This week’s chapter is a pretty long one, so brace yourselves. It is also the week where I am announcing that this latest book should be out to read in full this summer, most likely the end of July. And because I like announcements, I am also announcing that the final title of the book will be Harvesting Hope but I will be calling it The Farmers’ Sons here on the blog.
This story may be a little more raw than some of my other stories, but I hope my regular readers know that even if I mention topics such as sex, drugs, suicide, or low self-esteem, I always try my best not to get too descriptive or graphic. I am not someone who will be writing erotica on here, in other words, but the subject matter is a little more gritty than your average clean/Christian fiction.
So, with all that said, here is Chapter 7 of the story and at the end there will be a sneak peek of Chapter 8. If you don’t know, I share these chapters as a work in progress, so there will most likely be typos and plot holes, etc. If you notice them, please feel free to share with me in private or in the comments. Also feel free to share with me your thoughts on the story so far, on the characters, and on where you think the story should go next.
To read Molly’s story from the first book of this series, download a copy on Amazon or read it through Kindle Unlimited. To read the other parts of this story click HERE or find a link at the top of the page.
Ellie winced, curling her legs up against the heating pad pressed against her stomach. A burning pain had started in her lower stomach an hour earlier and was curving around to her back. She’d finally given up and taken ibuprofen. It hadn’t kicked in yet.
Outside, the sun was glistening off the trees where the leaves had come out on the maple tree behind the building. She enjoyed the blooming trees and flowers on her walk home from work, despite the pain that had increased after lunch time.
Was it the stress of the last few weeks causing her pain to be worse? Maybe her condition was simply getting worse. Either way, she prayed for the pain to end soon. She had Bible study in a couple of hours. They were studying Proverbs 31, and she needed to be there, not only to lead the study, but to focus on something other than her deepening depression.
She drifted off into a fitful sleep for 20 minutes before a knock on the door woke her.
Trying to ignore it, she rolled on to her side, facing the back of the couch.
The knocking continued. Then a voice she didn’t want to hear sent an aggravated growl up from her throat.
“El-bell! Are you in there? I have to pee! I held it all the way from Scranton.”
Ellie flung the blanket off her and glared at the door as she walked to it and unlocked it. What is she doing here?
Judi bounded in as soon as she opened the door.
“Oh, my gosh. Thank God.” Judi dragged a suitcase on wheels behind her and walked into the middle of the living room. “I think my bladder is going to burst. Where’s the bathroom?”
Ellie sighed and motioned toward the hallway beyond the kitchen. She shuffled back to the couch and flopped on her face, waiting for her sister to come out and explain why she wasn’t in New York City right now. A few minutes later, she heard her sister’s heels on the laminate floor.
“Whoa. Has the break-up hit you hard or what? You look awful.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, wishing Judi would go away again. “Thanks, Judi.” She spoke into the couch cushion her face was pressed into. “If you must know, I’m having cramps.”
Cupboard doors opened and banged closed. “Got any food? I’m starving. There is like nowhere to stop on the drive down here. Or in town, of course. This place still doesn’t have any good restaurants.”
Ellie tilted her head to one side, still laying on her stomach. “What are you doing here?”
Judi shoved a wheat thin in her mouth. “Wow. That’s rude. I haven’t seen you in over a year and all you want to know is what I’m doing here?”
Ellie sat up and hugged a pillow against her chest. Her sister had just arrived unannounced, but had the audacity to call her rude? Yeah, okay.
Judi should consider herself lucky that Ellie was too tired to yell.
“I’m sorry,” she said, holding back the annoyance she felt. “It’s just that you don’t visit very often, so this is a bit of a surprise.”
Judi poured a glass of iced tea and then started opening the vegetable drawers. “Do you have any lemons? I like lemons with my tea.”
“Bottom drawer, in the back.”
“Where are the knives?”
“Second drawer from the stove.”
“Cupboard next to the fridge.”
Ellie listened to the click of the knife against the cutting board, waiting for her sister to enlighten her with her reason for the unexpected visit. After a few moments Judi sat in the blue plush chair across from Ellie and crossed one bare leg over the other, the hem of her maroon shorts pulling up to her thigh. She took a long drink from the iced tea before speaking.
“I was worried about you, El.” Her foot bounced as she talked. “You sounded so sad on the phone so I took some time off work and come see if I could cheer you up.”
Ellie looked at her sister through narrowed eyes. “You’re still working?”
Judi scowled. “That’s not nice. Yes, I’m working. I’m still at that designer clothing store I told you about.” She placed her glass on the table next to the chair. “Oh! Which reminds me — I have some of the cutest outfits to show you. I get an employee discount. I thought we could try them on and go out to Mooneys or drive up over the state line and find somewhere to show them off.”
Ellie raised an eyebrow. “I hope you don’t mean tonight because I can’t tonight. I have Bible study.”
Judi made a face. “Tell me you are not still leading Bible studies.”
“I am still leading Bible studies, yes.” Ellie tried to keep the aggravation out of her voice, but it wasn’t working. She took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and tried again. “I have a Bible study at 7. You’re welcome to come along.”
Judi scoffed. “No thanks. Sounds boring. A bunch of uptight women sipping tea, highlighting passages in their Bibles, and acting as if they are so perfect and special.”
“Judi, come on. That’s not how it is.” Ellie tossed the pillow aside and walked into the kitchen to make herself a cup of blueberry tea. The cramps were still there but staring to fade to a dull ache. “These are nice women. Real women, talking about real issues. They aren’t fake.”
Judi stretched a leg out and propped her foot on the coffee table. “Real issues, huh? Like what dress to wear to church on Sunday? Or how ashamed they are for noticing how good looking the pastor is? Or maybe they talk about how disgusted they are with all the people who go out and live lives instead of sitting around reading some old book all day.”
A bird chirped from the branch of the cherry tree outside below the kitchen window and Ellie wished she could turn into that bird and fly away. She filled the kettle and sat it on the burner and turned it on. She turned toward Judi and leaned back against the kitchen counter, folding her arms across her chest.
“What happened to make you so angry at Christians, Judi? You never used to be like this.”
Judi sighed. “I’m not angry at Christians. It’s just —” She shrugged. “Some of the women that go to that church seem so stuck up. They act as if they are so perfect.”
The bird chirped again, and Ellie could almost feel herself in flight, gliding above the roofs of the buildings in town, over the courthouse and the library, to the edge of town where the train tracks cut a path between the business and residential districts. If Judi hadn’t been there, she would have closed her eyes, completing the mental journey out of town, across the farmland, down the path of the highway; transporting herself as far away from her current life as possible.
“Some do, yes, but not all. Most of those women are normal, everyday women who just want to learn more about God and how they can trust him during the good and bad times. It really isn’t fair for you to judge them.”
Judi turned in the chair and laid her arms across the back of it, propping her chin on her arm. “Is that what you talk about with these women? Your bad times? Like your bad times with Jason?”
Ellie bristled at the mention of Jason. The anger she felt toward Judi for bringing him up startled her. It was sudden and visceral. She didn’t talk about Jason to anyone but Lucy. Judi didn’t even know why she and Jason had broken up. When she’d asked, Ellie had told her they’d grown apart, and she didn’t want to talk about it. For once, Judi had left it alone.
Ellie turned and set the tea bag in the honeybee mug Molly had given her last year for her birthday. “Have you been home to see Mom and Dad, yet?”
Judi laughed. “I see how it is. Not going to talk to your little sister about the big breakup. Well, fine. You don’t have to. We’ll get you out to some clubs, meet some good-looking men and you’ll forget all about that dirty cow farmer.”
Judi stepped around the island separating the living room and kitchen and hoisted herself up onto the countertop next to the breadbox. “I’ll pop over to the parental units tomorrow. See what’s going on at the old homestead.”
Ellie reached in the cupboard next to the stove and reached for the jar of honey. “Did you even tell them you were coming?”
“Nah. I knew they’d be glad to see me no matter what.” Judi reached into the breadbox and pulled out a piece of the homemade bread Ellie had brought back from her parents Sunday. She bit into it and groaned with pleasure. “Mom’s homemade bread. So good. Makes me almost sad I gave up gluten.” She shoved more of the bread into her mouth, talking with her mouth full. “This one little piece shouldn’t hurt.” She looked down at her hips and patted the left side. “I hope anyhow. I can’t afford to gain weight or I won’t fit into that cute skirt I brought with me.”
She jumped off the counter. “I’m going to go grab my bag. It’s cool if I stay here, right?”
“Yeah, I gue—”
“Cool. I need a shower and a nap. I drove straight through and I’m beat. Have fun at your Bible study.”
Ellie waited for the teakettle to whistle, tapping her foot against the floor, her jaw tight. First, she’d had to deal with Brad, and now she had to deal with Judi. Could this week get any worse? She rolled her eyes.
“Don’t speak it into existence, Ellie Lambert,” she whispered as the teakettle whistled. “You know it can.”
She’d stood in the locker room doorway, dirty blond curls spilling down her back like a luxurious spider web. She pressed one finely manicured hand flat against the door frame, the other curled around her slender hip.
There had been so many nights over the years, especially recently, when Jason closed his eyes and saw her in his mind’s eye, hating himself all over again.
Bright red lipstick highlighted full lips. Dark eyeliner and light blue eye shadow complimented her green eyes.
“Hey, Jason, you’re looking good.” Her gaze had traveled down the length of him and back up again, lingering on his bare chest. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth, a soft purr vibrating in her throat. “Of course, you’re always looking good.”
He’d slid his shirt on, pulling it down with a quick jerk. “Thanks. You look nice too.”
She took a step forward, sliding a hand down a thigh length black mini skirt. “You think so?” She straightened her shoulders, pushing her chest forward, the red fabric of her shirt stretching tight against her slim figure.
“This is a new outfit.”
He nodded, cleared his throat. “Looks great.”
Returning to packing his gear in his locker, he tried to give off the vibe that he wasn’t interested in whatever Lauren was offering. And she was offering a lot. Not so much in words but loud-and-clear in body language.
She was attractive, yes, but Lauren also had a reputation around campus, and it wasn’t a good one.
Her fingertips trailed up his arm as he slammed the locker door closed, swirling a pattern up his shoulder and along the back of his neck. “We’re having a party tonight down at Phi Beta Kappa. I need an escort.” She played with the hair on the back of his head. “Interested?”
He shook his head, wishing her touch didn’t feel so good. “Nah. I’ve got a workout session scheduled.”
Her lips were close to his ear. “The party will be going late. Stop by and join us.” She leaned even closer, her breath hot against his skin. “When you’re done.”
Everything about Lauren was the opposite of Ellie. Ellie’s sweetness was genuine. Lauren’s sweetness was an act, a way to get into the heads of men she’d set her sights on to conquer. At least that’s how he saw her looking back.
No matter how many ways Jason tried to vilify Lauren Phillips, though, he couldn’t. He was the one who had decided to accept her offer to go to those parties, to let her lull him into what he’d hoped would be a pleasure filled distraction from the distorting thoughts that had settled on him at college.
The first kiss, outside his dorm when she’d walked back with him from the gym, had been intense. It had sparked a physical desire in him he’d almost caved in to but had resisted, using the excuse he had a class to get to. It wasn’t a lie, but he knew he was copping out. Any other guy on campus would have accepted her advances and launched a counter-attack of their own.
When Lauren kissed him hard one night after a party at her apartment, his will crumbled around him. Her arms wound around him like a serpent. As she pulled him toward an open bedroom door in her apartment, her hands up under his shirt, he knew he was crossing a boundary he’d set for himself years ago. He hadn’t even cared anymore. He needed something, anything, to drown out the pain of Ellie’s rejection, the doubts about his faith clouding his mind.
For those brief moments he’d forgotten who he was, and it felt amazing.
The guilt set in like a heavy chain around his neck within moments after he’d stumbled through her bedroom door, carrying his shirt and jeans.
The alcohol had blurred his senses. It had all been so rushed. She was dressing before he’d even had time to wrap his mind around what had just happened.
“That was fun.” Her tone was casual as she buttoned her blouse. “We should do it again sometime.”
He’d woke up a few hours later in his dorm room, unable to remember how he got there. Alex stood over him, his expression a mix of concern and confusion.
“Hey, Jase. You okay?”
Jason had moved in with Alex at the beginning of the second semester of his sophomore year to remove himself from the peer pressure of living with a bunch of football players in a frat house downtown. Alex, who he’d met his freshman year during an English Lit class, hadn’t offered him the break from temptation he’d been hoping for.
Instead, Alex had talked him into visiting bars, meeting women – meeting Lauren. Part of him could have blamed Alex like he tried to blame Lauren, but none of it had been either of their fault. He’d made his own decisions, and now he had to live with them.
Alex’s reaction to his state of mortification was less than supportive. At least at first.
“You got with Lauren Phillips?” He raised his arms to celebrate. “That girl is hot. She wouldn’t even give me the time of day. What have you got that I don’t?” Alex slapped the back of his hand against Jason’s right bicep. “Oh, yeah…muscles.”
Jason vomited in an empty container from the Chinese restaurant.
Alex made a face. “You’re throwing up after sleeping with a hot woman? Is it the alcohol or do you need to tell me something else? Like maybe you don’t like women? Maybe you like —”
“Alex!” Jason wiped his hand across his mouth, looking for a paper towel to clean himself off. “I like women. I am definitely attracted to women. That’s not it. If it was, I wouldn’t be in this situation right now.”
“What situation? Wait. Didn’t you use —”
“I just mean the whole Lauren situation. Come on, Alex. Don’t make this worse than it is.” Jason sat back, pressing his hands to his face. “I’m not the guy who just jumps in bed with a woman I don’t even know. You know that.”
“You mean like me?”
“That’s not what I meant. I just mean that I wanted to have a connection with the woman I – with whoever I first — I mean…”
Alex shrugged, scooting himself back onto the top of the dresser, his legs hanging down. Jason could tell he didn’t want to talk about his friend’s bedroom experiences, or lack thereof.
“Okay, listen, you made a mistake. That’s all. It’s not the end of the world. Just cut Lauren loose and take some time to think about things. About what you really want. This is college. This where we screw up and learn our lessons, right?”
Jason had definitely learned a lesson from the experience, but he wished he hadn’t had to.
He’d almost lost his football scholarship that year after showing up late to too many practices and showing up more than once with a hangover. He avoided Lauren after their encounter, ignoring her phone calls and telling her he had homework to do that one night she’d pounded on his dorm room door.
“I guess you got what you wanted,” she snapped, arms folded across her chest, standing in the doorway as he tried to close the door. She lifted an eyebrow and smirked. “Or maybe I just got what I wanted.”
It was the last time he’d seen her, other than across the campus from time to time when she was hanging off the arm of one of the other football players.
He had refocused himself for the remainder of that year and for the next year after that. All he wanted was his degree, so he could go home and make sure his family’s business survived. He’d also realized he wanted to go back to Ellie. Along with God she was an anchor for him, and when he’d let go of them both, it had spun his life out of control.
The front door slammed open, bringing Alex and a gust of wind into the room and jostling Jason from his memories.
This was present day Alex, Alex seven years later but in some ways the same ole’ Alex. But hopefully not exactly the same Alex, since he was dating Molly now.
The crash of thunder and rush of pounding rain roared into the living room, quieted only when Alex pushed the door closed, his clothes clinging to him. Sliding his cowboy hat off, he propped it on the hook next to the door, then paused and looked at Jason, sprawled on the couch on his back.
“All the lights are off and you’re listening to sad country music. This can’t be good.”
“It’s not sad music. It’s Chris Ledoux.”
“Who you only listen to when you’re sad.” A crack of thunder rattled the window and lightening lit the sky outside.
Alex winced as he pried his wet button-up shirt off and tossed it toward the laundry room. It landed in the hallway, and Jason hoped he would pick it up this time. “Thinking about Ellie?”
Jason tipped his head back against the arm of the couch, his long legs stretched across the faded grey cushions, one arm laying across his forehead, the other one hanging off the couch.
“Yeah. And Lauren.”
Alex reached up and flicked on the light switch. “Ah, man, no. Not a good combination. You can’t sit here sitting in the dark reflecting on past mistakes. It’s not healthy.”
Jason burped and reached for the can of soda on the coffee table without sitting up. Alex kicked at an empty bag of potato chips on the floor. “Um… this isn’t healthy either. Where are your regular veggie sticks and protein shakes?”
Alex pulled his wet tank top off and walked behind the couch toward the hallway leading to the bathroom. “Listen, I’m going to go get dried off and changed. When I come back, you better tell me what’s up.”
“Will you have your shirt on when you come back? Because I don’t need to see that.”
Alex scoffed and slapped his hand against his bare chest. “Of course, you need to see this. Who doesn’t?”
“You really want me to answer that?”
“Yeah, well —”
“If you say Molly likes to look at that I will get off this couch and mess up your pretty boy face.”
Alex raised his hands in a surrender motion. “Okay. Okay. Calm down, big boy.”
A few moments later, dried off and wearing a fresh t-shirt and pair of jeans, Alex smacked the bottom of Jason’s feet and told him to shove over and sit up. He sat a water bottle on the coffee table and cracked open a can of soda he’d grabbed out of the fridge on the way back to the living room. He took a long drink before sitting where Jason’s feet had been.
“Come on, man. What’s going on? Talk to your old friend Alex while you flush all that junk out of your system with this —” He squinted at the label on the water bottle. “Electrolyte enhanced mineral water. Whatever that is.”
Jason groaned and sat up, picking up the bottle. He leaned his elbows on his knees and sipped the water, staring at the turned off television. In its reflection, he saw a hollow version of himself, eyes heavy and empty.
Rain drops against the metal porch roof out back filled the silence. He rubbed his hand along his jawline, staring at the television until his haggard image blurred. The last three weeks had been full of training sessions for the fire company mixed in between building pens for the goats and planting corn and rye and his regular duties at the farm. His body was screaming a warning that he couldn’t keep this pace up much longer.
Alex cleared his throat, leaned forward, and propped his elbows on his knees. “Listen, Jason, like I said that day Ellie overheard us, I’m sorry for any part I played in you meeting Lauren.”
Jason waved his hand dismissively. “No more apologies, Alex. Like I told you then, my choices got me here, not yours. It wasn’t your fault. I decided to go with you to those bars and parties and I chose to sleep with Lauren, even if alcohol did cloud my judgement.” He pushed his hands into his hair and shook his head again. “If anyone should feel guilty, it’s me for not influencing you in a more positive way. I should be doing that now.”
Alex leaned back again and slid his hands behind his head, grinning. “So, you mean you should be my spiritual guide?”
“Well, maybe, yeah. Someone has to help you. You’re a mess.”
Alex playfully tossed a pillow at Jason’s head. “Thanks, jerk, but we’re talking about you. Not me. So, what are you going to do about Ellie? Molly says you and Ellie talked a few Sundays ago.”
“Talked.” A derisive laugh escaped Jason’s lips. “More like yelled until I was hoarse, and she was bawling.”
Alex tossed the empty soda can toward the recycling bin in the kitchen. It bounced off the edge and rolled across the kitchen floor. “Yeah. Didn’t sound like it went very well.”
Jason swallowed hard, remembering the way Molly had looked at him. It had been almost as bad as the way Ellie looked at him.
“She said she needed time but I’m pretty sure she meant she needed to never see me again.”
Alex shook his head and leaned against his hand, propping his elbow on the arm of the couch. “It doesn’t seem fair. I mean, it’s not like you slept with Lauren when you two were dating. You were broke up.”
“That’s not the point in her mind.” Jason stretched his legs out in front of him, propped his feet up on the coffee table. “The point is, I never told her about it. She feels like I broke her trust.” He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “And she’s right. I did.”
Alex tipped his head back against the couch, looked up at the ceiling. “The thing is, though, you’re a guy and guys can’t always push their needs aside like women can.”
Jason tilted his face toward Alex, cocking an eyebrow. “Oh, yeah?” He folded his arms across his chest. “You don’t say.”
“Listen, it’s admirable that you and Ellie waited for this special time between each other. It really is, but is it realistic? Like I said, guys have needs. She gets that, right?”
Jason narrowed his eyes, tipped his head to look at Alex, trying to stay calm. “Yes, Alex. Guys do have needs and you’re dating my sister. Anything you need to share with me right now?”
Alex laughed, rolled his tongue inside his cheek, propping his ankle over the opposite knee as he folded his arms over his chest and shook his head. “Let’s not get off topic here —”
“I’m on topic.” Jason watched Alex intently. “Tell me more about how the guy who is dating my sister has needs that need to be met. I’m listening.”
Red spread quickly across Alex’s cheeks and ears. “Listen, I respect Molly.” He cleared his throat and picked at a string on the bottom of his jeans, back to Jason. The smile had faded.
Jason cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah. And?”
Alex held his hand up, palm out. “Hey, remember what I told you after you found out about me and Molly? About things being private between a man and women, even if that woman is your sister? That applies here too.”
Jason wasn’t looking away. Alex cleared his throat again. “But — since I like my face being in one piece, I will tell you that your sister is worth waiting for.” He paused for emphasis, his gaze meeting Jason’s. “In every way. Okay? Now, let’s move this conversation back to your situation with Ellie.”
Jason’s eyes stayed narrowed. “Just because we men have needs, Alex, as you put it, doesn’t mean we have to have those needs met all the time or at the wrong time. There’s something called self-control and I should have had more self-control with Lauren. I’d committed to staying sexually pure for my future wife. It may sound old-fashioned to you, but it was how I felt and how I still feel.”
The teasing disappeared from Alex’s tone. “I get it, Jase. I do. Okay? You’re right. It sounds old-fashioned to me, but it also sounds nice. It just doesn’t seem fair to me you’re losing everything you had with Ellie over a woman like Lauren Phillips.”
Standing and walking across the floor to look out the window, Alex let out a long breath. Raindrops speckled the windowpane. Thunder rumbled in the distance. He turned to face Jason again, leaning back against the door and crossing one leg over the other. “That girl was trouble. I saw her making out with Jake Murray at a party a couple days later. I think she made her way through the entire football team that year. Probably that semester even.”
Jason rubbed his eyes, a stinging ache growing behind them. His chest tightened, and he shook his head. He felt like he was suffocating under the weight of shame-filled memories.
A pounding on the door gave him the chance to quickly pass his hand over his eyes and swallow his emotion. Alex stepped away from the door, turned, and opened it, letting in the sound of the pouring rain.
Molly stood on the porch, breathless. Rain matted her hair to her forehead and face, drenching her clothes. “My truck has a flat up the road and I think Liz is in labor.”
Jason grabbed his hat and jacket. “We’ll take my truck, come on.”
By the time he pulled his truck behind Molly’s, sitting along ditch about a mile from their grandmother’s house, the rain had stopped. Liz was pacing alongside the road, rubbing her protruding belly. She had pulled her long dark brown hair into a tight ponytail and her face was pale.
Alex jumped out first, helping Molly out next. “Should you be walking around like that?”
Liz shrugged and tossed her hands up. “It’s either this or sit in there and hyperventilate.”
Jason glanced in the back of the truck. “The spare is here at least. Your water broke yet?”
Liz rubbed her arms and continued pacing. “If you mean all that water that is supposed to come out before the baby does then no. It’s just cramping right now. Intense cramping. Every ten minutes or so.”
Jason retrieved the jack and spare tire from the truck bed. “If your water hasn’t broken, we’ve got time to change the tire.”
Liz made a face. “When did you become a doctor?”
Kneeling next to the flat tire, Jason grinned. “I’ve watched about a few hundred cows give birth in my lifetime and not much happens until the water breaks.” He stood, pushed his foot down on the jack handle. “I’m sure it’s the same with humans.”
Liz scowled, folding her arms across her chest. “Jason Tanner, did you just compare me to a cow?”
He winked under the brim of his John Deere cap. “If the shoe fits, sweet cheeks.”
Liz kicked mud at him and growled. “If I wasn’t about to give birth, I’d kick your bu —”
“You’re not about to give birth.” Jason loosened a bolt on the tire. “You’re probably just having false labor.”
Liz swung to face Molly. “It’s fine if I bludgeon your brother with the tire iron, right?”
“Not unless you don’t want to get to the hospital,” Molly laughed.
Jason reached into his pocket and tossed the keys at Alex. “Take my truck. I’ll drive Molly’s.”
Liz winced and held on to the side of the truck, breathing slowly. The color in her face had drained again, and she bent over slightly.
“Get going,” Jason said, jerking his head toward his truck. “I’ve helped plenty of cows bring babies into the world, but I have no interest in doing it with a human.”
Molly took Liz’s hand and slid her arm around her waist. “Lean against me and breathe like we learned in class.”
Liz nodded, a tear escaping from the corner of her eye. Jason looked up to see her look at Molly with glistening eyes. “I don’t think I can do this,” she whispered.
Alex laughed softly as he opened the passenger side door. “A bit late for that.”
He winced as Molly’s fist hit his upper arm. “What? It is.”
Jason chuckled and shook his head. “Better watch it, Alex. Molly doesn’t get angry, she gets even.”
Molly turned her scowl from Alex to Jason, then back to Alex before smiling at Liz and rubbing her back. “Ignore them. Focus on the fact that soon you’ll be holding your baby in your arms.”
Alex placed a hand under Liz’s elbow and helped her into the truck.
Liz’s shoulders noticeably relaxed as she leaned back against the seat, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “Stay calm. Have a baby. Beat up Alex and Jason. I can do this.”
Alex laughed and patted her shoulder. “At least you have your priorities straight.”
Chapter 8 Sneek Peak
Jason watched the truck disappear down the road for a moment before turning back to the tire. He worked a bolt loose, saying a quick prayer for Liz. Quick prayers were all the prayers he allowed time for these days. Any longer and his thoughts spiraled out of control.
The crunch of tires on gravel brought his head up. There was little chance he didn’t know whoever was driving by. Everyone knew everyone in this county. When he recognized the old blue pick-up pulling up behind Molly’s truck, his heart sank.
Tom Lambert, his dark brown hair speckled with gray, leaned an arm on the wall of the truck bed.