Quietly in the background, I have been putting the finishing touches on UNDONE, the third book in the Encounters Series. You got to see the opening scene at the end of EMBRACED. Here’s the full first chapter. (Be aware, it hasn’t been to thru the final edits yet, but I’ve waited as long as I could stand it to share.)
Thursday, September 9
I knew. As soon as I looked into Roger Huddleston’s eyes. Before I saw David’s laptop clutched under Roger’s arm. Before I saw the stunned, anchorless confusion on David’s face. Before the stammered, awkward words fell out. I knew. But it didn’t help.
I had no plan, no alibi, and there would be no reputation-saving heart attack or aneurysm to divert anyone’s attention in that moment. I can’t run. I can’t hide. The earth will not open up and swallow me, nor will lightning strike.
Instead, I had to stand powerless as a nightmare unfolded.
“Pastor . . . I . . . Nancy opened your office. We were looking for the budget for next year. The finance committee meets next week, you know, and . . . we weren’t snooping, mind you.” He set the laptop on our coffee table, and gingerly opened it.
The image was vivid, wrenching . . . and familiar.
A single bead of sweat trickled down David’s forehead. Roger paled. “The folder was called ‘finance,’ David. I . . . what was I supposed . . .?” He swallowed and locked his eyes on David’s in painful accusation. “There are dozens of them.”
“They aren’t mine.”
Of course, they weren’t.
David slammed the laptop shut. “I’m telling you, they aren’t MINE!”
David never raised his voice. Never. Not with the children. Not at the dog or the referees on television or even the drivers downtown.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I didn’t download those pictures! I don’t do that kind of thing! I’m happily married! I’m a pastor, for crying out loud!” Then he turned to me. “Jan, tell him!”
Speak? He couldn’t understand what he was asking. This was the end.
“He’s right, Roger,” I managed to say.
I think that’s when David knew. I saw a flash, a shadow that passed in an instant, in the way the corners of his eyes drooped. ‘Don’t say it, Jan.’ He didn’t want it to be true, and we both realized as soon as the words were out that we’d never go back to the ‘before’ again. I owed it to him, though. Roger and everyone else had to understand that David was innocent. At least innocent of . . . this. “Those pictures aren’t his. He would never—”
“Jan, I understand this . . . is a shock . . . hard to hear, but the evidence is right there. He obviously—”
“The pictures aren’t his,” I said again. Firmly. Confidently. But I couldn’t bear to look at David. “I know that . . . I know because they’re mine.”
Read the rest of Chapter 1