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Authors: Terri Blackstock

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When Dreams Cross

BOOK: When Dreams Cross
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Dear Reader,

The book you’ve just bought from my “Second Chances” series is truly evidence of the second chances God gives us. The books in this series have been published before, some by Dell, some by Harlequin, others by Silhouette and HarperCollins. I was a Christian when I entered the romance market in 1983, hoping to take the world by storm. What I found, instead, was that the world took me by storm. One compromise led to another, until my books did not read like books written by a Christian. Not only were they not pleasing to God, but they embraced a worldview that opposed Christ’s teachings. In the interest of being successful, I had compartmentalized my faith. I trusted Christ for my salvation, but not much else. Like the Prodigal Son, I had taken my inheritance and left home to do things my own way.

I love that parable because it so reflects my life. My favorite part is when Jesus said, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him …” I can picture that father scanning the horizon every day, hoping for his son’s return. God did that for me. While I was still a long way off, God saw me coming. Early in 1994, when I yearned to be closer to God and realized that my writing was a wall between us, that my way had not been the best way, I promised God that I would never write anything again that did not glorify him. At that moment, it was as if God came running out to meet me. I gave up my secular career and began to write Christian books.

Shortly after I signed a contract for Zondervan to publish my suspense series, “The Sun Coast Chronicles,” something extraordinary happened. The rights to some of my earlier romance novels were given back to me, and I was free to do whatever I wanted with them. At first, I thought of shelving them, but then, in God’s gentle way, he reminded me that I was free to rewrite them, and this time, get them right. So I set about to rewrite these stories the way God originally intended them.

As you read these stories, keep in mind that they’re not just about second chances, they are second chances. I hope you enjoy them.

In Christ,

Terri Blackstock

Books by Terri Blackstock

Soul Restoration
Emerald Windows

Restoration Series
1
| Last Light
2
| Night Light

Cape Refuge Series
1
| Cape Refuge
2
| Southern Storm
3
| River’s Edge
4
| Breaker’s Reef

Newpointe 911
1
| Private Justice
2
| Shadow of Doubt
3
| Word of Honor
4
| Trial by Fire
5
| Line of Duty

Sun Coast Chronicles
1
| Evidence of Mercy
2
| Justifiable Means
3
| Ulterior Motives
4
| Presumption of Guilt

Second Chances
1
| Never Again Good-bye
2
| When Dreams Cross
3
| Blind Trust
4
| Broken Wings

With Beverly LaHaye
1
| Seasons Under Heaven
2
| Showers in Season
3
| Times and Seasons
4
| Season of Blessing

Novellas
Seaside

ZONDERVAN

When Dreams Cross
Copyright © 1996 by Terri Blackstock
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

ePub Edition June 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-86464-6

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Zondervan,
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Blackstock, Terri, 1957–.
     When dreams cross / Terri Blackstock.
          p.   cm. — (Second chances)
     ISBN-10: 0-310-20709-6
     ISBN-13: 978-0-310-20709-2
     I. Title. II. Series: Blackstock, Terri, 1957– Second chances.
PS3552.L34285W48    1997
813'.54—dc  20                                                                                                                           96-35255

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the
Holy Bible: New International Version
®
. NIV
®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

Interior design by Amy E.
L
angeler

This book is lovingly dedicated to the Nazarene.

Chapter One

T
he past was a funny thing. It had a way of catching up with you—no matter how fast you ran. Andi Sherman realized now that it was gaining on her.

There was no way around it. The Khaki Kangaroo cartoon was the only one that had the kind of characters she had wanted for her amusement park. But she had resisted choosing it, because she wasn’t sure she was up to dealing with the baggage that came with it.

But letting personal feelings influence her business decisions would have disappointed her father, who had trusted her to take over his dream when others saw her as not much more than a kid. She had something to prove now. Even if it meant working with Justin Pierce.

Andi sighed. “It’s perfect, Wes. That cartoon is the only one that strikes the right chord.”

The builder nodded. “You chose it, Andi. You knew those characters were perfect for Promised Land the first time you saw them. I did, too.”

Andi turned around in her leather swivel chair and stared down at some papers on her desk. Of course she had known it was perfect. But that was before she had learned that Justin Pierce was its animator.

Justin Pierce. She had counted on spending the rest of her life without seeing him again.

She raised her eyes to Wes, her old friend and the builder who would incorporate these characters into the rides. As she watched, he rolled a purple Tootsie Pop around in his mouth, one that he’d probably bought for his daughter, Amy. “It doesn’t matter, though,” she said. “Justin probably won’t come anyway. He’s already an hour and a half late.”

Wes took the sucker from his mouth and surveyed the uncharacteristic tension on Andi’s face. “Justin’s not stupid. If he has any business sense at all, he’ll come.”

“If it were just business,” Andi said in a hollow voice, “it wouldn’t be that hard.”

Standing up, she went to the window, hands jammed in the pockets of her slacks. The cool pink blouse she wore provided a soft contrast to the tan on Andi’s arms. Absently, her hand went up to tuck a stray strand of hair into the French braid at the nape of her neck. If only she could put this off until another day, she thought.

“Andi,” Wes said, his gentle voice cutting into her thoughts to remind her he was still there. “Eight years is a long time, and you were both practically kids. Don’t you think he’s put all that behind him by now?”

Andi breathed a silent laugh. She had never been able to completely put it behind her. But she had lost more when the relationship ended than he had. She turned back to Wes, who’d been friends with them both when they were all involved in a Christian discipling group in college. “Of course he has. I’m just worried about those resentments he had toward me the last time I saw him. They might get in the way of my offer.”

Wes stood up and stuck the Tootsie Pop back in his mouth. “Those resentments were unfounded. And your father was wrong. Everything that happened was wrong.” His words were slurred around the candy, making what he said seem less important, but Andi knew better. “Surely the past won’t cloud a business deal like this.”

Surely, Andi thought with a sarcastic lift of her brows. But unless Justin Pierce had changed, she knew there would be trouble.

The secretary’s warning buzz and the knock on the heavy oak door paralyzed Andi. She glanced at the closed circuit television screen behind her desk—the one that monitored the goings and comings outside her office—and saw the man she’d been waiting for. She looked at Wes, trying not to look as fragile as she felt. He seemed torn between compassion and amusement as he sat on the edge of her desk. “It’s him,” he said.

“I can’t believe he came.”

Wes started to the door. “I’ll let him in, then leave you two alone.”

“No, stay,” she said quickly. “We’ll talk about old times.” He turned back to her. “Andi, Justin and I have kept in touch. He was in my wedding last year, for heaven’s sake. If you still want to talk about old times after you’ve had this meeting, we’ll all have dinner tonight. But don’t sweat it. It’s just Justin.”

Just Justin.

The words didn’t go together. It was like saying, “Just napalm.” Justin Pierce had never been anything that could be preceded by the word
just
.

She went back to her desk but remained standing. Lifting her chin and hardening her green eyes, she told Wes, “Let him in.”

Wes opened the door, and Justin stood there, looking as apprehensive, as defensive as she. Surprised to see his old college roommate, Justin let a slow, reluctant grin break across his face.

“Hey, buddy,” Wes said, taking his hand in a friendly shake. “How’s it going?”

Justin laughed. “Man, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“We haven’t talked in a few months. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so busy. Andi hired me to head up the building going on here,” he said.

At the mention of her name, Justin’s smile faded, and he faced the woman behind the desk. Her smile was tentative, almost awkward. “Thank you for coming, Justin,” she said.

For a moment he just stared at her, his cool scrutiny making her wish she had never swallowed her pride and called him. He had not changed. His black hair, tousled by the April breeze, fell over his forehead and ears, ruffling across the collar of his shirt, but he made no attempt to sweep it back into place. One hand rested in the pocket of worn jeans, and his tweed blazer was caught behind his wrist.

Wes was still grinning. “I gotta go, buddy, but we’ll get together later, okay?”

“Sure,” Justin said.

Wes glanced back at Andi. “You know where I’ll be.”

Andi nodded.

The door shut behind Wes, but Justin made no move to come further into the room. “You look good,” he said in a detached voice. “The years haven’t done any damage.” His lids hung low over the clear blue of his eyes, like shields poised for battle.

Andi shrugged, hoping to hide her resentment at his observation. Did he expect her to be a forlorn, shriveled creature who’d begun deteriorating the moment he left? “Eight years isn’t that long,” she said. “I see you haven’t changed much either.”

She gestured toward a chair, but Justin remained standing, hands in his pockets, his actions punctuating her words. Neither of them had changed; their pride still covered them both like armor. Knowing it was true, that pride was her greatest fault, didn’t help her to deal with it or to repent from it. It had brought her to her knees more than once, full of remorse and good intentions, but now she knew it emanated from her as potently as it did from him.

Andi brought her eyes back to Justin, matching chill for chill, and when she finally broke the eye contact and looked at her desk, he sat down. She wondered how long they might have stood there staring at each other across the desk, neither saying a word, if she hadn’t broken the gaze first. The very childishness of all that pride made her angry. Crossing an ankle over a knee, Justin rested his elbows on the arms of his chair and clasped his hands loosely.

“I’ll be honest with you,” Andi said, forcing herself to meet his gaze again. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“I’ll be honest with you,” he parried, cocking his head. “I didn’t plan to. Not until about an hour ago.” His eyes strayed to the television monitors behind her desk and, thankful for something to say that was not so fraught with tension, Andi glanced over her shoulder.

“Those are my monitors. They tape everyone who goes or comes through any of the gates.”

“Ah, yes,” Justin said with a knowing nod. “The Sherman control.”

Andi felt a tight pull in her temples. “I’m running a business.”

“Running a business,” he repeated. “Twenty-nine years old, and all this is yours.”

A spark flickered across Andi’s eyes. “All mine,” she said through tight lips. “And you can believe that I’ve paid dearly for it. In fact, I wouldn’t be where I am if my father wasn’t lying in a hospital bed.”

Justin leaned his elbows on his knees and studied the lines of his palms. “Sorry,” he said, his eyes suddenly soft, the same softness that once had the power to melt her in a single glance. Now she remembered what she had seen in him all those years ago.

He covered his eyes and slid his hands slowly down his face. “I read about your father’s accident and his coma. I didn’t mean to bring the subject up like that. It was unfair. Lack of sleep sometimes puts me in a sour mood.”

“I know the feeling,” Andi answered quietly, some of her tension easing with his apology. Leaning back in her chair, she allowed herself to study the fatigue on his face and the weary slump of his shoulders. “You do look tired.”

“I work nights,” he explained noncommittally. “At the Mutual Bank Building. I’m a security guard there.”

“A security guard?” Her eyebrows shot up and she gazed at him with unveiled disbelief. “You went back to that?”

He nodded, glancing at a pencil holder on her desk as if he rued the fact that he’d mentioned it at all. “It supplements my income. Everything my cartoons net goes to pay my staff.”

A frown settled between her brows. “But you’re an animator. After you changed your major in college—”

“I told my dad that I could never be what he wanted me to be,” Justin finished, as if he’d chanted it to himself a thousand times. “But it’s gotten me through some rough spots. I’m glad I had the background.”

Andi leaned forward, fingering the contracts on her desk, fighting her urge to take up his cause and argue for his talent. “When do you sleep?”

The personal question laced with concern made him look at her for a long moment, a moment charged with electricity. Her heart began to swell. He was here. The old Justin. The first man she had ever loved.

But, as though he were engaged in some emotional struggle, he quickly shifted in his seat and took on that uncaring look again. The prideful Justin, the one who had been as much her enemy as her friend, shrugged and said, “Ordinarily I’d be sleeping right now.”

She fought away the emotions on her own face. “Oh. Sorry.” Andi cleared her throat and swiveled to the television set that held the tape of his cartoon, “Khaki’s Krewe
.
” She flicked it on, deciding it was time to get down to business before the tension thickened another degree. “Then I won’t waste any more of your time. I’ll get right to the point.” The cartoon came to life, and a smile played across Andi’s lips. “I understand this is yours.” She turned back to Justin, whose eyes had not left her long enough to view his own creation.

“You understand right.”

“It’s good. Very good.”

“Thanks,” he said mildly.

“Wes thinks so, too.”

Justin frowned. “What gives with Wes? Last I heard, he was working on the new mall.”

“He’s still working on it,” she said, “but it’s almost finished. And I was having trouble coordinating all of my builders—they kept clashing with each other—so I brought Wes in to coordinate them all for me. It was a good move. We both have the same vision for the park. It made a huge difference to have someone else who listens to God making decisions.”

“Wes always did have his heart in the right place. But I’m a little surprised that would make any difference to you.”

Andi leaned forward, frowning. “What do you mean by that?”

“Just that all those altruistic, spiritual dreams of yours must have flown out the window when you got involved with your father’s company. When you were nineteen, you were planning to be a missionary in Africa or somewhere by now.”

“And so were you,” she said in a hollow voice. “Instead, you’re working at the Mutual Bank Building as a security guard.”

It was a low blow, but no lower than the one he’d just dealt her.

“My cartoons are an evangelism tool,” he said. “They touch lives.”

“And so will my park.”

For a moment there was a thick silence between them, silence wrought with history and bitterness, silence that spoke volumes about betrayal and loyalty, and that fragile emotion called love.

Struggling to get past that history, Andi leaned on her elbows and clasped her hands under her chin. “As I was saying, Justin, the cartoons are good. And I understand that you haven’t been able to sell them to a network or any other lucrative medium.”

“So far,” the animator conceded, leaning back in his seat and resting his chin on his fingers. “I’ve come close, but the Christian theme and all the biblical parallels play against them. I’ll find a place for them soon enough. I’m a patient man.”

“You don’t have to be,” Andi said. She shifted her gaze to the television screen, where the nearsighted farmer was making his way across a cornfield, his animals running ahead of and around him, protecting him without his knowledge from the traps set by the troll.

It was time to make her move.

Andi turned back to Justin, praying he would see the sense in her offer and not some underlying motive. “I have the answer,” she announced. “I’d like to buy the exclusive rights to your cartoon and use the characters in Promised Land.”

Contrary to Andi’s expectations, there was no change in Justin’s expression, in his breathing, or in the steadfast way he studied her over steepled fingertips. There was no indication, in fact, that he’d heard her at all.

“Did you hear me?” she asked finally.

“I heard you. It’s just that I’m not surprised, really. When your secretary called, I assumed there would be some such offer.”

Andi forced a smile. “Good,” she said, not quite certain that she meant it. “Then you’ve thought about it.”

He breathed a mirthless laugh. “Thought about it? I guess you could say that. But it didn’t take much thought. I have no intention of handing over the exclusive rights to my cartoons to you or anybody else.”

Vexation rippled through Andi’s stiff muscles, and she cleared her throat and opened the file on her desk. “Justin, I hope you aren’t putting our past problems in the way of something that could help us both. You do realize, don’t you, that there’ll be a lot of money involved?”

“There’s always money involved, Andi. Aren’t you the one who taught me that?”

She closed her eyes. Of course they couldn’t get past that history, that stuffed baggage they both dragged behind them. Some things just didn’t go away.

BOOK: When Dreams Cross
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