Rudell Butler turned the sampler over in his hands.
"My mother made this," he said, tracing the vines. "She made another one, two of them, a matched set. It was Exodus 6:5."
No minister's wife worth her salt would fail to recognize the verse. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Suzette bowed her head and drew in a great breath.
"My family always marries soldiers," she said finally, looking back to his eyes - his fine grey eyes, so noble, so compassionate, so implacable. "I forgot that when I married you."
He wrapped his arms around her, the sampler dangling from one hand. "Matthew 10."
"Thirty-four," she breathed back, clutching him. "I'll pack a suitcase for you."
When they brought him home, beaten, shot, and struggling to breathe, she dropped her sweet tea and the sampler flying down the stairs to help. She settled him into the bed while one of his assistants took off in the old Buick to fetch her cousin Dulcie, who'd taken training as a nurse. He glimmered a twinkle at her out of his blackened eye, and whispered, "Twenty-three, Suzette. We got twenty-three registered to vote."
She kissed him.
Seven days later, the bleeding in his head overwhelmed him, and they had to borrow her brother's minister from the United Methodist church to come bury him.