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Lee Ann Ward
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Trapped in a cult she’s never believed in, can Lacy Grayson’s courage free herself and her mother from the tyrant who controls their every move? After her father’s death, Lacy is forced to join The Way when her misguided mother moves her into Reverend Way’s commune. Lacy struggles for years to reject his teachings and convince her mother to leave. When Lacy’s marriage arrangement to a fellow cult member is announced, she is more determined to flee—but not without her mother, her only remaining family. Then, Lacy meets Josh Bynes, a non-believer from the outside and her only real chance at freedom…and happiness. Is love strong enough to outsmart a callous leader and protect Lacy from the evils that still await her on the inside? And as two young lovers meet in the moon mist for secrecy, can a jaded mother understand a daughter whose dreams reach beyond their obsessive world?
“I can’t do it, Reverend. Please don’t ask me to. I just thought you would—”
“I would what, boy?”
Lucas swallowed hard, his dry eyes fixed on Lacy. It was hard to breathe past the lump in his throat.
“Answer me!” the reverend shouted. His black eyes seemed to shoot a spiraled flame, burning straight through the frightened, young woman on the floor. “Just handle the situa-tion for you, right? Stain my hands with this mess? God’s justice isn’t always neat and tidy, Lucas. It isn’t always pleasant…but it’s always necessary.”
“I just don’t see how hurting her can solve this thing,” Lu-cas answered, his eyes widening. He’d never stood up to the reverend before, and it was hard to hide his fear of him.
“She is to be your wife,” the reverend added, placing a hand on Lucas’ shoulder. “She is defiant, disobedient. She has upset the harmony of the house.” He snapped the leather strap cradled in his palm. “And she is yours to discipline.”
Lucas took the strap and fixed his eyes on Lacy as she crouched on the floor, her pink, bald knees tucked under a de-termined face. He knew it would take more than a leather strap to break her.
“Don’t try to fool me, Luke,” the reverend warned, open-ing the door to exit the penalty room. “I’ll check her for marks.” He left the room, placing a large bar on the outside of the door.
Lucas moved toward Lacy, his hands visibly shaking. She stood, stumbling back until her body pressed against the wall.
“I don’t want to do this, Lacy.”
“Then don’t,” she pleaded. “Let’s stand up to him.”
“To God!” Lucas shouted, his voice trembling. “How do we stand up to God?”
“He’s not God,” Lacy replied, “and I can prove it.”
Her memories chipped away the hours. Why did Reve-rend Way’s sermons have to be so boring? Terminally boring. Lacy couldn’t help but scan the starving eyes of the others, glued to the reverend as if his words were food and they were hungry babies. But not Lacy Grayson. Her baby days were long gone, and her brain didn’t need the washing the others seemed to welcome. She viewed the reverend’s impromptu lecture from her eyes within, seizing the opportunity to remember her daddy and the way things had been before he died—before Mama brought her to this place.
“Lacy,” her mother whispered through clenched teeth, “are you listening?”
Lacy returned a glare and half nod. How could she help but listen? It was impossible to blot out the reverend’s voice as it roared and pounded in her head like an unwelcome drum line. These were the sermons she hated most—the unplanned ones, called spontaneously in the middle of the night because someone had upset the harmony of the house. The reverend had called a lot of these meetings lately. Sometimes Lacy thought the reverend just liked to hear himself talk. All he did was talk. Why wouldn’t he just shut up?
* * * *
Lacy stood behind the crescent rock that lined the brook. It wasn’t much of a hiding place; but she wasn’t really hiding—just resting. Her head pounded from exhaustion. The reverend had managed to pull another all-nighter, yet the group was still expected to go to their jobs the next morning. Lacy was a house worker, one of many women employed for cooking meals and cleaning the house. She had graduated into the position since Mama had always been a house worker, too.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 250
Paper Weight (lb): 10.6
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