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 with her ex-husband in jail for spousal abuse. She returns to her hometown to renew her faith and heal. Caught off guard by the handyman in residence, attraction hits, swift and piercing, but she quells her unruly emotions. She's in no hurry to get involved in another relationship. Besides, at almost nine months pregnant, she's not exactly looking her best.
Jake Roberts, hired to renovate the Danforths' house, takes one look at his employer's daughter and wants to run far and fast. He hasn'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, Jake 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?
Jake 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 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, and Jake felt a distinct twinge in his gut. Jealousy? No! Couldn't be.
"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 happily 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."
She felt the heat of a blush enter her cheeks at his soft-spoken words. "My faith is what's strong. I had to believe the Lord has a purpose for me in this life."