Beneath A Southern Sky
by Deborah Raney
First released in 2001, Beneath a Southern Sky, has been reissued with a new cover as part of WaterBrook Press's new value line fiction.
Her Second Husband Healed the Sorrow of a Tragic Loss.
Her First Has Just Returned from the Dead.
Which Man Has the Right to Claim Daria's Heart?
After two years of serving as a missionary in a remote area of South America, Daria Camfield has returned to the States to mourn her husband, reportedly killed while providing medical aid to a neighboring Colombian village.
One family discovers how God can redeem any tragedy.
At first, Daria finds comfort only in the daughter born to her after Nate's tragic death. As she begins to heal, she also finds a listening ear and a tender heart in her new boss, veterinarian Colson Hunter. Determined to move forward with life, Daria ignores the still small voice calling her to wait and accepts Cole's marriage proposal. But after the wedding, Daria's new dream life turns into a nightmare with the arrival of an unbelievable telegram:"Nathan Camfield found alive. Flying into K.C. Int'l. via Bogota…"
Now two men have the right to her daughter, her life, and her love. Will Daria return to her beloved first husband, abandoning Cole? Or will she reject Nate and choose the only man her daughter has ever called "Daddy"--a man she has come to cherish with all her heart?
• 2002 RITA Award from RWA
• 2002 FH&L Inspirational Readers' Choice Award
• Book of the Year for American Christian Romance Writers (now ACFW)
• 2001 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award
• 2002 HOLT Medallion Finalist
• 2002 Aspen Gold Award, 2nd place
• Named one of christianbook.com's Top 10 Fiction book of 2001
Excerpt of chapter one:
The fingers of the jungle breeze swept across the village, playing the palm fronds like so many harps. Under the conductorship of the wind, the symphony of the rain forest rose to a crescendo and finally the clouds moved in, lowering a curtain on the sun.
Daria Camfield looked up from the skirt she was mending and her eyes scanned the village for her husband’s tall frame. Though the rains weren’t usually severe this time of year, she always breathed easier when Nathan was nearby.
As though her thoughts had summoned him, she spotted Nate loping down the pathway, holding a large banana leaf over his head. She knew his makeshift umbrella was not meant to protect him, as much as it was meant to shield the book he was carrying close to his chest.
“Hey,” she hollered in greeting as he jumped the narrow stream that separated their hut from the village proper. The wind had begun to blow the rain underneath the thatched roof of the stoop where she sat, so she wove her needle safely into the thin cotton fabric and rose to go inside.
Ignoring the four primitive stairs that served as a ladder to their stilted hut, Nathan leapt gracefully onto the stoop, flashing Daria a wide smile. “Hey, babe. What are you up to?”
“Oh, I’m trying to fix this stupid skirt I tore yesterday,” she huffed. “What I wouldn’t give for a sewing machine.”
He ignored her comment. Nate had never been sympathetic to her complaints about their lack of modern amenities. She let it go and tilted her head to receive the kiss he offered.
He tossed the soggy banana leaf over the side of the stoop and took his precious book inside the hut. Daria followed him in, leaving the door open behind them.
“I’m hungry,” he said, glancing around the small room as though food might materialize at his declaration.
She threw him a smirk. “What else is new?”
“Hey, I’m a growing boy!” he said with mock indignation.
She reached up and tousled his damp hair affectionately as she would have a little boy’s, but when he reached for her, it was a man who took her in his arms.
They had been married for three blissful years when they arrived in this remote Colombian village, but during their months here in Timoné, she and Nathan had found new meaning to a scripture they’d only thought they understood: and the two shall become one. What had grown between them here made their earlier romance seem like an adolescent crush. Dr. Nathan Camfield was her life, and she loved him with a love so fierce it sometimes frightened her.
Extricating herself from his arms, she went to the narrow shelf that served as their pantry. She sliced a banana in half, then reached for the thermos. Without electricity or an indoor stove, she’d gotten in the habit of making extra coffee over the fire each morning so they could share a hot drink during the afternoon rains. She poured Nate a mug and one for herself, and took them to the table where Nate had opened his book again. It seemed her husband always had his nose in a book. She wondered what he’d do when he’d finished every book they’d brought with them.
The rain on this day proved unrelenting, reminding her of the rainy season they’d recently endured. She finally took up her mending again and they sat together, listening to the rain on the roof, enjoying this excuse for a rare respite from the hard work that life here demanded.
She and Nate had come to this small river village as missionaries almost two years ago. Two years in South America without furlough, with only unreliable radio contact and infrequent trips to San José del Guaviare or Bogota to tie them to the world they’d left behind.
No, it wasn’t an easy life, but it was a fulfilling one. As a physician, Nathan had offered the Timoné people a wonderful gift of healing. But Daria knew that his greater concern was for the healing of their souls. She put her needle and thread aside and watched him now. His head was bowed over the book and his forehead was furrowed in concentration. But any minute, she knew, he would look up at her with the light of discovery in his eyes, and read a passage aloud to her.
As though he’d read her mind, his voice broke into her thoughts. “Listen to this, Daria.”
She started laughing.
“You are just so predictable, Dr. Camfield.”
He rolled his eyes, then ignoring her laughter, he began to read to her from his book, his voice deep and authoritative. He hadn’t finished one paragraph when a shout rose from below their hut.
“Dr. Nate! Dr. Nate!”
Nathan jumped from his chair and ran out onto the stoop. Quimico, one of the young men from the village, was hurrying toward them. Beside him was a native man Daria had never seen before.
Nate ran out into the rain to speak with the two men. Daria stood watching from the shelter of the doorway. The stranger gestured widely and spoke in a dialect that Daria recognized as different from Timoné. The man waited then, while Quimico attempted to translate. She could make out a few of their words and when Nate replied to the man through Quimico, her heart began to pound. It sounded as though Nate was agreeing to go with the man. Since their arrival, news had traveled that Timoné had a “medicine doctor”, and Nate had been summoned to outlying villages on several occasions. Daria hated it when he left the village, abandoning the safe sanctuary of Timoné.
The men finished their conversation, and while Quimico and the stranger headed back into the village, Nathan came to the hut, his head bowed against the rain.
“What was that all about?”
He refused to look her in the eye and instead went to the side of their sleeping mat and pulled an empty knapsack from underneath it.
“Nathan, what’s going on?”
He answered with his back to her, stuffing provisions into the knapsack. “There’s an outbreak of fev–– of illness in a village upriver. I’m going to go with this fellow and see what I can do to help.”
He had stopped himself mid-syllable and Daria knew exactly why.
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