Read How Do I Love Thee Online

Authors: Lurlene McDaniel

How Do I Love Thee

Dana was sitting in class the next morning, listening to a boring lecture, when Bobby suddenly appeared in the doorway.

“Can I help you, Mr. Harrod?” the teacher asked.

“I have to talk to Dana Tafoya. It's an emergency.”

Bobby looked pale and frantic. Dana grew alarmed.

“I have a pass,” Bobby said, waving a piece of paper. “Please.”

The teacher nodded and Dana scooted out the door. The hall was empty. “I'm on my way to the hospital.” Bobby's eyes looked wild.

“What's wrong?” Dana's heart hammered and her mouth went dry

“It's Steve,” Bobby said, a tremor in his voice.

Thanks to all my wonderful readers

“Place me like a seal over your heart… for love is as strong as death…. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.”

S
ONG OF
S
OLOMON
8:6-7
(N
EW
I
NTERNATIONAL
V
ERSION
)

Prologue

Over a hundred years ago, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote this sonnet for the man she loved:

HOW DO I LOVE THEE
  • How do Hove thee? Let me count the ways.

  • Hove thee to the depth and breadth and height

  • My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

  • For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

  • I love thee to the level of everyday's

  • Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

  • Hove thee freely, as men strive for Right;

  • Hove thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

  • Hove thee with the passion put to use

  • In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

  • Hove thee with a love I seemed to lose

  • With my lost saints
    ,—
    Hove thee with the breath
    ,

  • Smiles, tears, of all my life!

    and, if God choose
    ,

  • I shall but love thee better after death.

Love is not limited by time or space or age. It is the highest expression of human emotion.
When it is given purely, without expectation of return, and accepted freely, without parameters and conditions, it is a gift unto itself. Read, now, three stories of star-crossed lovers who experience love with amazing, life-changing depth. For one, a journey into love; for another, a rekindling of an old love; for the third, a sharing of noble, sacrificial love … for
all
, the discovery that true love transcends the self and makes a person the better for having touched it. Each person must learn that nothing can break love's bond, not even the face of death, and that this is one treasure that makes life beautiful.

BOOK ONE
Night Vision
One

he girl danced alone in the moonlight. Brett Noland stood behind a tree watching her, mesmerized. His watch dial glowed 1:00
A.M.
When he'd left the cabin where his mother lay asleep to walk and think and figure out how he was going to accept all that had happened in the past month, he hadn't expected to see another living soul. Then he'd rounded a curve in the trail and seen a girl with long, dark hair twirling, swirling, spinning in an open field under the light of the bright full moon.

She wore a long ballerina skirt and held a filmy scarf that fluttered behind her like gossamer wings. There was no music that Brett
could hear, only the sound of her graceful leaps in the tall grass. He wasn't sure if he should go back the way he came or wait until she left. The last thing he wanted was for her to catch him. It wasn't right to spy on people, but for the moment he felt glued to the ground.

She ran across the field, jumping and turning in the air like a gazelle. She slipped into the shadows of some trees. Brett held his breath, waiting for her to emerge into the field. She did not. He blinked, listened to the sound of the blood rushing in his ears. Where was she? She had seemed to disappear into thin air. Brett exhaled slowly and, feeling shaken, wondered if she had been there in the first place.

Maybe he'd imagined her. He'd felt stressed and hassled lately. So maybe the girl had only been a figment of an overactive imagination. The idea depressed him. On top of everything else, now he might be going nuts.

“Why are you spying on me? “

Her voice came from behind him, startling Brett so badly that he yelped. Whipping around, he saw her standing in the center of the trail, blocking his escape. “I—I wasn't spying,” he said, his voice raspy, his heart pounding.
“I was walking. I saw you. I didn't mean for you to see me.”

“Then you shouldn't wear watches with glow-in-the-dark dials.” She gestured to his wrist.

He covered the watch self-consciously feeling foolish, and turned to face her more fully “You do this often?” he asked, trying to regain his composure. “Dance under the moon?”

“Are you a reporter?”

“No … I'm Brett Noland. Who are you?”

She studied him, tipping her head to one side. Moonlight flecked her hair. “Shayla,” she said.

She stepped forward, and he saw that she was tall, almost as tall as-be was, which, according to his mother, was shorter than his father had been.-When he'd had a father. “I just moved here,” Brett blurted out when Shayla brushed past him to return to the open field.

“I didn't think you looked like a regular.”

“What do regulars look like?” He followed her, suddenly not wanting to be alone. The prl intrigued him.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Key West, Florida.”

She stopped. “Bid you live near the sea?”

“Key West is almost surrounded by die sea, so yeah, I lived near it.”

“Is it beautiful in the sunlight? “

Brett thought it a very odd question but decided to humor her. “Well, yes. But why—”

“Different from the sea up here, isn't it?”

“Everything's different up here, including the sea,” he said bitterly. He and his mother had moved to the coastal town of Harden, Massachusetts, two weeks before. She'd taken a new job with a snail seafood manufacturing plant, telling Brett it was time for a change, and no amount of begging her not to move had changed her mind. She kept telling him it was a big promotion, more money, a better opportunity. “And we'll be living closer to Boston Children's Hospital than we do to Miami Children's Hospital,” she'd added, as if that would justify totally uprooting his life.

Brett hated his new location, a backwater town that squatted between the hills and woods to the west and the craggy shoreline of the ocean to the east. Industry consisted of fisheries that stunk of salt brine and fish processing.
One of those fisheries had hired his mother to manage the office and product shipments. In the Keys, the ocean was pale green, warm and spiked with die smells of exotic flowers and tropical breezes. Here the coast was lined with rocks, not soft white sand. It was harsh, wild, unfriendly.

“You don't sound too happy to be here,” Shayla said.

“I wanted to stay in Key West. I'll be a senior, and I wanted to finish school with my friends, but Mom took a new job, and I lost out.”

“Tough break.”

“You live here?”

“All my life.”

“So what's school like?”

“I don't go to school.”

Her answer caught him off guard. “Are you homeschooled ?”

“Satellite-schooled.”

“What's that?”

“I go to school on the Internet. And sometimes a homebound teacher comes over and spends time with me.”

He was taken aback. Homebound teachers
only came to help sick kids. He knew that for a fact. Shayla looted normal, better than normal. “Do you live around here?”

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