A Deadly Prayer
Novella: The Deadly Thriller Series
A botched robbery. One victim clinging to life. The suspect dead. Just another typical Monday night in Los Angeles.
LAPD Detective Maddie Divine is assigned to work with the Valley Bureau Homicide detectives on what seems like an open-and-shut case. However, the investigation evolves into something far more sinister. Maddie teams up with fellow Detective, Gunner Ferrari to elicit facts amid secrets, deceit, and greed—all revolving around a charismatic preacher and his celebrated church.
As the truth exposes an underbelly of loneliness, lust, and ambitious dreams, Maddie is required to focus on her training as a detective to survive a face-off with a master sinner.
Hudson - 1
“I sure hope we don’t get arrested for being in the park after hours,” Hudson Baird said as he led the way into Chatsworth Park followed by his wife, Julie, and their best friends, Dennis and Liz Greer.
Dennis shook his head. “Stop being a worrywart. We’re not going to get arrested.”
“We’d better not. As a church pastor, I can’t have my mugshot shown on the news or going viral online.”
“I’ve been up here plenty of times to watch the trains as they come and go from the tunnel,” Dennis said.
“I didn’t know we were going to be hiking halfway up a mountain,” Liz muttered as her right tennis shoe slipped on the dusty path leading between shrubs and boulders.
“We should have eaten our sundaes in the car,” Julie complained. “They’ll be melted before we ever get to the tunnel.”
Dennis laughed. “Come on, ladies you’re not representing the armed forces very well. Julie, after lugging an M-16 through the Afghanistan desert, this trail should be a piece of cake. As for my beautiful bride, Liz, this rabbit path must be easier than your basic training was at Camp Bullis.” Dennis grinned and pointed at Hudson. “The only one not complaining is that guy—and he hasn’t even been in the military like all of us.”
“He’s been complaining, too,” Julie said. “He’s worried about getting arrested.”
Hudson turned around and walked backward facing Dennis. “Not only is my wife correct, you’re wrong, buddy. I joined the best army in creation…God’s army.”
Dennis nodded. “That’s a good point and true. Here, let me take the lead. I know where we’re going.”
A few minutes later they reached a well-used clearing. The view not only gave them a good line of sight of the train tunnel, but also a panorama of the suburbs of Los Angeles.
The foursome climbed a couple of boulders where they could look down at the tunnel while eating their ice cream treats.
“It’s kind of spooky out here at night,” Liz said. “I’m glad we’ve got our guns.”
“Yeah, a lot of good your gun is gonna do you. I saw your targets at practice today.” Dennis, done with his ice cream, tucked the container into the plastic bag in which they’d carried the treats. He leaned over and loomed menacingly above his wife and said in an ominous voice “Liz Greer, I’m going to get you!”
Liz laughed and gently elbowed him in the ribs. “Knock it off.”
Suddenly, there was a rustling behind them. A man came into the clearing, and he had a gun pointed at them. “Everyone get your hands up! Right now!”
Hudson, shocked beyond belief, didn’t know how to react. He watched his wife and friends to see if they were going to make a move against the robber. They were all complying with the gunman’s demands to put their hands in the air, so he did, too.
The robber pointed the gun at Hudson. “You. Slowly reach into your pocket and get your wallet.”
Hudson considered trying to shoot the man, but knew he’d be dead before his hand ever touched the gun at his hip. In a matter of milliseconds, his mind shuffled through his options and their potential outcome. He knew he would have to connect with the gunman via humility, forgiveness, and redemption.
Hudson held up his hands as a form of surrender. “Hey, man, please put your weapon down. You know you don’t have to do this. If it’s more money you need, I’ll make that happen. God loves you and doesn’t want you to go down this path.”
“Yeah, I’m guessing God didn’t want you to do some of the things you’ve done, either. So it appears when it comes to you and me, God is batting zero. The God I knew abandoned me, and it certainly seems he’s abandoned you.”
“No. God does not disavow those who believe. He offers forgiveness.” Hudson moved between the gunman and his wife and friends.
The man took a step backward. “Stop. Stop right there!”
“Please, you are a young man. With God’s help, we can make things work and you can turn your life around.” Hudson knelt on the ground and offered an outstretched hand to the man. “Come. Pray with me.”
“God is a lie. You are a lie,” the man yelled. He shot a quick glance at the other three people with their hands in the air. “If you believe in God you’re an idiot. If you believe this clown”—he motioned at Hudson with the muzzle of his gun—“you’re an even bigger fool. He’s playin’ every one of you. Churches are nothing but legalized fraud, and the people who run them are liars and crooks.”
“No. God loves you. He gave his son for your redemption. God will forgive you.”
“I’m not the one who needs to be forgiven! Do you honestly believe that your God can save you from my bullets? Aren’t you afraid that I’ll shoot you right now?”
“I’m not afraid.”
“You think your God will protect you? How’s that workin’ out for you so far?”
“God will do his will.”
The gunman, without hesitation, put the gun to Hudson’s forehead and fired.
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