Today I’m sharing a small portion of a novel I wrote that deals with a sensitive topic and at the same time keeps readers entertained throughout. If you enjoy this sample, please download your own copy of the novel by visiting Amazon (here).

Mystery and suspense Christian novel

Sample of “In His Love”


IN THE GLOW OF THE streetlight, I stood outside Mrs. Wilcox’s house, Billy’s mother. Checking the address once more on the slip of paper, I slid it back into my binder along with my notes about Billy’s successful YouTube channel and his suicide. Taking one last deep breath, I walked up the path and toward the front door. Breathing out with each step I took, I tried to settle my nerves. No part of me wanted to be here. No part of me wanted to meet the woman who was most likely responsible for driving her kid to his untimely death.

Knock, knock, knock.

Relaxing on my heels, I adjusted my binder underneath my arm and tried to mentally prepare for dealing with a woman who clung to her God more than her love for a son. My mind drifted like a wave lost at sea, recalling the fact that my own mother didn’t want me.

The door creaked, opening only a fraction but enough to break me out of my thoughts. A glimpse of whom I presumed to be Mrs. Wilcox came into view. She had dark brown hair, curly and with threads of gray woven in. The warmth of her brown eyes found mine. With a guarded but soft tone, she asked, “Are you a reporter?”

“Yes, ma’am. I am, but I’m doing a piece on Billy that will memorialize him.”

“What’s your favorite smell?” she asked.

Taken aback by the question, I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t every day that I was asked questions. That was my job. I laughed a little, loosening the tension that had me wound up like a child’s toy. “Um . . . Okay. I guess the smell of rain on a hot day?”

I don’t know if it was my answer or not, but she opened the door the next moment and invited me inside.

As I walked in through the doorway, I immediately caught sight of a Bible verse inside a picture frame that hung above the couch on the wall.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

Uneasiness returned to me as I thought about Billy. Taking a seat on the sofa, I wasted no time. “My name’s John Quinby and I work for The Globe.”

“You can call me Jena. I asked you that question out on the porch to see if you were the type of person I wanted to talk to. I have a good feeling about you, John, that you’ll actually listen to me, to what I believe.”

Woven between the fabric of her words, I could hear the pain of a grieving mother. Her eyes carried a hint of sadness, the kind that is easily seen but not easily discussed. Opening my binder, I flipped to a blank page and grabbed my pen and tape recorder.

“Could I get you something to drink? I have coffee, tea, and water.”

“No, I’m all right.” I set the recorder down on the coffee table and hit the Record button. “I’m going to record our conversation, if that’s all right?”

“Yes, that’s perfectly fine.”

“Great. I’ll get right to it, Jena. Could you tell me about Billy growing up? How early did you knew he was gay?”


SILENCE FILLED THE ROOM FOR at least a minute. Jena didn’t appear to like where the conversation had gone—that much was easy to tell. Knowing that she had raised Billy in the walls of a church all his life, I knew it was a hard question but one that needed to be asked. I was the guy The Globe sent in when nobody else wanted to ask the tough questions, the guy they turned to when the facts needed to come out.

Jena finally spoke.

“Billy grew up without a father, John. He died early in life, at the age of twenty-four, from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. That was twenty-two years ago, the year Billy was born. I was a single mom all through Billy’s life, working constantly and trying to do the best I could for my boy.” Her head dipped to her chest and she pressed a hand firmly against her forehead as she looked overwrought with shame. Her lips tightened, and she was able to compose herself. She looked at me, I mean really looked at me, and said, “Billy didn’t take his life out there at the cabin. That’s not what happened.”

Shaking my head, I said, “The coroner’s report and the investigation revealed—”

Jena held a hand up, her eyes lightly closing as she did. “I don’t care what the reports said. They can say whatever they want.” She opened her eyes and peered at me as she shook her head. “That investigation was a short open-and-shut case. They ruled it a suicide because he was prone to depression, because he was a homosexual.”

My interest was piqued, and I nodded. “Okay. Tell me more.”

“I tried to voice my concerns, but they didn’t care. Nobody did. Not even the LGBT community. They just saw me as a religious bigot who didn’t accept her son. One individual accused me of killing him.” Tears streaming down her cheeks, she wiped them.

I felt bad that someone had said that to a grieving mother. Yes, I had thought the same thing, but I’d never come out and tell her. There had to be some respect given for a mother who had just lost her child. Disgust filled me as I shook my head. “That isn’t right for someone to say you killed him.”

Her voice quieted and her eyes filled with tears. She looked at me. “I know my boy wouldn’t take his own life. I know it.”

I nodded and then asked, “But isn’t it true that you haven’t seen him in two years?”

“Kind of, but he chose that, not me. I loved my boy and he knew that. Yes, it’s against what the Bible says to be a homosexual, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him.” She let out a sigh and continued. “Billy came by before he went up to the cabin a couple of months ago. He told me loved me, said that he feels like he’s almost out of the thick of the depression and to keep praying for him. He asked for me to pray for him, John. Now why would he do that?”

“Did he take medication for his depression?”

“He had been on medications for years for it, as far as I know.”

My heart broke for the woman as a mother. I felt that the pieces of Billy’s story lined up more and more as a suicide, nothing else. Jotting down a note about a warm embrace she had shared with him before he left to the cabin, I turned my eyes back to Jena. She leaned down beneath the coffee table and pulled out an old photo album. My instinct wanted to decline, but a part of me felt like it’d make the write-up better. For the next half hour, she showed picture after picture of Billy growing up. He looked like the rest of the kids in the photo album, a little dirty but well-loved.


A FEW CUPS OF COFFEE and a delightful slice of lemon meringue pie later, we finished perusing the photo album. As she closed it, I saw one last photograph on the back. It was of Billy in a cowboy hat, sitting on a trike. He couldn’t have been more than three years old. Underneath the photo, there was a hand-written note that read, My Heart, My Love, My Hope. It was easy to see that it was her handwriting. It matched all the little notes beneath the pictures inside the album. This woman was remarkable, both as a mother and a woman of God. I wasn’t religious by any means, but I respected the fact that she lived it daily.

Setting my empty cup of coffee down on the coffee table, I sat back in the couch, letting myself relax. I crossed a leg and finally said what was edging on my mind for a good portion of the evening. “I grew up Catholic.”

“Oh?” she commented as she put the photo album back underneath the coffee table. Sitting back, she looked over at me. “Do you still go to mass?”

Shaking my head, I looked away. “I haven’t been in twenty years. Not since I had to go as a kid.” Thinking about the photos, the stories behind Billy’s life, I found it remarkable that she was even able to speak about him after all that had just recently happened. “I have to ask . . . how are you doing so well?”

She nodded. “It’s a good question, John. I’m sad he’s gone, don’t get me wrong about that, but I serve a powerful and mighty living God. He promises to be near the broken-hearted, and though I’m not happy right now about my poor little Billy, I still have the joy of the Lord within me.” Her eyes glided away from mine and caught a picture of Billy across the room on the fireplace mantle. “I watched my son walk down the aisle at church and give his life over to Christ at the age of nine. I have peace knowing I’ll see him again in Heaven.”

Heaven. It was a hard topic for me to wrap my head around. Death and the afterlife weren’t something I particularly thought about much. It was time for me to go, and I rose to my feet. Gathering my things, I put them all away and said, “It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Wilcox—I mean, Jena.”

She smiled and stood up. “It was nice meeting you too, John. Which is sayin’ something since I’ve had a lot of reporters over here.”

Walking me to the door, she moved in for a hug, but I didn’t stop her. I felt awkward, but I went with it. As she hugged me, she said it again. “Billy didn’t kill himself. I know it and I hope you do too.”

As we released from our hug, I shrugged. “I’m not an investigator, just a reporter.”

“You like to report the truth, don’t you?” She reached into her pocket and fetched out a key. Handing it to me, she said, “I only went up there once, but I’m just a tired old lady who can’t see. Maybe you can find something?”

Her hope and trust in me were a bit shocking. Shaking my head as my eyes looked at the key, I said, “I can’t.”

She reached out and put it into my jacket’s chest pocket. “Think about it.”


THE ARTICLE WAS DONE BY nine o’clock that evening, but it wasn’t what I expected when I set out to meet with Mrs. Wilcox. Sitting back in my chair, I put my hands behind my head and let out a long, drawn-out sigh as my eyes tried to sift through the dimly lit office. Seeing a picture of my grandmother and me over on the shelf beside my signed baseball by Mickey Mantle, I smiled as I thought of her. She had been the woman who had raised me and took me to mass every Sunday, and we ate spaghetti every Thursday. Why couldn’t you have been gentle and sweet and accepting like Jena was tonight? I wondered as I stared at the picture of her. Shaking my head, I turned my eyes back to my laptop.

Seeing the word Heaven on the screen, panic rose up in me. What’s Tony going to think about this article? Tony was the guy I answered to at The Globe, and he wasn’t a very nice person when it came to anything to do with God or religion. He had sent me to meet with Jena to help slam Christianity. He wanted to link her to his death and help noble Billy as a gay hero who had killed himself because of his mother’s beliefs. This piece I wrote was nothing like that. My only hope was that Tony would overlook his own wants and see the value of the truth that I had written. I wasn’t sure how he’d take it.

Knowing my long-time friend and co-worker at The Globe, Henry Munson, would be willing to look it over, I pulled out my phone and sent him a text. If I could get him to weigh in on the story I wrote, maybe I could save myself from a big embarrassment—or better yet, maybe my worries were invalid.

Me: Hey, wanna grab a drink at the Celt? I have an article I need to show you.

Setting my phone down on the desk, I let out another sigh, the kind that you let out when you just aren’t sure about what you’re doing. My eyes caught her name on the screen. Jena. The woman wasn’t a bigot, she wasn’t angry, and she wasn’t any of that typical Westboro Baptist type of garbage I’d seen on the news and read about in the paper. She was different, way different, simply a broken-hearted mother who had lost her child whom she’d loved deeply.

As I waited for a reply from my buddy, I thought of what she’d said several times that night and I’d heard again several times on the tape. He wouldn’t kill himself.

My phone buzzed, pulling my attention.

Henry: Sure. Give me twenty minutes.

Hitting the Print key, I shut my laptop screen and grabbed my coat and keys. On the way out of the office, I scooped up the article from the print tray and headed down to the Celt…

Continue reading by picking up a copy of In His Love on Amazon. Click/Tap Here.

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