Excerpt of Dangerous Devotion

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles."
Isaiah 40:31


Flames from the burning hacienda leaped high, roaring, crackling. Killing his dreams. Smoke blotted out the moon. Glowing, falling embers stung the man's flesh like a swarm of angry bees but his grief masked the pain. 

"Dios!" A howl of anguish began in his deepest soul and echoed off the lush vegetation of the Colombian jungle that surrounded the fortress-like compound. He had escaped just in time. His favorite son had not. That was all that mattered.

Hoards of armed men were swarming over the grounds, inside and beyond the electrified fences. He had done everything he could to protect his family; guards, alarms, the most expensive surveillance equipment his drug smuggling profits could buy, yet those efforts had failed. 

His already stony heart hardened further. Someone would pay for this assault. If it took him the rest of his life, he would wreak vengeance on the American spies who infiltrated his organization and ruined everything.


Agent Greg Dixon consciously slowed his breathing and sent up a silent prayer for patience. The hardest part of his job was always the waiting, the watching. 

He shifted his feet in the lush, green, California grass outside Jessica's bedroom window as he recalled his last official assignment. Memories of the humid South American jungle were painful, at best. That moist air had closed in around him like a heavy blanket. Stifling. Cloying. Oppressive. 

He could imagine the rotting vegetation beneath his boots, the insects buzzing around his sweaty face, the vines clawing at him as he'd cheated death by creeping through the undergrowth to freedom while the hacienda burned behind him. 

Greg mentally shook himself. There was little similarity between this balmy night and his time as a prisoner of a Colombian drug lord. "So why am I complaining?" he muttered, disgusted with himself. 

He should be thanking God that he'd made it back to the States. At least he wasn't being forced to crawl on his belly through snake-infested mire to escape the well-armed drug cartel he'd been sent to locate. And, he wasn't in danger of being shot on sight, either.

Of course, in Colombia, all he'd had to worry about were smugglers, hostile guerillas, crooked national troops and politicos on the take. Here, he'd have to face the woman he'd once pledged to love forever, and explain why their happily-ever-after marriage had had to end almost before it had begun. 

Greg drew his sleeve across his forehead to wipe away fresh perspiration. If he hadn't been so worried about Jessie's current safety he'd have turned this job down cold rather than stir up old memories. How she must have wept when she'd been told he wasn't ever coming back. 

Picturing Jessica as his young, innocent bride was a false perception. And dangerous. He'd seen recent photos of her. She looked anything but naive with that satiny, reddish-blond hair and those sparkling green eyes... not to mention a womanly figure that had apparently followed the birth of her only child. 

His jaw muscles clenched. Jessie's dossier revealed she'd had a son by some guy he'd never heard of. Learning that had bothered him far more than he'd let on to anyone, even himself. Yet who could blame her? She was young and lonely and she'd been convinced her husband was dead.

Glancing at the luminous dial of his watch, Greg realized twenty minutes had passed. Jessica's bedroom light had gone out an hour ago. She should be asleep. At least he hoped so. If she awoke and raised a fuss before he reached her, quieted her and explained, his advantage would be gone.

He'd removed the window screen earlier. Creeping closer to the side of the single-story dwelling, he slowly eased the window open, paused a few moments to be sure his quarry hadn't stirred, then pulled on a black ski mask before he levered himself up and into her bedroom.

The first thing Greg was conscious of was the familiar, fresh-washed scent. His mental and physical reaction was intense. Gut-wrenching. Revealing. Coming to see Jessica after all this time, no matter what the extenuating circumstances, was clearly his biggest mistake since exposing the crooked Colombian agents and having to flee into the wilds in a hail of bullets.

Greg straightened from a crouch. What choice did he have? Lives hung in the balance. And if Jessica could be persuaded to help, it would simplify a lot of things as well as protect her and her child. All he had to do was awaken her and explain his mission before she panicked and screamed or conked him on the head with a baseball bat and called the cops. 

If Greg hadn't been trying so hard to remain quiet, he might have laughed aloud at the thought.


Jessica Dixon was drifting in the netherworld between sleep and wakefulness, picturing her beloved son while trying to avoid disturbing, related thoughts. For the most part, she was succeeding. 

Keeping her child's real father a secret had been the right thing to do, she insisted, feeling pride and a surge of accompanying inner strength. The trials she had been through in the past eight years had hardened her in a positive way. Even her own father had seen the change for the better and come around to her way of thinking before...

Suddenly wide awake, Jessica stiffened and held her breath, listening. That noise! What was it? 

She froze. A slight breeze whispered across her face. There should have been no air stirring like that. So why was there a draft?

Barely opening her eyes she focused on the area directly in front of the only window. Instead of the white lace curtains and a smattering of stars beyond, she saw a shadow outlined by eerie ripples of moonlight.

Her first thought was that maybe little John Michael had had trouble sleeping and had tiptoed into her room for solace. 

In micro-seconds her rational mind rejected that idea. This shadow was no slim, seven-year-old boy. It was man-sized. And it was getting larger as it came closer!

Tense beyond words, Jessica feigned sleep. What should she do? What could she do? If she tried to escape, her innocent son might hear the ruckus and try to come to her rescue. Above all, she mustn't put the little boy in danger, especially if all this man wanted was to burglarize their house.

Her hands balled into fists, her nails cutting into her palms. What if this intruder wasn't a simple thief? What if his intent was to harm someone? Her teeth clenched. If he dared touch her or her son she was going to make him pay, no matter what the personal consequences.

Jessica's muscles ached, then began to spasm from being held so tightly in check. Breath whooshed in and out of her lungs. Her heart hammered. If only she had a weapon handy! Anything to shift the odds to her favor. 

To her chagrin she realized that her love-your-neighbor, live-and-let-live principles had been whisked away the moment she was truly threatened.

The man's shape now blotted out the window. Jessica held back as long as she could, then inhaled deeply, ready to lunge for the bedside lamp and hurl it at him.

At that moment he leaped.