Read Texas Weddings 3 & 4 Online

Authors: Janice Thompson

Tags: #Anthologies

Texas Weddings 3 & 4 (2 page)

BOOK: Texas Weddings 3 & 4
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Transitioning.
. .

Kent shuddered,
remembering. Accepting Faith’s death still presented the most challenging shift
in his life. For months after the tragic accident that swept her away, he
struggled to maintain his sanity, his love for life,
his
faith.

Faith.
. .

If
not for his
daughter.
. . He smiled, thinking of the
beautiful little girl awaiting him at home. If not for her, he would surely
have lost his reason for living. But she kept him going, day in and day out.
And he had an obligation to raise
her
as Faith would
have wanted—in the arms of her family and friends and in a strong church
with plenty to offer its congregation.

With renewed zeal,
Kent gazed across the office once again. “I need to be positive. God has placed
me here for some reason, and I’m going to give this my best shot.”

In the meantime, potty
training
awaited
. Kent glanced at his watch then raced
to pack his briefcase and head home.

 

two

 

Shauna left the day-care center after the brief
tour,
content to believe the Lord had just offered her an
amazing new opportunity. She pressed aside any fear. If Daniel could face a den
of angry lions, surely she could face a roomful of toddlers.

After all, she had prepared for this day for years. Why
begrudge it just because the Lord had shifted gears a little? Two-year-olds
couldn’t be that difficult, after all. And besides, in no time she would start
her own center—in God’s timing, of course. Until then, she would use
every moment to acquire practical knowledge, which she would some day put to
use with her own little ones.

As she crossed the
parking lot, Shauna felt her lips turn up in a playful smile. Could life get
any better than this, really? “Thank You for the job, Lord!” Surely He had
provided it, just as He had provided the direction she needed during her
freshman year in college. No one could have been more surprised than she when
the Lord gave the instructions to settle into an elementary-education degree
program. But now, years later, she could certainly see God’s hand at work in
every detail, including this new position at the day care.
Two-year-olds
or no two-year-olds.

Shauna climbed into her white Saturn, deep in thought. Just
as she started to turn the key in the ignition, her cell phone rang. She scrambled
through her cluttered purse to find it. “Hello?”

“Shauna Alexander?”

“Yes.”

“This is Bill Conner
from Computers Unlimited. You left your PC with us a couple of days ago?”

“Yes, that’s right.”
Shauna turned the key, and the engine started smoothly. She balanced the phone
on her shoulder as she pulled away from the
Hiz-Kidz
Day Care. “Is it ready to be picked up?”
I
need to send Joey
an E
-mail.
Thoughts of her
boyfriend suddenly made her sad. She missed him so much.

“Yes, ma’am,” the
voice on the phone continued. “We replaced the fan. The machine had been
overheating, causing it to lock up on you. But it’s all taken care of now. Good
as new.”

“How much?”
The dreaded question.

“Twelve dollars for
the part, but then there’s the labor charge of seventy-nine ninety-five to put
it in.”

“Naturally.” Shauna
sighed as she pulled onto the busy street. “How late are you guys open?”

“We’re here till
five.”

She glanced down at
her watch, nearly driving the car off of the road. 4:36 p.m. “I should be there
just in time,” Shauna said, as she fought to steady the wheel. “So don’t close
without me, okay? I really need my computer tonight.”

“We’ll be here,” he
said. Then, with a click, he disappeared.

Shauna tossed the
phone into her purse and headed out onto the interstate.

***

 

Kent Chapman pulled his Jeep Cherokee onto Interstate-45 on
Houston’s north side, headed toward home. When his cell phone let out a loud
ring, he struggled to pull it from his pocket.

“Hello?”

“Kent?”

He recognized his
mother’s voice immediately. “Hey, Mom. How are you?”

“Fine now,” she said. “But I’m glad you didn’t ask me that
an hour ago. We ran into a little dilemma at the bookstore this afternoon.”

“What happened?” Kent knew his mother’s love for Bookends,
the store she had managed for the past several years.

“One of our coffee shop customers carried a cup of coffee
out into the store and had a spill. She managed to wipe out an entire shelf of
inspirational fiction. Took us nearly an hour to figure out which books we
could save and which had to be tossed.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that.” He was sorry, for several
reasons—but primarily because he knew his mother would have to bear the
cost of the books.

“It’s not really that big of a deal.” She sighed. “To be
honest, I was more worried about being late to pick up that beautiful
granddaughter of mine.”

Kent could hear his daughter in the background, chattering
away. “Sounds like you got her.”

“Yep. She’s chattering my ear off right now.”

He glanced at his watch. “Well, I’m on my way to your place
now. I know you’re probably worn out.”

“I am, but I love spending time with her. You know that.”
She disappeared for a moment then returned with laughter in her voice. “She’s
telling me what she wants for dinner. Chicken nuggets.”

Kent groaned. “Not
again.” Just then, another
call beeped
in. “Hang on a
minute, Mom.” He switched to the other line and tried to figure out who it
might be before giving a curious “Hello?”

“Mr. Chapman?”

“Yes?”

“This is Bill Conner
from Computers Unlimited. We’ve finished upgrading your computer. You can pick
it up at any time.”

Ah-ha. Finally.
“How late are you open?” Kent glanced at the clock.

“Five o’clock.”

“Okay.” He sighed and
attempted to change lanes. “I’ll be there in just a few minutes.”

Kent clicked back to
his mother. “Still there?” He could hear his daughter in the background,
chattering away.

“I’m here.” His mom
sounded a little weary. “She’s wearing me out with a speech about some movie
they watched in school. Something about a whale.”

“Ah.” Kent hesitated a
moment, trying to exit the freeway. “Mom, I hate to ask,
but.
. .”

“You’re going to be
late?”

“I just got a call
from the computer store. They’re finished with my PC.” Kent managed to work his
way through the afternoon traffic as he headed onto the feeder road. Once he
reached the intersection, he headed for the U-turn lane. “I guess it could wait
till Monday, but I’d rather get it now. I sure could use it to get ready for
Sunday’s sermon.”

“How long do you think
you’ll be? Should I go ahead and fix dinner for all of us?”

“I guess.” He sighed
as he turned the car in the opposite direction. “I’m really sorry, Mom. I know
I depend on you too much. I’m working on that. I really am.”

“Pooh. You know I love
it. And so does Andrew. We can’t get enough of you two. Haven’t you figured
that out by now?”

Kent smiled, comforted
by her response and equally as relieved that his stepfather shared in her
enthusiasm. “I have. And I won’t be long, I’m sure. I’ll just swing in and pick
it up and head right to your place.”

“I’ll have a big plate
of chicken nuggets waiting on you.”

Kent groaned. “Thanks
a lot.”

They said their
good-byes, and Kent chuckled as he hung up the phone. His mother and stepfather
had more than helped him through the past couple of years; they had truly
supported him and encouraged him to put one foot in front of the other, day
after day. “Lord, give them a double portion of
Your
blessing.”

His thoughts shifted
to the computer as he traveled west on the feeder road. With a new motherboard
installed, the machine should be as good as new. At any rate, he couldn’t
afford to do without it much longer—not with so much at stake.

Kent drew in a deep
breath and leaned back against the seat, deep in thought. In the two and a half
years since his wife’s sudden death, he had taken to journaling, writing down
his deepest thoughts. They flowed out of his fingertips onto the computer. The
keyboard felt natural to him, becoming a close friend and confidante. And now,
with his new job at the church, Kent had another reason to rely on the machine.

Of course, with his
computer in the shop, the past few weeks he had taken to scribbling down his
thoughts on scraps of paper—short, choppy thoughts written down on tiny
slips of paper never made for long, flowing messages. That wasn’t to say he
could deliver them in a flowing manner, at least not yet. But to try to put
together a sermon without a computer seemed nearly impossible. Writing by hand
had become, at least for him, a thing of the past. It felt too old-fashioned.

Mr. Twenty-first Century Pastor.
Kent chuckled as he thought about
what the teens at the church called him these days. They were fascinated by his
ability to stay on top of the latest technology. The congregation had recently
purchased an amazing video system, and their sound booth held one of the latest
soundboards available on the market. Each week, the words to the
praise-and-worship songs were flashed up onto large screens via an amazing
computer system, which he had put together himself.

Yes, technology certainly intrigued Kent. In his heart, he
knew that every bit of it could be used to evangelize—to reach the world
with the gospel message. Why else would the Lord have given man the ideas for
such items in the first place? These things were worthwhile, and he was more
than intrigued. He was hooked.

If you’re so
up on modern things, why don’t you just buy a new computer? That old relic
doesn’t even have a DVD player.
His heart quickened as he considered the possibility. Funny, every time he
thought about purchasing a new machine, Kent almost felt sick. He had been
using this one the night his
wife.
. .

No. I won’t let myself think like that. It’s in
the past now.

He exited the freeway
at
Rayford
Road, and gave his watch a quick glance.
4:57 p.m. Only three minutes before the shop closed. Hopefully, they would wait
on him since they knew he was on his way. Kent whipped into the parking lot of
Computers Unlimited, relieved to see another vehicle pulling up at the same
time. “Looks like I’m not alone.”

The young woman in the
white Saturn hopped out of her car and sprinted toward the door. He quickly
followed suit. Thankfully, the door still remained unlocked. An anxious
employee stood just behind the counter, staring at the clock on the wall.

“I’m here to pick up
my computer.” Both Kent and the young woman spoke in unison and then gazed at
each other curiously.

He couldn’t be sure who started laughing first, but both
seemed just as quickly embarrassed by it. He smiled in her direction to put her
at ease. “You go ahead.”

“No, please. You go.”
She fumbled through her purse, coming up with a cell phone.

He shrugged and turned
toward the counter. “Kent Chapman.”

“Shauna Alexander.”
The young woman continued to fumble with her cell phone as she spoke.

Kent couldn’t help but
take notice. Though clearly a little younger than himself, she was awfully cute
with her choppy, sandy-colored hair and bright blue eyes. She wore a pair of
shorts overalls with a colorful shirt underneath. He guessed her to be in her
early twenties.

What are you doing, man? You stopped looking
ages ago.

“I didn’t think I’d
make it on time,” she said breathlessly. “I was driving like a maniac on the
interstate.”

“I thought I
recognized that Saturn of yours.” He gave her a warm smile.

“Are you kidding?” She
looked at him nervously. “I’m so sorry. I was just in such a hurry.”

“Calm down.” He
chuckled. “That was my attempt at a joke.”

“Oh.” She leaned her
elbows onto the counter and placed her chin in her hands, obviously weary. “I’m
sorry. It’s been kind of a stressful day. I’m starting a new job.”

“Hey, I’m in a new
job, too. What do you do?”

Just as she started to
answer, two workers rounded the corner with PCs in their hands.

“Kent Chapman?” one of
them asked.

“Shauna Alexander?”
the other echoed.

Kent and Shauna looked
at each other and erupted into laughter again. The computers were identical, right
down to the make, model, and color.
“Could this get any more bizarre?” Shauna
reached to pull out her credit card.

BOOK: Texas Weddings 3 & 4
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