I am SO thrilled to be a part of this blog tour! Kiera, by Kate Willis, is a very incredible book. I was thrilled to be a beta reader and enjoyed every bit of it! The story is intriguing, sweet, and very passionate… I was reminded of one of God’s promises… so this book is amazing — just like the author, Kate. ♥ Kiera will be releasing June 22nd, so mark your calendars!
Kiera is looking forward to her eighteenth birthday. The official end of school, a party with her best friend, and chocolate cake. A sudden military draft, no possible exemptions, had never crossed her mind.
Kiera is terrified! Getting drafted would mean leaving her family, her little friend Jade—life as she knows it.
A surprising offer from Brennan Stewart just might be the answer to her prayers, but an even worse trial leaves her with one question…
If God truly loves her, why did this tragedy happen?
Kate Willis has been homeschooled her whole life in a loving family that values the Gospel of Jesus Christ, creativity, and thoughtful conversations. She is inspired by red shoes, a good story, little children, and chai tea. It is her desire to serve God in the home having a family of her own in the future. She is the author of The Treasure Hunt, The Twin Arrows, Kiera, and two short stories Enjoy the Poodle Skirt and Red Boots.
The earth felt cool against her skin as she ran her fingers through the rich, black soil and pulled up a hardy weed that blocked the sunlight from her plants. She smiled at the tiny lettuce sprout she had freed and wiped her hands on her oversized sweatshirt.
“There you go. Now you can breathe,” she said, grinning at the long row of little leaves. They were the first plants to come up, but with a little sun and a lot of love, others would follow.
The breeze spun her light-brown hair in messy waves around her shoulders as she moved toward the other raised garden bed. Her flower garden. The soil was flat, undisturbed by any traces of green.
“Soon enough,” she told herself. Warm anticipation filled her, but she shivered the next moment.
A gust of wind blew across the yard, and the new leaves of the shade trees danced furiously. The young woman brushed her hair back from her face and glanced up, shading her eyes against the retreating sun. Gray clouds stretched across the sky and vied for a place on the horizon.
She sprinted across the soft, synthetic grass to the covered porch and pulled open the glass door. She slid into a chair at the kitchen desk and waved her hand at the device screen.
The kitchen faucet was turned off for a moment. “Back so soon, honey?”
“I think there’s a storm, Mom.”
She didn’t answer as she paged through the apps, looking for the weather one. They were always being reordered on the family device.
“Kiera, what kind?” Mom came over with a wrinkled carrot in one hand and a peeler in the other. A crease showed above her glasses.
“Radiation,” Kiera sighed. “Really high levels.” She gestured to the map of their neighborhood with the pulsing, animated circle of storm front.
Mom pursed her lips. “Oh, dear. I suppose dinner will be indoors tonight then. No barbecue, so I’ll have to think of another main dish.”
“I’m sure Thorne won’t mind,” Kiera said with a smile that brought an answering one to her mom’s face.
Mom disappeared into the pantry and came out a moment later with several jars of spaghetti sauce. “It’s a blessing he is able to get the time off. And Pastor Silas will enjoy leading the Bible study again, even if it is just this once.”
Another gust of wind blew against the house, and Kiera sprang up from the chair, leaving it swiveling behind her as she dashed outside.
Keeping one eye on the lightning-torn sky, she hauled both raised garden beds under the porch cover and pulled the waterproof shades down. She hooked them securely in place and checked them twice. She didn’t want to risk letting her garden get rained on. That would mean starting over.
“Jade eats meatballs, right?” Mom asked when she entered the kitchen again.
Kiera grimaced and shrugged apologetically. “I’m not sure what she eats right now. Hunger strike can rear its ugly head at any time.”
“If you can make it past her being two years old, I promise babysitting might be easy again,” Mom encouraged.
Kiera grinned. “I just hope it doesn’t ruin Thorne’s family time too much to share his evening.”
Mom looked at her over her glasses, eyebrows raised.
Kiera giggled. “Thorne is probably the last one to mind her, isn’t he? I don’t think he’d ever forgive me if I canceled her coming over the one night he was home.”
“There would definitely be trouble. Your brother loves that tiny girl like you wouldn’t believe!”
“I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t, but he wins the prize for her most devoted admirer.” Kiera peeked over her mom’s shoulder at the beginnings of dinner. “Anything I can help with?”
“If you roll these meatballs, I’ll take care of salad assembly,” Mom said, flicking her curly hair back over her shoulders.
Kiera flopped her sweatshirt over the desk chair and rinsed the hardened dirt off her fingers. She searched through the apps again to look for the meatball recipe. Where was the document app? It should have been recent since she used it every day for school.
Thunder crashed outside and her hand slipped to an app she rarely used. News. And the worst news she could ever imagine staring her in the face.
“Mom?” Her voice swayed like the shade trees.
“What is it, Kiera?”
“I know you told me to never look at the news app, but this was an accident. I saw the newest headline.” She was crying now, not with her eyes but with her voice. “We lost a devastating number of soldiers, and the president is calling for a draft.”
Somewhere behind her, Mom dropped a dish. Lightning flashed through the blinds in front of her, lighting up her face and the tears shining in her eyes. A storm of another kind was coming.
Kiera hurried up the stairs and shut her bedroom door behind her. Crossing over to her window, she pulled back the curtain. Rain streaked her window, and lightning angled across the sky in a fierce storm. A raindrop rolled down the window, and she traced its path with her finger. So many tears.
She pulled back from the window. There was just enough time to touch up her makeup and change into nicer clothes before Dad and Thorne arrived. Grabbing a cozy maroon sweater and a clean skirt, she changed quickly and forced her mind to think of other things.
The salad was waiting in a cut glass bowl at the very center of the table. The places were set. The squash spaghetti and meatballs were warming on the stove ready to be served. Everything was just perfect. Everything but the news that had blasted through the device screen into their peaceful kitchen. She squeezed her thumb and shut her eyes.
Fear rose up inside her stomach again, crowding out her hunger for dinner. She hurried over to her desk and glanced in the mirror, momentarily ignoring the Bible reading reminder she had posted for herself. Her brown eyes had a smeared shadow of mascara under them from the tears she couldn’t hold back.
“Just focus on the good evening you are going to have. Don’t think about the draft. Don’t think about being almost eighteen. And don’t think about what happened to Shannon Stewart,” she told her reflection fiercely. Another tear leaked out of her narrowed eyes.
Running a brush through her windswept hair, she pulled it back from her face and pinned it in a messy bun. The cool cloth she rubbed over her cheeks removed her makeup and a little of the feverish heat from too many tears. She reapplied mascara and the last of her lipstick. It was time to make cosmetics again. Destiny had promised to do it with her when she came over next time.
The doorbell jerked her from her planning, and she hurried downstairs to greet whoever had arrived first. It was Daddy, and both she and Mom were more than glad to see him. He pulled Kiera into a tight hug; and she felt all the nervousness, fear, and questions melt away. He would protect her in every way possible.
While Mom carried him away to discuss the day’s events, Kiera drifted into the kitchen and stirred the spaghetti sauce again. Checked the temperature of the meatballs. Filled the glasses with water to exactly the same height. Made brave faces at her reflection in the side of the pot.
She was stirring the sauce for the third time when the doorbell finally rang again. She leaned the spoon against the pot and ran to answer it. Thorne this time. He leaned his dripping umbrella against the side of the house and came in.
“Heya, Kiera!” Thorne grinned at her as he gave her a quick hug.
“Heya, Thorne!” She led him into the kitchen. “I’m so glad you could come. We even made your favorite—squash spaghetti.”
“I could’ve guessed. The whole street smells good from it,” Thorne replied, his brown eyes smiling as he took the glass of water she offered him. “And what heavenly part of this meal was your contribution?”
“Well, you horrific flatterer, I rolled meatballs, picked salad vegetables, and set the table, but everything else was Mom’s doing. Oh, and I made the ice cream. You might get some.”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
“Nothing. It’s all grace, Pastor,” she teased. “Oh, and we just remembered that we get Jade tonight. Do you mind?”
He took a big swallow of water. “Mind Jade? Brain check.” He tapped his temple.
Kiera grinned. “That’s an old joke. If I go to the hospital tonight, it will definitely be from all this grinning.”
“I’m delighted Jade’s coming,” Thorne said. “This place needs livening up; you’re getting too old.” He gave her an innocent face over his glass as he drained it.
Kiera shook her head in amusement. “What would I do without my oldest brother?”
“Miss your annual birthday chocolate, maybe?” He winked and pulled a small, flat package out of his jeans pocket.
“Okay, you’re my hero, and I forgive you for everything, I think.” The doorbell interrupted before she could take it.
Kiera opened the door and smiled widely at the tiny girl standing there. “Jade! I’m so happy to see you!” She picked her up and gave her a squeeze. “Did you bring dollies?”
“Um… Daddy hash dollies,” Jade explained around her thumb.
“Dollies and a lot more,” her daddy said, coming inside and sliding the diaper bag strap off his shoulder in relief.
“Thank you for bringing them, Brennan,” Kiera said from behind the toddler’s curly head. “She’s been wanting me to meet them.”
“Poor Brennan’s gonna break his shoulder someday, though,” Thorne said, eyeing the heavy diaper bag.
Brennan smiled wryly and ran his fingers through his wild dark hair. “How are you, Pastor Thorne?”
“Grateful to spend time with some of my family tonight.” Thorne reached out to shake his friend’s hand. “How are you?”
“I’m all right.”
“I think you all are in for a big treat with Pastor Silas leading the Bible study. He told me the Lord has been laying a lot on his heart lately. I hate to miss it, but I’m glad for the break. Between some difficult leadership meetings, several Easter sermons to prepare, and that wedding in a few weeks, life is full.”
“Well, you’re in my prayers every day,” Brennan said earnestly. “I’d love to stay and talk more, but Bible study is starting in just a few, and the cars are slower from the rain.”
“All right. Get out of here and have a blessed time.” Thorne slapped him on the back.
Brennan grinned and turned away. “Kiera, I remembered her blanket this week, so hopefully it won’t be so disastrous when she gets tired.” He grimaced.
“It’s all right, but thanks all the same,” Kiera said with a laugh.
“Thanks for watching her.”
“You’re welcome.” She shut the door behind him as he went outside into the rain. Jade wriggled in her arms, and she set her down, tweaking one of the toddler’s tiny braids. She must have spent the morning at the Whites’. Mrs. White always braided Jade’s hair.
“You’re doing Brennan and his daughter a great service, you know,” Thorne said, leaning down and tickling Jade. She giggled and squirmed away to hide behind Kiera’s skirt.
“Thank you. I’ve gotten quite attached to my little friend.” She looked behind her and smiled at Jade. “Have you said hello to Mom and Dad yet?”
“No, I haven’t, come to think of it. Have you seen them around?”
“Dining room, maybe?” Kiera picked up the heavy diaper bag and took Jade’s hand. “We’re gonna go play dollies.”
Copyright 2018 Kate Willis
Disclaimer: This chapter is still being proofread, so it is subject to small changes. 😉
I am so excited for this book to be published. It was a ton of fun to beta read and… made me cry… I mean, I was beta reading last minute in an RV camper hours from home, struggling with life and hard stuff in general… and this book came along and was like ‘there’s a bigger picture, Angela, but God knows every small detail.’ And I was reminded that GOD IS IN CONTROL! This book was totally sweet, poignant, and just… gah. It was amazing. Kate Willis has done it again because this book rocked!