Book Two: Redeemed (an eXtasy Books Editor’s Choice Award)
A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled father—a dangerous man she used to love.
Bridget Matawapit is an Indigenous activist, daughter of a Catholic deacon, and foster mother to Kyle, the son of an Ojibway father—the ex-fiancé she kicked to the curb after he chose alcohol over her love. With Adam out on parole and back in Thunder Bay, she is determined to stop him from obtaining custody of Kyle.
Adam Guimond is a recovering alcoholic and ex-gangbanger newly-paroled. Through counseling, reconnecting with his Ojibway culture and twelve-step meetings while in prison, Adam now understands he’s worthy of the love that frightened him enough to pick up the bottle he’d previously corked. He can’t escape the damage he caused so many others, but he longs to rise like a true warrior in the pursuit of forgiveness and a second chance. There’s nothing he isn’t willing to do to win back his son–and Bridget.
When an old cell mate’s daughter dies under mysterious circumstances in foster care, Adam begs Bridget to help him uncover the truth. Bound to the plight of the Indigenous children in care, Bridget agrees. But putting herself in contact with Adam threatens to resurrect her long-buried feelings for him, and even worse, she risks losing care of Kyle, by falling for a man who might destroy her faith in love completely this time.
Adam took another drag. “I’m talking now, ain’t I?”
“True.” The heat in his gaze seemed to touch Bridget’s cheek. She rubbed the purse strap.
“I don’t got nothing to hide. ’Kay?”
“You were hiding something last time?”
“Nope. But I know my not speaking pissed you off.”
“There’s no reason to bring up the past. I told you I’d help and that’s what I’m doing.”
“Yeah, you agreed to help…” His gaze roamed around her face.
Bridget recoiled and glanced away.
“Y’know, kwe, we’re doing a lot of dancing.”
She forced herself to raise her head.
His dark eyes smoldered. He leaned forward. His hand stretched out, and he ran his strong fingers along her braid.
Sensuous heat and angry lightning erupted under Bridget’s skin. “Don’t you dare.” The words hissed from her mouth.
“What’re you afraid of, kwe?”
“Quit calling me that.” The order snapped from deep inside Bridget’s constricting chest. “You have no right calling me by that name. Not after what you did.” She stood and yanked her purse off the bench.
He tilted his head up, his jawline tightening. “I know what I did, kwe. You remind me all the time.”
“I do no such thing.” How dare Adam turn this around as her fault.
“Yeah, you do. It’s in your eyes. They hang me like a noose. It’s in your lips. They condemn me like a villain. It’s in your voice. You slap me with your tone.”
“What’d you expect after what you did?” she huffed out. “You were charged with aggravated assault. The judge had every right to throw the book at you.”
“I know what I did, kwe.” Adam’s voice remained flat. “I live with it every day. I don’t take the easy way out and blame it on the booze.”
“You were skidding around four months. I can only imagine what else you did.” And no, she wasn’t jealous.
“I drank. I drank some more. I did something really bad to another human being. Got arrested. Sat in remand until my trial. I won’t say he deserved it. I won’t say anything. I did it. I went to prison for it.”
“And did you only drink?” She silently cuffed her rear end for continuing to poke at the damned same question.
Adam’s thick lips tugged at the corner. “If you mean was I out screwing around? Nope. You’re the only woman for me, kwe.”
Delight exploded through Bridget’s veins. Then she clamped a lock on her heart. Only a moron bought his answer. He’d been drunk for four months in Winnipeg. He must have picked up some woman in a bar.
“I was hurting bad.” His voice sagged. “You think I was happy when you told me to fuck off? You killed me, woman.”
The sharp tone of his last statement was pure insult, an affront to the feminine strength that had dragged Bridget up from the depths of Hell where Adam had stuck her. “If you want to continue speaking, tell Dirty Harry to leave. I only deal with Mr. Darcy.”
Adam stood and set his enormous hands on his hips. “Mr. Who—? Look, I’ll tell Dirty Harry to take a hike if you call off Sarah Conner. I’m not the Terminator sent back in time to harm you.”
At his full height, Adam towered over Bridget, made her five-nine stance shrink to a doll. He’d reduced her to a doll, helpless in the possession of his hands, made to dance, talk, or walk under his orders.
Heat built in her lungs. She was too independent to draw back and scuttle away. No man provoked fear in her. The worst part was, she didn’t fear Adam’s physical presence, she feared the thick, steamy aroma of testosterone he forever used to challenge her, weaken her, seduce her. The masculine aroma dripped from the pits of his arms, his thick chest, and the bulge of his biceps.
“Out of my thirty-eight years, I fucked up thirty-seven of ’em. I ain’t fucking up again.”
“Thirty-seven?” His scent kept assaulting Bridget’s knees, swirling around her, until she wobbled.
“Yeah. Thirty-seven. I can’t count the year the three of us were a family. Me. You. Kyle.”
Bridget’s resolve continued to crumble. Adam kept dusting her femininity with his husky declarations, fierce scent, and sensual stare.
She pivoted on her heel and bolted for the truck. She’d dump him off at the halfway house and go home. If he wanted to tease and torment her during their drive, he could, but she’d don her mask of hate-fueled resentment created by him.
She pushed the button on the keys, and the locked doors opened.
The crunch of Adam’s shoes carried on the cement. He was walking his determined strut without Bridget having to look—legs slamming one in front of the other, hands fisted, chin jutted, and eyes mean slits.
She slid into the truck. The passenger door opened, and Adam got in. His big presence saturated the cab.
This drive would be the longest ten minutes of Bridget’s life.