Today's excerpt comes from one of the most powerful Christian fiction books I've ever read. Truthfully, it changed me, as a writer and as a Christian.
The Covering by Dana Pratola is a 5-Star rated novel telling the story of one girl's prayers for the troubled soul of one man bent on destruction. $4.99 at Amazon.
Romance. Faith. The power of God over demonic influence.
What do a woman of faith and a heathen biker have in common? The devil, of course.
Tessa is moved to intercede for a man she's never met. When they do meet, she's stunned. Gunnar is gorgeous, charismatic, and driven. He's also hostile, self-destructive, and an unbeliever...and she's drawn to him like no other. The temptation she feels is as dangerous as it is alluring. She wants to stay away, but God has other plans. He reveals the devil's intent to destroy Gunnar, and commissions Tessa to keep him covered in prayer. Can she rely on God to keep her from falling...in love, and into temptation? Or will the devil claim them both?
With a dust rag tucked into the belt loop of her trim khaki slacks, Tessa pushed and pulled the heavy vacuum across the living room rug. She’d called Connie to apologize, telling her she slept in because she was praying into the wee hours. True, but again, only partially. She couldn’t tell Connie what happened with Gunnar. She’d rehashed it a dozen times, and it still made no sense.
The sooner she moved the better, but she wouldn’t settle for any of the former crime scenes Dominic suggested, and the realtor who phoned earlier to tell her a new house had been listed, called back two hours later to say it was sold.
On the brighter side, Gunnar couldn’t stick around indefinitely.
She turned. Startled to find him only steps away, she screamed and fumbled for the off switch.
It might be funny, she thought, as she wound the cord around her finger to keep her hands busy, how her resolve to face him had been so fierce when barricaded in her room, but melted away when he came into view. It might be, if it happened to someone else.
Tessa concluded it was due at least in part to his appearance. If he didn’t go out of his way to look so threatening, to be so muscular and, and, tattooed, her heart wouldn’t be bouncing off her ribcage.
She bit the inside of her cheek. He wore jeans and a gray T‐shirt with a decal of a woman draped over the hood of a sports car. He smelled of clean laundry and soap. His hair was growing in, one black millimeter at a time and judging by the shadows under his eyes he hadn’t slept. Somehow, he presented a less dangerous figure. And a more appealing one.
Shocked by the direction of her thinking, she pulled the cord tighter, and tried to concentrate on the blood rushing to her fingertip while she waited for him to speak.
“I had nowhere else to go last night,” Gunnar told her. His voice was brusque, but edged with guilt.
Something in Tessa, purely female and having nothing whatsoever to do with spiritual matters, relished it. He met her gaze briefly, the muscle in his jaw clenching and unclenching.
“I waited for the cops but they didn’t show,” he said.
Tessa’s finger began to throb, and she released the electrical cord. “I didn’t call them.” Her voice was steady despite the nerves.
“You didn’t tell Dom, either. Why?”
Several answers came to mind but she settled on, “I just didn’t.”
When he came forward, she backed away. Gunnar froze, watching her carefully. The next time he moved it was to take a step backward. “Why, Tessa?”
“I didn’t want to answer a bunch of questions,” she answered with a half‐truth.
Gunnar’s eyes narrowed. “You’re lying.” When she opened her mouth to deny it, he raised an accusing finger. “Unless you’re one of those chicks who likes to get pushed around by men.”
Her temper rose, but then his gaze sharpened on hers, giving her reason to believe he was trying to make her angry enough to tell him the truth.
She decided to do just that. He wasn’t going to like it. “I think at first I went in shock.”
The prompting gleam in his eye vanished, replaced by marked discomfort.
“Then I started to get mad…” His brows knit together. “And then I prayed for you.”
Gunnar looked as though she’d just told him he was on fire. “Why?” he demanded.
“Because you need it.”
He hooked his thumbs in his front pockets and shifted from one foot to the other. Flabbergasted was one way to describe him. Nervous was another. Because both were so unusual for him, Tessa found it more than a little difficult to keep the mirth from her tone.
“I’m sorry if it bothers you,” she said, unplugging the vacuum. “If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t want to.”
This time when he came closer, she didn’t back away, but kept a close eye on his movements.
“You’re a Christian.” He pronounced it like one of his colorful expletives.
She lifted her chin. “Yes.”
Gunnar stalked out and pounded up the stairs. She braced for the slamming of the door, but it didn’t come.
In fact, no sound emanated from above for thirty minutes, during which time Tessa finished tidying, then decided to mop the kitchen floor, though it didn’t need it.
She was hoisting a bucket filled with soapy water from the sink when she saw Gunnar in her peripheral vision. Stopping short, water sloshed onto the floor.
“Will you stop doing that?”
“What?” he asked, reaching behind her for the mop leaning against the door frame.
She froze long enough to see his intent before swiping the long handle from him. She’d had time to ruminate on their earlier exchange. Time enough to shore up her nerve should they have another clash, which wasn’t as difficult as she might have guessed. An attack on her faith dispatched her anxiety faster than anything.
“Stop sneaking up on me. Every time I turn around—”
“You should pay more attention.”
“And don’t cut me off when I’m talking,” she said. Gunnar watched her blandly.
“Could you?” She gestured for him to move back so she could sop up the water.
He complied. “Do you have a minute?”
Tessa plunged the wet mop back into the bucket. She didn’t want to be cornered, so she motioned him back further to allow access to the hallway. She may not be afraid of him at the moment, but there was no way of predicting what else could set him off.
More confident with multiple exits, she leaned on the mop handle. “What is it?”
His mouth thinned. He rolled his shoulders as an athlete might before an event. “I want to apologize. I seem to be overreacting to everything. It’s no excuse, but I’m under a lot of stress.”
He wasn’t himself. Apologizing for his behavior definitely wasn’t his style. It couldn’t be easy for him. It shouldn’t be.
“I don’t know what happened. I wish I did,” he said.
Her compassion awakened, but knowing it could be foolish to let him see how soft she really was, she fixed him with the most unaffected look she could manage.
She felt worse when he quietly walked away.
She was still wrestling with it when she heard his car start and speed down the block.
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.