Karina Rubenski is forced to abandon her life in Miami to assume a new identity under the guise of Leah. Nestled in a small village in upstate NY, the US Marshal assured her she’d be safe. Still, she looks over her shoulder, fearful that one day her past and present may collide.
Phillip Zellmer didn’t expect a challenge when he hired Leah to work at his NY hangar. No one moved him like this in years. Yet Phillip has an identity secret of his own, and he fears the day Leah discovers the truth. When she does, will Phillip survive beneath the rubble?
A mother’s spiritual awakening catapults a stranger into the mix who bears an uncanny resemblance to the witness. Soon their lives intertwine like a threefold cord—with a match lit at both ends.
Will Leah survive long enough to find hope Through a Shattered Image?
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Karina flinched when someone touched her shoulder. Her breath quickened and her heart raced with sudden fear—the kind of fear that causes a person to jolt in their bed from a deep sleep, their thoughts all askew.
“I’m sorry to startle you. Are you finished with your juice?”
Karina shuddered and then breathed a sigh of relief when her eyes focused on the flight attendant who waited in the aisle.
AJ said I’d be safe. I need to be less jumpy. People will notice.
“I am. Thank you.” She handed him the plastic glass.
“Care for some fresh coffee?”
“That’d be great,” she answered.
“Cream?” he asked as he poured it for her.
“Yes, please. And honey if you have it.”
She pulled the seals from the creamers and emptied them into her mug, swirling a package of honey into it. The warmth felt good as she swallowed the smooth liquid.
Her throat was heavy.
Heavy with emotion.
Weary of the questioning.
Karina was grateful no one was assigned to the seat beside her. The extra cost for first-class tickets discouraged travelers in this tough economy. At least something worked to her advantage.
She didn’t want to talk.
Didn’t want to think about what to say.
Didn’t want to think about what not to say.
A familiar ping sounded over the speaker.
“Hello, folks, Captain Stevens here. We’re in for some turbulence as we make our way over the Blue Ridge Mountains this morning. I’ll skirt around it the best I can, but please fasten your seatbelts until we’re through it. At this time, we’re on schedule to get you into Syracuse by eleven forty-five where it’s currently twenty-eight degrees with an expected high of about thirty-four. Thanks for your cooperation. Thank you for flying with us.”
Karina cringed at the announcement of the brutal temperatures awaiting her. South Beach rarely dropped below the mid-fifties, and when it did, the coat and boots came out.
She reached for the tablet in her bag and pushed the headphones to her ears. The plane bounced as it maneuvered through the turbulence. If the plane fell from the sky and she blended in with the dust of the earth, would it matter? Would anyone miss her? She thought back to the day her parents’ single-engine plane went down. Reliving the memory still brought with it a weight of pain. If she joined them soon, she’d tell them everything that happened to her, particularly during the last twenty-four hours.
Karina pulled the courtesy blanket around her a little tighter and tried not to worry. The tablet came to life when she tapped the icon to view the video clip that she hadn’t watched yet. Despite her misgiving, she was glad she downloaded and saved it before the order came to remove all traces of the case from the web—one of the many back doors that AJ strategically shut to keep her safe. If anyone searched for her now, all details about her since that day in the elevator would be nonexistent.
Breaking news tonight on News Channel 7. Let’s go live to Marisa Crawford, who is covering the story for us from the Miami-Dade Courthouse.
The scene changed from the studio shot to the attractive Latino reporter who stood at the steps of the familiar courthouse. Several reporters stood at attention, the call letters of their stations wrapped around their microphones in hand.
Thank you, Stacey. It’s been a long day in the courtroom for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and family members of slain, prominent attorney, Vic Trebari. Trebari, as you recall, was murdered early last year. He was the lead prosecuting attorney in a case that sparked a statewide debate over the misuse of funds that were earmarked for a special Fair Trade project under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services division in the state’s capital. To recap, the department works in tandem alongside coffee farmers in Central America to ensure a fair price is paid in exchange for organic beans that are imported to Florida’s east coast. The FDACS assures sustainable farming techniques are taught and utilized by the growers as part of the state’s cooperative extension program. As we reported previously, like a chain reaction, things went awry when the misappropriation of these funds forced the struggling coffee farmers to convert their crops from coffee to poppy, resulting in a surge of heroine production.
Karina could almost narrate the story herself. The reporter provided the background of the case as footage continued with video clips from the courtroom to candid, still shots of family photos of the decedent.
…and while that case is still ongoing, after days of deliberation in the courtroom, late last night, the jury came to a verdict, convicting Edward DeFresnio of the murder of Vic Trebari. Sheila Trebari, the widow of the deceased, was clearly shaken, although much relieved, when the verdict was announced.
Karina pulled a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at the tears that fell as she continued to take in the report.
While this new development provides Trebari’s widow and family a sense of justice, the courtroom battle is far from over. Prosecuting attorneys will resume on Monday as the search continues for other accomplices in the case. We tried to reach Karina Rubenski, the emergency room nurse who took the stand two weeks ago, but she’s been unavailable for comment. One thing is certain. Her testimony clearly proved to be the nail in the coffin that moved the jury toward the final verdict against Edward DeFresnio. More on this as details become available. Now back to you, Stacey.
The video panned out across the courtroom steps. Karina’s eyes were drawn to the far left of the screen where two figures stood in the distance at the edge of the frame, half inside, half outside the camera footage. While their features were difficult to distinguish, they appeared to be deep in conversation. One man was in uniform. His stance was vaguely familiar.
The seatback shifted as someone behind her braced themselves to stand. “Interesting story. I caught that on the news earlier,” the woman offered.
Karina dropped her head, hoping her hair would cover her eyes. She waited until the woman made it into the aisle. Then Karina pulled the earphones from her head and clapped her tablet case shut. The woman probably meant no harm. Still, she must be cautious. AJ warned her, and for now, he was the only person she was supposed to trust. He was the one who could strip her of her life to give her another that was worth living—or so he said. Everything will be taken care of for you. We’ll get you settled in a new place, and no one will find you. It’s the only way we can guarantee your safety.
Well, she understood a lot about guarantees. Nothing was ever really guaranteed. Slick words were designed to deceive the trusting public.
Already, she doubted her choice to leave her past behind to step into the new life AJ planned for her.
The plane rose and fell abruptly as it hit another pocket of turbulence. She gripped the armrests and held her breath. No doubt this rough patch of air space was the first sign of an ominous new beginning.
One she claimed no power—or wherewithal—to control.
Question 1: Karina could easily have decided to be silent when she saw the news report that tied her to the scene in the elevator. What do you think would have been the outcome if she hadn’t spoken up when she did?
Answer 1: Discuss your answers together.
Question 2: Is it possible to be a Christian and live a lie when it's in a controlled setting?
Answer 2: God wants us to live in His truth in all we do. Still, we are subject to live under the laws of the land that He has placed each of us in. Leah was subject to the laws of the land, yet she was dependent upon God’s mercy to forgive her for not placing her trust solely in Him to protect her. God still used her to bring about His purpose and plan in her. He gave her much more than she ever dreamed because she reached out to Him in the midst of her struggles. Even Rahab, the prostitute, was used of God when she chose to put her life on the line to assist two spies in Jericho. God used Rahab despite her failures, and ultimately her name is memorialized in the lineage of Jesus. This should give you full confidence to know that God can use you, no matter what, if you reach out and submit your life to Him.
Question 3: What are some areas in life when a person has to choose between active faith and passive faith?
Answer 3: The outcome of a relationship; the outcome of a medical test; to believe in God's promises no matter the circumstances and/or report.
Question 4: Leah was pretty upset when she realized she was betrayed by someone she loved. How can a person move past the hurt and forgive, when they've been betrayed to this degree?
Answer 4: The Bible simply tells us we are to forgive. It does not ask us to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, no matter the circumstance. It is not a feeling.
Question 5: What would be your most difficult challenge, if you were forced to leave your life behind for the greater good?
Answer 5: Discuss your answers together.
Question 6: Did Leah do the right thing or the wrong thing when she decided to take matters into her own hands, to give herself up to the villains? What could have gone wrong?
Answer 6: Discuss your answers together.
Question 7: What did you learn from Leah’s birth mother?
Answer 7: Forgiveness is key, despite anything that was done in the past, whether in ignorance or with intent, so long as one's heart is now clean before God. Sometimes forgiving oneself is the most difficult. But God’s mercies are new every morning to anyone who asks, without partiality or preference. Reach out and receive it, and move forward in all that God has for you. As far as the east is from the west, He has removed your sins from you. The good news for you: That’s pretty far apart, in that the two never meet again!
Question 8: Who is your favorite character in the story, and why?
Answer 8: Discuss your answers together.
Question 9: Are there any characters you might like to see featured as a main character in a future book?
Answer 9 Discuss your answers together.
Question 10: What is the best way to secure a hope for your own future, through your own shattered image?
Answer 10: A personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to be fully certain that your future is secure. This gift of life is free to you, yet it was not cheap. It cost Him everything. You can live your life optimistic, hoping for the best, but without a personal relationship with Him, you will be eternally lost. In a few short words, you can alter the course of your life right now, as you read this, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you rejected Him in the past. He will receive you with open arms this moment if you call out to Him. Just pray this simple prayer: “Dear Father, I believe in You. I believe that You sent Your son Jesus to die on the cross for me and take the punishment for my sins. I ask You to forgive me for everything that I’ve done wrong, whether in ignorance or with intent. Please come into my heart and take over my life. I receive You now. Teach me how to live in the fullness of Your plan for me. In Your name I pray, Amen.” That’s it. Now get plugged in to a good Bible believing church. Surround yourself with people who will join arms with you as we walk together in this wonderful journey of life that we have been blessed to live. There is truly hope in Him Through A Shattered Image.