I’m pleased to announce the release of Blessed Homecoming, my first inspirational romantic suspense through Breathless Press. It’s the first release in their new line, Blessings. When I started writing this book, I challenged myself to write something that was wholesome, faith-based, and therefore an entertaining ‘clean’ read, unmarred by cursing, sexual endeavors, drinking, or dancing. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with the result. This is a book that mothers can share with their daughters and women can share with family and friends without worrying about content.
Join me now as I introduce you to Wendy Danforth and Jake Roberts, both of whom have emotional baggage and need the kind of healing that only comes through love and faith.
The hometown girl and the handyman both carry emotional baggage. Are they destined to remain friends or is there room in their hearts for more?
Wendy Danforth is preparing to be a single mom, her ex-husband in jail for spousal abuse. She returns to her hometown, to renew her faith and to heal. Caught off guard by the handyman in residence, attraction hits, swift and piercing, but she quells her unruly emotions, in no hurry to get involved in another relationship. 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 possessed an ounce of faith or been around a pregnant woman in three long years, not since his wife and unborn son died in an auto accident. They become friends, and when her ex-husband escapes custody, he steps up to protect Wendy and her unborn child. Will the danger and close proximity test their friendship? Or will it lead to more? Can Jake regain his lost faith, or will it elude him forever?
Their evening walk took them down to the creek, where they crossed to the middle of the footbridge and threw breadcrumbs to the procrastinating ducks. Didn’t they realize it was time to head south? Maybe it was a good omen that the weather would stay mild longer this year.
Wendy enjoyed the changing colors of the surrounding foliage brought about by the evening frost. The air was crisp and clear, and she inhaled deeply. There wasn’t even a scent of smog to make her hold her breath, as in the city.
The trek back seemed to take forever. Her back was hurting, and her feet were swollen so badly her shoes became tight, and she began limping. Her parents had walked ahead, leaving only her and Jake on the path. He noticed her struggle to walk, casually took her arm in his, and helped steady her until they got to a bench.
“Here, have a seat.”
He knelt at her feet, undid the laces on her sneakers, and took them off. He massaged her feet to get the circulation going again before replacing the sneakers and retying them more loosely. “Does that feel any better?”
A tingling zip worked its way from his fingertips to the bottom of her belly. It was a good feeling but one she’d have to be wary of, as she didn’t want to be dependent on this—or a man—in any way. The massage had rejuvenated her poor, tired feet. His touch had been gentle but firm as he’d worked his magic. “Much, thank you. I thought of tying them looser, but it’s so difficult to reach my feet these days, I figured it was easier to keep plodding along.”
“Discomfort of any kind can wear a person down. Next time, don’t wait until you’re limping and sore. Ask for help.”
“Next time, I’ll make sure to tie them looser before we head out.”
“Do you want to rest a while longer?”
“Yes, please.” She patted the seat beside her, and he sat, staring off into space, as if he didn’t dare look at her. “Where did you learn to perform a massage like that?”
For a minute, she didn’t think he would answer, but when he did, the words were totally unexpected.
“It was part of our training in medical school.”
“Really? What did you study?”
“I was a doctor.”
“Was?” She had visions of a malpractice suit or something ending his career.
“Am I being too nosy again?”
“Yes, but I know that won’t stop you, so ask your questions.” He smiled, taking the sting out of his words, and sat back on the bench, slightly turned toward her, his arm running along the back of the seat.
“What made you quit?” she asked softly.
“My world fell apart when I lost Emily and Timothy. She was in her last trimester…as you are…and died en route to the hospital. At first, the doctors thought they could save the baby. They were wrong. He was stillborn.”
“Jake, I’m so sorry.”
He acknowledged her words with a nod, then continued. “I was out of town at a convention when the call came in. Frantic to get a flight out, to get back to my family, I was almost ready to kill to get a seat on the next plane. Luckily, I didn’t have to. They put me on standby, and half an hour later, the flight took off with me on it. But it was too late. They were already gone.”
“I can understand your need to grieve for your family, but why give up what you’d studied so long to do?”
“A doctor takes an oath to preserve life, all life, but the violence that erupted inside me at the airport carried through to my family’s drunken murderer. All I could think of was revenge, an eye for an eye, a life for a life. So I resigned, and when the trial was over, I sold everything, packed up, and moved on. I couldn’t stay, couldn’t cope with the memories and the guilt, even after months of intense therapy.”
“What did you have to feel guilty about?”
“I should’ve been there. I should’ve been the one driving that car. It should’ve been me that died that day.”
“No, Jake. You have to believe that the Lord spared you for a reason. There’s a purpose in life you have yet to fulfill.”
He pulled away from her, and she missed the comfort of his arm behind her. His reaction was swift, his posture tense, and his hands balled into fists. “What kind of God allows an innocent woman and child to die like that while their murderer walks free?”
“Only God can answer that, Jake. But why did the courts allow the man his freedom?”
“I’m not sure. After the first day in court, I attacked him, and the judge banned me from proceedings. They sentenced him to one year in a rehabilitation program. He’s out now, and it’s taken everything I have in me not to hunt him down. That won’t bring Em and Timmy back to me.”
The anger was still there, simmering just below the surface, as evidenced by his words. She’d opened this can of worms with her nosy questions, but how could she make it right?
“Nothing can do that, but you’re the only one who can preserve their memory. Don’t allow it to dim from hatred and bitterness. It’ll destroy you in the end.” The baby gave a mighty kick, reminding Wendy of her presence, and she rubbed her belly. Jake had suffered a great loss, but his grief and healing wouldn’t be complete until he found a measure of peace.
“I don’t have your faith, Wendy. All I can do is try to get by from one day to the next.”
She placed her hand on his knee and spoke softly. “By helping the people you come into contact with.”
“It’s called earning a living.”
“No, I don’t think so,” she said as she searched his eyes for sincerity. “It’s more than that. I think you’ve got money tucked away. You work at carpentry jobs as a way to pass the time until you figure out what direction you want your life to take for the future.”
His expression closed, and he rose to his feet. “I don’t have a future here or anywhere else. It’s time to head back.”
Before she could clamber to her feet, her cell phone rang, and she motioned for Jake to wait as she fished it out of her pocket and answered. “Hello.”
Her query was met with silence. She tried again. A pause. “Hello! Who is this?”
Just as she was about to press the disconnect button in frustration, maniacal laughter erupted from the phone. She froze in terror, and it fell to the ground with a dull thud.
Jake was quick to snatch it back up and place it to his own ear.
“Who is this?” he demanded.
Available now at Breathless Press:
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