When Heaven McKenzie flees from the place where she is being held captive,
she is without anywhere to go. On top of that, she knows that her ex will
eventually find her. Pregnant and frightened, she finds a shelter where Father
Michael gets her a job and a safe haven. She will live with Damian Steele and
his autistic sister as his sister’s caregiver.
Damian lives in a quiet
estate in the country and is a good friend of the Priest who runs the woman’s
shelter. It’s only a temporary solution, and she’s leery about it, but with
Gavin on her trail, she decides to give it a try.
Damian Steele is a
wealthy Good Samaritan who would rather stay in the shadows than claim credit
for his good deeds. Suffering from a terrible stutter and covered with body
scars from his abusive father, he is not looking forward to some young woman
with problems coming to live in his house.
needs to take care of Kendra when he isn’t home. As with all the other past
caregivers, he plans on laying down the law about how they will simply be boss
and worker. In the past the women had tried to befriend and even seduce him, but
he doesn’t get involved with the women he hires. He only wants one night
stands, as he has demons from his past that forbid him from ever getting married
or having children.
Both Heaven and Damian
are both shocked and frightened by the powerful chemistry between them when they
first meet. Damian retreats, trying to fight it, but Heaven is intrigued by her
handsome boss who seems determined to keep her at bay. She is further appalled
by her sexual feelings toward him, feelings she had thought had died long ago.
Eventually, she is able to break down his wall a little bit, and he becomes her
protector, especially since she is pregnant and because he hates abusive
stalkers like her ex.
But can he keep her
safe and will Heaven ever be able to make him see that he’s worthy of love?
And what will happen when she has her baby and leaves him?
Is there any way she
can get him to forget his hang-ups and want her to stay?
one foot in front of the other, she marched her way to freedom. Her lungs
burned, adrenalin raced. Thick dark hair kept flying into her eyes and he
shrugged it out. Pink blotches of heat parched her caramel skin, but she
didn’t have time to scratch. Being pregnant made it difficult to maintain
a quick pace and spurred her on. If she didn’t get away, Gavin would kill
her, or worse, the baby.
faded to dusk and miraculously Gavin hadn’t come after her. As the red sun
sank in the darkening sky, Heaven heard the sound of cars and cried for joy.
With a final burst of speed, she reached the highway, collapsing on the
grassy shoulder. Cars zoomed past and either didn’t see her or didn’t
want to stop for a barefoot, muddy, pregnant black woman. One who probably
looked deranged, she thought in despair.
a van pulled to the side. A husky, gray haired man wearing thick spectacles
advanced towards her. Through blurry eyes, she saw that the man wore a
priest’s collar. Heaven called out to him. “Please! Please help me!”
man knelt before her, his blue eyes glimmering with kindness. As he passed
her a bottle of water, he asked, “What happened to you?”
stumbled over words, offering a short summary of her life with, and escape
the midst of her tale, the man helped her to her feet and opened the door to
his van. “I’m Father Michael from St. Vincent’s Parish,” he said,
once they were on the road. “I can give you temporary shelter. I run a
shelter for domestically abused women. Would you like to join me for
leaned back against the worn seat of the van and closed her eyes, allowing
tears to escape. “Oh, yes,” she whispered, suddenly aware of her body
trembling. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Thank you, Father Michael. Thank you
later, a compact car rocked slowly down a gravel country road. Numb, Heaven
barely noticed the scenery. She tugged the shelter’s donated skirt down to
her knees. Making a good impression was so important. In many ways, this job
sounded like the perfect answer to her immediate troubles. She glanced over
at the driver, a nun in full habit, not hiding the fear and trepidation she
felt. “Maybe I should have stayed at the shelter,” she said, twisting
the hands in her lap.
Mary Patricia, a kindly older nun with gleaming ebony skin, glanced at her,
a soft look on her face. “You’re going to a safe place.”
nodded, lapsing into silence as the car turned into a long driveway.
we are.” The nun’s calm demeanor made Heaven want to cling to her, but
instead she looked at her new temporary home.
is the place?” Heaven stared at the oversized white farmhouse, a mansion
really, in surprise. “Only two people live here?”
shook her head in astonishment. The air smelled of flowers, mingled with
freshly cut grass. The only structure obvious on the rolling lawn was a red
barn. A pond sparkled just before it. Along the perimeter, leafy trees
swayed in gentle rhythm. “Are there horses?” Her mood lifted.
Sister Mary-Patricia took Heaven’s hand and squeezed it. “I have to go
now.” She passed a small suitcase into her hands. “If you need a ride
back to the shelter later on, just call.”
slid out of the car, her eyes never leaving the old nun. She hoped she
didn’t need that ride back. “Father Michael assured me that the man
I’ll be working for wouldn’t hurt me.” She didn’t know why she’d
spoken her biggest fear. She couldn’t seem to close the car door. Her
fingers gripped the handle until they ached.
was Father Michael’s ward in his teen years and they’re very close.”
The nun smiled in a maternal way. “Everyone at the shelter knows Mr.
Steele. He’s an exceptional person. Father would never send you in
harm’s way, dear. A long time ago, he rescued me too.” Her dark eyes
relaxed a little bit. “It does sound like a great job.”
a very nice young man. He’s hired girls from the shelter before, and never
harmed a hair on anybody’s head. He despises abusive men. I can’t really
go into more than that. He doesn’t like others to know about the good that
Heaven’s fears subsided, and curiosity took over.
nun shrugged. “He’s done a lot to help people, but doesn’t accept the
Heaven could open her mouth to ask more questions, the nun checked the
car’s clock. “I’m late for my appointment, Heaven. I have to go.
Please don’t worry. It will probably work out and, if not, just call.”
finally lifted her hand to wave, wishing the nun would stay. Even if the man
was a Saint, he was still a stranger. She’d survived at the shelter, and
the street was not an option given her delicate condition. She’d survive
this too. On unsteady legs, she forced her worn leather loafers over
stepping-stones flanked by colorful flowers filling beds to the door. Only
after her heart slowed, did she ring the bell. Queasiness flickered through
her gut as chimes echoed inside. She sighed deeply and firmed her chin.
looked around as she waited. The pastoral setting soothed her; would provide
a wonderful place to heal. Birds sang in the trees. She stared out at the
peaceful yard, hypnotized by its quiet beauty.
assume you’re Heaven MacKenzie?”
she turned back to the now open front door to find penetrating eyes staring
down at her. Her stomach twisted, her prospective employer looked more
irritated than kind. “I’m sorry,” she said, composure her goal. “I
was admiring your property.”
to a great start, thought Heaven as she observed the young man with
interest. He filled the doorway. Disheveled dark waves fell above emerald
eyes lending him a slightly wild appearance. His brazen appraisal triggered
an odd sensation within her.
you’re the girl Father Michael recommended for the job,” he said, his
voice low, polite, and wary. His off-putting demeanor indicated he didn’t
want her there.
didn’t want to be there either, but saw no other option. Mr. Steele paid
Kendra’s caregivers well and she needed the money to start a new life
beyond Gavin’s reach. “Can I please come in?” Heaven was growing more
nervous by the moment and wanted to get the initial meeting completed.
young man lifted an eyebrow, and then moved aside. “C-come in.”
hid her surprise at his stutter and stepped into the foyer, scanning the
great room. An oversized plasma screen television was a focal point,
surrounded by leather couches. The cover of a teen magazine peaked through,
and Heaven smiled, Kendra’s no doubt.
turned to face him. He held out his hand and she slipped her palm into his
roughened grasp. Drawn by his magnetic aura, despite her fear, she studied
him from close range. Handsome and intimidating, his green jersey matched
his emerald eyes. His muscles strained against the fabric. Silver metal
sunglasses sat atop his crown of raven waves. Bare feet added to his
laid-back appearance. His lips caught her attention…too wide yet full and
sensual. He could only mean trouble for some poor woman. Strangely, her hand
sizzled where he’d touched her.