Emily Prichard took the job as an investigative reporter, because of her insatiable need to know. But she has no idea, when assigned to dig into the unsolved murder of a young woman, that this stranger's death will change her own life forever.

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Excerpt From "Sanctuary"

By Nancy Arant Williams

Emily Prichard had been staring at the blank screen for a long time when she finally realized she hadn’t typed a single word. How on God’s green earth could she write this story?

She ran her hand absently through thick frosted hair and frowned. Because of a serious character flaw, Emm couldn’t stand to see anything go unfinished, which was why she sat stewing at the moment.

Her job as a journalist for the Globe, one of the largest metro newspapers in the Kansas City area, demanded she write a lot of hard things, but never anything like this. Her boss wanted cut and dried. He didn’t want sensational investigative reporting, and he didn’t want supposition.

She knew she was crawling far out on a skinny limb, even considering writing an expose’ piece in serial/book form, but someone had to get to the bottom of stuff like this. The thing was, you never knew what kind of rotten apples would fall from the tree when you started shaking it. And you could never know the lengths to which they would go to save their skins.

She had no one to blame but herself. When she had asked her boss about the story, asked if anyone was getting anywhere in the investigation, he had shrugged and said it looked like the police had hit the proverbial brick wall. Emily’s response had surprised her. She felt fury rising inside her. What on earth was the problem that no one could solve a murder?

Emily shook her head. Who do I think I am to even attempt something this? God?

No. Emily knew she wasn’t God. She knew God intimately and had a pretty good understanding of her own weaknesses, her own tendency to stray from Him. But at age fifty-one, she had also fallen deeply, madly in love with her God, who was romancing her heart in a way she had never understood before.

In fact, she had asked Him to use her, to allow her to be a tool in His hands to solve this thing, for the simple reason that somebody had to do it, and it might as well be her. She already knew she might regret her offer, but not long before, she had realized something important. What better way to live, and even die—than in the service of the Most High God?

“Listen, Lord,” she prayed aloud, “I’m a little shaky here. I know You, and You know the truth, and together we can uncover it. But that doesn’t mean I’m excited about the prospect. I mean, I get nervous watching old Hitchcock movies. So listen, if you really want me to do this, inject me with a healthy dose of courage, will you, please?”

Bending her head to her work, she began to type.

An hour later, she jumped a foot from her chair when a sudden knock at the doorframe brought her crashing back to earth. Steve Dennis, her editor, stuck his head in and asked, “So what did you decide?”

“Oh, I’m going to do it. No matter what kind of trouble I get into, I just can’t sit idly by and let someone get away with murder.”

“Okay, it’s your baby. I want it in serial form, a chapter a week. Can you do it?”

“Well, I’ve never done anything remotely like this, but I’ll make sure you have something every week. What day are we talking?”

“Tuesday. That’s the hardest day of the week to grab an audience.”

“Okay. No problem.”

With a wave, he turned and left. Steve was fifty-eight, the hard-nosed epitome of a newspaperman. A little like a modern day Perry White. Even had the cigar in his breast pocket that he pulled out and sniffed during odd moments of nervous anxiety. She wondered if he realized he was doing it. He, like all good heart patients, had given up smoking just in time to save his cardio system from the wrecking ball.

With a thickening waistline from too many fast food meals, he sported white hair, savvy gray eyes and deep wrinkles from living hard for most of his life.

For some unknown reason, he liked Emily. From the beginning, twelve years earlier, he had taken her under his wing, and she couldn’t help but appreciate it.

But because of that closeness, Emily didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the reporting staff, and sometimes it felt like a mighty lonely place. They all talked to her, and she wasn’t exactly on anyone’s hit list, but neither was she invited to attend bull sessions. She didn’t really mind, when she got right down to it, because they drank like fish at those sessions, and she wasn’t into that at all.

She sighed. From what she could see, a Christian rarely fit comfortably anywhere in the secular working world.

Turning back to her work, she typed a few more words before her stomach let her know it was lunchtime. Since she hadn’t hit her stride on the piece yet, she decided to take a break. With little fanfare, she pulled the blue insulated bag out of her desk drawer and set it on top, tugging out a turkey breast on whole wheat with lettuce and no-fat mayo. At her age, she couldn’t afford to put on any more weight.

Nibbling off a bite, she chewed slowly, perusing the words on the screen. She didn’t have much to go on, just the bare facts.

The body of twenty-five year old bank employee, Lucy Merrihew, had been found in the woods, thirty miles from her workplace four months earlier. She had been strangled. That was it. No leads, no tire marks or footprints in mud, no hairs, fibers, skin under nails, or fingerprints to follow up. This one was going to take some serious digging.


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