As governess to Samuel Stein's children Rachel Levine knew her place
yet couldn't help but wish to take away the pain and bitterness she
saw in Samuel's beautiful eyes. Samuel was bitter over what life had
dealt him after losing his wife and the pain from his mangled leg but
most of all hated that he hurt Rachel with his drunken tirades, a
lovely gentle young woman who deserved better. *** Houseman writes a
powerfully beautiful love story of redemption as a gentle young woman
brings light and promise to man who once thought his life bleak.
An inner door opened and Joshua stepped into the nursery. He tiptoed
in the exaggerated way of children and Rachel fought not to laugh.
Shifting Eve in her arms, she patted her leg and the little boy
eagerly curled in her lap, too. Rachel continued rocking and singing
and before long, both children fell fast asleep.
Samuel softly pushed open the door. Rachel laid her cheek on each
child's head and then pressed her lips to their hair, holding them
tighter to her breast with each movement. Never had their mother shown
such tenderness and love for these children. He wanted to weep for the
beauty of it.
For the first time, love and warmth filled this room. All because of
Rachel. Light seemed to emanate from her, pulling him in its glow like
a drowning man to a safe harbor. He stared, transfixed, while she
continued to rock his two sleeping children in her arms—one bare,
beautiful foot pushing off from the floor, keeping the movement of the
chair soft and fluid.
The rocking stopped and his attention came to rest on her face. Rachel
stared at him— eyes wide and deep and full of…what? He didn't dare
hope she had feelings for him—not after how abominable he'd been to
A tentative smile curved her lips.
"Here, let me help you," he whispered.
Rachel coaxed Joshua into his father's arms while she held onto Eve.
Shifting Eve to both arms, she rose from the chair.
They walked in silence to the children's beds where they laid them
down. Samuel pulled warm quilts around his sleeping son, covering the
boy to his shoulders. The night threatened frost and he didn't want
Joshua to catch cold. He bent and kissed his son's cheek. It had been
a spontaneous gesture, one he didn't do nearly enough. "I love you,
Going to his daughter's side, he repeated the affectionate acts. Eve
stirred in her sleep, a soft sigh escaping her china doll mouth. He
quietly cupped one round cheek and she turned her head snuggling into
his hand, the softness of her skin caressing his palm. The gesture of
love from his child shattered him. He wanted to hurry from the room
and run out into the night. He wanted to howl his hurt and anguish at
the moon until empty from all the pain he held inside.
"Your children love you so."
Turning, he found himself staring into deep brown eyes that spoke of
healing and hope. Samuel reached out a hand and saw it trembled.
Rachel's hair felt like fine silk as he sifted it through his fingers.
Curls wrapped around his fingers like living, breathing vines. They
drew him closer.
His other hand stroked her cheek. "You are so very beautiful."
Rachel froze, her heart thundering so hard it threatened to break
loose from her chest. "Mr. Stein, sir–" Her arms worked enough to get
her shawl tighter around her shoulders. In doing so, her hand brushed
the front of his open shirt, her knuckles grazing his skin. It felt
warm and slightly damp. His labored breathing and the feral look in
his eyes frightened and enthralled her at the same time.
"Samuel. Call me Samuel. Not proper, I know, but when has being proper
ever been a part of my life?" One arm went around her waist while his
other hand continued to caress her face. Her slightly parted lips
invited him nearer. Moving forward, he lifted her chin with the tip of
a finger to see her face. He trailed his finger over her full lower
lip and knew he had to taste her.