Dive deep into the stories that began it all.
Ted Dekker's first novels--collected together for the first time.
This trilogy is the collection of three gripping, psychological thrillers that peel back the skin of this world to reveal a supernatural reality rarely seen.
A daring wager of life and death in Denver.
An unfathomable leap of faith in a small Balkan village near the end of WWII.
A global struggle for power that begins deep in the Amazon jungle.
All three stories are bound together by one family's timeless, harrowing discovery of love and all that is unseen.
The Heaven Trilogy offers a window into a world more real and vital than most people ever discover here on earth.
A hidden world where the real dramas of the universe--and our daily lives--continually unfold.
"Well, well, well, guess what I've found. A fiction writer with a rare knack for a compelling story. Expansive...Clever...A provocative read." --Best-selling author Frank Peretti for Heaven's Wager
"Don't miss this book. Don't miss this author's writing. And don't miss the point. Beautiful and suspenseful. I'll have to read this one agian."--Eric Wilson, author of the Jerusalem Unded Trilgoy, for When Heaven Weeps
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Sold by:||HarperCollins Publishing|
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Read an Excerpt
By Ted Dekker
WestBow PressCopyright © 2000 Ted Dekker
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePresent Day
AN OVERHEAD fan swished through the afternoon heat above Padre Francis Cadione's head, squeaking once every rotation, but otherwise not a sound disturbed the silence in the small, dimly lit room. A strong smell of lemon oil mixed with pipe smoke lingered in the air. The windows on either side of the ancient desk reached tall and narrow to the ceiling and cast an amber light across the oak floor.
Some described the furnishings as gothic. Cadione preferred to think of his office as merely atmospheric. Which was fitting. He was a man of the church, and the church was all about atmosphere.
But the visitor sitting with folded hands in the burgundy guest chair had brought his own atmosphere with him. It spread like an aura of heavy perfume that dispensed with the nostrils and made straight for the spine. The man had been sitting there for less than a minute now, smiling like a banshee as though he alone knew some great secret, and already Padre Cadione felt oddly out of balance. One of the visitor's legs swung over the other like a hypnotizing pendulum. His blue eyes held their gaze on the priest's, refusing to release the connection.
The padre shifted his eyes, reached for his black pipe, and clicked its stem gently along his teeth. The small gesture of habit brought a familiar easiness. A thin tendril of tobacco smoke rose lazily past his bushy eyebrows before meeting wafts of fan-air and then scattering. He crossed his legs and realized the moment he had done so that he'd inadvertently matched the visitor's posture.
Relax, Francis. You're seeing things now. He's just a man sitting there. A man not as easily impressed as others, perhaps, but a mere man nonetheless.
"So then, my friend. You seem to be in good spirits."
"Good spirits? And what do you mean by good spirits, Padre?"
The man's gentle voice seemed to carry that strange aura with it—the one that had tingled the padre's spine. It was as though their roles had become confused. Spun around by that old ceiling fan whacking away up there.
Padre Cadione drew at the pipe and released the smoke through his lips. He spoke through the haze. Atmosphere. It was all about atmosphere.
"I only meant you seem to be pretty happy with life, despite your ... adversity. Nothing more."
"Adversity?" The man's left brow arched. The smile below his blue eyes broadened slightly. "Adversity is a relative term, isn't it? It seems to me that if someone is happy, as you say, his circumstances cannot be adequately described as adverse. No?"
Cadione wasn't sure if the man actually wanted an answer. The question felt more like a reprimand—as if this man had risen above mere happiness and now schooled those foolish mortals who still struggled with the simple pursuit of it.
"But you are right. I am in very good spirits," the man said.
Cadione cleared his throat and smiled. "Yes, I can see that."
Thing of it was, this man was not just happy. He literally seemed thrilled with whatever had gotten under his skin. Not drugs—surely not.
The visitor sat there cross-legged, staring at him with those deep blue eyes, wearing an inviting smile. Daring him, it seemed. Come on, Padre, do your thing. Tell me about God. Tell me about goodness and happiness and about how nothing really matters but knowing God. Tell me, tell me, tell me, baby. Tell me.
The priest felt a small, nervous grin cross his face. That was the other thing about this man's brand of happiness. It seemed infectious, if a tad presumptuous.
Either way, the man was waiting, and Cadione could not just sit there forever contemplating matters. He owed this man something. He was, after all, a man of God, employed to shed light. Or at least to point the way to the light switch.
"Being certain of one's place in life does indeed bring one happiness," Cadione said.
"I knew you could understand, Padre! You have no idea how good it is to speak to someone who really understands. Sometimes I feel like I'm ready to burst and no one around me understands. You do understand, don't you?"
"Yes." Cadione nodded instinctively, grinning, still surprised by the man's passion.
"Exactly! People like you and I may have all the wealth in the world, but it's this other thing that is really the magic of life."
"Nothing compares. Nothing at all. Am I right?"
"Yes." A small chuckle escaped Cadione's lips. Goodness, he was starting to feel as though he were being led into a trap with this long string of yeses. There could be no doubting the man's sincerity. Or his passion, for that matter. On the other hand, the man might very well have lost his reason. Become eccentric, even senile. Cadione had seen it happen to plenty of people in the man's social strata.
The visitor leaned forward with a sparkle in his eyes. He spoke in a hushed voice now. "Have you ever seen it, Padre?"
"Seen what?" He knew he sounded far too much like a young boy sitting wide eyed at the instruction of a wise father, but Cadione was powerless to stop himself.
"The great reality behind all things." The man lifted his eyes past Cadione to a painting of God's hand reaching out to a man's on the wall behind. "The hand of God." He nodded at the painting, and the priest twisted in his seat.
"God's hand? Yes, I see it every day. Everywhere I look."
"Yes, of course. But I mean really see, Padre? Have you actually seen him do things? Not something you believe he might have done. Like, Lookie there, I do believe God has opened up a parking spot near the door for us, Honey. But have you really seen God do something before your eyes?"
The man's exuberance reignited the tingle in Cadione's spine. If the man had lost his sensibilities, perhaps he had found something better. Of course, even if God did have his fingers down here on Earth stirring the pot, people couldn't just open their eyes and see it. He pictured a large thumb and forefinger picking up a car and moving it to allow a van easy parking.
"Actually, I can't say that I have."
"Well, I know someone who has. I know someone who does."
A silence settled. The visitor stared at him with those piercing baby blues. But the eyes were not the eyes of a madman. Padre Cadione drew on the pipe, but it had lost its fire and he was rewarded with nothing but stale air.
"You do, huh?"
"I do." The man leaned back again, smiling softly. "And I have seen. Would you like to see, Padre?"
There was a magic in the man's words. A mystery that spoke of truth. He swallowed and leaned back, once again matching the visitor's posture. It occurred to him that he had not actually responded to the man's question.
"It might change your world," the man said.
"Yes. I'm sorry, I was ... uh ..."
"Well then." The man drew a deep breath and crossed his legs once again.
"Open your mind, my friend. Wide open. Can you do that?"
"Yes ... Yes, I suppose."
"Good. I have a story for you."
The visitor took another deep breath, thoroughly satisfied with himself, it seemed, and he began.
Chapter TwoOne Year Earlier Week One
THE CITY was Littleton, a suburb of Denver. The neighborhood was best known as Belaire, an upper-middle-class spread of homes carefully spaced along black streets that snaked between bright green lawns. The street was named Kiowa after the Indians who'd long ago called the plains their own. The home, a two-story stucco topped with a red ceramic tile roof—affectionately called the Windsor by the developer—was the most luxurious model offered in the subdivision. The man standing at the front door was Kent Anthony, the holder of the hefty mortgage on this little corner of the American dream.
In his left hand, a dozen fresh-cut red roses moved to a gentle breeze, starkly accenting the black, double-breasted suit that hung from his narrow shoulders. He stood a lanky six feet, maybe six-two with shoes. Blond hair covered his head, close cropped above the collar. His eyes sparkled blue above a sharp nose; his smooth complexion cast the illusion that he was ten years younger than his true age. Any woman might see him and think he looked like a million bucks.
But today was different. Today Kent was feeling like a million bucks because today Kent had actually earned a million bucks. Or maybe several million bucks.
The corners of his mouth lifted, and he pressed the illuminated doorbell. His heart began to race, standing right there on his front porch waiting for the large colonial door to swing open. The magnitude of his accomplishment once again rolled through his mind and sent a shudder through his bones. He, Kent Anthony, had managed what only one in ten thousand managed to achieve, according to the good people in the census bureau.
And he had done it by age thirty-six, coming from perhaps the most unlikely beginnings imaginable, starting at absolute zero. The skinny, poverty-stricken child from Botany Street who had promised his father that he would make it, no matter what the cost, had just made good on that promise. He had stretched his boundaries to the snapping point a thousand times in the last twenty years and now ... Well, now he would stand tall and proud in the family annals. And to be truthful, he could hardly stand the pleasure of it all.
The door suddenly swung in and Kent started. Gloria stood there, her mouth parted in surprise, her hazel eyes wide. A yellow summer dress with small blue flowers settled graciously over her slender figure. A queen fit for a prince. That would be him.
He spread his arms and smiled wide. Her eyes shifted to the hand holding the roses, and she caught her breath. The breeze swept past him and lifted her hair, as if invited by that gasp.
He proudly offered her the bouquet and bowed slightly. In that moment, watching her strain with delight, the breeze lifting blonde strands of hair away from her slender neck, Kent felt as though his heart might burst. He did not wait for her to speak again but stepped through the threshold and embraced her. He wrapped his long arms around her waist and lifted her to meet his kiss. She returned the affection passionately and then squealed with laughter, steadying the roses behind him.
"Am I a man who keeps his word, or am I not?"
"Careful, dear! The roses. What on Earth has possessed you? It's the middle of the day!"
"You have possessed me," Kent growled. He set her down and pecked her cheek once more for good measure. He spun from her and bowed in mock chivalry.
She lifted the roses and studied them with sparkling eyes. "They're beautiful! Really, what's the occasion?"
Kent peeled off his coat and tossed it over the stair banister. "The occasion is you. The occasion is us. Where's Spencer? I want him to hear this."
Gloria grinned and called down the hall. "Spencer! Someone's here to see you."
A voice called from the hallway. "Who?" Spencer slid around the corner in his stocking feet. His eyes popped wide. "Dad?" The boy ran up to him.
"Hi, Tiger." Kent bent and swept Spencer from his feet in a great bear hug. "You good?"
Spencer wrapped his arms around his father's neck and squeezed tight. Kent set the ten-year-old down and faced them both. They stood there, picture perfect, mother and child, five-three and four-three, his flesh and blood. Behind them a dozen family pictures and as many portraits graced the entryway wall. Snapshots of the last twelve years: Spencer as a baby in powder blue; Gloria holding Spencer in front of the first apartment, lovely lime-green walls surrounded by wilting flowers; the three of them in dwelling number two's living room—a real house this time—grinning ear to ear as if the old brown sofa on which they sat was really the latest style instead of a ten-dollar afterthought purchased at some stranger's garage sale. Then the largest picture, taken two years earlier, just after they had purchased this home—house number three if you counted the apartment.
Kent saw them all in a glance, and he immediately thought a new picture would go up now. But on a different wall. A different home. A much bigger home. He glanced at Gloria and winked. Her eyes grew as if she'd guessed something.
He leaned down to his son. "Spencer, I have some very important news. Something very good has just happened to us. Do you know what it is?"
Spencer glanced at his mother with questioning eyes. He nimbly swept blond bangs from his forehead and stared up at Kent. For a moment they stood, silent.
Then his son spoke in a thin voice. "You finished?"
"And what is finished supposed to mean? Finished what, boy?"
Kent shot Gloria a wink. "Smart boy we have here. And what does that mean, Spencer?"
"You actually finished?" Gloria asked, stunned. "It passed?"
Kent released his son's shoulder and pumped a fist through the air. "You bet it did! This morning."
He stood tall and feigned an official announcement. "My friends, the Advanced Funds Processing System, the brainchild of one Kent Anthony, has passed all tests with flying colors. The Advanced Funds Processing System not only works, it works perfectly!"
Spencer grinned wide and whooped.
Gloria glowed proudly, reached up on her tippytoes, and kissed Kent on his chin. "Splendid job, Sir Anthony."
Kent bowed and then leapt for the living room. A catwalk spanned the two-story ceiling above; he ran under it toward the cream leather furniture. He cleared the sofa in a single bound and dropped to one knee, pumping that arm again as if he'd just caught a touchdown pass. "Yes! Yes, yes, yes!"
The Spanish-style interior lay immaculate about him, the way Gloria insisted it remain. Large ceramic tile ran past a breakfast bar and into the kitchen to his right. A potted palm draped over the entertainment center to his left. Directly before him, above a fireplace not yet used, stood a tall painting of Christ supporting a sagging, forsaken man holding a hammer and spikes. Forgiven, it was called.
He whirled to them. "Do you have any idea what this means? Let me tell you what this means."
Spencer squealed around the sofa and jumped on his knee, nearly knocking Kent to his back. Gloria vaulted the same cream leather sofa, barefooted, her yellow dress flying. She ended on her knees in the cushions, smiling wide, waiting, winking at Spencer, who had watched her make the leap.
Kent felt a fresh surge of affection seize his heart. Boy, he loved her! "This means that your father has just changed the way banks process funds." He paused, thinking about that. "Let me put it another way. Your father has just saved Niponbank millions of dollars in operating costs." He thrust a finger into the air and popped his eyes wide. "No, wait! Did I say millions of dollars? No, that would be in one year. Over the long haul, hundreds of millions of dollars! And do you know what big banks do for people who save them hundreds of millions of dollars?"
He stared into his son's bright eyes and answered his own question quickly before Spencer beat him to it. "They give them a few of those millions, that's what they do!"
"They've approved the bonus?" Gloria asked.
"Borst put the paperwork through this morning." He turned to the side and pumped his arm again. "Yes! Yes, yes, yes!"
Spencer slid off his knee, flopped backward on the couch, and kicked his legs into the air. "Yahoo! Does this mean we get to go to Disneyland?"
They laughed. Kent stood and stepped toward Gloria. "You bet it does." He plucked one of the roses still gripped in her hand and held it out at arm's length. "It also means we will celebrate tonight." He winked at his wife again and began to dance with the rose extended, as if it were his partner. "Wine ..." He closed his eyes and lifted his chin. "Music ..." He spread his arms wide and twirled once on his toes. "Exquisite food ..."
"Lobster!" Spencer said.
"The biggest lobster you can imagine. From the tank," Kent returned and kissed the rose. Gloria laughed and wiped her eyes.
"Of course, this does mean a few small changes in our plans," Kent said, still holding up the red bud. "I have to fly to Miami this weekend. Borst wants me to make the announcement to the board at the annual meeting. It seems that my career as a celebrity has already begun."
"This weekend?" Gloria lifted an eyebrow.
"Yes, I know. Our anniversary. But not to worry, my queen. Your prince will be leaving Friday and returning Saturday. And then we will celebrate our twelfth like we have never dreamt of celebrating."
Excerpted from HEAVEN'S WAGER by Ted Dekker Copyright © 2000 by Ted Dekker. Excerpted by permission of WestBow Press. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read, re-read, and read again many of Mr. Dekker's books. How I let this one slip by is a mystery! This is by far the most impacting, real, life changing piece of fiction I have ever read! The characters come alive, and the tangible love of Jesus permiates every page. A must read for anyone looking to understand the depth, beauty, forgiveness, and complete consuming love of a father who loves without end.
This book will change your life, i say this with no doubt whatsoever.
This three-in-one book is captivating! I am a huge fan of Ted Dekker. He makes me feel as if I am right there, a part of the story. I visibly cry, I audibly shout things out, my heart truly aches, and my mind digs deeper in my own personal journey. I highly recommend this book to everyone I talk to!
I cried and laughed. Thank you Father for opening my eyes ---Again.
This is the most moving book i hav read. From the Job story with kent and the story of janjic have moved me greatly. ALL christians should read this to gain a better understanding on oyr mission to this world.
Please help us spread the Word of God to all nook users! If you're interested, please go to "revival for God" first result. Thanks and God bless you! †††
Wow!! Fantastic piece of authorship!!
I love Ted Dekker and I love his books!