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.
Tires rolling over gravel carried to where they sat. Bridget shifted her focus to Darryl’s truck pulling up. Someone was in the passenger seat. Adam.
“What’re they doing here?” A flicker of panic sat at the base of Bridget’s spine.
“It’s a workshop. He’ll be here all week.” Emery’s voice remained calm.
“I know he will, but I didn’t expect him tonight. I thought he’d—”
“I told you Darryl’s probably giving Adam a tour of the reserve. The church is part of the reserve.”
“He’ll see the church all week.” Great, she’d snapped again.
The truck doors slammed shut. Bandit scampered to where they sat.
“He’s probably going to show Adam our old trail. It’s a great place to sit and pray.”
“Oh, your old trail. Darryl took Kyle there when we were last here.” Bridget petted the dog as Bandit yipped and sniffed. Maybe Adam did have a legitimate reason for coming to the church.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Darryl called out.
Adam swaggered across the grass. His strong thighs bulged against his jeans, and a beige t-shirt hugged his thick muscles. Black waves of hair edged out from his cowboy hat.
“I wanted to show Adam a great spot to get away and meditate.” Darryl pointed at the thick bush about five hundred meters away. “There’s a path there. It leads to a set of rocks where you can sit at the water and be alone.”
“I’ll check it out.” Adam stared at the trail.
“You didn’t bring the drum?” Emery asked Darryl.
“Yeah. Got it in the box. Help me bring it inside. Basil wants it set up in the middle.” Darryl meandered to the truck.
Had those two disappeared purposely?
Bridget rose. She ought to smack her brother and brother-in-law. “I should get inside. The women probably need me.”
“Whatever you need to do.” Adam’s brow flickered, and his jaw hardened.
“Bridget, can you do me a favor and show Adam where the trail is?” Darryl called out.
Tension crawled along Bridget’s shoulders. If Emery had asked, she’d have a reason to be suspicious, but Darryl was busy unloading the sacred drum from his truck.
“You don’t gotta get all pissy, kwe.” Adam snorted. “I may not have any experience in the bush, but I think I can find a simple trail.”
“Don’t call me that. C’mon.” She huffed across the grass. “It’s over here.”
Bridget approached the bush where a stand of poplar trees stood proud. She didn’t have to push against the underbrush because Darryl, she assumed, had kept the old trail clear. “It’s this way.”
“Guess I should have brought my compass. I wouldn’t have thought of using the opening in the…all this stuff.”
“Thanks for telling the homeboy what it is.” Sarcasm dripped on Adam’s reply. “I only know how to navigate through the hood.”
If he didn’t shut his mouth, Bridget would lead him to where the poison ivy was. She pushed at the stray brush along the path.
“What’s the matter, kwe? Should I ask what you’re thinking?” His stomping feet could have chased away a moose.
“Do you know what poison ivy is?” She used her sweetest voice.
“Yeah. Heard of it. What? Is that what you got planned? Gonna toss me in the stuff so I miss the workshop and you don’t gotta look at my ugly mug for the rest of the week?”
When she tried not to peek over her shoulder, but inched her head very casually to a branch on her left, Bridget’s peripheral vision caught his square jaw, thick lips, hard black eyes, and smooth brown skin. And he wasn’t staring at the trail. He was looking…