Welcome back! We are excited to share our last installment of 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 /Chapter 26 / Chapter 27
MADISON SOAKED IN THE WARM sun and breathed in the salty air. How was it Friday already? She glanced over at Luke’s strong profile and sighed. Talk about surreal.
This was the most bizarre week imaginable—and one she would never forget as long as she lived. Had she really survived a Caribbean kidnapping ordeal a few short days ago? That didn’t happen to regular people. To high-school teachers from Seattle.
She touched her wrist and then her upper arm. The bruises from being bound and manhandled were almost invisible, thanks to a deepening tan. Earlier this morning, she had walked along the beach with Luke, and her ankle didn’t even twinge. Every part of her was healing. Especially her heart.
The past few days, Chloe and Nathan had made an occasional appearance, and Madison was relieved to see them salvage at least part of their honeymoon. It was not the ideal start to a marriage, but in some ways, the scare had brought the couple even closer together. They would have no secrets from each other in the future. Madison smiled. She had shared some special conversations with Chloe since Tuesday, when she returned the journal and iPod. Her sister may not realize it, but she was searching spiritually, and God was already working in her life. This was just the beginning for the newlyweds.
And it was the beginning for her and Luke. Unbelievable. Most of this week, Madison spent precious time with him. Together, they laughed, cried, talked, and shared about everything including the kidnapping ordeal. Madison worked through any lingering worries and was able to bring closure to every part of her life involving Sam.
Now she dreamed of a future with her brother-in-law’s brother. Didn’t see that coming a week ago. When she arrived in Jamaica last Friday, love was the furthest thing from Madison’s mind. Her priority had been to create a magical wedding for her sister and keep her old ghosts at bay. She had been purely in survival mode. She went into the vacation skeptical and licking her wounds—until a certain missionary caught her eye. Thoughts of Mexico swirled in her mind, and she realized she had memorized the name of almost every orphan at Luke’s home. Learning Spanish was not accidental. There was a plan all along.
God works in mysterious ways. She had always wondered about that little gem of a saying and now she understood the depth of its meaning. Mysterious, all right.
Tomorrow, the four of them were due to fly back to Seattle for Chloe and Nathan’s wedding reception. Madison bit her thumbnail. “Luke, do you think all this has been in the papers back home? I hate to think of the reception being tarnished or overshadowed by the kidnapping.”
“Honey, there’s nothing we can do about it from here. We’ll keep a low profile when we hit Seattle. I know Mom and Dad have kept it quiet. It was all Dad could do to stop Mom flying out and pampering us to death. Fortunately, she’s going out of her way to ensure every detail of the reception is perfect. Try not to worry about it. Let’s enjoy our last day in paradise.”
Madison leaned back against his shoulder. “You’re right. But you don’t think they’ll transport Sam and Blue Eyes on the same flight as us, do you?”
Luke stroked her arm. “Already sorted out. No chance of that happening.”
“Do you think the media will try to crash the—”
“Madison.” He voice held a smile.
“Yes? I know. I’m a worrier. It’s what I do.”
Luke turned to face her and took off his shades.
Madison melted. Would she ever grow accustomed to those green eyes?
“I love you, worries and all. But what’s our verse again? ‘Do not be anxious about…’”
“‘Anything.’” Madison laughed. “You’re going to have to be patient. This one doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’m working on it.”
“And that’s fine. Believe me—I’ve got plenty of my own issues to work on. But I’ll help you. You know that now, don’t you?”
Madison ran her fingers through his thick, wavy hair. “You’ve helped me with so much this week, it’s ridiculous. First, you saved my life. That was rather a big one. Then you had me snorkeling, and you taught me to pray without ceasing, give my worries over to God, and on top of everything else, you’ve stolen my heart. Not bad for a missionary.”
Luke kissed her cheek and pulled her sparkly pink sunglasses from her face. Never thought she’d see those glasses again.
“I’ve fallen in love with you, Miss Grey. Unconditionally. You turned my world upside down. I know God was keeping me single because I had to wait for you.”
“Luke, that’s beautiful.”
“It’s true. I’ve never been more certain of anything. Now I’m the one who’s out of my depth, so we have to help each other stay afloat to make this relationship work. You do trust me, don’t you?”
“I do. I’m ready for whatever comes next. Chloe’s happy and excited to start her life with Nathan. And I’m ready to start using my Spanish in a practical capacity anytime you like.”
“For real? Are we talking Mexico?” His eyes sparkled as brightly as her sunglasses in his hand.
“Hmm. I’ve been praying and I think I could be persuaded.” Madison batted her eyelashes. “Especially if I get to meet a certain little baby named Sophia.”
“It can be arranged. And I was kind of hoping there would be other babies on the horizon…”
“Green eyes and chocolate-brown ringlets?” Madison raised a brow.
Luke fiddled with the yellow-and-brown woven bracelet on his wrist until it came loose.
She gasped. “What have you done? Didn’t your orphanage kids make you promise you’d keep it on the whole time you were away?”
Luke didn’t reply at first. He took Madison’s delicate wrist and tied the bracelet around it, fastening it with a tight knot. “Somehow, I don’t think they’ll mind that I found a beautiful girl to put it on—if there’s a chance they’ll get to meet her.” He slipped his phone from his pocket and snapped a picture of her adorned wrist. “There we go. Proof for them.”
Madison gazed at the bracelet and reminded herself to exhale. Was this happening? She grabbed Luke’s hand. “Tell them I promise to keep it on until they can see it for themselves.”
“They’ll hold you to it, you know.”
Luke moved closer, and they watched the fluffy clouds float across the turquoise Caribbean sky in comfortable silence. Today was the final hurdle of all the fears she faced during her stay in Jamaica. It felt good. Amazing even. Nestled in the arms of the most wonderful man imaginable, she rocked on the ocean in a glass bottom boat.
What a week of miracles.
Luke cleared his throat. “The Alexander brothers are known for their short engagements, you know.”
Madison closed her eyes and took a deep breath, memorizing this spectacular moment.
“I’m counting on it, missionary boy.”
Her life would never be the same again.
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