Love the Sinner: Gracie Lee Mystery Series #1 (Life, Faith & Getting It Right #5) (Steeple Hill Cafe)

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9780373785896: Love the Sinner: Gracie Lee Mystery Series #1 (Life, Faith & Getting It Right #5) (Steeple Hill Cafe)
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I, Gracie Lee Harris, do hereby declare
I had nothing to do with the murder
of my two-timing, con man husband.
But I do know three women who could
have killed Dennis: his devoted mother
who gave him her life savings—which
he squandered; his disillusioned
daughter who gave him her college fund—
again, squandered; and his pregnant
almost-fiancée, whom he'd left with empty promises and unpaid bills.
With the help of some new friends—and the Lord—I'll find the killer...
hopefully without becoming
the next victim!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lynn Bulock is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in southern California. In addition to writing she enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her grandson. She is also an Evangelical Lutheran diaconal minister.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

First, I want to go on record as saying that I, Gracie Lee Harris, did not kill my husband, Dennis Peete. When he died I still thought he was my loving husband, and I had no desire to kill him. That mostly came later. Now if you put me under oath in a court of law and asked me to swear I'd never thought about killing his mother, that would be another story. I've get me on that one.

To the best of my knowledge I've never killed charming Mr. Harris, dragged me through a divorce I didn't want, and left me with a two-year-old son, I didn't commit murder. I even kept his name so that it would be less confusing for Ben. When it comes to murder, mine in other directions. And lately there's been so much going on in real life, who has time for fantasies?

Even so, I'm usually pretty good in a crisis. Every a long time for the big, disastrous things in my life to boot me over the edge this time. Maybe it was just taking a chance on love, or life—or whatever—that tilted the balance. If so, that's too bad, because I'm not likely to stop taking chances.

The chances I took earlier in life usually worked out well. The ones I've taken in my relationship with Dennis Peete have been bad news. People who take chances around Dennis don't always fare so well.

Goodness knows I haven't, even before he died. I took a chance on marrying him, and then later another chance nine months ago and sold my condo in Missouri, quit my job and picked up stakes to move out here to California with him, even though he advised against it.

So far, my time here in beautiful downtown Rancho Conejo (and yes, if you speak Spanish, the town is named Rabbit Ranch) has been one big chance after another. Many of those chances have involved the rollercoaster ride of living with my mother-in-law, which I thought would work out just fine even though Dennis thought otherwise.

At the time I thought some of his arguments against our shared living arrangement were almost sweet. Part of the reason he didn't want me out here was that he was pouring all his—and my—money into his franchise business, and living with his mother to save on rent. Silly me. I decided if he was willing to take that chance, I was too. Now I wonder. Who knows? If it weren't for my taking chances, maybe Dennis would still be alive.

No, I can't fault myself for taking chances. The first big chance I took threw me straight back into the arms of Jesus, clinging to the little bits of sanity that still exist in my disordered life. Without taking chances, my life wouldn't be worth much.

The biggest chance lately came while I was wandering through the college bookstore at Pacific Oaks Christian College, picking up books and putting them back during the first week of this semester. By the end of January when my second semester of grad school started, Dennis had been out of work and in a coma at Conejo Care for four months. Money was tight and I was dithering about how many of these hideously expensive textbooks I could actually afford.

For about the hundredth time, I was wishing Dennis had shared a little more information about business while he still had the chance. The $30k from the sale of my condo could have gone a long way toward this new education I'd committed to before his car accident. I'd done my best trying to find it in his investments, but so far was having precious little luck.

So there I am, walking up and down the psychology and education stacks in the campus bookstore when the dam finally bursts. Like I said before, I'm good in a crisis. I do not lose it in public. This time, however, was different. Juggling a pile of outrageously expensive books, taking one off the stack I carried only to be faced with putting another one back, finally put me in tears. Add that to the fact that what I could afford in the way of school supplies made a pile I should have had a cart for, but kept dropping instead, and you can see the lovely picture I presented.

"You look like you could use some help."

It was a nice voice, so I didn't immediately turn, snarling, and bite her head off, which was my first impulse. "Oh, no. Does it show that badly?" I asked. My voice sounded wavery even to me as I turned around. The tears really started in earnest then, and I was afraid I was going to do one of those awful heaving sob things, like toddlers do when they're too tired.

"Well, I was talking about the books," the stranger said, holding out a handled basket. "But yeah, now that you mention it..."

Two minutes later the bookstore's assistant manager, Linnette Parks, was my new best friend. "She has the decaf. I've got the real thing," she directed the teenaged waitress at the Coffee Corner, the shop adjoining the bookstore, who came to the table bearing two foaming lattes.

"Now let me get this straight," she said, handing me a napkin out of the tabletop dispenser. I was still a bit of a mess. "You're living with your mother-in-law. Alone."

"Since Dennis's accident. About five months ago." "From what you've said so far, she sounds like a harridan."

I shrugged. "Maybe that's a little harsh. Without Dennis to referee, our life together has been kind of grim at times. He could manage his mother—Edna thinks he walks on water. I'm just the horrible woman who stole him away and made him stay in Missouri for years longer than he should have, according to her."

"And before the accident, he was traveling a lot?"

"From the day I moved out here. And before I could even harp on that properly like a normal wife, he had a terrible accident that put him in the hospital, and then into one of those places euphemistically called "longterm care.""

Linnette looked at me over her latte. "What are the prospects of him recovering?"

I used my napkin again before I answered. "They've never been good. Although Edna is positive he's just going to sit up and start chatting with her one day." I would have argued against that, but Edna doesn't listen to me. This conversation was so odd. Normally I'm the one doing the listening, not the talking in these situations. One major thing I've noticed is that in California total strangers will share information with you that I would have, in Missouri, put on a "need-to-know" basis with my best friend. Maybe it's because every Or maybe the sunshine gets to your brain. Whatever the case, I have never learned so much about so many people by merely standing in line at the grocery store or the library.

My mother would say it's not just Californians, it's that invisible sign on my forehead. The one that seems to sayYou Can Talk To Gracie Lee About Anything And She'll Listen. I'm telling you, it's there.And it's tattooed in special ink. All the folks who receive radio signals from Jupiter through the walls of their apartment can see it. So why not Californians? A lot of them can tune in Jupiter without even putting tinfoil on their TV antennae.

This time around I'd seemed to find that rare kindred spirit with the same I Listen tattoo. The craziest part of the whole thing was that even as I sat there sniffling and talking to Linnette, I had the weird urge to ask her where she got her hair done. She had gorgeous red waves, the here does something to their hair and my mousy natural brown, curly or not, suffers in comparison.

Midwestern sense kept me silent on the hair thing. I just took another sip of my latte and tried to calm down. "And you're managing all of this okay?"

"Well, other than losing it occasionally in a bookstore. And if you really want to know, that's not all that's nuts about my life."

"Let me guess. You have teenagers." Linnette's wan smile said she had to be a kindred spirit.

"One. Ben's seventeen and I left him back in Missouri living with his grandmother so he can finish his senior year. I've been raising him alone since his father and I divorced, which was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. So Ben is as easy as dealing with teen males ever gets. Mostly I'd have to say that living with Edna with no referee is what has me losing it."

Linnette was giving me a real thoughtful look. Finally she drank some of her own coffee and put it down. "I don't usually do this with total strangers," she began, starting a little wave of panic in me.

In Missouri something slightly daring but relatively sane would have followed that phrase. Here in sunny California, she might be offering me anything from acupuncture to EST therapy to things beyond my imagination. Fortunately for me, as I found out later, Linnette was born in Michigan. "Would you think I was too forward if I asked you to come to my church? Not just to attend services, although we want to have you there, too, but to this group we have. It's called Christian Friends, and I think maybe you'd get something out of it."

I'd heard of them before. They weren't just some odd California thing, but had come out of my stomping grounds in the middle of the country and spread all over. "Where's your church? And when's the group thing?" I didn't have enough time to do much, with classes starting up again and my daily visits to the Conejo Board and Care to sit with my comatose husband.

"Conejo Community Chapel, right here in Rancho Conejo," she said. "And my particular Christian Friends group meets twice a month at seven-thirty on Wednesday nights. We're meeting next week if you can hang on that long."

"I think I can. And that would fit into my schedule so I wouldn't have to miss class."

Linnette had a nice smile. "Great. If you come I won't feel quite so guilty about accosting a total stranger. Let me go into the back room of the bookstore and get my purse. It's got a Friends flyer in it that even has a decent map of how to get to the chapel."

She was gone and back again before I could chicken out. The brochure was nice. It described a caring, Christian circle of "praying friends to get you through life's hard spots." Okay, so maybe it was a little too much happy talk, but that was okay. I could use the friend...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780373785391: Love the Sinner: Gracie Lee Mystery Series #1 (Life, Faith & Getting It Right #5) (Steeple Hill Cafe)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0373785399 ISBN 13:  9780373785391
Publisher: Steeple Hill, 2005

9780786279395: Love the Sinner: Gracie Lee Mystery Series #1 (Life, Faith & Getting It Right #5) (Steeple Hill Cafe)

Thornd..., 2005

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