Well, we’ve had a few historical first encounters, but now it’s time to change things up a bit with multi-published author, Colleen Coble. Not only do her books tell a great story, but with all the action, adventure, and plot twists, you feel more like you’ve ridden a breathtaking rollercoaster by the end than sat back in an easy chair 🙂
Colleen has won all sorts of awards for her fiction, both with short stories and novel-length suspense. Her credentials are pretty impressive and you can check them out , along with her list of novels,at www.colleencoble.com
I’m so tickled she agreed to be a part of this series. So, let’s find out what she’s brought with her today.
Colleen, what do you think makes a good first encounter?
I like to see the conflict setup and the first spark of noticing the other person as attractive. 🙂
Here is an excerpt from Colleen’s newest novel, Lonestar Homecoming. Book 3 in her Lonestar series.
As Michael disembarked the train, his gaze settled on a young woman who held a little girl of about five by the hand. What caught his attention more than the fragile beauty of her fine-boned face and full lips was the wedding gown she wore. It was creased and spotted as though she’d worn it several days. Her dark blond hair hung in wisps around her cheeks where it had fallen from a shiny clip.
The little girl glanced up with an appeal in her brown eyes. Her pink dress was all ruffles. A layer of dust dulled the shine on her patent leather shoes. “Mommy, I’m hungry,” she said.
“I know, Hope,” the woman said, her voice full of defeat. “I’m out of money.” She blinked rapidly, but a tear escaped and trickled down her pale cheek. She turned to a woman beside her. “Would you be going to Bluebird Crossing? My daughter and I need a ride.”
“No, dear, I’m sorry. I live here in Alpine. There’s my husband.” The woman waved at a craggy-faced man in a cowboy hat and walked away.
The young woman’s face took on more determination, and she turned toward the next person exiting the train. Michael started toward them, his hand going to the pocket that held his money clip. The woman swayed as her knees began to buckle. What little color remained in her face leached out. He sprang forward in time to catch her before she crumpled to the walk. As he lifted her in his arms and carried her to a nearby bench, he noticed how slight she was.
“Mommy, Mommy!” The little girl ran after them with tears streaming down her face.
“It’s okay,” Michael said, pitching his voice to a low, soothing murmur. He laid the woman on the bench, then pressed his fingers to the thin skin of her wrist. Her pulse jumped erratically beneath his fingertips.
He glanced at the little girl hovering beside her mother. “Hope, has your mommy had anything to eat?”
Hope shook her head. “She only had five dollars when we ran away. She bought some apples, but she said she wasn’t hungry and I could eat them.”
“How long ago was this?”
Hope wrinkled her forehead. “We rode the train all day yesterday and slept on it last night.”
It was middle of the afternoon now, so Michael assumed the woman hadn’t eaten in two days. He wanted to ask why Hope’s mommy had run away from her wedding, but it wasn’t his business. “What’s your mommy’s name?” he asked Hope as he took out his water bottle.
“Gracie. I’m Hope. Hope Lister,” she said.
Gracie Lister. The name fit the delicate woman on the bench. Her nose had a dusting of freckles. Translucent eyelids fluttered, then opened wide, revealing eyes as blue as the cheery storefront behind them. A tiny scar gleamed on her forehead.
She started to sit up, but he pressed her back. “Easy. Here, have a sip of water.” He held the bottle to her lips and she swallowed a mouthful. “A little more,” he instructed.
She nodded and took another drink. “Thank you so much,” she said. “I don’t know what came over me. The heat maybe.”
He helped her sit, then pushed her gently forward until her head was down. “Sit up when your head clears. Take deep breaths.”
After a few inhalations, she straightened. “I feel much better,” she said.
“Hope says you haven’t eaten in two days.”
A delicate bloom of color stained her cheeks. “I’m fine.”
“I don’t think so, ma’am. I heard you tell Hope you had no more money. Where’s your luggage?”
Her hands twisted together in her lap. “I . . . I had to leave it behind.”
He saw the fear in her eyes, the way she couldn’t hold his gaze. Was she running from an abusive fiancé? A distasteful marriage arranged by her family? His gaze went to her left hand again. It was bare, so apparently she’d escaped before the marriage happened.
“Do you live here?” she asked, glancing around. Her pupils dilated when her gaze fell on the crowd moving past. The muscles in her throat convulsed, and she shrank back against the bench when a tall man came toward her. Her breath eased from between her lips when the man passed without another glance at her.
“No, I’m heading to Bluebird Crossing.”
Her head came up. “Could we catch a ride with you?”
“Why are you going to Bluebird?”
She wet her lips, and her gaze darted away. “I’m looking for a job.”
“In Bluebird? Ma’am, you’re not likely to find much there.”
“I—I have a contact there,” she said. “Someone to help me.”
While he knew the folks in his tiny burg were neighborly, he couldn’t see her finding any real job there. “I can give you a ride when mine gets here.” His gaze swept the parking lot. “I don’t think he’ll be here for another half hour, though.”
“I’d be so grateful,” she said, more color coming to her face.
“How about we get something to eat?” He held up his hand when objection gathered in her eyes. “My treat. Hope is hungry.”
The rebellion in her eyes disappeared, and she nodded. “Thank you.”
He nodded across the street. “A sub sandwich sounds good to me. How about you?”
“Hope loves turkey sandwiches,” Gracie said.
He took Gracie’s hand and helped her to stand. “You okay? Dizzy or anything?”
“I’m fine,” she said.
As he led her across the street, he noticed the way she glanced over her shoulder and the tension in her muscles. What was she running from?
There are so many amazing first encounters with Jesus, but one I really enjoy reading is the story of the woman at the well. The Samaritan Woman. If you’ve ever paid attention, the entire gospel slows down at this story. The book is moving along from one action of Jesus to the next, especially in Mark, and then our attention is drawn to this first encounter.
A SAMARITAN and a WOMAN – two things that left her the ‘outcast’ category. Add to that she’d been married quite a few times and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband, and then you get a forsaken Samaritan Woman.
So how did Jesus view her? Did he ignore her like most Jewish men would have done?
Nope. He gets into a theological debate with her. He causes a bit of conflict. He throws the truth in her face – both of her own sin and of his salvation. All over a discussion about water. Because at the heart of it all, Jesus wasn’t concerned about what ‘others’ thought, or proper etiquette, or making the right political move. The heart of his message was for the heart of this woman. For all of our hearts.
We are loved.
But – he loves us so much, he will not leave us in our sin. He takes our parched soul and soothes it with living water.
UP NEXT: Let’s not just end the week with a sizzle, but a rolling boil. Kissing QUEEN and romantic tension diva, Julie Lessman is up tomorrow. AND SHE’S HAVING a BOOK GIVEAWAY. Stop by and join in the fun.