Sarah fell faint in blushful response to his adoring eyes. He intensely scanned the transparent panels of her heart. “How did you find me?” she garbled. “Of all people you are the least I would expect to see here. Am I dreaming?”
Branson Fitzpatrick had a tall tennis player physique, a smile that would waive the toll fee to the Panama Canal, and a voice of fierce piercing mercy. “It’s no wonder you left. The tropics suit you well.”
Turquoise waters rippled sea salt against her lips. “I left the mission because of a trail of disheartening incidents. I did leave in haste. I had no choice,” whimpered her voice to silence. Ocean waves curled against her frail shoulders. “What exactly was I to do?”
“Testifying to Cain’s extortion charges was an option,” retorted Branson’s bass voice. “The courtroom was empty without you; so was the case. The single most wanted witness living in St. Thomas.”
“I’m not proud of my choice. I just didn’t want to be a part of tearing down what appeared to be a good thing.”
“A good thing? We had a good thing Sarah. Do you know what it was like living without you for ten months? Running away from me and God’s righteousness isn’t exactly how I wanted us to end.”
Sarah’s bold brown eyes shifted to the pebbles of sand beneath her feet. “I meant ‘the good thing’ the mission camp had to offer to those homeless children was beyond measure.” The palm leaves whistled a breeze of solitude. “My heart was with them; I was in it for the cause.”
Tenderly, Branson cupped his hands to scoop up the sand. He filtered through the broken shells and found one shell intact, a couple of ridges were chipped, but the iridescent shades of pink shimmering from the sun made up for its imperfections. “Among all these broken shells is one shell practically the way it was created. Sometimes God places us in these places where brokenness surrounds us. Tumultuous waves take us in an out and we’re just looking to land on shore. Settle for a bit. Then we look at ourselves and find bruises and cuts and the only one who saved us from being completely broken was God. God just wanted you to walk through the courtroom doors. Speak the truth and set yourself free. God would bind the enemy. He’s the only one that can do that.”
Sarah folded her fingers to its palm. She caressed Branson’s two day shadow on his cheek with the back of her wavering fingers. “I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am you came to look for me. The most difficult part of all that happened in D.C. was not being able to see you. The worst part of this chaos was avoiding God’s direction. I lost faith in God. I just didn’t believe He would stand up for me.”
Branson raised his left hand to clench her right hand. “Did you think God wouldn’t redeem you? Your innocence would have been honored by Him,” he explained in compassion.
“Sometimes justice doesn’t always turn out like you expect it to,” Sarah sadly murmured as she tied the scarf over her matching swimsuit. She sat beneath the scallop awning umbrella, the brim flapped in the wind.
“Joseph, the son of Jacob, may have felt the same way. He was beaten by his brothers and left to be sold as a slave. He served time in prison, engulfed in brokenness but later he was assigned second in command to Pharoah. Joseph’s reign led to providing food during a harsh famine across the land. God redeemed Joseph’s life. He was then reunited with his brothers and all was forgiven.”
Branson switched chairs to be closer to Sarah. Once again she felt his eyes wiping the glass panels of her heart to get a better look at her motivations. Sarah in conviction said, “Perhaps I can go back and give a deposition. But how will the homeless shelter survive if Cain’s convicted?”
Branson pleaded, “The shelter has been operating on pennies as it is. When he is convicted, this nationwide organization can get back on their feet and operate in good stewardship, the way God intended. You are the only one who can testify to the financial losses. You have the ledgers. This case can be reopened.” Branson traced his lips with hers parting for the dive of her life.
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