A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled father—a dangerous man she used to love.
Blurb: 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 set the groceries on the counter. Kyle dashed straight for the TV to watch his favorite cartoon, a ritual they’d performed every evening for almost four years. She cooked while Kyle cheered for the Z Men.
Nobody was taking this ritual away from her. She seized the cordless phone and called up the emergency number contacts.
“Good evening, Joseph Howarth Society.”
“This is Bridget Matawapit. I am the caregiver for Kyle Guimond. Might I speak to his father, Adam Guimond.”
“Sure thing. Give me one second.”
A few moments later, Adam’s deep “Hello?” came through the receiver.
Bridget squeezed the tomato she held. “It’s me.”
“Bridget…” Adam’s normally low pitch was an octave higher. “How you doing?”
The soft concern in his voice almost melted the film of ice around Bridget’s heart. But he’d humiliated her. He’d lied to her. He’d chosen alcohol over her. “I need to speak to you about something.” She made sure the hardness smothering her chest filled her words.
“It’s about…Kyle.” She moved from the island to the refrigerator. “I know you promised to bake him cookies for your next visit. I’d appreciate it if you’d not make him any more promises.”
His sharp intake of breath carried over the receiver.
“That’s all I have to say. I’ll let you—”
“Wait a minute, kwe.”
She bristled at the Ojibway word meaning woman—what Adam had always addressed Bridget by. At first, she’d found the endearment insulting, like an outlaw biker referring to his woman as the ol’ lady. When Adam had explained the word’s true meaning—life-giver, powerful and full of respect for those who carried light and love in their wombs, the heart of the Anishinaabe nation—she’d melted at the romantic gesture.
Now he thought to use the same word to melt her resolve? He could try again—and keep trying.
“What is it?” She fired a zap of impatience into her question.
For such a commanding, strong timbre, Adam’s velvet plea skittered across Bridget’s skin. She dropped the tomato on the counter by the oven. Tingles lightened her head. She scuttled across the floor to the sink. “Why what?”
“Why’re you acting this way?” His voice remained low and gentle, still skittering across her skin.
Bridget palmed her mouth to stop the string of curses ready to jump off her tongue. To smother the red heat baking her skin, she zeroed in on Kyle from the vantage point in the kitchen, who sat in front of the TV, staring blankly at the screen.
“I don’t think I need to explain myself. You’ve made promises in the past that you didn’t meet. It really hurt Kyle.”
The long pause on the other end sizzled in Bridget’s ear. Adam’s eyes, jawline, and lips had probably transmuted to stone. What rolled around in his mind during these long moments of silence? They’d always pierced Bridget’s rear end like a fishhook. He’d probably folded his arms, too.
Bridget didn’t have all night to wait for a reply. “I gotta go. We’ll see you next week.” Before Adam could say anything further, she switched off the cordless phone.