REDEEMED – BOOK 2 (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.
Bridget was just about to pick at her braid. She stopped her shaking hand in midair and forced her traitorous limb to settle on her quivering knee.
The cruel, straight line of Adam’s lips tugged at the corners. Even his cold eyes unfrosted to black silk. “It’s nice out here.” A loon bobbed in the small waves he pointed at. “Darryl told me to give this spot a try.”
Bridget shifted on the rock and sat taller. “Emery and Darryl discovered this place when they were kids. They cleared it and came here after Mass.”
“Darryl went to church?” Adam plopped down on the opposite rock. “Thought he was traditional.”
“He attended for Emery’s sake, I believe. They were extremely close.”
“Yeah, kinda thought so. They’re gay.”
“What do you mean?” The question snapped from Bridget.
“Easy, kwe. I’m only saying what I see. I don’t go no problem with your brother and his ol’ man. I’m bunking at their crib, ain’t I?”
“I didn’t mean to jump down your throat.” She smoothed her pants. “I get very defensive when it comes to Emery.”
“If you wanna jump down my throat, go ahead. At least you’re jumping on something…on me.” Adam’s low rumbling laugh could have shaken the rocks.
His double meaning hushed the annoyance in Bridget’s chest. A giggle edged up her throat. When she swallowed, the laughter refused to go down and escaped from her mouth.
“At least I got you laughing, instead of killing me with your eyes.” Adam’s lips remained a smidgen turned up.
Bridget ran her fingers along the exposed part of her calves.
“Those are nice. You always got interesting clothes.” He pointed at Bridget’s flower-patterned, wide-leg crops.
“I ignored the Labor Day rule.”
“The what?” Adam squinted.
“You’re not supposed to wear summer clothes after Labor Day. But it’s still hot out.”
“Wear whatever you want. They look good on you. Hell, anything looks good on you.”
The compliment scooted up Bridget’s legs, caressing her skin.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m feeling the same way.” His smile vanished, and his gaze hardened to his familiar almost-a-scowl.
Bridget rubbed her bare arms. She should have worn more than a tank top. The flat, open-toed sandals exposed her feet. Goodness, she was exposed. Heart ready to bust through her ribs. An ocean of water in her throat.
“How’s your boyfriend?”
The fever vanished. The pricks and shivers disappeared. “Who?”
“He’s not my boyfriend. I already have a man in my life.”
Adam’s black brow flickered. “Oh? Who?”
“Yeah? Then why’d you go out for dinner with him?” Adam didn’t scowl. His voice wasn’t accusing, either.
A slight breeze rustling through the trees was the only sound present.
“I simply wanted to go out for dinner. It’s been a long time.”
“I coulda took you out for dinner. I can’t afford a fancy restaurant, but I can take you somewhere decent.”
The dreaded fever reappeared, and Bridget glanced away.
“Kwe, look at me.” His command was gentle enough to smooth Bridget’s hair the way he used to run his strong fingers through each strand, coaxing her to relax and trust him.
Bridget placed her trembling hands on her knees.
His eyes softened at the corners. “I’m gonna kiss you.” Each word Adam spoke was husky, as if he’d cupped her face with his big hands.
The air in Bridget’s lungs collapsed for a moment. She gripped the rock.