Authors: Joyce Livingston
DOWN FROM THE CROSS
Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Livingston. All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the permission of Truly Yours, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., PO Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683.
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events is purely coincidental.
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.
Keene Moray loved Providence, Rhode Island. If he could choose one place in the lower forty-eight to live on a permanent basis, it would be Providence, right in the heart of the New England area. Unfortunately, his profession required him to live elsewhere—in New York City—but not by choice. It wasn’t that he didn’t love the Big Apple. He did. But it had become too crowded, too demanding, and far too busy for his liking.
“This is the city for me,” he said aloud, flipping on his turn signal as he drove his new BMW convertible down Francis Street toward the convention center. “With its relaxed, laidback atmosphere. Someday I’m going to have myself a house in this city. Maybe a lovely old brick mansion.”
He sped up and then reached to insert a new CD into the player in the dash. It slipped from his fingers and fell onto the thickly carpeted floor. With a quick glance to check the traffic ahead of him, he bent to retrieve the elusive CD.
Suddenly his body lunged forward, only to be yanked back by the seat belt, the noise of crashing metal deafening his ears. The car’s air bag pinned him against the seat back, and his head slammed into the headrest. The BMW filled with a misty gray haze from the air bag’s powdery substance. Although the bag deflated instantly, Keene found it difficult to breathe. He instinctively yanked the buckle open on his seat belt, found the car door handle, and pushed open the door, staggering out in search of fresh air to fill his lungs.
That’s when he fully realized what had happened.
“Uggh!” Jane Delaney leaned her forehead against the steering wheel, her heart pounding erratically.
What happened? Why is that horn honking?
With trembling fingers, she reached for the knot forming on her forehead. “My car!” She pushed away and struggled to open the door, but the handle wouldn’t budge. “Oh, dear Lord, I’ve been in an accident. Please, God, don’t let my car be ruined!”
Though it hurt to move, she forced herself over the console and passenger seat, wincing at the stabbing pain in her left leg. She pushed her way out the door, nearly falling when she tried to stand to her feet. With the bright morning sun blinding her, she hobbled around the front of her car, placing her palms on the hood for support. She felt faint, light-headed, and woozy, and it scared her. She’d never felt this way before. However, her fright didn’t compare with the feelings of helplessness and exasperation she experienced when she caught sight of the driver’s side of her car. She stood staring, gaping at the damage, everything going in and out of focus.
A hand gripped her arm. “Are you all right? I am so sorry! I must’ve run a red light!” The man let his hold on her relax long enough to pull his cell phone from his belt. “I’ve got to call 911! You need an ambulance!”
Keene grabbed for the woman, nearly dropping his phone, but despite his efforts she fell into a heap at his feet. “What have I done?” he shouted, quickly kneeing beside her and punching 911 into his phone. The dispatcher answered immediately.
“Help, someone, help! I’ve just run into a woman’s car, and I think she’s unconscious!”
“Give me your location, sir, and we’ll have someone right there,” the dispatcher answered calmly with an authority that did nothing to calm Keene’s frazzled nerves.
He looked around quickly, hoping to find a street sign or some other indication of his location. “I’m… I’m on Francis Street.”
“Where on Francis Street, sir? Can you give me the name of a nearby cross street, maybe a familiar landmark?”
His mind raced. “I–I don’t know… I was on Francis Street heading toward the convention center…” He paused, trying to remember what happened.
Several people were gathering now, one man bending over the young woman with great concern. Keene leaned toward him, his own breath coming in short gasps. “Where am I?”
Apparently familiar with the area, the man looked up and said, “Francis Street and Sabin.”
“Francis Street and Sabin,” Keene barked into the phone, relieved to be able to relay accurate information.
“Thank you, sir. They’ll find you.”
“Tell them to hurry, please. I don’t know how badly she is hurt, but her head is bleeding. How could I have done this?”
Keene turned quickly at the sound. At least the woman was alive. He pulled a freshly ironed handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to her forehead. If only he could stop the bleeding. “Hang on, lady. Help is coming. Someone should be here any minute.” Blinking hard, he covered his face with his free hand.
How could this have happened? One minute I was driving along, putting a CD—the CD! It dropped onto the floor, and I reached for it! I didn’t even see the woman’s car!
He scanned Francis Street in both directions for any sign of the emergency vehicle, his frantic gaze locking on the stoplight.
A stoplight! I ran a stoplight! I could have killed that woman!
The wail of a siren brought him to his feet. Keene moved quickly out of the way yet stayed close enough to see and hear the things going on as an ambulance pulled up beside him, followed by a police car, then a fire engine.
“Can you tell me what happened, sir?” Clipboard in hand, the police officer hurriedly exited his car and began making notations.
“It was my fault!” Keene gestured toward the stoplight. “I–I didn’t see the stoplight.”
Poising his ballpoint pen over the clipboard, the officer took on a dubious expression. “I’ll need your full name and address.”
“My… my name is Keene Moray. M-O-R-A-Y. I’m staying at… at…” His mind went blank. “I’m staying at… at— oh, what is the name of that place?”
He described the complex where the condominium he had rented for the next few months was located, and fortunately, the officer recognized it by its description and came up with the name, Kennewick Place.
Keene nodded. “Do you think she’s going to be all right?” He craned his neck over the crowd that had assembled, trying to get a glimpse of the woman when the EMTs lifted her onto the gurney.
The officer turned, looked briefly in her direction, and then continued writing. “Don’t know. Sometimes these intersection collisions can do more serious damage to the drivers than to the cars.” The officer stopped writing, his slight frown converting to one of understanding. “Hang on a minute, and I’ll see what I can find out.”
Keene watched as the man strode over to one of the EMTs, conversed with him for a second, jotted down a few notes, then walked back. The two stood watching the men loading the gurney into the waiting ambulance. Then the doors closed, and it headed back down the street, lights flashing.
“He said it didn’t look like her injuries were life-threatening,” the officer told him. “She probably fainted from the trauma of the accident and the loss of blood. That happens sometimes, especially if it’s the person’s first accident. However, they were concerned about her left ankle. They’re taking her to the hospital to make sure she’s all right and there are no internal injuries. Standard procedure for this type of thing.” He let loose a slight chuckle. “Guess she gave them quite a battle. She didn’t want to go to the hospital, kept saying she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford it.”
Keene stared at the twisted wreckage of the woman’s little economy car, then at his solid BMW. While her car looked to be a total loss, his had sustained only minor damage to the hood, bumper, and lights, and he felt terrible. “I’ll pay for her hospital bill, and of course, I’ll have her car repaired or replaced. It was my fault.”
The officer peered over his sunglasses with a hint of a cautioning smile. “Don’t think your lawyer would be happy hearing you say that. I’m going to have to give you a citation for running that red light, you know.”
“Did you get her name?” The least of Keene’s worries right now was the cost of the ticket he would have to pay. Without a doubt, he was the one who had caused the accident, and he would be more than willing to answer for his carelessness and irresponsibility. That poor woman! He could have killed her.
“Oh, yeah,” the officer said, looking up from his book. “I got it. It’s Jane Delaney.”
Jane winced and sighed in frustration. She had been in a hospital a number of times, but she had never been a patient. “Well, how are we feeling?” A big-boned woman in a heavily starched nurse’s uniform came bustling into the cubicle. “You were pretty upset when they brought you in. You’re looking a little better now.”