Authors: James L. Rubart
Tags: #Suspense, #General, #Christian, #Religious, #Fiction
“James L. Rubart is one of my new favorite authors.
has the same depth and creativity as
, and it was impossible for me to think of anything else until I finished it. I can’t wait for his next book!”
—Terri Blackstock, author of
“The genius behind
has struck again, leaving his readers hanging on for an extreme ride that rushes to conclude with a surprise, but satisfying twist.”
—Harry Kraus, MD, best-selling author of
The Six-Liter Club
is a compelling story that will draw the reader’s attention immediately and hold onto it until the end. I’ve enjoyed all of James L. Rubart’s books, but this may be my favorite.”
—Tracie Peterson, best-selling author of the Striking A Match series and
Song of Alaska
“My kind of story: Thought provoking, filled with the truth of humanity and the compassion of Christ.”
—Bill Myers, best-selling author of
The God Hater
“James L. Rubart has taken an inanimate object—a chair—and built a page-turning story around it, interweaving romance, danger, mystery, betrayal . . . and most of all, a message of healing and restoration. Taking readers far beneath the surface, Rubart masterfully paints a picture of God’s depth of love and longing for relationship with even those who are running away from Him as fast as they can. A tale of unimaginable sacrifice and unconditional love that will tug at your heart long after you’ve completed the last page.”
—Kathi Macias, award-winning author of
Deliver Me from Evil
A Christmas Journey Home
Other Novels by James L. Rubart
Book of Days
Copyright © 2011 by James L. Rubart All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Published by B&H Publishing Group Nashville, Tennessee
Dewey Decimal Classification: F
Subject Heading: SPIRITUAL HEALING—FICTION \ CHAIRS—FICTION \ SUSPENSE FICTION
Scripture taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.
Publisher’s Note: The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 • 15 14 13 12 11
For my Good Buddy, and for the gift of restoration
Hold a true friend with both your hands.
n Tuesday afternoon at five thirty, an elderly lady strode into Corin’s antiques store as if she owned it and said, “The next two months of your life will be either heaven or hell.”
The corners of her mouth turned up a fraction. It was almost a smile.
“Excuse me?” Corin Roscoe stared at her over the mound of bills in front of him and stifled a laugh.
White hair, deep smile lines etched into her high cheekbones—she had to be at least mid-seventies. Maybe eighty, but she moved like she was in her forties. She wore a dark tan coat that bounced off her calves as she strolled toward Corin, ice blue eyes full of laughter. She didn’t look crazy.
“I’ve brought you the chair, you see.” She stared at him as if that statement would explain everything.
Corin brushed his dark hair off his forehead and slid off the stool behind his sales counter. “What chair?”
The woman looked around the store like a schoolteacher evaluating a new classroom of students. Her eyes seemed to settle on the pile of precisely stacked books from the 1700s. “I love books, you know.”
Something about her was familiar. “Do I know you?” He took a step toward the woman.
“No.” Her laugh had a tinge of music in it. “I hardly think so.”
“You’re a fortune-teller, right? And think a little heaven and a little hell is coming my way. Can’t I just subscribe to your newsletter?”
She drew a circle in the air with her forefinger, cherry red nail polish flashing under the halogen lights of Corin’s antiques store. “Probably an interweaving of the two realms. And I believe you’ll discover the hope of restoration. The final outcome will, of course, be your choice.”
Corin smiled. “You know, people think I’m a little crazy because of what I do for fun, but I don’t think I have anything on you.”
She didn’t react; only stared at him, utter confidence in her eyes.
The lady had a sophisticated air about her in contrast with her odd proclamation. Since opening the store in his late twenties, Corin had entertained seven years of the occasional strange customer, but this lady was more than unusual. Her confidence and striking looks made her words almost believable.
“You need it.”
“I think this is the moment you tell me who you are or I kindly ask you to leave.”
The woman gazed out the windows toward Silva’s Ski Shop across the street. “It is with regret that I cannot do that yet, but be assured eventually I will.” The hint of a smile returned. “Now, I must be going, so if you could help me get the chair inside, I will extend you great appreciation.” She motioned toward the front door of the store. “It isn’t heavy, but we will want to be careful. It is priceless.”
Just outside the door a tan sheet covered what must be the chair the lady referred to.
She stared at Corin, waiting, as if there were a contest going on to see who would drop their eyes first.
“I didn’t order a chair.” Corin opened his palms. “Sorry. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m overstocked with them this month already.” He smiled. “Thanks anyway.”
“Listen to me.” She intertwined her fingers, brought her thumbs up under her chin, and pointed her forefingers at him.
“Okay.” Corin chuckled.
“This is a very special chair.”
“I’m sure it is.” Corin cocked his head and winked.
“Don’t mock me.” Her eyes locked on to his.
Corin took half a step back. If her eyes were lasers, smoke would already be curling skyward above his lifeless body. “My apologies. I’m sure your chair is exceptional, but my warehouse on the east edge of town is full of antique chairs that have collected dust for over six months. There isn’t a big demand for chairs in my store right now.”
Corin studied the lady. The lines carved into her light skin hinted of joy and pain, both in full measure. Her eyes, fire a moment ago, had softened and spoke of compassion and longing. Would it hurt to help her a bit?
“If you have any desks, I’ll take a look at those. I could buy two or three, maybe more depending on their condition. And I can take the chair on consignment if you like. No charge whatsoever to display it.”
She looked at Corin as if observing a small child. “You’ve misunderstood. I am not asking you to buy the chair. I am giving it to you.”
“Why would you do that?”
“You are to have it.” She motioned again toward the door.
“I am?” Corin slid his hands into his jeans and eased toward the woman. “Who made that decision?”
She stared at him and gave a faint smile but didn’t answer.
“And what if I don’t want this gift?”
“You do.” She closed her eyes and bowed her head for a few seconds. What was she doing? Praying? “You will.”
“You seem confident of that.”
“Most certainly. It is a stunning piece.” She looked down, laid a finger on the edge of a nineteenth-century French walnut side table to her right, and drew her finger slowly across the wood. “It was made by the most talented tekton craftsman the world has ever known.”
“And who would that be?”
“You’ll figure it out, Corin.” She looked back up at him, the knowing smile back on her face. “I believe in you.”
He didn’t need to figure it out. He needed to get back to figuring out how he would keep the bank from saying, “Thank you very much. The few items from centuries past that you still have in your possession are now ours.”
The lady continued to stare at him.
It was obvious she wouldn’t leave till she got what she wanted. And what would it hurt? Free? The price was right. And if it was hideous, he could use it in the fire pit in his backyard. Or give it away as a white elephant Christmas gift in a little over two months.
“Okay, you win.” Corin grinned. “How ’bout I take a look at it and tell you what I think?”
She stepped outside to get the chair, and a burst of cool autumn air swirled through the front door. Colorado Springs was normally in the low sixties this time of year, but it felt more like mid-fifties today.
Corin followed her out. “Here, let me get it.” Thin twine ran up and over the sheet that covered the chair and around its sides holding it in place. He leaned over, grabbed the arms of the chair, and immediately felt a mild shock, like he’d shuffled his feet double-time on carpet, then touched something metal.
“Wow!” Corin stumbled back a step and rubbed his fingers.
“Are you all right?”
“Fine, just a little, uh, electric shock.” He leaned over and picked up the chair.
“I see.” She raised her right eyebrow.
The woman held open the store door for Corin as he carried it inside. She strode to a spot near his picture window that faced the street and motioned toward the floor with her hands in a big circle. “Here. It should go here.”
Corin set the chair down and stepped back.
With a miniature pocketknife the woman cut the twine and let it tumble to the floor, then grabbed the middle of the sheet covering the chair. “Ready?”
“Sure.” Corin held back a smile. He almost expected her to play a piece of classical music before pulling off the sheet. The lady glanced at him, then uncovered the chair as if she were revealing a glass-blown unicorn from seventeenth-century Venice.
Corin wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it wasn’t this. Most talented craftsman the world has ever known? Certainly not for this piece. Describing it as plain would be generous. The only thing intriguing about the chair was the age. It looked older than any antique he’d ever seen. Made of olive wood, most likely. He strolled toward the chair, then circled it.
His first assessment was wrong. As he studied it longer, he realized its minimalism masked a complex beauty.
And its finish was . . . he didn’t know. He’d never seen one like it before. Almost a translucent gold.