From the Publisher
A novelization of the feature film Heart of the Country
Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, Luke is on the fast track as a rising young executive. And Faith, a beautiful singer turned socialite, is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.
When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she takes off for the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to ask his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned and hope to be met with open arms? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere to run but home?
Rene Gutteridge is the author of nineteen novels, including Listen, Possession, Misery Loves Company, the Storm series, the Boo series, the Occupational Hazards series, and the novelization of the movie The Ultimate Gift. Rene and her husband have two children and live in Oklahoma.
John Ward has spent twenty-five years in the film industry as a screenwriter, director, and actor. He recently wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film I AM. He also wrote, produced, and directed the Liquid DVD series for Thomas Nelson. He currently serves as president of Bayridge Films. Tyndale House Publishers
Read an Excerpt
HEART OF THE COUNTRY
By RENE GUTTERIDGE, JOHN WARD, Sarah Mason
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2011 John Ward
All rights reserved.
It was a strange thing to know that I was to become a memory to them. I kept searching for pain because pain means life. Instead, I smelled Lip Smackers on Olivia's pale-pink lips. I heard Faith's high-pitched giggles that still sounded childish even though she was growing into a young woman. I couldn't move my arms, but against my fingertips, I felt their hair, their shoelaces, their sticky cheeks.
I knew this would break their hearts into thousands of tiny pieces that one lifetime couldn't mend.
I wished that he knew my name. I wanted somebody to know my name. The sirens wailed and screamed and I wondered if I was coming and going out of consciousness or if that's just how sirens sounded from the inside.
Above me, out of a light misty-gray that seemed like steam from a shower, I saw a man's face come into view. His eyes were frantic but gorgeous and blue. Above him I caught my reflection against a long metal strip that ran the length of the ambulance. There was a familiarity to him, but that was true of everyone in Columbus County. If I didn't know you, I knew your mom or your grandpa or your second cousin.
"Blood pressure ..."
The words faded, just like the sirens, and his beautiful eyes retreated to a far place that I longed to reach for. I only saw the girls now, their faces passing by me like living, breathing photographs. And Calvin standing by his horse.
I wanted to be more than a memory. I hated that for the rest of their days they would only be able to touch me in their minds or set their gazes on a tiny glimpse captured by a camera.
A mother's heart cannot let go. Not even to a father who had all the love in the world to offer them. I could never be replaced.
I looked again to that long metal reflection above me. I was covered in blankets. The EMT was covered in blood, and I thought that was strange. Warm and cold sensations drifted through my body, and I searched again for any sign of pain. My face looked distorted against the metal, like in a fun house mirror, except nothing else seemed out of proportion.
"Fourteen minutes out!"
Yes, it was a long way to the hospital when you lived in the country. Only one winding road led through our neck of the woods. Columbus County did not have a well-designed road system. The state was involved in a plan to pave "farm to market" roads, the idea being to improve transportation of tobacco, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans, and livestock to places like Whiteville and Tabor City, where the train tracks ran. But instead of designing a modern road system, they paved the old dirt roads that had generally followed horse and carriage paths. They once connected neighboring farms, working around and over the swampy areas, resulting in a system of meandering roads. I could feel the ambulance hugging the curves of the concrete. It was often on these roads where I heard the music play.
I closed my eyes, or maybe they were already closed. I told myself to live, no matter what, to live. And then I felt it, a tiny prick of pain in my heel.
Excerpted from HEART OF THE COUNTRY by RENE GUTTERIDGE, JOHN WARD, Sarah Mason. Copyright © 2011 John Ward. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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