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Take Three (Above the Line Series #3)by Karen Kingsbury
This Take Three Ebook, the third book in the Above the Line series by New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, follows filmmakers Chase Ryan and Keith Ellison as they celebrate their first successful movie. But in the midst of family relationships, broken budgets, and conflicting dreams, Chase and Keith must find their way through the maze of pain and… See more details below
This Take Three Ebook, the third book in the Above the Line series by New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, follows filmmakers Chase Ryan and Keith Ellison as they celebrate their first successful movie. But in the midst of family relationships, broken budgets, and conflicting dreams, Chase and Keith must find their way through the maze of pain and questions that comes with everything they thought they wanted.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read an Excerpt
By Karen Kingsbury
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Karen Kingsbury
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAndi was sick of lying to herself.
After her first night with Taz, the two of them spent most of the next week in each other's arms. But then he began making strange excuses and standing her up. He was working on another film, he told her. Something that would take up most of his summer. It wasn't until one afternoon when she was walking from the library to the cafeteria that she saw Taz arm in arm with a petite brunette. Andi was almost certain she recognized the girl, and as they came closer, she knew where she'd seen her. The brunette had been part of the ensemble in Scrooge.
Which could only mean one thing. She was Taz's new actress, his new project. He was probably telling her that true beauty came from using her body as art, or something like that. Andi watched the way the girl gazed at him, how she laughed and giggled and walked close to his arm. The picture burned an image in her mind and tortured her late at night.
As the truth dawned on her, Andi could think only one thing: Bailey's warning had been right after all. Now Andi had no one but herself to blame. She was a fool, and her heart was broken in half. She couldn't eat or sleep, and she felt nauseous nearly every morning, drowning in the heartache of all she'd given up, all she'd lost to a guy who had played her for a fool.
Taz was a fraud. Everything he'd told her had been a lie, and once Andi admitted that much to herself, she knew she could move on. She was still devastated, but at least she wasn't waiting for his call while he was out sleeping with someone else.
The next lie was harder to handle, the one she'd been telling herself. The lie that the physical changes in her body could all be explained by a broken heart. The headaches and nausea, the vomiting some mornings. Her symptoms were too strong to be merely a physical manifestation of heartache. Finally, on the last day of May she drove to the local pharmacy and bought something she had never planned to need until well after she was married.
A pregnancy test.
She took it home, read the directions, and then drew a deep and steadying breath. In two minutes she'd have the results.
Results that-whatever they were-would change the rest of her life.
Bailey grabbed her brother's duffel bag from the hall closet and raced back to her bedroom. Fifteen minutes until she had to be on the road, headed to Lake Monroe for the Campus Crusade retreat. She'd been waiting months for this weekend, but her history test for her summer course at Indiana University had run late and now she was scrambling. She felt frantic as she grabbed a pair of jeans, a few T-shirts, and a hooded sweatshirt. She looked around her room, and her eyes fell on a framed photo of her and Tim. For an instant she didn't move or breathe or remember what she was doing. Why did the picture bug her? It was taken on opening night of Scrooge last winter, she and Tim both dressed in their costumes. But something about his eyes weren't right, like she was any other fan, lucky to have her picture taken with him. He was her boyfriend, but his expression would've been the same if she wasn't in the picture at all.
"Focus." She turned her attention back to the bag and picked up where she left off. Socks, her Bible, the journal her mom gave her for the trip. Half a dozen other necessities and she zipped the top. Tim was attending the retreat for sure, which was good. They needed to talk. Bailey hoped time alone at the campsite would bring them closer to God and each other-something to help her remember why she was dating him when her heart couldn't stop thinking about Cody Coleman.
A sad sigh slipped through her lips as she slung the duffel bag over her shoulder. Cody wouldn't be there this weekend. He had plans with his mom, last Bailey heard. Just as well. Cody never seemed to want more than a friendship with her, but when Bailey was near him she could barely remember Tim's name. That had to mean something, right? She and Cody were closer now than they'd been for a while. They texted sometimes, and once in a while they even talked on the phone. Tim said he didn't mind this and was confident in who he was and with his place in Bailey's life.
Even if privately Bailey had doubts.
Bailey breathed deep and steadied her heart. Forget about the guys. This weekend was about time alone with God and her friends from Cru. Her ringtone went off just as she left her room. The caller ID told her it was Tim, and she smiled. He was a great guy, really. If it weren't for Cody, she'd probably be wondering whether Tim was maybe the one she could spend her life with. Her crush on Tim had lasted since she was a sophomore in high school, and now that they'd been dating for more than a year, she should've been the happiest girl on the Indiana campus.
She slid her phone open. "Hey!" She kept her tone upbeat. "Don't tell me you're already there!"
"Hey," his voice told her something was wrong. "I've got strep throat. A hundred and two fever. I'm a wreck."
"No." Disappointment came over her. She'd pictured taking walks with Tim during free time at the retreat, learning more about his dreams for the future. Maybe getting past her uncertainty and finding a stronger connection with him. "Did you go to the doctor?"
"We just got back. I'm in bed all weekend. Doc says no going out, no visitors, and to take all my antibiotics. I guess it's really contagious."
"That's terrible." Bailey flopped onto her bed. As sorry as she was about how this changed the feel of the retreat, she felt worse for him. "Okay. Well get some rest and take care of yourself. I'll call you Monday."
"Okay." He sounded defeated. "I'll pray for you."
They hung up and Bailey slumped over her knees. Maybe she wouldn't go after all. There was a chance of rain, so how much fun would that be? Stuck in a cabin with a bunch of girls she didn't know that well, trying to stay dry all weekend. She sighed, but as she did she caught a glimpse of the sky. A sliver of blue between the clouds. The school year was wrapping up and classes this week had been tougher than she expected. She was worried about a couple upcoming finals. Between that and the New York audition she was hoping for in August, she needed this time. Needed to be close to God to prepare for whatever the next season in life held.
"Fine," she spoke the word out loud, as if God were standing there watching her. Which He was, in a way. "I'll go, Lord. And You go with me, okay?" She couldn't think of a single time when she'd gone to a church camp or retreat or listened to a sermon and not come home with something special, some way that the Lord had proved the time well spent.
This retreat would be no different. Maybe she'd get closer to the girls in her Bible study. They had plans to start up again in the fall, and next term maybe they would become closer friends outside Cru. She knew some of the girls had to be struggling the way Andi was-with the campus party life or guys who wanted more than they were willing to give. Their struggles were the same ones Bailey faced-uncertainty about life and their futures, and it helped to talk to each other. But so far the meetings had netted little more than a surface discussion about the weekly Bible passage. Maybe if she led the way and talked about her struggles, the tone of the meetings would change.
She gathered her bag, lifted it up onto her shoulder again, and tucked her sleeping bag and pillow under her other arm. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, her mom was sitting next to Ricky, helping him with his math.
"Okay, so if Susie has five horse stickers, Claire has three cat stickers, and Edward has four dog stickers, what is the average number of stickers they each have? That's the question."
Bailey smiled as she set her things down. She remembered those days, when the most difficult thing about life was figuring out how many stickers Edward had. She put her arm around Ricky's shoulders. "How's it going, bud?"
"Pretty good." He tapped his pencil on his paper and flashed her a crooked grin. "I hate word problems."
"I know." She shared a look with her mom. "I must've been the worst Flanigan kid at word problems, wouldn't you say?"
"You and Connor." Her mom laughed. "I had to use drawings and apples and oranges, sometimes full-on dramas just to get the problem to click in your head."
"Good news, bud," she kissed Ricky on the cheek. "If you don't major in math, you'll be finished with it after your first quarter in college." She pressed her fist in the air and did a little dance. "The way I'm finished with it."
"That's forever away." Ricky sighed and stared once more at the math paper.
Their mother's smile softened. "Not forever, buddy. I would slow life down if I could. You're my last little guy to go through Mrs. Ebner's word problems." She patted Ricky's hand. "We can take our time."
Ricky groaned and laughed at the same time. "As long as I finish before dinner. Me and Dad wanna play catch."
With Tim not going on the retreat, Bailey was no longer in a hurry. She would get there eventually, but she loved this-time around her family. The older she got, the more every weekend at home, every summer, felt precious. As if she could feel time pulling her toward a grown-up life. Whatever that might be.
"Meetings in the city. The team's excited about next season."
A smile lifted Bailey's spirits. That was the beauty of sports, the joy of having a coach for a father. Every season was full of hope and expectation. It kept life entertaining and full of possibility. "We'll have to take in a few days of summer camp."
"A few?" Ricky shook his head. "No, sir. I'm going as many days as I can. Dad says their new running back is the fastest guy he's ever seen." He puffed out his chest. "Other than me, of course."
They all laughed, and Bailey asked about the other boys.
"No homework." Jenny stood and got cups of water for herself and Ricky. "They're on a bike ride with Connor."
"Oh." Bailey took a seat at the kitchen bar. "I have that Campus Crusade retreat at Lake Monroe, but I'll wait till they come back. I haven't talked to Connor in two days. The other boys either."
"They're doing great. I can't believe how tall Connor's getting."
"Is he doing CKT's summer camp?"
"He said he'd like to focus more on football this summer." Jenny took a long sip of her water. "I'm proud of him. It isn't easy to switch gears."
"Definitely not." Bailey pictured her younger brother, her best friend. In the end, he was bound to be a better singer than a tackler, but he was willing to try new things. She loved that about him. Her mom returned to helping Ricky, and after five minutes, the other boys trudged through the back door.
"I can't believe it; I mean you could've been killed." Shawn was talking fast, his words running together. "That was the craziest thing I've ever seen."
Their mom was immediately on her feet. "Who could've been killed?"
"BJ." Shawn let out a long breath, as if he'd been holding it in the whole ride back. "It was a northern copperhead, Mom. I swear. I studied that snake this year, and it was exactly the same."
"Yep." BJ flexed his biceps. "I'm a hero. I saved all our lives."
"No, he was crazy, I swear." Shawn was adamant.
Jenny held up her hand. "Will someone start at the beginning? Please."
"We were riding off-road," Justin stepped forward, "through that field at the end of the street, just up from the stream. And all of a sudden, this snake crossed our path. Connor went around him, but BJ was next and he ran right over him, right across the middle of him."
BJ let his arms fall to his side. "I didn't really mean to, Mom. It just sort of happened."
"So we got off our bikes and looked at him, and sure enough," Shawn still looked stunned. "It was a northern copperhead. Same spade-shaped head, same puffy body. I'd know that snake anywhere."
Bailey walked up and listened to the conversation. In no time, their mom took control. "You should've gone around him, BJ. You need to respect snakes and keep your distance. Especially if it's poisonous."
"Yeah, you don't run right over them." Shawn waved at his brother and then flashed nervous eyes at their mom. "He could've been killed, Mom. I swear."
"And Connor, as for you ... you rode around the snake, but maybe you should've stopped and told your brothers about the danger."
"I didn't know it was a copperhead."
"Still, you were the first to come across it. Next time, pull over and stop. Make sure your brothers follow your lead."
The whole drama was resolved in a matter of minutes, but Bailey shuddered at the way it might've played out. What if Connor had been bitten, or one of her other brothers? For that matter, what if there were copperhead snakes lurking near the cabins on the far side of Lake Monroe? She tried not to think about it as she said her good-byes. Certainly God would protect her from the wrath of the northern copperhead.
Her mom hugged her before she left. "I'm sorry about Tim. But God has a reason for you to be out there this weekend." She put her hand alongside Bailey's face. "You're my sweet girl, Bailey. I love you so much." She kissed her daughter's cheek. "I can't wait to hear about it when you get home."
Bailey hugged her mom for a long time, and as she walked to her car and started out, she kept thinking about her family, how much she loved them, and how a single snake encounter could've cost one of her brothers his life. She felt sick as she reached the main road. Don't think about it, she told herself. Focus on what's ahead.
The drive to the campground took longer than Bailey expected, and she found herself scanning the side of the road for snakes. Just in case. Maybe there was a copperhead infestation happening in the hills around Bloomington. If so, at the first possible chance, she would head back home. She could have a retreat in her own bedroom.
She pulled up at the camp as a few girls from her Bible study arrived. They checked in with Daniel-the retreat leader-and received their cabin assignments. Bailey felt her spirits lighten. Most of the girls from her small group were rooming with her. "Watch out for copperheads," Bailey allowed a half grin as they carried their sleeping bags and pillows to their cabin. Theirs was the one closest to the common area. "My brothers were nearly killed by one earlier."
They unpacked and were lying on their bunks talking about the weekend, when they heard the sound of a whistle, followed by a megaphone announcement. "Everyone report to the fire pit."
Not until they filed out and took their spots around a roaring campfire did Bailey look across the circle and see Cody. Her brow raised and she had to stop herself from getting up and going to him. Instead she locked eyes with him and showed her surprise with her expression. He wasn't supposed to be here, right? "You're here," she mouthed the words silently.
He smiled, his eyes lingering on hers. Whatever had happened, he'd explain later.
For now they needed to focus on Daniel. He explained that he hoped they would accomplish two goals while out in the woods that weekend. First, he had prayed they would all come away closer to Jesus, closer to the faith that bound them. And second, he hoped they would be closer with each other. He picked up a large stick and poked at the fire for a minute. As he did, he separated a few pieces of burning wood from the rest of the blaze.
"College life is a lot like this fire. Professors, class agendas, clubs, friends ... there's a bunch of things that will try to separate you from the fire of faith. And once you're separated," he poked at the lone pieces again and everyone watched, the realization clear. The flame around those pieces had already gone out. "Once you're separated, you can grow cold pretty fast. Especially on a college campus." Then, with one more push of his stick, he moved the once-burning pieces of wood back to the fire. Immediately the flames circled them and they began to burn once more. "We have to stay in the fire, friends. And what better way to do that than by building friendships through Cru."
Bailey thought of the cooling pieces of wood, at the way the glow from the fire faded entirely in a matter of seconds. Andi was like that. She'd come to Indiana University so strong-the daughter of missionaries, after all. But her doubts and curiosity had taken her in all the wrong directions. And toward Taz, which wasn't a wise direction at all. These days Andi was distant and gone most of the time. When Bailey tried to talk seriously with her, Andi always had a class or a study group to get to. Bailey's heart hurt for her friend. She should be here now, a part of the retreat.
Excerpted from Take Three by Karen Kingsbury Copyright © 2010 by Karen Kingsbury. Excerpted by permission.
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