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In Hopes Of Heaven

In Hopes Of Heaven

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In Hopes Of Heaven

Longitud:
389 página
5 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jun 2, 2012
ISBN:
9781476039138
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Adam Blake, an easy-going stockbroker, living with his girlfriend, Yvonne, in Venice, California, wakes on his 30th birthday to find he has suddenly acquired the ability to perform healing miracles. After unrewarding research, Adam attends a Pentecostal revival to observe the laying on of hands. Aimee Lee Blaize, who dances in the services with wild religious abandon, fascinates him. He returns night after night, riveted by the apparent miracles he witnesses--and Aimee Lee's voluptuous dance. After they meet and Aimee Lee seduces him, she promises endless delights if Adam were only part of her father's ministry. Hooked, Adam resigns his job and abandons Yvonne to become the Reverend Billy Blaize's investment advisor. But the Reverend is determined to use all of Adam's talents. Justifying it for the furtherance of his ministry and the glory of God, he talks Adam into performing small private healings for sizable donations and Adam's descent into moral bankruptcy has begun. [Explicit material]

Editorial:
Publicado:
Jun 2, 2012
ISBN:
9781476039138
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Mr. Ruggeri spent over 35 years in commercial banking. The US Air Force sent him to Yale University to study Chinese for Cold War assignments after a lengthy stint studying for the priesthood. His recent decision to leave the workforce and its constant downsizing and merger upheavals came easily after having raised his two children and rediscovering the joys of writing, one of his first ambitions. He is the author of 12 published books. His adult two children, Kelly and Sean are successful in their personal and business enterprizes and are a source of unending pride. Mr. Ruggeri currently lives in Anaheim and spends quality time baby sitting his grandchildren.

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In Hopes Of Heaven - David Ruggeri

I N

H O P E S

O F

H E A V E N

A NOVEL IN SEARCH OF REDEMPTION

By:

DAVID L. RUGGERI

In Hopes Of Heaven By David L. Ruggeri

Copyright 2012 By David L. Ruggeri

Smashwords Edition

DEDICATION

If I ever have any hopes of heaven

it will be because of the heritage

I leave behind, my children:

Kelly and Sean

"Farewell! A long farewell, to all my greatness!

his is the state of man: today he puts forth

The tender leaves of hopes; tomorrow blossoms,

And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;

The third day comes a frost, a killing frost..."

William Shakespeare:

Henry VIII

P A R T I

D i s c o v e r i e s

"Every man takes the limits

of his own field of vision

for the limits of the world."

- Schopenhauer

CHAPTER ONE

Adam limped up the stairs of the front porch. He tried to open the door without smearing it with sweat and blood. He looked around the neighborhood, fearing he would alarm anyone who might see him entering the house.

All he wanted now was to find his way quietly to the shower and clean up. But he wasn't going to be so lucky.

Earlier that morning, as Adam Blake woke on the morning of his 30th birthday, little did he realize that his life would never be the same.

He glanced sleepily at the clock. With a start he began to throw the covers off, and then sighed contentedly as he remembered it was Saturday morning. No work. Nothing to do but whatever he wanted to do.

He rolled over, pulled the covers around his shoulders and about his neck in the chilly room and slipped back down into the warm valley of the old swayback mattress. He smiled at the sleeping girl next to him, her hair sprayed across their pillows like a golden sunrise. Adam was sure the real dawn, still an hour off, wouldn't be half as lovely.

His smile slid easily into a huge grin as he remembered last night's lovemaking. He and Yvonne Johnson had known each other for nine months and been living together for the last three. He supposed that the six-month courting period was sufficient for a late-nineties romance to legitimize the arrangement.

Their intellectual compatibility was as well-suited as the meeting of their supple bodies. They enjoyed each other's company and relished experimenting and finding different ways to give and take delight in the act of sex.

Adam snuggled into the small of Yvie's back, enjoying the morning's warm lethargy. He knew that his jogging compulsion wouldn't let him linger too much longer. But he could enjoy the warmth for now, before guilt nuzzled away at his consciousness like a pig rooting for truffles.

He woke an hour later to find that Yvonne hadn't moved. The lazy, early light of a gray, foggy dawn filtered across the dark corners of the room. This time Adam swung his feet over the side of the bed. The cool air caressed his naked legs. Reluctantly, he unfolded his lanky, six-foot-two body from the side of the sleeping girl. He regretted leaving her soft, warm vulnerability, but he refused to deny himself his other most favorite sensual pleasure, the one reserved for most evenings and every weekend morning: running.

In the bathroom, Adam ran his hands through what he was afraid might be thinning brown hair, indulged in a great, jaw-aching yawn, and brushed his teeth. He ignored Yvonne's scale in the corner, knowing he'd be the same 180 pounds he had been since high school. Starring at himself in the mirror, Adam shook his head in amazement. Just an ordinary-looking guy. Nothing special. He couldn't believe how lucky he was. Everything was going his way. His career was perking right along, and he was working at something he really enjoyed. Yvonne was a never-ending source of wonder and delight. He had his health and wasn't hurting financially. God was in His heaven, and all was right with the world!

Back in the bedroom, sitting on the side of the bed, Adam laced up his favorite Nikes. He glanced over his shoulder at the sleeping form. Even with his coming and going, Yvonne hadn't stirred. With a kiss on the back of her neck, to which she responded, Umm, he stepped into the living room of the small rented house and picked his way through the welter of furniture. His and hers.

Too much, Adam thought for the umpteenth time. He smiled. It was okay. What the hell was a little additional clutter, when Yvonne came along with it.

Outside, the barely risen sun had yet to burn off the morning fog. Living in Venice, between Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey, Adam had learned to appreciate the puppy-tongues of moist air during his morning runs; it was refreshing.

Being a weekend, the beach walk was already teeming with morning exercisers, running, walking, skating, bicycling, or just sitting on the sporadically spaced benches. Later, the crowds would grow even larger as Venice Beach's colorful informal carnival came to full life and both tourists and residents flooded the area with their cacophony and teeming excitement.

Adam turned from the street onto the beach walk, trotting slowly north, allowing his muscles to gently warm and lubricate themselves before he began the serious heart-pounding effort of his normal pace.

He synchronized his breathing with the rhythm of his legs in counterpoint to the slap of his shoes against the sandy cement concourse and reached the limit of his stride. Arms bent at the elbows, he swung lightly clenched fists back and forth easily until his whole body was a smooth-moving machine.

On good days like this, Adam felt he could run forever. As the automatic rhythm and pulse of his body replaced the analysis and logic of his brain, the day was as close to perfect as he could wish. If there were only some way of combining the endorphin rush of running with the adrenaline rush of sex he thought he could bottle it and make a fortune!

He ran past Rose Avenue and resented having to break the cadence he'd developed to swing around and head back on the lap going south. With the return trip, he noted that the traffic on the walk had already increased measurably.

With luck, he'd do fourteen laps, a good seven miles. Not bad, he thought, considering his current life style! Who said sex depleted athletic energies?

Although Adam had a wonderful faculty for putting his brain into neutral while running, it continued to function on an autopilot awareness that allowed him to assess his physical performance and continually monitor his surroundings. And a great part of those surroundings was girls. One of the definite advantages of jogging at the beach was the female population—California's special treasure.

Adam's relationship with Yvonne had not yet solidified into what he could call love. But he was very fond of her. And faithful. It was never a practice of his, regardless of how active a sex life he pursued, to be unfaithful. Basically, he was monogamous. One at a time. Start a relationship and end it before beginning another one. This philosophy, however, did not prevent him from looking at other women, enjoying them and allowing them small roles in his active fantasies. While Adam ran, he appreciated the live scenery. It was innocent and harmless.

Ahead of him, running in his direction in the rapidly clearing mist, he could see a jogger, who stood out from the rest. Even from this distance, while the figure was still small and blurry, he could tell it was an attractive girl.

He ran toward her in appreciative anticipation, relishing the sight of her tall form and smooth-running litheness as her figure grew larger and clearer, their combined speeds rapidly decreasing the distance between them.

She wore a tight, bright red sports halter, displaying an expanse of tanned tummy between it and black Speedos. The tight shorts looked spray painted on her body. As she came closer, Adam could see the highlights of her hips and thighs through the thin material of the spandex.

The girl passed, and Adam fought the urge to turn and chauvinistically watch her backside, knowing it would be spectacular. It wasn't so much a matter of self-control, as a desire not to break stride, tinged with just a little guilt as a picture of the lovely, willing girl, even now in his own bed, flashed across his conscience.

Suddenly, behind him there was a loud noise, followed immediately by a scream. The sound brought Adam to a halt as he whirled around to see what had happened.

In the middle of the path, the girl, who had just passed, lay tangled in a bicycle. The bike rider was sprawled on the side of the cement, half in the sand. Evidently someone had zigged when he or she should have zagged.

Brushing the sweat out of his eyes, Adam ran back to the scene of the accident.

The frame of the light aluminum bicycle was bent and a wheel still rotated in the air with a clicking noise that seemed louder than either the nearby surf or the flock of gulls circling a nearby trash can, looking for their breakfast.

Somehow the girl's leg had become entangled in the spokes of the other wheel. The sharp wire rods appeared to have sliced deeply into her calf where her Speedos failed to reach with their protection.

She was sitting up, whimpering and crying, tears pouring down her cheeks as she tried to push the bike off her body. She was unable to shove the machine away and pull her injured leg from the tangled metal. Her calf was pushed so far through the spokes of the wheel, that every move caused one of them to dig deeper into her wound. The bicycle rider was struggling up to his elbows in the sand, apparently too stunned to help.

Immediately, Adam dropped to his knees next to the girl. He grabbed her hands, which had been scrabbling ineffectively at the wheel with the cutting spokes. Her hands were covered in bright red blood.

No! No! Stop! Don't! You're only making it worse. Adam pulled her hands away from the bicycle, pushing them down into her lap. It'll be okay, he reassured her.

A small crowd had begun to gather. They stood around, helplessly watching.

Adam looked at the blood covering his and the girl's hands and the ground, then up at the gallery of blank faces.

Call 911, he said to the group.

No one moved.

Call 911! Adam repeated. "Get an ambulance, or the paramedics, or something!" He tried not to show his panic, knowing the girl needed all the reassurance he could give.

Finally, a half-frightened teenager held up his hand as if he were in school, asking permission to leave. I'll go, the kid volunteered.

Hurry up! Adam turned back to the girl. Don't worry. It's going to be okay.

Jesus, she cried in pain. Get this fucker off of me!

Yeah, sure. Adam patted her bloody, fluttering hands back down into her lap. I'll take care of it.

Carefully, he surveyed the situation. Blood dripped thickly onto the sand-strewn cement. Adam couldn't tell how badly the girl had been injured, but he knew the wound had to be deep to cause so much blood. He could also tell that as long as her leg remained lodged in the spokes of the wheel, she would continue to aggravate the injury and lose a lot more blood.

Okay, Adam said more calmly than he felt, I'm going to bend the spokes apart, and when I do, you pull your leg out. Pull it straight out. Do you understand?

Yeah, yeah. Just hurry the fuck up. It's killing me.

Adam got up into a crouch so that he could steady the wheel while he spread the spokes apart. He could feel the thin wires branding his hands as he curled his fingers around the slender rods. They bent easily enough, but their tight spacing didn't provide much room to maneuver the girl's leg out of further danger.

Okay, pull your leg out. Straight back. Good! Yeah! That's it, Adam encouraged. He kept bending the spokes apart as the girl slid backwards on the cement, extracting her injured limb.

It's out. The girl sighed, a fresh blossom of tears welled up in her eyes.

Adam glanced over, giving a moment of attention to the bike rider who was now up and assessing his own personal damage.

His attention was called back to the girl as she moaned, Jesus Christ! I'm bleeding to death!

Adam didn't think she was in any danger of bleeding to death, but blood continued to well up alarmingly and obscure the wound. He needed to do something to stem the flow, but he couldn't find anything to use as a compress. He would have used his shirt, but it was sweat-soaked and filthy. Somehow, he didn't think it was an appropriate or hygienic first-aid tool.

I'll take care of it, Adam continued to reassure with more confidence than he felt. It's going to be okay. Just fine. Don't worry. You'll see; it'll be okay. Help is on the way. He realized he was rambling in his effort to console the wounded girl.

Where the fuck's the ambulance? Look what the shithead did to my leg. The girl glared at the bicycle rider, now brushing sand from his backside.

Come on, Adam said. Let's get you a little more comfortable. He slipped an arm around the small of the girl's back, and clasping a hand over the bloody gash in her leg, he lifted her from the cold, sandy sidewalk and carried her over to a nearby bench. She was heavier than he'd expected. He was glad the bench was close.

Gently, he set her down lengthwise. Crouching in the sand by her side, he continued to compress the wound with his hand.

As blood dripped down his arm and off his elbow into the sand, Adam talked softly to the upset, weeping girl. You're going to be just fine. It'll all be okay. I'm going to make sure you're okay. A couple of stitches and you'll be as good as new. No permanent damage. Just wait and see. A few days from now and you'll never know it happened.

To himself, Adam was saying: Christ! I wish she'd stop bleeding. Please stop bleeding! Or at least get some professional help here NOW!

In the distance, he could finally hear the sound of an ambulance. As it came closer its siren bounced between the shorefront buildings and spun itself out onto the open beach. Adam was never so relieved to hear anything in his life.

He continued squeezing the girl's calf, thankful that the flow of blood had finally seemed to slow. He was thankful that medical help was close by; his hand and arm were beginning to shake from the constant strain of the pressure he had to apply to keep the wound closed. His entire body was vibrating from the unaccustomed stress of crouching in an awkward position by the bench.

Here they come now. Adam could see the yellow fire department paramedic truck turn onto the cement path from an alley access. There could be no doubt as to where they were heading; the crowd defined the problem.

With relief, Adam relinquished his hold on the girl to a blue-uniformed fire department paramedic, who had grabbed a large cloth compress as soon as he'd assessed the situation.

Good job, buddy, the medic complemented when he saw the amount of blood on the girl, Adam and the bench. I've got it now.

Adam watched as the paramedic replaced his hand with the compress, slipping it quickly over the girl's leg. He was shaking now more than before. His body felt consumed by an undulating wave of fever. The stress and strain of the past minutes, along with the adrenalin rush, had thrown his whole system out of kilter. He glanced over at another paramedic, treating the bike rider for a small cut on his forehead.

Thankful that his responsibility in the unexpected emergency was finally over, Adam got shakily to his feet. Right now his only priorities were getting home and showering off the sweat, sticky blood, and gritty sand that covered his body.

As he turned to leave, Adam heard the paramedic exclaim, Well, goddamn, will you look at that!

He looked over. The young man was standing beside the girl, staring down at the swatch of cloth in his hand and the calf of her shapely, tanned leg.

There was almost no blood on the compress and just a long, deep scratch on the girl's leg.

Where the hell did all the blood come from? The medic had forgotten his professional detachment for a moment.

He gave the girl a cursory examination as Adam stood by, watching in bewilderment. Although he hadn't directly examined the wound, Adam had assumed that it was quite long, deep, and serious. He could have sworn he'd seen one of the bike spokes deeply imbedded in her flesh. He, the girl, and the surroundings were covered with enough blood to attest to that fact.

I don't know how you could have gotten so much blood out of that! the medic said, surprised. He stared down at what he'd expected to be a severely damaged leg.

I guess, the girl sniffled, it wasn't as bad as we thought. She smiled wanly up at Adam, who was as startled as the other two.

Got lucky, Adam said, still puzzled.

As he turned to leave, Adam gave a short shout of pain and almost fell.

Concerned, the paramedic started toward him. But Adam waved the young man off.

It's nothing. I think I gotta charley horse. Just a cramp in my leg. Probably from squatting too long without cooling down after my run. Nothing a little walking around and a hot shower won't cure.

You sure?

Yeah. No problem. I'll be fine.

Hey mister! It was the girl, her face, dirt and tear-streaked, eyes rimmed red. Thanks.

Glad I could help. Hey, I told you it would be okay. Right?

Yeah. She looked down at her leg, shaking her head in amazement. You sure got that right.

You take care now. Adam waved and limped painfully toward home.

Yvonne was up and had filled the house with the smell of fresh coffee and hot rolls. Adam had complained before about the counter-productive effects of sweets after a morning run, but it hadn't fazed Yvonne, who continued to ply him with homemade goodies.

Yvonne, like Adam, was one of the lucky individuals who could eat anything and everything without wearing it on her hips for the next six months.

Adam had chided her continually about her eating habits, which consisted almost entirely of sweets, junk food, pasta and red meat. If it was a fruit or a vegetable it wouldn't pass her lips unless sprinkled with sugar or drenched in cheese sauce.

When Yvonne saw him disheveled and covered with blood, she dropped the pan of hot rolls on the kitchen floor with a clatter.

Oh my God! she gasped.

Don't worry, I'm okay. Adam looked down at the crimson stains covering the front of his shirt and shorts as well as his hands and arms. It's not my blood, he reassured her. There was an accident.

Massaging his aching leg muscle and wishing he were already in a nice hot shower, he explained to Yvonne what had happened.

...And you know, the funny thing is, he said, limping toward the bedroom stairs as he began to take off his smeared shirt, when all was said and done, she only had a scratch.

Maybe the blood came from the guy riding the bicycle.

Nah. He was thrown seven or eight feet away from the girl and the bike. Probably went head first over the handlebars and out into the soft sand. That's what kept him from getting any more hurt than he was. From what I could see he only had a small cut on his head.

Head cuts bleed a lot.

This one didn't bleed enough to even dribble down the side of his face. And he was nowhere near the girl. No, Adam mused, either the girl was hurt somewhere else that the paramedic didn't find, or she's a real bleeder.

That could be possible. Maybe she's a hemophiliac.

I don't know much about medicine, Adam said, "but I do remember that movie, Nicholas and Alexandra. Their son was a hemophiliac. According to the film, the female carries the gene, but it affects only male offspring."

Maybe she's some kind of exception.

"I guess. Who knows? After all, I'm getting my medical expertise from Hollywood. Adam shrugged that he didn't have an answer. Why don't you whip up another batch of the rolls you've used to decorate our kitchen floor, while I take a shower and become human again."

"You've got it, Mister Rescuer! Coming right up. After all, we don't want you to lose all of your strength with the day barely begun."

Adam started up the stairs with a smile.

Hey! You're limping! Yvonne called.

Adam paused to rub his leg. Yeah, gotta cramp or something in all the excitement. Just gonna have to work it out.

Yvonne leered. Maybe I should come up and take a shower with you. I can take your mind off that cramp.

Adam laughed. I'll bet you could!"

CHAPTER TWO

What happened, did you break your kneecap kneeling in church yesterday? Harvey asked with a grin.

Charley horse from Saturday.

Adam Blake limped from the coffee room to his workstation. It was 5:30 AM, Monday morning at the brokerage firm of Barkley, Vok and Jordache.

Besides, Adam added, I haven't been in church except for weddings and funerals since I was twelve.

Even though things wouldn't start to crank up for another half hour, Adam and Harvey Standish were in the habit of coming in early to check on the foreign markets and get organized for the onslaught of the day's trading and the opening of the New York Stock Exchange. Adam liked to run through the prior day's trade tickets against the current market exchange rates, just to confirm his judgment regarding his investment advice.

Coming in early had brought Adam and Harvey even closer together than their prior friendship, which went back a number of years. Although they were extremely competitive in reaching sales goals, it was a friendly and healthy rivalry. They had both recognized long ago that they were so far down in the company's political and social pecking order as junior traders that partnerships were highly unlikely. But they could look forward to eventually improving their financial lots as senior traders.

So, you didn't spend the weekend in church, Harvey chided good-naturedly.

Not exactly. I jogged Saturday morning and then spent the rest of the weekend in bed or laying around.

It must have been Yvonne's fault, right? You couldn't get off your back the whole weekend.

Well, yeah, that's part of it, but that's not--

If I had someone like that at home, I'd spend most of the weekend in bed too.

That's not what I meant, Adam pleaded. I got a helluva cramp while I was jogging Saturday and it left a knot in my leg that still puts a hitch in my get-a-long.

Try some magnesium and calcium tablets, advised Harvey. They interact with some kind of acid in the muscles and it really helps.

Thanks.

Or you can always have Yvonne massage it. She should be able to get the knots out of anything, Harvey smirked.

I said thanks, Harve. If I want medical advice like yours, I'll call Dr. Kevrokian.

Adam turned to his terminal, scrolling through the foreign currency buy, sell, bid rates--his specialty. Shit! The Pound is up, the Deutschmark is up, the Franc is up, and the goddamn Yen is down. Needless to say, you know what I recommended Mrs. Carmichael should buy on Friday.

The Portuguese Escudo? Harvey suggested, facetiously.

I wish! Adam shook his head, scowling at the screen.

Call her up and tell her that the market took a dump over the weekend. If she sells short and replaces it with the Swiss Franc or the Deutschmark, she should be okay, Harvey offered.

Good idea. Thanks.

Both Adam and Harvey enjoyed their career field. They could spend hours discussing international monetary policies and the pros and cons of various trades. They were always willing to help each other in a difficult situation. Frequently, they formed a mini-committee of two to resolve complex transactions.

Of course, Harvey added, you can always tell her you were looking forward so much to your birthday screw from Yvonne, your mind wasn't on your job.

Fuck off, Adam laughed.

And then, Harvey continued, when you call the old lady up today, you can tell her that you're still paying for that weird new Kama Sutra position you tried, with a sprained back.

Leg, Adam corrected.

Leg...back. You're still a pain in the ass.

They were still laughing as the large office with its maze of partitioned workstations, began to fill up. Other traders and members of the operations staff passed by their workstations, greeting them with early-morning bleary-eyed familiarity.

Adam concentrated on his terminal, noting various currency rates and their continuous changes. He remembered the weekend with a smile.

The cramp in his leg had been a blessing in disguise. It had provided Yvonne with an opportunity to mother him and fuss over his owie. Adam luxuriated in a number of massages, few of which were limited to his hurting leg. He allowed himself to be served and pampered as they lounged around Saturday, watching rented movies and making long, languorous love.

On Sunday they slept in, snuggling together into the mid-morning. They spent hours over the newspapers. On Sundays Adam treated himself to both the Los Angeles Times as well as the Orange County Register, but the fifteen or so pounds of newsprint seldom received the attention it deserved until this Sunday.

Outside, the weather had deteriorated from the prior day's afternoon sunshine to a steady, constant drizzle. It was a perfect day to stay in and never get out of Adam's sweats or Yvonne's long flannel night gown--except to appreciate each other's bodies, and make love again

Larry Beamis, Adam's boss, stopped by, a cup of coffee in his hand. Well, how's the birthday boy?

Great. No sense going into the charley horse story again. Adam had seen how much sympathy he was going to get around here if Harvey was any example.

So, how do you feel about growing older? The gray-haired man asked.

Beat's the hell out of the alternative! Adam chuckled.

Beamis laughed as he headed to the next cubicle, the general informally greeting his troops in the trenches.

Adam liked Beamis. The man lived in a pressurized environment and never passed on any of his problems. Adam had been in the corporate world long enough to know that shit rolled downhill, but it never trickled down from Beamis. Adam admired the man's ability to handle any stressful situation--a falling market, an unruly employee, an upset customer--with the same calm composure.

Office rumors had it that Beamis might be next in line for a partnership. Within a year, the company could very well be Barkley, Volk, Jordache and Beamis. Adam doubted if the brass plate on the building downstairs would ever include his name.

Unconsciously, Adam began to hum Gilbert and Sullivan to himself: Well, he polished up those handles so carefully, that now he is the ruler of the Queen's Navee.

Hey shmuck! It was Harvey next door. You're singing through your nose again.

Oh sorry, Adam replied with a complete lack of sincerity. Won't happen again.

See that it doesn't, Harvey muttered with mock severity.

Hey, Harve!

What?

Do you know any first aid?

No. If you're having a heart attack, I ain't giving you CPR. Get one of the secretaries.

Adam stood up, and hung over the partition between their workstations. If I ever need you sucking at my lungs, let me die. He laughed before turning serious. No, really, I was wondering if you knew whether or not a woman can be a hemophiliac.

Something wrong with Yvonne?

"No, not Yvonne.

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