- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
"Patti?" Sara called as the door to their apartment swung open. "Are you home?"
Her roommate didn't answer.
Sara dropped her books and backpack on the rickety table near the door and headed for the refrigerator. As usual, she was hungry at the end of a school day.
Just before she reached the kitchen, a man appeared in the doorway. Sara let out a squeal of alarm as she jumped away from him — and found herself pressing against the back of the love seat, unable to go farther.
She glanced toward her backpack. A spray can of Mace was in the side pocket. Her brothers insisted she carry one now that she was out on her own. If she could reach it before he —
The stranger raised his right hand, like a traffic cop warning her not to move. He was holding a hammer. "I'm here to install the new kitchen cabinets," he explained quickly, before she could make a dive for her bag. "Mrs. Hilton let me in. I thought I'd be done before anyone got home, but I ran into a few problems."
Her pulse began to regulate. She remembered now that her landlady had said the carpenter was coming today.
"Sorry I startled you." He grinned. "I don't generally frighten women. Honest, I don't."
His smile made Sara's heartbeat jump into overdrive a second time. For a different reason.
"The name's Dave Porter." He switched the hammer to his left hand, then offered his right to her.
After a moment's hesitation, she took hold of it. It was large, warm, callused. She liked the feel as it enveloped hers in a firm grasp. "I'm Sara Jennings."
"I'll get out of your way as fast as possible. Shouldn't take me all that long to finish up."
She peeked around him into the kitchen. The new cabinets were a huge improvement over the old. "No hurry."
He gave a quick nod, then returned to his work.
With his back toward her, Sara was able to watch him, unabashedly enjoying the view. The sleeves of his blue-and-white plaid shirt were rolled up to his biceps, biceps that flexed and bulged as he used the hammer with precision. His shoulders were broad, his hips narrow. His worn Levi's fit him like a glove. And when his physique was taken into consideration along with his handsome face and devastating smile, he made one definite knockout package.
Her gaze shifted to his left hand. No wedding band. She breathed an unexpected sigh of relief. "You don't care if I get myself something to eat, do you? I mean, I won't be in your way, will I?" She wasn't hungry any longer; she just didn't want to leave the kitchen.
Dave glanced over his shoulder. His dark blue eyes seemed to say he knew the truth. "No, you won't be in my way. I like company while I'm working."
Sara opened the refrigerator and grabbed the first thing in sight — some leftover fried chicken.
"You a student at Boise State?" he asked her.
"I attended the U of I. A long time ago now. I had plans to be an architect, but money ran out after that first year. Circumstances changed, so I had to quit school." He pounded another nail. When he set the hammer on the counter, he continued speaking. "But I've built myself a pretty good carpentry business over the years, so it hasn't turned out all bad. I like working with my hands."
His hands. She wondered what it would feel like to have him caress her cheek with those work-roughened fingertips. A shiver ran up her spine.
"What's your major?"
His question jerked her unruly thoughts back to the present. "Theater arts. But I don't know what I'll do with it after I graduate." She gave a shaky little laugh. "It's not like I expect to be a movie star or anything."
He turned, leaned his behind against the edge of the counter, crossed his arms over his chest, and gave her a long, thorough look.
Her stomach tumbled, and again she shivered. She'd never had anyone look at her in quite that way before.
"You're sure pretty enough to be a movie star, Miss Sara Jennings."
She felt the heat of a blush flood her cheeks. He thought she was pretty. In a reflexive but purely feminine gesture, she ran a hand over her hair.
"You a senior?"
"No," she replied. "A freshman."
"Eighteen, huh? Man, I can hardly remember what it was like to be that age. Ancient history for me."
"I'm nineteen, and you don't look like you're all that much older than me."
He studied her again. She shifted, unsettled by the way his perusal made her feel. This was no college boy. This was a man. All male. Masculinity emanated from him in a way she'd never experienced before.
"I'm thirty-two." There seemed to be an unspoken question included in that simple statement.
She shrugged, hoping he wouldn't guess that her heart was pumping a million miles an hour. "That's not so old."
"You know ..." He glanced at the cabinets, then back at her. "It doesn't look like I'll get these finished today. It's going to take a bit longer than I thought at first. I'll need to come back tomorrow. Take my time and do it right. Don't want all your dishes getting busted."
"No, that wouldn't be good." She forced herself to take a breath; she didn't want to pass out from lack of oxygen. "I don't have any classes on Thursday afternoons. You won't need Mrs. Hilton to let you in."
She didn't have a clue why she'd said that to him.
His smile was slow, his gaze mesmerizing. "Fine. I'll come straight to your door. About two o'clock?"
Maybe she did know why she'd said it.
She nodded, saying, "I'll be here."
* * * Claire Porter had just finished setting the dining room table when the back door opened and her husband entered the kitchen. Her heart skipped, as it always did, at the sight of him.
"Hi, honey," she said, walking over to give him a welcome-home kiss.
"Hi." Dave dropped his tool belt on the floor beside the washing machine. Then he brushed his lips across hers before stepping around her and moving toward the stove. "What's for supper?"
"Pot roast with potatoes and carrots."
He lifted the lid, as if to see if she'd told the truth, then nodded. "I'll wash up."
He strode out of the kitchen, and a few moments later, Claire heard water running in the bathroom sink.
The back door opened again. This time her towheaded twelve-year-old son burst into the room. The knees of Mike's jeans were covered with dirt, his tennis shoes were caked with mud, and the underside of his fingernails looked like they hadn't been cleaned in a year.
"Hey, Mom. Sorry I'm late." He removed his shoes. "I was helping Mrs. Applegate put in her garden and lost track of the time."
Claire smiled. It was just like Mike to help their elderly neighbor.
She gave him a hug, thinking how lucky she was. She had a husband she adored and a son she wouldn't trade for all the gold in Fort Knox. What more could any woman want?
He stepped out of her embrace, looking up at her with excited blue eyes, a paler version of his father's. "Mrs. Applegate says she'll pay me three dollars a week if I'll help her weed her garden this summer. I told her she didn't have to give me nothin', that I'd be glad to help her. But she insisted. So is it okay if I let her pay me? I only need another thirty dollars in my savings account to get that new bike I've been wanting."
"You bet it's okay," Dave answered as he reappeared from the hallway.
"Hey, Dad. You heard?"
"Our son's a real entrepreneur." Dave grinned at Claire. "Next thing you know, I'll be going to the boy for my business loans instead of the bank. Isn't that right, Mikey?"
"Ah, Dad. I wish you wouldn't call me that. I'm not a baby anymore."
Contentment flowed over Claire. Dave worked long hours, and sometimes he could be short-tempered with both his wife and his son. But not this evening.
Again she thought how lucky she was. She and Dave had weathered more than their share of rough times — both financially and emotionally — in the almost thirteen years of their marriage. They were so young at the start, just kids really, with a baby already on the way. There was the disappointment that had come when they'd learned Claire couldn't have any more children after Mike was born. There was the year when they'd nearly lost the house after construction work in the Boise area dried up. And there was a period, a few years back, when Claire had wondered if Dave still loved her, had even wondered if he'd been unfaithful to her, although she'd never had anything but her gut feelings upon which to base her suspicions.
But those times were behind them now. They had come through with flying colors. They were happy. They were a whole family.
No other woman alive was as lucky as Claire.
Thirty-two years old. Her brothers would have a cow if they knew she was interested in a man that age. They still considered her the baby of the family — the little princess — and probably always would.
She smiled to herself. The three Jennings brothers had picked on and protected Sara throughout her life. They'd scared more than a couple of would-be suitors off their parents' farm when they hadn't thought the guy worthy of their sister's affections. Oh, how she'd hated their meddling. All three of them — Tim, Josh, and Eli — had been royal pains in the neck throughout her high school years. But if she was honest, she'd have to admit she missed being around them since she'd started attending the university.
But I don't miss them right now.
The last thing she would have wanted or needed was to suffer her brothers' interference in regard to Dave Porter.
She glanced at her watch.
The butterflies started fluttering in her stomach again. Three hours. Just three more hours and he would return to her apartment. Was it only to finish the cabinets? Or was he coming to see her?
She answered her own question: He's coming to see me. He could have finished yesterday, but he wanted to see me again.
Sara knew she was right. There'd been some sort of connection between them. Something special, something unique. Could this be what was called "love at first sight"?
She scrawled his name across a sheet of lined notebook paper. Dave Porter. It had a nice sound. Dave Porter. Simple. Strong. Straightforward.
She looked at her watch again. If it weren't for the sweep of the second hand, she'd have thought it wasn't working. Time seemed to stand still. She wanted it to be two o'clock.
When class was over, she bolted from the room like a kid on the last day of school before summer vacation. She didn't hang around to visit with any of her friends. She didn't look for her roommate or walk to the student union building for lunch as she often did. Instead, she slipped her backpack over her arms and started jogging toward her apartment building, about six blocks away from the university.
She hoped against hope that Patti wouldn't decide to cut her Thursday afternoon class. It wouldn't be unprecedented if she did. Patti Cooper hated her math class — and the professor who taught it.
Once home, Sara bustled around the apartment, picking up dirty clothes and straightening magazines and books. She applied the broom to the scruffy hardwood floor, sweeping up the collection of dust bunnies from beneath chairs and tables. There wasn't a lot of furniture in the tiny living room, and what there was looked old and ratty. The typical college-kids-on-a-shoestring style of decorating. Parents' castoffs and Salvation Army purchases. She hadn't given much thought to how the apartment looked before now. It was just a place to crash between classes and parties and college ball games. Most of her friends' off-campus apartments looked much the same — or worse.
But Dave wasn't a college student, and she didn't want him to think of her as one.
By one forty-five, Sara had taken a shower, reapplied her eye shadow and mascara — the only makeup she wore — and was dressed in her favorite wine-colored jeans and a mauve blouse. As she stared at herself in the full-length bathroom mirror, she wondered if she ought to change again. The outfit made her look too young, too unsophisticated. Which she probably was.
A dress might be a better choice. She had a nice green number with a super-short skirt that showed off her long legs and —
There was no time to finish the thought, let alone follow through, before the doorbell rang. Sara's pulse quickened in direct proportion with her now rapid breathing. She tried to hide how nervous and uncertain she felt.
"Too early?" Dave asked the moment the door opened before him.
"No," she answered, "you're right on time."
He grinned, as if he understood she'd been watching the clock in anticipation of his arrival.
Sara held the door open a little wider. "Come on in."
"That's why I'm here." He grabbed his toolbox and stepped inside.
He was dressed much as he'd been the day before, only this time his plaid shirt was red and white. The sleeves were rolled to above his elbows again. The hair on his arms, she noticed, was gold instead of light brown like the hair on his head.
She followed him as far as the kitchen doorway, wondering what excuse she could use to stay right there.
He fastened his leather tool belt around his waist, placed a level, a hammer, and some nails on the countertop, then glanced behind him, meeting her gaze. He smiled at her in that special way of his. "So tell me about yourself, Miss Jennings. Like I said yesterday, I enjoy company while I work."
"There's nothing very interesting to tell," she answered, pleased that he'd asked, that he'd given her a reason to stay.
"I bet that's not true. Start with your family. Are they from around here?"
Sara had never been the type to say much about herself to new acquaintances, but with Dave, for some reason, she didn't feel her usual reticence. Maybe it was the way his blue eyes met hers without wavering. Or maybe it was his slightly crooked smile that made warm feelings curl in her stomach. Whatever the reason, she wanted him to know all about her, just as she wanted to know all about him.
"My folks have a farm outside of Caldwell. Dad grows corn and sugar beets."
"Brothers and sisters?"
"Brothers. Three of them. All older."
Dave whistled through his teeth. "Bet you were one spoiled little baby doll."
If someone else had said that to her, she'd have been insulted. "I suppose so," she admitted. "But I was pestered plenty too. Their favorite game when I was five or six was 'let's ditch Sara.' I was left behind in the strangest places."
"It wasn't funny at the time."
"Bet not." As he spoke, he started to work on the cabinets. "What got you interested in the theater?"
"I don't know." Sara settled onto one of the two barstools at the counter that separated the kitchen from the living area. "I just always loved to act."
Dave had a way of drawing out more and more information. Over the course of the next hour, she told him the names of her three brothers as well as the names of her parents, disclosed her passion for horses and barrel racing, announced she had the lead role in Boise State's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and confessed her fondness for Chinese food and chocolate cake with dark-fudge frosting.
It was only when he started packing up his tools that she realized she hadn't asked him a single question about himself, and now he was getting ready to leave. A wave of panic struck her in the midsection.
"Well, that should do it. Now you can put your dishes away." He picked up his toolbox.
Excerpted from The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher Copyright © 1999 by Robin Lee Hatcher. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 13, 2002
Every woman should read this book. Hatcher has created a story that is every woman's nightmare, yet she allows God to work through the characters to take away bitterness, anger, and hatred and teach people how to forgive. I could hardly put this book down. The emotion in the book is so vivid, the characters are so real, and the plot is so compelling. Definitely a book that I will recommend to others.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2013
Posted October 31, 2012
Posted August 18, 2012
Posted May 13, 2012
Loved this book. I was intrigued from the opening page, the betrayal that the story is written around is something I can't even imagine. The author did a really good job of presenting both sides to the reader. Thanks to Elena for the great recommendation! I love Goodreads for precisely this reason, I read books I doubt I would ever come across on my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2004
This is the best book I have ever read...I couldn't put it down. I have passed it on to several of my friends and we are still talking about it. It came to me by accident but at such a point in my life that I needed to read this to be able to forgive so much of my own past.....UNDENIABLEY THE BEST BOOK EVER...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2002
Posted March 8, 2014
No text was provided for this review.