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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Its that time again...

                      Its freezing outside so I'm going to post some nice 'warm' pictures today. :)








 
 


 
 
Chapter Twenty-One ~

The last few days had been hectic. Janna ran down the path, her mind whirling in fifty different directions. Lawyers, builders, insurance people… Would it never end? And then there was him. She shrugged the urge to shudder out of her mind. Jedidiah would keep her safe.  

She hadn’t seen her tormentor, nor heard anything at home. Maybe he’d given up. She smiled and plugged the ear buds back in her ears. Her favorite pastor continued his sermon on the family. And she was one now. A family. The thought scared her, yet caused a rush of excitement as well. She’d never entertained the idea in the past, but found it pleasant to dwell on now.

She caught a glimpse of the glass door on ‘Hometown Meets’ as the evening sun glared upon it. She tried to push away the glow of pride her restaurant caused to swell inside her. It wasn’t through anything of herself she’d accomplished it, but through God. He’d given her everything, right down to the minutest detail in planning. Yes. Amen. And he could’ve taken it away in the tornado, but he let me keep it. And my home. Thank you God.

Her feet began to slow as the path dwindled into a few pebbles and loose dirt. Maddy Jones came out the door, waving and smiling. “Hey Janna. How was the run?” She yelled.

“Going good, thanks.”  She was only slightly winded. Her broken arm ached and she cradled it in her good one as she came to a stop at the end of the trail.

Hairy’s barking encroached on her euphoria.

Janna scrunched her shoulders and turned to see what her protector was barking about. She caught an almost imperceptible movement in the woods just past the start of her jogging trail. “What is it Hairy?”

But Hairy was intent on what he’d seen. He broke away from Janna’s side and ran toward the shadow in the woods.

Where was Jedidiah? Her heart pounded. Was it him?

“Don’t freak out. Walk toward the restaurant. Slow,” she muttered.

“Is everything okay?” Maddy asked. Concern was evident on her elfin features.

Janna smiled, feeling like a wooden doll. “Yes. Hairy must’ve seen a squirrel.”

Maddy shrugged. “Maybe.”

Janna walked inside and went around the counter to wash her hands. She was planning to open it up for the first time after the tornado in just a few minutes. That’s why she’d done her jog first. She’d be too busy later to even think about exercise.

Maddy stood at the counter. Janna noticed for the first time she was hopping around like a nervous cat.

“Can I help you Maddy?”

“Yes. I…” Her voice trailed away.

“Is something wrong?” Janna was only half paying attention. She was watching out the window to see when Hairy returned.

Janna pulled her gaze from the window. No sign of him yet. “Maddy?”

“Yeah?”

“What did you need?” Janna gave her an encouraging smile. It was obvious she wanted something, Janna just wasn’t sure what.

“Oh. Sorry.” Nervous laugh. “I was wondering if you might need some help.”

At Janna’s confused look she continued, “You know, a waitress?”

Janna heard the caution in Maddy’s voice. She doesn’t want to upset me. How sweet. The question surprised her, though it shouldn’t. She needed a waitress. She should’ve realized that sooner. I probably would have the minute it got busy in here tonight.

Janna smiled. “I do. Are you applying for the job?”

Maddy shook her head. “Yes. I need to make extra money to pay Mary’s medical bills.”

“That’s right. I’ve been meaning to tell you how sorry I am to hear about that.”

“It’s okay. I’m not the only one who has mounds of debt due to the tornado.”

“I know you’re not. But she’s your daughter.” Janna’s heart flipped at the thought something more serious than a broken bone might happen to Jessie. How quickly he’s grown on my heart.

“But she’s alive. They operated on her yesterday and she’s supposed to make a full recovery. I’m so blessed. Who would’ve thought they could save someone who’s had their liver cut in half?”

“You have more faith than me, Maddy. You have the job, by the way.”

“But I haven’t even interviewed…”

“There’s no need. I have a feeling there’s no motivation like a mother determined to care for her child.”

“God bless you Janna James,” Maddy gushed. She ran around the counter and pulled Janna into a bear hug.

“God bless you too, Maddy. I hope Angela gets well soon. Maybe she’ll even be able to go to the prom.”

“The prom? Oh I hope so. I hadn’t even thought of that but she had her heart set in it. She picked out her dress months ago.”

“Who was she going with?”

“Joshua Sellers.”

“Oh, good choice. He goes to my church and sings in the youth group.”

“Yeah, and he’s cute too. That always helps.” Maddy smiled.

Janna could already tell a mountain of worry had been lifted from the middle-aged woman’s shoulders.

“Where can I get an apron?” Maddy searched under the counter.

“Oh. Are you going to start now?” Relief washed through her. She was thankful God had been watching out for her because she would’ve been in here running around like a crazy person trying to run the whole place by herself.

“Yes.” Maddy grinned. You know how busy this place gets at supper. If I don’t stay, how will you do it all alone?”

“God bless you Maddy. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”

She shook her head. “It’s this horrible tragedy. Nobody’s thinking straight right now.”

“You got that right.” Alarm was beginning to work its way into Janna’s mind. Hairy hadn’t returned yet. “I’m just gonna see if…” She broke off as Hairy came running down the path toward the restaurant. “There he is,” she said in relief.

“Whose dog is that, anyway?”

“He belongs to Jedidiah Crane. He just moved into town a few days ago.”

“Oh yeah. I saw him at the store the other day. He’s a dreamboat. If I was ten years younger…” She grinned.

“He’s mine.”

Maddy jerked to face her. “Huh?”

Janna felt her face grow warm. “I said he’s mine.”

The door to the restaurant opened just as she spoke and Jedidiah walked in. “What’s yours?” He held something brown between his fingers.

“I was just telling Maddy you were mine.” Scorching heat spread up her neck, but she was determined to face him.

His grin was so brilliant it caused her heart to skip a beat and then pound upon her ribcage.

“Then why do you have another man’s wallet on your doorstep?”

As realization dawned the grin disappeared from Jedidiah’s lips and Janna’s heart ran cold.

“Oh no. Look inside,” she demanded.

Jedidiah opened it, looked at her and frowned. “It’s his.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chapter Twenty...


      I've just realized I've seen some really beautiful places...God is so awesome!!










 
 


Chapter Twenty ~


Some sane part of Jedidiah knew he should stop. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the part of him

willing to do so. His hands ran through her hair, reveling in the silky softness. He groaned and pulled her closer into his embrace. In between kisses he said, “I…will…marry… you. I’ll take care of you and Jessie…” More kissy noises erupted into the silence.

She groaned and rubbed her head into his shoulder.

This is getting way out of hand. He gently pushed her away, holding his hands out. “Look. We can’t do this.” He took a deep breath. “If this is all about sexual attraction, we need to stop right now. It isn’t right in the eyes of God, and it isn’t right in mine.”

 

His words cut through the haze surrounding Janna. Humiliation caused tears to prick her eyes. This wasn’t her. What on earth was going on? She wasn’t some loose woman who couldn’t wait to get her hands on some guy. She stepped away, wiping her hand across her face. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s got into me. I’m not normally like this.”

“I can believe that, but whatever ‘this’ thing is, we have to slow it down. We have a serious situation on our hands and we need to stay aware.”

Hairy’s low growl intruded on his next words.

Janna’s eyes rushed to the dog. He was looking toward the front window.

“Jedidiah?”

He put a finger to his lips, nodded his head, whispered, “Keep talking.”

“Anyway, I don’t know what we’re…” Her voice fell away when she heard the distinct sound of running footsteps outside the window.

Jedidiah rushed the rest of the way, pushing the heavy curtains from the glass. “Someone was there, it must’ve been him!”

Janna rushed to his side, trying to see what he saw, but there was no one in sight. “Oh Jedidiah, don’t say that. Maybe it was just a kid out playing a prank…”

“Be logical. I doubt the kids in this community are out trying to peek in windows after what they’ve just been through.”

She hesitated, wanting to believe he was wrong, but knew he wasn’t. She’d never had trouble with any of the kids around here. There was no reason for them to start now, especially after such a disaster. It was him. Cold dread poured over her, cementing her feet to the floor and sending such icy shockwaves over her she could scarcely breathe. She whimpered. She wanted to retreat inside her head. Her hands came up and she rubbed her cheeks, trying to bring feeling into them. “No. No…no…no…no!” She shook her head back and forth and slid to the floor, losing sight of reality for a moment. “Uh-uh. Not again. This can’t happen again. Why would he come after me? He just spent five years in jail because of what he did to me.”

Jedidiah slid down beside her, keeping his eye on the dog. “Hairy protect,” He commanded before pulling Janna’s rigid frame onto his lap.

“He isn’t right. I didn’t get a comprehensive sheet on the guy, but I got enough to know he’s been into drugs for a long time. Maybe he snapped. Hm, maybe he never was right. I don’t know. But he’s here, and we have to compensate.”

She couldn’t frame a sane thought. Tears welled in her eyes, burning like sulphur. She let them fall unheeded. Let him rock her like a child. Why was God allowing this nightmare to start all over? What had she done to deserve this? Other women didn’t have to go through it.” Guilt swept through her at the disloyal thought. Why was she blaming this on God? It wasn’t His fault. She shook her head when a terrifying thought came to mind. “What if he tries to hurt Jessie?”

Jedidiah squeezed her arm for comfort. “He won’t get a chance. Hairy won’t let him. I won’t let him.” He pushed her off his lap with gentle fingers and stood up. “I’m going to check on him.”

“Okay…Jedidiah?”

He turned at her words.

“Why is this happening?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know, Honey, but we’ll get it taken care of.”

“What if he gets to me? What if he…?” Sobs burst from her and Jedidiah rushed to her side.

“He won’t. I’m here now.” He ran his fingers through her hair, this time in comfort.

“I just feel so…”

“Scared?”

“Yes, but more than that… violated, annoyed, irritated…ashamed.”

Jedidiah hesitated. “Why ashamed?”

She held her tongue for a moment, trying to decide whether to tell him. Then said, “Because what was meant for the man I marry was taken by someone whom it wasn’t given. I can’t get it back.” More tears streamed down her face.

Jedidiah rubbed her shoulder. “You need to calm down. You’re just going to get yourself in a quandary. “Sometimes we don’t have all the answers. What we do know is God loves you. He won’t give you more than you can handle, and lastly, it’s going to strengthen you in some way you needed.”

At his words, she looked into his eyes. “He did send me you…”

“Exactly, now let’s go check on Jessie.”

She grabbed his hand and they moved toward Jessie’s room.

They turned the corner, and burst out laughing. Hairy was lying next to Jessie, who was lying overtop his furry head, hanging on for dear life. “My doggy,” he was saying. He squealed, the little boy sound so endearing Janna almost burst into tears again.

Jedidiah moved into the room. “Hey Champ. I thought you were asleep.”

“Hairy scared.” He patted the dog’s fur and as if on cue, he turned and licked the child’s face.

Jedidiah rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Maybe I should’ve named himScooby.”

A small burst of laughter erupted from within Janna, but she felt too uneasy to let go completely. She walked over to the child and rubbed his hair back from his face. Are you okay?”

“Yeah Ja-Ja. I just want my mommy.”

The simplicity of his answer caught her unaware and she gasped. He wasn’t crying or whining, just stating a simple fact. “You know she’s in…”

“I know. She’s with God.” The little boy looked up at her, tears filling his huge gray eyes. “But I want her here.”

She reached over and pulled the child into her arms. “I do too Honey. I’m so sorry. I don’t know why it happened. But you’ll always have me.”

He laid his head on her shoulder and plopped his thumb in his mouth. “I know.” And then he went silent. A few moments later he was sound asleep.

Janna placed him in the bed and tip-toed out of the room, Jedidiah right behind her. He pulled the door almost closed, leaving Hairy inside. As soon as they were back in the hallway he said, “He’ll keep him safe.”

“I know.”

They went back to the living room. She sat in the chair and he on the couch.

“Do you want me to call the police?”

“What for?”

“He was looking in your window…”

“No. You’ll keep me safe. God wouldn’t have sent you if you couldn’t.”

“Thank you for having confidence in me.” He smiled.

She shook her head. “No offense, but my confidence is in God.”

He grinned from ear to ear. “That’s even better.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sorry this is a little late today...


                            More of God's Beauty...


 
 

 
 

 
 





Chapter Nineteen

He bobbed his head to the music, smiling in contentment as he drove toward his objective. His time had finally come. He’d waited five long years for this moment; he was going to face the woman who’d put him in jail. He grinned, rubbing his hand over his stubbled cheeks.

The catchy tune on the radio was replaced with a news statement. They’d restored electricity to most of the town and the water was back on, but with a boil alert in effect.

This just makes it better for what I have in mind. He grinned. He’d been secluded for a long time and couldn’t wait for some female attention. He felt antsy and excited. He pounded the dash of his old blue, rust-covered pick-up. “Come on old blue. Get a move on. I can almost taste what awaits me. He cackled.

He didn’t care what anyone said. That girl had asked for what he’d given her. Why else would she have passed by his open door humming one of his favorite songs? Why would she be wearing such a provocative perfume?

He’d gone out his apartment door and followed a few feet behind her in silence, sniffing her perfume and forming a plan. Her long chestnut hair streamed out behind her as she passed one of the huge fans. He’d caught his breath as her fruity scent wafted past him. His stomach growled, but he knew it was a different appetite that had been awakened. His plan to ask her out was replaced with something more sinister. Way more sinister. He grinned.

He let the episode roll past his mind, reliving the whole thing. His heart sped-up. He’d stood behind her as she’d belted out the words to the song loud and clear. He was impressed and it fueled the flames of his fire.

He watched as she ran her hands through her hair, totally oblivious to his presence. She didn’t know he was there because he was behind her, but that wouldn’t really matter because he’d passed her in the hallway on many different occasions and she hadn’t acknowledged his existence then, either.

Anger had washed through his veins at the realization. He couldn’t dispel his attraction, but he could definitely re-route it. And that’s what he’d done. As she hit the last high note he’d rushed up behind her and put his arm around her neck, covering her chest with his hand. He’d groaned at the warm, full feeling. At the feminine smell of her skin, and he’d lost sanity.

The next thing he knew she was on the ground and he was above her. The terror on her face delighted him and he’d laughed. She was screaming, so he’d pushed his arm back into her throat. “You know you want this, so shut-up before I have to kill you.”

She’d whimpered. He’d felt a moment’s guilt, then continued his assault. He remembered ever last minute of it, and he gloried in it. He’d never felt so powerful.

He pulled himself from his thoughts. He needed to concentrate on the task at hand. The past was the past. He had to make new memories now… Five years in jail had given him plenty of time to plan his next assault. This time he wouldn’t stop. He would do the unthinkable… He panted as a fleeting image pushed through his brain. He couldn’t wait.

He laughed. The sound was so maniacal it even scared him.

 

                                                               ***

 

Jedidiah kissed Janna on the forehead. “We’ll make this work. Everything will be okay.”

She nodded. “I think so. I have faith in your ability to protect us.”

He grinned. “Don’t be so sure. Sometimes I’m not even sure how long I can restrain my… feelings.” He bent over and sat the boy in his chair, adjusting him by the bar encased in plaster before returning his gaze to her.

“What do you mean?”

He gave her a knowing look.

Her face turned red. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” He gave a rueful grin before walking to the stove and dishing up their plates.

“Am I causing that? I mean, is it my fault?”

His blue eyes pierced her amber ones. “Yes honey, you are. But it’s not your fault. It’s mine. I don’t have enough self-restraint.”

She pulled some milk from the fridge and sat it on the table. “Oh…”

He laughed. “Well, the good news is I figured out how to shut you up.”

She laughed with him. “I don’t talk that much, do I?” A niggling voice in her brain reminded her just a while ago she’d gone berserk when he’d touched her.

He sat down at the table after situating Jessie. “No, not at all, but it sounded funny in the moment.”

“It did.”

“Look Janna. After supper we need to talk.”

A sigh escaped her full, red lips. “I know.” She already missed the closeness of the moment they’d shared just minutes ago.

They finished their meal in silence. Jedidiah was surprised to see Jessie had finished his whole plate without making too much of a mess. He’d been taught well.

He scooted his chair back. “I’ll put him down for the night.” He picked the boy up and carried him out of the room.

Janna busied herself cleaning up the dishes. She scraped them and placed them in the dishwasher, ready to wash when there was a full load. She wiped the table down and then plopped in her chair, exhausted. She wasn’t quite over her ordeal yet, but at least she was alive.

                                                              ***

Jedidiah returned to the kitchen and took his seat. “He’s almost asleep. I think he’s going to be a good kid. His mother did a wonderful job with him.”

Tears filled Janna’s eyes. “She did. She was an awesome mom. And it’s my fault she’s gone.” Her shoulders shook with sobs.

“No it’s not. Why would you say that?”

“She wanted to come to my house that night, but I wanted to go to hers because she had a basement. And look,” She gestured around her kitchen. “My house is still standing, and without one little spot or blemish. If I hadn’t insisted, maybe she’d still be here.”

“You don’t know that, honey.”

She took a deep breath. He needed to know how vile she was. “She told me the tornado was headed straight for her house. I didn’t care. I pushed on forward, believing we would be safer at her house. And now Jessie has to do without a mommy.” She swiped at the tears flowing down her cheeks. “I am so sorry.”

Jedidiah was at her side pulling her into his arms before she could form anymore words. “Hush. It wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t know what was going to happen.”

“But I didn’t listen to her, Jedidiah…”

He laid a finger over her lips. “It’s okay.” He squeezed her, resting his lips on top of her head. After a few minutes, he asked, “Did you really mean what you said earlier?”

“What?” She pulled back and looked up into his face.

“That you wanted to marry me.”

She remained silent for a moment, studying his eyes. They were so beautiful. So full of light and joy. “Yes. I did.”

“But you don’t even know me.”

“I know, but I will. I want that.”

He groaned. “As do I.” He captured her lips with his.

He buried his hands in her hair and pulled her face away from his just far enough to rain kisses over the soft surface.

                                                          ***
Outside the window, a man stood watching, his heart so full of rage he couldn’t think for a minute. Then he swore into the darkness, “He will die too…  After I make him suffer for daring to take what is mine.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chapter Eighteen ~ Janna's Run

                            As always, more of God's beauty...










Chapter Eighteen ~


Jedidiah continued to rock Janna back and forth, soothing her with shushing noises. After a while her breathing became slow and regular. She’d fallen asleep.

Using his back to push up against the counter where he’d leaned, he pushed upward until he was on his feet with the tiny woman in his arms.

He carried her to her room and laid her on the bed. She didn’t move a muscle. She must still be tired from her ordeal, he thought. He stared down at her, a myriad of emotions flitting through his mind. He sighed. No use worrying about it right now. He needed to fix that supper she’d been preparing. It was the least he could do.

He pulled a light pink throw from the desk chair, covered her, gazed at her relaxed features once more and then turned on his heel and left the room.

This woman was an enigma. She came off strong and determined on the outside, yet was so broken and needy on the inside. It was like being around two totally different women. But she wasn’t. She was one, and he was falling for her. He gulped in a ragged breath as he stopped to check on Jessie. He’d fallen asleep in the floor amidst his toys. Jedidiah stepped over the gate and gently laid him in his crib. His heart gave a tug. He had to admit it. This little guy was pulling at his heart strings too. He swiped at his eyes. Real men don’t cry.

He left the room and rushed into the kitchen like the hounds of hell were on his heels. Dear Lord, is this why you sent me here? Is this what’s going to become of me? Tamed by a broken bird and a tiny child full of hurt? He thought he heard an audible yes, but knew he was imagining it.

“Suck it up Jedidiah and get some supper on,” he commanded himself.

He moved around the kitchen opening doors and drawers, setting out the things he would need. Thirty minutes later he had spaghetti and garlic bread well on the way to being done. He smiled in accomplishment. He felt good. He had a purpose. “You asked for a purpose, Jedidiah,” whispered through his brain. “Yes I did.”

Hairy sauntered into the room and sat at the end of the counter. Jedidiah tried to ignore him, but big brown eyes seared through him.

He laughed. “What is it boy?”

Hairy looked from the stove to Jedidiah.

“What?” he asked, pretending not to understand,

Hairy returned his gaze to the hamburger in the skillet.

“Oh, you want some of this?” He asked.

“Ruff!”

“Hairy, quiet down,” Jedidiah urged. He opened the silverware drawer and pulled out a spoon, scooped some of the burger into it and fed it to the dog.

Hairy ate it and then sat back on his haunches once more, his expectant eyes trained on the skillet.

“No, that’s enough you spoiled beast. Go check on Jessie,” Jedidiah commanded.

Hairy rushed from the room and Jedidiah heard his back foot graze the child gate as he cleared it and landed in Jessie’s room. Thank you for my dog, dear Lord. You know what he means to me.

Jedidiah stirred the spaghetti noodles and whistled under his breath. He stopped abruptly when he became aware someone was staring at him. “Who’s there?” He jerked around, and then grumbled, “What are you doing slinking up behind me you vicious monster?”

The white cat stared at him, hatred shooting from those cold green eyes.

“What?”

“Meow.”

“Well you don’t sound half as mean as you look. What do you want?”

“Meow.”

“Are you hungry?” He walked into the pantry and pulled down a can of cat food, opened it and dumped some in the bowl. When he turned around he almost tripped on the long-haired cat. He grabbed the wall. “Wow, you could wait until I put it on the floor, you know.” He tsked, but set the bowl down. The beast ate hungrily, ignoring the man who’d taken the time to feed him.

“And that’s why I don’t like cats. So ungrateful…”

The sound of laughter behind him caused him to jump. He turned. Janna stood there.

Her face was flushed from sleep, but the desperation had disappeared from her features.

Easy Jedidiah.  “Did you purposely teach that thing to be mean to me?

She grinned. “Of course. Do I smell spaghetti?”

“Yes you do. You fell asleep and I knew the boy would be hungry,” He answered.

“He’s still asleep.”

“Yeah, maybe you should get him up. If he sleeps all evening he won’t want to sleep tonight.”

“You think so?” Janna frowned.

“Yeah. My sister Jenny has two kids and she can’t let them sleep too late into the evening or she ends up staying awake with them half the night.”

“Okay, I’ll go get him up. I hate the fact I don’t want to face him because I don’t want him asking me about his mom again.”

Tears filled her eyes, and he stepped toward her. She held up her hands to ward him off. “No, we know what you being close to me causes…”

He stopped. “Of course. I’m sorry.”

“No need to apologize. We just need to prioritize.”

“You’re correct. I’ll set the table.”

“Okay. Do you need help finding anything?”  She fidgeted, not moving.

What is she waiting on? Doesn’t she know I want to hold her in my arms? Kiss her? “Nah, I think I can manage.”

She turned and disappeared.

“Dear Lord, give me strength, and answers. How am I going to do my job when I’m so attracted to her? He asked out loud as he rummaged in the cabinets looking for dishes.

He pulled down three pink-flowered plates and set them at the small round dining table, following that up with some silverware and cups. He couldn’t remember ever feeling this unbalanced around anyone before. He was the guy who could assess a situation and have it under control within minutes, yet he could barely remember to breathe for this one. Is this what a crush felt like? He was afraid he already knew the answer.

Janna returned with a sleepy Jessie. She sat him in one of the wooden chairs and scooted him up to the table. “We’re going to need a high chair.”

Jedidiah’s heart thundered at her words. The sound of the ‘we’ falling from her lips was like honey to a starving man. Stop it, Jedidiah. Get it together. You aren’t sixteen. The memory of their kisses was emblazoned on his brain and he couldn’t dispel it. He still remembered the feel of her hair. Her soft, pliable lips on his…He groaned.

She gave him a curious look. “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m fine. We’ll go shopping in the morning. I think tonight we all need to rest.”

“True.” She sat down at the table. “Jedidiah, do you think he’ll come here?”

“Yes I do, but this isn’t the time to discuss it.” He cut his eyes toward the little boy, who hadn’t said a word. “Are you hungry Jessie?”

“Yes,” he replied, his lip pouting out.

“Do you like spaghetti?”

The child smiled for a moment, said, “Yes.” And then he frowned again. “Mommy did too.” Huge tears of sorrow filled his eyes.

“I’m sorry Jessie. I know it must be hard for you Buddy.” Jedidiah was on his knees at the boy’s side before realizing he’d moved. He put a hand on the tiny back. “I know you may not understand, but you’re not alone.”

Huge, tear-filled eyes swung to stare directly into Jedidiah’s. “Will you be my Daddy?” Little arms reached up and encircled his neck and Jedidiah melted like burning wax. He heard a ragged sob escape from Janna’s lips. He pulled the little boy up into his arms and hugged him to his chest. He looked at Janna over the boy’s shoulder. She nodded. “Yes I will. I’ll be your daddy.” His voice cracked, and to his horror, he felt hot tears escape and trail down his cheeks like a burst dam.

Janna captured his eyes with hers. “And I’ll be your Mommy, Jessie.” She ran to them, encircling both of them in her arms. We’ll be our own little family.”

Warm lips brushed across Jedidiah’s neck and he groaned, turned his head to whisper in her ear, “Don’t Janna. Don’t tease me.”

“I’m not teasing. Will you marry us?”

He pulled back in amazement, holding his breath. He examined her face. She was serious… “Of course I will,” He groaned as he returned the embrace. And with those words, he knew his life had just changed forever.