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Authors: Angela Hunt

The Offering

BOOK: The Offering
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Praise for Angela Hunt

Five Miles South of Peculiar

“Angela Hunt has penned another winner! From the opening scene, she had me wanting to find out what would happen next to the people of Peculiar, peculiar and otherwise.”

—Robin Lee Hatcher, bestselling author of
Heart of Gold

“Hunt folds into this recipe for family dramedy two men, tangled family history, and small-town dynamics. The result is deeply engaging characters who readers will care about.”

Publishers Weekly

“. . . this small-town southern story has a big heart and refreshing characters.”


The Fine Art of Insincerity

“Hunt delves into some serious issues in this family drama centered around three sisters clearing out their grandmother's house, yet still manages to add humor when it's needed most. This emotionally compelling novel is a gem.”

Romantic Times

“Angela Hunt's
The Fine Art of Insincerity
is a tale of sisterhood and friendship. She not only addresses serious choices women face, but also will hold readers' interest with Lillian's eccentricity and no-nonsense wisdom. Readers will come away knowing judgment and insincerity lead to heartache, but truth releases forgiveness.”

Christian Retailing

“Angela Hunt is a virtuoso of emotion. She is able to not only explore and explain feelings, but draw you into them with a deftness that's nearly magical. All too soon, you're reading these chapters and unable to put the book down. . . . Delightful, engaging, and rich with emotion. If you're looking for a good weekend read or perhaps a book that will help bring you closer to your own family, this one is it. Angela Hunt hits it out of the park.”


“Only Angela Hunt could write a relationship novel that's a page-turner! . . . From one crisis to the next, the Lawrence sisters are pulled apart, then knit back together, taking me right along with them. I worried about Ginger one moment, then Penny, and always Rose—a sure sign of a good novel, engaging both mind and heart. Come spend the weekend in coastal Georgia with three women who clean house in more ways than one!”

—Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of
Here Burns My Candle

“Angela Hunt's womanly tale of sisterly affection and protective martyrdom is a well-woven story of self-discovery and personal growth that will melt your heart!”

—Patricia Hickman, author of
The Pirate Queen
Painted Dresses

The Fine Art of Insincerity
is a stunning masterpiece. I was pulled into the lives of Ginger, Pennyroyal, and Rosemary—sisters touched by tragedy, coping in their own ways. So real, so powerful. Pull out the tissues! This one will make you cry, laugh, and smile. I recommend it highly.”

—Traci DePree, author of The Lake Emily series

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Now after these events it was

That God tested Avraham

And said to him:


He said:

Here I am.

He said:

Pray take your son,

Your only-one,

Whom you love,


And go-you-forth to the land of Moriyya/Seeing,

And offer him up there as an offering-up

Upon one of the mountains

That I will tell you of.

—Genesis 22:1–2

The Five Books of Moses

Translated by Everett Fox,

Schocken Books

Chapter One

arilee and I were trying to decide whether we should braid her hair or put it in pigtails when Gideon thrust his head into the room. Spotting me behind our daughter, he gave me a look of frustrated disbelief. “Don't you have an important appointment this morning?”

Shock flew through me as I lowered the silky brown strands in my hands. Of course, this was Monday. At nine I had a tremendously important interview with the Pinellas County school system.

I glanced at the pink clock on my four-year-old daughter's bureau. I had only an hour to shower and dress, drive across Tampa Bay, and find the school system's personnel office. Somewhere in the mad rush I also needed to rehearse my responses to standard interview questions, calm my nerves, and call the grocery so they'd know I'd be late.

How could I have let time slip away from me on such an important day? Good thing I had a helpful husband.

“Gideon!” I yelled toward the now-empty doorway. “Can you call Mama Isa and tell her I'll be late this morning?”

“Just get going, Mandy,” he yelled, exasperation in his voice. “Your coffee's in the kitchen.”

I squeezed Marilee's shoulders. “I'm sorry, sweet girl, but this morning we have to go with something quick.”

“Okay. Can I wear it like Princess Leia tomorrow?”

I frowned, trying to place the name. Was she one of the Disney princesses? “How does Princess Leia wear her hair?”

“You know.” Marilee held her hands out from her ears and spun her index fingers in circles. “She has honey buns on her ears.”

I laughed, placing the image—she was talking about the princess in
Star Wars.
“Sure, if you want to have honey buns over your ears, that's what we'll do. We aim to please.”

I pulled the long hair from the top of her head into a ponytail, looped an elastic band over it, and tied a bow around the band. Then I kissed the top of her head and took a moment to breathe in the sweet scent of her strawberry shampoo. “Love you,” I murmured.

She grinned. “Love you, too.”

I returned her smile and hurried into my bathroom.

Twenty minutes later I stood in my closet, wrapped in a towel and dripping on the carpet. What to wear? I had a nice blue skirt, but the waistband had lost its button and I had no idea where I'd put it. The black pantsuit looked expensive and professional, but sand caked my black sandals because I had worn them to the beach last weekend.

“Baby girl?”

“In here.”

The closet door opened and Gideon grinned at me, a fragrant mug in his hand. “Aren't you ever going to learn how to manage your schedule?”

I grabbed the mug and gulped a mouthful of coffee. “Maybe I like living on the edge.”

“And Mama says
have a dangerous job.” He waggled his brows at the sight of my towel. “Pity you don't have any extra time this morning.”

“And too bad you have to get Marilee to school. So off with you, soldier, so I can get my act together.”

Chuckling, Gideon lifted his hands in surrender and stepped away from the closet. “Okay, then, I'm heading out. But you're picking up our little bug from school today, right?”

I dropped the blouse I'd been considering. “I'm

“Our daughter? You're picking her up this afternoon because I'm leading a training exercise.”

For an instant his face went sober and dark, reminding me of the reason he'd been so busy lately. The military had to be planning something, an operation Gideon couldn't even mention to an ordinary civilian like me.

“Sure.” My voice lowered to a somber pitch. “I've got it covered.”

He nodded, but a hint of uncertainty lingered in his eyes. “Mandy—”

“I've got it, so don't worry.” I shooed him out the door. “Tell Marilee I'll see her later.”

Gideon nodded and left the bedroom, his combat boots thumping on the wooden floor.

A snap of guilt stung my conscience, but I had no time for remorse. I needed a better-paying job and Pinellas County needed a middle school cafeteria manager. Rarely did any school have a midyear opening, and this interview could be the answer to all my prayers. . . .

I opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of panty hose, then hesitated. No one wore hose anymore, especially not in the Florida heat, but for this job I'd wear rubber sheathing if they expected me to. I had to look my best, I had to dress to impress, and I had to get across the Howard Frankland Bridge in record time. No one expected a lunchroom manager to look like a fashion icon, but everyone expected her to show up on time.

A brown skirt hung behind Gideon's gun safe. Though the suede material would be hot and heavy, at least the garment had buttons and a hem. I grabbed it, then yanked a utilitarian white shirt from a hanger. Ready or not, I had to get moving.

A few minutes later, as I fastened the buttons at the sleeve, I noticed a reddish stain on the cuff, probably from Marilee's cranberry juice. With no time to change, I rolled both sleeves up to the elbow.

I brushed my teeth and hair, swiped mascara across my lashes, and thrust my feet into a pair of worn loafers. I stepped back for one final look in the mirror, then shook my head. I looked more like an absentminded blonde than a manager, but maybe the interviewer wouldn't mind. I'd impress her with my professionalism.

I ran back into the bedroom, grabbed my oversized leather tote from a hook on the door, and hurried out to my car.

Chapter Two

know I'm late and I'm sorry,” I called, pushing my way through the door of Mama Yanela's, the Cuban grocery owned by my father-in-law, Tumelo, and his twin sister, better known as Mama Isa.

Amelia, Mama Isa's daughter and my cousin by marriage, stood behind the checkout counter and pretended not to hear me.
“Muchas gracias,”
she told a customer, handing over a bag filled with freshly baked Cuban bread. “Please come again.”

I waited until the elderly customer had shuffled out of the building, then I stepped into the rectangular checkout stand in the center of the store. “Gideon called your mom, right? I had to drive all the way to Largo and back this morning—”

“You could have told me. You were supposed to open.”

I stared, remembering too late that I'd been entrusted with opening the store. In my excitement over the interview, I'd completely forgotten. “But Gideon called,” I whispered in a weak voice, knowing my excuse wouldn't fly.

“He didn't call
. And if he called Mama, I didn't get the message.”

Amelia's pretty face remained locked in neutral, but when she didn't leave the checkout stand I knew she was royally ticked off. “You could have told me
this morning,” she went on, glaring at me from beneath her brown bangs. “I nearly panicked when I showed up at seven fifteen and found the doors still locked. At first I thought you'd been in a wreck or something—”

“I wasn't in a wreck.”

“But how was I supposed to know that? All those old guys who come for coffee were lined up outside. Even Jenna was waiting, and she had two cakes to decorate for noon pickups. Now she's hopelessly behind.”

“Jenna!” I swiveled toward the bakery at the back of the store, where Jenna Daniels decorated cakes and pastries behind a glass display case. “I'm sorry if I threw you off schedule.”

When I turned to Amelia again, her lips had thinned with irritation. “I don't know how you can be so casual about everything. This is not funny.”

“I didn't mean to be funny.” I sighed and stashed my purse in an under-the-counter niche. “Look, the interview I had this morning was a onetime thing. It was important.”

“Sometimes I think you treat the grocery like some kind of hobby.”

BOOK: The Offering
7.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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