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  • Rachel Rossano

New Release: Refuge from the Storm by Kristina Hall

Doubt. Persecution. Forgiveness. Tony Dorence should be dead. But after months in prison, he’s home. Yet even at home, he’s not safe from trials that hit from every angle. Merri Dorence couldn’t be more thankful her brother is home, yet doubts have attacked her newfound faith and left her questioning all too much. When they face a threat greater than either of them could’ve imagined, will they find refuge from the storm or be overcome by a relentless evil?

About the Author

Kristina Hall is a sinner saved by grace who seeks to glorify God with her words. She is a homeschool graduate and holds a degree in accounting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, arm wrestling, lifting weights, and playing the violin.




Monday. Another day in an endless sea of days.

Merri Dorence stacked the breakfast dishes in the sink and grabbed the dry sponge.

Matilda’s house slippers rasped against the linoleum floor. “I told you I’d do that for you, honey. Wes and I didn’t move in here so you could wait on us.”

No, they’d moved in with her eight months ago to keep her from losing the house because she was on the government’s do-not-hire list.

She dropped the sponge into the sink and turned, a smile pasted to her lips. “It’s okay. I’ve got it.”

The lines on Matilda’s worn face deepened. “It’s best to keep busy, isn’t it?”

That’s what people always said. Too bad the kind of busy she had didn’t keep the thoughts at bay. “I guess.” She forced the smile a little wider. “Wes is reading his Bible on the porch. It’s a really nice day. Almost kind of warm.”

Matilda laughed, the light sound filling the kitchen. “I see what you’re doing. Trying to keep me from staring over your shoulder.”

Merri let herself laugh along with her. “I’m afraid you’re going to push me aside and wash them yourself.”

Matilda patted her arm. “Excuses. Excuses. But I don’t need an excuse to go sit in the nice weather with my Wes.”

The floor creaked as she walked away.

Merri turned to the sink. The Smythes had been married for close to sixty years, and they still loved each other, still enjoyed being in each other’s company.

They had something she’d never have.

Ah, jealousy wasn’t a good thing. Better she’d found out who Drew really was before she’d married him.

She turned on the faucet with more force than necessary, wet the sponge, and squirted a good amount of soap on it.

The front door squealed open, and low voices filtered from the living room.

Matilda’s and … Brent’s? What was he doing here on a Monday?

Matilda’s footsteps again scuffed behind her. “Brent’s here. He’s wanting to talk to you.”

She dropped the sponge into the sink, rinsed her hands, toweled them dry, then eased around. “Why?”

Matilda shrugged her fragile shoulders. “All he said was that he wanted to talk to you.”

Why to her? Why not to Wes or Matilda?

Scrambled eggs and toast twisted in her stomach.

Matilda offered her a smile probably meant to be comforting. “I left him sitting on the couch. I’ll keep Wes company outside while you all talk.”

“You don’t need to do that.” No, she needed Matilda with her to keep the conversation going.

Matilda smoothed a hand down her light blue cardigan. “He asked to speak to you alone.”

That didn’t do anything good for her breakfast. “Did he say something about Tony? Does—does he have news?”

Matilda took her arm and guided her toward the living room. “He didn’t say. Just go in there and talk to him. I’ll be outside. And I’ll be praying.”

She needed those prayers. How she needed them.

She slipped into the living room. Matilda shuffled out the front door and closed it behind her.

Brent sat on the couch, hands clenching his knees, dark brown hair disheveled. He pushed to his feet, tried for a smile, and failed. “Merri.”

“Hi.” Of all the lame ways to greet him. She edged farther into the living room. “You wanted … wanted to see me?”

He nodded and shoved his hands in the pockets of his ratty jeans. “There’s no easy way to say this.”

She was going to throw up. That or grab Wes’s concordance from the coffee table and hurl it across the room. “Then just say it.” Nothing about the last ten months had been easy. And nothing about the next ten months would be either. Or the ones after that.

He pressed his lips together. “I’ve got a friend who used to be in the military. You know, he’s still got connections. Well, he called me last night and told me the government has ordered that everybody in the government prisons is to … is to be … executed.”

No. Not Tony. No. Lord, please don’t let that happen. Please no.

He rounded the coffee table and gripped her arm. “You might want to sit down.”

“Is he …? When …?” Shaking swept over her.

He led her to the couch and tugged her down beside him. “C’mon. Breathe. You’ve got to breathe.” He settled his hand on her back and rubbed spastic circles.

She hauled in a breath. “Please answer me.”

He kept rubbing. “I don’t know what prisons they’ve done. All I know is my friend said they started late last week. That they’ll announce the whole thing when they’re done.”

He could be dead. He could’ve been dead for days.

She bent over, hands braced against her knees, eyes on fire. “Why? Why are—are they doing this?”

He pulled his hand from her back. “I don’t know. My friend didn’t know either. He was thinking maybe because the economy’s so bad. It takes a ton of money to keep all those prisoners. Or … or maybe it’s some kind of message. You know most of the people in there are basically political prisoners. Maybe it’s a message to people who’d try to stand against the government. But I don’t know. Maybe they’re emptying out the prisons so they can refill them.”

“He could be dead. He could be dead right now.” Tears escaped and dropped onto her jeans.

He gripped her shoulder. “If he is, he’s in heaven. But either way, God’s with him.”

She swiped the back of her hand across her eyes and shoved to her feet. She couldn’t fall apart in front of Brent. “I’ve—I’ve got … got things to do.” She couldn’t thank him for coming, couldn’t do anything but hurry from the room.

But even then, she couldn’t escape Brent’s words and the truth behind them.


Mar 31, 2022

Thanks so much for spotlighting Refuge from the Storm!

Rachel Rossano
Rachel Rossano
Mar 31, 2022
Replying to

It is a pleasure! I hope it helps. 🙂

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