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by Polly Bolack
Description: After a brief, but highly successful law career, David Stone is struggling to discard his privileged lifestyle and answer an undeniable call to the ministry. He arrives in Gulfpass, a small town on Florida's West Coast, fervently intent to become everything he believes a minister should be--perfectly devout and morally perfect. Repentant of his history of womanizing, he has promised God that he will not become romantically involved with a woman for one year. However, he is totally unprepared for the likes of boat captain Rebecca Higgins. Her motto is to do one outrageous thing each day. And each day that David spends with Rebecca, she puts his dignity as an aspiring minister to the test. After deciding that perhaps the ministry is not for him, David leaves Gulfpass, but realizes suddenly that Rebecca is not the obstacle to his ministry that he has thought, but rather a well-planned gift from God.
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, 2001
eBookwise Release Date: March 2002
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [337 KB]
Reading time: 212-297 min.
"DAVID'S PROMISE is a wonderful and fun love story. The characters of David and Rebecca are so funny and lovable that I just knew there was only one way for their story to end. I liked the secondary characters also, and they didn't overshadow the main characters. Uncle Jack and Aunt Sarah were lovable and mad likable matchmakers. I laughed throughout this book and in my opinion it is one of the best Inspirationals I have read." Review by Hattie Boyd of RCRG at AOL
CHAPTER ONE Being a minister was proving harder than he'd figured.
David Stone aimed the beam from his sterling silver flashlight toward a sign nailed to the wooden gate of dock A and reread the ominous message. POSITIVELY NO VISITORS ALLOWED IN THE MARINA BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 9 P.M. AND 6 A.M. LAW VIGOROUSLY ENFORCED BY ORDER OF THE GULFPASS POLICE DEPARTMENT Under the letters, someone had spray painted gaudy red graffiti. THIS MEANS YOU, TURKEY! A few weeks earlier, David would've have found the locked gate a mildly annoying distraction, but now it loomed as a major dilemma. Trespassing was no longer a simple infraction of the law; it was a sin!
David mentally consulted the Ten Commandments. A quick review said nothing about breaking and entering. Hmmm, he'd have to add that one to his personal list of Thou Shalt No Longers.
The list, which he'd begun the same day he'd accepted the invitation to practice preach at the Church in Gulfpass, Florida was growing fast: Thou shalt no longer live in a luxury penthouse complete with custom-built, temperature-controlled wine cellar. Thou shalt no longer devour Beluga Caviar for breakfast three times a week. Thou shalt no longer own a Lamborghini Diablo. Thou shalt no longer entertain beautiful women who ... David smiled to himself. On second thought he figured that one had been pretty much covered in the original ten.
The chime on his watch reminded him that he had little time, and irritation settled heavily in his chest. Six o'clock was still two hours away, and his appointment in Key West was in less than eight hours. A mild expletive escaped his lips before he caught himself. Thou shalt no longer utter obscenities in casual conversation. Groaning, he reached into his trousers' pocket and transferred two quarters to a small leather pouch that was filling up faster than a courtroom on the day of a long-awaited verdict. Old habits were difficult to break.
Okay, Stone, it's time for a little brainstorming. What are your options? Well, you could just walk away and let Walter suffer the consequences. No, that wasn't an option.
Under the circumstances, David couldn't let his ex-partner down. Somehow, he had to get inside the marina. He could scale the six-foot wood fence. If he were caught, he could feign ignorance and say he didn't see the sign in the semi-darkness. Now, I'm beginning to lie, too. Well, that's what happens when one sets off on a life of crime, he reasoned.
His predicament would no doubt amuse his distinguished colleagues back at the firm of Osborne, Graham, Gardner and Stone. David Stone--Philadelphia's own legal whiz kid, attorney extraordinaire, known to interpret the law to his own advantage. But David didn't find his predicament amusing. He needed to get to the boat, and he'd have to break the law to do it. He had no choice.
Breaking the law! What a way to begin his new life as a messenger of God. He could imagine the headlines in the Inquirer if he were caught: PROMINENT PHILADELPHIA ATTORNEY ARRESTED IN FLORIDA FOR BURGLARY. Or worse--in the Gulfpass Gazette: NEW GULFPASS PASTOR ARRESTED IN WILD MARINA CAPER.
There was no choice, he reminded himself. After all, he'd made every attempt to go through the proper channels. He'd driven the unfamiliar streets of Gulfpass for an hour looking for signs of human life. Not only had he found no human life, even the two dogs sleeping in front of the post office hadn't bothered to look up when he'd driven by. He'd discovered the local police station closed up for the night as cozily as Grandma Nana's Nitey-nite Bed and Breakfast which stood next door to it. If the inhabitants of Gulfpass chose to roll up their proverbial sidewalks at sunset and crawl into a hole somewhere, it wasn't his fault.
David bowed his head, buried his face in his hands and asked for God's forgiveness in advance. Seemed like he'd been doing a lot of that these last few weeks--making the wrong decisions, then asking God's forgiveness. Yep, being a minister was proving to be a lot more difficult than he'd expected.
David gave the rusty, metal latch on the wooden gate a slight jiggle. It was unlocked! His luck was changing. He casually removed the lock and sat it on a fence post. Certainly anyone would understand his dilemma, he rationalized. It wasn't as if he were going to destroy property or steal anything. He fingered a neatly folded note in his coat pocket. All he was going to do was...
Thou shalt no longer break the law, the aggravating voice reminded.
"This is ridiculous," he informed the voice. His fervent contention that he was about to break the law--or sin--suddenly paled. He straightened his tie, released the latch and gave the gate a hefty push. The door groaned, then flew wide open.
David stepped confidently onto the wood dock, then he stopped short. He whirled toward blinding headlights and the sound of screeching brakes as a pickup truck came to a stop under a streetlight in the marina parking lot.
"Hey you! You down there on the dock!"
The accusing, soul-piercing voice seemed to have broken loose from the heavens. A gigantic figure hurled the truck door open.
"Whatcha doin' there, boy?" the man shouted over the sound of the truck's coughing engine.
David had heard warning stories about those old Florida Crackers who shot first and asked questions later. "I need to get a message to the captain of a boat called The Outrageous Lady," he shouted back.
"What kinda message, boy?" The man who belonged to the gruff voice dislodged himself from the cab of the truck with considerable effort. He towered over David's six-foot-three frame, and he outweighed him by at least a hundred-and-fifty pounds. "What kinda business does a city dude like you have with The Outrageous Lady?"
As he came closer, the odor of rotting fish permeated the air, and David swallowed hard to keep from gagging. He glanced at the lettering on the man's black-and-white striped shirt, patterned to look like a convict's uniform. WANTED: VIRGIL'S BAIT, DEAD OR ALIVE. Above his left pocket was printed the name, RAY.
"I'm David Stone." David didn't offer to shake the man's hand.
"I'm Raison Fortier, so what?"
"I need to cancel a deep-sea fishing trip for my business partner, Walter Osborne. He was to meet Captain Higgins here at the marina at seven o'clock this morning."
The man crossed his massive arms and eyed David suspiciously. "So?"
"So, my partner can't make it," David shot back, annoyed with the man's condescending attitude. But he quickly realized the truck driver was probably a local and could cause him no end of trouble. "Look, I wrote a note for Captain Higgins that will explain everything." He pulled a sheet of yellow notepaper and a roll of transparent tape from his pocket. "I need to leave this somewhere on his boat where he'll find it."
The fish hawker scratched his bulging belly with one hand and pulled at a single gold circle that dangled from one ear with the other. He took the note from David and held it up to the streetlight. "Okay, boy. Tell you what I'm gonna do." He wiped the note on his dirty jeans and handed it back to David. Grunting loudly, he pulled himself onto the truck bed.
David placed two knuckles over his nostrils when the man opened the lid on a fiberglass tank and scooped some of its putrid contents into a five-gallon bucket.
"This here's a delivery for The Outrageous Lady," the man said, pointing toward a darkened area of the marina where the larger boats were docked. "She's over there on B dock. Third boat down on the right-hand side." He hefted the bucket over the truck bed toward David. "You carry this bucket down there for me and leave it on the catwalk next to the boat. Then you can stick your message on the door. Anybody say anything, tell 'em you're working for me." He laughed boisterously and offered David a smelly paw. "Deal?"
"Deal," David reluctantly agreed. He winced slightly under the man's powerful grasp and held his breath against the stench from the truck.
With forceful effort, the man pulled himself into the cab of his pickup. "Not that anybody would believe you in that fancy city get-up. You on your way to a funeral or something?" He laughed uproariously at his own joke and floor-boarded the gas pedal. As he roared away, David was certain the clanging and sputtering from the aging pickup could've awoken the dead. Hopefully, it had awoken Captain Higgins.
David pulled a monogrammed silk handkerchief from the breast pocket of his suit and carefully wiped his fingers. He wrapped the handkerchief around the sticky handle of the bait bucket. Then, holding the bucket as far from his body as possible, he marched confidently toward dock B. * * * *