This month’s — and year’s — final Fiction Fest spotlight belongs to Laura L. Walker’s “Pierced by Love,” which was released on Dec. 9, and is available in bookstores and from online retailers.
Tune in again next week — and year — as we bring you another round of excerpts from our January fiction releases.
From the author: After recently hearing of Chase Dunlop’s break-up with Noelle Jensen, whom he used to home teach, in favor of her sister, Melody, Pierce Logan is sitting in the chapel at Northern Arizona University’s institute building, waiting for sacrament meeting to begin when Noelle walks in. He immediately notices the harm Chase and Melody’s clandestine relationship has done.
Pierce glanced toward the open doorway leading out to the hallway and classrooms of the institute building and saw Noelle Jensen standing there, nervously scanning the room. A girl in a brown dress approached her. From the way Noelle’s face scrunched up and she shook her head in consternation, he gathered their exchange was not pleasant. Noelle scanned the room once more. Strangely, he hoped that her gaze would connect with his. When it did, he inclined his head, beckoning her over. Her shoulders and expression loosened. Slowly approaching Pierce, she asked, “Are you saving this seat for anyone?”
Now that she was closer, Pierce could see the dark rings beneath her eyes. She looked terrible. Attempting to mask his shock, he picked up his scriptures from the next seat to make room for her. “You,” he offered. His friend Kurt would have to find somewhere else to sit.
“Thanks.” The soft fabric of her striped skirt brushed his arm as she settled into her seat. Pierce was at a loss for words. This was the first time he had seen her since he’d heard about the break-up. Of course, he’d heard a few other students talking about it earlier when he’d arrived, such as Kasey Hamilton, whose loud, whiny voice had carried to him from a few rows back.
He waited for her to open a conversation but she kept staring at the floor. Feeling the need to break the ice, Pierce gently nudged her shoulder. “Hey,” he said softly. “How are you holding up?”
She turned to him with her brows creased and her jaws clenched. “I’m so tired of everyone asking me that, Pierce.” She bit out the words, “So let me just make it clear once and for all. I’m—just—fine!”
Pierce couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his lips. She was kind of cute when she was mad. “Yeah, I can see that.”
Now she was scowling. Pierce just grinned at her until her lips slowly loosened into a reluctant smile of their own. “All right, so I’m not fine. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, okay?” She huffed. “I’m sick of everyone looking at me as if I’ve grown two heads.” Tilting her head and moving her eyes to the right, she silently indicated two girls a few rows ahead who had turned to watch them.
An unexpected surge of protection had him staring the offenders down. They took the hint quickly and turned around again just as Bishop Thornton stood to conduct the meeting.
“Thanks,” she whispered.
“No problem,” he whispered back, hesitating only a moment before deciding to take a chance by adding, “He’s an idiot. You know that, right?”