And here it is: the beginning of my book, What Time I Am Afraid. I can use honest feedback. (It doesn't have to be positive comments.)
The rebels were coming.
Jennifer watched as Brad escorted Phillip back out to his jeep. The men shook hands and then Brad swung the gate of the compound open as Phillip backed out. Jennifer held her breath. She knew the rebels were not here yet, but she half expected to see them surge into the compound through the open gate. When it slammed shut, she felt no relief. The rebels might not be here yet, but they were coming. She heard Brad’s step on the porch and turned to face him as he strode through the open doorway.
“Where are our tickets?”
He turned to face her. “What?”
She swallowed the fear in her throat. “You told Phillip we had airline tickets for the end of the week. Where are they?”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “I’ve got them tucked away safely.”
But was he showing love or was he avoiding eye contact? She pulled back. “I want to see them.”
“I got the tickets, Jennifer.” His jaw clenched.
“I-t’s not that I doubt you. I just need to see them. For my own sake.”
He turned abruptly and headed for the small room he used as an office. She followed, determined not to back down. He went straight to his desk and pulled open the top drawer. Picking up a travel folder he tossed it on the desk. It was embossed with the British Airways logo on the front.
“I can’t believe it.” She opened the folder and stared at the tickets inside. “All this time you kept saying you couldn’t leave your work yet. There was more to do with your ministries. And then out of the blue you tell Phillip we’ve got tickets. When did you get these?”
He shrugged. “I’ve had them for a while in case we needed them. They’re opened-ended so they can be used on whatever flight has available seats.” His chair creaked as he sat down and leaned back. “I knew the time had come when even Phillip says he’s getting out.”
The corner of her mouth tipped up, although she couldn’t bring herself to smile. “I imagine he’s seen a lot of frightening things in fifteen years of missionary service.”
Brad wiped a hand over his mouth. “And yet nothing made him leave until now. Even losing his wife to cancer didn’t make him go home. If he’s getting out then it’s time to go.”
“Brad, I’m so relieved!” She pulled the tickets from the folder. “I’ve been so scared that we would be trapped here and— ” She stared at the tickets in her hand.
“Jennifer.” Brad rose and came around the desk, but she stepped back from him as their eyes locked.
“There’s only four tickets here. How could you?”
“I told you all along I couldn’t leave yet. I was hoping we could get out together, but maybe this is for the best. You and the kids will be out of harm’s way, and I’ll follow as soon as I can.”
She could hear the blood pulsing through the veins at her temple. “You hoped we could all get out together? Then why are there only tickets for the kids and me?”
His hands were gentle as he pulled her closer. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But I have work to do here still. You fly out this weekend, and I’ll join you in a couple of weeks. You know I want to keep you all safe.”
She pushed against his chest. “It’s not safe here for anyone. Why can’t you see that? You need to come with us.”
He shook his head. “I can’t. I’ll join you by the end of the month. I promise.”
Empty promises. The words echoed in her head. She couldn’t bear to hope in empty promises any longer. She picked up the tickets. “I’m going to pack.”
He grabbed her hand. “Jennifer, I swear. I’ll be home by the end of the month.”
She looked him in the eye. “I can’t promise we’ll be waiting for you.” She pulled her hand away and left the room.
TWO DAYS LATER …
“I can’t promise we’ll be waiting for you.” The last words she said to her husband reverberated through her head. Brad hadn’t live long enough to break another promise to her. His vehicle had crashed into a ravine, leaving her alone in this remote town with no way of getting out, and no means of contacting help. The rebels were closing in, but she no longer worried about them. Even her grief was secondary to the guilt that stabbed through her heart. If she had told him the truth, would they all be back in the States safely already? Had her secret been the one thing that would have motivated him to reevaluate his priorities?
How could it be that Brad had died without knowing that she was pregnant?
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