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Tracie Peterson

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A Slender Thread
Copyright © 2000
Tracie Peterson

Cover design by Lookout Design Group, Inc.

Ebook edition created 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.

ISBN 978-1-4412-0331-1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
A Ministry of Bethany Fellowship International
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438
www.bethanyhouse.com

In loving memory of my grandmother
Georgia Williams

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the L
ORD
is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:29-30

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph

PART ONE

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

PART TWO

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

PART THREE

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

About the Author

Back Cover

“Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly set free! No one can hinder him. It is only when we introduce our own will into our relation to God that we get into trouble. When we weave into the pattern of our lives threads of our own desires we instantly become subject to hindrances from the outside.”

A.W. TOZER

Chapter 1

Ashley Mitchell Issacs looked at her mother from across the room. It amazed Ashley that her mother had maintained her youthful beauty after all this time. Though nearly fifty years old, she appeared flawlessly young. From the stylish cut of her brown hair to the elegant gold jewelry around her neck and dangling from her ears, Rachelle Barrister could only be described as stunning.

“She looks wonderful in Christian Dior” came a voice from Ashley’s side.

Turning, Ashley faced her sister Brook. The mirror image of her identical twin had a comforting effect on Ashley. “When did you get here?” she asked, hugging Brook tightly.

“Oh, about ten minutes ago. I got waylaid by Erica and Deirdre as I came in.”

Ashley nodded knowingly. As one of five sisters, she knew very well how that could happen. She herself had been caught off guard by their middle sister, Connie.

“Did you drive here alone?” Brook questioned, glancing around. “Didn’t Jack and the boys come?”

“No, Jack just couldn’t do it. He was lucky to get time away from the hospital to spend with the kids while I came here. The boys are still in school, after all, and we didn’t want to disrupt them.” Ashley didn’t add that she wished she’d insisted her husband and sons accompany her. The day promised to be a large-scale ordeal, and Ashley needed them to keep her calm. “So I flew in by myself, rented a car, and drove here from Kansas City.”

“Me too,” Brook admitted. “Too bad we didn’t think to coordinate
our trips.” Smiling, she stepped back to assess her sister’s dress. “I see we still think alike.”

Ashley laughed softly and noted the matching Calvin Klein dress that Brook wore. “I wondered if we’d show up wearing the same thing. I mean, with me living in Denver and you in New York, I thought there might be some chance we’d have found our own creative outlets.”

“We’ve always had our own creative outlets,” Brook replied, “but I kind of like the way we seem to gravitate toward the same styles for really important moments in life.”

Ashley frowned. “I suppose this is an important moment.”

“Probably more important for our mother than for us,” Deirdre Mitchell Woodward said, joining her sisters. She gave Ashley a hug and stepped back, smiling. Four years her sisters’ junior, Deirdre shared many of the twins’ characteristics and facial features. All three had nut-brown hair, compliments of their mother, and the dark brown Mitchell eyes. They were all about the same medium height and slender frame, with exception to the fact that Brook, a model in New York, kept herself a good twenty pounds lighter.

“Every appearance is important to Rachelle,” Erica, the baby of the family, joined in. Her dark auburn curls betrayed her recent trip to the salon.

“I like your hair,” Ashley declared, giving Erica a quick hug. “It suits you very nicely.”

“Yes, I like it a lot,” Brook agreed.

“What about mine?” The voice came from behind them, and all four sisters turned to find Connie, the middle child of the family, starkly changed from the last time they’d seen her. Her hair, now bleached to blond and cut in a boyish shortness, seemed well suited for the sister who had spent a lifetime going out of her way to be different.

Ashley nodded, determined to show no sign of disapproval or shock. Connie could be so funny about the way people responded to her. “I think it’s very nice. I meant to tell you that earlier,” Ashley
added, though she thought it made Connie look rather hard and unapproachable.

“Where’s Grammy?” Erica asked, glancing around the room.

Ashley realized she’d lost track of her grandmother. Mattie Mitchell had been a mother to all five of the girls—in fact, if it hadn’t been for her, probably none of them would have been here on this most austere of days.

“She’s probably just talking to someone before we get this ordeal started,” Ashley said, still not able to locate where Mattie had slipped off to.

“Are you going to stay at the farm?” Connie asked Ashley.

“I suppose so,” she replied. “Are you?”

Connie nodded. “I figured Grammy would want it that way—you know, have us all under one roof again.”

“It has been a while,” Erica admitted.

“I’d say so,” Deirdre replied. “I figure it’s been at least three years since we were all together. It was that Fourth of July celebration when Morgan was just two years old.”

“How is my little niece?” Ashley questioned. She and Deirdre were the only ones who had married and produced children. Brook was busy with her career, and Connie had never seemed to settle down to just one guy. Erica, on the other hand, appeared precariously close to being engaged to a wonderful young man named Sean Foster.

“Morgan is fine. I left her home with Dave. He agreed with me that this was no place for kids. After all, she hasn’t a clue who Rachelle is.”

“Jack and I felt the same way about John and Zach. I’m sure they’d have a ball at the farm, but for this . . .” Ashley let her words trail off. She looked at her mother again—almost against her will. “A funeral is no place for children.”

The five sisters walked collectively to where their mother’s casket was on display. Ashley sighed and privately wished that Jack and the boys had been there with her. She hated being away from them, even
for a few days. All she could think of was how she was missing the boys coming home from school, listening to their stories, tucking them into bed at night. She missed Jack’s reassuring touch and smile, and she absolutely despised the fact that she had to trade time with those she really loved for someone she didn’t care about at all.

Rachelle Barrister, her own mother, was dead. Ashley felt guilty as she realized that this fact elicited nothing more in the way of emotions than anger and frustration.

Seeing Mattie approach, Ashley tried to forget the anger she held against her mother. Mattie didn’t deserve to deal with that today, and Ashley knew full well that her grandmother was trying desperately to cope with her own pain. The loss of a child, even a very absent child, could never be easy.

“We need to take our seats,” Mattie said, reaching out to put her arm around the closest of her two granddaughters. Deirdre and Brook received her embrace with warmth and love.

“Oh, Grammy, how are you holding up?” Brook questioned first.

“I’m doing all right,” the older woman replied.

But Ashley could see the regret and longing in her grandmother’s eyes. A simple glance toward the coffin revealed her emotion. Mattie felt responsible for Rachelle’s absence in the lives of her daughters, and Ashley knew this without Mattie speaking a word.

BOOK: Tracie Peterson
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