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The Test of Love

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      The Test of Love
Irene Brand

Литагент HarperCollins EUR

SPIRITUAL HEALINGWhen Joseph Caldwell started the New Life Center's program, he wanted only to regain mobility in his leg. He didn't realize the center's philosophy was to rehabilitate the body…and the soul. He also didn't know he'd have such a tough–and caring–trainer.From the moment he met Connie Harmon, Joseph had a feeling he faced much more than physical therapy. For lovely Connie believed that, more than anything, Joseph had to regain the faith he'd lost. And though he protested, he knew if anyone could help him, it was this kind and compassionate woman.But Joseph wasn't sure he could overcome his mental wounds, and accept the love Connie felt he deserved….

“I’m going to appoint a new trainer for you, Joseph.”

“If you don’t continue as my trainer, Connie, I’ll leave. I can’t blame you for not wanting to work with me, but I don’t want anyone else.”

“But you’re not ready to leave yet,” she protested. “I don’t want you to lose all you’ve gained.”

Joseph laid his hand on her shoulder. “When I sat on that bench this morning after my jog, exhausted, and you were holding my hand, I realized how bleak my life has been for the past year, and I compared it to the serenity and peace I have with you. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I can’t let you go out of my life completely, and that’s what will happen if I leave here.”

Connie swallowed a sob, and moved closer to him….

IRENE BRAND

This prolific and popular author of both contemporary and historical inspirational fiction is a native of West Virginia, where she has lived all her life. She began writing professionally in 1977, after she completed her master’s degree in history at Marshall University. Irene taught in secondary public schools for twenty-three years, but retired in 1989 to devote herself full-time to her writing.

In 1984, after she had enjoyed a long career of publishing articles and devotional materials, her first novel was published by Thomas Nelson. Since that time, Irene has published twenty-one contemporary and historical novels and three nonfiction titles with publishers such as Zondervan, Fleming Revell and Barbour Books.

Her extensive travels with her husband, Rod, to forty-nine of the United States and thirty-two foreign countries, have inspired much of her writing. Through her writing, Irene believes she has been helpful to others and is grateful to the many readers who have written to say that her truly inspiring stories and compelling portrayals of characters of strong faith have made a positive impression on their lives. You can write to her at P.O. Box 2770, Southside, WV 25187.

The Test of Love

Irene Brand

www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the

Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

—I Corinthians 6:19-20

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Epilogue

Letter to Reader

Chapter One

A snatch of song marked Connie Harmon’s progress as she jogged slowly along the driveway and into the New Life Center’s administration building. A tall, slender brunette, she bubbled with vigor and vitality. Most of her life, Connie’s gaiety had been spontaneous, but events of the past few months had dampened her spirits, and at times she’d had to force her cheerfulness. The chorus she sang today, “In my heart there rings a melody,” didn’t always reflect her true emotional state.

Before going down the hallway to her office, Connie paused in front of the foyer’s wide expanse of windows to gaze at a scene that never failed to soothe and inspire her. Brilliant snowbanks clung to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains several miles to the southwest, while on the lawn, a robin stiffened its legs and tugged purposefully on a worm in the row of yellow tulips, which were frosted by early-morning dew.

Continuing toward the reception room, Connie sang the refrain of “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies,” in her pleasing, soprano voice, attempting to keep her spirits high. She was scheduled to discuss monthly bills and accounts with her secretary, Kim Watson, and since her financial condition was usually discouraging, she wanted to get the task behind her.

Connie owned the New Life Center near Idaho Springs, in one of Colorado’s oldest historic districts. And though she operated on a hand-to-mouth budget, her financial condition was better than it had been when she’d opened the Center three years ago. Her college degree in physical therapy and psychology hadn’t equipped her to be an administrator—she’d had to learn that on her own, and it had been rough.

The phone rang as Connie walked in the door. She waved to Kim and moved toward the adjacent office, but the receptionist stopped Connie with an imperious shake of her head as she picked up the phone. Connie’s large blue eyes glimmered with amusement at Kim’s gesture, and her sensitive, well-formed mouth broke into a grin that spread over her finely chiseled features. Who was boss here anyway? But she and Kim had been best friends for years, and Connie was used to Kim ordering her around. So perched on the edge of the desk, she waited until Kim answered a query from a local boy about their gymnastic equipment.

Kim replaced the phone, her brown eyes flashing a message Connie couldn’t decipher until she scanned the note Kim scribbled on a scrap of paper. “A visitor is waiting in your office.”

Connie lifted her eyebrows, and Kim wrote, “Joseph Caldwell.”

“The Joseph Caldwell?” Connie mouthed silently.

Kim nodded, and Connie said quietly, “Why?”

The receptionist shook her head and wrote again. “He said that it was very important that he see you today, and he wouldn’t take, no, for an answer.”

What could Joseph Caldwell want so urgently from NLC? A well-known Colorado rancher, Caldwell often appeared on television as a spokesman for legislation to promote the rural interests of the state. Occasionally, he’d been a featured rider in rodeos at the state fair, and although she’d never seen him in person, whenever Connie saw him on television, she’d had the urge to learn more about him. Regardless of why he’d come today, Connie looked forward to meeting him.

When she entered her office, the man sitting in the visitor’s chair rose with effort and leaned on his cane. He was dressed in a tailored denim suit, a blue-plaid shirt and cowboy boots. A wide-brimmed white hat lay on a chair beside him.

Her visitor was a man of medium height, only a couple of inches taller than Connie, but he had broad shoulders and handled himself with dignity. His hair was light-brown, and steely gray eyes glistened above his high cheekbones. A wide, determined mouth and a straight nose indicated his strength of character.

“I’m Joseph Caldwell,” he said slowly, almost with a drawl.

Joseph Caldwell in the flesh was even more appealing than he appeared on TV, and with downcast eyes, Connie’s fingers fumbled with the papers on her desk, fearful that her visitor would detect her sudden interest. She’d heard it said that following a broken relationship, a person was apt to rebound quickly into another’s arms, and at the moment, Joseph’s arms seemed more than inviting.

Careful, she admonished herself as she again focused on her visitor’s remarks.

“Your facility was recommended to me by my Denver surgeon. My left leg and hip were crushed in an automobile wreck six months ago.” He fixed her with a keen, unwavering glance. “Perhaps you’ve heard about the accident?”

Connie thought for a moment. “Yes. I do remember the accident was reported on the evening television news.”

“My wife was killed in the accident, and there was quite a lot of publicity.”

What kind of publicity would cause his voice to tremble slightly when he mentioned it? she thought. Local accidents didn’t usually cause a ripple in the news media unless the wreck was sensational, so what was unusual about the accident he mentioned?

“I’m sorry to hear about your loss.”

“It’s a miracle that I wasn’t killed too, and considering the physical suffering of the past few months, there have been times when I wished I had died, but I’m still alive and disabled. The surgeons have done all they can and suggested that I enroll in a rehabilitation program.”

“What do you know about our work here at NLC?” Connie asked, wondering if Joseph was the type to readily accept the strict regimen required at the Center.

“Not a thing,” he said, and added with a broad smile, “I’d never heard of the place until yesterday. But what difference does it make? My surgeon said that you could recommend a physical program to strengthen my thigh and leg. What else do I need to know?”

“Quite a lot. You see, Mr. Caldwell, NLC’s focus differs from most physical fitness centers. Our goal is to heal the mind and spirit as well as the body.”

He laughed shortly. “There’s nothing wrong with my mind and spirit. I have an injured limb. That’s all I want from you.”
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