Steven Miller guards a dark secret.
Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad's belongings, he's inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it'll quiet the guilt he's carried since Dad's death three years ago.
While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll's beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie's recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship.
But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?
Steven Miller pulled away from his mom’s hand as she straightened his t-shirt before getting out of the car. “It’s fine, Mom. Leave it alone.”
Blindness was no excuse for sloppy dressing, but this was camp. Some guys wore the same clothes they’d slept in the night before. He got out of the car, leaving behind its air-conditioned comfort. Ugh! This heat wave would make the cabins feel like saunas. He adjusted his dark glasses, then reached into the back seat and found the rough canvas of his duffle bag.
“Can I get that for you?” Mom’s door slammed and she hurried around to his side.
“I’ve got it.” As if I’m not capable of doing it myself. He bit his tongue as he lifted the bag out of the car and set it on the gravel parking lot. Mom wasn’t trying to be annoying. So why did she get on his nerves so easily lately? She’d always watched out for him during Dad’s tough lessons on living with blindness. ‘Survival for the Blind 101,’ they’d called it. Had she grown more protective in the three years since Dad died? Or maybe Dad’s absence failed to balance out Mom’s hovering. Either way, it would be nice if she’d back off a little.
Claire called from somewhere nearby. “Steven! Wait for me!”
Where is she? Car engines and voices of other excited campers made it hard to tell which direction she was calling from. He waved his hand in the air to acknowledge her, then closed the car door and leaned against it. “Mom, you don’t have to stick around. Claire can get me through registration.”
“Well, I¼I wasn’t in any hurry.”
He’d done it again—said something the wrong way. “I’m not trying to get rid of you. I just thought Claire could get me up to the check-in table and I’m sure I can make it to the cabin on my own if you want to get home earlier.”
At that moment, Claire arrived and gave him a quick hug around the neck. “Great to see you again, Steven. Ooh! You’ve been working out. Look at those muscles.” She squeezed his upper arm. “Hi, Mrs. Miller. Can you believe it’s our last year at Rustic Knoll? This time next year, we’ll be graduated and getting ready for college.”
Mrs. Miller groaned. “Don’t remind me. Seems like last week you two were playing in the sand together down at the lake. With your blonde hair and Steven’s, everyone thought you were twins.”
Claire laughed. “That was a long time ago.” She touched Steven’s arm. “Are you ready to go check in?”
Mom made no move to leave. “Are your parents here, Claire?”
“No. My younger brother has a Little League tournament today, so Mom dropped me off. She’ll have to hurry to make the game. But I can take Steven to check-in if you want. Dillon’s heading our way, too. He can make sure Steven gets to his cabin.”
Mom hesitated. “Are you sure?”
Steven reached out and Mom put her hand in his. “We’ll be fine, Mom. We know the routine. You really don’t need to stick around unless you want to see some of the other parents.”
She sighed, hugged his neck and kissed his cheek. He jerked away before she could swipe her fingers over his hair.
“You have your health form? And money for snacks?”
“We’ll be fine, Mom. I’ll send you a postcard, like always. Saturday will be here before you know it.”
“All right, then. Have a good week, both of you. I love you, Steven.” She hugged him one more time.
“Love you, too, Mom. Bye!”
The car door squeaked open and closed, and a moment later, the engine started. She called one more good-bye before the tires crunched on the gravel as she drove away. Steven let out a long breath. “Good thing you came by. I was afraid she might walk me to the cabin.”
Claire giggled. “I love your mom, but I feel the same way about mine. I can’t wait to get out of the house and be on my own.”
Dillon shuffled up, dragging his suitcase. “Hey, Claire! Steven-man, how’s it going?” His hand met Steven’s in a high five and they clamped their hands tight together. “Ow! Dude, you must be lifting weights. Look at those biceps.”
Steven grinned. “I’m giving you some competition for super-jock this year. You ready?”
Dillon chuckled. “I’m always ready for competition.”
“Come on, let’s check in.” Claire nudged Steven’s arm. “You want to hold on?”.
“No thanks. I’m practicing my echolocation.”
“Your what?” Claire started toward the grass where the registration table sat.
“Echolocation.” Dillon snorted. “Isn’t that what bats use?”
“Same idea.” Steven walked close beside Claire. “It’s figuring out the sounds around me to judge my location. Like right now, I’m judging my distance from you by the sound of your feet hitting the ground.” Claire’s steps moved farther away, and Steven adjusted his own path to follow her.
“Okay. Just testing.” Claire laughed. “You passed.”
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern
much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her
own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including
serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough. Wisconsin
Mary is an award-winning member of ACFW and a graduate of Long Ridge Writer’s Group. When she’s not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in
with a rescued Golden Retriever. Texas
To buy Mary's book:
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Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart