"Look at that!" Maura Blaine dropped her suitcase to the porch floor as
she stared into the distance. Through a gap in the trees, she had an
incredible view of the Smoky Mountains. "It's breathtaking! I'll bet you
can see a hundred miles!"
"A hundred miles?" her mother repeated scornfully, tugging on the handle
of the ancient wooden screen door. "I doubt if it's even ten."
"Even so," Maura said, hugging herself as she studied her surroundings.
"A good view adds to the real estate value."
"We'll soon find out," Paige promised, battering the door with her
shoulder, "if we can figure out how to get inside this stupid house."
Maura wasn't quite so anxious to get rid of the cabin, now that they had
arrived. She knew she couldn't afford to keep it, but she thought she'd
like to enjoy it for awhile, before it went on the market.
The door suddenly gave way and Paige stumbled into the kitchen, catching
her balance on the edge of the sink.
"I remember this kitchen!" Maura chortled, dancing into the room behind
her. "Grand Maria used to let me sit on the counter and peel potatoes
and snap beans and clean corn."
"I'd be more than happy to let you do those things at home. Get the
suitcases , before they're full of bugs." She frowned as her daughter
wandered further into the house instead. "Look at all these dead bugs!"
The floor was littered with dead lady bugs that crunched, every time she
took a step. "Maura, I cannot stay here."
Maura pressed her nose against the picture window in the living room.
She could see all the way down the mountain to the town itself. Smoky
Valley was aptly named, she decided, noting the blanket of fog that
looked like grey clouds. It had the look of a storybook village where
anything might happen - adventure, romance ... "You promised we could
stay four nights. I want to check out the town and sit on the porch and
admire the view."
"What will you sit on? A garbage bag filled with trash?"
Maura had learned, over the years, that silence won more arguments than
angry words - at least when it came to her mother.
"Alright," Paige gave in with exhaustion. "Four nights, but not a moment
Maura woke up, sat up, and listened. Something was rustling the leaves
outside her bedroom window. A chipmunk? Birds were chirping, an insect
was buzzing ... she loved the sounds of nature. She got up and put on a
yellow Polo, her faded overalls and a mismatched pair of Converse tennis
shoes and ventured out of her room. Her mother had obviously gone out
without her, and she wondered where.
Some sort of vehicle, in need of a muffler, strained its way up the
steep incline to the cabin. A look out the picture window revealed a
white mini-van parked in the asphalt drive, BUGBY GONE inscribed on its
side. Now Maura knew where her mother had gone. A man in blue coveralls
climbed from the van and began unloading equipment. Hurrying to the back
porch, Maura watched as he balanced a metal cylinder on the rumpled
sidewalk and began measuring chemicals. She assumed he would start by
circling the house, wetting the foundation near the ground. Then he
would knock on the door and ask to come inside and spray along the
Briefly, she imagined the ladybugs lined up dead in the broom tray,
their tiny feet in the air, their polka-dot dresses fanned out at the
sleeves. She wondered what she could say to dissuade the man - he wasn't
likely to share her affection for ladybugs. "Hello!" she called. "Have
you come to annihilate the ladybugs?"
He looked startled as he gazed upward to find the owner of the voice.
"Roaches and water bugs and thousand-leggers," he said with a smile.
"Jason Lancaster," he introduced himself, as he began the arduous climb
up the stairs with the heavy tank.
Maura saw that he was tall with brown hair, near her age, and good
looking. His brown eyes sparkled, giving her the impression that he was
good-natured. She could tell that he was assessing her looks too, and
wished she had dressed in something with more style - a thought her
mother would be delighted to overhear.
"Maura Blaine," she said. "Did my mother call you?"
"Not me." He arrived at the porch and lodged the heavy canister on the
floor, between his brown boots. "She might be the one called my friend,
Don Bugby. He's the one owns the company. Did you say 'Maura'?"
"Maura," she repeated. "The spray you use, will it hurt the ladybugs?"
"If it'll kill one bug, I imagine it'll kill them all. I hope you're not
"The name 'Maura' ... Isn't that what it means?"
Maura frowned at him. She was bitter about a few things, but she didn't
like to think it showed. "I'll pay you double not to spray," she said.
"It will be our secret - I won't tell my mother if you don't tell your
"I can't do that," he said with an unhappy frown. "It would be
dishonest. Besides, don't you think your mom would notice if the bugs
didn't stop bugging her?"
"Please?" She tilted her head to one side, hoping he had a weakness for
redheads. "There must be some way I could persuade you not to spray.
Ladybugs don't bother anybody. They eat aphids, only aphids. They don't
bite, they don't sting. Why should anyone want to kill them?"
"They do bite," he argued amiably. "And they stink when they get
"I guess I don't scare them," Maura said primly. "And they don't scare
me either. I like ladybugs. They're sweet. And entertaining."
It looked as if Jason was fighting to subdue a grin. "Especially when
they go swimming in your soup."
"So what?" she replied. "It's not as if they carry some dreaded
disease." She had looked it up on the Internet, to be sure.
"A person can waste a lot of time rescuing ladybugs," he warned with a
chuckle. "Want to know how come there's so many of them? 'Bout thirty
years ago, aphids were destroying the foliage of the hardwood trees.
Since ladybugs are known to eat aphids, the federal government released
88,000 of them. Sounded like an easy solution, but now we've got
millions of displaced ladybugs who can't find their way back home."
Maura contemplated what he'd said. "Maybe they don't want to find their
way home," she reasoned, thinking of her own desire to stay on in Smoky
Valley for awhile. "Maybe they like it here."
"Maybe they do," he agreed. "Don't know why anyone would want to leave
Smoky Valley, since it's the most beautiful place in the entire
Universe. Some folks say this is where God goes on vacation."
Excerpted from "Rescuing Ladybugs: A Christian Romance" by Diane Lil Adams. Copyright © 2013 by Diane Lil Adams. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.