Between Heaven and Earth by Donna Fawcett

Between Heaven and Earth Cover

 

About the Book

Carmen McGuinty is a pastor’s kid gone wild.  When her rebellion leads to a fast ride in the local drug dealer’s car in the middle of the night, Carmen finds out that choices have consequences.  A violent car crash, a coma and a visit with an angel named Malakh all lead her to understand those consequences. Can Carmen change enough to make a difference?  Can she help her friends turn back from the same path she chose?

Book Excerpt

Prologue

With a protesting squeal, tires gripped the pavement for a brief moment—and then skipped into the loose gravel. A bright red Mustang convertible flung itself forward into the steep slope and long grass with force, bucking over tufts of scrub grass, rain-cut ridges and the occasional rock.

A young woman’s voice sliced through the darkness in a shrill wail as the front axle buckled and drove the car’s nose into the mire at the base of the incline. The passenger of the car realized the scream was her own but could do nothing to stop it.

A moment’s hesitation in the atmosphere made it seem as though the vehicle was ready to stop its careening. Then the invisible slingshot was aimed again and the car, gripped in that unseen pocket was flung end over end through a woven wire fence and out into a newly tilled field. It added its own furrow to the ploughed rows before coming to rest against an immovable boulder. The rock had jutted from its bed of fertile soil for more than three centuries—a testimony that man couldn’t conquer everything no matter how big the machine.

The silence came then—silence interrupted by the tick-ticking of a steaming engine.

A panicked voice yelled in the distance. “Are you alright? Is everyone okay?”

The last thought to register in the young woman’s mind was that it was a dumb question. The car had just performed a major assault on a ditch, a fence and the corner of a field rock. Could anyone be okay?

 

Chapter One

Carmen McGuinty flung her hair over her shoulder and threw her head back as she filled the air with her bright laughter.  It was a movement she’d practiced many times in front of her bedroom mirror when she’d grown old enough to realize her white-blonde hair entranced those around her.  She’d reasoned early in her young life that by flaunting its shimmering strands, she could give the subtle message she was somehow special— someone to be held in awe.  It usually had the desired effect.  With that one gesture and her deliberate throaty chuckle she could get just about anything she wanted. It had saved her from moments of parental discipline—when she’d decided the rules of their home weren’t meant for her. It had allowed her to cajole her friends into following her somewhat risqué ideas as they had plunged into the teenage years.  Now, as she was entering her adult life, it was wrapping a particularly nice looking young man around her finger.

In fairness to her parents, they’d tried to have their say when it came to shaping her into a good person. They’d used gentle words and Biblical teachings. They’d applied the appropriate discipline when they thought it was needed. They’d gone so far as to ground her to her room on a number of occasions, but they were no match for her strong will when she wanted her own way.

That chuckle had helped her manipulate her father’s parishioners too when she’d been a small child trying to live up to standards forced upon her by people who expected a perfect minister to raise perfect children while he led their church. She’d had lots of practice dimpling her cheeks at old busybodies and mouthing words of false repentance and submission—and then she’d railed against those same biddies when her father had tried to point out how important her behaviour was.

She was twelve when she began to believe he cared more about being fired by the church leadership board than about her attitude before God. She had, by that time, learned that submission of word didn’t necessarily equate with submission of heart.

Along with that tutorial came the realization that submission was also in the eye of the beholder. She knew she wasn’t giving in, but the people rebuking her didn’t know that. With their help she had learned her practiced gestures, clever manipulation and diabolical scheming.  Her parents seemed oblivious to it—or perhaps they were simply too weary to do anything about it. She wondered if they’d given up trying to make her into a cookie-cutter pastor’s kid—if they even cared that she was angry and hurting and didn’t have all the reasons why.

There was one person in her life who refused to be manipulated.  Carmen pulled her attention from her immediate audience of admirers to a different young man who sat across the fire from her. She studied the mouse brown hair and the oversized frame sprawled on a large piece of driftwood.  Long torso and limbs seemed to fold in upon themselves as he sat there.  The Lake Huron evening breeze picked at his hair, twisting it into a messier form of the already tangled mop. She knew those lowered hazel eyes almost better than she knew her own blue ones. His gave away his thoughts—honest and gentle thoughts—where hers were guarded, hiding the not-so-honest mechanics of her mind.

She’d known Dayton Penner most of her life. He was a year older than her nineteen years and she’d always considered him a bit of a stick-in-the-mud—when he wasn’t her absolute best friend. He was handy for getting her out of some of her

predicaments, she had to admit.  Carmen remembered her sixteenth birthday.  She was going to hijack her dad’s van and take it for a midnight drive.  Dayton had snatched the keys from her and given her two choices.  She could forget the idea and enjoy her birthday without getting into trouble, or she could ignore him and know that he’d be the first to call her father the minute the van backed out of the drive.  She was sure Dayton would have sat up all night in front of their house just to make sure she didn’t do anything dumb.  She hadn’t.  She’d hated him for it too.  He’d put up with her wrath for two weeks and when it didn’t cause him any kind of remorse, she’d forgiven him and let it go.

A year later she’d tried to seduce Dayton.  The reasoning behind was simple.  If she couldn’t control him one way, she’d try to control him another. She’d learned the value of using body language in that year between birthdays when the boys around her made it plain that they liked the changes she was undergoing.  Sidling up to him, she’d pressed her curves against him and whispered a question.

“Why haven’t you ever asked me out, Day?”

His face had turned scarlet and he’d stepped back, away from the warmth of her body.  She had to admit that it had impressed her that an 18 year-old-guy had that kind of self-control.  And it was the second birthday in a row where she’d found herself furious with him.  His answer to her question had brought her volatile temper to the point of near eruption.

“I don’t think either one of us is ready for that kind of commitment, Carmen.  We’ll talk about it in a few years when we’ve both grown up enough.”

“Oh yeah.  I forgot.  Mr. High-and-Mighty Christian man.  Wanting to be a minister and all.  Well trust me…” she’d begun to circle him, eyeing him like a new meal “…I know all about what it’s like to be a minister’s kid and if you really care about the people in your life, you won’t have anything to do with it.”

She’d tuned out his reply.  It was a conversation they’d had too many times before.  She’d railed against being the child of a church minister and he’d tried to convince her of the importance of the calling and the need for a balanced life while in that calling.  Those arguments were always abrupt and heated on her side. Dayton seemed wise enough to let them drop.  It drove her nuts—his patience with her—and in the same way, it anchored her to some kind of sanity she feared she wouldn’t have had without him.

Her mind returned from the past and she realized she’d been staring at her friend.  He lifted his gaze and winked at her from across the beach fire. Carmen had the decency to blush.  Yes, she knew that Dayton knew exactly what she was doing with that practiced gesture and he was trying to undermine her scheme the only way he could—with his subtle mockery—and with prayer.

She turned away from him and focused her attention on the young man beside her.  Zackary Tarquez was one of those guys that teen girls hovered around.  Dark-haired and mysterious, he had a reputation of being a bit of a rebel on his college campus.  He drove a ’68 Mustang convertible and worked part-time off campus—just enough to earn money to treat a girl in style.  There were rumours that he spent a bit of time dealing drugs and had gone to juvenile court for it but she was sure he wasn’t into that kind of thing anymore.  He was a charmer.

To Carmen, the challenge wasn’t in being with the most popular guy.  No.  She found that the biggest thrill was in owning that popular guy—steering him in whatever direction she wished him to go.  It was always risky.  She gave out just enough to keep him coming back but not enough to jeopardize her father’s position in the church and the community.  Heaven forbid the old girls in the congregation find out that their pastor’s daughter isn’t the pure little darling they think she is. When she’d had enough of a particular boy, she would end it before things went further than she wanted.  She loved playing the game.

Carmen stole a peek at Dayton again and frowned.  He was still praying.  She knew the familiar stance.  His head was tipped forward just enough to make it look like he was concentrating on the flaming driftwood.  His mouth moved only slightly.  And she knew—she knew—he was praying for her.  Her eyes narrowed.  It was one more thing about him that drove her nuts—pushed her to do things she shouldn’t.  It was as though he was telling her that by praying he would stop her disobedient behaviour.  She knew better but couldn’t help that it irked her beyond reason.  Her nostrils flared as she deliberately turned away from him and toward the guy beside her.  She’d show Dayton what good his prayers were as far as she was concerned.

 

Donna Fawcett

About the Author

Donna Fawcett, a retired creative writing instructor for Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, writes in many genres from mystery romance to contemporary suspense and from short story to creative non-fiction.  Two of Donna’s contemporary novels Vengeance (2009) and Rescued (2011) won Best Contemporary Novel in the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.  Her writing encompasses music as well. Her song Heaven’s Light won Best Song Lyrics (2012).  Donna speaks and sings at writing conferences and motivational events. She also judges writing awards and teaches writing workshops.  For more on Donna visit her website.

Buy the Book

The book can be purchased off Donna’s website in her webstore for $20.00 all shipping and taxes included.

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