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First pages

Chapter One

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (St. Matthew 5:4)

 

Jennifer lived a charmed life, at least the first sixteen years. She grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, as an only child. She was popular in school with many friends, and very athletic. Being five foot nine inches tall helped her excel on the girls basketball team, which won the state championship the previous year. She also displayed her athletic ability on the football cheerleading squad. Jennifer’s life could not have been more perfect. Her Dad spoiled her by giving her a new red Ford Mustang on her sixteenth birthday. Being an only child Jennifer was very close to her Mom, who was always sharing words of wisdom. The latest advise she received from her Mom when talking about boys was, “Always stay true to yourself and never let the love of a boy influence you into doing something you are not ready for.” These words meant more than Jennifer realized at the time.

Jennifer’s heavenly life all changed in a split second, though. One late spring Saturday evening Jennifer spent the night with her best friend, Elaine, while her parents celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary. They stayed up late watching scary movies and eating popcorn. Early the next morning Jennifer awoke to the sound of the doorbell ringing. She rolled over and saw it was only 6AM and wondered who would be visiting at this hour. She heard Elaine’s parents walk to the front door, and then a male voice. Jennifer crept out of bed and cracked the bedroom door so she could hear what was going on at such an early hour.

“I am sorry to disturb you, but we are looking for Jennifer Ferguson. Is she staying with you?”

Why would someone be looking for me at this hour? Jennifer wondered.

Jennifer quietly slipped on her robe and slippers then walked downstairs. There were two police officers standing at the door talking to Elaine’s parents.

“Jennifer’s parents were in a car accident and unfortunately did not survive.” Those were the next words Jennifer heard.

Jennifer yelled, “No! That is not possible. My Mom is going to pick me up this morning.”

Elaine’s Mom rushed over to Jennifer to console her. “It will be all right honey.”

Jennifer tried to tell the police they were wrong.

Jennifer’s sobs and cries woke up Elaine, who appeared at the top of the stairs. “What is going on?”

“Jennifer’s parents have been in a tragic accident,” Elaine’s Mom spoke up.

Jennifer was in denial and told Elaine’s parents, “The police must be mistaken; it cannot be my parents they just went out for dinner.”

The realization that Jennifer would never talk to her parents again started to sink in when her Mom did not arrive to pick her up. Elaine and her parents did everything they could to help Jennifer that day trying to explain that her parents were with God in heaven. But that did not help ease the excruciating pain she felt inside.

Jennifer’s grandparents showed up the next day from Florida to plan the funeral and to take care of her. The next few days were a blur and in her grief she just went through the motions of life, trying to make it through each day. Numerous people stopped by the house dropping off food and giving their condolences.

It was raining the day of the funeral, which seemed suitable. It was as if God was crying along with everyone else at the death of Jennifer’s parents. She sat in shock looking at the two coffins where her parents laid. She still could not believe they were truly gone.

After the service and burial, there was a final gathering at Jennifer’s parents house. Jennifer just wanted to be left alone and went to her bedroom to hide. There was a gentle knock on her bedroom door and she opened it to find her youth minister.

Michael was in his thirties, slender, with dark curly hair and a kind face. He was a high school math teacher when he was not facilitating youth activities at the church. He asked Jennifer, “Can I come in?”

“Yes,” Jennifer reluctantly replied.

“I cannot imagine the pain you are feeling right now. I know that it would be easy to blame God for what has happened, but you should not turn your back on Him. God is grieving with you and will give you the strength to be happy again, if you ask for His help. Our path in life is never clear. It is difficult to understand now, but God has a path for you. The decisions and actions we make each day take us on our path. Grieve for your parents. But do not forget, God will always be with you and help you to find a purpose in the challenges in your life, so you may learn and grow from them. You may stray from your path, but never forget that God is always with you to help you through the difficult times.”

Tears streamed down Jennifer’s face. She asked Michael, “What have I done to deserve such punishment from God?”

“Your actions did not cause this. Unfortunately, pain is just a part of life. Put your faith in God and He will help you to find the purpose in your pain,” Michael replied.

Jennifer was troubled by the thought of never talking to her parents again and not being able to let them know how much she loved them. “I didn’t even have a chance to say good-bye,” Jennifer told Michael through her tears.

“Even though they are in Heaven, I believe they can still hear you. Talk to them as if they are right here with you,” Michael said

Michael left and Jennifer wiped the tears from her eyes. She looked up toward the heavens and told her parents, “I love you very much and miss you. I wish God would have let you stay with me a little longer. What am I going to do without you?”

Jennifer’s Grandma gently knocked on her door and entered the bedroom. “Can I hide up here with you for a little while?” She asked.

Jennifer nodded as tears ran down her face. Grandma lay in bed and wrapped her soft arms around Jennifer like her Mom used to do. Exhaustion had set in and Jennifer could no longer stay awake. Jennifer cried herself to sleep as Grandma held her securely.

When she awoke, the house was quiet and Grandma was asleep next to her. Realization that she had not dreamed the last couple of days came flooding back. She was living her worst nightmare. What was she going to do without her parents?

Jennifer later discovered her parents were driving home from dinner when a drunk driver in a large pickup truck crossed the center line and hit them head on, killing them instantly. She only hoped they did not suffer.

All the Sunday school classes and sermons on the consequences of sinning had Jennifer wondering if God was punishing her for the many sins she had committed in her young life. She felt as if life was going too well and her happiness was bound to end sometime. She wished she could have held onto her happiness just a little while longer.

This would be the first of many challenges Jennifer would face in life as she grew to understand God’s love and His plan for her.

Chapter Two

“The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.” (Psalm 116:6)

 

Jennifer only had two weeks left before the end of the school year. She was in a daze finding it very hard to concentrate on school work. She somehow managed to finish the eleventh grade in St. Paul, Minnesota before moving to Florida with her grandparents. She had looked forward to her senior year cheerleading for one last season, the senior dance, and hanging out with her friends. Now that dream was over. She hated leaving all her friends, but she tried to look on the positive side. Coming home each day from school with the constant reminder that her parents would not be there waiting for her just reignited the pain. This way she could start a new life, one that did not constantly remind her of the loss she had suffered.

Jennifer packed her things while Grandma packed a few mementos for her, so she would have something to remember her parents by. Her grandparents arranged to have the house and its contents sold after they left. She stuffed her small Ford Mustang with all her precious possessions, leaving hardly enough room for her and her grandparents to sit. The sense of loss never felt as great as when she walked out of the house for the last time. Grandpa locked the front door and she looked back, remembering all the happy times she had spent as a child there. She was starting a new life and wondered what God had planned for her now.

It took them two long days in the car, but they finally arrived in Cocoa Beach, Florida where her grandparents lived in a three bedroom condo. One bedroom had been converted into Grandma’s hobby room, so that left the guest room for Jennifer. Her grandparents had always visited her in Minnesota so there was no need to travel to Florida. This was the first time Jennifer saw her new home. Bone-tired, Jennifer carried her suitcases to the elevator that transported her to the fourth floor. Grandpa opened the door to the condo and Grandma showed Jennifer to her bedroom. At first glance Jennifer thought the room looked about as gloomy as she felt. The walls were painted a cream color. There were light blue curtains hanging over the one window, the bedspread was pale blue and there was one lone painting of an ocean scene on the wall above the bed. The room was furnished with a queen size bed, night stand, and dresser. It basically was as personable as a hotel room.

Grandma must have sensed her disappointment. “Honey, you can decorate the room any way you like. Why don’t we go to the hardware store tomorrow? You can choose some paint and new curtains for the windows.”

“That would be nice, Grandma.” Jennifer plopped her bags down on the floor. It had been an exhausting trip. She had felt claustrophobic with her grandparents in her small car. She just needed some peace and quiet, and time alone to adjust to her new home. “I am kind of tired Grandma. I’m going to unpack and get ready for bed,” Jennifer said.

“Well, all right honey, let me know if you need anything.” Grandma wished there was some way to take away the pain her granddaughter felt, knowing how difficult it must be for her.

Jennifer found her pajamas buried in her suitcase, put them on and crawled into bed feeling sad and alone. She started to cry and remembered what Michael had said, “Never forget, God is always with you to help you through the difficult times.

Jennifer whispered out loud, “God where are you? I need you. Give me the strength to find happiness again.” She pictured her Mom’s face as she cried herself to sleep.

Jennifer awoke to the warmth of the sun streaming through her bedroom window. She slowly crawled out of bed, squinting at the bright light shining into the room. She looked out the window and smiled. There was a beautiful white, sandy beach below and water as far as she could see. The gently rolling swells made their way to the beach, crashing along the shore. There was a family walking in the sand at the edge of the surf with two young children. The children kept stopping every few feet to pick up shells. To them it must be like finding a treasure as they reached down, picked up the shell and ran over to show their parents. Jennifer suddenly felt sad thinking back to a time when she was so happy and innocent, where the harsh realities of life were not so evident. She dug out some shorts and a t-shirt from her suitcase, dressed, and walked to the kitchen to find her grandparents having breakfast.

“How did you sleep dear? Can I fix you something for brakfast?” Grandma asked.

She did not want her to fuss. “I will just have some cereal, if that is all right?”

“Are you sure? I can make you some pancakes or eggs.”

“I’m not very hungry.”

Grandma showed her the selection of cereal stored in the pantry. She looked at the boring selection of heathy bran cereals and settled on frosted mini wheats. As Jennifer poured herself some cereal, Grandma talked with way more energy than she felt this morning. “Why don’t we head to town after breakfast and buy some things for your bedroom?” She asked

Jennifer never knew this about Grandma, but she loved to shop. They drove to a hardware store just across the causeway which had many decorating ideas to choose from. She went with a tropical theme since she was now living at the beach. She chose a pastel pink colored paint, her favorite color, for her bedroom. Then she selected seashell wallpaper trim to accent the top of the wall around the ceiling. They also bought some brightly colored tropical flowered material to make curtains and a bedspread. She picked out a small desk so she would have a place to study, and a bookshelf for her many books. Grandma’s SUV was packed full by the time they headed home.

The next several days Jennifer spent painting and decorating her room with the help of her Grandma. Jennifer learned a lot about her Grandma in those few days. She loved Grandma’s hobby room. One side of the room had a sewing machine with drawers full of sewing supplies. The other side of the room had art supplies complete with an easel and sketch pads. She never knew her Grandma was so artistic. Grandma very patiently showed Jennifer how to sew and make the curtains and bedspread for her room.

They hung the curtains and placed the new bedspread on the bed. They both stood in the doorway and admired their work. The room looked much brighter and cheerier now. Jennifer smiled with satisfaction at the results of their hard work.

Grandma was proud of her. “You did an outstanding job!” She squeezed Jennifer by the shoulders.

Jennifer’s mood improved greatly. She was now eager to unpack her bags and store her belongings. She placed some of her school memorabilia around the room. On her dresser she placed a picture of her and Elaine. On her nightstand she placed an old wedding picture of her parents. On top of the book shelf she displayed her cheerleading trophy she had won. It was starting to feel more like home.

Since it was summer, she had two months before school started. Jennifer’s grandparents were great, always trying to make her feel at home and cheer her up by including her in activities. She helped Grandma bake cookies. Grandpa even showed her how to play golf. Her grandparents did everything they could to make her feel welcome, but they were not her parents.

Cocoa Beach was nothing like Minnesota. It was hot, sandy, and had no real trees, just palm trees. Jennifer felt like she was in a totally different world. At night she would leave her window open so she could listen to the sound of the waves gently crashing against the shore. Each morning she woke to the sun shining brightly through her window. The ocean was so beautiful and peaceful. She spent many days on the beach her first summer. She missed her friends and was very lonely with no one her own age to spend time with. She just wanted to be a teenager without a care in the world again. She took long walks on the beach just to think, and for some time to herself. In the evenings, she would sit on the patio and listen to the music coming from the Cocoa Beach pier, and wondered how people could be laughing and having such a good time when she was so miserable. It just did not seem fair.

This particular morning Jennifer went for her normal daily walk on the beach, but noticed the waves were higher than usual. There were several surfers taking advantage of the high waves, enjoying themselves near the pier. She sat on the sand and shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted while she watched the surfers. They floated on their boards just beyond where the waves broke, waiting to catch the next perfect wave. She watched as one surfer started paddling furiously as a wave approached. He lifted himself to a standing position on his surfboard, balancing with his arms as the wave crested. She smiled as she watched him ride the wave to shore. It looked like fun. She enjoyed watching the surfers and lost herself in the water ballet being performed in front of her. It was a spectacular performance between surfer and waves as they danced down the board, maneuvering just to the right point to balance perfectly and receive the ride of a lifetime. Lost in the serene scene, she did not notice as one of the surfers approached. The sun suddenly disappeared from her face and she looked up to find the source of the shade.

“Hi, I’m Josh,” he announced. “Are you visiting from out of town?”

Jennifer looked up at Josh’s lean, tan body blocking the sun from her face. Josh had sun streaked blond hair and very blue eyes. He appeared to be around Jennifer’s age. Her pale skin from lack of warmth and sun in Minnesota must have given her away as someone not from Florida. “My name is Jennifer. I just moved here from Minnesota. I enjoyed watching you surf this morning. Is it hard to learn?”

“Not at all, if you ever tried it you would be hooked. I could show you the basics if you want to learn.”

“I would love to.” Jennifer glanced at her watch and was shocked to see it was already past noon. “I didn’t realize how late it was. Will you be surfing again tomorrow?” Jennifer asked.

“I like surfing early in the morning when there are no crowds. If you want to learn, be on the beach by eight.”

“Do I need to bring anything or wear anything special?”

“Make sure you wear a t-shirt or your stomach will be raw from rubbing against the surfboard.” Josh glanced at her pale pink skin. “Make sure you wear some waterproof sunscreen.”

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Jennifer cheerfully replied, trying not to sound too eager. She turned and raced to her grandparent’s condo feeling happy, something she had not felt in a long time. She decided it would be best not to tell her grandparents about meeting Josh and her upcoming surfing lessons. It would just make them worry.

The next morning Jennifer woke early and put her swimsuit on under her shorts and t-shirt. After a quick breakfast, she just told her grandparents, “I’m going for a walk down to the pier and hang out on the beach. I’ll be home by lunch.” She grabbed her beach bag and raced out the door before they could ask any questions.

Jennifer smiled when she saw Josh sitting on the beach waxing his board. Josh looked up as she approached.

“I thought you might have changed your mind,” Josh said sarcastically.

“No, I’m ready for my first lesson,” Jennifer announced enthusiastically.

Jennifer spent the next several hours attempting to surf. Josh used his board to show Jennifer how to stand on the board, first on the shore, then leading her out past the waves. At first, she spent most of her time wiping out, with her head underwater, waves crashing over her. Then it just seemed to click and she actually was standing on the board, water splashing over her feet as she glided toward the shore line. “Yeah, I did it1” Jennifer yelled with delight.

Josh laughed and celebrated along with her. He made her feel at ease. She felt so comfortable around him. She laughed more that morning then she had in months. Before she knew it, it was one o’clock. She was late for lunch. Regrettably she told Josh, “I have to go. Will you be surfing again tomorrow?”

Josh laughed. “You didn’t have enough punishment today that you actually want to try again tomorrow? If you can move in the morning, I will be here again at eight. I have an extra board you can use.”

“I will see you then,” Jennifer happily replied. She turned to run to the condo.

She felt as light as air. She was so happy she floated all the way back to her grandparents. She opened the door to two concerned faces.

“Where have you been? We were worried about you when you didn’t show up for lunch.”

Jennifer decided she better come clean and let them know what she was doing. “I met a surfer named Josh and he was showing me how to surf.”

“I am happy you are having fun, but you need to be careful. What kind of boy is Josh? I want to meet him,” Grandpa insisted.

“I plan to meet him again tomorrow at eight for some more surfing lessons. I can introduce you to him then.” Jennifer quickly changed the subject before they could ask her any more questions. “I am starved. What is there to eat?”

Jennifer could hardly sleep all night at the thought of spending time with Josh, surfing again in the morning. As soon as the sun came up Jennifer hopped out of bed, cringing from pain. Every muscle in her body ached. A little pain was not going to stop her from surfing again and spending time with Josh. She started to bang around the kitchen so Grandpa would get up. After what seemed like an eternity for him to eat breakfast, they headed to the beach to meet Josh.

Josh was already surfing when she arrived with Grandpa. She waved to get Josh’s attention. He caught the next wave and rode it to shore. He lifted his surfboard under his arm and ran up to her.

“Josh, this is my grandfather. Grandpa, I would like you to meet Josh,” Jennifer nervously said.

Josh put down his board and shook Grandpa’s hand. He smiled and told him, “I am really impressed with how quickly Jennifer learned to surf. She is a natural.”

“How long have you been surfing?” Grandpa asked.

“I have lived in Florida all my life and started surfing by the time I was six years old. I am currently working as a lifeguard when I’m not surfing. I will take good care of Jennifer, sir you don’t have to worry,” Josh responded.

Grandpa seemed satisfied that Jennifer was in good hands and told her, “Make sure you are home on time for lunch today young lady.” Grandpa turned to walk back to his condo.

Josh looked at Jennifer with his deep blue eyes and said, “Your grandfather seems nice. How sore are you from yesterday?”

Jennifer did not want Josh to think she was weak or a wimp and told him, “I feel great! I am ready to dazzle you with more of my superb surfing moves.” Jennifer pretended she was surfing, holding her arms out from her sides, laughing.

Josh showed Jennifer to his truck where he had an extra board. “It is a little bit longer than the one you surfed on yesterday, which should make it easier for you to balance and stand up. Is it too heavy for you to carry?” He cautiously handed her the board.

“No, I can handle it.” She lied, the board was heavier than she thought it would be. But she was not going to give Josh the satisfaction of thinking she could not take care of herself. She struggled but managed to carry the board to the beach.

The first couple of hours Jennifer managed to catch a few waves and not fall off the board. By eleven the wave height started to diminish, so they spent more time floating out past the waves than surfing. They sat on their boards enjoying the rolling movement of the ocean with their feet dangling over the sides, talking.

“Do you stay with your grandparents?” Josh asked.

Jennifer hesitated. “My parents died in a car accident a few months ago, so I live with them now.” It was the first time she talked about her parents to anyone since their death. She did not want to upset her grandparents, so she never mentioned them.

“I’m sorry. It must be hard for you. My Dad left when I was young and my parents are divorced. So, it’s just me and my Mom. I live with her in Melbourne.”

Suddenly a fin appeared in the water. Jennifer freaked and yelled, “Shark!”

Josh laughed, “Relax, it’s just a dolphin. The dolphins enjoy playing in the surf as much as we do. They are natural surfers.”

Jennifer laughed at herself for being scared of such a beautiful creature. Now that she knew her life was not in danger, she watched as the dolphin played in the waves and swam around them for several minutes. She had never been so close to such a large wild animal. It was amazing. Jennifer thought it was as if her Mom’s spirit was in the dolphin and she was letting her know she was not alone. It was her way of letting Jennifer know she was still watching over her.

Noon quickly approached. Jennifer told Josh, “I have to get home so I don’t get in trouble.”

As they walked back to Josh’s truck with the surfboards, he told her, “I have to work the next several days at the lifeguard stand near the pier. Stop by if you get a chance.”

Jennifer’s heart fluttered with excitement. “I will. Thanks for the lesson.” She ran all the way back to the condo, bubbling with joy.

She could not get Josh off her mind and told her grandparents how much fun she had surfing. She couldn’t wait to see Josh again. She suddenly had a thought she shared with her grandparents. “My birthday is in three days. Can I invite Josh to supper to celebrate with me?”

Her grandparents looked at each other strangely. “That would be lovely dear. Since it is your special day, you get to choose what you want for supper and what flavor birthday cake you would like,” her Grandma said.

“I love anything chocolate, so I would like a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Can we have french fries and grill some hamburgers and corn on the cob?”

“I think Grandpa and I can manage that,” Grandma responded.

The next day Jennifer found the lifeguard stand where Josh was working. He waved and smiled when he saw Jennifer approach with her long brown hair swaying in the ocean breeze. He motioned to the other lifeguard on duty that he was taking a break and climbed down from the stand.

“Hi, how are you feeling today?” Josh asked as they walked to a picnic table to sit in the shade.

“I’m not too sore,” Jennifer nervously told him. She tried to get the courage up to ask him to supper. “I really enjoyed surfing and hope we can do it again some time soon.”

“I have two more days of work before my next day off. Do you want to surf then, if the waves are good?”

“That would be great.” Jennifer hesitated, trying to get the nerve to ask Josh to dinner to celebrate her birthday.

Josh seemed to notice her uneasiness and spoke up. “I get off work at seven tonight. Would you like to go to a movie with me?”

“Yes, that sounds like fun,” Jennifer responded, trying to sound calm when her insides were turning upside down. She told him where her grandparents lived so he could pick her up.

“I have to get back to work. I will see you tonight.”

Jennifer watched as Josh walked back to the lifeguard stand. She was so excited she ran back to the condo to share the news with Grandma. She burst through the door. “Josh asked me out on a date!” she blurted. “What should I wear?” Jennifer asked as she walked into her room and looked through the clothes in her closet, disappointed at her choices.

Grandma spoke up. “Wearing something new always makes me feel more beautiful and self confident. Why don’t we run to the mall and find you something to wear tonight? You can consider it an early birthday present.”

“Thanks, Grandma.”

They visited one of the larger department stores and Jennifer found the perfect pink short sleeved top and capris to wear with her sandals.

Jennifer applied a fresh coat of pink polish to her fingernails and toe nails when she arrived back at the condo. She dressed in her new clothes and admired herself in the mirror. Her face glowed from all the sun she had gotten surfing.

When the doorbell finally rang, Jennifer about jumped out of her skin. “I’ll get it!” she yelled to her grandparents.

She opened the door. Josh was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and smiled when he saw her. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes, I’m leaving!” Jennifer announced to her grandparents.

“Be home by eleven,” Grandpa replied as she walked out the door.

The night was perfect. Josh took her out to eat and then to the movies. They talked so easily with each other, laughing as Josh told her some of his adventures as a lifeguard. During the movie, Josh reached for her hand. The warmth of his hand in hers felt so good. The night was over too soon.

When Josh walked her to the door, she finally got the courage to ask, “My birthday is in two days, would you like to come to supper and celebrate with me?”

“That sounds like fun. What time do I need to be here?”

“Do you have to work?”

“I get off at five, so I can clean up and be here by six.”

“That sounds perfect. Goodnight.” Jennifer reluctantly closed the door and tried to be quiet so as not wake her grandparents.

Her grandparents, who were never awake past ten, just happened to still be up watching TV when she walked into the family room.

“How was your date, dear?” Grandma casually asked.

The big smile on her face told all. “Josh accepted my invitation to come to supper for my birthday.”

“That’s nice. Did you have a good time?”

“Yes, Josh and I get along well.” She was so elated she didn’t know how she was ever going to sleep.

Jennifer drove her Grandma crazy the next two days wanting everything to be just perfect when Josh came to supper. She had not seen Josh since their date. She nervously waited for him to arrive. As soon as the doorbell rang, she rushed to open the door. She was surprised to see Josh holding a present in his hand.

“Happy birthday!” Josh yelled as he handed her the present.

Jennifer motioned for him to come in, “You didn’t have to bring me a present.”

“It’s just a little something,” Josh replied.

She put the present on the kitchen table and they walked out to the patio where the table was set for supper.

Josh and Grandpa joked with each other on how to cook the perfect burger while Jennifer helped Grandma bring out the rest of the food.

“Everything looks delicious,” Josh commented.

“I hope you are hungry because I think Grandma made enough for ten people,” Jennifer joked. Jennifer took a big bite of hamburger and commended Grandpa and Josh. “The hamburgers are perfect.”

Grandma made sure Josh felt welcome, including him in the conversation. They finished supper and Jennifer helped Grandma clear the table. Grandma lit the seventeen candle on the birthday cake and slowly walked out to the patio to keep them from blowing out. Everyone sang happy birthday and Jennifer closed her eyes to make a wish, then blew out the candles. Jennifer cut the cake and gave Josh a large piece of double chocolate cake along with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

After finishing dessert, Josh rubbed his tummy and said, “The food was fantastic. I cannot remember the last time I was this full.”

“It’s time to open presents,” Grandma eagerly said as she handed Jennifer the present from her and Grandpa.

“I thought you already gave me my present,” Jennifer said as she took the gift from Grandma.

“This is something Grandpa picked up for you.”

Jennifer eagerly ripped off the wrapping paper. She was pleasantly surprised when she opened the lid to find a bright pink wetsuit.

“If you are serious about surfing, you will need this as winter approaches so you do not get too cold,” Grandpa said, smiling.

Jennifer reached over and hugged Grandpa and kissed him on the cheek. “That is perfect. I can’t wait to try it out this winter.”

Jennifer then nervously opened the gift from Josh. She was shocked to find a silver chain with a surfboard pendant.

“Thank you so much! Can you help me put it on?” She handed the necklace to Josh and lifted her long silky hair out of the way.

“This pendant is supposed to bring you good luck and many happy days of surfing,” Josh said. He reached around her neck and clasped it in place.

Sensing Jennifer wanting to spend some time alone with Josh, Grandma yelled for Grandpa, “Come help me with something in the kitchen.”

“I better see what she needs.” Grandpa got up from the table and disappeared inside.

“Your grandparents are very nice.”

“They can be a little overprotective at times, but they are not too bad,” Jennifer laughed. “Thanks so much for coming tonight, and for the necklace. Will you be working again tomorrow?”

“I work the late shift from three till seven. Do you want to surf in the morning? The waves are supposed to be good.”

“Yes, that sounds great! I need to practice what you taught me.” They stood on the patio staring out at the ocean, listening to the waves, enjoying each other’s company until the sun set.

Josh finally spoke up. “The view is magnificent from up here. It’s as if you can see to the edge of the earth.”

“I am glad you had a good time tonight.”

“It’s getting late and I better get home so my Mom doesn’t start to worry.”

“I will see you in the morning.” Jennifer said as she walked with Josh to the door.

After Josh left, Jennifer’s grandparents could not peel her off the ceiling the rest of the night, she was so happy.

The rest of the summer flew by as Josh and Jennifer became closer. They saw each other almost every day. For the first time, Jennifer was dreading the start of school. Josh was also a senior this year but he would be attending high school in Melbourne instead of Cocoa Beach. Josh was the only one she knew in the area. She was afraid she might not fit in and didn’t know how she would be treated by the other students.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I was raised in the mountains of northeast Georgia in the small town of Cornelia. I attended college in the Atlanta area where I graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After college I moved to Florida for the opportunity to work at Kennedy Space Center on the shuttle program. My love for animals, especially large dogs, are captured in my stories. My passion for mysteries and romance is how Too Soon To Die and Path To Finding Happiness were created.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
No matter what hardships you endure in life, God is by your side to help guide you through the difficult times.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
I love Charles Martin’s books and how they speak to your soul. His stories pull at your emotions and leave you wanting more.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
For the pure joy of creating a story they will entertain my readers.

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