Authors: Debbie Viguie
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Copyright © 2010 by Debbie Viguié
Published by Abingdon Press, P.O. Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in
any retrieval system, posted on any website, or transmitted in any form
or by any means—digital, electronic, scanning, photocopy, recording,
or otherwise—without written permission from the publisher, except
for brief quotations in printed reviews and articles.
The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the
creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons
living or dead is purely coincidental.
Published in association with the literary agency of
Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200,
Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80920,
Cover design by Anderson Design Group, Nashville, TN
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The lord is my shepherd / Debbie Viguié.
p. cm. — (The Psalm 23 mysteries ; 1)
ISBN 978-1-4267-0189-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Friendship—Fiction. 2. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. 3. Easter stories.
4. Rabbis--Fiction. I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / 14 13 12 11 10
To my mother, Barbara Reynolds, who loves mysteries and
has been one of my greatest supporters.
I would like to thank Barbara Scott; she is a true superwoman and a fantastic editor. I'd also like to thank my agent, Beth Jusino, who believed in this series from the beginning. Thank you as well to my husband, Scott; my father, Richard; and both my grandmothers, Mildred and Mary. Thank you to my wonderful friend, Marissa Smeyne, and her family for all their help. Thank you also to the dear friends who listened patiently to me talk about this series: Ann Liotta, Juliette Cutts, and Calliope Collacott.
ORE THAN ANYTHING, CINDY PRESTON HATED MONDAYS. AS A KID Mondays meant that it was time to stop playing and go back to school. They were the day that her dad always left home on business trips, which he did a lot. On Mondays she had to take drama classes because her brother did, and anything he did she had to do too. She never got to act. Kyle always overshadowed her. Instead, she helped construct the stages he strutted around on.
As an adult, Mondays were even worse. Returning to any job wasn't pleasant after a weekend of freedom. But you could double that since she worked at a church, which meant Mondays were hell.
Of course, “hell” wasn't a word Cindy would use at church, unless she was talking literally about the place and its demonic denizens. She'd had a lifetime of paranoia pounded into her by her mother. “You don't curse at church. You don't fall asleep during the sermon. You don't look at boys. You don't wear slacks.”
Cindy knew exactly what couldn't be done at church, but she always felt a little unsure about what you
The first time a friend invited her to a Pentecostal service Cindy had spent the entire time telling people to put their hands down, because she was just sure you couldn't do that in church.
Cindy smiled grimly as she pulled into the parking lot of First Shepherd. She might not know what she could do at church, but she did know that in a pinch she could work there. Even if that meant she had to wear skirts and dresses every day. Slacks still didn't feel right in a sanctuary. She turned off the engine and leaned her head back for a minute, closing her eyes.
“God help me.”
Cindy had never had a job that was so rewarding or half as exasperating. At any ordinary job you could leave on Friday, lock the door behind you, and come back on Monday morning and expect to find things where you left them. Not so much when you worked at a church.
Last Monday had been one of the worst days yet. They were preparing for Easter week, one of the busiest times of the year with extra services, programs, and special events. As if that hadn't been enough, the church's furnace had quit working, someone had broken a key off in the nursery room door lock, one of the women's bathrooms had flooded, and her binder of master calendars and room assignments had somehow found its way from her desk to the pulpit.
Cindy contemplated sitting in her car until everyone else showed up for work. An extra half hour of quiet sounded good, but she knew she couldn't sit there. The one advantage of arriving first was the chance to assess the damage before anyone else, especially Pastor Roy, showed up and freaked out.
Maybe if everything is quiet I can play a quick game of solitaire.
She got out of her car and walked toward the main gate that shut off the parking lot from the church buildings. With her left hand she slid a deck of cards out of her purse and shuffled them with one hand. She'd learned the trick in junior high, and it always calmed her down.
Please, God, let the soda machine not be empty.
Given that the high school youth group had a big outreach the night before, only God Himself could have left a can in the machine for her.
When she inserted her key in the gate's lock and twisted, it didn't click. Cindy stood for a moment, puzzled, before she pushed open the unlocked door.
“Somebody's in trouble,” she muttered. Staff rarely forgot to lock the gate at night.
“Hello, anyone here?” she called as she stepped into the courtyard. No reply. She hesitated for a moment. The silence was always disturbing early in the morning, especially after the noise and clamor of Sunday services. She glanced around uneasily but didn't see anyone.
Cindy headed straight across the open breezeway toward the sanctuary, sticking to her normal routine. She shuffled the cards with her left hand faster and faster and prayed that the women's room wasn't flooded again. Without breaking stride, she scooped up a small piece of paper from the ground near the door and stuffed it in her coat pocket, intending to throw it away in the office.
She unlocked the sanctuary door, stepped inside, and moved along the wall toward the bank of light switches, which some “art-over-practicality” architect had discretely
positioned beneath a portrait of Jesus twenty feet from the door. In the darkness her foot caught on something soft and out of place, and she crashed to the floor, smacking her elbows and one knee. Her cards flew from her hand, and she could hear them flutter down around her.
What had the youth group kids done to the sanctuary this time? Cindy scrambled to her feet only to feel her twisted knee give out from under her, and she fell against the wall. Her shaking hand reached out and caught the light switch. With a loud clunk, the overhead lights slowly came on, and she turned around to see what she had tripped over.
A man, wearing a long black coat, lay sprawled on the ground. Half a dozen of her cards had landed on him, but he didn't move. Cindy jumped backward, hand pressed to her chest.
“Oh! Sir, are you all right?”
As she approached him carefully, he still didn't move. Cindy bent down and shook his leg, like she had learned once in a first-aid class.
Did he have a heart attack?
When he didn't move she took hold of his shoulder and rolled him onto his back. She gasped when her eyes met his vacant stare. One look at those eyes and she knew he was dead. She had seen that look before, eyes just like that, open and frozen. Then she saw the knife sticking out of his chest.
Cindy screamed and jumped backward, slamming into a pew. Her injured knee buckled, and she collapsed to the floor, still screaming.
The empty church sanctuary caught the sounds of her screams and bounced them around the high-ceiling room.
Her own voice was all she could hear. The body was the only thing she could see. The coppery smell of blood nearly overwhelmed her.
Something flashed in the open doorway six feet away. A dark figure seemed to fly across the threshold, landed next to her, and rolled to a stop on one knee. His eyes blazed like black flame, and his black hair framed the murderous face of a devil.
Cindy screamed louder and tried to push away from her position on the floor, but her hand slipped on the glossy surface of a playing card and she fell onto the man-devil's shoulder. He wrapped one arm around her waist, and with the other he pulled her head down to his chest. She struggled against him, but he held her so tightly she couldn't free herself.
I don't want to die!
She pummeled him with her free fist.
Through the haze of terror that enveloped her, she heard him speak. “I'm Jeremiah, the rabbi from next door. You're safe.”
The word rattled around in her brain until she finally remembered its meaning. No one is ever safe. She stopped screaming, but her body shook with gulping sobs. With her head pressed to his chest she could no longer see the body on the floor. She forced herself to take deep breaths.
The rabbi shifted slightly and let go of the back of her head. She heard him dialing three digits on a cell phone: 9-1-1.
“Yes, this is Jeremiah Silverman. I'm at the Presbyterian church on the corner of Main and Lincoln in Pine Springs. I'm in the sanctuary with a lady who just found a dead body here. Send the police. Yes. Yes. That's correct. Thank you.”
“The police are on their way,” he said still hanging on to his cell. His voice was calm and soothing.
“Are you okay? You're not hurt at all?” he asked.
“My arm hurts and my knees from when I tripped,” Cindy said. She forced out each word through chattering teeth.
“I think you're okay. You're just in shock.”
Of course she was in shock. She remembered how it felt. It was one of the only things she remembered about that day when she was fifteen and saw her first dead body.