Book 1

Sweet Release

Grace shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The roast on her plate had long since grown cold, kept alive only by the nervous flicking and turning of her fork. Every time that she looked up from her plate, she could feel the eyes of her parents drilling into her soul. She knew that they were going to lay something on her. They had that shifty stare and her father, Mark, cleared his throat a few times too many as if he were trying to force the words out.

So,” she sighed and lifted a pea-sized ball of mashed potatoes into her mouth, “is there something that you want to tell me?”

Grace looked over to her mother: an older woman with a solitary streak of gray running from her left temple to somewhere behind her ear. Being the meek, god-fearing woman that she was, Abby just lowered her head and glanced over to her husband without saying a word. Their body language made it abundantly clear that the coming conversation was going to be an uncomfortable one.

Mark set his fork down onto the old, chipped plate with a loud clatter and flicked a few crumbs out of his over-grown mustache. When he did speak, his voice was deep and powerful. It was a tone reserved for occasions on which he wouldn’t tolerate a cross word to the contrary of his opinion.

Now Grace, folks at the church have been talking and your mother and I don’t like what we have been hearing.” He crossed his bulging, hairy arms over the plaid front of his shirt and continued, “We can’t have you running around town and ruining this family’s good reputation.”

Grace could already feel the anger bubbling up in her empty gut. She bit down on her tongue and continued to poke at her bland dinner.

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