Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Promo : Tessa by Melissa Wiltrout

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

LIFE SENTENCE Publishing (September 3, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jeremiah M. Zeiset for sending me a review copy.***


Melissa Wiltrout lives in west-central Wisconsin with her two dogs, an energetic terrier named Daisy and a Sheltie named Chester. During the summer months she keeps busy at the family nursery and landscaping business. Writing is her favorite activity, but she also enjoys relaxing with a good book, playing guitar, breeding goldfish, and gardening.


Is there no way out?

Tessa loathes being forced to work in her father’s illegal drug business. Yet her ill-fated attempts at running away only deepen the abuse. Guilt and shame press in, pushing away her real friends and reinforcing her own criminal tendencies.

Tessa yearns for freedom – and something else. Then a neighbor introduces her to God and salvation through Christ. But will faith be enough? Can she overcome the forces that bind her before it’s too late?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 292 pages

Publisher: LIFE SENTENCE Publishing (September 3, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1622450876

ISBN-13: 978-1622450879


“Stop! Thief!”
Fear stabbed my chest. I dodged in
front of a loaded shopping cart and shoved through the outer set of glass doors
at Allen’s Super Foods. The plastic bag of hot dogs and bread knocked against
my leg as I took a sharp left and sprinted down the dark sidewalk.
“Stop, you punk!” Footsteps pounded
close behind me. I could hear heavy breathing. I ran faster, willing all my
energy into my legs. My breath came in ragged gasps. I kept my eyes fixed on
the lights of the busy street half a block ahead. I sure hope there’s a break
in the traffic. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to stop
if there isn’t…
I had cleared the far end of the
building and was racing across the final stretch of parking lot when the clerk
caught up with me. He grabbed my shoulders and kicked me in the legs, slamming
me to the pavement. I screamed as pain ripped through my right ankle and leg.
He threw himself on top of me, closing huge hands around my neck and shoulders.
“I got you now, you punk.”
His sudden weight on my back left
me breathless. I struggled to roll him off, but he tightened his grip. His knee
pressed into my back and his fingernails dug into my shoulder like claws. “Oh
no you don’t.”
“I . . . can’t breathe,” I gasped.
“Get . . . off of me.”
“That’s what you all say. I’ll get
off of you all right – when the police get here.” As he spoke, he shifted his
weight higher on my back. My chest began to hurt.
“No,” I pleaded. “Stop. You’re . .
. killing me.”
“Shut up,” he said. I heard a faint
beep, beep as he pressed the buttons on his cell phone. I was crying. Sharp
pains shot up my leg from my twisted ankle, and I was helpless to relieve them.
Cold pavement bit into my chin. I tasted blood where I’d cut my lip falling. I
made one more attempt to free myself, but it was no use. The guy must’ve
weighed two hundred pounds. At last a police cruiser pulled up with its lights
flashing, and an officer stepped out.
“You Bruce Sommerfeld?” he said to
the clerk.
“I am.”
“You can let go now. I’ve got her.”
Bruce surrendered his grip on me
reluctantly. “I caught this little punk red-handed. And it’s not the first time
she’s pulled this. I can prove it.”
I took a breath and started to push
myself up, but the officer stopped me, pulling my hands behind my back. Cold
metal clamped around my left wrist, then my right. What on earth was he doing?
Handcuffing me? I hoped nobody was watching.
Fresh pain shot through my ankle as
the officer pulled me to my feet. “So you were shoplifting, huh?” he said.
It wasn’t a dream this time. I was
being arrested.
“I didn’t do nothin’. I swear!”
Frantically I tried to wrench free of the steel cuffs. “He’s lying. He hates
me. You all hate me!”
“That’s enough. Settle down.” A
second officer, a woman, stepped close and took my other arm. She began
steering me toward the black and white car. “My name’s Pat. And you are . . .
I didn’t answer. My wrists stung
from my fight with the cuffs. I had never felt so helpless and humiliated in my
Pat opened the rear door of the
cruiser. “Okay, in you go.”
I hesitated as my eyes took in the
hard black seat, the bars over the window, the mesh divider. This was for
criminals, not for somebody like me. Did I have to get in? But the firm
pressure on my arm told me I had no choice. I dropped into the seat, my face
hot, wincing as my hurt ankle bumped the door frame.
I fit in there – sort of. There
wasn’t more than eight inches of knee room in front of that seat, and with my
hands squashed behind my back, I was miserable to say the least. They didn’t
really expect me to ride like this, did they?
Tears pricked my eyes. I bit my lip
hard to restrain them. Through the barred window, I saw Bruce enter the store
with my bag of food. As if he needed it. My stomach growled, reminding me I
hadn’t eaten since yesterday.
“How old are you, kid?” Pat twisted
around to look at me from the driver’s seat.
“Old enough.”
“Old enough to be on your own?”
In the darkness, I felt my face
flush. Is it that obvious I’m a runaway? I thought of the stains on my jeans,
the long, jagged tear in the sleeve of my purple sweatshirt, and the shiny wire
I’d used to reattach the soles of my worn tennis shoes – all things I had
convinced myself no one would notice. I must’ve been crazy.
Heat blew into the back of the car,
raising a smell of sweat and dirty clothes. I tried to flip back the tangled
locks of dark hair that kept falling across my face. My teeth chattered, but
not from cold. I was scared of being put in jail.
The ride to the Northford Police
Station was short. Pat pulled into the garage. From there, she marched me into
a long narrow room. I squinted against the glare of fluorescent lights. Pat
removed the handcuffs and directed me to one of the plastic chairs at a small
I sank into the chair, glad to get
off my hurt ankle. By now it had swollen to the size of a small grapefruit. The
pain was agonizing. Had I broken it? I leaned forward and with one hand
loosened my shoelaces. Even that was a painful operation. Making it all the way
back to the garage where I was staying would be impossible.
“Did you hurt your ankle?” Pat
asked. She pulled the other chair around to sit facing me.
I stiffened. “It’ll be okay.” Did
she have to sit so close to me?
“You sure? You were limping on the
way in.”
I hesitated, torn by the sympathy
in her voice. But did I dare confide in a cop?
“It’s nothing, really. I-I got a
charley horse.”
“I see. How long has it been since
you left home?”
 “Awhile.” My eyes traced the green and white
tiles at my feet. If only I could get rid of that lump in my throat that
threatened to make me cry.
“Like a week? Ten days?”
“Yeah, maybe.” It had been longer,
but she didn’t need to know that.
“That’s a long time. Have you been
stealing food this whole time?”
“Some of it.”
“Yes?” she pressed. “How much is
“Most of it, I guess.”
“You know stealing is a crime,
don’t you? You can be fined and even imprisoned for it. If you need food, there
are better ways to get it.”
“Well yeah, but—”
“No buts. Maybe no one’s ever told
you this, but stealing is wrong. It’s serious. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
I could feel the heat rising in my
cheeks. What did Pat know? She’d never gone hungry or spent the night under a
deck in the drizzling rain. It wasn’t like I’d hurt somebody. The store would
never miss what little I’d taken.
Pat shuffled a few papers on her
lap. “I understand the store is not pressing charges this time. However…” She
paused for emphasis. “If this sort of thing happens again, you will be charged
with retail theft. You’ll have to go to court and pay the consequences. Plus it
will get on your record. Do you understand?”
“Yeah.” I felt a tiny glimmer of
hope. “Does this mean you’re gonna let me go?”
“It means your parents will have to
come get you. I take it you’re not on the best terms with them just now. Am I
I exhaled slowly. My sweaty hands
clenched in my lap. I should’ve known they’d call my parents.
I felt Pat eyeing me. “It’s that
bad, huh? Want to talk about it?”
My mind raced. For a second I
considered it, but then I shook my head. Talking would only make things worse.
Much worse.
Pat was still watching me. “I’ve
got the time,” she said.
I shook my head harder. “Can’t you
just let me go? It’s not like I’m gonna do this again or something.”
“Sorry, but it’s not my call. Rules
are rules.” Pat laid her papers on the table. “You’re Tessa Miner, am I right?
And your parents are Walter and Julie Miner?”
I gulped. How did she know that?
“Is this phone number correct?”
I had to stop her somehow. “Look,
you don’t hafta call them, okay? I-I’ll just walk home.”
Pat stood up.
“Can’t I? I’ll go right home, I
promise. It’s not that far, and…”
“Ten miles with a hurt ankle isn’t
far, huh?” There was sarcasm in her voice now. She shook her head. “It doesn’t
work that way, Tessa.”
I was trapped. There was no way
out. Even supposing the doors weren’t locked, I’d never escape with this ankle.
The muscles in my chest constricted, suffocating me. I leaned my elbows on the
table and forced myself to breathe. I needed to be at my best to face Walter.
Walter. The name dredged up images
I didn’t want to remember. I could see my father standing there, his hands on
his hips as he screamed at me.
“You idiot, what’d you do that
“You’re coming if I gotta drag you
there! Now get out here!”
“Guess you didn’t listen, did you.
Well, this time I’ll make you!”
I could see the home place – the
shabby white house with its sagging porch, the huge junk heap in the back yard,
and my dad’s green, almost-brand-new pickup truck parked in the driveway. I
could smell the cigarette smoke and the coffee. I could see, too, the secret
garden by the back fence that was my dad’s special concern. He allowed Mom to
plant hibiscus and hollyhocks along the edge, but the rest was off limits. I
learned this the day I tried to capture a baby rabbit that was trapped inside
the fence. Walter caught me in there and beat me bloody, even though I hadn’t
damaged anything.
I could see the old shed near the
garden, where Walter had locked me up for two days after my last attempt at
running away. I recalled the torture of spending a night leaning up against the
lawnmower, my back aching like fire while I tried to ignore the rodents
scurrying and chewing in the walls around me. I’d be lucky if that was all I
had to face this time.
A sudden noise in the room caused
me to start in fear. Had my father come already? But it was only Pat dropping a
pen. I sank back, my heart still pounding. If only I could awaken from this
nightmare. But try as I did, I could not suppress the memories which played
like a bad movie across my mind.

I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Tessa, your father’s here.”

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