Evelyn’s alcoholic husband beats her, humiliates her, and treats her like dirt. She put up with his mental and physical abuse for years for the sake of the kids, but after she knocks him unconscious with a whiskey bottle to protect her teenage son, she takes the kids and flees to a women’s shelter. Will she finally free herself from her abuser, or does God have something else in mind?
Nathan struggles with his own demons, too. But when he offers to represent Evelyn in her divorce for free, a strange feeling overcomes him. He knows he can’t see her romantically. It’s unethical for lawyers to date clients, and she’s still a married woman. Yet, something is stirring in his heart. Is it love or something more, something he’s willing to die for?
Divorce is easy… But sometimes God’s plan doesn’t give us an easy way out.
Excerpt Evelyn heard a car pull into the driveway. She dropped a glass into the sink. Water and soapsuds splashed on her apron as panic infected her hands with clumsiness. She looked over the counter into the dinette area and shook her head, flinched, then closed her eyes as she imagined what would happen next. She felt a tremor in her right cheek, the one that he’d hit the last time they got into an argument. Please, don’t be drunk.
Evelyn took a deep breath and turned to the right to pull open the dishwasher door. She slid out the top tray. It was full of clean glasses and coffee mugs. She slumped as she looked at the full tray, and then glanced at the sink full of just as many dirty glasses and mugs. So much for hiding the evidence. Gotta get those out at least before he sees them. She pulled out one glass or mug after another at a fevered pace, rattling and clanking them together. As she placed two coffee mugs in the cabinet above the dishwasher, the front door creaked, and the screen door slammed behind it.
She tensed her muscles and looked toward the entrance of the dining area, which led to the front entryway, as she anticipated something unpleasant headed in her direction. She paused a moment then resumed her duties, glancing back toward the entrance over and over again, growing more nervous by the second.
The tray had several more glasses to go before she could empty the sink.
The sliding glass back door was open, screen shut. Laughter and playful chatter from her two youngest girls drifted in from the backyard. Thankfully, her two oldest, an 11-year-old, Alice, and 15-year-old Max, Jr., were in their rooms studying.
“Wha’s goin’ on here!” Max Sr. yelled through slurred words. He stumbled into the dining area, almost falling as he passed under the arch of the entrance, forcing him to reach up to steady himself with the wall, which happened to have a family photo hanging on it. His clumsy, thick, grasping fingers knocked the picture to the ground. The glass covering the photo shattered, cutting his face’s image in the process. “Darn it!” he said even louder as if it were the picture’s fault.
Evelyn kept putting away dishes, even more quickly now, as if her busyness would postpone the inevitable for at least a few more minutes. Maybe he wouldn’t notice the bowls on the table or the dishes in the sink. She said nothing, just kept removing dish after dish from the washer, placing each in its place in the cabinets.
He regained at least some of his equilibrium then walked gingerly around the counter toward her. She closed her eyes as she kept working, praying silently as she did. Before he closed the distance between them, a wicked thought grabbed her spirit. If God exists, he wouldn’t let men like Max beat their wives. He grabbed her left arm just above the elbow and spun her toward him, which caused a glass she had just removed from the sink to fly across the cabinet and fall onto the floor, shattering into dozens of pieces. “I asked you a question, woman. Wa’sss going on around here when I’m gone?”
She stopped—eyes still closed—then opened them as she looked up into his eyes. A tear slid down her right cheek. Again, she said nothing, but her pout and the quivering of her lips said all that any normal, compassionate man needed to hear. Sadly, this wasn’t such a man, this was Max. Instead of realizing how much he’d hurt the woman he supposedly loved, he cocked his right hand back and released it with all his might, palm opened, slapping her in the face so hard her head snapped violently to her right, the momentum knocking her into the edge of the counter and to the ground. She felt the muscles underneath her eye begin to swell almost instantly. The still bruised rib from a week before ached as the slap awakened its memory.
Evelyn said nothing, her last available defiance, and he didn’t stop. He hit her over and over, pulling her up and toward his face each time, demanding that she say something, as if a word might stop him from exhibiting dominance over his woman. She refused, a silent rebellion waged against her home’s malevolent dictator. She stood, fell, got pulled up again, with the process repeated over and again. She took her punishment if unjustly, a cross she alone could bear. Through her tears, crying, and pain, she noticed something she didn’t before. Silence. The laughter in the back yard had stopped.
Then the screen door slid open. Their four and seven-year-old girls walked in, both speechless at first with tears building up in their eyes as they witnessed their father beating their mother.
The older kids weren’t far behind. Both soon stood at the entrance of the hallway that led to the bedrooms. The oldest had a cell phone to his ear. “Yes,” he said. “Please hurry. I gotta help.” With that he handed the phone to his sister and ran toward the combatants.
For the first time Evelyn said something. “No!” she screamed. “Stay away.”
The boy didn’t.