Because when he has stood the test,

He will receive the crown of life

That God has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:16

Chapter One

“I had a really strange dream last night,” Lana said.

“Yeah? What about?” Brandon asked, coming to sit down on the bench beside her. She quickly handed him a bottle of cold water, and he drank nearly three quarters of it before spraying the rest on his sweaty face. The blistering heat of an east Texas summer could make football practice a brutal ordeal, especially if you didn’t drink enough.

The situation did have its good points, though. Lana’s job as the water girl gave him a perfect excuse to spend some time with her now and then, as long as they were careful not to do anything overly affectionate in public. It was strictly against the rules for any exchange student to have a boyfriend, and certainly not an obvious one. The need for secrecy was irksome at times, but unfortunately it couldn’t be helped.

Lana waited till he was done with the water, and then told him about her dream.

“I saw a wolf with red fur, and he was running through the woods all alone on a cloudy day in the winter. I think he must have been running for a long time, because his paws were bleeding on the snow. Then he came to an open place and howled at the sky as if his heart was breaking. It was the saddest sound I ever heard. But finally a ray of sunshine came down through the clouds and lit up the clearing,” she said.

She spoke almost flawless English, thanks to the fact that it had been a required subject in Leningrad Province every year since kindergarten. In fact, a stranger who knew no better might easily have mistaken her for a British girl instead of a Russian.

“That’s definitely strange,” Brandon agreed, furrowing his brow.

“So what does it mean?” she asked, with complete seriousness. Bran could have counted on the fingers of one hand the number of people who knew about his gift for interpreting dreams and visions, but Lana Krisanova was one of them.

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