Awakening: A Christian Romance Novel (The Lewis Legacy Series, Book One) [MultiFormat]
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eBook by JoAnn Durgin
eBook Category: Romance/Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. For Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke, it proves a combustible combination.
Lexa Clarke signs up for a TeamWork Missions summer assignment expecting adventure in a far-off, exotic country. Instead, she's sent to sweltering San Antonio to help rebuild homes destroyed by sudden flooding. She survives the four-hour bus trip from Houston, dust in the lungs, a flat tire, a tool-throwing incident and a spitting goat--not to mention an inquisition from a distractingly handsome cowboy--all before reaching the work camp.
TeamWork director Sam Lewis isn't sure what to think of his newest volunteer. She's feisty, witty, and incredibly pretty, but looks more prepared to board a cruise ship than build houses. Burned by a past betrayal, he's got a job to do, a reputation to uphold. Sam can't afford to be distracted by a woman who attracts animals, defies his rules, finds trouble at every turn and questions God's purpose. But when she tumbles from the top beam of one of the houses into his arms, Sam suspects his life will never be the same.
During their weeks together in the TeamWork camp, Sam and Lexa learn the power of forgiveness and healing. Enduring a chain of incidents which challenge their faith, trust and growing relationship, they look to the Lord for guidance as together they discover a love greater than either could ever imagine. At the end of the eight-week work camp, Sam is committed to a year-long, dangerous overseas mission for TeamWork. Can Lexa trust the Lord enough to let him go? Will Sam safely return and keep his promise to meet her at the Alamo?
You'll keep turning the pages of this sweeping romantic adventure. With great characters, plenty of humor, enough emotion to make you shed a tear or two, and an ending that'll have you cheering, Awakening will leave you breathless. Hold on tight. The adventures of Lewis and Clarke have only just begun!
eBook Publisher: Coscom Entertainment/Torn Veil Books, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2010
2 Reader Ratings:
Lexa Clarke was on a roll, and it wasn't even noon.
San Antonio--40 miles. The highway marker filled her with anticipation. Soon, she'd be a survivor of the four-hour bus trip from Houston. So far, so good. The guy with the beady eyes seated beside her reeked of knock-off drugstore cologne and offered her things, none of them legal. With nearly every seat occupied, she was stuck. Burying her head in her dad's old police union newsletter did the trick. Smart thinking, bringing that along.
The senior flirt across the aisle graced her with a gap-toothed smile and nudged her with his cane a couple of times. A young mother attempted conversation, but finally gave up when her two rambunctious boys demanded constant attention. When Beady Eyes snored--a loud, obnoxious wheeze--Lexa attempted to read her novel, but her thoughts always strayed to the upcoming eight weeks.
Maybe building houses in a summer predicted to be one of the hottest on record wasn't the smartest idea. Lexa swallowed her doubts and lifted her chin. When you want to make a difference in the world, you've got to make some sacrifices. The TeamWork driver would pick her up in less than an hour, and then the real adventure could begin . . .
The bus pulled into the Greyhound bus station along with Lexa's high hopes. Holding out one hand, the driver helped her to the curb and grinned with surprise when she handed him a generous tip. He hurried to retrieve her rolling suitcase. "Enjoy your stay in San Antonio, Miss."
Lexa broke into a grin, equal parts relief and excitement. "Thanks. I'm sure I will." It might be long hours of hard work with no pay, but it's how she chose to spend her summer. High hopes should count for something.
As she toted her designer suitcase through the terminal, Lexa's grip tightened when she glimpsed curious stares directed her way. A middle-aged couple waved and called to the frazzled mother with the two boys. Lexa's eyes misted with unexpected tears at the sight of their Going to Grandma's suitcases. Her version had been pink with daisies for all those weekend trips to Nana's house in Galveston. The man swooped the older boy into his arms and peppered his face with kisses while the woman bundled the toddler in a tight hug.
She squinted against the assault of late morning sun as she made her way outside. The sunglasses left on the dresser in her Houston townhome would come in handy about now.
Lexa jumped when a teenager's bulging backpack sideswiped her arm. With earphones strapped across his head, he was oblivious to the outside world as his thumbs worked furiously over some type of electronic gadget. A group of boisterous guys and girls piled into a compact car. Its tires squealed when it roared away from the curb, spewing a cloud of dust in its wake. Alone on the sidewalk, Lexa's throat clogged. She clamped a hand over her mouth, her other across her stomach, sputtering and choking. Nothing like coughing up a lung.
Recovered from her attack a few minutes later, Lexa spied a white Volvo station wagon putt-putting in her direction. A tall man in a cowboy hat sat behind the wheel. A trickle of perspiration made its slow, winding path down her back as the car simultaneously wound its way toward the curb. It stopped with a rumble inches from where she waited.
Lexa brushed a hand across her damp forehead and peered through the open passenger window. "Are you from TeamWork?"
He cut the engine. "Yep. Sam Lewis. At your service. You must be Alexis Clarke." Deeply-etched lines on either side of his mouth complemented a blinding smile and aviator sunglasses shielded his eyes from the blazing sun.
"Call me Lexa." Her neck craned upward as he climbed out of the car to his full height. She skimmed over the black T-shirt and faded jeans that tapered to well-worn boots. In spite of being covered in a layer of dust from the top of the black Stetson down to his toes, he somehow managed to look clean-cut. Truly, this man epitomized the urban, modern cowboy.
Sam towered over her as he reached for her bag. "Afraid you're going to have to let go unless your fingers are going in the back along with the suitcase." The drawl was deep and warm. "You can trust me. I promise I'll take good care of it."
Lexa relaxed her grip and tried not to stare. "Thanks." With his strong jaw line, defined cheekbones and those smile lines, Sam bore an uncanny resemblance to the rugged cowboy on the cover of the romance novel stashed in her purse. Her pulse picked up speed. Making a difference in the world should keep her busy enough for the next eight weeks. TeamWork expected her to work hard, and that's what she intended to do. Closing her mouth and not staring at the man like a lovestruck schoolgirl might be a good start.
"Hop on in." Opening her door, he removed his hat and parked it on the backseat with the reverence befitting a native Texan. Next came her suitcase, and Lexa was thankful he indeed treated it with equal care. When Sam raked a hand through his thick, dark waves, a few tinges of silver peeked out at the temples. In that total injustice that favored the male species, the silver only made him more attractive.
"Thanks." Good grief. Politeness aside, he'd think her only capable of mumbling one word or abbreviated sentences. Climbing into the car, she tossed her braid behind one shoulder and settled herself on the seat. Time to say something intelligent or witty.
"You look familiar. Have you ever modeled before?" She bit her lip. That sounded ridiculous, but making small-talk with a handsome cowboy wasn't a skill she listed on her professional resume. She hoped he'd take it as the compliment she intended and move on. Judging by Sam's easy laughter, she needn't worry.
He closed the car door and leaned closer. "I've never been accused of that, no. How about you?"
That grin of his was pretty infectious.
Lexa inhaled a quick breath. Surely he noticed she wasn't exactly beautiful and barely tall enough to ride an adult roller coaster. Her mind sought a reply. "Well, then, I won't ask what you have been accused of since you're my ride to the TeamWork camp. You seem nice enough, and promised to take care of my suitcase." Not great, but hopefully it sounded halfway witty. She had to cool it, though, or he'd think she was flirting.
A wide grin slanted his lips, the smile lines deepened. As he slid behind the wheel, his long legs buckled at the knees, even though the seat was pushed all the way back. "Welcome to our TeamWork mission."
"Are you the leader of the camp?"
"I'm the director of this mission, yes." Sam waited until she buckled her seat belt before starting the car.
"How long have you been with TeamWork?" The rumble of the engine drowned out her words.
"Hang on." He gestured to the front of the car. "It'll calm down in a minute or two." They drove in silence a couple of miles until the engine quieted. "I'm hoping this car will get us through the next eight weeks, and then I'll put it out to pasture. It's old, but solid as a tank and loyal as anything." Sam patted the dashboard like a protective papa and readjusted the rearview mirror. "Now, let's try that again. What was your question?"
"I asked how long you've been with TeamWork." Lexa fanned her cotton blouse for a few seconds before she understood it was an exercise in futility and gave up.
"I've worked with TeamWork as a volunteer off and on since I was eighteen, and as a full-time summer director for seven years. Mostly in the United States, but I've also worked a couple of foreign missions. In my other life, I'm also an independent financial planner in Houston."
Small world. "Well, in my other life, I'm also a financial consultant with Alamo World Financial. In Houston."
"Did you feel the need to escape the financial planning world for a while?"
That question threw her a bit. Not sure how to answer, Lexa drummed her fingers on the open window. "I wouldn't exactly call it an escape. More like a break." If she told this man the truth, he'd think her misguided at best. Better to keep that little tidbit to herself.
"I completely understand the need to get away." Sam grinned. "After all, TeamWork is what I do for fun." He negotiated a turn. Other than a sparse scattering of trees, the narrow roads were flat, dusty and nondescript. Most didn't have posted signs. A couple of small, wooden shacks dotted the landscape. "What got you interested in financial planning?"
That one was easy. "I love working with numbers. It's that simple. I'm sure you can identify."
"I can. But I think the more important question is, do you like working with the people behind those numbers? The way I look at it, they put their trust in us, and we can't let them down."
"I like people, yes." Lexa shifted on the seat. "But numbers are easier." She'd never looked at it from that perspective before.
"Why do you think numbers are easier?"
Lexa sighed. "You're not going to let it go, are you?" She heard the edge of irritation in her voice, but it was way too hot for an inquisition.
"Sorry." Sam swiped a hand across his forehead. "My curiosity sometimes gets the best of me." The dark waves were tousled from the wind, his brow damp with beads of sweat.
Removing the sunglasses, he graced her with a direct glance. When intense, piercing blue eyes met hers, a tightness squeezed Lexa from the inside out. Her breath caught in her throat as she gulped dust blowing through the open window. It escalated into her second coughing attack of the day. Not so good. Lexa thumped a rapid staccato against her chest, as if that would help anything.
"Are you okay?" Concern laced Sam's voice. He replaced the sunglasses. "Do you have asthma?"
"I'm fine." Lexa forced a few slow, deep breaths. "Just inhaled . . . some . . . dust in my lungs." More like Sam in her lungs, but best to push that thought out of her head right now. This man was the leader of the camp, a man of God. The heat must be getting to her, seeping into her brain and muddling her mind.
"I've got water bottles in the back. Let me stop and grab one for you."
She waved her hand. "Don't bother. I'll be okay."
He still looked concerned and waited a few minutes before resuming any conversation. "So, feel like getting back to the whole number versus people discussion?"
Lexa sighed. "Let's stick with numbers. Remember, they're safer."
Sam looked her way, but he wasn't smiling. "Ah, now we're getting somewhere. You don't believe people are safe, Lexa?"
She shook her head, the grin fading. "Are you sure you're not the TeamWork shrink?" Even the TeamWork interviewer didn't ask such probing questions. Most people would ask what she liked to do, what she considered her strengths, or even her weaknesses. Sam wasn't like most people. He wanted to know her opinion of people and numbers. Sliding on the seat, Lexa anchored one foot on the floorboard and pushed herself higher on the leather seat.
"We've got some time until we get to the camp, and I'd like to find out a little about you. That way, I can better understand where you'd best fit in at the camp."
Lexa couldn't resist the bait. "Based on our discussion so far, do you have any suggestions?" Even with the windows open, it was stifling. Grabbing a tissue from her purse, Lexa blotted it across her forehead.
"I'm working on it." Slanting another glance her way, Sam grinned. "You'll get used to no air conditioning, believe it or not. Eventually you forget about it, and the constant heat becomes a state of being."
How comforting. Lexa pressed the tissue against her neck. "You'd think I'd be used to it, living in Texas my entire life. I suppose one takes modern conveniences for granted after awhile." She raised her face to the rush of warm wind caressing her cheeks, fully aware those blue eyes watched.
"Yes, I suppose one does." Amusement tinged Sam's chuckle.
Lexa tucked the tissue in the pocket of her capris. She'd have to watch the formal talk. Her grandmother coached her to speak properly, so it came naturally. It also came across as snobby.
A loud, sharp popping noise rang out somewhere nearby. Lexa jumped and a small squeal escaped. She slid down further in the seat. "What on earth was that?"
Oh dear God, please don't let that be a gunshot.