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The Alliance (New)

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Overview

Beka heads back to school with a newfound faith, but that faith is tested sooner than she expected. As she spends time with the eclectic theater group, she is pulled further into her friendship with Gretchen, who becomes fascinated with the occult and convinces Beka there is no harm in the tarot cards, crystals, and spells that their group of friends is dabbling in. Beka also struggles in her growing relationship with Mark, who is pressuring her to spend time with him behind her father's back. In the midst of all these shifting alliances, Beka must decide where her true loyalties lie.

Details

  • SKU: 9780802464521
  • SKU10: 0802464521
  • Title: The Alliance
  • Series: Becoming Beka
  • Qty Remaining Online: 2
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Date Published: Apr 2004
  • Edition Description: New
  • Pages: 256
  • Age Range: 13 - 18
  • Grade Level: 8th Grade thru College Freshman
  • Weight lbs: 0.55
  • Dimensions: 8.42" L x 5.32" W x 0.68" H
  • Features: Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: YOUTH
  • Subject: Religious - Christian - General

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

My whole new chance at life was not turning out as I had hoped. It's kind of easy to think that you'll be able to reinvent yourself, to change the course of your life with a single decision. But then you turn around and you are facing the same people, who look at you in the same way they always have.

I knew I wanted things to be different. Even sort of believed they could be different. But something happened as I walked down the hall that first morning after the New Year. The first time I walked down the hallway of the school I had attended for the past two and a half years. My first time as a new believer. What happened was . nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still felt very much like the same Rebekah Madison of two weeks ago. And I began to wonder if anything was really going to change at all.

* * *

"Hey, Madison!" I turned to the sound of Gretchen Stanley's voice commanding my attention. She always commanded attention from anyone nearby. I was glad we were on amiable terms, but when Gretchen called, you had to jump. I wasn't sure I wanted to jump for anybody.

But today, I jumped.

"Yeah, what's up?" I smiled.

Liz, Mai, and Theresa hovered nearby. They looked so much like Charlie's Angels standing there waiting for their orders that I almost laughed. Theresa was a tall redhead, Mai was a younger, meaner version of Lucy Liu, only with shorter hair, and Liz was totally Cameron Diaz, complete with long smooth blonde hair and a certain "airhead" quality. I noticed immediately that Chrissy wasn't nearby, and I realized I hadn't seen her with the group recently. They seemed to mostly travel as a unit. Chrissy must have been blacklisted for some reason and Liz, who usually hovered near the outskirts, and who was trying hard to shed her Lizzy nickname, had moved into the "inner circle." It was all kind of ridiculous, but I knew my life at school was much better since I was no longer in "social Siberia." For a moment I felt sorry for Chrissy, and I didn't even know her.

Gretchen turned to them and shooed them away, rolling her eyes as she did so. Once they moved away she gave her blonde curls an extra toss-surely meant for someone other than me-as she pulled me close.

"Have I got a secret for you! You won't believe what I found out over winter break."

"What?" I asked, genuinely curious, not only about the secret but her desire to pull me back into "the know."

"Not heeeere," she said dramatically. "We'll talk before rehearsal. You just stick close to me, Madison, and I'll watch your back." She turned and shimmied down the hallway, waving and giggling at her public. I watched her go, wondering for the millionth time why she was so popular. She was cute and built well, but there was nothing extraordinary about her. And even though her skin seemed tan and flawless, she also had this narrow nose that turned up a bit at the end, which made her look even more stuck up. I turned back to my locker. Even though it was pointless to worry about what Gretchen's big secret was, I did. All day.

* * *

"Well, you'll just have to wait and see what she tells you. Don't stress about it." Lori was overly calm about my news at the lunch table.

"But what if it's . you know. About what happened over break."

Lori's eyes grew large, apparently just cluing in to the depth of my anxiety. "But how would she know about that? Who knows about it?"

"Just my family. And you."

"Then she can't know. They have confidentiality things at those places. Don't worry, I'm sure it's some dumb rumor about some guy she likes."

"I hope you're right."

"I am. Now on to more interesting topics. Have you seen Mark today?"

I grinned in spite of myself. "A couple of times. You know, we've only been back a couple of hours, and he's all I can think about. Well, him and Gretchen's big secret. That can't be good."

"But at least it's normal."

"Yeah, but we talked about this. I prayed with you that night to put Mark into God's hands and let Him lead me. But my heart seems to have a mind of its own."

Lori thought for a moment before she answered. "Look, all I know is that we're brand-new at this whole Jesus thing. He must understand, we'll just keep trying." She took a deep breath. "'Yep, we'll just keep trying."

"We? I thought I was the one with all the heart problems. 'Fess up. What aren't you telling me?"

Lori dropped her head, letting her long dark waves fall across her face. "I've been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about Mark's friend Brian."

"What? You didn't tell me that! I thought we were friends." I pouted.

"Oh, we are!" She looked up quickly. "Forever friends. I guess I have been trying denial. It isn't working."

"Well, aren't we a pair?" I said, gathering up my lunch things.

"Yeah. You've got that right."

* * *

I was so glad that Lori had moved to town. Even though we had been friends only a few short weeks, I felt closer to her than I had ever felt to anybody I don't suppose many friends can say that they both made a life-changing decision on the same day. We had been over at Lori's house, and her foster mother, Megan, had shared with us about Jesus in a way I had never really understood before. That day, both Lori and I had made commitments to follow Christ. We were in it together, and it helped to know I had someone rooting for me.

That's why I felt a pang of guilt as I walked to my next class. The one thing Lori didn't know was how much Gretchen hated her. Lori wasn't stupid. She knew full well that Gretchen wasn't interested in being friends with her, and it didn't bother her. But I couldn't bring myself to tell Lori about Gretchen's true feelings. Gretchen was just jealous, but she was also lethal. She had single-handedly made my life at school a nightmare after my mother's death. She had an ability to sway public opinion any way she wanted, and right now she wanted Lori alienated.

In truth, I still hadn't figured out why Gretchen had changed her mind about me in the first place. She had all of a sudden gone from publicly persecuting me to inviting me back to the "in crowd." I liked being popular again, but how long I could stay there I wasn't sure.

* * *

Gretchen had convinced me to try out for the school's musical, Annie, before Christmas last year. I had earned the part of Molly-one of the orphans who is friends with Annie-and Gretchen had gotten the title role. I was surprised she could fit her head through the auditorium door.

"Beka! There you are." She grabbed my arm and pulled me through the side door of the stage into a hallway.

"Gretchen. Rehearsal is going to start in like three minutes. We'd better go back in."

"Oh, please. They can't start without me. I'm Annie. Remember?"

As if could forget, I thought.

"I have to tell you what I found out this weekend!" I took a deep breath, bracing myself. If she had found out about my hospitalization, my life as I knew it would be over.

"Well, I just happened to overhear my mother talking to my dad about this 'sweet little case' she had been assigned. You know she's a court-appointed advocate, right?"

I nodded, still not sure where the conversation was headed.

"Well, I could only hear bits and pieces of the conversation, but I figured out that the case involved a sixteen-year-old girl being adopted. Apparently it's a pretty unusual case. Well, of course, I just had to find out the rest of the story. I mean, people depend on me for accurate information."

She paused, looking at me to agree with her, I nodded but felt sick to my stomach. Now I knew exactly where the conversation was headed.

"After my mom went to bed I took a look through her briefcase. I figured whoever it was must go to our school since it's a Bragg County case. Of course, I didn't find any actual papers, but I found a note in her planner about a meeting with . are you ready? Trent! Rollins and Trent. It's Lori! That obnoxious new girl is an orphan!" She waited for a moment and then pushed my shoulder. "What's wrong with you? Isn't that the most interesting bit of gossip we've ever had in this dull school?"

"Gretchen, you can't tell anybody that."

"Who, me? Beka, I have a responsibility to protect the people of this school."

"Protect them from what? So she's an orphan. For the moment anyway. What's the big deal?"

"How did she become an orphan? Huh? What if she murdered her parents or ."

"You can't be serious."

"I warned you that there was something wrong with that girl-I just know there's some sordid story in this somewhere. I'm your friend, Beka. I know that you're trying to be nice to her and all, but you're being terribly naive. I'm trying to help you."

"There's no story, and you can't just go around telling people about it. It should be her decision." I said the words firmly, but I was shaking inside.

"You knew about it, didn't you? Didn't you? How did her parents die?"

"That's none of our business." I decided to switch to a different tactic. "Look, Gretchen, I'm asking you, as your friend, not to say anything about this. Please."

She looked at me carefully as she pulled at a blonde curl.

"Sure, Beka. I won't say anything." She paused and leaned in closer. "But you owe me," she added.

"Owe you?"

"Yeah, I'll keep your little friend's secret-for now. But you owe me."

Suddenly the door flew open next to us and slammed against the cement wall, causing us both to jump. It was Mai, her silky black hair flying as she stopped short.

"You two better get in here. T is ticked."

We followed Mai back into the auditorium and slipped into some seats, but our entrance did not go unnoticed.

"That is the one and only time you will be late for one of my rehearsals," Mr. Thompson, the director, called from the stage. "Do it again and I will replace you, got it?"

We both nodded, but Gretchen didn't seem to care.

* * *

By the time I reached home I could feel my shoulders knotting up from the tension. T, which is what most kids called Mr. Thompson, was not a very laid-back type of guy-just the opposite in fact. The rehearsal schedule he had handed out looked like it came from a man who was oblivious to the fact that we all had to go to school while we prepared for the play. He scared me. Gretchen seemed to think he was harmless, but I had never been around anybody who was so completely . intense.

"So how was the first rehearsal?" Paul asked as soon as I came into the kitchen.

"Not bad." I shrugged. "Has Thompson always been SO ."

Paul grinned. "You get used to it."

"You quit the band, remember?"

"Yeah, but not because of Thompson. He just takes everything dead seriously. It's not just a school musical to him. In his mind you all are opening on Broadway."

I leaned on the counter where Paul was slicing cucumbers for dinner. "Do you think it's . I don't know . weird? That I'm in the play?"

He stopped slicing and looked over at me. "No. Not at all. It's not something I had ever imagined you being interested in, but I think it'll be good for you. See how it turns out when it's all over."

"Yeah, you're right. Do you need any help with dinner?"

"Nah, I've got it. Hopefully Mary will be back soon. I'm getting kind of bored with spaghetti." He grinned.

"Me too," I admitted. "Well, I guess I'll try to get some homework done before dinner."

He nodded his head and gave me a sympathetic smile before I left. Paul had offered to cover dinners while our housekeeper, Mary, was training somebody to care for her elderly mother. Mary had been helping out with the housework and dinner ever since my mother died, but while she cooked all sorts of wonderful things, Paul had been alternating between spaghetti, hot dogs, and frozen lasagna.

I smiled as I went up the stairs. I was so glad that Paul and I weren't fighting anymore. It felt nice to be able to finally take a deep breath and relax while I was at home.

* * *

I really did try to get started on my English paper, but my mind kept wandering back to Paul. We were finally getting along after so much trouble and tension, and it was all going to end. He only had six more months at home before college gobbled him up. It hurt to even think about it. Growing up only sixteen months apart, the times we had been close way outnumbered the difficult times.

And it wasn't just the fact that I was going to miss him, either. I wondered how the house would change when it was just me and my two little sisters. I didn't think Anna would be a problem-she was only eight and was more interested in having fun than just about anything else. Even after Mom's death, she bounced back pretty quickly. But Lucy. She was another issue altogether. She rubbed me wrong sometimes . and if I was really honest, I'd have to say I probably bugged her too. She still didn't trust me completely. I didn't blame her for being skeptical, not after all my lies, but still . everyone else had given me a chance to get back into their lives and hearts. Lucy was still waiting . and watching me. I didn't know how to convince her that I was really serious about God this time, and part of me thought that I shouldn't have to convince her at all. Paul was kind of a nice buffer between us-he seemed to deflect the sparks that sometimes flew. I wondered if those sparks would set off a major bonfire when he left.

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