Charlotte used to yearn for the life she had before marriage and motherhood - a life of no laundry except her own and full command of the remote control, if only for an hour. That is, she did, until the day she came home to an empty house, turning her guilty daydream into her worst nightmare.
Now, everyone is ready to believe her husband left her, taking their young son with him. Everyone, that is, except Charlotte, who is determined to solve the mystery of her missing family.
Will Charlotte be able to prove those around her wrong? Or is her faith as misplaced as is her son and husband?
An Uncertain Faith is a fast-paced, inspiring read filled with relatable characters for anyone who also often finds themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
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About the Author
Allie Potts, born in Rochester Minnesota was moved to North Carolina at a very early age by parents eager to escape to a more forgiving climate. She has since continued to call North Carolina home, settling in 1998 in Raleigh, halfway between the mountains and the sea. When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day or chasing after children determined to turn her hair gray before its time, Allie enjoys stories of all kinds. Her favorites, whether they are novels, film, or simply shared aloud with friends, are usually accompanied by a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand. A self-professed science geek and book nerd, Allie also writes at www.alliepottswrites.com.
Read an Excerpt
An Uncertain Faith
By Allie Potts
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Allie Potts
All rights reserved.
Women's Lib? Oh, I'm afraid it doesn't interest me one bit. I've been so liberated it hurts.
A solitary large tree stood with its branches extending into the recently darkened sky. The air was just beginning to lighten from the day's oppressive heat and humidity, and the leaves and grass all around had just begun to take on that sheen of dewy condensation. The second wave of starlight had just begun to make its presence known as the final blush of red from the sunset left the sky. Beneath the tree, a young couple stood in a loose embrace, neither speaking; the song of the crickets beginning their chirp and the gentle flutter of fireflies taking flight was conversation enough. The man looked lovingly upon the woman, reaching out to caress her face. Her head, as if it had a will of its own, filled the space of his hand as she leaned toward him, eagerly awaiting his next touch that would undoubtedly be a kiss. The woman's body began to tingle in welcome and wanton anticipation, her heart rate increasing as his lips parted. He leaned closer and shouted, "Are you happy with your job? Wouldn't you like to have a career in the exciting world of IT? We can help!"
Charlotte's bleary eyes opened as her husband's arm lifted and slammed down upon the deserving alarm clock. She had t-minus sixty seconds to respond—or less, in the case of today, as the bedroom doors flew open and Jake, her entirely too-awake four-year-old, sprang into the room.
"Mom! Mom! It's waking time! Are you awake? I have to go pee-pee!" He danced around holding himself in support of this announcement.
Her husband of eight years flipped from his side to his back with one arm covering his eyes, the other arm gesturing wildly in the general direction of both their son's noise and his bathroom.
"Then go, Jake! Go!"
Charlotte, more than a little frustrated from the abrupt ending to what could have been a very satisfying dream, wishfully thought back on the days before potty training, but after infancy, as she had no nostalgia about those long nights. At least then Jake would still be confined to his crib until they were ready to collect him.
As rapidly as he arrived, the boy scampered off down the hallway. Their morning routine played out the same way most days, a seemingly unbreakable cycle of wake, redirect, wash, and repeat. With the wake and redirect portion of the program complete, Charlotte arose to start her own morning preparations. She was not the natural risk taker in their relationship, but if she was a gambler, she would have bet that once again Jake had neglected to flush the toilet.
Her husband, Mr. All In, hit the snooze button and, in seconds, was emitting the rhythmic sounds of blissful sleep. With Jake around, there was little risk that he would continue to sleep through another round of the alarm, and so Charlotte left him where he lay.
Though much of the childproofing around the house had come down, occasionally there were pieces still in place, one such being the plastic white-and-gray knob cover that was the only barrier between Charlotte's serenity chamber and the chaos of being the only female in a house full of boys. If she could, Charlotte would spend a blissful hour surrounded by the steam and nothing but her thoughts, but it was another Thursday, which meant another fun-filled day at the office. At least it was that much closer to the weekend. Bowing to the inevitable, Charlotte left the shower so that her husband could begin his own routine while she attempted to detangle and dry her mass of hair.
The fog covered the bathroom mirror. She turned the blow-dryer on it, and the misted surface cleared like a faerie ring, bringing her gray-green eyes contained within a rounded face into focus. Her skin was still marred with a few blemishes and rosy areas even as she entered the latter portion of her midthirties, and she made a mental note to pick up some more skin care products not designed for the teen the next time she was in the cosmetic aisle. She would not attempt to convince herself into thinking she could pass as a professional model, but she liked to believe that even at her age, with a little work, she could still turn the occasional head.
Her hair was once again choosing to be stubborn and rebelled against styling. With every snarled brush stroke, she thought of how nice it might be if she were to cut it all off one day, but Fletcher had always liked it long. She had occasionally chopped it off just under her ears as way of testing the waters, and in each case, the millisecond look of disappointment that crossed Fletcher's face before he regained control of his features told her that, once again, he was not ready for her to make that drastic of a change to her appearance.
Once detangled and dry, her chocolate-colored hair would hit the middle of her shoulders in a glossy wave and look spectacular for the two minutes it would take to finish prepping, before leaving the safety of her bedroom and entering the every-changing shape of chaos that was Jake's room. This morning, it no longer appeared to be a lion's den—last week's passion—but instead stuffed animals and blocks adorned every flat surface with his comforter scrunched together along the floor. Jake announced as she entered the room that the blocks were pirate ships and the blanket the ocean. His stuffed animals were various crew members; Jake, of course, was the captain.
"Argh, Jake. Would ye be interested in getting dressed for the day?"
"Oh, is it a school day?"
"Yes, Jake, it is a school day."
Though perfectly capable of dressing himself, Charlotte enjoyed picking out Jake's outfits for the day if only to ensure that the child that left her house was presentable. Jake was feeling more independent that morning, throwing back the collection of clothes Charlotte brought and picking out his own set.
"I am sorry, kiddo, but you just can't wear that green striped shirt with those plaid pants."
"The shirt is green. The pants are green. They match!" Jake stated this, very sure of himself, as if Charlotte was the one who was fashion blind.
"Honey, how about this one instead?"
"What color is Daddy wearing?"
"I don't know. Daddy, what color are you wearing?"
From across the hall, a muffled voice answered, "Black."
Troubled by this response and knowing how the rest of the conversation will go, Charlotte advised Jake, "He's wearing black."
"Okay, I want a black shirt."
"You don't have a black shirt."
"I want to match Daddy!"
Charlotte sighed. "How about the Mickey Mouse shirt? It has black on it."
Minor crisis averted once again, Charlotte walked with Jake back toward his bathroom to help with tooth brushing and general grooming. As expected, not only was Charlotte greeted by an unflushed toilet; she was greeted by an unflushed and clogged toilet. All the remaining paper had been removed from the roll and was in one shape or form now one with the bowl.
"Jake, what happened here?"
"I needed a telescope for my pirate ship."
With eyes closed and shoulders open to heaven, Charlotte mentally debated if it was worth the pain of being five minutes late to work versus having the mess to clean up when she got home, ultimately deciding to suffer the glare of her boss as she broke up the mess into manageable bits. Fletcher, as he walked by, asked, "Oh, if you are cleaning up the bathrooms, can you get ours done too?"
Three flush cycles and one-half full trash can later, Charlotte joined the breakfast preparations in progress. Fletcher had put himself through school working a variety of restaurant positions and could cook like a chef when the mood and time permitted. Jake regularly showed his appreciation of his dad's skills by demanding cold cereal day in and day out. Charlotte and Fletcher had started out with the best of intentions when their son first transitioned to table foods by only purchasing organic and wholesome cereals. It had only taken one sleepover at Jake's cousin's house for Jake to emphatically decide that if it wasn't brightly colored with a carton on the box, he wasn't interested.
The coffee grinder whirled as Fletcher brought plates of fruit and toast for the adults to the table while Charlotte poured a small bowl of no-brand rainbow corn puffs with a cup of milk. Charlotte had no sooner sat down than Jake put his finger with a large green blob on it on her face announcing, "Mom, I have a booger!"
After hands were washed and noses cleaned, Charlotte and Jake returned to the breakfast table. Fletcher was nearly done with his meal already and busy typing away on his cell phone. Jake, no longer interested in his own soggy cereal, reached over to snatch Charlotte's apple slice, remembering his manners long enough just in time to say please as the fruit entered his mouth.
Without looking away from his phone, Fletcher casually said, "Oh, I need you to take Jake to day care today. I've got a meeting at eight downtown." Charlotte and Fletcher had determined that the best division of labor with regard to the transportation of their son was for Fletcher to drop off and Charlotte to pick up. Fletcher operated his own business, and the belief was that he would have more flexibility in the morning; however, he had begun scheduling more and more 8:00 a.m. meetings at destinations around town, and Charlotte found herself increasingly pulling double duty. It wouldn't be a big deal if she was given advance notice; she would just start her own morning routine a few minutes earlier.
Unfortunately though, the over-the-breakfast status update was more of the norm. Charlotte mentally adjusted her estimated arrival time at her own place of employment by an additional fifteen minutes. She could already hear the sound of annoyance with undercurrent of resignation in her boss's voice.
As Charlotte snapped the last buckle of Jake's car seat, with her hair tasting the humidity in the air and working itself into the usual brown frizz, Fletcher waved them both goodbye. "Don't forget, I have basketball tonight with Tom." Charlotte had.
Fletcher was approximately a foot taller than Charlotte, with a frame that required regular physical upkeep. He had taken up basketball recently with his friend Tom, who just so happened to be married to Charlotte's friend Marie, as a way to burn off the extra calories a person in sales tends to take in from business lunches and extended travel without the payments required of a gym membership. He would return covered in sweat, his normally strawberry blond hair darkened from the moisture, his skin reddened from the exertion, but looking relaxed and happy. Charlotte liked to believe that at least for a moment, she caught a glimpse of the man she had met so many years before. If it wasn't for the fact that she rarely felt she spent any time with her husband, and was left parenting alone night after night, she might actually encourage them. As it stood, a part of her couldn't help being resentful that her husband couldn't somehow fit them into the regular workday. "What's the benefit of being the boss if you can't set your own hours?" she had grumbled to herself on a number of nights.
The basketball games, however, had yet to fall into a regular schedule, often getting cancelled or moved around depending on Fletcher's needs; and Fletcher had begun to complain about muscle soreness and a dull ache in his joints the following day. Even with this reminder in the morning, it was no guarantee that the game would take place later, but it was near certainty that Charlotte would be responsible for dinner that evening, an event that usually wasn't in the best interest of anyone's taste buds.
* * *
After being stuck behind a car with out-of-town plates, obviously lost, and Jake successfully dropped off at day care, Charlotte entered her office building. She had managed to regain five minutes by catching the magical light cycle. On the typical drive to the office, there was a string of ten traffic lights; if the cosmos aligned and you hit just the right speed, you could go through at least eight of them without stopping. But more often than not, the congestion on the roadway prevented anyone from achieving the appropriate speed, resulting in stop and go between each signal. School had recently let out, and Charlotte was always amazed by what a difference the lack of high school drivers made to her daily commute. Unfortunately even with the significantly lower volume, Charlotte still found herself stuck behind a pace car with no clear passing option. She sighed as she inched forward. It was going to be one of those days.
Charlotte parked the car and rushed into the office; there was still the possibility that she could be at her desk with her computer fired up before her boss made his mental tally of who was and who wasn't there promptly. He referred to it as management by walking, but Charlotte really just saw it as an excuse for him to criticize those who came in late while he took a leisurely stroll with a hot cup of coffee. As she entered the building, the heel of her shoe snagged on the carpet, the abrupt stop causing her to nearly twist her ankle. She attempted to find a way to save herself from looking like she had just learned to walk, but failed miserably. Her hair decided it too needed a walk on the wild side, as several locks came tumbling free of her updo.
Charlotte worked as a researcher in the patent law office of Whitman and Starnes. Her boss, Richard Starnes, a regular participant in client phone calls, predominately managed the staff and more of the day-to-day operations while his partner took on more of the courtroom litigation and client-facing role. Though she had been with the firm straight out of college, she still did not know whether or not the division of labor had been intentional when the firm was first created or if the two had naturally fallen into those roles. Richard was a heavyset man—falling on the smaller size—with brown eyes, large pores, thinning gray hair, and a handlebar mustache. He claimed that his handlebar mustache was part of the firm's marketing strategy as it made him, and their office by association, more memorable. As if the mustache alone didn't make him memorable enough, Richard also sported a pocket watch on a chain, a relic of that brief period where swing music and zoot suits had briefly come back into fashion in the early 2000s.
Charlotte definitely had not taken the job originally with dreams of making it her career, but the economy had tanked just as she was graduating, and she really was just happy to have a position that could pay the bills. When the great recession occurred and Fletcher lost his job, it became even more important that she continue with a stable, benefit-providing position. As boring as the subject matter was, Charlotte had found that she had a natural gift for the work, enjoying the chance to connect seemingly unrelated cases, tracing patterns and precedents, and writing recommendations. More often than not, she was the first person in the firm to make the connections between cases and had grown accustomed to words of ridicule or disbelief from Richard during the initial discovery until she cornered him long enough to fully explain the big picture. While the regular song and dance between Richard and herself was wearing at times, she had been proven right by the courts often enough to build up a tolerance. Her boss's other quirks were occasionally just as tedious, but she had grown accustomed long enough to them to ignore them most days as well.
Having never gone to law school, Charlotte was well aware that she had reached the pinnacle of her career options within the firm, but unless she could somehow fit in additional schooling around raising her son and supporting the family financially while her husband established his own business, her career plateau would be a necessary sacrifice. If Charlotte was honest with herself, she wasn't sure if continuing in the field of patent law was really something she would be interested in even if neither time nor money was a factor.
Charlotte was brought back to reality by the tune of her computer's welcome sequence followed by the sound of files being dropped into her inbox. Richard hovered over her desk, coffee in hand. "So glad you were able to join us this morning. I was beginning to be concerned that you caught the bug going around. I have a call scheduled in five minutes in my office, and I need you to take notes." "His assistant must be one of those out sick," thought Charlotte. "I guess I am going to work a few jobs today."
Pad and pen in hand, Charlotte rapidly took notes as Richard and the client discussed whether or not their newest product was patentable. Though the person on the other side of the phone was an established client, Richard took delight in instructing them on the basics of how patents operated.
Excerpted from An Uncertain Faith by Allie Potts. Copyright © 2013 Allie Potts. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Charlotte used to yearn for the life she had before the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood. That was until the day she came home to find her husband and son missing. Did they leave her, or is there a more dire explanation? I found this to be an interesting read that started a little slow but quickly grabbed my attention and kept me guessing. The characters were well developed and the story is well written with intrigue, suspense, faith, and a surprise ending. This is the first book I have read by this author and would like to read more. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Well written, hope there's a sequel. Very relatable.
Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite An Uncertain Faith by Allie Potts is the story of a woman whose faith in her husband and marriage is thoroughly tested. Charlotte finds herself with increasingly less time on her hands, trying to hold down a job and run the family home while her husband, Fletcher, tries to get his business off the ground. When the opportunity for a weekend away with the girls arises, Charlotte takes it and her husband promises to take their son, Jake, on a weekend camping trip. When Charlotte gets back home, neither her son or husband are there, but the camping gear is. After reporting their disappearance to the police, Charlotte begins to suspect her husband has left her, taking Jake with him. But things happen to change her mind and she digs in, risking her own job and her relationship with her mother and sister, determined to prove that there is another explanation for their disappearance. In An Uncertain Faith, Allie Potts has given us a story of courage, of faith tested to core, and of undisputed conviction. It’s a wonderfully well-written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was one of those books that I promised myself I would put down when I had finished the chapter I was reading but, instead, found myself continuing to read well into the night! Wonderful storyline, the whole book flows naturally and readers will enjoy the many clues that Charlotte turns up in her bid to find her husband and child before it is too late.