Hope, love, and loss meld two polar opposite personalities. How long can they keep passion for their ministry and each other after the wedding?
Medical missionary and avowed bachelor Merit Campbell is wounded during a skirmish at his Mideast clinic and sent home to recover. Restlessness propels him to explore the happier moments of his childhood in Illinois where he meets Amalia Kennedy, owner of The Last Detail, who enjoys helping people prepare for their final years. Merit ushers in new life; Amalia ushers it out. Love? Obviously. Marriage? Check. Dealing with the family closet? Step back…
Seven seconds. Merit counted silently from the time the last missile whined past his ear. Senna’s goon needed seven seconds to reload. Merit ignored the flash on his right and kept his eyes on the child who sat in the dirt about a dozen long steps in front of him, waving her tiny fists.
After the next barrage of fire went silent, Merit took off in a crouching run, grabbed Tangra’s youngest granddaughter, Mardra, and rushed toward the nearest pile of rocks. The punch and stabbing sensation in his left shoulder, followed by a thud, let him know he had almost made it. As he was lifted off his feet, he thrust the child he’d delivered last spring into her father’s outstretched arms. As gravity reclaimed him his left foot plunged between stones. His ankle twisted viciously as strong hands pulled him to relative safety amongst the band of defenders.
The child began to scream when her uncle fired his weapon close to her little ears. Merit felt like doing the same as his ankle thrummed and ground with his every movement. Broken, at least. No competition for the shoulder wound. He took Mardra back into his arms so her father could aim his US-made hunting rifle, meant for small game—not humans—back toward Senna’s position.
Merit hunched over the little girl as a brilliant flame arced overhead. A ground-shaking explosion followed, then smoke and men’s shouts and the acrid scent of the rocket’s accelerant. He hoped he wouldn’t have to run, because he couldn’t. Nothing he could do but pray between the throbs of searing pain and deep anger at Senna.
The baby wiggled, tugging Merit’s heartstrings away from his fury. It wasn’t her fault her grandfather’s rival destroyed Merit’s life work. Both factions were going to miss the little missionary medical clinic Merit ran in the mountains of Nehrangestan, a tiny spot on National Geographic’s map of Asia.
Something tickled. Wha—oh, right—blood from the shoulder wound. He touched the front of his blue shirt then looked at the growing red stain flowing like a waterfall. Tentatively, he reached behind his collarbone and hissed at the gouge. Not serious. He’d probably get a nice scar out of it. Senna’s pound of flesh. Merit shifted the baby and tried to flex his ankle. He bit back a scream and panted while sparkles pulsed in the fringe of his vision. Yeah, broken.
Well, that answered that question. If he got out of here alive, the mission board would make him go home for treatment. Question was, how soon could he get back to rebuild the clinic?
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor.