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After twenty-seven years, it never failed to amaze her that nothing ever changed there.

Rori Mason sat stiffly on the worn cushions of a sofa that had been in her father's house as long as she could remember. He sat in his chair, a once-comfortable recliner with homemade, crocheted arm covers. The women in his congregation constantly tried to butter him up with gifts, hoping to get him to think about marriage again. Didn't they realize Pastor William Mason had no room in his life for that kind of love? That need had died with her mother twenty-three years ago.

He hadn't looked at her, really looked at her, since she walked in the front door an hour ago. He'd hugged her because she initiated it. Then he'd announced one of his favorite preacher's was on, and Rori knew nothing had changed. All the years she'd grown up in this house, that ridiculous radio--the one that looked like a prop from Gilligan's Island--had been on, playing all-sermons, all the time. The only time her father shut it off was at bedtime. She remembered trying to talk over it and getting, "Not now, Rori. Why don't you go play, sweetheart."

Expelling a sigh, Rori leaned her elbows on her knees, looking around the cluttered living room. Her father still competed with a library when it came to books. The mostly ancient volumes were tucked and stacked everywhere space allowed. Books, nonfiction books, were one of the few things her father actually put down hard cash for. They weren't all about God or religion either. Her father was interested in everything and how it all connected.

Even if he'd never been affectionate about it, Rori remembered affectionately the way he used to help her with her homework when she asked him to. It was the only time he spent with her that he'd turn off the damn radio. Somehow those times made her feel like she'd won.

She ran a finger over the cover of a book about Antarctica lying on the coffee table. Maybe she could sneak out for a smoke. God only knew how long this booming radio preacher would go on ...

"Where are you living now, Aurora?"

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