Rachel Knicely’s life has been on hold for six months while she takes care of her great aunt, who has Alzheimer’s. Putting her aunt first was an easy decision—accepting that Aunt Tweet is nearing the end of her battle is far more difficult.
Nicholas Adams’s ministry is bringing comfort to those who are sick and homebound. He responds to a request for help for an ailing woman but when he meets the Knicelys, he realizes Rachel is the one who needs support the most. Nicholas is charmed by and attracted to Rachel, but then devastating news brings both a crisis of faith and roadblocks to their budding relationship that neither could have anticipated.
With Aunt Tweet gone, there would be no more ministerial visits. It was up to Rachel to do her own soul-searching, and she needed inspiration now more than ever to ease the hurt of her wounded spirit.
She continued her stroll down one aisle of the parking lot, inhaling the unseasonably warm April air and gaining strength from the sunshine. Although her mind was drifting as she recalled happy times with her aunt, she heard footsteps behind her.
“Rachel.” The voice was unmistakable. Had she conjured him up? A breeze brought a whiff of a familiar cologne to confirm Nicholas was nearby.
She shaded her eyes from the sunlight with her hands until he stood within a few feet of her. She had never seen him dressed up before, and he was handsome beyond measure in a suit and tie. He looked serious until he caught her staring again, and he smiled.
“I saw you step out. I wanted to check on you. Are you okay?” He frowned.
“Will I ever be?” she said more to herself. “I was hoping no one saw me,” she said, “especially Jacqui.”
“Yes, you will, and I did.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “I’m flying out in a few hours, but I would like to pray with you before I go.”
Why did his words seem to lighten her burdens? “Thanks for coming here.” Rachel’s eyes watered, but she got a handle on her emotions. “I didn’t realize ministers attended the funerals, especially those who are out of town.”
“I wanted to be here for you. The location didn’t matter.”
“Thank you, Minister Adams.”
“Always Nicholas to you. I don’t need the title to do God’s work.”
His words were kind and thoughtful.
“Okay.” She studied him, really looked at him. Was there a special lady in his life waiting for him to propose? If so, the woman had a keeper, Rachel thought as he watched her.
Nicholas blinked first, then cleared his throat. “I called a couple of times to check up on you. Did you get my messages?”
Rachel shrugged. “Jacqui has been checking messages, answering emails, and stuff. I’m sorry.” She bowed her head, embarrassed.
“Hey.” That low voice of his gently commanded her to look at him. “I’m available to listen about anything whenever you want to talk.”
He reached for her hands. His fingers were coarse but gentle. “Father, in the name of Jesus, let Rachel feel Your presence from this day forward. Comfort her when she’s lonely, and when she’s weak, give her strength. And let the memories of her aunt give her joy…”
His words were like a balm to her spirit. Rachel whispered, “Amen,” with him when he finished. “Thank you.”
“Anytime. Take time to heal emotionally and mentally. There’s no expiration date for the process, and remember what I said—if you call me, I’ll listen.” He frowned, and his stare was intense. “I mean that, Rachel,” he said and squeezed her hand.
Although the gesture was comforting, Rachel yearned for a hug, one of those cocoon-type embraces where she could close her eyes and sigh as she snuggled. But she had no one to offer her that.
When he released his hold, his eyes seemed to dance with amusement as he glanced down at her feet. “Oh, and I wouldn’t walk too far in those heels. My feet hurt even thinking about it.” He shivered, then chuckled before he swaggered away.
“A man with a sense of humor.” Mirth stirred in her belly until a chuckle escaped her lips. He actually had made her laugh.
Later that night, back at Tabitha and Marcus’s house in her old neighborhood, the sisters’ heels, dresses, and makeup came off. They lounged in the family room in their flannel pj’s, reminiscing about Aunt Tweet and the sizeable inheritance she had left them.
Marcus entered the room. “Came to check on you ladies and give my wife this.” He leaned over the sofa and brushed a kiss against Tabitha’s lips.
Rachel’s heart fluttered; she longed for that type of deep-rooted affection. The couple was a perfect match for each other. He had been Tabitha’s rock when she needed it. Aunt Tweet had been a handful while she stayed with Tabitha, but Marcus had somehow wormed his way into their lives and charmed her aunt and Tabitha too.
“Okay, I came for what I needed. Carry on.” He grinned and ducked to escape the pillow Tabitha aimed at her new hubby’s head.
When Tabitha faced her sisters, Rachel and Kym were smiling.
“You’ve definitely got you a winner, Sis,” Kym said and sighed. “Honestly, I thought Rachel would beat us to the altar.”
“Me too,” Tabitha agreed, “but I have no regrets about being first. Aunt Tweet harped on having no regrets, and I have none being Mrs. Marcus Whittington.”
“I don’t know why you thought I would get hitched first.” Rachel shook her head.
Kym gave her a surprised look. “Because you draw men like a car show—from your sultry voice to your calculated catwalk to your form- fitting fashions. You, dear baby sister, have men wrapped around your manicured finger.”
“I think that was wishful thinking, but you don’t see any standing in line with a ring, do you?” Rachel challenged them.
“Nicholas Adams might be a prospect. Marcus likes him, and he did make a special trip to be by your side during our sorrow.” Tabitha nodded. “And that man is downright good-looking.”
“Nope.” Kym shook her head. “He’s hot—sizzling,” she teased.
“He’s a minister. That’s what he does—prays and is there for people.”
“I think you need to rethink that, because I would give that darker version of actor Daniel Supta a second look.”
“It’s Sunjata who played on Graceland, and both men are unmistakably handsome. I figured ministers are attracted to women of God like missionaries or evangelists, and as my two sisters have pointed out, I may have other men wrapped tight, but Nicholas—I mean—Minister Adams’s focus is on God’s work.”
“If you say so,” Kym said and eyed Tabitha. “You may be part of his work in progress in a personal way.”
Nicholas wasn’t interested in her in that way. He hadn’t asked for a date or dinner but offered her prayer, which, surprisingly, Rachel couldn’t get enough of, as if she were dying of thirst and hearing it quenched it.
Excerpted from Here for You by Pat Simmons. © 2020 by Pat Simmons. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.