Today’s the day y’all have been waiting for — the exciting sequel to Hesitant Heroes is finally here! Come find out what sort of trouble Jordan and Team Seven are getting into this time…
About the Book:
After rescuing their kidnapped friends and stopping the government from assassinating Councilor Sierra Stone, Jordan and Team Seven thought the fight was over, but the real battle is just beginning. Sierra must now try to regain her role in the Global Collective Council while also convincing them that River Wallis, co-chair of the Council, tried to kill her. But her success could very well lead to a civil war.
The Council will do everything in their power to stop Sierra, including killing her allies. Barely surviving an attack on their mountain hideaway, Jordan and Team Seven’s lives are on the line. Again. But Team Seven won’t give up that easily, and they set out to rally support for their cause. Unfortunately for Team Seven, they’re caught in the middle as the world takes sides.
Amidst attacks, lies, betrayals, and devastating losses, Jordan’s faith is shaken, and she struggles with her hatred for River Wallis. She knows that judgment belongs to God, but when she finally comes face to face with River, Jordan must rely on her faltering faith to choose wisely—give in to her need for vengeance, or give it up for God to decide.
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READ CHAPTER ONE:
A parrot squawked while a cool breeze lifted Jordan’s hair and cooled her cheeks. She loved the morning sounds of the jungle. Nothing like her home in Old Memphis or the Alps where she’d been attending school at Global Collective University. Her life had become a crazy whirlwind. In less than a year, she’d gone from a high school computer master to a wanted fugitive hiding in the jungles of Old Venezuela with a gang of freedom fighters.
Mom and Dad must be worried to death.
Jordan prayed every night that this wouldn’t last forever. Councilor Sierra Stone would soon come out of hiding and return to the Global Collective Council. She would make things right.
“Hey, Jordan, come quick,” Matthew hollered from the door of the computer room. “The news is coming on.”
Jordan rushed to the cinder-block building and bounded up the front step. Hopefully, today would be the day Councilor Stone returned to the Global Collective assembly. Jordan stepped inside, and Matthew motioned for her to join him at the table that held multiple computers. The daily news feed flashed on one of the computer screens.
“Every Collective on the planet is asking the same questions.” The red-faced newscaster spoke from the computer screen while he flipped through papers clutched in his hands. “When will Councilor Sierra Stone appear before the Global Collective Council? Has the once notorious rebel retreated forever?”
Jordan pushed the button shutting down the computer mounted on a dented folding table. She glanced at Matthew. “I’ve been wondering the same things. It’s been almost six weeks. How long is she going to hide?” She brushed her hair out of her damp face. “David acted like they’d go to Petra and meet with allies there, then confront Hunter and River Wallis in Old Paris. Do you think Ms. Stone’s afraid? Are we going to be stuck in this jungle forever?”
Matthew ran his hand up her arm, and sparks spread across her flesh. Would she ever grow accustomed to Matthew’s touch? Hopefully, this new-boyfriend thrill wouldn’t wear off anytime soon. She’d fallen for him the first time she’d looked into his baby blue eyes at Global Collective University, but she’d never dreamed a jock like Matthew could care about a brainy girl like her.
“Ms. Stone isn’t hiding. She and David are planning their next move.” His voice sounded confident as he directed her out of the small stucco shed that held the computer equipment. “This is too important to rush.”
Jordan squinted and shielded her face with her hand as Matthew pulled the door shut behind them. She’d been a computer geek most of her life, but this was the first time she’d ever worked on equipment covertly snuggled in the arms of a jungle paradise.
“I’ll never get used to that view.” Matthew sighed. “God did a great job on that one.”
Jordan’s gaze wandered from the top of the vast mountains to the vine-laden trees adorning them. Parrots squawked, and the heady scent of tropical flowers calmed her nerves. “I never thought Team Seven would end up hiding out in the Garden of Eden,” she said with a slight laugh.
“Let’s hope we don’t get kicked out of this Eden like the original inhabitants.” Matthew flashed his crooked grin, and her heart flipped.
The jungle was beautiful, but impossible to enjoy since they were living with insurgents and running from Hunter Wallis and his sister, River, the leaders of the powerful Global Collective Council. If only they could turn the clock back and be regular teens again. Sometimes, she wished she’d never discovered that River Wallis had kidnapped Christian students at GCU in a plan to assassinate Councilor Stone. That’s when this nightmare had begun. Jordan hated life as a fugitive, no matter how lovely the scenery. She consoled herself with the fact that the kidnapped students were safe, and Team Seven had stopped the assassination of Councilor Stone. Hopefully, the councilor would form a new and better government someday.
Loud voices bounded up the sloping hill. Jordan jerked to attention. At the bottom of the hill, a group of rugged men clothed in camo and khaki gathered in the center of the makeshift camp.
Jordan glanced at Matthew. “What’s going on down there?”
He shook his head and grabbed her arm. They skidded down the muddy hill past bright yellow trumpet trees and the long downy green leaves of the Espeletia plant. In the distance, Timberlyn, Team Seven’s unofficial medic, ran beside the rebel leader, Hector Alvarado. Hector clutched a young man and dragged him through the camp. Hector’s lieutenant, Carlos, walked behind the prisoner. Jordan paused to catch her breath. Had
one of the rebels disobeyed or caused trouble? Bless his heart. She’d hate to fall under Hector’s wrath.
As Jordan and Matthew moved closer to the disturbance, the young man lifted his head. Her heart somersaulted in her chest. “That’s Paul.”
Weeks ago, Hector Alvarado had rescued Team Seven after they’d stopped the assassination of Sierra Stone. He’d brought them to his mountain camp to protect them. Paul was a member of Team Seven, not a criminal.
Young men shook their fists at Paul, tattoos jumping on their biceps. They hurled vicious words at the frightened teen. Not for the first time, Jordan wished she didn’t understand Spanish.
Tears flowed down Timberlyn’s checks as she tugged on Hector’s arm. “Please, don’t hurt Paul. You have to listen.”
Hector ignored her pleas and moved steadily toward his command tent, dragging Paul with him, dirt flying from beneath their feet. Jordan and Matthew reached Hector’s tent as he shoved Paul inside.
Timberlyn jumped in front of Jordan. “Please do something. You can’t let them hurt him.”
Matthew’s brow wrinkled beneath the locks of brown hair falling across his forehead, and a frown covered his lips. Jordan’s chest tightened. This didn’t make any sense. Still clutching Timberlyn, she stepped inside the tent. Matthew followed.
Paul crouched on the ground in the back of the large military canvas like a frightened animal, Carlos standing guard. Hector stood behind his wobbly desk scarred by several bullet holes.
“This friend of yours has been helping himself to our drug supply.” Hector waved his arm in Paul’s direction, but his fierce glare never left Jordan, as if anticipating her interference. “Jose broke his leg today, and we don’t have any pain meds left.”
Jordan shook her head and stared at Paul. He kept his head bowed and twisted his trembling hands. “Why would Paul want pain medicine? It’s a mistake.”
“He’s right, Jordan.” Paul’s voice trembled, his words slurred. “I-I have a problem. Ever since GCU hooked me and the other kidnapped students on drugs. . . I can’t quit.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and sighed. Would the Global Collective’s destruction ever end? River Wallis had turned Paul and the other kids into drug addicts so she could use them in her twisted scheme to destroy Sierra Stone.
“You heard him,” Hector said. “He’s a liability, and I have to deal with that.”
Timberlyn’s fingers tightened on Jordan’s flesh, sending ripples of pain up her arm. “Paul wants to break his addiction. He came to me today and asked if I could help.”
“Can you?” Jordan asked. Surely, God would not allow Paul’s addiction to destroy him. Especially since he was a good person and totally committed to the Lord.
Tears poured down Timberlyn’s face. “Yes, with all the vines and berries in this jungle, I know I can.”
Jordan nodded and stepped closer to Hector’s desk. “Timberlyn can help Paul break his addiction. That takes care of the problem.”
Hector shook his head. “No, it doesn’t, little girl. He stole from me.”
A rush of sunlight filled the oppressive tent as the flap flew open. Rafael Alvarado and Hannie Jacobson stepped inside.
“I just heard what happened.” Rafael traveled the dirt floor in several long strides. “Don’t do anything foolish, bro.” A deep frown creased his brow. “Paul’s not a soldier. He’s a messed-up kid.”
Surely, the rebel leader would listen to his own flesh and blood.
“Paul’s managed to steal for weeks.” Hector’s scratchy voice deepened. “He’s not that messed up.”
“Cut him some slack, Hector.” Matthew stepped in front of Jordan as if he needed to protect her from Hector.
Beads of sweat formed above Rafael’s lip, and he blinked rapidly while he watched Hector’s every move. What was wrong with the two of them? Jordan had seen Hector’s fiery temper before. She’d watched him kill their enemies, but Paul was not an enemy. Did Rafael and Matthew know
something she didn’t?
Matthew inched closer to Hector. “Paul is one of us. Team Seven. He’s not one of your rebels.”
Hector pounded the desk with his fist, and Jordan jumped. “Why did I ever let Marah stick me with you children?”
“You can’t blame Marah, and we’re not children,” Hannie said.
“Shut up, Hannie.” Rafael waved his hand at Hannie, another person with an explosive temper, then turned his attention back to Hector. “You’re right, bro, we are a bunch of inexperienced kids. None of us asked to be here, so don’t punish Paul for being—”
“The girl is right,” Hector said. “You’re not children. Paul is what? Nineteen? The same age as half my men. My men respect and follow me because they know I always punish the guilty. Paul is a thief.”
Jordan’s head pounded as she struggled to comprehend this crazy situation. A wooden structure with bars stood in the center of the rebel compound, but she’d never imagined that Hector put people in jail. He couldn’t be more than eight or ten years older than Jordan and the rest of Team Seven. How could he be so inflexible and hard-hearted?
Hector pushed Rafael aside. “Get out of my way, baby brother.” He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a pistol.
Timberlyn and Jordan gasped.
Hector spun around and leveled the gun at Paul. Timberlyn cried, and Hannie cursed. Jordan slipped around Matthew. He grabbed for her but missed. She rushed past Carlos and knelt in front of Paul.
“You will have to shoot me first, Hector.” Her voice shook, but her determination was solid.
Hector squinted, but the gun never wavered. “Don’t make me hurt you, Jordan.”
Paul tried to push Jordan away. “Please don’t do this. I’m not worth it. I’ll be better off out of my misery, and out of everybody’s way.”
She grabbed Paul’s chin and forced him to look at her. A mix of fear and sorrow glimmered in his eyes while she brushed his sweaty hair off his forehead. “You’re not going to take the easy way out. God and Timberlyn will help you beat this thing.”
“Get out of the way, little girl,” Hector said with a growl in his voice.
Despite the suffocating heat, an icy shiver shook Jordan’s body.
Matthew stepped toward her, his skin pale and mouth twisted. “Get up, Jordan. We won’t let Hector hurt Paul.”
Hector released a harsh laugh.
Matthew closed his eyes and exhaled slowly.
Jordan stood but didn’t step away from Paul. Stifling humidity drenched her as she lifted her chin and fixed a hard stare on the rebel. “I don’t believe you’ll shoot me, Hector.”
The gun shook slightly. Sweat dripped down Hector’s face. “I won’t shoot you.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat. Her vision blurred as her heart pounded against her ribs.
“But Carlos will move you out of my way.”
Jordan yelped as Carlos grabbed her arm and yanked her away from Paul. She struggled, but the man’s fingers bit into her flesh. Grabbing his hand, she worked to pull back each steel-like finger. Matthew moved toward Carlos, seeking to protect her. She couldn’t allow them to fight. The scars covering Carlos’s face and body proved he’d survived many battles. An eighteen-year-old jock wouldn’t have a chance. Dear God, I don’t have physical strength. Give me the words.
Jordan leveled a crushing stare at Hector. “Do you really want River Wallis to win?”
Hector flinched. He lowered the gun a bit and glared at her. “What do you mean?”
“River Wallis did this to Paul. She turned him into a drug addict.” Jordan let out a soft laugh at the irony of the situation. “She’s the one who stole those meds from you, and she’s the reason you got stuck with a bunch of kids, but instead of hunting down River, you’re going to punish Paul.” She shook free of Carlos’s grip.
The scar across his face twisted with confusion. Everyone here hated River Wallis, and they’d sooner trust a rattlesnake than that evil woman. Jordan stepped closer to Hector’s desk. “If you kill Paul, River wins another victory. Team Seven wants to destroy her. We thought you did, too, but now you’re on her side.”
Rafael’s mouth hung open, and fear covered Hannie’s normally sassy face. Matthew’s heavy breaths filled the silence, and Timberlyn stared at Jordan. A slight breeze blew through the open tent flap. It lifted Jordan’s curls and ruffled a few papers on the dilapidated desk. Time had stopped.
“All right, little girl, you win—for now.” Hector tossed the pistol on the desk. “I’ll give the healer a couple of weeks to straighten Paul out.” He nodded his head at Timberlyn. “But, if he’s still hooked on drugs after that, we’ll deal with it my way.”
Timberlyn sobbed, and Hannie pulled her close. Rafael slouched back against the desk. Jordan’s heart turned somersaults in her chest.
Matthew grabbed Jordan and shook her. “I could shoot you myself.”
She collapsed against him, tears stinging her eyes and her knees shaking.
Hector pointed to Paul. “But he can’t run loose. Carlos, put him in the cell.”
Jordan blinked. “But it’s hot and miserable out there and—”
Matthew’s hand covered her mouth while Rafael motioned for her to be quiet.
Paul climbed to his feet. “I’ll be fine in the cell. I prefer it since I can’t trust myself.”
“Um, I can clean it up and put a comfortable bedroll in there,” Timberlyn said. “I’ll make tonics to help Paul through withdrawals, and I’ll make a poultice to ease Jose’s pain.”
Hector nodded. Carlos led Paul through the tent. Paul stopped beside Timberlyn. “Thank you for your help, Timberlyn. I wish I had a Bible to pass the time.”
Team Seven had left behind the only Bible they owned when they escaped into the mountains with Hector.
“You know a lot of verses by memory,” Jordan said. “That will come in handy.”
Paul offered her a sad smile. “Yes. That will help a lot. Thank you . . . for everything.”
Jordan’s tears now flowed. How had the tears stayed away this long? I must be getting tougher with age. She stepped closer to Matthew and put her head against his chest. Yet another nightmare had passed. Would life ever be sane again?
Hector cleared his throat and pulled a dirty Bible out of the desk drawer. “Here, boy. You can use this.” He gave the book to Rafael, who passed it to Paul.
Timberlyn’s jaw dropped. Paul took the Bible and clutched it against his chest. Hannie stared wide-eyed, and Rafael’s jaw dropped.
“What’s wrong with all of you?” Hector looked at each of them in turn. “It was a gift from my mother. I couldn’t throw it away.”
That night, Jordan, Matthew, Rafael, and Hannie sat around a small fire. They’d eaten beans and rice for the one hundredth time. Jordan loved beans, but morning, noon, and night was overkill. Spider monkeys screamed, insects chirped, and she jumped at the roar of a jaguar.
She folded her arms across her chest. “I hate to think of Paul spending the night alone in that jail cell.”
“At least he’s alive,” Hannie said, smiling at Jordan. “Thanks to you.” She turned her attention to Rafael and punched his shoulder. “I hope you don’t have as bad a temper as your brother.”
“You know I don’t. You’re still alive, aren’t you?” Rafael’s toothy grin flashed in the firelight as he tried to pull Hannie close.
She shoved him away. “Hilarious.”
Leaves crunched with the sound of heavy footsteps. Timberlyn, Malese, and Victor joined them. Timberlyn and Malese both moved like silent cats in the jungle, but gigantic Victor’s lumbering gait announced his entrance. Of course, Baltic Collective wrestling champs weren’t known for their stealth.
“Paul is resting now,” Timberlyn said. “I gave him some tonic that should help him sleep through the night.”
“We got the cell cleaned up, and Victor put Paul’s sleeping bag in it,” Malese added. “He’s all set.”
“Thanks guys.” Jordan grabbed Timberlyn’s hand, pulling the African girl down beside her. “Y’all are terrific.”
Timberlyn grinned. “You’re the brave one.”
Brave? That word didn’t fit. Since childhood, fear had tormented her. In the last few months, God had pushed her to the brink, determined to use her regardless of her fears and doubts. Jordan loved the Biblical story of Queen Esther. Like Esther, Team Seven had been put in a certain place for a certain time to accomplish God’s mission.
“I’m afraid God is disappointed in me,” she whispered.
“Why?” Matthew asked.
“Because I hate River Wallis, and hatred is wrong. I can’t help it. Look at what she’s done to us.” She motioned in the direction of the rebel camp and noisy jungle. “And look what she’s done to Paul. The other students we rescued are probably suffering withdrawals, too.”
“There’s no sin in hating River Wallis.” Hannie slapped her denim-clad thighs. “I sure won’t lose any sleep over it.”
Why can’t I be practical and strong like Hannie instead of an emotional wreck? Jordan tugged on one of her tangled curls as another good friend
tugged on her memory and heart. “We don’t know if Laurel is safe in Old Paris. She sacrificed her happiness to help us escape. River ruined Laurel’s life, too.”
Matthew grunted. “River didn’t do it all by herself. Don’t forget Hunter, Cimarron, and about half of the councilors on the Global Council. Team Seven has a long list of enemies.”
Jordan nodded. “But River is the one who ordered the assassination attempt on Ms. Stone.” A shudder shook her.
“I know how you feel,” Matthew said. “I don’t want to hate River either, but she makes it so easy. Let’s say we strongly dislike her.”
“Sounds good to me,” Malese said with a giggle.
Malese and Victor swung their clasped hands back and forth. A petite princess who could deliver a killer roundhouse and a gentle giant. A giant still nursing a bullet wound and wearing an arm sling.
Rafael stood and tossed a few handfuls of dirt on the fire. “Sierra Stone will turn the Global Council upside down when she comes out of hiding. The evil queen is about to lose her kingdom.”
Matthew stood, pulling Jordan up beside him. “That’s right. River shouldn’t have messed with Team Seven.”
Jordan snuggled close to him while Rafael and Hannie kicked dirt over the fire until the orange flames hissed and sputtered, sending up tiny clouds of smoke.
Rafael yawned and stretched. “I’m gonna get some sleep.”
“Me too.” Matthew kissed Jordan’s forehead.
Rafael and Hannie hugged and slapped each other on the back. Malese disappeared into Victor’s tree-like arms as he kissed the top of her head.
Timberlyn ran ahead to the girls’ cabin. “Good night all.”
The boys mumbled good night and headed to their nearby tents. A damp breeze tickled Jordan’s cheek, and she sighed. Seven months ago, they’d all met at Global Collective University and been placed on Team Seven. This skilled group of teens had intimidated her. A marksman, athlete, martial arts champ, and wrestler.
Now, they were more than friends. They’d rescued Paul and the other missing students and saved Councilor Stone’s life. If only that had been enough. But Hunter and River Wallis still ruled the powerful Global Collective and would do anything to keep their power.
Why had God chosen to use a bunch of teenagers to perform such important tasks? The Bible said God delighted in using foolish things to confound the wise. He often worked through the young and powerless. If God still had a mission for Team Seven, she and her friends would do their best to answer His call.
Need to catch up with Team Seven?
Go snag a copy of the first book in this thrilling series — Hesitant Heroes is now available!
In a future where the planet is ruled by the powerful Global Collective Council, and religion is outlawed, Jordan Scott is chosen to attend Global Collective University because of her phenomenal computer skills. Shy and insecure, she has difficulty fitting in with the intelligent, worldly teens at GCU. She joins a secret Bible study and meets Matthew Thomas, a good-looking jock with a big heart. Jordan’s relationship with Matthew grows deeper, and she even manages to bond with her cranky roommate while growing closer to her fellow teammates.
When Christian students mysteriously start disappearing from campus, Jordan stumbles upon the shocking truth—these students are pawns in a government plot, and she’s next on their list. Suddenly, she’s forced into a leadership position as she and her teammates journey from the European Alps to the jungles of Venezuela in a race to save the missing students and stop a political assassination. Fighting fears that have haunted her for years, Jordan battles with the strongest political force on the planet. She believes God placed her at GCU for “such a time as this.” Jordan will have to rely on her faith and friends to save the missing students and foil the evil government.
About the Author:
Sharon Rene is a legal assistant who loves cats, and writing. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she has taught Sunday school in the children’s and youth departments for over fifteen years. In 2018 her book of short stories for children entitled A Mixed Bag of God’s Grace was published. She’s also published numerous flash fiction stories.
As an only child, Sharon has always been very close to her parents. She spent a lot of time reading and developed a huge imagination which she now channels into writing.
Church has always been an important part of Sharon’s life and she’s participated in mission trips to Argentina, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Sharon could vividly picture the wild beauty of the country as she wrote the Venezuela scenes in Hesitant Heroes.
Sharon has lived in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. She currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sharon is grateful that God has given her the opportunity to reach young people with her words and hopes her writings will help them grow closer to God.