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First pages

CHAPTER 1

Taryn glanced into the rearview mirror at the tiny face in the car seat, sleeping peacefully on the pillow she had put beside her daughter’s head. The serene visage showed no trauma from the events of two nights ago when Alex had showed up trying to take her daughter for a visit. The stench of alcohol and violence radiating from his fisted hands had been the final warning for Taryn, and as soon as she had been able to get the police to her door to remove him she had put her plan into action. She had known the day would come for weeks now, and had quietly sold all but the barest of furnishings in her tiny apartment, given notice at her job and packed her trunk.

Taryn didn’t have a soul she could depend on in the big city as the only child of aged parents that had years before passed from a variety of health issues. Having been born surprisingly in their twenty-second year of marriage they had tried their best to give her everything she needed on her father’s limited salary as a school bus driver in their small town, Taryn had sorely missed out on siblings and other relationship building roots. The flip side was that she had been protected, fed and loved which was in direct contrast with Alex’s upbringing. Her nature was peaceful and resilient, causing her to as a young woman look for the best in everyone she met. That personality flaw was long erased by surviving years of abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend and the struggle to break from that grasp after Harper’s birth. She had in the early years could talk him off the ledge, but time and circumstances had honed his anger into a weapon he wielded unsparingly. She had long known that she would need to take drastic measures to take back her life, this road trip was the first step in that direction.

Taryn stared at the road ahead trying to keep the tiredness and soul seeping sadness at bay. She wanted her daughter to have everything she herself had never known. Freedom to make her own choices, love of people who cherished you and a deep sense she could be anything she wished in this world. Taryn would never allow bitterness to sap her strength, but there were moments when having to be strong and smiling every day for that little girl in the back was all that got her out of bed. She no longer had any dreams of her own for love, romance as the only point of reference she possessed was Alex. He had been the ideal man for her when they first met, or so she had thought. She could clearly recall the exact moment when her eyes alighted on the dark haired, brown eyed boy with dimples for days. He hadn’t been much taller than her frame at five foot five, but something about the cocky grin and easy personality had drawn her in. Within their first two dates she was head over heels and willing to do anything to please him. Every break at her waitressing job had him showing up to chat and spend time waxing poetry into her ear. Only later would she become quizzical about the fact that he didn’t appear to have a steady job he could talk to her about, and the whispers about what he did continued to grow.

Six months in and she was pregnant, when she was ordered to bed and Alex needed to care for her in his apartment the comings and goings only caused her instincts to grow about where his livelihood came from. When Harper was born, Taryn confronted him about having strangers in and out of the apartment always of the day and night. That had been the first time he had hit her, and let her know that quieting him in any manor would not be tolerated. She had moved back to her own space, a tiny studio above the restaurant a week later and started caring for her daughter. The intervening two years were miserable and a battle of wits for survival between the two of them with Harper’s life in the balance.

Finally, last month when he had raised a hand to her daughter, she had been able to step in and take the hit herself. The wheels for her escape where put in motion and now here was the result. She had been driving south from her Midwest roots for three days, stopping to see sights along the way and let Harper stretch and run. Two nights in safe but cheap hotels was taxing her little nest egg but she would need to find lodging for the night and tomorrow morning plan. They were firmly into the east coast of Florida now and she saw a sign “Gentry’s Beach House for Travelers.” Sounded nice, but the “inexpensive direct beach front lodging” notation below that title captured her attention. She had been dreaming about dipping her toes in the ocean, thus her choice of this state for her final stop. Taking the exit directed, she followed the signs off the ramp from Highway 75 down darkened roads well signed when suddenly out of the overgrowth this huge Victorian style house appeared ahead, the color of which Taryn could quite distinguish.

She pulled into a spot close to the well-lit path leading to the house, and slowly got out. Looking out toward the water she gasped, the moonlight over the vast horizon of water was something to behold. Inhaling she closed her eyes and offered up a silent prayer of gratitude to whomever might be listening for her safe travels, and this gorgeous locale. No matter how much it cost, they were staying here tonight she decided gently opening Harper’s door and taking their overnight bag flung it over her shoulder before she gathered up the warm wiggling body that immediately went limp again on her shoulder.

She was awed by the quiet of the night with just the waves as a lullaby as she made her way up the front door. The bubbly joy she felt elevating inside was unique and caught her off guard, squaring her shoulders she made to grab the front handle when the door flung open.

“Good Evening,” a wrinkled old lady with a welcoming smile sang out stepping back to allow her in.

“Hi, I was hoping – “

“We have your key ready,” the kind lady said placing it in Taryn’s hand. “I’m Lilith Gentry and this is my home, welcome.”

“I am sorry – I thought this was a hotel,” Taryn said.

“It is but I have lived here myself for years. Now breakfast is at seven o’clock in the dining room around the corner,” she whispered. “Blankets, towels and the like can be found in your room if you require anything further please let me know.”

“How much do I?” Taryn tried to maneuver to her wallet in the bag over her shoulder.

“We can talk about that in the morning, you look bone tired and that little one is heavy for sure,” Ms. Gentry said patting her arm.

“Thank you, Ms. Gentry, – I promise I am good for it,” she said grateful for the reprieve but not wanting this sweet lady to think badly of her.

“Please call me Lilith and I have no fear you won’t take care of your responsibilities,” she said pointing up the stairs. “I will meet you and your little girl in the morning. Sweet dreams,” she said as Taryn started climbing the staircase.

*****

Kasen wiggled a chocolate donut in front of Graham’s nose, “oh my god this is the only good thing about these overnights,” he said laying claim noisily to the fresh confection.

“You are so wrong,” Graham said shaking his head. “I have no idea how you can consume so much sugar and still look like a dedicated body builder.”

Kasen cocked an eyebrow at him, “You have 50 pounds of pure muscle and six inches on me. I just work out to try and not look like your date whenever we are out of uniform.”

Graham laughed at that one, “you aren’t pretty enough to be my date – seriously look at that mug. Besides I cannot help it if I was born the size of a Neanderthal,” the fact was Kasen was extraordinarily handsome if the swooning women they stopped or came into the station were good judges. The openly outgoing man with the twinkling green eyes, and spectacular ass one had said to Graham when looking for Kasen one day. The man attracted women like flies to honeys, not that Graham could fault him he could have had his own fair share it just wasn’t something in the cards for him, so he ensured he never encouraged any of the fairer sex.

“I haven’t seen a woman in six counties that is complaining. I think they forget I’m standing there when you walk in all uniformed up.”

“I guess it must be the old rule about always wanting what you cannot have,” Graham teased looking out towards the gas station they were staking out. There had been two armed robberies in six days and the sheriff’s department had enlisted any extra hands from towns, cities and counties for about 100 miles to help take shifts trying to catch the bastard. Neither Kasen or he were married, although Kasen had an active social life that required plenty of capital. They had been partners for ten years now since Kasen had graduated the academy and come back to their sleepy little town. Harmony boasted a population of 10,000 nestled on the shores of Florida far enough North not to get as many spring breakers or tourists as towns further south, but enough to keep the town afloat. Besides a few rowdy teenagers, it was an uneventful place to live – except for that night a decade earlier.

Graham’s brain immediately floated back to the worst night in Harmony, Florida’s history. A freak water accident had seen four teenagers hospitalized - his sister the sole loss that evening. He knew that he should be thankful more were not lost, but his loss had eaten at him every day since. He shook his head not wanting to get distracted from the task at hand. He needed to stay sharp, if stories were to be believed the robber would be armed tonight and he didn’t need anyone going down on his shift.

“Hey, speaking of working out we could do an early morning in the gym after shift, if you are game,” Kasen said keeping eyes trained ahead full alert to the situation they were monitoring.

“No can do,” Graham said quietly. “I have to go help Lilith with some honey-do items.”

“You know if only she was forty years younger, I would hold out hope of you getting some,” Kasen said with a light chortle.

Graham slugged him in the arm, “don’t be disgusting. I leave all the man whoring up to you my friend.”

“I know but it would be nice if occasionally you took up some of the slack. Being the only single eligible uniformed man in town keeps me quite busy,” he winked at Graham.

“I think you will manage,” Graham said his eyes trained on the scene in front of him. “That black car is making a second pass,” he homed in on the vehicle trying to see the license plate, “Can you – “he stopped mid-sentence already grabbing for the handle as the group of three entered the gas station dark hoodies all pulled up to distort their faces. Kasen was mere steps behind him as they jogged as low as possible for his six foot four frame and large body now coursing with adrenaline.

He glanced over at Kasen and nodded a signal to go left as he was headed right – they would enter from the two side doors and god willing box the crew in without too much fuss. He spun through the possibilities and how to best handle while finishing the journey to directly behind the car crouching down he made his way along –

HONK

“Damn!” he muttered realizing their cover was blown he opened the car door and had the perp on the ground in one solid swipe, as two other officers in Sherriff’s uniforms loomed into view and entered the small building. A shot rang out stopping Graham’s heart in his chest, as he tried to see into the store the guy he had pinned down started wiggling in earnest.

“Come on,” he said returning his attention to the kid as he slapped cuffs into place, “I’ve got a hundred pounds on you.”

“My mom is going to kill me,” the kid said.

“Want to provide her name and yours along with address, this will go a lot easier for you – “he trailed off as Kasen exited with another kid looking to be around sixteen hands cuffed behind his back.

“He hit the ceiling trying to scare us,” he said to Graham’s questioning look. “No worries,” he lowered his tone.

Kasen was the last family Graham had on earth and losing him was a reality he didn’t want to contemplate. He fully understood their career choices and that standing in front of a bullet to protect his community was both their jobs. He never let the worry overshadow his duty, but as the adrenaline feigned it never failed to give him pause.

CHAPTER 2

Taryn couldn’t sleep. Staring at the clock it was only 4:30 a.m. and would be hours before Harper raised her cute little head. Glancing about she found the baby monitor she brought from home which she was hopeful would reach to the beach just outside the front door. She was not able to resist the pull of the water any longer. The lull of the waves had been calling to her all night. Piling her hair on top of her head she pulled a clean t-shirt out of her bag and slipped into her cutoff shorts. Glancing in the mirror she swiped a finger under each eye and shrugged. She didn’t like wearing a ton of make-up and since she didn’t want to attract undo attention this minimalist look worked for her these days.

Slipping downstairs, she heard a slight motion and turned toward the area that Lilith had said would be the dining room. There laying out plates was Lilith and another lady who looked even older, if that was possible working beside Lilith.

“Good Morning, how did you sleep,” Lilith rang out.

“Good but that beach is beckoning to me,” Taryn said glancing toward the door but realizing these two probably needed some help. “Can I help with something this morning?”

Both women’s heads snapped up a bit, “you are a guest.”

“I know but I truly need to stay busy,” she replied.

“Tell you what,” Lilith said after a moment. “You go dip your feet for thirty minutes and we will listen for that sweet angel,” she raised her eyes toward the stairs. “Then when you get back if you want to help I would love some younger hands in the kitchen.”

Taryn almost sighed out loud in relief. Her good manners dictated her making the offer, but she was itching to get in the water. “She will sleep and I do have this monitor if she wakes,” she didn’t want this nice old lady and her friend to have to go any further out of their way for her and Harper than the kindnesses they had already extended. “Also, we can settle my bill when I get back.”

Lilith waved her off, “Go enjoy that glorious sand.”

Taryn was off without another word to the contrary. As she walked absorbing the air and water this glorious feeling of peace climbed over every nerve ending she possessed.

As she finally reached the first wet spot she looked down at the impression her foot had left with a grin on her face. Looking up she was shocked to see a girl about sixteen or seventeen standing in front of her, “Good morning – sorry I didn’t see you before,” she thought to herself how absorbed she had to be not to notice someone walking up.

The girl looked around confusion radiating from her, “I – are you – good morning.”

“I’m sorry,” Taryn carried on, “did I scare you.”

“No, it’s just been a long time since someone has been out here talking with me.”

“I know it’s pretty early but I love this time of day best,” Taryn squished the sand between her toes. “We are from Wisconsin way up North, and it’s still cold this time of year so this is simply – bliss,” she sighed.

“I never have been anywhere truly cold – but my brother once went skiing and brought back all kinds of stories about snow. I love the water and beach though and cannot imagine ever being someplace else. Did you just move here?”

“Oh, I wish. We are just passing through – “

“To where?”

Taryn stared downward focusing on the water, sand and early morning quietness – not the sadness threatening again. “I guess anywhere big enough that I can wait tables and make a new life for my little girl, Harper.”

“How old is she?”

“Almost three.”

“Is she as pretty as you are?”

“I look a mess, but she luckily did take after me but her hair is a hot curly mass,” she said with motherly pride. Most parents believed their prodigy the prettiest or handsomest but Harper proved it out without her saying it as even strangers commented on her delicate features. Strangers though didn’t sit well with Harper, she was painfully shy and would slink behind Taryn’s legs anytime they were out in public situations. “What grade are you in high school?”

“Junior.”

“Have you decided what you want to do after high school? I remember at your age I wanted to be a teacher. My teachers always were the kindest, smartest people I knew.”

The girl just shook her head, “I’m Lyra by the way,” she said biting her lip wistfully. “I wanted to be a lawyer. My brother was already a police officer and loved his job, he inspired me to want to try and keep the bad guys off the street. I couldn’t do the guns and street work but I loved reading and arguing so I figured it would have been a great career.”

“Taryn,” she said realizing that since the girl hadn’t extended her hand but rather burrowed deeper into her sweatshirt she shouldn’t extend a hand. “Sounds like you and your brother were close?”

“Yeah, our parents died when I was ten in a small plane accident, and he took custody of me even though he was only twenty. It was me and him against the world – he was the absolute best.”

Taryn could feel the sadness pouring off the girl, “hey I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No worries it just made me dredge up – I missed my parents so much I don’t remember a night for months going by without my brother sleeping next to me just keeping me calm. I loved him so much, “she signed and then put a smile in place, “It’s wonderful meeting you Taryn. So why are moving?”

“That’s a tough story,” Taryn sighed looking at the girl’s sad face that seemed intently listening. “I guess I picked the wrong guy, and he ended up being pretty mean when he drank. I have a little girl who is the entire world for me and I just didn’t want her growing up around that so I decided a change of scenery was needed.”

“And you like the beach?”

“I always dreamed about the beach, sand, sun and warm weather all the time,” Taryn said staring at her toes.

“It’s awesome, isn’t it?

“It is – I hope wherever we end up it is close to a beach,” she said wishfully.

“Maybe you can find something around Harmony, it’s a great place to live. I know just about everyone here, I just cannot leave,” Lyra said nostalgically.

“We will see but I don’t know that there will be a lot of waitress jobs in a town this small,” she said trying to keep the nervous twinges from causing her discomfort on a such a beautiful locale. “I need to get going, I promised Lilith – the lady that runs the Beach House – I would do help with breakfast.”

“I know Ms. Lilith she is a wonderful lady – I’m around if you are out here again sometime,” Lyra said quietly. “I hope you and Harper decide to stay for what it’s worth.”

“Thanks Lyra,” Taryn said slowly turning towards the house – halfway to her goal she turned but didn’t see hide or hair of the girl. That’s odd, she thought but put it out of her mind as she put her mind to what came next.

*****

Graham had coerced Kasen into helping him out at Lilith’s after work rather than hitting a gym, by promising next shift to finish it with some power lifting. As they slung the hammers trying to get the last of the roof slates on the new metal shed down before the sun was up in force. As they worked in unison he allowed himself a glance over the ocean expanse. He always missed his sister on days like this and frequented Lilith’s just to stay close to her in some small way. It was out in those very waves her young life was cut short, ending any semblance of normal and family for Graham. He had felt pressure to take care of her after their parents passed, and never fully processed them leaving so unexpectedly. Taking care of his younger sibling had been how he passed his twenties without the normal shenanigans guys his age got into. She had been worth every moment, and her death cut a swath across his heart that even a decade later felt raw.

Turning back to the task at hand he could feel the early sun starting to lash out against his skin. “We need to wrap it up I think, we don’t need a repeat of those sunburns when we did the main house last year,” Graham said to Kasen.

“Agreed. Besides I think I smelled fresh muffins this morning,” he winked at Graham.

“You have to possess an endless pit for a stomach,” Graham chuckled shaking his head as he picked up the tools laying around him. “I think one more morning and we will have this project licked.”

“Oh, I’m certain Ms. Lilith will come up with some new items to keep her favorite handyman coming around,” Kasen rolled his eyes.

Lilith Gentry had been as close a grandparent as Graham ever had known, as both his parents had been only children with parents that passed either before or shortly after his arrival. Lilith had been that figure for him, a confidante, family and the calming steady force through the rough years. She had been here in Harmony his entire life and fast friends with his parents also. His bond with her had increased a hundred-fold after he became adrift following his sister’s death, Lilith had kept him from drowning in the grief.

Climbing down the ladder he decided that for once Kasen’s love of food might be a good thing. He needed some sustenance himself, turning he found himself face to face with Luciana – Lilith’s oldest friend and paid guest. The woman had lived with Lilith for the past twenty years. This morning though for the first time ever she was accompanied by a small child he had never seen before. He didn’t think Luciana liked children as he had never seen her with any before, and she barely tolerated most people. Her tight grip and seeming ease with the tiny beautiful child caught him off guard.

“Good Morning, Luciana,” he said his brow furrowed.

“Graham,” she said quietly. “I was told to be sure you come in for breakfast this morning. Lilith wants to talk with you if you have a minute.”

“We are finishing up and I will be in. Who’s your friend?”

The tiny girl scooted behind Luciana’s legs with two fingers from her left hand inside her mouth. The little girl had the blondest curls he had ever seen, married with a tiny heart mouth and cat eyes of sea blue. Those eyes were radiating fear, probably due to his size so he got down on his haunches trying to minimize to her tiny stature so they could see eye to eye.

“Hey sweet pea,” he said gently.

“What do we have here?” Kasen said coming up with a start.

“Kasen, this is Harper,” Luciana said directly. She was not the biggest fan of his boisterous friend and it was evident in her tone when she talked.

“Harper – you sure are pretty,” he said with a light laugh.

Graham just kept his eyes trained on the little one, who appeared to be growing more fearful by the minute as she stared up at Kasen. This didn’t appear to be normal childhood shyness, based on the grip she had on Luciana’s hand. The older woman gave no indication of turmoil despite the witness surrounding the area where their hands joined.

“Kasen, I think breakfast is in order,” he said standing up and turning toward the house. Kasen took off without another word.

“Luciana, I hope to see you and your little guest again,” he said.

“You need to talk her momma into staying,” Luciana said grabbing his arm momentarily.

“What do you mean?”

“She’s the one Lilith wants for the house – but she’s not sure how to work it out with the woman. She’s like this one and I don’t think anyone has been kind to her so skittish she is – but this old place can help. You need to do this for Lilith,” she whispered.

“I don’t think I’m the one to know what to say to a woman to get her to stay someplace she doesn’t want to be,” he said now curious about the young Harper and her momma. He would learn what he could but if she was going to be staying here a background check would called for when he got to the station tonight.

“She never asked you for nothing – but she’s sick with worrying about the future,” Luciana finished.

Graham looked up to see Kasen retreat into the house, thinking about everything this place meant to him. Lilith had an uncanny ability to see the good in people, even when they were blind to it themselves – if this mysterious woman was her pick for the Beach House going forward he would help. She had talked to him about who would take it forward after her many times lately, but not one guest or applicant had filled her mystery checklist. Whoever this paragon of virtue was that had Luciana talking up a storm and guarding the woman’s child – he owed it to them to vet her and then try to help if no warning flags came up.

“I will do as Lilith asked and help if I cannot find anything wrong with her,” he sighed.

“We go to the water now” she said suddenly turning Harper still attached to her hand. As he watched them go he had to smirk when the little girl turned to check him out one last time. Turning he headed up to catch up with Lilith.

Kasen met him at the door, “Oh my god man – I saw her first.”

“What? Who?” He looked around trying to figure out what was going on.

“The new guest – kitchen help – not sure,” Kasen stumbled. “Even you aren’t going to be immune to this one,” he smirked.

“Kasen – I don’t need a woman, you are good,” he said pushing inside.

Turning into the dining room he saw Lilith, who ran over and planted both hands on his cheeks dragging him down to her level. “Missed you this past week.”

He kissed her cheek and gave her a hug, “missed you also. We caught the robbery suspects and finished up the case over in Holden so I will be back to working a normal shift and can stop in the afternoons for any items you need help with.”

“Wonderful. Come in and I will get – “she turned as a young woman walked through the doorway from the kitchen.

“I have the plates Ms. Lilith,” the woman said looking up at him her eyes grew larger than seemed comfortable and she stood suspended in motion for a moment.

“Graham, this is Taryn – Harper’s mom,” Kasen volunteered.

“She has been a fabulous help this morning,” Lilith gushed.

Graham tried to get his brain to restart. The woman in question was hands down the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on in person. She had the same blonde hair as Harper piled on top of her head, clear porcelain skin, blue eyes showcased in a gorgeous face topping a slight frame with curves in all the right places. The careless up do and worn clothes under the apron told him her appearance wasn’t foremost in her mind which somehow made her even more appealing.

“Taryn, this is Graham – closest thing I ever had to a grandson,” Lilith gushed laying a hand lovingly on his arm.

Graham moved slightly forward, “It’s nice meeting you,” he outstretched a hand her direction. She looked at it for a moment, before thrusting the plates she held toward him.

“I will go get the rest of your breakfast,” she said spinning on her heels.

Kasen started laughing outright, “You definitely influence women,” he chortled.

“I didn’t see her salivating all over your fool ass,” Graham hissed.

“Give me time,” Kasen puffed out his chest.

“She’s not for you Kasen,” Lilith said firmly causing both men to turn her direction. She just shook her head.

“Yes, ma’am,” Kasen said taking a plate from Graham and finding a seat.

“Graham, do you have just one second,” Lilith asked staring up at him.

“Sure,” he sat the other plate on the table and followed her out of the room, across the hall and into the tiny room she called her office. As soon as he passed through the doorframe she gently closed the door.

“She’s the one, Graham,” she said turning teary eyes his direction.

“Are you sure? You have known the woman – what a day?”

“You know I’ve been looking for a couple years now, and I’m telling you,” she slowly hung her head deep in thought. “She’s the one – I just feel it.”

Graham inhaled, he had known the possibility existed she would someday call in the marker on a promise he made her several years earlier. Just as the moment he first made the deal, he would continue to look for a loophole – but cautiously do everything to ensure she was protected.

“Okay, I’ll run the checks like I promised. But you need to swear to me not to do anything until I get back to you.”

“If they check out – you go by my safety deposit – “

“Sweetie, I remember,” he said gently putting his hand on her shoulder. “This is – I will do the checks,” he sighed reopening the door his mood somber.

CHAPTER 3

Taryn was finishing resetting the dining room table with fresh linens she had just pressed when Luciana sauntered in anchored by Harper. They had gone for a walk after checking in shortly before she finished serving the last of breakfast. Harper had taken to the elderly woman like white to rice and despite uttering not a single word Taryn knew she was enjoying herself.

“Did you have fun my sweet girl,” she asked crouching down.

Harper detached from Luciana and moved into Taryn’s outstretched arms, nodding her head as she laid it on her shoulder.

“She is a good girl,” Luciana said with a grin.

“Thank you,” she said smiling up at the older lady. “She really likes you – and my sweet Harper,” she said rubbing her baby’s back, “doesn’t like a lot of people.”

“I need a rest but I can watch her again later if you can help Lilith with dinner,” Luciana said hopefully. “I worry with these old hands that I will drop some of her precious china – and I cannot navigate the kitchen – “

Taryn interjected, “I would be more than willing to help – but I need to find out from Lilith the rate for the room etc. I’m not certain that we can – “

“Fiddle sticks,” Lilith said coming up behind her. “You help with meals and cleaning up if you are willing in exchange for your room and food for you and the little one. It would be a huge relief for me to be able to give Lucianna days off from manual labor.”

Taryn immediately felt her lip quiver as she stood, her heart expanding for the kindness of this woman who barely knew her and yet was extending such an olive branch. “If you are sure I could use another day or two to figure out my next move. I would love to help and I think Ms. Harper would enjoy the time with Luciana,” she looked at her little girl, “what do you think?”

Harper just nodded slightly.

“Okay, how about we can give it until next weekend and then reevaluate,” Lilith said.

“Thank you,” Taryn threw her arms around the woman.

“You are welcome,” Lilith said hugging her back. “Now we have a special visitor come in tomorrow we need to clear out the front room for as he won’t be able to climb stairs. Also, an author and a repeat family – I can tell you the rooms and we can divide them up if you are game.”

“Sure,” Taryn said. “Also let me know special instructions for the one visitor needing accommodations.”

“Oh, he is the sweetest little boy and his mom. I think Ms. Harper here will love our Luke,” she said sniffling a bit catching Taryn off balance.

“How old is Luke?”

“Six,” Lilith said quietly, “I need to tell you he has been coming out here since he was a newborn with his momma. His daddy left them high and dry when Luke was born because he could not deal with his boy being – sick.”

“Oh, poor baby,” Taryn said.

“Luckily, the man was loaded and court ordered to pay enough child support to keep Luke comfortable and his momma at his side. She started bringing him here when he was still a baby and comes for a month at a time. Luke loves the ocean and sand,” She stopped inhaling slightly, “Luke has reached the end of medical interventions and I talked to his momma Emmylou last night – she would like to allow him to be here until the end.”

Taryn absorbed what she was telling her, “That has to be so hard for her – but we can hopefully make it a bit easier. Let me know how I should set up the room and I will get it done.”

“Graham will be picking up a bed from the clinic downtown this afternoon, and once that is in we can figure out how to configure everything else,” Lilith said lightly.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Angelica Kate (pen name for Angela K. Naff) writes contemporary and inspirational romances primarily, but occasionally likes to dabble in other genres. She is a lifetime scribbler who has always enjoyed writing as a release from the reality of life. In 2014 in keeping a promise to a friend that has since passed she published her first book Loving Abby through Amazon's self-publishing tool and was bit by the bug. The feedback both positive and negative continues to propel her to hone her writing

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
I was reading a story in a paper about a single mom here in Florida, that rose from homelessness to a position of being able to give back and inspire others. It inspired me to write this ode to all the women (and men) that have been in situations they thought helpless, and never let an abuser win.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Everyone has the power to choose their own path, and find the happiness others try to withhold from them. I believe inside every "victim" is a soul of a fighter wanting to find something worth battling for, this is a story to help inspire everyone to chase a dream. Never let others define you.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
When I was five and started writing a journal. I found that while I was never able to vocalize issues as a child, writing them down was a way to be heard and never bottle it up. I've been writing ever since.

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