Read Swept Away Online

Authors: Nicole O'Dell

Swept Away

BOOK: Swept Away
7.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books by Nicole O’Dell

Dare to Be Different
Risky Business

High Stakes
© 2011 by Nicole O’Dell
All That Glitters
© 2011 by Nicole O’Dell

Print ISBN 978-1-61626-252-5

eBook Editions:
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-60742-287-7
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-60742-288-4

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
.

Printed in the United States of America.
Bethany Press International, Bloomington, MN 55438; March 2011; D10002724

Table of Contents

Book 1: High Stakes

Chapter 1: Out With the Old

Chapter 2: A Grand Prize

Chapter 3: Hit the Books

Chapter 4: Be My Guest

Chapter 5: A Big Favor

Chapter 6: Hearing Voices

Chapter 7: Indifference

Chapter 8: Final, Final, Final

Chapter 9: We Have a Winner

Chapter 10A: Hold Everything

Chapter 11A: Love, Amber

Chapter 12A: A Fresh Start

Chapter 10B: Too Late

Chapter 11B: Caught

Chapter 12B: Forgiven, With a Price

My Decision

Book 2: Essence of Lily

Chapter 1: In a Corner

Chapter 2: My Lily

Chapter 3: Disappearing Act

Chapter 4: The Great Escape

Chapter 5: Too Little, Too Late

Chapter 6: Invisible

Chapter 7: Date Night

Chapter 8: Diversions

Chapter 9: Overnighter

Chapter 10A: Just Say No

Chapter 11A: Exposed

Chapter 12A: I Do

Chapter 10B: What Have I Done?

Chapter 11B: Not Enough

Chapter 12B: Redemption

My Decision

HIGHSTAKES
DEDICATION

Logan, Megan, and Ryleigh, at not even two years old, the three of you have so much life
ahead.
Your eager young minds and sweet spirits bring joy to me every moment of every day. I pray you stay little as long as possible and grow up slowly in the loving embrace of your Savior, Jesus. Someday, when you’re ready, you can read these books your ol’ mom wrote and know that all I want is for you to
make
wise choices. With
God’s
help, your dad and I will uphold you through all that life throws your way. I love you with all my heart
.

—Mom

Chapter 1
OUT WITH THE OLD

“You might have to get out and push.”

Amber groaned and rolled her eyes. “Very funny, Dad. The scary thing is, one of these days, it’s going to be true.”

Dad chuckled. “Ah, she hasn’t failed us yet.” He rubbed the faded steering wheel.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything.” Amber sulked down in the cracked vinyl seat and covered her eyes with her forearm. Her friends all had fancy new SUVs or expensive sedans. But no, her parents never wanted a car payment or—
gasp!
—a lease payment. Nothing but a complete waste of money when they already had a perfectly reliable vehicle—or so they said. If she had a dollar for every time they’d explained the horrors of a lease agreement …

The brakes squealed as Dad pulled the twelve-year-old Toyota into the garage. He smiled and patted the dashboard. “You did it, girl.” He’d somehow ignored the
putt … sputter … putt
sounds the car had made all the way up the driveway.

“Yeah, Dad. We made it home. But what about tomorrow? What about the next day? When will we ever be able to get a new car now that you lost your job?” Amber squeezed her eyes shut, holding back the tears that threatened to spill.

“Now, Amber.”

Amber steeled herself against the coming speech that she knew by heart and caught the sigh before it escaped her mouth.

Dad’s lips moved in what looked like prayer for a few moments. He took a deep breath and turned her chin with his hand until she lifted her watery eyes to meet his. “God has always provided everything we’ve ever needed and much, much more. I have no reason to think He’s going to stop now.” He let go of her face and rubbed her arm. “Sweetie, give Him a chance.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Amber rolled her eyes and fought the urge to point out that God had provided that stuff—which wasn’t excessive, by any means—before He
unprovided
Dad’s job. She climbed out of the car and paused a moment to give the rusted hood a few little pats—like paying respects at a funeral.
Sigh
.

Amber had one foot in the door when she heard three light honks.
Brittany!
She let her book bag slide off her shoulder. It landed on the garage floor with a thud. She jogged out to the driveway to greet her best friend.

The window on the driver’s side of the brand-new, silver Lexus SUV slid down and Mrs. Kim leaned her head out. “You girls be good and have fun. I will come to get you tomorrow afternoon.” She spoke in halting but precise English.

“Okay, Mom. Thanks.” Brittany waved her tiny hand as she came around from the other side and joined Amber on the driveway.

As the girls walked toward the house, Amber rested her forearm on Brittany’s shoulder.

Brittany shook her head and laughed. “You know, one of these days that’s going to get old.”

“Nah. You love it and you know it.” They walked through the garage toward the house, and Amber bent to pick up her schoolbag then opened the door to the dated kitchen. “Don’t mind the cracked tile and stained countertops. I promise they’re clean.” Amber flicked away a crumb.

Brittany laughed. “You give me the same little speech every time I come here. You’d think after ten years, you’d know I don’t care about tile and countertops.”

“Easy for you to say. Your dad got promoted to Chief Something-or-Other the same week my dad got laid off from teaching. Your house is perfect. Mine …” Amber waved her arm. “Well, not so much.” She slumped as she pulled open the refrigerator door to see what they could snack on.
Ooh! Leftover frozen pizza
.

“Yeah, I’m really sorry about your dad’s job.” Brittany picked a few pieces of nonexistent lint from her sleeve.

“It’s pretty bad timing with college next year and all.” Tears burned at her eyelids again. Amber blinked them away before Brittany could notice.

“But your grades are perfect. You’ll probably get a scholarship. I thought that was the plan anyway.” Brittany threw her hands up. “We’ve talked about getting scholarships and going to college together since we were little—we’ve got to get out of small-town Gwinett.”

“Yeah, I know. But if I don’t get one, I probably won’t be going away to school. I’ll have to get a job and go to the community college part time.” Amber shrugged. “It’ll be fine.

Right?” She finally turned around to look at Brittany.

“Fine? That would not be fine. Not at all. You can’t stay trapped in this valley dungeon forever, surrounded by nothing but mountains. And you
will
get a scholarship. You’ll see.”

“Thanks. I do love the mountains, though.” Amber couldn’t risk getting her hopes up.

“Well, everyone loves the mountains. But there’s so much world out there.” Brittany pointed out the window.

“Yeah, well … anyway … enough of that.” Amber held up the pizza. “Cold or heated?”

“Definitely cold.” Brittany grabbed a piece as big as her face.

How did Brittany pack away so much food? She could eat twice as much as Amber. Where did she put it all? “Sounds good to me. Grab some more if you want. Let’s go downstairs.” Amber inspected an ivory porcelain plate for chips or cracks before she handed it to Brittany. She reached in the refrigerator to grab two cans of Coke.
Nope
. In its usual spot, she found an imposter, the store brand. She grimaced and held it up for Brittany to read the logo. “Hope cola’s okay.”

Brittany smiled and reached for the can.

“Hey, works for me.”

“This cutting corners stuff is starting to get on my nerves.” Amber shook her head, took her plate, and hurried from the kitchen.

The girls went down to the basement, which Amber’s parents had let them turn into a hangout a few months back. They’d put a big rug down on the cold cement floor and brought Brittany’s plush, gray sofa over when her parents bought a new leather set. Amber reached for the television remote but put it right back down, opting for music instead. She flipped on the stereo and turned up the volume.

“So, what do you want to do tonight?” Brittany plopped down on the couch and took a bite of her cold pizza.

“I’m open to whatever.” Amber pushed a stray crumb back into her mouth. “Make some suggestions.”

“Well, we could shop, go see a movie, check out Kyle’s birthday party …” Brittany counted each idea on a finger.

Amber sighed. “All I hear is money, money, money.”

Brittany shifted her legs as her eyes glazed over in apparent irritation.

Oops. I’m being a drag
. “But I wouldn’t mind helping you shop. And Kyle’s party—well, we’d have to think of an inexpensive present. He is my cousin, but it’s not like we buy gifts for each other every year.” Amber stood up and started for the stairs. “Let’s go get ready.”

“Great.” Brittany jumped off the couch and brushed the crumbs off her pants before following. “We can find a gag gift for Kyle—something creative and funny that won’t cost much.”

Amber stopped abruptly and whirled around to face her friend, almost knocking her over. “Wait a sec. How’re we going to get around? You don’t have a car with you, and neither of us wants to be caught dead in my dad’s car.”

BOOK: Swept Away
7.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Silent Man by Alex Berenson
Fate's Intentions by Stevens, Dawn Nicole
Beyond Death by Deb McEwan
Crime & Punishment by V.R. Dunlap