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.
When the truck pulled up at the halfway house, Adam’s disgust threatened to spill over. No woman could slam on the brakes like Bridget. He threw off his seat belt. “I didn’t mean to make you pissed.”
“I’m not pissed.” She stared straight ahead.
Adam cracked open the door. She was going to let him go? Damn her. Promising himself to use patience was a stupid idea. The woman was stubborn enough to wait out the next coming of Jesus.
The twelve-step program, the anger management classes, his one-on-one counseling all screamed at him to leave his desires in the hands of his higher power. Yeah right. Creator had forgotten He’d shaped and breathed life into a woman a pack of mules couldn’t push.
Welp, he could be stubborn, too. Adam shut the door.
Bridget almost jumped in her seat. “What’re you doing? I told you I have things to do.”
“Cut it. It’s only eight-thirty. You’re going home to pout.” Adam folded his arms and sat back.
Any second his beloved kwe’s internal volcano should erupt. Time for the countdown. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five…
“Listen here. Don’t you dare assume anything about me. Got it?” Bridget swiveled to face him, steam almost exploding from her flared nostrils and flaming-red ears.
“Got it.” Keeping his cool was easier than expected. Maybe because Bridget’s temper never unsettled Adam. Her spunk was the lighter to his wood. Any kind of wood. A certain kind of wood in his pants.
He shifted as much as he could in the seat. And these were big, comfy seats. He met Bridget’s glittering eyes.
“Kwe, you’ve been pissed since you first looked at me. Let loose. I’m serious. Tell me what you really think of me.” If cussing him out cleared the fog thickening between them, Adam could hack a slap or two.
Bridget’s red lips flattened. “I have nothing to say because we have nothing between us but Kyle. That’s it.”
Adam’s own temper grumbled at the back of his neck. His skin burned. This woman’s words always cut a man’s balls in half. No con in the pen knocked the wind from him like Bridget Maria Matawapit. He had one up on her, though. She’d never taken an anger management class or earned praises from the instructor.
This might secure him a smack or something else, but at least he’d know the score. “Kwe, did I ever tell you how beautiful you are when you’re pissed?”
The flash in Bridget’s eyes died. The flatness of her lips faded. The fiery red shade coating her ears ebbed. Her mouth formed into a delicate O. Fire flickered behind her dark irises.
Adam’s heart rattled. He lifted his hand and ran his index finger across her narrow jawline.
The smoothness of her skin softened the rough edge of his fingertip. When Bridget’s gaze continued to hold his, she locked Adam in a moment he’d dreamed about behind bars with nothing but his beloved kwe’s picture to keep him company.
The tight bones of Bridget’s jawline diminished beneath his touch. She kept staring. Adam’s heart kept rattling. He leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. As soon as his mouth met Bridget’s, her yielding lips released an ache in his chest. An ache he’d carried for almost four years. He moved his mouth into a light pucker. Bridget’s kiss matched his sweet movements, and his heart swelled.
Her scent invaded him. The familiar feminine fragrance teased his muscles, stroked his skin, caressed his flesh. Her deep breaths fluttered against his ears. Their mouths moved in the same slow rhythm, a waltz of sensual heat full of longing and wanting.
His tongue yearned to taste her, claim her as his own again. He forced himself to draw back a breath from her. “Kwe,” he whispered.
A puff of air from her lips skimmed Adam’s skin. Bridget’s smooth lids fluttered, along with her rich, thick lashes.
“I gotta go.” Her voice was as drowsy as her eyes. Then her dreamy stare hardened. “I gotta go.” This time her declaration matched the tension sharpening her jawline.
She shifted and stared straight ahead, delicate hands braced on the steering wheel.
Adam had given Bridget something to think about, and that was what he’d intended to do from the start. That was enough for him. “Goodnight, kwe.”
Bridget kept staring straight ahead.
He slipped from the truck. With the passenger door barely closed, she drove off.
Adam slid the cigarettes from his shirt pocket and stuck one between his lips. He dug around in his pocket and withdrew the lighter.
Her delicate scent and the lushness of Bridget’s lips continued to pound through his veins. He’d set out to unearth if she still possessed feelings for him, and she did.
Sleep wouldn’t come easy tonight. Nope. Not at all. Her kiss had given him too much hope.