How much should a wronged husband forgive?
This time, Aubrey Beaumont’s wife has left for good. Though a single dad with three children to raise, Aubrey diligently searches for his drug-addicted, runaway wife. Fifteen years later, he has relocated from Vermont to Silver Spring where he serves as a respected minister and chaplain. He is caught in a quandary when he is called to a community hospital to counsel a terminally ill patient and comes face-to-face with his long-lost wife.
After leaving her family, Joanna Beaumont becomes a madame for Washington’s rich and powerful. With God’s forgiveness, she desires to find purpose in her final days and negotiates a plea bargain for testimony against her drug-lord lover. She accepts God’s judgment and expects no healing miracle. Her salvation and reunion with Aubrey is grace enough.
While Aubrey can understand his wife’s drug addiction, her romantic liaison with a vicious criminal seems beyond his human capacity to forgive. Does God expect him to rescue her from the bowels of degradation like the biblical Hosea? Why did God bring her back to him only to watch her die?
Joanna and Aubrey’s paths will crisscross Washington’s underworld where they discover how God weaves threads of failure into tapestries of hope.
Read the Prologue to Hosea’s Heart
Aubrey Beaumont’s heart pounded as Darlene burst past stodgy Mrs. Donovan and ran into his arms. The girl’s reddened eyes confirmed his worst fears.
“Mommy went away again, Aubrey.”
Darlene sobbed against his overcoat while he absorbed the news. From the entryway, he saw Paul and Bradley at the kitchen table, frozen to their seats, remnants of peanut butter sandwiches on their plates. Paul guzzled the last of his milk, and Bradley rocked back and forth as he hummed “Jesus Loves Me.”
“Thank you for staying with the children, Mrs. Donovan. I rushed out as soon as the seminary gave me your message. I don’t suppose you know where Joanna went off to, do you?”
She handed him a note tucked inside Joanna’s wedding ring.
“Sorry, Mr. Beaumont. I got here my usual time, and your wife handed me this package like it were a present. Then she stormed out the door. Slammed it so hard, she done bust the hinge. Said I was to stay here with Darlene and the boys ’til you came home. Then she slapped a twenty-dollar bill in my hand. ‘For the inconvenience,’ she said. ’Taint no inconvenience. I love these kids as if they were my own.”
Aubrey gripped the parchment paper—Joanna’s curt goodbye. She’d never left a note before. Usually, she slithered away during the night. This time she left while the sun still shone. He slid the gold-edged stationery from its circular perch as he gazed toward Mrs. Donovan. “Did my wife say anything else?”
Mrs. Donavan lumbered toward the coat rack. “Nope. Just high-tailed it out that door.” She twirled as she wriggled her wide body into a coat three sizes too small. “Didn’t even take her purse. Walked out with just the clothes she wore … no coat or nothing.” She grabbed the doorknob with one hand and snatched her straw purse off the counter with the other. “Look, I gotta get home to my Artie. I fed the kids. Want me to come back after I take care of that rascal man of mine and put them to bed for ya?”
Sorrow would have to wait.
“You’ve done more than enough already. I’m sorry my wife caused you trouble. How can I make it up to you?”
“Ain’t no bother.” Mrs. Donovan stroked Darlene’s cheek. “Not when it comes to these here precious ones. Don’t worry none about your seminary studies, either, Mr. Beaumont. I’ll look after the children for as long as you need me to.”
Aubrey shoved the ring and note into his pocket. “I appreciate your kindness. I know my wife’s behavior has made it difficult for you at times.”
Mrs. Donovan crossed her arms. “Maybe a tad. But I figure, if I help you reach your ministry goals, it’ll be like I’ve done my own mission work.”
Aubrey gifted Mrs. Donovan a kiss on the cheek, as a son to a mother. “You tell Artie he’s one lucky man.”
Her ruddy complexion deepened to a crimson red. “How you talk, Mr. Beaumont. I’ll be here when the rooster crows to get the kids off to school.” She covered his hand in a maternal clasp. “Personal feelings aside, I do pray Mrs. Beaumont comes back. She always has before.”
“I don’t know. Something in my gut tells me this time is different.”
She arched her back and huffed her condemnation. “Any woman can walk away from these sweet ones don’t deserve ’em. That’s all I got to say.” With that, she headed out the door and scooted to the green clapboard house next door.
He gasped—a protracted breath, a prelude to an expected dawn, though he never wished for this day to come.
Fischer had predicted this end when asked to be Aubrey’s best man. “She’s gonna break your heart. Mark my words, buddy.” His “I told you so” wafted on the air, though the man nowhere in sight. Aubrey chewed his lower lip and sighed. He’d grieve the end of his marriage later. First, the children.
He unglued Darlene from his coat. “Time for bed, guys.”
“Can’t we wrestle first, Daddy?” Paul asked.
Darlene gazed toward the cluttered table. “Kitchen needs to be cleaned up.” She grabbed a towel and went to work. He thought how matronly she’d become, this daughter not of his blood but of his heart. As if to fill a mother’s void, she read to the boys, certain to tell Aubrey whenever they needed discipline. Her azure eyes gazed up at him. “I won’t cry anymore, Aubrey. I know Mommy’s not coming back this time.” She tapped her chest. “I feel it inside.”
Paul and Bradley slipped from their chairs, and Aubrey tackled them, the green-shag carpet a mat of delight as he diverted his tears to momentary laughter. Paul squeezed free like a greased pig at the fair. He laughed like one too.
A sudden pain shot across Aubrey’s shoulder, a signal the game needed to end for tonight. “Go to your room, guys. I’ll be in for prayers in a bit.” The twinge grew into raging pain. What happened to that burly quarterback from Brattleboro High? He’d have to accept the fact he could no more prevent the advancement of years than he could keep his runaway wife at home. Time moved forward with or without her.
He hobbled into his sons’ bedroom, instantly enveloped in memory. Joanna had redecorated their room last summer, right after her third rehab. She’d searched every department store in town before choosing the sport-themed decorations. “Boys need heroes, Aubrey,” she’d said as she carefully hung posters of the legends: Babe Ruth, Ben Hogan, Bobby Orr, Wilt Chamberlain, and Johnny Unitas. Aubrey’s favorites, too, and evidence of a love she could never verbally express.
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God is able to turn our worst past into our best future. This is the theme of every Rondeau book. A veteran social worker, Rondeau delves into the intricacies of human relationships, earning her critical acclaim for her heart-warming stories of deliverance and forgiveness. The author now resides in Hagerstown, MD with her best friend in life, her husband of over forty years. Active in her local church, she enjoys playing the occasional round of golf, a common feature in many of her books. Readers may contact the author through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram or visit her website: www.lindarondeau.com.