls that covered her head and sat up straighter, her back flush against the blue upholstered bucket seat. Marvin had wrongly assumed her tears were because of their move, and she wasn't going to correct him. "No second thoughts," she said.

His eyes back on the unfolding two-lane county highway, Marvin squeezed her bare shoulder in an affectionate gesture that made her want to cuddle up close to him and weep out all of her heartache. "But I bet you're missing CeCe and Anna Mae, aren't you?"

Oh, how she missed her two dearest friends, CeCe Williams—now Mrs. Nate Richardson—and Anna Mae Wilson. If they were here now, she'd be able to talk to them about the baby—or rather, about the no baby. They'd understand, and they'd support her as they always had. "You know I miss them," she said, trying once again to shake off the melancholy thoughts. "Don't you miss Nate and Stuart?"

"Not yet," Marvin said, the shrug of his broad shoulders causing the denim of his light blue shirt to stretch tight across his chest. His masculine frame filled his side of the car. "I guess I'm too excited about what's ahead to miss them yet." He flashed her a grin. "Besides, it's only been a week since we've seen them."

The warmth of his grin calmed Shay's insides, and she smiled back at him. "I know. It's just that so much of our lives took place in Atlanta, in our house, at Genesis House."

Marvin placed both hands on the steering wheel, his eyes straight ahead, his fingers holding tightly. Shay felt the tension emanate from him. "Not all of it was good, Shay," he said, his voice thick, contemplative. "We needed the change. We have to believe that everything that happened leading up to now happened for a reason."

"I know you're right," she said, thinking again of the losses and disappointments. First, losing Marvin Jr. Then, stepping down from their positions at Genesis House. Shay mentally chastised herself. She wasn't going to dwell on that now. The past was best left in the past.

"I know I'm right," Marvin said, his fingers a bit more relaxed on the steering wheel. "Besides, we're not leaving forever, and we're not going so far away that we can't keep in touch; Odessa, Mississippi isn't that far from Atlanta. I like Stuart's idea of all of us getting together at least once a year. We're not going to lose touch with them, sweetheart."

Shay sniffled for what she hoped was the last time. "I know, I know. You're right, but I still miss them. Are you sure you aren't just being macho?"

Marvin tilted his head down to her. "No, I'm not being macho. Instead of thinking about what we're leaving behind, I'm focusing on what's ahead and how blessed we are to be on a new adventure. It's been a long time since we've shared an adventure."

Shay knew Marvin was right. It was as though their lives had stopped four years ago with the death of their six-year-old son. After losing him, they had seemed to lose interest in everything else that was important to them. Their marriage had withered because of their inattention and, at their lowest point, Marvin had walked out on her. The ministry they'd shared couldn't be postponed long enough for them to pick up the pieces of their broken marriage or their broken lives, and they'd ended up resigning from work they'd felt they were called to do. But she and Marvin were back together now, and God was giving them another shot at a ministry and—soon, she prayed—another shot at a family.

Shay cast a sidewise glance at her husband, wondering how he was really doing. She couldn't always tell with Marvin. He was a master at keeping his feelings bottled up inside, and she had to work hard to keep him from withdrawing and suffering in silence and solitude. It was a tough line for her to walk. She didn't want to nag him to death, but neither did she want him to hide himself from her. She loved him—all of him—and she wanted to share his hurts and his successes. She studied him a moment longer. Then, feeling confident that he was okay, she leaned over and pressed a kiss against his smoothly shaven jaw.

"What's that for?" he asked, glancing briefly in her direction.

"Because I love you," she said simply.

He smiled and, taking her hand, placed it over his heart. "You'd better, because I'm not going anywhere. You're stuck with me for life."

Shay accepted his words for the truth they were and finally allowed her cares to recede. She noticed that the lonesome highway they'd traveled for the last two hours was giving way to a more peopled area. A Wal-Mart shopping center, with a chain pizza restaurant; a video rental store; and a Chinese restaurant seemed to have sprung up out of the woods. A new-looking Chevron service station sat across the street from the shopping center. A bright yellow banner heralding its grand opening flapped in the early spring breeze.

"Feeling better now?" Marvin asked, taking his eyes off the road for a second to inquire.

"Getting there," she said, taking in the Welcome to Odessa sign that signaled entry into the town they would now call home.

"Good, because we're getting there too, to our new home."

"How close are we?" Shay asked as they drove down what she thought was the main street and through the small town that was built around a center square, where the courthouse was located. Stores and shops—locally owned, not chains—seemed to run about one to two blocks deep on each of the four sides of Courthouse Square.

Marvin reached for the AAA map on the dash when they stopped at the first traffic light. One thing Shay had learned over the years was to try not to navigate with Marvin at the wheel. In their relationship, he drove and navigated. It made for a much smoother trip, not to mention a much happier marriage. "It looks like we make a left at the next light and drive for about a mile." He folded and replaced the map. "Not far."

Frame houses with dirt yards and large overhanging oak trees lined the street onto which Marvin turned. Children at play and cars in need of repair dotted the yards. As they crossed a narrow bridge—for a creek, not a river—Shay recognized a change in the neighborhood. Big oak trees still dominated the landscape, but rich, green yards replaced the dirt yards, and larger, better-maintained frame houses replaced the smaller structures they'd passed earlier.

"Is that it?" she asked a few minutes later. Up ahead on the left she saw two men and a woman scurrying around in the side yard of a single-story, olive green country home. Four wooden rocking chairs sat on the banistered porch that extended across the front of the house. About six or seven steps led up to the porch.

Marvin nodded. "That's it."

"Are we early?" she asked, hating to think they'd gotten here ahead of time and thus before their hosts were ready for them. She watched as the larger man and the woman hurried around the back of the house, while the other man stood waiting as they drove up the graveled drive.

"I don't think we're early," Marvin said as he eased the car into the driveway. "Hey, there's Daniel."

A smile spread across Shay's face as Marvin's old college roommate rushed toward their car. She was out of the car and in Daniel's arms as soon as Marvin brought the car to a full stop. "Daniel, it's so good to see you again," she said, stepping out of his bear hug.

"You, too, Miss Shay." Daniel spread her arms wide and looked her over. "You're lookin' good, lady."

"Hey," Marvin called, coming around from the driver's side of the car to join them. He closed the passenger door that Shay, in her haste, had left open. Then he said to Daniel, "Stop flirting with my wife."

Daniel turned and embraced Marvin with the same bear hug he'd given Shay. The two men were about the same size, though Shay thought her Marvin was probably an inch or two taller than Daniel, who was much lighter in complexion than her dark brown–skinned husband. Both men had at one time sported a mustache, but Marvin had shaved his, while Daniel still wore one. Both men wore faded jeans, attesting to their preference for comfort over style. Seeing them together like this brought back memories of the close relationship they'd shared over the years. At one time, she and Marvin and Daniel and his then fiancée had been planning back-to-back weddings.

"Marvin, man," Daniel said, "it's so good to see you, to see both of you. Come on, let me introduce you to Greg and Vickie, your impromptu welcoming committee."

"Are we early?" Shay asked, her previous concern revived.

Daniel shook his head. "Let's just say we had a slight communication problem."

Daniel's words and ominous tone made Shay think he wanted to say more, but she couldn't follow up because she was distracted by words coming from the back of the house.

"It's not going to work," came a woman's anxious voice.

"Yes, it will," a deep, reassuring male voice said.

"I'm not sure."

"Trust me" came the male voice again, this time with a tinge of teasing in the tone.

Shay lifted her eyes in question to Daniel. He sighed and, with a broad smile, beckoned them. Casting a glance at Marvin, Shay followed Daniel to the back of the house. She was surprised and a bit overwhelmed by what she saw: a beautiful, honey-complexioned woman impeccably dressed in a pale yellow skirted outfit more suited for a formal dinner party than a back- yard, and a bear of a man over six feet tall and weighing a good deal more than Marvin's two hundred pounds. Oddly, the woman made more of an impact on her than the man did. Standing before this stunning beauty, Shay felt every one of the extra fifteen pounds she carried on her five-foot-six-inch frame. She didn't even want to think about how she looked in her now rumpled sundress when compared to this fantastically unwrinkled young woman.

"Vic, Greg," Daniel called to them, gaining their attention. "The Taylors have arrived. I want you to meet them."

The woman flashed Shay a smile so pure and honest that Shay ceased her comparisons and opened her heart.

"Welcome," Vic said brightly and warmly. "I'm Vickie Thompson. I'm chairing the welcome committee. So nice to meet both of you."

Shay moved forward into the woman's welcoming embrace. "Nice to meet you too, Vickie. I'm Shay, and this is my husband, Marvin."

Vickie extended her manicured hand to Marvin. "Nice to meet you."

"And this is Greg Dawson," Daniel said. "He's the chair of our deacon board and all-around everything man."

The man's warm smile matched Vickie's. "Welcome, folks," he said, stuffing a white handkerchief into the pocket of his green coveralls. "We're mighty glad to have you. Daniel here has told us a lot about you, Shay," he said with a slight nod to her. Then he acknowledged Marvin the same way. "We were trying to get everything all set up for your welcome cookout tomorrow afternoon," Greg explained, opening his arms to the expansive backyard that butted against an open pasture. A white Ford pickup truck loaded with redwood picnic tables was parked next to what looked to be a recently poured concrete patio. "As you can see, we haven't quite finished yet."

"It's a mess," Vickie said. "That Bo—"

"All right, Vic." Daniel tousled her shoulder-length hair as if she were a preteen. "We'll take care of it."

"But Daniel," she began, her light brown eyes flashing concern, "you're the pastor. You can't let him—"

Daniel winked at Shay and Marvin. "Yes, I can," he said, cutting Vickie off. "Why don't you show Shay the house and help her get started unpacking all those boxes the delivery guys left yesterday? The menfolk'll take care of the outside problems."

Shay saw the rolling of Vickie's eyes at Daniel's comment and had to stifle a giggle. A quick glance at Marvin showed he was doing the same. Shay didn't have to be told that Daniel and Vickie had known each other for a long time. They bickered like brother and sister. "I'd love to see the inside of the house," she said in an effort to keep peace.

Vickie opened her mouth to say something, but Daniel again cut her off, this time by giving her a light shove in Shay's direction. "Shay wants to see the house."

Vickie's eyes shot daggers at Daniel, but she held her tongue. "Come on, Shay," she said. Then she muttered something about men that Shay couldn't quite make out; probably it was best she couldn't. With a last glance at her now grinning husband, Shay followed Vickie into the house. Odessa already felt like home.

t

Deacon Greg's beeper went off as soon as the women turned the corner toward the front of the house. He looked at the number. "I expected this call. I'm gonna have to leave it to you boys." He extended his surprisingly smooth hand to Marvin. "Nice meeting you and the missus. I'll see you both tomorrow afternoon."

"A beeper?" Marvin asked as he watched the deacon leave. Coveralls and a beeper didn't go together in his mind.

Daniel grinned. "Don't judge the book by its cover. Deac is also one of Odessa's best physicians." He clapped Marvin on the back. "Let's get to moving these tables."

"Small towns," Marvin murmured as he followed his friend to the truck. His plans for the future had never included living in a small town, much less a small town in Mississippi, but here he was. And to top it all off, he was glad to be here.

Daniel chuckled. "Not quite Atlanta, huh?" He dropped the tailgate and then he hopped up on the back of the truck. "It'll take some getting used to, but you and Shay are going to love it here."

Marvin cleared his throat as he reached for the table Daniel handed to him. "I know I've told you this before, Daniel, but I want you to know how much Shay and I appreciate your giving us this opportunity."

Daniel started shaking his head. "Don't thank me. Like I told you, you and Shay are very much needed here. I knew I couldn't direct this project without help when my job was as assistant pastor, so I knew there was no way I could do it after stepping in as interim pastor. All I did was be obedient. The Lord placed you two on my heart, and I went with what he said. I don't try to understand his choices; I merely follow his lead."

Marvin took a second table from Daniel and placed it on the patio. "I don't understand God's choices either," he said, "because there's no way in my natural mind that I can understand why he would want Shay and me for this work, not after the past couple of years we've had."

Daniel paused, arms akimbo, and stared down at his friend. "So you're thinking you're not worthy to do all this work, huh?"

Marvin forced out a laugh. He knew he and Shay had signed on for a lot of work, but it was work they both enjoyed, work they felt called to do, and work they felt blessed to be given an opportunity to do again. "It's crossed my mind."

"Well, throw it out of your mind," Daniel said, going back to the tables. "If God only gave us what we deserved, we'd have nothing. I wouldn't be stepping in for Pastor while he's out of the country, and you certainly wouldn't be married to a fine sister like Shay."

Marvin's lips curved in a satisfied smile at that comment. "You sure do have a lot of comments to make about my wife."

"Single man's rights."

"Yeah, right. Spoken by the brother who says he's called to be single."

"That doesn't mean I'm blind," Daniel said with a boyish grin. "How are you and Shay doing?"

Marvin had told Daniel all about his and Shay's separation, so Marvin fully understood the concern behind his friend's question. "We're good," he said. "Maybe better than good. Walking out on Shay the way I did was the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life. I could have lost her, man. I thank God she's the woman she is and that she never stopped loving me. I won't make the same mistake twice. You can bank on that."

"Good, ‘cause I'm telling you, a sister like Shay could make a man seek the Lord for a new calling."

Marvin raised a brow at his friend's teasing. "I think we'd better leave this conversation alone. Maybe you should be asking the Lord about Vickie."

"What about Vic?" Daniel asked, mouth open, eyes wide.

Shaking his head, Marvin laughed at his friend's clueless expression. He wasn't surprised that Daniel didn't think of Vickie as anything more than a sister in the Lord. Daniel fully believed the Lord had called him to be single, and he wasn't looking for a relationship. As far as Marvin knew, Daniel hadn't been involved in a romantic relationship since he'd broken his engagement to his college fiancée. Knowing it would be pointless to engage in a discussion of Daniel's possible pursuit of Vickie, Marvin turned the conversation and asked, "So who's this Bo that Vickie was talking about, or trying to talk about, before you rushed her off?"

Daniel shrugged, handed the last table to Marvin, and hopped down off the truck. "He's a kid from the neighborhood. Was real active in the church. A youth leader and everything."

"Was?"

Daniel released a frustrated sigh. "Yeah, was. Well, he got a basketball scholarship to Auburn. Lasted about a year. I'm not sure what happened, but there's been talk of girls, parties, and drugs. I'm not sure I believe all of it. More than likely he fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a shame, too, because he's a good kid. Since he's been back home, he hasn't been in any major trouble, but the little stuff is starting to add up. It doesn't take a prophet to figure out where he's headed. He works the midnight shift at the factory in Overton—that's the next town over—and he lives at home here with his two elderly aunts."

"That's rough, man," Marvin said. His heart went out to the boy. "From a basketball scholarship at Auburn to a factory job in Overton. That's a long way to fall, especially for somebody so young."

Daniel turned so he could fasten the tailgate of the truck. "That's his major problem, I think. Everybody was so proud of him when he went off to Auburn. It was as if the whole town got the scholarship. And then the kid does something and gets kicked out of school. I pray he'll recover from this and not let it take him down. I still believe he's a decent kid, but he's definitely lost his way."

Marvin nodded, already identifying with the young man he hadn't even met. He clearly remembered what it was like to be lost and in need of help, yet afraid there was no help to be found. "He was supposed to take care of the tables this afternoon?"

"Yeah. I hired him on to do odd jobs around the place. One of them was to deliver and set up the tables this morning. He didn't do it, so I had to."

"What happened?"

Daniel rolled his shoulders in a slow shrug. "How do I know? Maybe he decided a pickup game of basketball was more important. At this point in his life, he's not the most reliable kid I know." Daniel dropped down onto one of the picnic benches and leaned his elbows on the table behind him. "He's supposed to take care of the yard and do other odd jobs around here. It helps us out, and it gives him something constructive to do with his time when he's not working. His pay comes out of the church budget since the house serves as the parsonage. I thought about letting him go so you could find your own help. But if you're up for it, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep him on. It might be good for him to interact with someone who hasn't known him his whole life. What do you think?"

"Not a problem," Marvin said, and meant it. God was giving him a second chance with Shay and a new ministry; how could he let God down by refusing someone else a second chance? "I'll talk to Shay about it tonight."

"Thanks, man. That's what I hoped you'd say." Daniel clapped his hands together, shaking off the debris from the tables, and stood. "Look, I've got to take this truck back and pick up my car. Want to ride with me? You can pick up Pastor's car and drive it back so you and Shay will both have some transportation. I would have had it here waiting for you, but I had to spend the morning doing Bo's job."

"Sounds good to me." Marvin cast a quick glance back toward the house. "But before we take off, let me check with Shay and make sure she doesn't have any work for me."

Daniel chuckled. "The way I figure it, Vic's still mad, and she's going to make the decision for Shay. My guess is they're in the middle of a pretty heavy talk session, and they won't want either one of us around for the next few hours."

t

Later that evening, Marvin walked through the screened front door of his new home and went looking for his wife. Daniel had been right. Shay and Vickie had practically pushed him out of the house so they could continue to "get to know each other," as Shay put it. He'd enjoyed the time with Daniel, but now he was more than ready to return home and spend some time with his wife. He cherished every moment he spent with her, sometimes feeling as though he had to make up for the six long months they'd been apart.

"Hey, beautiful," he called from the doorway of the modern kitchen, which was modestly decorated in blues and whites. Shay had changed from the light sundress she'd traveled in and now sported a pair of faded jeans and a T-shirt. She filled out both outfits about as well as any husband could want. When she looked up from the task of cleaning and rearranging the kitchen cabinets, he asked, "Miss me?"

Slipping off the yellow rubber gloves that protected her hands, she walked over to him and planted a soft kiss on his lips. "Just a little," she said, eyes twinkling.

When she turned back to her task, he pulled her back to him. "Not so fast, Mrs. Taylor. I missed you more than a little, so I think the cleaning is going to have to wait until morning."

She looked from him to the mess of pots and pans in front of the cabinet under the sink and back again. "I don't know," she began, as if she couldn't decide whether she'd rather finish her task or spend some quiet time with her husband.

"Well, I do." Marvin took her soft hand in his and led her into the comfortable sitting room just beyond the kitchen. He sat down on the overstuffed couch and pulled her down next to him, possessively draping an arm around her shoulders. The small room, furnished with only a couch, a coffee table, a TV and stand, and a lamp, had a cozy feel that he liked. The soft breeze flowing through the open windows gave the room the refreshing and earthy scent of newly mowed grass, which only added to the coziness.

"You're certainly the alpha male tonight, aren't you?" she said, looking up at him with love shining in her eyes. When she looked at him this way, his heart tightened, and everything about him became bigger than life. She made him feel he could do anything, be anything, for her.

"Any complaints?" he asked, forcing into his voice a sternness he didn't feel. How could he be stern when she looked at him the way she did now?

She snuggled into his embrace. "Not a one. How was boys' night out?"

Marvin caressed her shoulders through the soft cotton of her T-shirt. "Men-kicked-out night," he corrected. "How was the hen party?"

Shay chuckled and punched him playfully in the chest. "Hen party? I don't think I'm letting you out without me again."

"Good." He drew her closer to him so that her head rested against his shoulder. "I hate being the first man ready to go home. It blows my image."

Shay pulled back and looked into his eyes. "And what image is that? You don't want your friends to know you enjoy your wife's company?"

"Stop fishing for compliments." He pressed a kiss against her forehead before bringing her back close to him again. "So what did you and Vickie talk about all afternoon?"

He felt her giggle against his shoulder. "You and Daniel, mostly," she answered. "Of course, I said so many wonderful things about you that Vickie thinks you're the best husband in the world."

"Sure you did." Marvin sighed, feeling a contentment he had not so long ago doubted he'd ever feel again. "Since you're not going to tell me what you really talked about, let's change the subject."

Shay didn't immediately respond, which was all right with him because he enjoyed her silent company.

"I can't believe we're here," she said after long minutes had passed.

"I know the feeling."

"Vickie told me about Bo. What did Daniel tell you about him?"

He told her what little he knew. "He sounds a lot like me, rather the me I used to be." Marvin knew what it meant to be lost in disappointment and disillusionment, as he imagined Bo was. He'd been there himself, after Marvin Jr.'s death, but he'd made it to the other side. And if he could make it, he knew Bo could too. The hole in his heart created by his son's death was still there, of course, and he doubted it would ever fully heal, but he now knew he could live with the hole. And not merely live, but live and be happy. He'd once had dreams of a family with children, but now he was happily content with the family he and Shay made, just the two of them.

"Daniel hired Bo to do odd jobs around here, and he'd like us to keep him on," he told his wife. "I gather the kid's not too reliable and is prone to get in trouble, so there could be some work involved."

Her soft, fresh-smelling hair brushed his chin when she nodded. "Vickie told me some of his story too. I think she's about reached the end of her rope with him, though."

"Do you want to take him on?"

She peered up at him. "What do you think?"

He lowered his eyes so his gaze met hers. "I think we should do it. I didn't do it with Josh," Marvin said, thinking of the troubled teen whose path had crossed his about a year ago. Though he'd felt a tug on his heart to reach out to the young man, he hadn't done so. He thanked God that his friend, Stuart Rogers, had heeded when he'd felt the tug. Now, Stuart was Josh's guardian, and both of them were doing well. "I wasn't ready for the responsibility of a kid in my life on a regular basis then, but I'm ready for it this time, and I want to do it. For the kid, but also for us."

"I miss him so much," Shay said, and Marvin knew she was talking about Marvin Jr. He didn't comment; he knew Shay didn't expect him to. What was there left to say? They were quiet. He knew his wife's thoughts were in the past, as his were.

"I love you, Shay," he said a while later, willing the love he felt for her to fill the words he spoke.

"I know, and I love you, too."

"And that's my miracle," he said into her hair. "That in spite of all I've done, you still love me. How is that possible?"

Shay pressed a soft finger to his lips. "Don't ask that. Don't even think it. There has never been a time from the moment I met you that I haven't loved you. You're the only man for me. The only man."

"In spite of everything?"

She shook her head back and forth, causing her short curls to dance across her forehead. "I don't like to think of my love for you in those terms. ‘In spite of everything' makes it seem as though you aren't deserving of the love I feel for you. Well, you are. You're a wonderful man, and I feel especially blessed and honored, not to mention deliriously happy, that God gave you to me." She gave him the wide, welcoming smile he loved so dearly. "And I'm not giving you up. Ever."

He chuckled and then pressed a solid kiss against her lips. "Okay, tiger, I hear you."

Shay reclined against him again, practically purring like a contented kitten. "I admit it. I am a tiger when it comes to my husband, and I'm not going to apologize for it." She tightened her embrace of him. "Not even to you."

Marvin held her, not needing any more words between them. He knew he would be content to remain this way forever.

"Marvin," Shay whispered a short while later, "I want to have another baby."

Marvin felt his muscles tighten. The big one that pumped blood throughout his body tightened most. Another baby? "But the doctor—"

"Look at what God is doing." Shay turned and rested her palms against his chest. "He's restored our relationship. He's given us a ministry. He's giving us the desires of our hearts, Marvin. I know it. I see it. And if he's doing that, he's certainly going to give us another child. I can feel it."

Marvin hugged his wife close, and she relaxed back against him. He loved this woman more than he loved his own life, but he did not want another child. The pain of losing Marvin Jr. had almost destroyed him. How could he risk loving—and possibly losing—another child? He couldn't. He knew he couldn't. He'd lost too much already. He couldn't lose anyone else, and he didn't want anyone else he could lose. He was content to spend his life grateful for what he already had.

He pressed a light kiss against Shay's hair and prayed that the Lord would listen to the plea of his heart. He wanted to give Shay what she wanted, but he was glad she couldn't have any more children, and he wasn't about to pray for the miracle they'd need for her to get pregnant again.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    A solid Christian marriage

    A realistic portrayal of the challenges in a Christian marriage.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Wow

    This book is well written and very encouraging; pick up to read and you won't be disappointed! Thank you Angela

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    Inspiring

    This book is very good it is inspiring, uplifting and powerful!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Abiding Hope

    Powerful

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Abiding Hope

    Enjoyed it to the max.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2012

    Enjoyable Read

    Simple story line - references to scripture can lead the reader to deeper thought - I enjoyed it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Beautiful, heartwrenching love story-must read!

    I am hoping there will be a lot more books added to this beautiful Genesis House series. Angela Benson has an amazing way of sharing real-life situations in a relatable way to all readers. I'd recommend reading the first book "Awakening Mercy" just to get the full story, but its not truly neccessary because this story alone is so great!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Recommend

    Do not expect this book to pick up where the last one ends!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    This was a really inspiring book. I really enjoyed it, and had to keep reading till the end. Had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep at night.

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    Posted February 4, 2012

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