For your enjoyment, here’s an excerpt from Light of the Heart. This is my favorite scene, when they still do not know each other very well and they go into the church together for the first time.
Cascade watched the sun, dappled from the leafy trees nearby, play across the firm planes of his face. “Being back here, I don’t feel like anything has changed.”
“Does that surprise you?” he asked.
“The way things are going lately, everything is coming as a surprise. I’m just trying to process it all.”
“Want to go into the church?”
“Sounds like a great idea.” She looked over at him but could not read his expression.
They walked past the dirt piles toward the front of the church. A songbird trilled in one of the rhododendron shrubs as they moved by. Sunbeams glinted off the colorful stained glass windows. At the top of the wooden staircase, Cascade held the brass handle to open the ornately carved door.
“Go on.” Dan reached beyond her and held the door open for her.
She entered the vestibule, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Images of the past flooded her mind. Some of them good, some of them not so good. She turned to Dan. “Come with me.”
“You got it.”
They walked together down the main aisle. Cascade inhaled the familiar scents of wood, candle, and incense. She stopped midway and turned to face the back of the church.
“These windows are beautiful,” she whispered, looking up at the large round West window. “This is where I was inspired to do what I do and to be who I am today.”
“Impressive.” Dan touched her arm. “Let’s sit down here.”
They slid into a pew and sat back against the smooth, varnished wood. Cascade slowly scanned the interior of the church, looking at each window. It was as if she were seeing it for the very first time.
She turned to say something to Dan. His eyes were closed, and he sat motionless. It looked as if he were in prayer. Could he be?
Cascade took the opportunity to admire him. His profile was softened just a bit in the filtered light. Dark hair and a firm, masculine nose were all balanced by the strong jaw line which composed the proportions of his face. His lips, curved into just a hint of a smile, were slightly parted. The shadow of his long dark eyelashes danced upon his cheek. To Cascade, he looked completely and utterly at peace.
She reached over and gave his hand a friendly pat. To her surprise, he took her hand, holding it gently in his. Warm and weathered, it fit hers just right. For a moment, she let herself feel protected. She didn’t know what had happened since he walked into her life. Everything had turned topsy-turvy, but she knew one thing: Dan McQuay was some kind of wonderful.
Then she remembered his words the first time he visited her showroom: “I come into town, do the job, and leave. No ties, no friendships, no tea parties and barbecues with the neighbors. In and out.”
What was she thinking? She snatched her hand away.
“What’s wrong?” Dan looked at her.
“Sure there is. Your lips are all tight.”
“No, I’m fine. I was honestly just thinking about you.”
“What were you thinking?” He smiled.
She took a deep breath, and listening to all the choirs of angels rejoicing at the sight of his smile and wondered, Why me? This guy is way too dangerous. He’s attractive, kind, smart…and ready to leave as soon as the job here in town is finished.
Just then, the church doors opened. A black-cassocked figure hastened towards them.
“Excuse me, excuse me. This area is restricted. Masses and confessions will be held in St. Luke’s school auditorium or the rectory.”
“We were just leaving, Father Greene. I’m on the construction crew, and we came in to say some prayers.”
“Oh, it’s you, Dan.” The furrows in the priest’s brow vanished. A saintly smile replaced his scowl. “By all means, children. Stay a long as you wish. We have to be extra vigilant because of the vandals.”
“You’ve had vandalism problems, Father?” Cascade asked. “That’s horrible.”
The priest blessed himself. “Just dreadful, my dear. What they did to the statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary last month was unthinkable.”
Cascade cupped her hands over her mouth.
“Any luck finding the culprits?” Dan asked.
“No. We have no luck here at St. Luke’s.”
“Well, Father I don’t know about that. Maybe this is the day that all that is going to change.” Dan’s voice sounded strong and reassuring. He shook the priest’s hand.
“There’s always hope. I’m Father Greene, dear.”
“Cascade Preston.” She smiled and shook his hand.
Wagging his index finger, Father Greene said: “I’ve heard of you, but I can’t remember why.”
“Cascade’s designing the stained-glass windows for the project, Father. She’s originally from Sterling lakes.”
Turning to Dan, Cascade saw him give an eager smile. What was he thinking?
“How wonderful,” Father Greene blessed himself. “So good of you, Cascade, to give back so generously to the town that you called home.”
“It’s my pleasure, Father.” Cascade answered. Did I just agree to do the windows?
“Oh bless you, my dear. Bless you.” Father Greene checked his pocket watch. “It’s been so nice to chat with you wonderful folks. I have confessors waiting now.” Turning on his heel, he bustled off through the shadows to the door.
“What were you thinking, Dan? I haven’t agreed to do the windows. Now that nice priest is going to be all disappointed and flustered when he finds out,” Cascade whispered.
“He might not be,” Dan answered.
“I’m infuriated. You weren’t asleep at all. Were you really saying prayers?” Cascade asked as they walked down the aisle.
Dan nodded. “Were you?”
“Oh yes,” she answered. “Without a doubt. Lots of special prayers. Now there’s one more special intention on this list — me getting out of helping Father Greene.” She turned to face him. “You look like you’re going to laugh!”
“Well, it’s just that…” Dan’s eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at her. It turned Cascade’s knees to jelly.
“Let’s change the subject.” She cleared her throat and gripped the edge of the pew to steady herself. “Before we go, I wanted to tell you that my parents were the first couple married in this church.”
Dan’s eyebrows shot upwards. “Quite a distinction.”
“They started out with lots of hopes and dreams for a bright future, I’m sure. Life takes some funny turns.” She sighed. “Look, I’ve been thinking, Dan, of how stubborn I’ve been about not working in Sterling Lakes. I’ve been holding on to that way of thinking for years now. It really hasn’t made me any happier in the long run, to think like that. Just kept me tied to this town in a negative way. I think the fight is over. I want my life to be filled with light and beauty and color. And love. God’s love.”
She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes. “You were right. Abby was trying to do me a favor, and I think she did. It’s through forgiveness that we are set free. Maybe it’s time for me to forgive what happened in the past. At least I can start, and this might be a good first step. Plus, I would never in a million years disappoint that nice priest. Father Greene has enough to worry about without me adding to it. So if it’s at all possible, could I do the windows here?”
A bit about Regina:
A resident of Providence, RI, Regina grew up in nearby Barrington. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by anything to do with nature, and she and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.
Regina’s hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening. She is a radio host for In-Sight, an association dedicated to providing services to the visually impaired of all ages.
Learn more about Regina by clicking on her website here.