Friday, 14 October 2011

Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Powerline

The seated draftee, currently senior deacon Ed McCaskey, began jeering at the men. Ball after ball failed to dunk him. "Hey, everybody, I'm still dry up here. Isn't any of you man enough to drop a tired old beanpole like me?"

"Pick any of these. They'll get you yet," Andie said.

"You said it, lady." Kevin's eyes narrowed into a steely glare. He took aim and made a huge powerful throw, missing the target by a hair.

"Not even close, farm boy," yelled the deacon. "This target's practically the broad side of a barn. Come on, turkeys. Isn't there one among you with any--"

Jeff cut him off. "We haven't sent in our strongest player yet." He backed up to where Cassie stood sipping lemonade. With a gleam in his eyes, and a courtly bow from the waist, he offered her a ball. "How about it? Relief pitcher?"

She laughed aloud, flushing with embarrassment and a peculiar twist of pleasure. "The relief accepts the challenge." In a deliberate manner, drawing out the suspense, she handed her lemonade to Pam, and accepted the ball from Jeff. Their fingers met, and he clung to her touch for a moment. That strange electric thrill happened, the one she felt each time his skin made contact with hers. Cassie frowned with a studious air as if gauging her throw, and stepped up to the line. "You're in trouble now, Ed," she informed the deacon politely.

He gave an airy wave off gesture with one hand. "You're too little to move that ball half this distance."

"Get him," yelled her friends. "Make it count, Cassie!"

She judged the distance, biting her lip as if concentrating. "This is for the youth ministry," she said, enjoying her moment.

"Powerline, Kids' Clubs, and the Sunday school. All worthy causes."

"Come on, Cassie!"

"You can do it!"

"Let him have it, girl!"

She wound up her best sandlot pitch and let fly. A huge splash dropped the deacon abruptly into the inky depths. Ed came up sputtering, wiping his face down. "Well," he called, "I'm cooled off now, by golly."

Cassie laughed in excitement. The day seemed charged with enjoyment and good fun. She accepted her tiny animal prize with pleasure from the attendant. It was a four-inch tall stuffed eagle. Isaiah 40:31. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. You promised, Lord. Let us always remember to wait on You. She turned to Jeff, gravely handing him the toy with a little flourish. "I hereby present the turkey prize," she announced to their laughing friends, "to the turkey who put me up to this -- Jeff Hadley."

He burst out in an unrestrained, infectious laugh, a warning look in his eyes. Cassie knew he'd pay her back later. "It's an eagle, not a turkey. What do they teach farm girls these days? Can't you tell the difference?" He stuffed it into his pocket as the laughing group moved on to the next stall.

"You're a good sport." The group moved on to the face-painting booth with the eager children. Cassie declined, not liking the feel of tempera on her skin, but watched as Melinda, Pam and Vera's girls all acquired pseudo-tattoos. "Neat," enthused Heather, Vera's twelve-year-old.

Amber, age four, rubbed at hers, afraid it might be permanent. Jeff scooped the giggling child onto his shoulders.
"Will it come off, Jeppie?" she asked plaintively.

"Sure it will, sweets. Just give it a good scrub-a-dub in the tub." He tickled the child. Cassie beamed, a step behind and out of sight. She thought of Leon's nieces, or of cousin Santiago and his daughter Amalia. Jeff was good with kids, like the men of her own family. He'd fit in with them. They'd like him, everybody would. He was a people person, like the folks she'd grown up with. Even Abuelita would take to him like a Cuban to picadillo.

On the spot she decided that Jeff was a prize, the pearl beyond price the Word spoke of. If he was crazy enough to want her, she'd spend the rest of her life giving to this man. He'd been tested, gone through the fire. He'd lost his wife. But Cass was here, and there was a plan for their lives, the two of them together.

Funny, thought I was getting pretty tuned in, pretty spiritual. But Jeff saw it way before I caught a glimmer. He sensed we belong together. Glad he didn't give up on me. Thank You, God. I asked You to give me a love for him that I couldn't mistake. And that's exactly what You did.

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