Nick sat up and swung his feet to the floor, his eyes
slits, mere inches from her face. She didn’t shrink. But how much had he drunk?
She stood and took several paces away.
“And you,” he said, “flirting behind the palms with
not one man but two, getting known as a spin. Your behavior is ruining me.”
She wasn’t going to take anymore of this nonsense. “I
can’t seem to please you. Either I’m dull or I’m attracting too much attention.”
Her voice broke. “Why should you worry what anyone thinks of me? You’re too
preoccupied with the likes of Margery . . . and Tikah.”
One second he sat on the bed, the next he crossed the
room and towered over her. “What do I have to do? Put you in purdah like
the Indians do? Hide your humdrum face behind a veil to make sure you don’t
She squared her shoulders. “You’re trying to pin
everything on me, and it won’t stick.”
He glowered at her. “You were behind those pillars an
awfully long time, and out in the garden, surely not with that stuff-shirt of a
major. At least if you’re going to have an affair find a man who’ll oblige you.
Clyde’s amenable to the idea. He’s always around.”
It couldn’t be real. She shook her head. He inched
closer, and she stepped back, bumping into the edge of the bureau and bruising
her spine. His eyes razed her.
“Nick, go to bed. We’ll talk tomorrow . . . after you’ve
He roped his good hand into her hair and jerked her to
him. Her vision went white with pain. Everything funneled so all she saw was
his face above hers. Her gown snagged on the bureau. She heard it rip but felt
no sorrow. It was only cloth—but their marriage . . . “Stop it, Nick, you’re
All thought left her. She pushed him away, but he didn’t
move. Instead he shoved her against the wall.
“You’re ruining everything,” he shouted, “my entire
life here I’ve built up.” He hauled his arm up and flung the back of his
uninjured hand across her face, knocking her head against the doorframe.
Lights exploded behind her eyes. A buzzing filled her
ears. Her mouth flooded with the metallic taste of blood.
Abby's bungalow in Amritsar, a house empty of love.
He cried out. Light from the headlamps reflected
two pinpoints of light. A snake scuttled into the bush, and Laine started to
rush in his direction.
“Wait, Laine. Don’t come closer.”
“What is it?” she shouted over the gale.
“A snake.” He clenched his fists and bit down on
his lip with the throbbing in his leg. “Ruddy thing bit me as I plodded along
in my size ten boots. Blast! I should have known better.” He looked back at
her. “Stay where you are. There might be more than one.”
He studied the ground in the dim light. Unable
to see any sign of movement, he shivered. The blasted reptile had gone. All
he’d been able to see in that quick flash was that it was green.
Laine, heedless of his warning, joined him.
“Where is the wound?”
“I told you to stay where you were.”
“Is it your leg?”
She slipped her shoulder under his arm and swung
her arm around his back. “Stay calm. Do you hear me? No panic. Lean on me. Put
as little weight on that leg as possible. I want to get you onto the truck
He put his weight on her shoulders, and she
walked him back to the vehicle.
“Balance yourself against that,” she said. “I’m
going to hop up there, and if you push with your arms then I’ll pull. I’ve got
to get you lying down.”
“I can make it up.”
“Sorry, me luv, but I’m giving you a hand
anyway.” She spoke in a fake Cockney accent, no doubt the one she used to
cajole many a soldier into treatment or help them withstand the terror of
She hauled him up, and without a word had him soon
lying down, covered with a blanket that the rain quickly soaked.
Her hair dripped and hung down as a curtain to
frame her face as she pulled off his boot and ripped the bottom of his trouser
leg up to his thigh. She bent to examine the punctures at the side of his left
calf and then left him to go to the cab. A moment later she returned with her
medical bag. “You know the routine, no panic.”
“I know, and I assure you, Matron, I’m doing my
“No talking. Save your strength. That’s the ticket.”
He watched Laine screw open the wooden cylinder
of the snake-bite kit and remove the lancet. He did know the routine only far
too well. She had to clean the wound and hope the crystals did the trick. After
that, unless he could get to a dispensary they could only pray the snake hadn’t
injected a fatal amount of venom.
“What kind of snake was it?” she asked in her
no-nonsense nursing tone counterbalanced with the jovial Cockney.
“Not sure...there are two types of green snake
in this area. If it was the least venomous, the whip snake, I’ll be sick for a
few days but live.”
“And the other?”
“Bamboo pit viper. I think you should know...if
it was the viper...the outcome is...less optimistic, I’m afraid.”
She stopped momentarily. So momentarily only
someone who knew her as well as he did would notice. But she resumed her brisk
composure and took the lancet in her hand with the container of potassium
permanganate on the floor at her side. “Well, you’re my patient now, and I
don’t allow morbid talk on my ward. As I’m sure you’re aware, this will hurt.
So lie back, soldier. Grit your teeth. And think of England.”
Adam worked his way against the wind as waves
pounded the beach. Sand hissed as the surf ebbed. He hadn’t bothered with shoes
and walked barefoot along the hard-packed shore, the tang of salt on his lips.
The pillared walkway from the house to the beach
lay ahead. Silver light on the horizon lifted the marble pavilion out of the
night. Yet the gray dawn brought out the greenness of the trees and grass, reds
and purples of flowers, the white sand, painting everything a deeper hue.
A single figure in jodhpurs and shirt
stood within the pavilion that jutted out on the rocks like the prow of a ship.
A woman stared out at the bay and the clouds
that shrouded the rising sun.
Laine leaned against the pillar farthest out so
that waves splashed upwards and soaked her. Was she a woman or a child? She had
the best of both. As a child she’d always acted the bossy little woman that
he’d found endearing. When he’d returned from Oxford and found she’d become a
woman, he held her child-like enjoyment of everything under the sun equally
But the Laine standing in that pavilion was not
a girl. She was a woman who’d seen as many atrocities as he had in the
trenches. The tide had turned. And he fought against it. Dear God, help me fight against it.
He started to veer away when she saw him. A
friend would raise their arm and hale the other. Neither of them did. If they
couldn’t be lovers, married, then they couldn’t be friends. From childhood on
they’d been meant for each other, two parts of one whole, and friendship could
never fill the gap. He’d always known this, though she had not.
Laine took the steps down to the beach. Though
he was standing, the sense of falling came over him.
The sky beyond her showed that strange color of
clouds amassing above the ocean. Clouds with that greenish tint that meant a
cyclone was on its way.
Her dark hair lay tousled on her shoulders. Her
feet, bare. Those tea-colored eyes reflected the hunger of the growing clouds
behind her. A wave crashed on the shore, sending up a spray while a kingfisher
flitted out, flashing the blue of its wings. And a current of his former
passion for her sluiced through him.
She stopped two feet from him, and they stared
at each other, the moment stretching out forever until she lifted her hand in a
helpless gesture of defeat. Her small indication of unhappiness crushed his
He must be mad, but he took a step toward her
and reached for her shoulders, and the next thing he knew she was in his arms.
She clung to him. For a moment he resisted. His
mind clanged to stop this madness. But there was no resistance in Laine, only
the warmth of a woman who always gave all. In a heartbeat they sought each
other’s mouths, and he lost himself, a man parched with thirst savoring the
sweetness of her lips. How could he have lived so long without...
She moaned against his mouth as his hand moved
to the small of her back, and he drew her closer. Her hands wound their way
along his shoulders, her fingers in his hair.
The ground beneath his feet became unsteady, and
he lost all sensation of the world around him. All but Laine. Intoxicating
Laine who drowned out his every thought, every shred of reason.
Their kisses turned slower, he felt her lips
against his unshaven cheek and jaw, and he found her mouth again.
The oncoming tide swirled at their feet and
ankles, soaking their trousers.
God! What am I doing? He pulled
his lips from hers and stared at the foam-flecked surf as it retreated.
She resisted as he removed her from him as
gently as he could. Her face remained soft with the answering passion to his as
the space between them grew.
He shook his head as he dropped his hands, and
heard the quiver in his voice. “I’m sorry...I’m sorry, Laine. I shouldn’t
Even in the gray dawn, the horrible pain of
rejection robbed her face of all color. Her gaze fell, and those long dark
lashes hid her eyes from him. She wouldn’t cry. Not Laine. But he knew her too
well, and the pain in her shuttered eyes kicked him in the gut. He stood rigid,
waiting for her to slap him as she should.
Her throat moved as she swallowed with
difficulty. “You’re right, Adam, you shouldn’t have done that. Nor I.” Her
words came out full-throated. Raw. “Because nothing has changed, has it?” Her
gaze lifted to his.
“Nothing has changed. I’m—”
“Don’t say you’re sorry again. I couldn’t bear
it. In fact, it’s best we both pretend this never happened. It didn’t happen.
Do you understand? It just didn’t.” She turned from him and walked back the way
she’d come. Not in a flurry of emotion, but with precise steps as if she were
made of glass and would break with any jarring movement.
He didn’t follow her. Just stared at nothing and
raised a trembling hand to his brow.
Sarah in one of many images taken for the front cover of Shadowed in Silk.
Nothing could have amazed me more than the way the Lord arranged the front cover of Shadowed in Silk.
I have to go back 32 years--two years before I
met my wonderful husband--to when I gave birth to a little girl. Not married at the time, I felt God urge me to relinquish her to a Christian couple unable to have children. I named my baby, Sarah, in the hope that one day I would see her again.
That crushed me, but it was best for my baby at the time, as I
wanted her to have a loving dad as well as a loving mom. And I believed that God would answer my prayers that one day when Sarah was grown, He would bring us together again, and knit our hearts in a special birth-mom and birth-daughter relationship.
God was so good to me in the years following the relinquishment of Sarah. And I believe I have seen an aspect to His love for us in losing a child in
this manner. A year after giving up Sarah, the Lord sent me my sweet husband David
and gave us our three children.
David and I in November 1980
Me and Lana--the daughter God gave me to keep.
Kyle when he was little. My Sonshine.
Our youngest, Rob, a number of years later, on holidays. Rob the apple of my eye.
Now skip ahead . . . twenty years
later my birth-daughter, Sarah, and I were reunited. That was wonderful and yet
terrible at the same time.
The day of the reunion for Sarah and I. Wonderful and difficult. This is Mark (Sarah's fiance), Sarah, me, Lana, and Rob in front. Kyle was too shy.
are not easy for anyone in the adoption triad. After the reunion I began to
relive my original loss of Sarah. It just hurt so much. She was my child and
yet she was not my child.
And to my heart-break, it didn't appear that the long desired special relationship would develop.
I was so hurt, so angry with God for disappointing me.
A few months after
meeting Sarah, my husband caught me crying on our living room couch one day. He
slipped out and returned a while later with a brand new pen and journal. He
placed these items into my hands and said, “Here honey, write it.”
That was the
start. My journaling eventually turned into books as the years passed. But
always beneath anything that I write, is the understanding of loss and
loneliness, heartbreak, and the healing and joy that only God can bring. A few years later I felt the Lord encourage me to put the emotional and spiritual healing that He had given me into fictional stories to help others.
The day came that my debut novel about the British Raj in India was about to be released---a story that has nothing to do with adoption.
My publisher, WhiteFire, and I were excited as we discussed the design of the cover. One day I suggested the sari material I had purchased in India on a missions trip. Roseanna and David White loved the idea but said to hold off on mailing the silk across the country as it was pretty heavy with gems and beading.
Me with a group of Christian students in India, 2010.
It was then I noticed that the model they suggested resembled my birthdaughter. On a whim I suggested Sarah for the model, and the publisher agreed. Sarah was shy at first, but she pitched in on this step of faith with me, and I was grateful at the time for this budding in our friendship.
WhiteFire wanted two costumes—-a western one for 1919 and the sari that my character Abby wears in the novel.
A friend loaned me a straw boater hat, and I was sure I had a tan linen skirt up in my closet. But when I went to look . . . it was gone. I’d forgotten that when we moved last year, I’d given the skirt to a charity. On another whim I decided to go to the local second hand store to search for something similar.
As I walked across the parking lot I prayed the Lord would help me find the perfect skirt. I was not five minutes in the store, walking down the aisle and I found my very own skirt which I then purchased back for $9.99.
I could go on and on about the details that just seemed to come together---the background photos taken by a friend in India...and so much more. I’d asked the Lord to put His fingerprints all over it, and He did.
It wasn’t until later that I realized—that without my ever planning or imagining it—He had not only inspired me to write because of my sadness over losing my first child to adoption, but He then placed the face of my beautiful muse on the front cover of my book.
Only our Heavenly Father can do something so intricately tender.
But the Lord wasn't finished blessing me yet.
Sarah teaching hygiene in Africa
A few months after Shadowed in Silk was released, my birthdaughter Sarah and her husband Mark came to visit. They want to tell us that they felt called to go into fulltime missionary work with Global Aid Network. And that they would be working with several organizations all around the world that specifially helps widows and orphans.
When I heard this I nearly fell off my chair in amazement.
I had never told Sarah, but the true-life Ramabai who started the Mukti mission in India was the inspiration behind my novel.
Sarah serving in South East Asia with GAiN
Many years ago, I had prayed for the Lord to give Sarah and I a special relationship. It took a while, but He knit our hearts together in the respective work He gave each of us to do.
We have to remember that we serve a God who delights in working with little people and small things—-a shepherd boy and a few smooth stones. A child with a lunch of fish and bread for one. A babe in a womb that rocks the world.
Sarah with the children she loves
When it came time to release Captured by MoonlightBook 2 of the Twilight of the British Raj I had to have my daughter Lana---the daughter God gave me to keep---as the model on the front cover.
Here are a few photos of that wonderful, happy day. And my joy at seeing my two daughters as bookends of joy in my life. Thanks to our Awesome tender-hearted Heavenly Father.
My daughter Lana in the role of Laine in Captured by Moonlight as a nurse with the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corp. 1921
Laine Harkness (character) in her 1920's dress and 1920's hair and makeup.
Such a beautiful model.
I love the flow of the white voile dress.
Front and back of Captured by Moonlight. Look close on the back to see Hector the tiger cub.
My immediate family at Lana's wedding to James. All my kids and their spouses, except for Rob who is not married as of the taking of this picture.
Sarah in Shadowed in Silk, Lana in Captured by Moonlight, my bookends of Joy.