Thursday, January 24, 2008

*Strikes Don't Matter* by Denise Patrick... Excerpt

Gina Taylor left God behind after high school. A paralegal in a large, prestigious law firm in Salt Lake City, she's settled and content with her life. So – why does she have the feeling something is missing?

The last place Adam Wilson would choose to live is Utah. Packed off to an out-of-state college after turbulent high school years, he's established himself and is on track to achieve his dream of becoming a partner in the law firm he works for.

God, however, has other plans, and bringing Gina back into the fold with Adam's help will force them both to decide where their futures lie.

Strikes Don't Matter by Denise Patrick

Gina was still mulling over Kelly’s question the next morning as she sat at her desk, going through the past week’s emails. She was surprised at how little she’d actually missed for the volume in her inbox. She was about halfway through the list when the phone on her desk buzzed.

“Gina?” the main receptionist’s voice came over the speaker. “You need to get down here right away.”

Frowning, she got up from her chair. “I’ll be right there.”

Now what? She looked at her watch as she hurried down the hall toward the stairs. It was only mid-morning. She didn’t have any appointments today.

As she reached the spacious reception area fronted by glass doors, Tammy beamed at her from behind the solid oak desk.

“You’ve got some explaining to do.” Tammy grinned. “I thought you went to visit your brother last week.”

“I did. So?”

“Your brother did not send you those. If he did, I’m trading all of mine in.” As she spoke, Tammy waved her hand toward a counter behind her, on which sat an explosion of color. Blue, purple, white, tiny touches of yellow, and, of course green, burst from a crystal vase.

Gina blinked. For a moment, she was speechless as she took in the beautiful flowers. She looked back at Tammy. “Are you sure?”

“You’re the only Gina Taylor we have.”

Tammy picked up the vase and set it in front of Gina. “Open the card. Then you can tell me everything.”

She wasn’t sure what she expected when she opened the small card, but there wasn’t much there. She breathed a sigh of relief as she read the short note, which had likely been dictated by Adam over the phone.

“It’s from a friend of my brother’s, who I met while visiting. He was very nice and took me out while I was there.”

“I see.” Tammy’s dark eyes sparkled in the fluorescent light. “A doctor, like your brother?”

Gina shook her head. “No. An attorney. You’d think I’d stay away from them since I work around them all day.”

“One would think so,” Tammy agreed. The console on the desk buzzed and Tammy answered it. Gina took the opportunity to grab her flowers, wave at Tammy, and slip away. She was thankful she’d been able to leave without giving Tammy a name.

She breathed deeply of the light fragrance wafting from the vase and studied the profusion of lavender, freesia, white and purple asters, blue forget-me-nots, and white irises. She wondered if Adam had selected the flowers specifically, or just picked out a bouquet he thought she’d like.

As she reached her desk, she set it down where she could look at it, and turned to her computer.

Check your email.

The note had been succinct, with Adam’s name at the bottom. Opening her mailbox again, she scrolled to the bottom. She’d forgotten she’d given Adam her email address on their Wednesday night date, along with her home phone number. He’d done the same, giving her his cell, home, and private work numbers.

The message seemed impersonal until she reached the end. In it he merely said he hoped she’d had a smooth flight home and found her friend and goddaughter well. She smiled. She’d have to write him back and tell him about Alyssa’s upset stomach, but she would not tell him Kelly’s diagnosis. He gave her an update on his grandfather’s ankle, and said his grandmother sent her regards. At the bottom, however, the message continued: I hope the flowers brighten your day and lighten your mood when somber thoughts threaten. Flowers have a language all their own, so you’ll have to go here to find the message in yours. It was followed by a Web site.

She was deciding whether to wait until her break to check out the site or do it immediately, when the phone on her desk rang, making the decision for her. It was one of the attorneys working on the case she’d been helping with before her vacation. With a sigh and last look at the flowers, she pulled the file and hurried down to the attorney’s office.

The remainder of the day rushed by. Playing catch-up was hectic, but it allowed her to concentrate on work and not wonder what Adam was doing. It wasn’t until the end of the day that she was able to get back to her computer to check out the Web site he’d sent her. Once she finished reading the site, she was grateful she hadn’t gotten to it earlier. Tears clouded her vision as she stared at the flowers, turning them into a watery blur. When they overflowed and tracked down her cheeks, she grabbed a tissue to mop them up.

She glanced at her watch, then gathered her purse and keys. One last look at her flowers and she was headed out the door. Kelly was expecting her to drop by on her way home. She sniffed and wiped her eyes again, then sighed. Kelly would take one look at her and know she’d been crying again. What would she tell her this time?
Kelly was putting the finishing touches on a salad for dinner when Gina arrived. Alyssa and a friend were outside in the backyard, playing in the sprinklers.
“It was pink and said “Princess” on it. Of course I had to buy it,” she told Kelly as she handed her a small t-shirt.

Kelly held up the bright pink shirt and laughed. The front did, indeed, say “Princess” on it, with a tiara set on the “P” at a jaunty angle. The back, however, elaborated with the statement, “My Father is the King of Kings.”

“I’m assuming the stomach bug of yesterday is history?” she asked, as she seated herself at the counter.

“Yep. But, I have to tell you she was quite indignant when I suggested she was in love. She doesn’t like any of the boys in her class.”

“And you breathed a sigh of relief, right?”

“Me? No, not really. But Jason did. I’m afraid she’s doomed to life as an old maid. No one will ever be good enough for Jason’s baby.”

“He sounds like my Dad.”

Kelly put the bowl of salad in the fridge and pulled out two cans of soda. Putting one down before Gina, she asked, “So Adam isn’t likely to make the cut?”

Gina took a sip of her soda. The carbonation tickled her throat going down. “I don't know.” Reaching into her purse, she handed Kelly the index card she’d stuffed in it before leaving work.

“What’s this? Lavender. Iris. Aster. Freesia. Forget-me-not.”

“That’s the contents of the vase of flowers sitting on my desk at work. Adam sent them.”

“And this other list? Devotion. Faith. Love. Trust. Friendship. Gentleness. Sounds like the fruits of the spirit out of Galatians.”

Gina took another drink, then sighed. “The card that came with the flowers told me to check my email. When I did, the message sent me to a Web site to look up the meaning of the flowers he’d sent.”

Kelly’s eyes widened. “Oh my God, girl! Why aren’t you on your way back to Tucson?”

Gina’s smile was tinged with sadness. “I don’t know.”

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