I’ve got another snippet from Light in the Dark Night, a Love Conquers All novel. Last week, I introduced you to Brecker. This week, meet Reverend Jonathon Neiland.
Jonathon barely kept his smile back until after the two girls left, their heads bowed in embarrassment after a promise not to fight again. As soon as they were out of sight, though, he did a silent little dance in his chair. While he needed to calm them down and keep them from making a ruckus or hurting one another, there was joy bursting within him that the house had settled enough the youth in his care were starting to act like normal kids. The fear was bleeding out. The fight this morning between Kayla and Jordan was proof of that. He found them caterwauling at one another over nothing more important than the way Jordan left her bedsheets. They sounded like siblings.
He wanted to celebrate. Every day someone smiled more. Every week it felt like the wonderful young people in his care relaxed. Every night and at least ten times a day, Jonathon sent up prayers of gratitude for the changes in their lives. It was a miracle and one he bathed in daily.
Once he had his joy somewhat contained, he left his office and went into the kitchen. Rolf, his best friend and their cook, was whistling an unknown tune while he put lunch together. “What’s on the docket for today?” Jonathon asked as he hopped onto a piece of bare counter.
“Pita station. They can fill them up with whatever they want,” Rolf said with pride as he reached over and poured some oil in the cast iron pan nearby.
“Sounds good.” Jonathon glanced at the large bowls to see what kind of ingredients they could use. Rolf was great at making healthy and yet good tasting meals. There were always selections for the vegetarian as well as meat-eating among them. As a meat-eater himself, Jonathon eyed the strips of steak and grated cheese. But he also noticed the huge range of vegetables that could be eaten as well. While Rolf was faced the opposite way, he grasped a small amount of what looked like grass.
Rolf cleared his throat before he could put it in his mouth. “If you’re thinking of eating the greenery, don’t. Not until I’ve blanched it.”
Jonathon looked at the grass and put it back. “Why?”
“Some of it is edible only when cooked. Or it’s edible and tastes vile until it’s cooked,” he added with a chuckle, looking over his shoulder. “Gotcha.”
After taking a look around to make sure there were no eyes watching, Jonathon stuck his tongue out and hopped off the counter. “All right. Thomas is finishing with the few exams scheduled for this morning. So a few of our kids are going to feel gnatty just due to having had shots.”
Rolf nodded. “Never fear. I’ve got a bottle of homemade gummy candy with their names on it.” Jonathon patted his shoulder and walked out of the kitchen.
With the weather still nice, the windows were open in the living room so he was able to hear the crunch of tires on the driveway. He wasn’t expecting any deliveries or a visit from one of their teachers. Their therapist wasn’t coming until the next day. Jonathon hoped it wasn’t another newspaper reporter wanting to interview his kids. He was getting tired of telling them that under no circumstances would he allow it. Earlier in the summer, he’d closed the gate for several days to keep them out.
With swift strides, he walked over and opened the front door, instantly recognizing the car as the one Councilman Court Brecker had arrived in on that fateful day months ago.
Reverend Jonathon Neiland gets his wish a decade in the making and finally the Paul D. Regelo Center for LGBT Youth is up and running. He knows things will never be easy, but then he never expects them to be. All he asks is that the Lord be on his side while he takes care of his kids.
Court Brecker has been through his own brand of hell and strives every day to be the best he can be, but he never expects to find a runaway on the streets, nor to take him to Jonathon’s center. Never one to get in too deep with anyone or anything, to his surprise he finds himself enjoying his time both with Aiden and Jonathon. They develop a deep friendship and for the first time in his life, he has someone to rely on who also relies on him.
While Brecker tries to understand the new feelings he’s battling, Jonathon runs into more and more stress, especially when Aiden is removed from the shelter forcefully. He’s never doubted that the Lord has a plan for them and when they are attacked from without and everything seems dark, He opens the door to show them the light.
Check out the other wonderful WIPs this week: