From This Moment - Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bradleyville, Kansas

Jase Edgar

Jase checked the GPS. Again. The thing showed he’d reached Bradleyville, but it had to be wrong. He scratched his stubbled cheek and frowned out the window. He’d left San Antonio for this? He must have lost his ever-lovin’ mind.

Thick, hairy grass—wheat, probably—grew on both sides of the road. A little gas station, its wood siding painted bright white with red trim, stood proudly near the two-lane road, but where was the town? There wasn’t a single other business in sight. Only a smattering of what appeared to be houses. They formed two uneven north-to-south rows about a quarter mile behind the station. If this was Bradleyville, he’d made a horrible mistake.

Why had he said goodbye to San Antonio, where he’d lived since he was fourteen? Goodbye to the folks at Grace Chapel, who’d welcomed him into their fold eighteen years ago? And goodbye to Rachel? A lump filled his throat, making it hard to take a breath. Saying goodbye to Rachel…that’d been hardest of all. How had he found the strength to turn his back on the love of his life?

He shook his head. He hadn’t turned his back on her. What had Brother Tony said? Jase closed his eyes and forced himself to recall every word the wise pastor had said to him during their final counseling session his last evening in San Antonio. “You’ll always carry her with you, Jase, but this fresh start means you’re trusting God with the next chapter of your life.”

The problem was, even after twelve months of coming to grips with the fact that she was gone, he didn’t want a new chapter. He wanted the one he and Rachel had scripted together. And taking the first step of his so-called new chapter on April first—April Fools’ Day—seemed especially inappropriate. He wondered, not for the first time, what God had been thinking to take her and leave him behind.

He scowled at the GPS. According to the lines on the screen, his new boss’s address—207 Bluebell Street—was a bit west and north of where he now sat in the idling U-Haul. Gritting his teeth, he eased his foot off the brake and rolled forward on a potholed dirt road. He passed the gas station and came to an intersection marked by a handmade sign indicating Bluebell Street. He could only go right, so he made the turn and drove slowly, scanning both sides of the street while holding the U-Haul to a crawl.

A street called Bush brought an end to the wheat field on the left and led to a block with two small houses separated by empty lots. More wheat on the right. Disbelief weighted his gut. How could they call this place a town? The next intersection was the first four-way intersection he’d encountered so far. A metal building with a cupola filled a good chunk of land on the right. A portable sign sat at the edge of the road. Black block letters spelled out Beech Street Bible Fellowship. So this was where he’d serve as a youth pastor.

He eased to a stop and craned his neck, giving the church a better examination. Now he could see there were actually two long metal buildings standing roughly twenty feet apart. The first one had the cupola, and the second sported a wooden cross nailed to its front. Some sort of enclosed breezeway, the peak of its roof barely reaching the eaves of the other two structures, connected the two halves. Although there wasn’t an official steeple or any stained-glass windows, the buildings and the yard all looked clean and well cared for. Not fancy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Not even churchy. But homey somehow.

Jase’s angst eased a bit.

Shifting his focus forward again, he spotted a two-story home with a trio of carriage-type garage doors on its lower level. The front of a ranch-style house stuck out from the far side of the garage. Its paint colors—cream with dark green trim—matched the garage. No other house sat on the right-hand side of Bluebell Street, so it had to be where the pastor lived. Jase pulled in a breath and blew it out, then drove the remaining distance, the growl of the U-Haul’s tires loud on the gravel road.

He parked in front of the house and turned off the engine. He hadn’t even climbed out of the cab before the front door of the house opened and a smiling couple stepped out onto the porch. The woman