Read A Broken Kind of Beautiful Online

Authors: Katie Ganshert

Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #United States, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Single Women, #Contemporary Fiction, #Religious & Inspirational Fiction, #Christian, #Literary, #Religious, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction

A Broken Kind of Beautiful (8 page)

BOOK: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
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He kicked open the shed door and ran into a wall of stifling heat. Beads of sweat gathered and rolled between his shoulder blades as he stepped inside the darkened shed. He’d hung the hose on a rusted hook next to the riding lawn mower and was wading through the inferno toward his toolbox when a rap on the opened door grabbed his attention.

“Davis, you in here?”

He peered through the semidarkness and spotted Pastor Voss outlined in the sun-drenched doorway, flyaway reddish-white hair curled and kinked from the humidity. Davis grabbed the toolbox, made his way through the obstacle course, and stepped outside. The eighty-degree temperature greeted him like a cool fan.

“I thought I saw you out my office window.” Pastor Voss fanned himself with his worn-out Atlanta Braves baseball hat, the wrinkles lining his face running deeper than usual.

“Everything okay?”

“Just the regular worries and wears. God’s way of teaching this old man some long-suffering patience.”

Davis could guess at one of the wears. His daughter, Trudy Piper. No matter how many times the poor man preached against loose tongues, his youngest daughter kept right on gabbing—fanning local gossip into flame. “You’re not usually around on Saturday mornings,” Davis said.

“I’m organizing a prayer vigil for Twila Welch this afternoon.”

Sara gave twelve-year-old Twila free piano lessons. Her mother, Annie, cleaned Aunt Marilyn’s house every Saturday and Tuesday. Davis tightened his grip on the toolbox handle and made his way through grass that needed mowing, toward the church’s back door. “How’s the chemo working?”

“We’re not sure yet. Any chance you can make it to the vigil? She can use all the prayer she can get.”

If only Pastor Voss had asked him sooner. Like yesterday, before he’d agreed to pick up Ivy from the airport. Davis opened the door and waited for Pastor Voss to pass through. “I wish I could, but I promised my aunt I’d pick up her stepdaughter from the airport.”

“That tall, pretty gal?”

He stepped inside the church’s back door, thankful the air-conditioning unit was still faithfully chugging away. “That’s the one.”

Pastor Voss needled the side of Davis’s face with an observant stare. “You okay?”

A simple yet loaded question. One he didn’t know the answer to. “I’m not sure.”

“Want to talk about it?”

He stepped into the lobby. “Marilyn asked me to help her out with a special project.”

“I’m sure she could use the distraction.”

“You haven’t heard what the project is yet.”

“Oh?”

“A campaign for her bridal wear line. I’m going to be taking pictures again.”

Pastor Voss pulled on his earlobe.

“Marilyn wants to end the campaign with a charity fashion show. All proceeds go toward an art program for blind students.”

“Ah.”

“It’s something I have to do.” For Sara. If only he didn’t have to break his vow to do it.

“And Marilyn asked her stepdaughter to do the modeling?”

“Yep.” He kept picturing Ivy’s face and the way it had looked at the funeral, before she caught him staring. Every time he closed his eyes, that’s what he saw. And every time it left him with a niggling feeling, like he was missing something and needed to look harder. “I can’t get her out of my head.”

“That’s understandable. She’s quite a beauty.”

Frustration pressed against him. This wasn’t about her looks. He groped for an explanation, unsure how to proceed. “I’ve known plenty of women just as beautiful as Ivy, Pastor, and none of them got into my head like this. This isn’t about her looks.”

“What’s it about, then?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m just turned around. This world I’m stepping back into, it’s like eating food that leaves you hungrier.”

“And Ivy belongs to that world?”

“Ivy
is
that world.”

Pastor Voss took off his hat, scratched his hair, and recapped his head, his expression a mask of compassion. “Trying to fill our bellies with food that makes us hungrier is an exhausting way to live, don’t you think? Sounds to me like that young gal could use a proper meal. Living water. The bread of life.”

Davis shifted. The tools jangled in the metal box.

“You’re free from that world, Davis.”

“Yes sir.”

“It’s a good place to be, isn’t it?”

Davis nodded.

Pastor Voss squeezed his shoulder. “Maybe God wants to show Ivy Clark the same freedom.”

9

Ivy leaned against a wall beside one of the airport’s exits, reading her weatherworn copy of
Sailing Alone Around the Room
. Who better to distract her from the impending car ride from Hilton Head to Greenbrier than Billy Collins? Of all the contemporary poets, he was by far her favorite. His brilliance with irony, the way he could make the mundane fascinating or strip bare the mysterious never ceased to charm her. And right now she needed to be charmed or at least distracted. Awkwardness ballooned inside her chest. What could she and Marilyn possibly talk about on the fifty-minute ride home?

A conveyer belt rattled and hummed to life, setting into motion a sparse cluster of travelers. Ivy turned another page of her book when the doors slid open, letting in a gust of soupy air and Davis Knight, of all people—the man who stared at her through the funeral service and brought her a sandwich during the luncheon afterward. He walked with sure strides through the doors, unknowingly passing her as she leaned against the wall, and searched the travelers surrounding the conveyer belt. An army duffel bag came around the carousel. A heavyset man wearing combat boots stepped forward to claim it. A white, circular tote followed, shadowed by a matching pair of maroon suitcases. The balloon that had expanded inside Ivy’s chest popped and flew away. Marilyn’s nephew she could handle.

She put Billy in her purse and grabbed the handle of her expandable rolling suitcase, courtesy of Diane von Furstenberg’s signature design, and rolled it over to her unexpected chauffeur. “And here I thought the drive would be boring.”

He turned around, a day’s worth of stubble covering his strong jaw, and nodded in greeting. “I didn’t think we’d see each other again.”

“In person, you mean?” A grin crawled across her lips. If he followed her career, as he’d admitted to doing outside Marilyn’s home, he’d see her in magazines, advertisements, catalogs.

A faint pink tinged his cheeks as he motioned toward her carry-on. “Is that all your luggage?”

“I’m a proficient packer. A by-product of world travel.” She swept her hand toward the sliding doors and stepped behind him. “I’ll follow you out.”

“Can I take your suitcase?”

She handed it over, brushing her hand against his as she did.

He ignored the contact and headed toward the exit.

Ivy studied him. A full head of short, dark-blond hair. Broad shoulders tapering to a narrow waist. And then there’d been his face—the epitome of a surfer boy. He might be younger than her usual taste, but this was Greenbrier. She’d have to compromise a little.

Her grin came back. Maybe her exile to South Carolina wouldn’t be so horrible after all. How could it be—with a delicious distraction like Davis Knight?

The side of Davis’s face tingled from Ivy’s teasing stare. He ignored her perusal and focused on leading her to his Jeep, Pastor Voss’s words playing through his mind. He tried to brush them aside, but they refused to be brushed.

God, if You want to show Ivy freedom, You and I both know I’m not the guy for the job
.

He snuck a peek over his shoulder. Wearing sunglasses much too large for her face, her lips turned up into a smirk.

And anyway, I’m not so sure she wants freeing. She looks pretty comfortable to me
.

But she hadn’t at the funeral.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get that picture out of his head.
The glare of the sun bounced off the concrete and hit him in the eye as he crossed the street beneath the pavilion. Squinting, he rolled her suitcase over the curb, opened the hatch of his Jeep Cherokee, and deposited Ivy’s meager luggage into the back of his car. Either she wasn’t planning to stay long or she really was a packing expert. He shut the trunk and opened her door.

Her heels clicked a slow rhythm against the pavement as she walked toward him, swaying her hips in a slow-motion runway strut. “And they say chivalry is dead.” She stepped in front of him and tipped her glasses. “Well, they haven’t met you, have they, Mr. Knight?”

He swallowed, annoyed at his body’s response.

See her
.

The whisper caught Davis off guard. See her? How could anyone
not
see her? She was a woman everyone noticed, especially men. Yet on the tail end of his thoughts came the echo of words spoken long ago.

“You see things the rest of us don’t. It’s an important gift.”

His father’s words.

Unsure what to do with them, Davis walked around the back of his Jeep and climbed behind the wheel. The engine rolled over a couple of times before coming to life.

“So, are you Marilyn’s gofer, or do I flatter myself into thinking you offered to come get me? Since you’re a fan and all.”

“Marilyn had to be at the boutique. She asked me to give you a ride.” He backed out of the parking space, pulled onto the road, and turned north. The silver cross hanging from his rearview mirror swayed and fractured a beam of sunlight.

Ivy clucked her tongue. “First Esme, now you.”

“Who’s Esme?”

“Some old lady on the plane who kept talking about the ‘good Lord.’ ” Ivy touched the necklace. “It’s an interesting choice of car décor.”

Davis looked at her sideways. “Are you a believer?”

“A believer in what—God?”

“What else?”

She gave the necklace one more turn and brought her hand into her lap. “There’s a whole arsenal of what-elses.”

“Like?”

“Money. Fame. Beauty. Buddha.” She ticked each one off on her fingers.

“Is that what you believe in—a man?”

“Jesus was a man.”

He couldn’t help it. He laughed. Young Ivy, the religious philosopher. “Fully man and fully God. A great mystery of the faith. I might be wrong, but Buddha never claimed to be God, did he?”

“Your point?”

“My point is that it seems silly to worship somebody who’s a fallible human—like me and like you.”

Her forehead puckered.

The tiny crease had him looking closer. He wanted to know what it meant. “Are you really a Buddhist?”

“No, I’m not a Buddhist. But I hung out with one once.” She rolled down her window. The wind swirled strands of ponytailed hair around her bare shoulders. “It was very enlightening.”

The tone of her voice dripped with not-so-hidden meaning. He shifted in his seat. “Are you always like this?”

“Like what?”

He searched through his lexicon for the appropriate word and settled on
come-hither
. It made her mouth turn up into an amused smile. He turned on his blinker and merged onto the highway. Green foliage whizzed past their opened windows as sultry air fanned through the car. The smell of sea salt mingled with the coconut car freshener he’d stuck under his seat before heading to the airport. “Allow me to clarify my initial question. Are you a believer in God?”

“Yes.”

His heart lifted. “Really?”

“Do I think there’s a creator out there somewhere in the cosmos? Yes. Do I think this creator, or God, as you call him or her or it, gives two lollipop licks about little old me? No.” She frowned, as if she’d given away too much and wanted to take it back, then slipped off her shoes and set one perfectly manicured foot on his dashboard. “I don’t generally philosophize with men about religion, Dave. It’s not my area of expertise.”

She tossed her words like baited hooks. Any other man would bite—ask what her expertise was. Davis avoided the worms. He could guess just fine. “Can I ask you a question?”

“You just did.”

“Cute.” He curled his elbow over the black rubber where the window had disappeared, holding the steering wheel with two fingers. “Why did you agree to model for my aunt?”

She twisted a strand of hair around her finger. “It’s a job.”

BOOK: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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