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Lorana Hoopes

The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

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First Chapter

I checked the diamond studded watch on my left wrist for the fourth time and sighed in annoyance. Only two minutes had passed since the last time, but I couldn’t keep my eyes from returning to the classic timepiece. I had been planning this day for the last year, and Shaina’s delay was disintegrating my perfectly laid plans. 

“Where is she?” The agitation spilled into my voice, and my mother’s brow furrowed in the mirror behind me. My mother had never understood my need for lists and order; she preferred going with the flow, which had never been my strong suit.

“I’m sure she’ll be back any minute.” Her voice was calm and soothing, but she couldn’t hide the flicker of doubt that crossed her eyes or the furtive glance she shot at the door. Something was definitely not right. “I’ll go check.”

As if on cue, a knock sounded at the door, and Shaina, my best friend and maid of honor, poked her blonde head in the changing room. 

Shaina and I had met in college and become friends our Junior year because Shaina had been just as driven as I was. She had been fierce competition for the top spot in class, but I had welcomed the challenge and only gloated a little when I had won, if only by a tenth of a point. 

Relief flooded my body. Surely Shaina had taken care of whatever the problem was. “Is everything ready?” 

“Well, sort of.” Shaina’s brow furrowed and her whitened teeth bit her perfectly pink bottom lip. She shuffled into the room past my mother, who took the chance to exit, closing the door behind her.  

“What do you mean sort of?” A knot appeared in my stomach as I whirled to face Shaina. This could not be happening. “Did that photographer flake out on us? I knew we shouldn’t have hired him. I thought he seemed flighty. I mean what kind of photographer has his studio in a garage for goodness sake? Or is it the food? I told Daniel the shop we ordered it from seemed a little dirty but he insisted on them because he loves their food . . .”

Shaina held up her left hand; her right stayed conspicuously behind her back. “No, the photographer is here, and the food is fine.” Her eyes darted around the room, focusing on anything except my face. That was not a good sign. Shaina was terrible at hiding information and even worse at sugar coating. It was a characteristic I normally loved about her. “It’s uh . . . it’s Daniel; he’s . . . uh . . . he’s not coming.”

The knot intensified, threatening to choke off my breath. My hand flew to my chest as the first signs of a panic attack coming on began. I hadn’t had one in ages, but my fiancé not showing up to his own wedding would certainly be cause for one. “What do you mean he’s not coming? Has he been in an accident? Is he in the hospital?”

“No, Callie.” Shaina lowered her eyes and brought her hidden hand forward.  She turned her palm up and offered up the cell phone it held.

I snatched the phone and swiped the screen to turn it on. Daniel’s message still glowed on the screen.

-Tell Callie I’m sorry, but I can’t marry her-

What does he mean he can’t marry me? This had to be some kind of joke. My shoulders slumped forward, and my knuckles holding the phone turned white. “That’s it? That’s all? What does this mean? What am I supposed to tell everyone out there?” There were nearly two hundred people waiting in the sanctuary.

Shaina lowered her head, unable to meet my eyes and bit her lip again.

My eyes narrowed to slits as I crossed the room and grabbed Shaina’s arm, eliciting a yelp of either surprise or pain. I didn’t know which, and at that moment, I didn’t care. “What aren’t you telling me?” Her eyes narrowed to slits. “There’s someone else, isn’t there? Who is it? If you know Shaina, then you have to tell me.”

When Shaina lifted her head, tears glistened in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Callie.”

I dropped my arm and stared at Shaina. She’s sorry? What does she have to be sorry for? It’s not like her fiancé just left her. It’s not like—Anger flared up in me as the realization set in. The world flashed red, and my nostrils flared. A vice grip squeezed my heart as the loathing flooded my body. I’ll kill her. I’ll strangle her with my bare hands. My hands curled into fists and my lip quivered even as my words came out more a snarl than a statement. “You? How could you?”

Shaina shrunk under my glaring eyes and took a step backwards. Her shoulders curled inward, and her head dropped. “I didn’t mean to, honest.” Her words tumbled together, spilling out of her mouth as her hands wrung together. “We spent so much time together planning the wedding while you were working. It was one time, and I had no idea he had feelings for me until this morning when he called. I even tried to talk him out of leaving you.”

“You?? And Daniel??” Flashes of black dotted my vision. “Were you ever going to tell me?” You little -- My knees began to tremble from the rage boiling inside, and I fought for control of them as my carefully laid plans crumbled around me.

Shaina turned away, her voice higher than normal. “Um, no? I was pretty sure he thought it had been a mistake, so I was going to try and forget him for your sake.”

My nails dug holes into my palms, and the vein in my throat pulsed. I could almost see my heart beating. “For my sake?” The words were soft, deadly. “Shouldn’t you have thought about my feelings before you slept with my fiancé?”

Shaina flinched as my words pierced like an icy dagger. “I never meant for it to happen. If you hadn’t been so busy --”

My body tensed, shaking. “Don’t you dare make this my fault,” I seethed through clenched teeth. “I trusted you. I trusted him, and yet while trying to move up in my career you both threw that trust away.”

Shaina’s shoulders dropped, and she stared at her feet, her voice losing its power. “That’s part of the problem, Callie; your career always came first. You couldn’t even plan your own wedding. How do you think that made Daniel feel when you could never be there?”

“Get out; get out now!” Unable to contain the rage any longer, I grabbed a nearby glass of water from a small table and hurled it at Shaina. Shaina ducked and the glass missed cutting her face, but the resulting explosion of shards as the glass shattered against the wall mirrored my feelings and brought a smidgen of satisfaction. “Go be with MY fiancé and have a great life, but don’t ever contact me again. I never want to see you, either of you, again.”

Shaina cowered in the doorway, hands covering her face, tears spilling down her cheeks. “I am sorry Callie, and I hope someday you forgive me.”

As the door closed behind Shaina, my knees finally gave out, and I collapsed on the floor. How could this happen to me? This was supposed to be my perfect day, the day I had dreamed of since I was eight years old. 

An ugly, wretched sound escaped my mouth, and before I could stop them, more sobs poured out. My shoulders rose and fell as if pulled on strings by some sadistic puppet master. Darkness began to claw into the sides of my vision, and my throat closed up. My hands pulled at my throat, desperate for a little more air.

The door opened and closed. I vaguely registered my mother as she entered the room, scooped me up, and rocked me like she had when I was young. As she caressed my hair, she whispered a prayer, and for once I didn’t stop her. “Please God, please heal her pain.”


A firefighter’s life torn apart by unspeakable crimes in bestselling author Lorana Hoopes’s new page turning novel of romantic suspense…

Could you let your family believe you were dead if you thought it was the only way to save them?

Five years ago, Billy “Bubba” Campbell had a different name, but after narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, he fakes his death and leaves town to keep his family safe. He’s adjusted to life in Fire Beach, but when Makenna re-enters his life, he is forced to make a gut-wrenching decision: Continue living his lie or return to his hometown to help her catch the killer.

Captain Makenna Drake believed she was saving Matt Fisher’s life when she convinced him to leave his life behind, but now the fires have started again. As the only victim to survive, she hopes seeing Matt will fluster the killer enough to make a mistake. But can she protect him this time or will the killer finish the job started five years ago?

USA Today best-selling author Lorana Hoopes takes you on another fantastic ride full of secrets, romance, and suspense. A page-turner until the end, this story will send your heart racing and having you reading late into the night as you work to figure out the killer. With over 1,648 copies sold and over 615,943 pages read, find out why The Men of Fire Beach is the hottest new series in Christian Romantic Suspense. Includes questions for a discussion group. Grab your copy by clicking above, but be sure to hang on to your hat.

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