Rose of the Adriatic
Wounded and faithless, Dr. Matthew Robbins arrives in a small Croatian village determined to discredit the visionary who claims to see the Mother of God. Matt believes only proven facts, and he's sure Anna Babic is either lying or delusional. But, despite all his unpopular testing, he can’t disprove Anna’s visions--and what's worse, he finds himself falling for the beautiful visionary who speaks to the blessed Virgin Mary. Anna has experienced skeptics in the past, and they've never left a lasting effect. But Matt is different. Despite his open disbelief and vehemence to discredit her, she finds herself hoping he'll change his mind. Drawn together as if by a heavenly hand, can Anna choose a life as the wife to her unlikely match? Can Matt believe on faith alone that God loves him enough to heal him and free him to love Anna?
Anna came down the aisle and slowly neared the kneeler. She stood in front of it, the chain of her rosary beads dangling near Matt’s ear. Her pleasant, powdery scent brought a spontaneous smile to his lips. He squelched it, relieved she hadn’t seen, and confused by the distraction when he had work to do.
Kneeling, an apparent signal for the rest of them to follow suit, she continued to lead the prayer recitation. On his knees, hard stone against boney kneecaps, all Matt’s muscles tensed for action. Anna’s right elbow rested on the front railing of the kneeler, inches to his left. Her three-quarter length sleeves left her exposed forearm a perfect target.
Mid-sentence, Anna’s prayer ended. Matt glanced left. Her eyes were upturned, her gaze fixed on a point on the far wall. He registered the transformation of her features, glowing angelic. He opened his bag and slipped out an alcohol wipe and the first needle.
Matt shuffled sideways on his knees pulling his doctor bag along the floor in front of him. Ecstasy radiated from Anna’s features, and it made him hesitate, breathless, wishing for a split-second that he had put that expression on her face. Such joy. She emanated pure love. Focus. He’d process his conflicting response to her later.
Swallowing his guilt, he swiped the antiseptic down Anna’s forearm using his left hand and sunk the needle in her flesh with his right…