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Authors: Lori Wick

Tags: #Romance, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Christian, #Family, #Fiction, #Christian Fiction, #Sisters, #INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE, #General, #Religious

Pretense

BOOK: Pretense
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Pretense

Lori Wick

5

The nature of this book, the very way I held it in my heart-

planning it, dreaming about it, talking about it, and nearly living it

rears before conception-gives me a need for a special dedication.

This book is dedicated to my 18-year marriage to Bob Wick.

No one in my life has portrayed Christ to me more

strongly than he has.

This one is for us, Robert.

May the next 18 years be as sweet as the last.

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Acknowledgments

Of all the books I've ever written, the journey toward this one has been the longest. So many people and places, so many years in my mind . . .Here is but a simple page to acknowledge the dear people who traveled with me.

Just a word of thanks to . . .

Mary Kay Deese and Kathi Mackenzie-Foster for the loan of your daughters' names, Mackenzie Rose and Delancey Joy. Such wonderful names. They literally inspired me to do this story.

Spencer, originally from New York, New York, who works at the Hyatt at Beaver Creek. Your gracious kindness as you gave us a tour has long been remembered. To this day I wish I'd given you a huge tip. Had my chance, muffed it!

Abby, who was a bright, fun, seven-and-a-half- and eight-year-old while I wrote this book. Thank you for all you are able to do and the help it was to watch you and see Mackenzie and Delancey in action. I'm so glad you're my girl.

Thank you, Matt, for being halfway between 11 and 12 during this book. It was such a help to see you in the sixth grade and to know what it was like and how you felt. It's so easy to forget that a sixth grader is not an adult but a wonderful, energetic child. Thank you for the way you reminded me. You are my sunshine, and I love you.

Thank you, Tim, for your eighth-grade year. I didn't see this part of the story coming, but there it was, and I needed you. Just little things-like your track experience and watching you do algebra homework-were such helps to me. You are so grown up, and I'm so proud of the wonderful big brother you've become.

Thank you, Matt, Sandy, Justin, and Tory Sommerfeldt. No one could ask for sweeter neighbors. The Bob Wick family is immeasurably blessed to have you so near.

Thank you, Cindi Fouch. This comes a little late, but I found myself using your words in this book as well as Sophie's. You shared with me from your own pain and enriched my knowledge. Thank you for your tender heart and spirit.

At last but not least, thank you to my readers. Over the years I've traveled far and wide in my subjects and locations, and you've hung in there and given me a chance. God bless all of you.

7

8

9

One

San Antonio, Texas October 1976

Marrell Bishop worked on dinner with studied concentration, her dark blond bangs falling over her forehead in wispy confusion. As she stirred the muffin batter, she hoped the new chicken dish in the oven would turn out better than the last one she attempted. She was not the greatest cook in the world, but her husband loved variety, and she loved to try new recipes.

She was checking the recipe once again when her oldest daughter entered the room. Marrell watched eight-year-old Mackenzie Rose Bishop sit at the small kitchen table and stare out the window, her expression unreadable.

"What's up, Micki?"

"Nothing much."

"I thought you were going to play Monopoly with Delancey."

"She's in one of her moods."

She sounded neither angry nor put out, and suddenly Marrell didn't care if dinner was on time. She joined her daughter at the table and waited for her to look at her.

"Are your feelings hurt?"

"No, but she won't talk to me, so I don't want to be in the room."

"Do you want me to talk to her?"

"No."

Marrell watched Mackenzie's face very closely. At times it was the only way she could tell when her daughter was upset, but at the moment she didn't seem too wounded. Marrell didn't want to make excuses for her younger daughter, but she still

10

heard herself saying, "I wonder if Delancey might be upset about tonight."

"What's tonight?"

"Her big karate match."

"Oh. I forgot. What time?"

"Seven-thirty."

Mackenzie pulled a face. "I'll miss my show."

Marrell looked compassionate. "Sorry, Micki. Maybe they'll show it in reruns."

Marrell had no problem sensing that Mackenzie was upset about this. Although she said nothing, she was clearly not happy. And indeed, she
was
irritated, but not at her mother. She was rarely upset with her mother. Her sister, on the other hand, could be a great irritant. Mackenzie hated karate, and the fact that her sister's match was causing her to miss her favorite television program made it even less tolerable.

"I forgot to ask you about your whale story when you came in," Mackenzie's mother said, cutting into her irate thoughts. "How did your teacher like it?"

"She liked it a lot." Mackenzie was instantly diverted, her face lighting with a smile. "She asked if she could make a copy of it for her files."

"That
is
a compliment. Did you have a chance to read it to your dad?"

"No, but I brought it home with me."

"Good. He should be here in about 40 minutes, so don't forget."

"Okay. Can I help with dinner?"

"Sure. You can wash your hands and pour this batter into the muffin pan."

Mackenzie was happy to do just that and even happier when the aforementioned sister, Delancey Joy Bishop, came downstairs just minutes later.
Delancey
had not been asked to help with dinner. The satisfaction Mackenzie gained from giving her sister a superior smile was huge.

The first thing Lieutenant Colonel Paul Bishop did every night upon arriving home was kiss his wife. Over the years he had walked in to find company waiting for him, his daughters wanting his attention, phone calls from the base, and any number of

11

other distractions, but he ignored all of these until he had taken Marrell in his arms and kissed her.

Paul Bishop had little time for church, but if anything could make him stop and thank God, it was his wife. It still amazed him that she had fallen in love with and married him. Marrell Bishop, Marrell Walker when he'd met her, was drop-dead gorgeous. Tall and curvy, blue-eyed and blond, there wasn't a male head that didn't turn when she walked into a room. Paul wasn't exactly a troll, but he knew he wasn't in Marrell's class.

At any moment Paul could recall the way he felt when he first saw her. She had been clearing the counter in a mom-and- pop diner in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when he had been stationed at Fort Carson. Her shy smile as she had taken his order had done his heart a world of good. His voice had been especially soft when he'd asked her out the first time, his eyes kind as he worked to hide his anxiety. Months later, after they had become quite serious, she admitted that the only reason she'd gone out with him twice was because he hadn't tried anything on their first date.

"And the third time?" he remembered asking her.

"By our third date," she answered, blushing, "I was already in love with you."

With those words from 11 years ago now on his mind, he let himself into the apartment they called home. The smell of dinner assailed his senses, but with Marrell on his mind, he paid little heed. Finding her in the kitchen, he approached slowly, giving her a chance to take a pan from the oven. The moment she set it down, his arms went around her. Marrell had waited all day for his embrace and gladly returned it. The girls stood silently nearby, watching the familiar scene and knowing very well that no amount of noise or commotion would interrupt them.

"Hi," Paul said at last, his eyes smiling into hers.

"Hi yourself." Marrell's smile was content. "How was your day?"

"Long and hot. I'm glad it's over. Hey, girls!" It was now time for them.

"Hi, Dad." Delancey jumped toward him, her arms open wide. "Mom's gonna braid my hair for tonight."

"She is? You'll look beautiful." He bent low and hugged her tightly.

12

Mackenzie was close behind her sister, her arms going around her father's neck as he bent toward her. "I have a story to read to you."

"The one you wrote?"

"Yes." Mackenzie looked into his face and smiled. She didn't know that he knew. "It's about a whale."

"Well, let's hear it, or is dinner ready?"

"It is," Marrell informed him, "but Mackenzie can read while I put the food on the table."

"It's a deal. Go get it, Micki."

The brown-haired Bishop girl did not need to be asked twice. She tore up the stairs in pursuit of her schoolbag and folder, her little legs carrying her at breakneck speed as she came back down. Paul was waiting for her at the kitchen table, Delancey in his lap.

"Okay, let's hear it."

Mackenzie did the honors with pride, telling of the little whale who saved all the whales living with him in the underwater village and thus became the hero of the day.

"What did you think?" she wanted to know.

"I think it's just as wonderful as you are."

Mackenzie smiled at him and sat at the table. Dinner was served, and to Marrell's pleasure, the casserole was as delicious as the muffins and fruit salad.

"You ready for tonight, D.J.?" her father wished to know.

"Yes. I practiced a little after school."

"What time shall we go?"

"She has to be there at 7:30," Marrell filled in. "I'd like to leave a little early if we could. I need to run into the mall and return those jeans Micki can't wear."

"Okay. What time will the match be over?"

"I'm guessing about 8:30 or 9:00. Last time we left after Delancey was finished, but I think that's frowned on by the instructors."

Paul smiled across the table at his wife but didn't comment. Marrell caught his look and hid a smile of her own. The way Marrell hated anyone's disapproval had long been a joke between them.The very fact that Delancey's karate instructor was unhappy with Marrell would cause her to adjust her plans. Paul had been in the Army for more than 16 years. He was accustomed to taking

13

orders every day of his life, but once he left the office, he didn't let anyone dictate his actions. Marrell was just the opposite. She wasn't a doormat, but she was most definitely happier when no one was frowning at her.

"Do you want to stay until everyone finishes tonight, D.J.?" Paul asked her.

"Can we? I want to see the black belts."

"We'll see how it goes. Tomorrow is a school day."

Now it was time for the girls to exchange a look. They both liked school but hated it when it kept them from doing what they really wanted.

They finished the meal in a normal fashion, with Marrell clearing the table and doing the dishes. Paul headed toward the newspaper he hadn't had time to read, and the girls found themselves back in their room. Delancey pulled her karate uniform from the closet, and Mackenzie sat on the bed with a book, the earlier incident seemingly far behind them.

"I can't find the belt," Delancey said, sounding almost panicked.

"It's right there," Mackenzie responded, pointing calmly. The important blue belt with the black stripe had dropped onto the closet floor. Two years ago Delancey had joined a karate studio that specialized in children's classes. She had worked hard, starting with a white belt and moving on to gold, orange, green, purple, purple with a black stripe, blue, and then blue with a black stripe. Tonight she would graduate again, this time to the red belt.

"Is it straight in the back?"

"Um hm," Mackenzie told her honestly. "Let me see the front now."

Delancey turned for inspection, and Mackenzie smiled at her.

The room the girls shared was not huge, but each had a twin bed and her own small dresser. They shared the closet. There was also a desk, but schoolwork was usually done at the kitchen table. The Bishops had lived in this apartment for almost three years now, neither girl remembering much about the two other places they had lived.

As Mackenzie watched, Delancey put the finishing touches on her uniform and stood before the mirror that hung on the back of the door. She looked content with what she saw, but excitement about the coming event made it impossible to stand

14

still. Only seconds passed before she was kicking imaginary

opponents in the room, Mackenzie watching her in boredom.

Not until she came close and sent a kick toward Mackenzie's face

did the older girl raise an objection.

"Don't kick around my face, Delancey. I don't like it." Delancey didn't listen, so Mackenzie glared at her and walked

BOOK: Pretense
11.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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