Between

Between

by Shelby Beckett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477239957
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/13/2012
Pages: 308
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

BETWEEN


By Shelby Beckett

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2012 Shelby Beckett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-3995-7


Chapter One

The child's body weighed lightly in her arms. His hairless head gave him the appearance of a tiny, wizened old man, whose sunken eyes stared up at her with the weariness of one resigned to suffering.

His mother, a thin woman in her late twenties, hovered over the microphone positioned at the center of the stage. "The chemotherapy didn't work," she whispered. "The doctors have given him less than a month. He's been so sick, he doesn't even have the energy to walk any more." Turning pleading eyes toward Stacy, she said, "Please! He's only two years old. You're our last hope."

Stacy nodded, then bent over the little boy, the halo of her copper-penny hair glowing in the muted spotlight. The entire auditorium fell silent; not even a cough interrupted the collective sense of intense anticipation. Looking into the listless blue eyes gazing up into her dark ones, she murmured, "All right, then. This thing's not going to cheat you out of your future if I can help it!"

Bending over him, she opened herself to the energy pulsating insistently around her. It rushed in, surging through her body as if it would burst the boundaries of her skin, leaving her barely aware of herself and of the burden she was holding. Only the power existed, flooding her, pouring out through her hands, her very pores, flowing from her into the child's fragile body.

Finally, she lifted her head, her upper lip dewed with perspiration. The little boy stirred and began to push against her, stretching his arms and legs. The audience watched as a pink flush crept across his pale cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes began to fade. Squirming out of Stacy's arms, he tottered toward his mother and clutched her knees.

The sound of breath being released rippled through the meeting hall; then pandemonium broke loose, as the audience clapped, cheered, whistled, and wept. The child's mother swept him into her arms and was assisted from the stage by volunteers waiting in the wings.

Spreading her arms as if embracing every person in the room, Stacy pivoted toward each corner of the auditorium. Arms still raised, she smiled the smile that had already captivated crowds across four states.

The little boy had been last on this evening's schedule, but his response had been so rapid that a few minutes of the time allotted to the meeting still remained.

"One more." Stacy spoke into the microphone. "We have time for one more."

A stout woman in a blue dress stood up, her face creased with pain. Walking carefully, as if each movement hurt, she mounted the stairs leading to the stage. Stacy met her at the top of the steps, helped her to a chair near the microphone, and placed her hands on the woman's head.

She always savored the moment when a completed healing clicked into place. It felt like an actual physical sensation, as if something inside her brain rotated and locked itself into position. That impression had been intense with the little boy. This time, to her surprise and dismay, the feeling didn't come.

She removed her hands and stepped to one side. The woman slowly stood up, tears streaming down her face, and squeezed Stacy's hands. Stacy tried to pull away. She wanted to explain that she wasn't sure, that this time the healing might not have completed itself, but the woman had already turned back toward the crowded auditorium. Raising one of Stacy's arms into the air, as if announcing her the winner by a knockout, she sobbed, "It's gone; my migraine's gone. I could hardly see for the pain, and now it's gone!"

Applause again thundered across the hall. Turning back, the woman enveloped Stacy in a hug that lifted her off the floor of the stage. "You're an angel, Stacy Addison; you're an angel!"

Still disturbed by the absence of her anticipated indicator of healing, Stacy smiled automatically at the woman and turned her over to the backstage volunteers. Continuing to smile, she faced the crowd, once again raising her arms in her signature embrace.

This time, however, both smile and lifted arms felt mechanical. As she pivoted from side to side, most of her attention was focused on the fact that the comforting sense of completion, her usual signal that all was as it should be, was missing.

Again.

Two years earlier, in response to requests from some out-of-state friends of her enthusiastic followers, Stacy had begun expanding meetings from her home territory in Gainesville, Florida. She had been in Atlanta, when a woman suffering from epilepsy had presented herself onstage. After only a few minutes with Stacy's hands on her head, the woman had leaped to her feet, exultant, claiming that healing energy had filled her and made her whole. She had embraced Stacy, to the accompaniment of deafening applause, and had been swept from the stage by a crowd of excited friends.

Stacy had stared after them, uncertain. It was the first time that the sense of completion she always experienced when a healing took place had not been present. She opened her mouth to call the woman back, to tell her she wasn't sure, then closed it again. If she broke momentum now, admitting this possible failure, it would throw off the whole rhythm of the meeting; worse, it might damage the faith her followers placed in her. Even though she knew that the energy flowing through her brought about genuine healing, she also understood that faith also made people more receptive to that energy.

The epileptic woman was still speaking animatedly to the rapt group around her, so it was obvious that she had felt something. Surely, Stacy told herself, the energy must have worked on her the same way it always did on the multitude of others who came seeking healing. The audience continued to applaud and, looking across the stage, Stacy saw the next person in line limping toward her. After hesitating a moment longer, she moved forward, hands extended, to greet him.

The woman never attended another meeting. Stacy tried to convince herself that the healing must have taken place, or she would have returned. But she could never completely rid herself of an uncertainty that nibbled at the edges of her mind when she least expected it and sometimes kept her company in the dark of sleepless nights.

And now the strange glitch had happened again.

At least this time, she thought, it only concerned a migraine, not something life-threatening like epilepsy. Arms still raised, she forced her attention back into the present, to the wildly applauding audience.

They love what I do; they love me. Do you see them, Mother? Do you hear them, Father? Are you proud of me?

Tears sprang to her eyes, but she blinked them away.

* * *

The auditorium was almost empty. A few stragglers remained around the refreshment table at the back of the room, chatting or finishing the last crumbs of homemade peanut butter cookies. The woman in the blue dress had departed with her entourage soon after the close of the meeting, still caught up in excitement and wonder. Stacy had almost waylaid her, almost mentioned being unsure that the energy had worked as it appeared to, but what would she gain by sharing her doubts? The woman's headache was gone; that was all that concerned her and her friends.

So far, Stacy's impressive record had spoken for itself. Admitting even the possibility of failure would not only make her vulnerable to the skeptics, but would also definitely curb the momentum her work had been steadily gaining for the past year.

Pushing this dilemma to the back of her mind, she began gathering up used paper napkins and Styrofoam cups. Despite the tremendous amount of energy she had expended over the past several hours, she felt strong and exhilarated. A few more meetings like this one, and she would be well on her way toward national recognition as a genuine healer!

She had just dropped a handful of litter into the wastebasket when she noticed a well-groomed couple standing by the door. The woman looked about thirty-five, attractive, her fair hair stylishly windblown. The man was at least ten years older, but the shoulders under his form-fitting, expensively casual shirt spoke of frequent visits to the gym. A single streak of silver through his thick brown hair added a touch of rakishness to his otherwise glossy appearance. Seeing Stacy's glance, he broke off his conversation with the woman and moved into the room toward her.

"Ms. Addison." He offered his hand. "I'm Evan Chastain." Turning to the woman, who had stepped up beside him, he continued, "This is my assistant, Laurie Tolliver. We'd like to talk to you for a few minutes."

Stacy shook his hand and nodded to his companion. "It's getting late, but I guess I can spare a few minutes." Picking up one of several folding chairs stacked against the back wall, she opened it and sat down. Evan Chastain took two more chairs and arranged them opposite her. Seating himself with a quick, economical movement, he set his briefcase on the floor beside him. Laurie Tolliver took the chair next to his.

"Your work is very impressive, Ms. Addison, especially what happened tonight with that little boy." Chastain's smile displayed white, perfect teeth.

"Thank you." Stacy looked from Chastain to his assistant. "You chose an especially exciting evening to attend."

Laurie Tolliver smiled. "Actually, this is our fourth time. We sat in the back row the other times and left soon after you were finished."

Chastain briefly touched the wave of silver above his right ear in what looked like a habitual gesture. "We wanted to just observe, to be sure you were genuine, before we made up our minds."

Stacy wrinkled her forehead. "Made up your minds about what?"

"About you, Ms. Addison; you and your abilities." Chastain's gaze became serious. "As I said earlier, your work is very impressive. Not only have we observed your sessions, but we have also taken the liberty of interviewing a number of the people you've laid hands on, here in Gainesville and also in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina."

Laurie Tolliver nodded. "Those we spoke with were very enthusiastic about you, Ms. Addison." She leaned forward and smiled. "We felt it was the best way we could find out whether or not you were, as the saying goes, 'for real.' It seems that you are."

"That's right. According to all the evidence, you're a genuine healer." Chastain picked up his briefcase and laid it on his lap. Snapping open the locks, he reached inside and extracted a small stack of papers, which he offered Stacy.

"This is a contract. Take it home with you and read it through carefully. Talk it over with your family and consider it carefully before making your decision. However, we do need your answer before the end of next week."

"My answer to what?" Stacy frowned at the printed form. "What is this contract, anyway?"

Evan Chastain and Laurie Tolliver looked at each other and smiled. Chastain turned to Stacy, white teeth dazzling.

"Ms. Addison, how would you like to host your own television show?"

Chapter Two

David Kinnard worked to keep a straight face as he watched his daughter pout. Even though she bore little outward resemblance to her mother, Katie's mannerisms sometimes mimicked Stacy's so exactly it never failed to amaze him.

Katie was propped against her pillows, holding a crayon drawing of a black and white cat whose long, ringed tail looked like it might have a life of its own. Lower lip stuck out, she gazed soulfully up at David, who was sitting on the side of the bed.

"I made this just for Mommy. Can't I stay up and give it to her?" The lower lip protruded another fraction of an inch.

David allowed himself the hint of a smile. "It's late, kitten. Time to go to sleep."

"But Mommy said she'd tuck me in when she got home. I need to stay up until she gets here."

"Mommy must have been delayed." He made an effort to keep the irritation this made him feel out of his voice. "Anyhow, you have to be up early tomorrow, remember?"

Katie scrunched down until the covers touched her chin. "I don't want to go on a stupid field trip. Why can't I just stay home with Mommy, or 'Nerva?"

"Because you can't. You signed up to go, and you need to honor that commitment. Besides," David stood up, stretching, "I'm sure Mommy has things to do tomorrow. And just because Minerva lives next door and spends a lot of time with you doesn't mean she isn't busy, too."

"Oh, poop!" Katie grudgingly handed him the drawing. "Put this on my desk."

"Only if you say the magic word."

"Please."

David took the paper. "Thank you."

"Hmpf." She flung all but one of the pillows on the floor and flopped down with her face turned away from him.

Laying the drawing on the small table that served Katie as a desk, David switched on the nightlight and turned off the bedside lamp. As he started out the door, she murmured sleepily, "Goodnight, Daddy. I forgive you."

"Goodnight, kitten. Sleep tight." Smiling, he tiptoed out and closed the door behind him.

* * *

Stacy parked in the driveway of the big brick house she had inherited from her parents. Leaving the motor running, she leaned her head against the seat back. She often did her best thinking here, in the 1956 Thunderbird that had legally belonged to her since she was eight years old.

The bright red T-Bird had been her father's prized possession. During those infrequent times when he and her mother had been in Gainesville, Randolph Addison had whisked his only child away for long drives in the little sports car, sharing with her details of their latest expeditions to the Peruvian Andes and his insights into the lives, and particularly the deaths and burials, of the ancient Incas.

The fact that she had been a toddler when these excursions began made no difference to her father. She had always listened carefully, even when she was not yet old enough to understand what he was saying. By the time she was five she had delighted him not only by understanding a fair amount of his lectures, but also by asking intelligent, if uncomplicated, questions.

He and her beautiful, remote mother had appeared and disappeared without much advance notice, and Stacy had always tried to make the most of what little time they spent with her. These drives with her father had allowed her glimpses into the world that he and her mother had created for themselves, but had never helped her comprehend their obsession with the past.

Although her parents' passion for their work was obvious, she found it impossible to know if that love extended to her. Sometimes, during their infrequent visits, she would be almost certain that they cared; but before she could hold onto that feeling long enough to absorb it and make it her own, Drs. Randolph and Margaret Addison would depart again into the wilds of Peru. When they finally disappeared into the rugged Andean heights a few days after Stacy's eighth birthday, the chance of ever learning how they truly felt about her vanished with them.

She leaned her head against the seat back, wondering how her parents might have been affected by the knowledge that their only child was about to become a television personality. Would they have been proud of her? Would they have felt that what she was doing was worthy of their name?

She sighed. No use wasting time questioning the dead. Her parents had spent their adult lives on just such a quest, and look where it had gotten them! She needed to focus on convincing David that this TV show was going to be a good thing. Never enthusiastic about the exciting things that took place at her healing meetings, he had become increasingly absorbed in his own work over the past few months. Lately it seemed that his focus was mostly on what was taking place at Central Florida General Hospital, as if his whole world revolved around his neurosurgery. She was beginning to feel that she and Katie hardly mattered any more.

Shifting her position against the back of the car's seat, she remembered how different things had been in the beginning, when David was still in medical school. Their intense attraction to each other had made it possible for them to overlook a multitude of differences. And even though they had sometimes argued about what "real" healing was, he had seemed to respect what she did, and she had tried to do the same for his work.

She had done her best to keep up with the cooking and housework, but as increasing numbers of people discovered her abilities, everyday tasks began to suffer. She found herself on call as much as David, visiting clients in the hospitals, as well as several who were homebound and too ill to attend the meetings she held twice a week.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from BETWEEN by Shelby Beckett Copyright © 2012 by Shelby Beckett. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Between 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good for someone just discovering the world of reincarnation and what may happen to us after death. Some difficult ideas clearly & cleaverly explained and imbedded in the narrative. Enjoyed spending time with these characters, and the pace and focus was consistant throughout. I look forward to more from her.