Book Three of the Roarin’ Twenties Series: Shifting Sands
Dede White is going to shut down the Fairview sanatorium, no matter what. Her beloved aunt died because of doctors like James Riley and she’s not going to let him trifle with any more lives. But -- James Riley isn’t what she thinks. Unfortunately, Dede doesn’t figure this out until she’s done her best to shut his sanatorium down. She might not be able to repair the damage she’s done, and even if she is, will he be able to love her back?
He drove down through the town of Brown's Mills in silence. As he neared the lake, he pulled off on a side road and stopped by a path that led to the beach. All the while, Dede stayed hunkered down behind his seat. "You can get up now."
She slowly raised herself up to the back seat and then peered out the window to double check. Apparently, she was satisfied. She sank down into the seat and sighed.
"Why are you in my car?"
"I told you..."
He held up his hand. "Dede, wanting to talk and hiding are two different things."
In a small voice she said, "I didn't want to damage your reputation any more than I already have. People are starting to talk... someone is spreading a rumor that the only reason I worked on the Thanksgiving program was to get my foot in the door of the sanatorium." She swallowed. "You know, to use things against you. But that's not true."
James closed his eyes. It was as plain to him as the nose on his face that Dede did not act vindictively against him, yet he could see how it would easily be construed as so. "Dede..."
"I am to blame for everything." Dede rested her hand on his shoulder. "Do you think you could ever find room in your heart to forgive me?"
A shock of awareness zipped through him. Now he was frustrated not only with the circumstance, but the attraction he still felt toward Dede. She's hurting, but why should I have to comfort her when I'm the one who has just lost everything?
A verse filled his mind. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
He sighed and turned around. "Dede, I know that you didn't set out to hurt me... that what you did, you did for your aunt... but it does affect me."
She kept her gaze fastened upon her clasped hands. "I realize that." She peeked up. The tears that filled her soft gray eyes were nearly his undoing. "So what now?"
He opened his door, stepped out, then opened her door, and offered her his hand. She took it and stood next to him. He bundled her up in his arms and rested his chin on the top of her head. "I think it's past time that we both lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross and seek the Lord." He looked out over the glistening water. "I've been real diligent to tell Him what I want... but not so much in asking what He wants." He lifted his head and looked down at her. "Will you do that with me? Ask Him to guide us."
She sniffled but then nodded. "I'd like that. Very much."
"Good. Let’s go to church together on Sunday."
Dede's eyes grew large. "But..."
He held a finger to her lips. "Shh. What others think about you or me is not what's important -- only what God thinks. If people want to talk, nowhere you go or nothing you do is going to stop that."
"Yes, I suppose you're right."
He tweaked her nose. "I like hearing you say that."
She gave him a wobbly smile. "Oh, James. I truly am sorry."
He leaned down and rested his forehead up against hers. "And I truly forgive you."
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