In Letting Go, Ella and Zack take a drive into the Oak Mountains to scout out a place to hold senior ditch day. The state park is choke full of fun activities, from a stream for fishing, a hiking trail, and an RV park. Here’s a picture of our RV parked in a cozy slot with electricity, water, and sewer, much like the one they saw.
Since Ella thinks some of the kids might be interested in hiking, she and Zack take a short trip into the forest, but it proves to be a fatal mistake.
Want to know why? Here’s a short excerpt from Letting Go.
At the entrance to the trail, oaks grew on either side of the dirt path, shading it and giving the illusion of a tunnel created by nature. Silence in the still passageway was only disturbed by a bird’s trill.
About fifty yards into the forest, Zack paused to face her, tugging her hand to his chest. “Ella, I’m not sure if this is the right time, but I’ve thought about little else than us in the last few days. Soon, I’d like to talk about our future—together.” He swallowed hard. “That is if you’re ready.”
Ella glazed her fingers over his rough cheek. Hadn’t his faith in God grown? His desire to serve Him? She could trust him. “I think we’re headed in the right direction. I’m ready when you are.”
Shivers floated through her when he drew her near in a hug. As if they’d melted into one person, she could’ve remained in his arms forever. Finally, she stepped away. “We’d better keep on going. Let’s hope we don’t run into any bears.”
Zack grasped her hand, sending a flush radiating up her arm. “I’m holding on to you in case we see any.”
Ella laughed. “You mean, so I’ll protect you?”
He smiled. A comfortable silence fell between them.
The sun sent shafts of light amid the thick trees, golden reminders of God’s presence among man. The aroma of cedar and sweet shrub enticed her to breathe deeply.
Something cracked. Snap.
Zack stopped in the path. “Hmm. Must be a deer out there.”
Air thinned in Ella’s throat. “Do you think it could be a bear?”
“Probably not. The black bear is coming out of hibernation about now, but I don’t think they’d show up at the campground. Especially since no humans are leaving food scraps around.” Zack tightened his hold on her hand. “In any case, let’s go back on the outside chance a bear has emerged from its long winter nap.”
Her body flashed cold then hot. “I’m not sure we should let the kids loose on this trail anyway. It feels too remote for me.”
A flash of a person in a black jacket and jeans broke through the bushes. A blast and pressure to her right shoulder then under her arm smashed into her awareness. A scream tore through her and echoed off the trees. Her knees gave way, and she crumbled to the ground. She bit her lips to contain her groaning.
“Ella, what … Oh, no. Merciful God, help her.”
A man wielding a rifle slipped into the woods again, just out of sight. Odd. Someone shot her yet there was no pain. With her left hand, she touched the place where the bullet had entered then stared at her hand. Blood drooled down her palm and onto her wrist. As quickly as the bullet had made impact, now a searing ache sent unbearable throbbing to her arm. A dark fog beckoned.