Welcome back to our Wednesday and Saturday serial installments! We are happy to continue to share The Glass Bottom Boat by Laura Thomas.
Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9/ Chapter 10 / Chapter 11 / Chapter 12 / Chapter 13 / Chapter 14 / Chapter 15 / Chapter 16 / Chapter 17/ Chapter 18 / Chapter 19 / Chapter 20 / Chapter 21 / Chapter 22 / Chapter 23/ Chapter 24 / Chapter 25
WHEN THEIR RESORT CAME INTO view, Luke cut the boat’s engine. This whole crazy ordeal was almost over, thank goodness. Soon, Madison would be reunited with her sister, but first he had questions he needed to ask her. “Can we talk for a few minutes in private before facing the barrage of questioning?”
Madison sat up straight. “Of course.”
He held one of her hands as they sat side by side. He twirled her signet ring around and around on her finger. This was going to be awkward, but he needed to know. “I want to make sure I heard you correctly back there. Did you say Sam was responsible for your parents’ death?”
She nodded. “That’s what he told me.” He strained to hear her whisper. “He also said he’d been pilfering money from Dad’s company for years. This scheme has been a long-term plan, and I guess when I busted him last year, he couldn’t let it go.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “How can I live with myself, knowing I fell in love with and almost married my parents’ murderer?” She gasped after saying it aloud.
Luke longed to take her pain away. He angled her face to look right at him and stared into her eyes.
“You were innocent in all this. You have to remember that. Sam is out of control, and you have to cling to the truth. You and Chloe are both alive and safe in spite of his plans. I guess your father didn’t see through him, either. You can’t blame yourself. It’s in the past, and it’ll take some working through, but look at what you endured and survived tonight.”
“I know. It’s going to be so hard breaking that piece of news to Chloe. It was painful enough coming to terms with our parents dying in a freak accident. I have my faith, and I know God will get us through this mess, but I’m worried about Chloe.” Her shoulders sagged. “And there’s something else I need to tell you.”
There was more? “Okay. Go ahead.”
Madison pulled away. “Back in the glass bottom boat, I found something, and I’m not sure what it means.” She sniffed and retrieved a small object from the waistband of her shorts.
Luke held out his hand. “What is it?”
“It’s a gold cuff link, and I know who it belongs to.” She closed her eyes.
Luke inspected it. “N.A. You think it belongs to Nathan?” His mouth fell open. What did that even mean? Why was she carrying around a cuff link belonging to his brother? “Wait. You said you found it in the boat?”
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe it myself, but I know for a fact it’s his because I was with Chloe when she bought it for him last Christmas.”
Nathan? He didn’t want to even touch it. He handed it back and raked his hand through his windswept hair. What on earth? “And it was in the boat? Are you positive? I don’t understand. I’ve only ever seen him wear cuff links on his wedding day. I don’t even know—”
“Yeah, I’m positive. I love your brother to bits, Luke. I do. But do you think he could have been involved in any of this? I don’t think he even knew Sam.”
Nausea crept up from Luke’s stomach as he looked out over the pitch-black ocean. “I think my little brother has some explaining to do. He already told Chloe and me that he met Sam earlier this year.”
“What? No. Poor Chloe. How could he?”
Luke touched her hand. “Hear me out a second. He didn’t realize it was Sam at the time. He said he wouldn’t know him from Adam because there are no photos or anything at your place, which is understandable.”
“We believe Sam set him up with the resort and even tied the boat into the scheme. There’s a lot of information to sort through, but I know he would never, ever intentionally put you or Chloe in any danger.” God, he wouldn’t, would he? “He’s not that kind of guy. I guarantee it. I don’t understand the details, but I trust my brother. Do you trust me?”
Madison gazed up with tears in her eyes. “With my life.”
“Then let’s wait and talk with Nathan so we can figure everything out. Okay?”
“Yes, you’re right. There has to be some logical explanation.” She slipped the cuff link back into her pocket and looked ahead. “Since we’re nearly here, would you do something for me?”
Luke stroked her still-damp hair. “I think you know by now I’d do anything for you.” Lord, this feels so right…
She gripped his hand. “Pray for us?”
They bowed their heads. “Heavenly Father, how do we begin to thank You for leading me to Madison in that boat? For helping us escape? For the police arriving in time? You are sovereign and we are in awe. But, Lord, there is still so much we don’t understand, and we desperately need Your wisdom. And we pray for our siblings in this, for Nathan and Chloe and their brand-new marriage. And we pray for our relationship, too.” He paused and peeked down at their entwined fingers. “Father, that it might blossom and grow, if it’s Your will. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.”
Madison squeezed his hand in response. They were in this together.
“Amen.” Her voice was loud and clear. So was the message. His heart soared.
He started the boat back up and steered it in the direction of the resort. As he approached an empty spot between two speedboats on the main resort dock, a massive sigh of relief escaped his lips for many reasons. Madison was safe—that was his mission and it was accomplished. He hadn’t freaked out while on the hunt for her and even came away with zero injuries—bonus. Chloe and Nathan would be able to continue their honeymoon, as long as this cuff link business was cleared up. His stomach churned at the mere thought of his brother being involved with such lowlifes. No way. But he needed answers. And until then, he needed to keep Madison safe. And Chloe.
He pulled Madison in close beside him. She must be emotionally spent. This was surreal. He was opening up his heart to the most wonderful woman he could have dreamed of. The peace radiating from his inmost being was confirmation; this was so right. And what about Mexico? Seattle? How did he and Madison make a relationship work on the mission field? They had a great deal to talk about. But not today.
He waved at Nathan and Chloe, who stood together at the end of the main dock. First things first—they had questions to answer, a kidnapping to wrap up, and a mystery to solve regarding a certain cuff link.
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