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Authors: Catherine West

Hidden in the Heart

BOOK: Hidden in the Heart
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Hidden in the

~ a novel ~

Catherine West

Copyright © 2014, Catherine West


For my sister, Pam.

If I had known this journey would lead me to you, I would have started sooner.


With praise and humble gratitude to my Father in Heaven. You led me every step of the way, carried me when I could go no further, gave me miracles I did not deserve.


For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Praise for

Hidden in the Heart…

Through her novels, Catherine West reaches out to her readers, asking them to examine the deeper issues of the heart: how our failures shape our futures, what real faith looks like, and how much heartache can a marriage survive. In
Hidden in the Heart
, West explores the many facets of adoption, writing with gut-wrenching honesty and yet a tenderness that kept me turning pages late into the night. --- Beth K. Vogt, author of
Somebody Like You
Wish You Were Here
, &
Catch a Falling Star

Catherine West intricately weaves a story about one family's journey toward truth, healing, and wholeness.
Hidden in the Heart
is a touching tale that will leave readers with a sense that even in the midst of great hurt, God can redeem what's been lost." --- Katie Ganshert, author of
A Broken Kind of Beautiful, Wishing on Willows & Wildflowers from Winter

Catherine West's adept prose unfurls moments with the power to change lives, giving us both the dismay of heartbreak and a call to redemption in the story of two women who did not know how much they needed each other.
Olivia Newport, author of
The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

Hidden in the Heart
is a compelling love song of a novel about finding a true home in a lonely world. Gifted author Catherine West writes with lump-in-the-throat power to transport you through a family’s journey from brokenness to grace. A page-turner full of honest spiritual insight and poignant characters, this is a luminous story of forgiveness that will take hold of your heart and lift its hidden burdens. --- Rosslyn Elliott, award-winning author of
Fairer than Morning
Sweeter than Birdsong

Hidden in the Heart
is a thought-provoking and powerful story that explores the depths of human despair-- and Christ's redemptive and soul-changing power. As I read Claire's story, I realized how each of my experiences, faults, mistakes and triumphs are woven together to make me who I am. And that person-- flaws and all-- is exactly the person that God created for His purposes and His designs. Full of witty dialogue and poignant examples of faith, Catherine West has captured one woman's journey to find her true self in a way that will touch each mother, daughter, sister or friend. --- Erin MacPherson, author of "The Christian Mama's Guide" series.

Hidden In The Heart
takes you on an emotional journey through the life of Claire Ferguson. A journey of loss, hope, and a promise for the future. Claire struggles through darkness, until a sleepy Maine town and its inhabitants show a glimpse of light and rest. Catherine’s gift for writing the family saga has made her one of my favorite authors. She has the talent of being able to weave together stories with such emotional power, that you feel truly blessed when you reach the end. A Catherine West novel is a must-read novel. --- Lindi Peterson, award-winning author of
Her Best Catch

Hidden in the Heart
goes beyond the quick fix of discovery and delves into struggles with faith, commitment, complicated circumstances, and difficult decisions. If your family has been touched by adoption, you will want to read this well-told story. --- Lori Wildenberg, coauthor of
EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First.

From the first page, Catherine West pulled me into the broken life of her main character Claire Ferguson. A love story on many levels,
Hidden in the Heart
spoke to my heart about the value of forgiveness and the ultimate beauty of love. --- Sue Harrison – International Bestselling Author of
Mother Earth, Father Sky.

Catherine West has penned a well-told story complete with flawed characters who must deal with their mistakes, heartbreak, and pain.
“I’m not so sure God deals in guilt. If anything, I think He deals in forgiveness.”
A lesson for us all. --- Eileen Key - Author of Cedar Creek Seasons & Sundays in Fredericksburg.

Hidden in the Heart
is a beautifully told story of a young woman's search for her birth mother. Loosely based on her own journey of discovery, Catherine West infuses a transparency and depth of emotion that is both heartrending and immensely satisfying. I couldn't put it down.
Novel Rocket
and I give it a very high recommendation.--- Ane Mulligan, Sr. editor,
Novel Rocket
, author of
Chapel Springs Revival


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Thank You!

A Note From Catherine:

Also by Catherine West…

About the Author

Chapter One

Claire Ferguson stood outside Baby Gap, unable to look away from the Christmas display. Red velvet dresses and miniature-sized plaid waistcoats. Tiny suede boots, tiny patent leather shoes, tiny colorful striped hats and scarves.

Everything was tiny.

Claire stared at a little red dress, her eyes filling as she imagined and wished for the impossible.

People filed in and out of the store, smiling, laughing. Happy. An ordinary day filled with ordinary tasks and lists of things that must be accomplished. She had no such list—just an overwhelming need to pass time quickly on this day that was not so ordinary.

Claire shifted, almost lost her balance, but steadied herself. She waited until things came into focus again, then glanced at her watch. Late afternoon. Shoppers jostled by, oblivious to her pain, all in a hurry to get their purchases and conquer the next store in the mall.

If only she had a reason to hurry.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” crooned from the mall loudspeakers. Claire bit her lip and cursed Bing.

Christmas would be merry when it was over.

Claire tightened her grip on the numerous bags she carried and slowly moved forward. Her heel slipped on a slick patch of tile. She managed to regain her balance before
falling, but the effort shook her and sent her pulse racing.

After walking a bit, her arms began to burn. Her overflowing shopping bags were heavy, but gave a sense of accomplishment. She’d gotten out of bed and had the purchases to prove it.

“Claire? Hey…yoo-hoo!” A woman’s greeting floated above the noise of the crowd.

Claire lowered her head and rummaged through her purse. She popped a few breath mints into her mouth and chewed as she weighed her options.

Pretend she didn’t hear. Pretend to be someone else. Or turn around and face the owner of the vaguely familiar voice still calling out her name.

Curiosity won out and Claire turned.

“Hi, Claire! I thought that was you.” The woman waved and hurried over. Platinum blonde hair swooshed around her shoulders. “Long time no see. You remember me, don’t you?”

“Um…” No. Claire pushed through the tangled cobwebs in her brain. “Ashley, right? High school?” The woman’s Colgate-bright smile never faltered. She could have been on the cover of a magazine. Or a toothpaste commercial.

“Amanda. Barker.” Blue eyes twinkled as though she held some untold secret. “Gosh, it’s been a while. How are you? Have time for a coffee?”

“Coffee?” Claire screwed up her nose. Vodka tonic would be more enticing, but whatever. She didn’t have anywhere to be. Not really. “Sure.”

They settled around a table at Starbucks. Amanda insisted on buying, which was fine with Claire. A few minutes later she sipped an Espresso and managed a smile. “So. Amanda. What have you been up to since high school?”

“Oh, not too much, you know. Busy. You?”

Claire nodded. “Same. Busy. Very busy.” Busy not answering the phone. Busy
surfing channels. Busy ignoring the whole world.

Amanda stirred another packet of sweetener into her Caffè Misto. “You got married a few years ago, didn’t you? You and James?”

A bizarre image of Guy Smiley from
Sesame Street
flashed before her and Claire wondered what she’d done to win a spot on
This Is Your Life
. She suppressed a giggle. That third drink at lunch probably hadn’t been such a great idea. “Yep. Me and James.”

“Any kids?”

As if on cue, a mother walked past them pushing a toddler. The kid looked her way and released a blood-curdling wail. Claire let out her breath. “Didn’t you go to Vassar?”

“Oh.” Amanda’s pretty smile petered out as she fiddled with the top of her cup. “Yes, but I dropped out. Had a breakdown of sorts.”

“Of sorts?” Maybe that was the same as being a little bit pregnant. A ripple of anxiety washed over Amanda’s face and Claire felt a pinch of guilt. “Hey, it’s cool. I’m the last person to be throwing judgment around.” She pulled at a loose thread on her sweater.

Getting out of bed this morning had been tiresome enough, she hadn’t given much thought to her wardrobe. Just grabbed a pair of yoga pants and a long black sweater that covered her butt, and pushed her feet into a pair of Uggs. She took in Amanda’s pristine appearance, fumbled with her hair and tried to remember whether she’d even brushed it. “Are you…okay now?” Stupid question. Of course she was.

“Oh, yes.” Amanda answered too quickly. “Right as rain.”

“Funny, that.” Claire couldn’t stop a grin. “Right as rain. People always complain when it rains, don’t they? I mean, what’s right about it, really?”

Amanda didn’t hide surprise well. She opened her mouth but no words came. She nibbled on a bran muffin and dabbed cherry lips with a paper napkin. “Um. I heard your mother died. Last year, was it? I’m sorry.”

Of course she was sorry. Everybody was sorry. God was probably even sorry.

Claire studied her nails. The pink polish was chipped and faded, most of her nails worn down by her chewing on them. Another habit she couldn’t seem to break. “She had cancer. Only lived a few months after her diagnosis.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Yup.” Claire nodded, still pondering Amanda’s mysterious breakdown. She really wanted to ask how the accommodations were at the funny farm, because if things got any worse she might just be heading there herself. “So, what are you doing now? Now that you’re…
?” Small talk seemed more appropriate.

Amanda perked up at the change of subject. “Oh, a bit of this and that. I’m planning a wedding, so you know how that goes. I got engaged a few months ago.” She waved a hand, a diamond the size of a small country in Africa almost blinding Claire. “You know, Claire…when I saw you, I remembered. You were adopted too, right?”

Hot liquid sloshed out of the small hole in the plastic lid and Claire put her cup down in a hurry. She dabbed at the mess and tried to think what an appropriate response would be. “None of your business” probably wouldn’t go over so well.

“Too?” As Claire lifted the top off her paper cup to clean it, the lid on her memory slid off with it. “That’s right. You were the only other kid I knew who was adopted. Our mothers were friends for a while, weren’t they?”

“When we were in eighth and ninth grade.” Amanda’s eyes got misty. “I used to love going over to your house, you were so much fun. But then we…drifted apart, I guess. You ran with the cool kids. I was a geek.”

BOOK: Hidden in the Heart
3.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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