The Promise Remains and the Watermark: A Collection of Love Stories

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Everyone has a first love, but rarely does that first love end up being their last. The Promise Remains is a timeless and tender love story about a young couple, long separated, who find their way back to each other.

For anyone who has failed and feared forgiveness was out of reach, The Watermark is a moving love story about a prodigal son and the love that allows his heart to move on.

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Everyone has a first love, but rarely does that first love end up being their last. The Promise Remains is a timeless and tender love story about a young couple, long separated, who find their way back to each other.

For anyone who has failed and feared forgiveness was out of reach, The Watermark is a moving love story about a prodigal son and the love that allows his heart to move on.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414315065
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Edition description: 2 BKS IN 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Travis Thrasher
Travis Thrasher

Born in Knoxville, TN, Travis Thrasher knew in third grade he wanted to be a writer and wrote his first novel in ninth grade. Tyndale House Publishers signed his first novel, The Promise Remains, which released in 2000. Today, Travis has nine books in print. He and his wife, Sharon, live with their daughter in Chicago, IL.

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Read an Excerpt

the Promise Remains the Watermark

By Travis Thrasher


Copyright © 2001 Travis Thrasher
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4143-1506-6

Chapter One


SARA ANTHONY opened her eyes and wondered where she was. After glancing around the room for a few minutes, she saw a card propped open on the nightstand next to her and then remembered.

It's been a long time since I woke up in my old bed.

Actually, it had been exactly a year since she had last spent the night at her parents' house. Exactly a year since she had taken her mother's suggestion of sleeping over, even though her town home was only twenty minutes away. Mom had asked her again this year, and Sara had found no reason to refuse. In fact, she enjoyed this new tradition of spending the night before her birthday with her parents.

Her birthday ... Can I really be thirty years old? she asked herself. I don't feel like I'm thirty.

The date told her otherwise: June 11. Sara rubbed her 8:30 A.M. eyes and read the card.

To Our Beloved Daughter No matter how old you are, you'll always be our little girl. Happy Birthday.

Her mother had signed the bottom of the card.

"Sara: We are so proud of you. You are such a blessing to both of us. We love you. Mom and Dad"

Carrying the card, Sara padded sleepily downstairs, where the scent of Mom's breakfast and Dad's coffeegreeted her. Before even asking she knew the flavors of the day: blueberry pancakes, her favorite, and hazelnut-blend coffee. Birthday-morning pancakes and coffee were an Anthony household tradition.

"It's the birthday girl." Her dad sat at the table, smiling over the sports pages of the Atlanta Constitution.

"Happy birthday, dear," her mom added, following her greeting with a hug.

"Thanks. And thanks for the card. But I've got to tell you-I'm still in denial about this birthday stuff. So I'm going to try to enjoy some of this beautiful day without being depressed."

Sara poured herself a cup of coffee-she owed her caffeine habit to her father-and sat down at the table.

"There is nothing depressing about having a birthday," Mom stated in her firmest, most optimistic voice.

"Unless you're turning thirty," Sara said, a bit of sharpness in her morning voice.

"What's wrong with thirty?" her father asked.

"Nothing if you're married and have a family. But for us single ladies-"

"Who's single?"

She looked at her dad and smiled. "Okay, not single. But unmarried. Not that I'm rushing to get married or anything, but still ..."

"Your time will come."

"I know. It probably will. But I always thought I'd have a family by thirty. It was one of those unspoken goals."

"I always wanted to climb Mt. Everest by the time I was thirty."

"I didn't know you were a climber," Sara said to her father.

"Well, I'm not. But you know, that was one of my unspoken goals. Just because you have them doesn't mean you actually have to fulfill them."

Sara glanced at her mother and was surprised at her silence. Sara's unmarried state was one of Lila Anthony's favorite topics of speculation. But maybe she was deliberately biting her tongue in honor of the day, Sara reflected gratefully.

"Breakfast smells great, Mom."

"It's your favorite-blueberry pancakes. Your father has been nagging me to make them for several weeks now."

"I have not," he said, winking at Sara. "I'm fully content with my usual bagel every morning."

Sara leaned back in her chair and sipped her coffee.

"I'm really tired this morning," she told her parents. "I don't know why."

"You're an old lady now," her father said with a laugh.

"What time did you go to bed last night?" Mom asked in a statement that really meant What time did Bruce leave?

"About eleven or so," Sara replied. She did not explain further.

"How's Bruce doing?"

"Good, as always. We just went to a movie." Sara proceeded to describe the film, carefully avoiding any further mention of Bruce, dating, marriage, family ... or any other subject her mother might pounce on.

Being the only child had many benefits, Sara realized, but sometimes she wished she had a younger brother or sister. Then maybe she wouldn't be so pampered, so cared about, so scrutinized. She loved her parents and felt a close bond with each of them. Yet sometimes they still treated her like a little girl instead of a twenty-nine-year-old woman.

Make that thirty-year-old, she thought with a sick feeling. Thirty years old, and I'm still here being babied and questioned. She thought of the birthday card: You'll always be our little girl.

She sighed. But then she looked over at the large stacks of delicious pancakes and told herself she really couldn't complain.

Her mother served the pancakes, starting off with the stack that held the lit candle.

"Mom," Sara said, rolling her eyes. "Please." But she had to smile.

"Now we all have to sing."

And as the three of them sang the corny tune of "Happy Birthday," Sara felt her morning mood lift. She found herself thanking God-not only for having another birthday, but for having such loving parents.

* * *

Sara shifted to fifth gear as she accelerated five miles above the speed limit on the highway connecting her parents' neighborhood of Groveton, Georgia, to her town home in Rex. The white Toyota convertible she drove was her birthday present-a present from her parents, who had helped on the down payment-and from herself. It had only two hundred and twenty miles on it so far, and the new-car smell from the leather seats filled her with delight. It was the first brand-new car she had ever owned-an unaccustomed luxury. Sara hardly ever bought herself anything except the basic necessities and an occasional outfit for school. But outfits that would become stained with paint and chocolate and markers as she taught kindergarten were necessities, too. The car was a bit extravagant, but she figured she would only turn thirty once. Besides, she was thinking that it was time she made some changes in her life. She had been in a holding pattern way too long.

Wind whipped her long bangs across her sunglasses. She listened to a combination of her favorite CDs as she drove past kudzu-covered walls edging the freeway. The Atlanta skyline could be seen in the distance on her left, but today she ignored it entirely. Something about the clear and beautiful summer day made her unaccountably sad.

Sara had lived in the town of Rex since moving into her town home five years ago. She liked having a place she could call her own while still being close enough to visit her parents. She enjoyed her job as a kindergarten teacher at a public grade school only minutes away from home. She also loved the summertime break, when she became more involved with ministries in her church and with the friends in her small group.

Her father, Daniel Anthony, managed the computer technical-services division at a business in downtown Atlanta. He had worked there ever since the move to Georgia during Sara's college years.

The move. The dreaded move. They had lived at the end of Herrington Lane in Groveton for the last ten years. The move from the small town of Maryville, Tennessee, had taken place just before Sara's twentieth birthday. Even after ten years, Sara still did not consider Georgia her home. Home would always be where she had left a part of her heart. She understood the opportunity the job had offered her father and their family, but the memories of the Smoky Mountains still brought an ache deep inside her, reminding her of a monumental loss in her life.

A loss her parents would never know about.

Sara thought about her mother and dad. She knew they looked forward to the one day she would walk down the aisle and say "I do" to the man of her dreams. Why wouldn't they eagerly await that moment? Sara certainly did.

I never thought I'd wake up alone on the day I turned thirty.

Sara knew that her sociable, energetic mother was disappointed that her one and only child was still unwed. Lila was one of those dynamic, take-charge women who liked to do things right, and Sara's unmarried state seemed to make her mother feel strangely incomplete. Besides, Lila positively salivated at the prospect of planning a big, beautiful wedding, and she couldn't wait for grandchildren. She had talked more and more about marriage as time passed-especially since Bruce had come on the scene.

But Sara found herself hesitant to think about the M-word. Yes, she did want to get married, but she didn't feel as ready as her mother wanted her to be. And yes, she cared deeply for her boyfriend, Bruce Erickson. But marriage was such a big step. Such an incredible commitment. One Sara had not wanted to face the last couple of years.

In her mother's eyes, Sara and Bruce were more than ready. Sara knew her mother was already collecting brides' magazines and browsing in wedding shops.

Could she ever be like her mother? The two of them certainly looked alike-both small and dark-but her mother carried an air of sophistication and confidence Sara knew she could never carry off. Everything about Lila Anthony was organized, structured, efficient. And while Sara had many of these traits as well, she lacked her mother's energy and drive. When it came to personality, she definitely took after her soft-spoken father.

Both of them loved her so much and only wanted what was best for her. What is best for me, Lord? Why do I dread getting married like it was some sort of disease?

She drove on, the late-morning sun bearing down on her and reminding her of past years when she didn't have a care in the world. Those memories used to encourage her. Now they only served as reminders of just how much she had failed.

* * *

Sara heard the cordless phone ringing but couldn't find it. It took her five rings to finally locate it underneath a small sofa cushion in her living room.

"Hello?" Sara asked in a tone that said, You'd better not be selling anything.

"Happy birthday, little lady."

"Hi, Bruce," she said, a smile coming over her lips.

"Has it been a good one so far?"

"Well, besides the fact that I'm thirty-yeah, I guess it has been."

"How's the new car?" Bruce asked her.

"Still as nice as it was when I drove you around."

"You want to drive tonight?"

"Sure. Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise. I just wanted to call and tell you I'm heading over-I'll be there in fifteen minutes. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, sounds great."

"See you soon."

Sara clicked off the phone and carried it to her bedroom. The alarm clock on her nightstand informed her that it was 6:45 P.M. Sara knew that meant Bruce would be knocking on her door at exactly 7:00.

Slightly flustered, she rummaged through a dresser drawer for a black slip. She usually ran a little late whenever she went out. Bruce, on the other hand, always arrived on time. Always. Sometimes it was scary how prompt he was. It was as though he sat outside the house waiting to hear his stopwatch go off.

But that's a silly thing to complain about-promptness, she told herself. This birthday just has me in a bad mood. There's nothing wrong with being dependable. Nothing wrong with Bruce. He's a good guy.

Bruce Erickson had first asked Sara out two years ago after a Sunday evening service at church. They had met in the singles' Sunday school class. But unlike many other women in that group, Sara wasn't looking for a boyfriend or a husband. She wanted Christian friends, male and female, and had decided that church would be a good place to find them. So when Bruce asked her out that first time, Sara told him no. She didn't lie to him or come up with some excuse. She simply told him that at the moment she wasn't ready to date. Bruce never asked her why but simply said okay and tried again two weeks later. Sara said yes that time, figuring it would be no big deal. An actual date with a decent guy might be nice for a change.

After several dates with him, Sara began to enjoy his company. It had been a while since she had gone out with anyone, and Bruce was charming and likable. He was confident and extroverted, never letting the conversation drag or halt, but he was also genuinely interested in Sara. In fact, she could remember him mentioning the L-word on their fourth date. She hadn't said anything in response. It wasn't that she could never love him, but she just wasn't there yet. She wanted to take things slow.

Her mother, of course, had other assumptions. "I just adore him. Don't you?" she asked Sara one day when they met for lunch.

"He's a nice guy," Sara replied with a casual shrug.

"Well, he's certainly handsome, too. Not too tall, nice dark hair-looks perfect alongside you."


"Honey, you've gone out several times now. Don't you think you should at least have him over for dinner?"

"I probably will. Just not yet."

Mom shook her head. "Why do you have this aversion to fine young men?"

That statement had hurt. Sara had looked at her mother's determined face and had almost begun to cry. Obviously her mother only wanted the best for her, but was Bruce necessarily the best?

"I'll call him, all right? I just don't have time this week."

"I just don't understand you sometimes, Sara." Her mother had walked to the ladies' room and left Sara sitting at the table, wishing she had never introduced her to Bruce.

That was the beginning of it all, the start of The Issue. The dating, marriage, family issue.

Sara could never explain it to her parents-that, as seemingly perfect as Bruce was, something wasn't there. Or more accurately, however perfect Bruce might be, he could never be someone else. That was the real problem.

And yet, for two whole years now she and Bruce had been dating, and they had even become what her mother called "an item." It was almost inevitable, when you thought about it. Dating for two years? Obviously, that was serious. With Sara and Bruce both being thirty? That was serious with a ton of implications to it. But Sara didn't like thinking about those implications-about things like the M-word, meaning marriage. Most of the time she managed to put the possibility completely out of her mind and just enjoy the simple dates and the nice friendship she had with Bruce.

Simple. Nice. Two words she thought about a lot in regard to Bruce. Maybe there's nothing wrong with settling for simple and nice.

The doorbell rang at exactly 6:59. Perfect timing as usual.

As Sara headed to the front door in her favorite black dress, she got the same feeling she always got before seeing Bruce. She couldn't describe it. It was neither good nor bad. It was ... something.

The words resonated: Simple. Nice. Simple. Nice. Then she chided herself. Sara, you've got to snap out of this. Bruce is a great guy, and you know it. What's your problem, anyway?

But she knew what her problem was.

She hesitated before opening the door. Yes, she knew why she hadn't fallen under the spell of Bruce the way so many others had. Others like her mother, who obviously couldn't wait for Sara to walk down the church aisle.

Her nose wrinkled in annoyance. What was the big hurry, anyway? she wondered. Why couldn't anyone be patient and understand?

Nobody understood because nobody knew.

Sara opened the front door to the familiar handsome face. "Hi," was all she managed to say.

Bruce looked at her and grinned. With a flourish he presented her with a single rose. "You look beautiful tonight. Happy birthday."


Sara could hear her mother saying, "What a marvelous flower, Bruce." Sara found it ironic and even a bit sad that her mother was more impressed with Bruce than she was. Perhaps mothers were just that way. Bruce always said the right things to her mother. Then again, Bruce usually said the right things to everyone, including Sara. And she couldn't help but enjoy the compliments Bruce always gave her.

They went out to their favorite restaurant, an Italian place called Salvatore's. The restaurant was small and exclusive, and Bruce loved going there. Sara did love the food, but she always found the prices ridiculous. They had actually gone to Salvatore's for their first date. Sara had been a little overwhelmed.

"This is really expensive," Sara had said, looking at a simple bowl of pasta that cost more than thirty dollars.

But Bruce had told her she deserved a nice dinner like this. The fact of the matter was that Bruce owned a successful business employing about fifty people. He could afford thirty-five-dollar plates of pasta-and he told her exactly that. Modesty was not one of Bruce's strong points.


Excerpted from the Promise Remains the Watermark by Travis Thrasher Copyright © 2001 by Travis Thrasher. Excerpted by permission.
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.
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  • Posted August 26, 2013

    Two beautifully written stories that really touch your heart. Gr

    Two beautifully written stories that really touch your heart. Great characters and a great subject: LOVE. A good compilation that made a grown woman cry with joy. Very sweet.

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