Pacing her huge office high atop the Crystal Palace Cathedral in Scottsdale, Arizona, Reverend Jackie Mitchell checked her watch for the fifth time in half as many minutes. Three-oh-five. The unpleasantness was supposed to have ended an hour ago. Mr. Abrams had promised that she would know that her parishioners were safe within moments of the rescue’s final outcome.
As soon as we have anything to report. That’s how he’d put it. As soon as we have anything to report.
She tried not to worry—Abrams had assured her that everything would go well, that it had to go well— but given the stakes, it was hard not to harbor doubt.
Certainly, the children would be traumatized emotionally, and perhaps the adults as well, but that was to be expected under the circumstances. They’d been taken hostage. Of course there’d be trauma.
Jackie refused to dwell on the events that had brought her to this point. That was the past, and the end was finally in sight.
Abrams had sworn that this would be a seamless operation. Without that assurance, she’d never have gone along.
In the end, Jackie knew that the Lord would forgive her. The Crystal Palace was a testament to Him, after all. He had to understand. Why else would He have led her here? This . . . opportunity had come at too fortuitous a time for it to be anything but guidance by His hand. Abrams’s call had been a sign, a clear message that the Crystal Palace was destined to survive despite all the tests and the scandals. God knew Jackie’s heart.
We are all sinners. It’s God’s greatest desire to forgive us.
And forgive her He would.
When the phone rang, Jackie let out a yelp. She turned from the window and its panoramic view of Arizona’s rolling hills and walked across the plush baby- blue carpeting to her six-by-eight-foot glass-topped desk to lift the receiver from its cradle.
“God bless you,” she said. It was her standard greeting for any caller who got past her assistant.
“Would’ve been nice if he did,” Abrams said. With his thick New England accent, there was no need for him to introduce himself. “Unfortunately, it’s as bad as it can get.”