The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

A
CCLAIM FOR
J
AMES
L. R
UBART

“Richly imaginative and deeply moving, James L. Rubart's story of forgiveness and freedom reaches past the page and into the soul.”

—J
AMES
S
COTT
B
ELL
, C
HRISTY
A
WARD
–
WINNING AUTHOR OF
F
INAL
W
ITNESS
,
ON
T
HE
L
ONG
J
OURNEY TO
J
AKE
P
ALMER

“James Rubart has been one of my favorite authors for some time now. I love the way he writes. Reading
The Long Journey to Jake Palmer
was a wonderful experience (and I use the word
experience
on purpose). Rubart's books affect me on many levels. Imagine Nicholas Sparks, C. S. Lewis, and Mitch Albom collaborating on a novel.
The Long Journey of Jake Palmer
is something very close to that. Highly recommended.”

—D
AN
W
ALSH
,
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
T
HE
U
NFINISHED
G
IFT
,
T
HE
D
ANCE
AND
T
HE
R
EUNION

“Rubart delivers a creative, ingenious novel about love and discovery.
The Long Journey to Jake Palmer
will have you thinking ‘How do we really see ourselves?' long after the end.”

—R
ACHEL
H
AUCK
,
N
EW
Y
ORK
T
IMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
T
HE
W
EDDIN
G
D
RESS
AND
T
HE
W
EDDING
C
HAPEL

“If you think fiction can't change your life and challenge you to be a better person, you need to read
The Five Times I Met Myself
.”

—A
NDY
A
NDREWS
,
N
EW
Y
ORK
T
IMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
H
OW
D
O
Y
OU
K
ILL 11
M
ILLION
P
EOPLE
,
T
HE
N
OTICER
,
AND
T
HE
T
RAVELER
'
S
G
IFT

“Rubart does it again with another intriguing, thought-provoking concept. The author weaves in strong spiritual truth and opportunities for self-examination in addition to the fascinating premise.”

—
RT B
OOK
R
EVIEWS
,
4
1
/2 STARS
, TOP PICK!
ON
T
HE
F
IVE
T
IMES
I M
ET
M
YSELF

“The clear message about loving others, relying on God, and focusing on your family leads up to an emotional conclusion. A spiritual and family-centered book that will appeal to readers of inspirational fiction.”

—
K
IRKUS
R
EVIEWS
ON
T
HE
F
IVE
T
IMES
I M
ET
M
YSELF

“A powerfully redemptive story with twists and turns that had me glued to every page. With a compelling message for anyone who longs to relive their past,
The Five Times I Met Myself
is another James L. Rubart masterpiece.”

—S
USAN
M
AY
W
ARREN
,
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE
C
HRISTIANSEN
F
AMILY SERIES

“The conclusion of the Well Spring series is full of action and conflict. Although the novels deal with spiritually challenging concepts, Rubart makes them understandable and accessible. Overall a very exciting and fitting end to a thrilling saga.”

—
RT B
OOK
R
EVIEWS
ON
S
PIRIT
B
RIDGE

“The second novel in Rubart's Well Spring series picks up the fast-paced narrative right away and doesn't quit until the end. The author has penned another amazing tale of angels, demons, and what it means to be truly connected to God's plans for the future.”

—
RT B
OOK
R
EVIEWS
,
4 STARS ON
M
EMORY
'
S
D
OOR

“Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: this is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and ‘builds wings on the way down.' ”

—
P
UBLISHERS
W
EEKLY
ON
S
OUL
'
S
G
ATE

“Powerful storytelling. Rubart writes with a depth of understanding about a realm most of us never investigate, let alone delve into. A deep and mystical journey that will leave you thinking long after you finish the book.”

—T
ED
D
EKKER
,
N
EW
Y
ORK
T
IMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR
,
ON
S
OUL
'
S
G
ATE

“Tight, boiled-down writing and an intriguing premise that will make you reconsider what you think you know about the spiritual realm.”

—S
TEVEN
J
AMES
,
NATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
P
LACEBO
AND
O
PENING
M
OVES
,
ON
S
OUL
'
S
G
ATE

“Don't read this unless you're ready to see with new eyes. Through evocative prose and masterful storytelling, Rubart transports you to the spiritual realm—a realm of vision, mystery, healing, and power. A deep and thoughtful—and jet-propelled—spiritual journey of a book.”

—T
OSCA
L
EE
,
N
EW
Y
ORK
T
IMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR
,
ON
S
OUL
'
S
G
ATE

O
THER
B
OOKS BY
J
AMES
L. R
UBART

The Five Times I Met Myself

Book of Days

The Chair

Rooms

T
HE
W
ELL
S
PRING
N
OVELS

Soul's Gate

Memory's Door

Spirit Bridge

Copyright © 2016 by James L. Rubart

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.

The author is represented by the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Sreet, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO, 80920. www.alivecommunications.com.

Thomas Nelson titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible
®
. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

ISBN 978-1-4016-8614-7 (eBook)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Rubart, James L., author.

Title: The long journey to Jake Palmer / James L. Rubart.

Description: Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 2016.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016006264 | ISBN 9781401686130 (softcover)

Subjects: LCSH: Life change events--Fiction. | Loss (Psychology)--Fiction. | Self-realization--Fiction. | Self-actualization (Psychology)--Fiction. | GSAFD: Christian fiction.

Classification: LCC PS3618.U2326 L66 2016 | DDC 813/.6--dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016006264

16 17 18 19 20 21 RRD 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Jamie, I'll never forget you.

And for you, dear reader, I pray you're willing
to take the long journey for yourself.

“And you? When will you begin
that long journey into yourself?”

—R
UMI

1

I
f Jake Palmer had only kept the mundane promise he'd made to himself, his life wouldn't be headed down a dead-end road at the speed of light. He'd vowed there'd be no more late-night flights. No more trips stacked on top of each other. No more landings at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport after midnight, which pushed him to physical and emotional exhaustion. But there he'd been for the third time in eight days.

His phone rang as he pulled out of the parking garage, and Jake glanced at the time before he picked up. Twelve thirty-five a.m. Sienna should be asleep.

“What are you still doing up?”

“I miss you. I've hardly seen you for the past three months.”

“I know. Not fun. But Italy will be here in six short weeks. Then fourteen days of cruising where you'll have to put up with me 24/7.”

“Maybe I
should
get some rest.”

Jake laughed.

“How far away are you, Adonis?” Sienna asked.

He smiled at her pet name for him. “Forty minutes.”

“Get here now. I'll wait up.”

“And sacrifice your beauty rest?” Jake tapped on his steering wheel and grinned.

“Yes, even though it'll make me look horrible tomorrow.”

“Impossible. You'd win every beauty contest known to man even if you stayed up for a month.”

“If I'm asleep when you get home, wake me up. Promise.”

“Absolutely.”

Sienna blew a kiss through the phone and hung up.

Jake glanced at his gas gauge as he headed up I-5. The yellow warning light glared at him, red needle on the wrong side of the empty line. Problem. Wouldn't be good to run out before getting back to Bothell. He glanced at the exits coming up. Probably not the greatest section of Seattle to get gas this late at night, but running out here would be worse. Why hadn't he filled up before the trip? Because his schedule was insane and there hadn't been time.

Jake pulled off I-5 at the next exit. Quick fill and he'd be back on the asphalt river, home to Sienna before one twenty. He pulled up to the outside gas island and snatched his wallet out of his coat at the same time. As he stepped outside into the October chill, odors of pot and gas filled his nose.

As he stepped to the pump, a battered Honda Civic with peeling dark blue paint lurched into the station and stopped behind his Jeep. A young woman got out, her black hair streaked with red and purple, her denim coat marred with grime and amateur images of dragons drawn with blue and red Sharpies.

She swiped a credit card and as she pumped her gas glanced furtively past Jake at the street to his back, then at the street in
front of them. She jiggled her nozzle up and down as if to try to make the gas flow faster.

“You okay?”

She flinched and glanced at Jake as if she hadn't seen him during her scans of the street and was shocked to find someone standing nearby. “No, I'm . . . yeah, I'm fine.”

“I didn't mean to startle you.”

“No, I . . . uh . . . just thinking about . . . stuff.”

Her eyes continued to dart in a quick circle, and before her gaze had made it back to the starting point, the screech of tires filled the night air. The agitation on her face turned to fear as a gray Dodge Neon with a spoiler and white racing stripes sped into the station, then skidded to a stop behind the girl's car, brakes squealing.

She dropped her nozzle and turned to run past Jake, but a beat-up Toyota appeared in front of Jake's Jeep and she froze.

The passenger window of the Neon came down and a kid, couldn't be more than twenty, adjusted his unneeded sunglasses and called out to her.

“Hey, sugar. We gotta talk. We're running a business and you're the product, see. And when the product goes missing, our clients aren't happy. So we're not happy. And it's a trickle-down economy, which means you're not going to be happy.”

The girl held out her palms as if they could keep the cars and the men inside them at bay. “I told you, I'm out of the game. You promised you'd leave me alone. You promised!”

“Don't jam me.” The man swore, then flicked a cigarette toward the garbage can that sat between Jake's pump and the girl's. “Five more. That was the deal. Five. More. Don't test me, girl.”

“No. I'm out now. Please!”

“You will be, baby. All the way out. Just five more. But right now, we gotta getcha all cleaned up. Nice and fresh, then we can start again, get it done, a week tops, then you're free.” The man climbed out of his car and extended a completely tattooed arm toward her and wiggled his fingers. “Now come here, sugar. Now!”

Jake debated whether to move away or stay. But only for a moment. He left the nozzle stuck in the gas line and eased over next to the girl, his palms raised.

“What do you think you're doing?” The man sneered at Jake. “You looking for a party? Or to get yourself totally messed up?”

“Neither.”

“Then bounce!” The kid took a step toward Jake and swore so hard spittle flew out his mouth.

Jake glanced at the kid in the driver's seat of the Neon, then behind him. Two more in the front seat of the Toyota. Four against one. Jake was in good shape and knew how to handle himself in a fight, but these weren't great odds. And the likelihood of one of these punks carrying a gun was high.

Jake kept his hands raised and shook his head. “I am not looking for any kind of trouble.”

“Good. That means you're going to get in your Jeep right now, jam down hard on the gas pedal, and be back on your way to your castle. Go!” The kid stabbed his finger toward Jake's Jeep, then eased toward the girl, a sick grin on his face.

“Tell you what. Let's say I am looking for a party. Five parties. Why don't I give you some money for your party supplies and you can let your friend here get back to filling up her car.”
He pointed to his back pocket. “Right now, I'm just going to grab my wallet.”

Jake took all his cash and held it out. The kid took the bills and spun through them. “Two hundred eighty-five. You're a real hero, aren't you, pokey?”

“No. Not a hero. I'm just thinking this will end better for you, for me, for her, and for the cameras on the pumps if you take that and we all head out of here.”

The kid grinned, then nodded at the driver of the Neon and toward the Toyota behind Jake.

“Oh, yeah, okay, I like that.” The kid strutted back and forth in front of Jake. “You're a real Mr. Entertainment. Seriously funny guy. But I'm not laughing. You threaten me like I'm too stupid to think about the cameras?

“See this place?” The kid laughed and swept his finger toward the store in a tight circle. “We come here, hang out sometimes. So we've adjusted the cameras to our liking. The clerks all like us too.”

The kid stepped forward and jabbed Jake in the chest. “Nobody's gonna see what goes on here. Nobody. Which means you're going to jump in your shiny new Jeep right now and pull away and pretend you didn't see nothing. Got it?”

“Take the money, let her go.”

“Wait, am I hearing you right?” The kid yanked on his earlobe.

“Yeah, you heard right. Let her go.”

The kid's face grew red. He whipped off his sunglasses and got within inches of Jake, his voice a hiss now. “Last chance, hero.”

“Let her go.”

The kid hopped back and jerked up and down in a spastic
dance. “Wow. This is crazy. You're not asking anymore? You're telling? You don't do that. I gave you a chance. Gave you two. But you're breaking all the rules, Mr. Entertainment. You break our rules, we always get to have a little fun. And you get to take a bath.”

The kid pulled out a matchbook at the same moment something wet hit the small of Jake's back, then his legs. He spun. One of the kids from the other car had a grin on his face, and Jake's nozzle in his hand, gas streaming toward him in a lazy rainbow. Now his stomach and all the way down to his shoes were covered. He twisted back to glance at the first kid even though he knew exactly what was about to happen. He started to run, but he was far too late.

The last thing he remembered was a matchbook on fire, looping through the air toward his silver belt buckle.

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