Blessed Homecoming is one of my favorite novels. Classified as an inspirational, contemporary, romantic suspense, ergo…a clean read with plenty of action. 🙂
A friend of mine, Denise Ellyson, challenged me to write a story to enter in a Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense contest. It wasn’t accepted due to a birthing scene, but that’s okay. Even the most devout Christian knows there is nudity involved in giving birth. As it was pertinent to the story and the situation in which the main characters found themselves in, I left the scene in.
Wendy Danforth is preparing to be a single mom, her ex-husband in jail for spousal abuse. She returns home to Riverton, New Brunswick, only to be caught off guard by the handyman in residence. Attraction hits, swift and piercing, but she quells her unruly emotions. With one bad relationship behind her, she’s in no hurry to get involved in another. Besides, at almost nine months pregnant, she wasn’t exactly looking her best.
Jake Roberts, hired to renovate the Danforths’ house, took one look at his employer’s daughter and wanted to run far and fast. He hadn’t been around a pregnant woman in three long years, not since his wife and unborn son died in an auto accident. But when her ex-husband escapes custody, he steps up to protect Wendy and her unborn child.
Jake found it hard to believe what he’d overheard, what that sweet, caring woman had endured at the hands of a man who had vowed to cherish and protect her. He’d been heading down to retrieve a package of wood screws when he heard Wendy crying and didn’t want to interrupt. He didn’t want to eavesdrop either, but her pain-wracked voice kept him an unwilling captive as she relayed events.
Broken bones, cracked ribs, dislocated shoulder and bruising over seventy-five per cent of her body. Then to heal and find out she was pregnant! Why would she be so happy about having that man’s baby? Surely, she couldn’t still love him after all that.
Hearing her speak of her faith in the midst of all that suffering struck a rusty chord inside his gut. Somehow, deep down, her quiet acceptance and determination spoke to him in ways that expensive therapy had not. She was a survivor, he’d give her that, but if her friend hadn’t found her—no, he wouldn’t go there. He couldn’t. Divine intervention, she’d called it. He called it lucky.
She’d come home to heal and build a new life for herself and the baby. Surrounded by family and friends, she’d never have to fear for her life again. Although he’d barely known her twenty-four hours and had a definite aversion to getting involved in her problems, he’d do what he could to help her adjust to living in a small town again. If the gossips wanted to pair them off, so be it. He’d been through worse—much worse.
He sat on the step with his head in his hands, undecided whether to let her know he’d overheard or pretend ignorance. How could he ignore the pain she’d suffered? More surprisingly, he realized he wanted to be there for her, to prove that not every man was prone to acts of violence. Although, like her father, he’d had some thoughts on what he’d like to do to her ex if he ever had the chance.
She took the matter out of his hands when she sat a couple steps below him and, placing a hand on his knee, asked, “How much did you hear?”
His head jerked up and he searched her eyes, expecting to see anger and disgust at his audacity, but there was none. “Pretty much all of it. I’m sorry, Wendy. I didn’t intend to eavesdrop, but I didn’t want to barge in on you either.”
“Are you all right?”
“You’re asking me? After all you’ve suffered, I should be asking you that question.”
“My suffering ended the day he was found guilty. All that’s left now is the sentencing in two weeks’ time and I don’t need to be there for that.”
“But you’re expecting his child. How is that not suffering, considering what he put you through?”
“Every life is a gift from God. I don’t always understand His methods, but at least I have one good thing resulting from a failed marriage.”
“Did you love him that much?”
“At first, yes, very much. He was the man I’d always dreamed about, kind, caring and it didn’t hurt that he was gorgeous to boot.” She smiled at the memory, then sobered. “The love died a slow death when the abuse started. He always made me feel like it was my fault, until the day I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm and didn’t go back. I realized then my dreams of a happy ever after were never going to happen.”
“What did you do? Where did you go?”
“A social worker at the hospital made a couple of calls and arranged a bed in a shelter for abused women. My arm being broken meant I couldn’t work for a couple weeks, but when I returned, I found out from my boss, Emma, that he’d been haunting the place, waiting for me to show up. She’d had to call the police on a couple of occasions.
She became my best friend. Emma encouraged me to lay charges and file a restraining order against him, which I did. I also filed for divorce. He didn’t show up in court, didn’t contest it, so the judge granted the petition based on the abuse.”
“I would think so,” he huffed in agreement.
“I saw Clyde around from time to time after that, and he never made any effort to approach me, for which I was thankful. But the night before the divorce became final, he showed up after I got home from work. The rest, as they say, is history.”
“Can you really put it all behind you that easily?”
“Believe me, Jake, it hasn’t been easy. Easy started yesterday when Mama met me at the bus stop with her arms wide open. Until then, I’d hoped, but wasn’t at all certain of my welcome, circumstances being what they are.”
He placed a hand over hers where it still rested on his knee. “For what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re here. You are one remarkably strong lady and I’m honored to be your friend.”
“My faith is what’s strong. I had to believe the Lord has a purpose for me in this life. That’s when I decided it was time to come home. I’d been away too long.” She gently disentangled her hand and rose to her feet, slightly wobbly at first, causing him to reach out and grab her upper arms to steady her. “Thank you.”
I hope you enjoyed this teaser excerpt. It always brings tears to my eyes when I read it. There is no excuse for abuse, but it takes a lot of strength to survive, even thrive, after an event so horrible.
Blessed Homecoming is on sale today and tomorrow. Well worth the read at 99 cents.
Just click the Amazon link and it’ll take you where you need to be to purchase this novel. And thank you for your support. Love to all!
And if you prefer a print book, it costs more, but then you have a copy to hold.
P.S. This book was originally published by the now defunct Breathless Press. When they went under and I got my rights back, I lost my reviews. If you have a moment, please consider leaving a review for Blessed Homecoming on Amazon or Goodreads. Thank you so much. 🙂