Author – Gail Pallotta
Genre – Christian teen sports mystery with romance
Publication Date – April 10, 2013
Publisher – Front Porch Romance -
Cover Artist – Designs by Charisma
Things aren’t what they seem in peaceful Mistville, North Carolina. Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.
Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.
Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.
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I strolled to the other side of the car and got in. “Remember, if we see Joe, we don’t know him.”
“Got it.” Emily got in, backed out, and headed to the restaurant.
“I wasn’t going out, but Mom says Sean would want me to get back to a normal routine.” I choked up.
Driving the speed limit, thirty-five mph, Emily looked straight ahead. “Right now there’s nothing you can do for Sean. Your mom and dad are probably worried about you.
They don’t want you to put your entire life on hold. I think it would help them to see you have fun, even if it’s just a little.” She glanced over at me then right back to the road.
“You should try for their sakes.”
I’d heard bad times brought out true friends. Emily really cared about my family and me. “Okay, but Sean needs me. After all he’s done for me surely there’s something I can do.”
“For sure. As he recovers you can support him.”
If only he would get well.
Emily pulled into the parking lot in front of The Grill and cut the engine. Outside, the brick building appeared as sedate as a house with no one home. We opened the brown wood door into a crowded, busy room, live with chatter and soft rock playing in the background. Some co-eds gathered at tables in the middle of the floor. Others stood around the counter or in front of red booths packed with students.
My mouth gaped. Joe Garrett sat amid the high school crowd. Here already? He fit right in wearing his light blue polo shirt, his hair hanging below his ears. I re-directed my gaze away from him as Emily and I strolled by. A group of kids sitting in the booth behind him got up and left. Emily and I slipped into it.
Ray hurried over and took our orders, a chicken salad sandwich for Emily and a hamburger for me.
He returned with the food at the same time Jimmy Wilmore squeezed past the masses gathered in front of the cashier’s counter. My pulse pounded in my ears as Jimmy walked toward Emily and me. My mind went blank for fear he could see right through me with those piercing blue eyes
of his, even to my innermost thoughts, including how cute I thought he was. I nearly dropped my hamburger, but managed to hold it in mid-air while I looked down at the butcherblock table.
“Hi Margaret, I’m really sorry about Sean. I’m keeping him in my prayers.”
Excitement raced through my body as words failed me. Dare I look into his eyes? I focused on his lips. “Thanks.”
“Hi Jimmy, have a seat.” Emily sounded casual and friendly.
He sat beside me.
My heart thumped so hard I worried he heard it as he put his arm around the back of the seat and touched my shoulders.
“How’d your classes go today? I wanted to talk to you after English, but you got out before I had a chance.”
Thank goodness. Seeing him here was less stressful. I fidgeted with my paper cup then sat it down and tore tiny pieces off the napkin in my lap. “It wasn’t bad. Everyone was so good to me.”
“Well, they better be.” Jimmy’s voice sounded protective. My heart melted. I let my eyes meet his. They looked caring and sincere like those of a friend. I stopped tearing up the leftover napkin.
“So--what happened while I was gone?” I tried to sound laid-back.
“In class, the usual, homework, tests, same old stuff.” Jimmy shifted in his seat and moved his arm.
Had something unusual happened outside of class? Did he know anything about Winstrol V? That would be strange because Mike said he didn’t, and he played football. I wanted information so bad. “What about sports?”
Jimmy leaned back and wrinkled his brow. “Funny you would ask I’ve heard some athletes are taking steroids.”
I stopped breathing.
Emily’s eyes grew wide as she leaned across the table. “Really?”
Jimmy raised his blond eyebrows. “Yeah, a couple guys mentioned it after we played soccer.”
I took in air. My insides raced as if someone turned my nerves on high, but I had to stay calm. I needed answers. I didn’t know Jimmy played soccer. “Are the soccer players taking them?”
“You’re awfully interested. Do you two want to buff up?”
I gagged and couldn’t speak.
Emily gasped. “No. Of course not. We’re just curious, that’s all.”
Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea. I overheard the conversation, but I didn’t join it.”
I ripped the rest of the napkin into tiny bits. “Well think. Exactly what did you hear?”
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. She recently developed a program for youth fellowship.
Calling Youth Fellowship Leaders: A F. I. S., Fun, Informative, Spiritual Youth Fellowship program based on Stopped Cold is available. For more information visit Gail’s web site at http://www.gailpallotta.com
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