The Seat Beside Me

The Seat Beside Me

4.8 12
by Nancy Moser

View All Available Formats & Editions

That strange, snoring, legroom-invading person next to you on the airplane -- have you ever imagined owing your life to him? Nancy Moser tells the gripping story of five passengers and their seatmates who get casually acquainted -- then plunge headlong into an icy river in a sudden plane crash. The moments that follow are more intense than any they have ever lived,…  See more details below


That strange, snoring, legroom-invading person next to you on the airplane -- have you ever imagined owing your life to him? Nancy Moser tells the gripping story of five passengers and their seatmates who get casually acquainted -- then plunge headlong into an icy river in a sudden plane crash. The moments that follow are more intense than any they have ever lived, changing the way the passengers see God and the meaning of life itself. This book reveals the eternal impact a brief interaction can have and the drastic measures it takes for some to reexamine their souls.

Editorial Reviews

Lisa Ramaglia
The Seat Beside Me isn't so much about a plane crash as it is about surviving...This powerfully emotional book had me in tears more times than I can count. It had me up late when I should have been sleeping. It had me turning pages when I should have been working. It held on and wouldn't let go until I'd read the very last page…well done, Ms. Moser.
Scribes World (Reviewer's Choice Award)
Detra Fitch
Author Nancy Moser has written such an emotional story about coping after living through the worst moments of life! Keep the tissues close, because this one will fill you with sadness and then lift you upward with God's words! Excellent! Highly recommended.
Huntress Book Reviews
Bea Sheftel
The writer expertly draws a thread around all the survivors and tells their story with compassion and truth. Her fictional account of a plane crash is dynamic, heartfelt, and so real you'll cry for those lost, and those who survived.
AOL Romance Online
Kim Peterson
Moser provides a compelling story that should motivate readers to reasess their own lives before tragedy disrupts.
Marketplace Magazine
John Mort
Some become heroes, others demonstrate their selfishness. All who survive are profoundly changed.
Library Journal
In light of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Moser's latest is particularly powerful; essential for all collections.
Romantic Times
Nancy Moser causes readers to feel a wealth of emotions with this book...Not just a work of fiction, The Seat Beside Me is a tool for healing and understanding how God touches the lives of those He loves---which is all of us.
Publishers Weekly
Where is God in the midst of appalling tragedy? Moser follows up her inspirational Mustard Seed series of novels by exploring the timely topic of random chance versus divine will. In a few seconds, Sun Fun Airlines Flight 1382 goes from takeoff to nightmare, as the plane crashes into a heavily trafficked bridge, then plunges into a frigid river. Ninety-seven people are dead, and five passengers are left to wonder why they are alive. The survivors, three women and two men, re-examine their priorities and ideas about God, while journalist Dora Roberts struggles with the temptation to indulge in sensationalist exploitation of the disaster as she covers the aftermath for the Chronicle. Despite writing from multiple points of view, Moser keeps the story line clear and the pacing steady. However, like many recent Christian fiction releases, the novel is too long; it also includes a seven-page dialogue between Tina and another character that mostly functions to present the plan for salvation. Readers will have to stretch their imaginations to believe that the characters share as much personal information as they do with their seatmates in the long delay before takeoff. However, Moser makes the stretch worth the effort. As the survivors mull over why they were spared, Moser admirably demonstrates that tragedy is a life-changing opportunity, in which reassessments and changes for the better are possible. This is upbeat news that many Christian readers will appreciate after recent tragic events. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

January 29
12:30 a.m.

I don’t want to go.
Dora Roberts tossed her keys on the kitchen counter and flipped through her mail, quickly setting it aside. She was too tired to deal with bills and solicitations now. She’d do it when she got back.

I really don’t want to go.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like visiting her mother in Phoenix, but Dora had just been home for Christmas the month before, and her bank account was strained by two plane flights spaced so closely together—especially this latest flight that had been booked at the spur of the moment, costing her a bundle.

And yet, how could she not be there when her mother went in for gallbladder surgery?

A painful flare-up had sent her mother to the doctor for tests and a quickly scheduled surgery. If only it had happened while I was down at Christmas…

Dora closed her eyes against the selfish thought and shucked off her shoes. Her mother was all alone in the world except for her. Daddy gone. Dora, an only child. It was her responsibility to be there whenever she was needed, even if it was financially draining. Even if it had made her stay at the office of the Chronicle until nearly midnight, getting her work done so she could—

The phone rang, sending her heart to her toes. She glanced at the clock on her microwave. It was nearly twelve-thirty. No call at this time of night could be good news.


“Dora, you don’t have to come! You don’t have to come!”

“Mom? What are you talking about?”

“I’ve been trying to call you and call you. Didn’t you get my messages?”

Dora glanced at the answering machine. The message light was blinking. “I just got home from the office. I didn’t think to listen.” She’d gotten off track. “What’s your message?”

“I don’t have to have the surgery! It all started yesterday when I did a no-no and ate pizza. You know how hard it is for me to resist pizza, and so I had it for lunch knowing the pain would come. But then it didn’t. And that was so remarkable, and I felt so good that I got my doctor to do another ultrasound. And am I ever glad I did. The ultrasound revealed there was nothing there. No blockage. No problem.”

“But the previous ultrasound—?”

“The doctor doesn’t have an explanation for it. One day it was there and I needed surgery, the next day it wasn’t and I didn’t. He didn’t have an explanation, but I do. We do.”

Dora’s thoughts had taken the same path as her mother’s. “You think it’s a God-thing, Mom? You think God healed you?”

“What other explanation is there?”

“Perhaps they merely made a mistake.”

“It was my innards in both those ultrasounds, Dora.”

“Perhaps the doctor read them wrong?”

“Even I could see the difference.”

“Or maybe—”

“Dora. Dear child, I’m ashamed of you. Quit trying to explain away a miracle. You’ve been praying for me, haven’t you?”

“Of course.”

“And I’ve been praying, and I know a lot of people at church have been praying. It’s a miracle, and nothing you say can prove it otherwise. But the bottom-line blessing is that you don’t have to rush back down here.”

“I really don’t mind,” Dora said, hoping it was at least partially true.

“I know you don’t. You’re a good daughter. But I also know money is tight and you’re swamped at the paper. Didn’t you say so at Christmas?”

“Yes, but—”

“Well, now you don’t have to come. Save your money and come down later in the spring, like we’d planned.”

A wave of relief flooded over her. “Are you positive?”

“Absolutely. Now get to bed. You’ve got to get up to go to work in a few hours.”

“Thanks, Mom. You know I love you.”

“And I love you too. But the thanks? I didn’t do anything. God did. So thank Him, all right?”

Dora hung up the phone and did exactly that.

11:30 a.m.

“It’s good you’re leaving.”

Merry Cavanaugh coughed at her husband’s statement. “It is?”

Lou turned the van into the terminal entrance leading to Sun Fun Airlines. Snow pummeled the windshield. “Sure. I know how close you were to Teresa in college. How long has it been since you’ve seen her?”

Merry was disappointed Lou was oblivious to her real reason for leaving. “She was here after Justin was first born.”

“She’s still single, right?”

“She’s a vice president in her company.” Merry said it as if one fact had something to do with the other.

“That’s too bad—the single part, that is. I bet she’s jealous of you.”

Merry lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t think—”

“She sees you living the ideal life with a husband who adores you and a fantastic little boy who likes nothing better than to climb on your lap and give you a hug. What does she have?” Merry took a breath to answer, but Lou continued. “She has a stressful job and a lonely house. Thanks, but no thanks.”

No thanks? Are you crazy?

Merry looked to the Sun Fun entrance coming up on their right. She only had a few moments before she was free. And yet she longed to let him have it, make him understand how she really felt. Lou was so clueless sometimes.

Her chest heaved; her hands gripped and regripped the handles of the carry-on bag in her lap. The awful truth threatened.

Lou looked over at her and smiled. “You are so beautiful. Did you know that?”

She hugged the door to get as far away from the words as she could. The fight left her—as it usually did when he said nice things. Maybe it was better he was ignorant to reality. After the trip…after she’d had time to think things through and get Teresa’s advice… The truth was, if she brought it all up now, he might not let her go.

“Here we are.” Lou pulled up front, the tires slipping on the snow-covered street. He got out of the van to get her suitcase. Merry put her hood up, got out, opened the side door, and gave Justin a hug. “I’m going to miss you, sweetie.” In spite of everything, it was the truth.

“I’ll miss you too, Mommy. Daddy says he has a surprise for me.”

“He does?”

“I hope he’s taking me to McDonald’s for breakfast. Do you think that’s it?”

“Sure. I bet that’s it.” Merry gave her son a kiss and closed the door against the snow. She waved good-bye through the window.

Lou appeared at her side, suitcase in tow. The weather would prevent a lengthy good-bye. Just as well.

“Have a good trip, Mer. Love you.”

She accepted his hug and kiss. “Love you too.” It was the truth. But not all the truth.

Merry hurried inside the terminal and removed her coat, brushing away the flakes that melted in the heated building. She rolled her suitcase to the check-in line and allowed herself a deep breath. I'm alone. Finally alone. No husband. No son. No plan except to have fun and remember what life was like before a family had tied her down with responsibilities. Twenty-nine was too young to feel so old.

She felt absolutely decadent, even though part of the thrill had been dampened by the fact that Lou wanted her to go, urged her to go. When her old college chum had invited her, Merry was afraid to even mention the idea to her husband, and yet, when she did, he jumped on the plan, even offering to dip into their meager savings to fund the trip.

At first she was suspicious. Why does he want me gone? But she soon tossed such ridiculous notions away. Above all else, Lou could be trusted. Lou was true-blue, honest, hardworking, kind, generous, loyal…

Everything she was not.

But maybe a little time away would change all that. Maybe she was so down about her life because it was so disgustingly normal and routine. Maybe she was simply having a case of thirtyitis. Had her twenties been all she’d wanted them to be?

Although she’d always wanted to be a mother, Merry thought it would be more…rewarding. Like in the TV commercials with the ever patient mother, ruffling the naughty son’s hair while she gave him a forgiving smile. Always under control, always smiling, always fulfilled.

Life didn’t work that way. Although she loved her family, she often found herself on the verge of strangling them—at least in theory. When Justin had gotten into Merry’s brand-new eye shadow, putting water in it, using it like watercolor paints, or when he had scribbled on the walls with red crayons, Merry never considered ruffling his hair and smiling. Not once.

And those women who pined for their man to come home, whose hearts beat a little faster at the sound of their husband’s car? As often as not, Merry was relieved when Lou left in the morning, and her stomach grabbed ever so slightly when he returned. Not because she didn’t love him, but because he thought so much of her—was constantly telling her what a wonderful wife and mother she was—she felt obligated to try to live up to his opinion. When he was home she couldn’t let down her guard and be herself. She was way too flawed.

Lou deserved better. And she deserved…

She thought of Teresa and Phoenix and four days of fun, sun, and free—

An announcement came over the loudspeakers. “We’re sorry, folks, but the airport has been temporarily shut down due to the blizzard. Please continue to check in and remain at your gates until further notice. Hopefully we’ll begin boarding soon, and your delay will be as short as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

Merry joined the groans of those around her. Apparently the fun and sun would have to wait.

11:45 a.m.

Suzy lifted her father’s suitcase from the trunk of the car. “This is heavy. I thought you were only going for a few days.”

George stifled a laugh. If only Suzy knew what was in the suitcase. The only reason it had any weight at all was so she wouldn’t be suspicious. At the last minute George had scooped up two drawerfuls of Irma’s things and dumped them in the suitcase for weight, adding as an afterthought his favorite framed picture of her. Of the women’s clothing, a picture, and the pills, the pills were the only things that were a necessity.

Suzy closed the trunk and hurried to her father’s side. She kissed him on the cheek. “Have a good trip, Dad. Stan and I think it’s wonderful you’re going. You and Mom loved to travel. It’s good you’re back at it again. Seven months is a long time.”

Seven months, two days, and seven hours to be exact. And he wasn't getting back to anything. His life was winding down and he had no intention of grabbing any key to wind it up again. George hugged her longer than usual. This will be my last hug. He didn't let the thought linger but, with a final wave, hurried into the terminal and took a place at the check-in line.

He’d check in, get to Phoenix, then check out. Literally.

George had big plans. Once he was settled into their favorite condo in Sun City, he would visit some of his and Irma's old haunts—to say good-bye. Then he would take matters into his own hands. Fun, sun, and suicide. Bon voyage, adios, auf Wiedersehen, arrivederci, sayonara.

Soon, Irma, soon.

But then what? What happened after death? Would there be an angelic chorus to greet him for the good things he’d done in his life? Or the devil’s jury to condemn him for his last act of desperation?

Was it desperation? He didn’t feel desperate. Only weary, as if the air itself was too heavy to deal with. How could he be expected to go on living when breathing had become a burden?

Planning his suicide hadn’t been easy; he tried to think of everything, but why did every moron on earth have to come into his presence these last few days? First it was the stupid travel agent who booked him in coach when he specifically asked for first class. Then his cleaning lady got all suspicious about why George had canceled her services. Then his lawyer made a huge to-do about his wanting to update his will. So what if George wanted to cut the church out of the bequests? Things had changed. It was his money, and he could toss it to the wind if he wanted to. People needed to mind their own business.

The final straw was the fiasco at the bank where he'd gone to withdraw all his money—all $68,392 of it. They acted as flustered as firemen forced to start a fire. Withdraw money? Oh no, no, no, no, no. He wondered if they even knew the difference between a Czech and a check. They were such a pain about it that he considered asking for it in ones, but he relented, not wanting to give the poor teller a heart attack.

But no matter. The money was now sitting in a desk drawer with a note to their daughter. Now that Suzy and her husband were taken care of, George could take this one last trip—in Irma’s honor.

12:10 p.m.

As Sonja stood in line for coffee, she was flying—literally and emotionally. Allen, Dale, and Sonja. Off to Phoenix. The new chosen three from Sanford Industries.

The fact that Sonja had taken the place of another employee, Geraldine, through a little hook and crook was inconsequential. All's fair in the business world.

Or perhaps another truism was more appropriate here: Loose lips sink ships. If Geraldine hadn't been so careless as to tell a coworker that she really shouldn't be going to the convention because there were big problems with the numbers she put together for the Barston merger, Sonja would never have overheard, checked the numbers herself, and brought them to the attention of their boss. "I really hate to do this, Allen, but I think you should know…"

Sure Geraldine had been furious when she was pulled from the convention and Sonja was assigned in her place. Sure Geraldine had called Sonja vicious and had even threatened, "Just wait, Sonja…some day…"

So be it.

Sonja paid for her coffee and pulled her suitcase toward the gate, juggling her laptop bag over the other shoulder. Some day what? I'll get what I deserve? She shook the negative thought away and focused on another voice that was friendlier. What you deserve is to be given a chance. Now you've got one. If your bosses were more savvy and fair in the first place, they would have seen your potential long ago instead of forcing you into this position. It's their fault.

Sure it is.

Back and forth. Up and down. Guilt could be so annoying. This was not how she wanted to feel just minutes before her flight left for the convention. She needed to recapture the feeling of victory that had been hers just moments before. She needed…to call her parents.

Sonja got to her gate and nodded to Allen and Dale before taking a seat that offered a modicum of privacy. She dialed her parents' number. This trip would make them proud of her. This trip would make them stand up and notice that she was a success in her own right, that she wasn't the same underachiever who never worked to her full potential no matter what wonderful opportunities they'd given her. After all we've done for you, Sonja…

The inner voice from her memories matched the voice that answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hi, Mom.”

“Sonja? Is that you? Why are you calling?”

Sonja felt herself retreating. “No reason.”

“There’s always a reason. Now, your brother…he’ll call for no reason whatsoever. He’s such a good boy.”

That boy was thirty-five, the cherished only son, Sheffield D. Grafton III. Sonja had long ago realized that being the only daughter did not carry the same level of adoration. Did it have something to do with the Roman numeral after her brother's name, his gender, or was it just her?

“Is Dad there?”

“So there is a reason.”

“No, not really. I just wanted—”

“To talk to him more than me.”

“Mom! I’m off to Phoenix, and I just wanted to tell you. Both of you.”

“Playing hooky from work, are you?”

“Of course not. I was chosen to go to a convention. I’m one of only three people going—in the entire company.”

Her mother laughed. “And there’s four in the company, right?”

Sonja’s breathing quickened. Her mother knew very well how many people worked at Sanford Industries. She’d even given her mother a tour of the office once.

“Shef went to Atlantic City for his last convention. He stayed in a room that had a marble tub right there in the middle of it. And two phones. One in the bathroom.”

“We’re going to be staying in a hotel at a desert resort.” Did one painted desert beat a bathtub and two phones?

“I despise that dry air. Makes my skin feel like it’s going to crack off.”

Sonja massaged the space between her eyes.

“Did you know Shef just got a bonus? He said he’d buy us something nice with it. Last year he bought your father and me new watches. Expensive watches with the day and date on them. Did you know that?”

Sonja's finger pushed harder. "Yes, Mother, you told me." And Shef told me. And Daddy told me. And Aunt Dottie told me. Sonja wouldn't have been surprised if Shef had taken out a full-page ad to announce his good deed. Sonja thought of the last present she'd given her parents: a fancy food processor with five speeds. Last visit home she looked for it and asked where it was. Her mother had put it in the closet, saying it was too complicated to figure out.

Not any more complicated than a watch that showed the date and day.

“Oh! Here’s more news. Did you know Shef is going to—?”

“Will you be quiet!”


Sonja sucked in a breath and looked around the gate. A few waiting passengers glanced up, then down again.

“Sonja? Did you just tell me to—?”

She leaned into the phone. “Mother, I’m sorry, so sorry…”

“I can’t believe you told—”

"I didn't mean it. I'm…I'm just nervous about the convention." And how I got there.

“I’m surprised they chose you to go anywhere with an attitude like that. If it were my choice you wouldn’t—”

“I know. I was out of line. It’s just that when you kept mentioning everything Shef was doing and didn’t pay any attention to what I—”

“Can I help it if we’re proud of your brother? He’s done wonderful things with his life.”

“And I’m doing wonderful things with my life too.”

Silence. “Don’t go getting into any contest with your brother, Sonja. You know that wouldn’t be right. Comparisons are always wrong.”

Exactly! A flurry of words escaped. "But you and Daddy are the ones who compare us, who pit us one against the other."

An intake of breath. “We…we do not.”


“Can I help it if we’re proud parents?”

A question hovered near the surface. Uh-uh, Sonja. Don't push it.

“Proud of whom, Mother?”

Another moment of hesitation. Why was it so hard for her parents to say something nice? “I’m proud of all my family.”


“Of course Shef.”



Sonja thought the compliment would mean more; she thought she would feel relief, or a surge of pride. Maybe the compliment was impotent because she had to drag it out of her mother.

Sonja looked at the cold snow outside. “Gotta go, Mother. I’ll call you when I get back. Say hi to Daddy for me.” She pushed the button on the phone, disconnecting herself from her parents. But she didn’t really need to go to the trouble. They’d disconnected years ago.

12:29 p.m.

All airline people were idiots. Anthony Thorgood was sure of it. He stood in the first-class check-in line while his own personal airline idiot checked her computer…again.

Her fingers stopped tapping. She looked up at him and smiled a condescending smile he was sure she’d mastered her first day on the job. But if she thought he was going to merely accept the smile and move along, she was in for a surprise.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Thor—”

"Doctor Thorgood."

“Doctor Thorgood. The computer shows your reservation is in coach, not first class.” She set his confirming printout on the counter between them. “See? It even states on your e-ticket that you’re in coach.”

She was right.

He scanned his mind for someone else to blame. Candy. His receptionist. She was the one who made the reservation. He had trusted her and she’d blown it. He’d deal with her when he got back.

He read the clerk’s name tag. “Fine. But, Sandy…certainly you can change—”

Their attention was diverted to the check-in line for regular passengers a few feet away. A dowdy woman was near tears, a young girl glued to her side. The woman slapped her hand on the counter, which was at her chin level. "Don't tell me to calm down. You're not listening to me! We can't go on that flight."

“Ma’am, the airport is closed, but I’m sure it’s temporary. They just need some time to plow the runways. Everything will be running normally soon.”

“No, it won’t. Don’t you get it? Something’s going to happen to that flight.”

The airline employee raised an eyebrow. “And how do you know this, ma’am?”

The woman put a fist to her gut and looked into the face of the girl at her side. “I just know it. I feel it. From the time I got up this morning I’ve felt a burden of impending disaster and now with the airport being shut down because of—”

The employee looked bored. “Does this feeling happen often?”

The woman set her jaw and stood the full extent of her five-foot frame. “Listen, miss, frankly, I don’t care if you believe me or not. If you don’t want me turning around and announcing my bad feelings to the rest of your passengers, I suggest you give us our money back.”

“But you and your daughter have nonrefundable tickets, ma’am. See here? In the fine print?”

The woman snatched the tickets away from the employee, grabbed the hand of the little girl, and stomped away, the wheels of their suitcases whirring against the floor.

“Dr. Thorgood?”

He remembered the goal at hand: a first-class seat. He turned back to Sandy. She smiled at him nervously. “You get many of those?” he asked.

“Some people aren’t as good at flying as others.” She paused and smiled. “As good as people like yourself.”

He knew he was being manipulated, but instead of jumping her for it, he let himself admire her tact. “So, what’s the verdict?”

“There are no more first-class seats. Period. I’m sorry. But I have found you a first-class seat on your return flight. Of course, there will be an increase in price.”

Anthony pulled out a Visa.

1:00 p.m.

Henry Smith sat at the gate, his eyes closed, praying. He hated to fly and thought it was ironic that God had placed him in a job that required him to continually face that which he feared the most.

It’s not that he was afraid of dying. When the time came, he would be ready. The difficult thing about flying was that it required such a leap of faith, such a surrender of control. Even if he weren’t a God-fearing man, it would require such a leap. Henry could think of no reason why this heavy, bulky plane should be able to fly. None. It defied logic. And so, once airborne, Henry had to trust that the pilots, the mechanics, the engineers, and the Wright Brothers knew what they were doing.

Beyond that, he also had to trust God. If a crash fit into God’s plan, Henry realized that he had absolutely, positively no control over its outcome. Cruising at thirty thousand feet, traveling at hundreds of miles per hour, he understood how small and inconsequential he was. Not that God wouldn’t listen to his prayers…He would. But there was always the bigger picture to consider. And during the large moments of life, Henry knew God had a lot to think about. One man’s prayers were like a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle, and God had the unenviable job of putting all those pieces together into a finished work. Henry had no say whether he was an exasperating piece of the sky, a favored edge piece, or the beloved last piece in the puzzle.

But ever since last night, Henry felt as if he’d been handed a new piece of the puzzle—and he had no idea where it went.

It had all started with the temptation—the kind that was always there for a salesman on the road. The kind that was intent on chipping away at his good-man facade, trying to uncover the real Henry Smith.

Who was the real Henry Smith?

Last night had been an ample test. He ate in the hotel bar and grill, feeling the need for a celebratory steak with all the fixings after a great sales day. If only Ellen were here.

But his wife wasn’t here, and the redhead was, all smiles and curves, with the flattering words he wanted to hear. “I just love a man with a beard.” When she suggested a nightcap in his room…

He got so far as to have the door open before he came to his senses and told her thanks, but no thanks. He quickly closed it, locked it, and leaned against it, the smell of her perfume lingering like a tantalizing lure. He needed a distraction and ran to the bed, switched on the TV, flipped channels, and tried to think of anything but the woman.

And then, without planning it, he took the Bible from the drawer of the bedside table, opened it, and bowed his head, reintroducing himself to a God he’d previously put on a back burner.

His prayer was simple: Help me through this.

Before he opened his eyes, he felt a sudden wave of peace. He found he could even think about the redhead without wanting to go to her.

He was so thankful for God's instant response that he dared to ask another ever present question: Show me what You want me to do with my life. Then—for the second time in one night—he received an instant answer as his eyes were drawn to a set of verses someone had highlighted with a yellow marker. Isaiah 30:19–21.

The verses stayed with him even now…

Henry ran a hand over his beard, glanced around the airport, then closed his eyes and recited to himself. “You will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

The last line was the clincher. This is the way; walk in it. Henry grabbed on to those seven words like a lifeline. They became his mantra, his hope for the future. And the cause of his confusion.

What was “the way”?

He opened his eyes and looked outside to the raging blizzard. At the moment he just wanted to finish his work and get home. Maybe Ellen would understand what it all meant. She was good at life issues and Bible verses. Much better than he was.

He’d hoped that the morning light would make everything clear. But it hadn’t. He was pleased that he still remembered the verse, but as far as the rest? He traveled the road between thinking his life was in shambles to a kind of fearful anticipation. As if “the way” loomed in the near future, and no matter what it was, it would be better than what he had now.

In fact, what he had now…

He reached for his phone and dialed.

“Hey, Elly.”

“Hiya, hon. What’s up?”

He sat back, taking comfort from her voice. She was the constant in his life. The "way"? "The airport's closed for a while. I'm bored."

“Then I’ll do my best to entertain you. Where you headed next?”


“Since when do you go to Phoenix? Isn’t that Bill’s territory?”

“Bill’s son is getting married. He covered for me last year when Joey graduated from high school. Now it’s my turn.”

“You take too many turns,” Ellen said. “You need to learn to say no.”

“Except to you, right?”

“Now that’s a good husband.”

He considered telling her about the verse but decided he’d rather do it in person. “What are you doing?”

“I just made myself an omelette for lunch.”

“You make the best omelettes.”

“I do?”

She seemed so grateful. Why didn’t he say nice things more often? He vowed to do better.

“Be careful, Henry. Get home safe to me. When you do, I promise we’ll share an omelette. With the works.”

“It’s a date.”

Henry’s eyes were once again drawn to the window. He felt a wave of dread.

“Bye, Henry. See you—”



“I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

“I do. And I love you too.”

He hung up and let thoughts of home warm him.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are confident the airport will be reopened soon. To be ready when that time comes, we have decided to start boarding the flight immediately. Now boarding from the rear of the plane…”

Henry stood. Home. He’d be there soon.

1:10 p.m.

Tina McKutcheon looked up from her book. Since her assigned seat was near the rear of the plane, her row had been called long ago, but she held back, having no intention of getting in first and sitting all cramped during the chaos of boarding. Calm, comfortable, and controlled. Those were the key words of the day. Especially after the bombshell David had tossed this morning. Marriage? She didn’t want to think about it. Not now. Not yet. And the way he’d done it…so casually after stopping by on his way to work. Not that a romantic dinner at Lazlo’s would have made her decision any easier.

Tina shut her book and scanned the remaining passengers, wondering what kind of person would be her seatmate. She saw old people and business travelers. Those she could tolerate. There was only one category of person she did not want seated beside her: the dreaded teenager. As a high school English teacher, this trip was an escape from them. If God was a good God, He would have mercy and keep them far, far away. The luggage hold would be good.

Tina spotted one lone teenager entering the jet way. Her hair was black and braided in cornrows. Her skin had an olive tone, though her facial features hinted of some oriental link. Headphones draped around her neck, a backpack over her shoulder. Her pants were too big; her shirt too tight. The pièce de résistance was the earring—in her nose.

Anyone but her…please, God. Anyone but her.

The only people left at the gate were a father and a young boy who’d run in at the last minute. In their hurry, the boy spilled the contents of his red-and-blue backpack. As they scrambled to collect the toys, Tina knew she couldn’t put it off any longer. It was time.

She walked through the jet way, boarded, and eased her way down the aisle toward the back of the plane. She nearly gasped as the cornrowed teenager in front of her kept going down the aisle. When the girl stopped near two empty seats, Tina’s stomach knotted with a sick certainty.

The girl tossed her backpack in the overhead bin and slid into the middle seat—the middle seat next to Tina’s aisle seat.

Tina couldn’t believe it. God certainly had a sick sense of humor.

1:12 p.m.

Merry flipped through the in-flight magazine, thrilled the rest of her row was empty. Now that was luxury. Not only was she going on a trip alone, she had space to spread out and enjoy—


Merry’s head hit the back of the seat. There in the aisle was Justin! And Lou!

Her husband beamed down at her. “Are you surprised?”

That wasn’t the word.

Read More

What People are saying about this

Lemoore California
I absolutely LOVED "The Seat Beside Me!" I just finished it today. I was trying really hard to read it slow, so I could make it last....but....that didn't work too well. It was truly an inspiration! I cried so hard in some parts, and in others I laughed. You brought just the right amount of humor in with the drama... Your writing really has touched my life. The questions you asked at the end...I had asked myself those throughout the book.
Maudeen Wachsmith
One of the words one could use to describe The Seat Beside Me is intense. It is also fast-paced and a quick read which is ultimately uplifting as lessons are learned and the characters learn what is truly important in their lives.
Western Australia
I received your book, 'The Seat Beside Me' on Thursday evening and this afternoon, I finished it. I found it gripping, moving, awesome and God-inspired. I didn't want to do anything after, but just think about it.
Harriet Klausner
The story is electrifying and the characters represent a cross-section of the population. Nancy Moser writes a gripping tale that touches the heart of all who reads it.
Lyn Cote
Intense. Intricate. Inspired.
— Lyn Cote, author of Winter's Secret
Lisa Samson
Nancy Moser's characters leap off the pages and into your heart. Hear me will love this book.
— Lisa Samson, author of The Church Ladies
Deanna Julie Dodson
The Seat Beside Me is skillfully, grippingly written. Nancy Moser forces her characters and, ultimately, her readers to face the fundamental question. 'Why am I here?
— Deanna Julie Dodson, author of By Love Redeemed
Dayton Texas
Hopefully I will never be the same, hopefully I will never look at the person next to me the same whether it be on a plane, in a car, on a bus, in the prison. God help me be the hero he wants me to be. God bless you for shining His light!
Robin Lee Hatcher
Nancy Moser delivers a fast-paced, absorbing story in The Seat Beside Me. I didn't want to put it down until I'd read the last page! If you love a good page-turner, you'll love this book!
— Robin Lee Hatcher, award-winning author of The Story Jar
Deborah Raney
Nancy Moser is in top form with The Seat Beside Me. In her unique writing style, she introduces us to a full cast of characters who seem as real as next door neighbors---or perhaps as familiar as the man or woman we see in the mirror each morning. Thought provoking, yet highly entertaining, The Seat Beside Me is an absolute winner!
— Deborah Raney, author of A Vow to Cherish
Eva Marie Everson
The lives---and, for some, the deaths---of these people are forever linked together in a tale you will not soon forget. The plane's crash is but the beginning of the story. What happens from there will keep you thinking for a long time.
James Scott Bell
Nancy Moser is a wonderful storyteller whose novels plumb the depths of spiritual issues. The Seat Beside Me is no exception. It will keep you reading---and stay with you long after the last page is read.
— James Scott Bell, author of The Nephalim Seed
British reader
I just loved the book. It was so gripping and inspirational...Please write another book soon.
Vonette Zachary Bright
Nancy has created a powerfully dramatic story that forces the reader to wonder 'how many times have I been spared?' The choices made by each character carry graphic lessons on the impact of personal values. After reading The Seat Beside Me you will never sit by a stranger in a public place without the realization that every encounter is God appointed.
— Vonette Zachary Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
Hannah Alexander
Delving deeply into the intricacies of the human heart, she shows us our own desperation---then illuminates us with the brilliance of God's beauty, which is visible only when we allow Him complete control.
— Hannah Alexander, author of The Healing Touch series
Doris Elaine Fell
A riveting, poignant page-turner-that will not soon be forgotten. The next time I soar on silver wings, my eyes will be on the stranger in the seat beside me. And soaring into the clouds, I will remember that miracles still happen to ordinary people…miracles that give a fresh glimpse of God's glory.
— Doris Elaine Fell, author of Blue Mist on the Danube

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Seat Beside Me 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Librarian in a small public library with limited funding, I order many fiction books by patron request. I was requested to find Christian fiction and was intrigued by the title 'The Seat Beside Me' and the synopsis. I ordered the book, read it and found it to be much more than I expected. Most general Christian fiction is lightweight--a lightweight story with contrived situations and predictable endings. Moser has gone way beyond this, writing a strong story about ordinary people caught in an extraordinary circumstance. How they handle the outcome is the meat of the story. Do they forge a new relationship with God? Renew a relationship? Or turn from Him? I haven't read any other books by Moser, but I will, and if they are as good, will highly recommend them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It seemed a little too perfect how everything fell into place, but it had positive, uplifting themes. It's a very easy read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And down she went, kaboom, a big blood splat all over the ground.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was kind of funny. "And down she went. The end." XD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every time you mentioned "sharp stake" and "high" I'm thinking: "Oh, she's gonna fall and impale herself!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, my lovely readers! Starr here! Here is the (I hope) eagerly awaited next part! I just want to say: NO, not all my characters will have tragic backstories. Just four if them. Out of the six you will be given backstories on :) Now, I hope you will like Marisa's death scene! XD Just kidding. You probably won't like it. XD Here is the rest of the chapter! <p> ~{~}~ <p> "C'mon, Marisa! I bet you can't catch me!" Waryn yelled back at his sister, laughing and running away the best he could into the forest with all the layers he had on. <p> Marisa laughed also, and yelled after him, "Oh, you're on, twerp!" She ran after him, easily overcoming and grabbing his small, ten-year-old form. Waryn let out a loud laugh as Marisa lifted him, supporting him from under his arms. <p> Marisa eventually let him back down, grinning. "No more running, Waryn. You could trip and bang your head on this frozen ground," as uf the prove her point, she stomped on the hard ground, not even leaving a footprint. <p> Waryn just stuck his tounge out at her, but stayed near his sister. "At least we put the stakes in the ground before this," he said, refering to the sharpened sticks of various thickness that circled around the tree-house the siblings had put there in late fall, when they started the project. <p> Marisa nodded in agreement. "Yep. So, what'd you want to do today, War?" She asked, though she knew perfectly well what Waryn wanted to do. <p> Waryn grinned, rolling his eyes and bumping his bony, albiet padded, shoulder to Marisa's arm. "Finish the roof! Its going to snow tomorrow. I don't want snow in our tree-fort." <p> Marisa laughed a bit, shoving him back. "Ah! But Alixan could be annoyed with Ditania and warm the snow to make it rain instead." <p> "As if! Not even Shaltor would mess with the first snowfall of winter. And he's the god of insanity," Waryn retorts. <p> "Still. There's always the possibility..." Marisa says back to him. They then reached the fort. <p> The had picked the tallest tree in the forest around their home, which was a good pick because of two things: one, it had a nice, big clearing around it, and two, the two loved being high up. The stakes, as mentioned before, were circling the tree, facing outward. It was more for show than anything, though. The tree-house itself sat nestled in the branches about thirty feet up, a simple rope ladder leading up to it. <p> After dodging the stakes, Waryn ran up to the ladder, grinning, and climbed it as nimbly as a monkey. Marisa rolled her eyes, smiling a bit, and climbed after him. <p> The tree-house itself was made if sturdy oak wood, and was about the size of a normal room, maybe thirteen feet across both ways. It had a hole in one of its sides, leading to a branch the siblings loved to sit on. The only unfinished thing was the roof <p> Marisa grinned at Waryn as she got in. "Lets get to work." <p> ~{~}~ <p> The two sat on the branch by their now finished tree-house a couple if hours later, legs dangling while thet watched the sunset. <p> After a few moments, Marisa said, "We better go get back. I'm hungry" <p> Waryn nodded, scooting over to the window. He climbed into the tree-house, waiting for Marisa. <p> Marisa started to scoot over as well. But what happened next left Waryn shell-shocked and looking to the ground in horror. <p> Marisa's foot slipped as she started climbing in. It was as simple as that. But the slip made her other foot slip up. <p> And down she went.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was another great book by Nancy Moser. This book needs to be read before reading the 'Steadfast Series'. As in all Nancy Moser books the characters come to life and you feel all they are going through. This book hit close to home because I live 30 min. from Washington DC and saw on tv all the coverage of the plane that crashed in the Potomac River. Was so hard to put down, excellent writing as usual.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't read this book yet but i'm looking froward to, it sounds really good!