About the Book
Only two people know why Jean has stayed at the church all these years, why she won’t let anyone else work with the children. Only Jean knows about Sunday nights, the leftover bulletins she covers with words, then shreds as she weeps. When Grant Henderson moves into town and starts to care, will Jean succeed in pushing him away, or will he break through to discover the truth? Is love enough to set her free?
She was painting flowers again. Grant took advantage of Jean’s concentration and enjoyed watching her a moment before alerting her to his presence. She used soft, wide strokes and hummed as she worked. He marveled at the change in her when she thought no one was around. Her gestures, her voice, the sway of her lithe body to the music, all were comfortable and serene. Things he never saw when she was with him.
She intrigued him, but man, was she bad for his ego.
His soft tap on the lower half of the nursery door had her frozen in a moment. She turned and, was he imagining it, or did her face register relief—perhaps even a little pleasure—when she realized it was him?
“Hi.” He said it casually, wanting that comfortable feeling to come back to her, so it could spread to him again.
“Hi.” She looked down at the cup of paint in her hand. Carefully, she set her paintbrush back down in it. “Thanks for not inspiring me to paint the carpet again.”
She actually smiled, right at him, and he sucked in a breath. It made her beautiful.
Her smiled faltered as he stared. “Is everything okay?” She set her cup down.
“Yeah. Great.” He removed his helmet and held it under one arm, shoving his free hand through his mass of unruly hair, telling himself not to feel self-conscious about it. Girls in college had always said his hair looked best after he’d been riding around on his bike. Something about it curling up.
“Guess what I did this weekend?”
Was she actually initiating a conversation? He told himself not to grin; it might scare her back into silence. “Um, let’s see, you went to the circus, ate three bag-fulls of cotton candy, and got a stomachache from riding the Ferris Wheel.”
“We don’t have a circus here.” She put her hands on her hips. “And three bags of cotton candy would much more likely cause a stomachache than a ride on a Ferris Wheel anyway.”
“Okay, then I guess you—”
“I didn’t actually want you to guess,” she said, her mouth hinting of that smile again. “It was just an introductory statement.”
“Oh, well I’ve been ‘introducted’ then.” He leaned onto the lower half of the nursery door and smiled. What had happened to her? “So what did you do this weekend?”
“Candy decided we needed to go shopping. She and Brenda looked through my closet for something for her to wear. For some reason, she hates all my clothes.” Jean tilted her head to the side, a puzzled frown on her face. “Why do you suppose that is?”
She looked at his face and laughed. “I’m kidding. I know why.” She seemed to enjoy his look of shock. “You should have seen the things she bought—well, I bought and she’s supposed to pay me back. Or at least that’s what she told me. I heard her telling Brenda in the dressing room that it was partly a ploy to get me a new wardrobe.” She looked down at her broom skirt and faded blouse. “As if I would ever wear the things she picked out. Candy is addicted to outfits that make her look like a bowl of rainbow-colored sherbet.”
He stood there, grinning at her, until she looked away and shrugged, saying, “So what are you doing here this early anyway? Church doesn’t start for another hour.”
“I came hoping you’d be here.”
All the comfort and ease he was loving evaporated in an instant. She turned and meticulously started cleaning her paintbrush with a wet wipe. “Why?”
He wasn’t sure if he wanted to shake her or kiss her. Since there was no sense contemplating either option, he got right to the point. “I met your uncle today. The one who works in town at the mechanic shop.”
“That’s the one. I was there today asking about a job. I need to work while I’m here. Stewart’s busy full time with ministry, but I’m not. Your uncle said they had a position open due to some guy named Bob having an accident.”
“Yeah, Bob fell asleep and fell out of his deer stand a couple of weekends ago. Broke his arm.” She was still wiping her completely clean paintbrush, her back to him. “I didn’t know you were a mechanic.”
“I’ve been tinkering on things since I was a kid. Drove my dad crazy when I was five and disassembled all his watches to see how they worked. In high school, when I wasn’t playing sports, I worked on an old scrap of a motorcycle I’d gotten super cheap. It was mostly worthless, but whenever I could, I’d get another part for it till I had something worth riding.”
“So is that why you were looking for me, to tell me my uncle gave you a job?”
“He didn’t give me the job, not yet. There was a condition.”
She took the bait and turned to face him. “A condition?”
“Yep.” He tried to keep a straight face. “He said I could have the job if I could get you to ride to his shop with me on Chachie.”
“You named your motorcycle?” She almost smiled, then shook her head. “Wait, did you say you wanted me to ride on your motorcycle?”
“I’ll drive. All you have to do is sit there.” He grinned. He couldn’t help it. “Doug even let me borrow an extra helmet.” He lifted the pink helmet he’d stashed on the floor out of sight and showed it to her.
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Please, Jean. I’d really like this job. This is what I’m good at. I don’t want to have to ask Jamaica if I can wash her windows or pour whipped cream into people’s coffee.”
“I’ve never ridden a motorcycle in my life.”
“I know. Doug told me you’re deathly afraid of them.”
“Not deathly afraid. Just…almost deathly afraid.” She had her hands on her hips again. “This isn’t fair. You want to get me on a motorcycle. Candy wants me to wear fire-engine red. What is wrong with everybody lately?”
He laughed. She was trying so hard to be mad at him.
“I promise I won’t let you fall off. And see, the helmet is pink, not red, so I’m not as bad as Candy.” He held the helmet toward her. “Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?”
She looked up at the ceiling. “Sugar. Oh great. Just call me Lemonade.”
“Nothing.” She grabbed the helmet. “You’re going to hound me until I give in, aren’t you?”
“I told you I really want this job.” And I really want to see you in a pink helmet on my motorcycle, actually having fun.
She let out a longsuffering breath. “You are hopeless.”
Grant watched her look the helmet over as if she’d never seen one up close before. On the contrary, he thought with a smile. I’m actually starting to feel some hope regarding you.
“The shop isn’t open this late, and we have church soon anyway, so I’ll pick you up at the bank tomorrow. When do you get off work?”
She peered up at him all round-eyed. “F-five o’clock?”
“Is that a question?”
She looked at the helmet in her hands. “No.”
He let his voice sound as happy as he felt. “See you at five then.” He grabbed his own helmet and quickly walked away before she had the chance to change her mind.
About the Author
Award-winning, Amazon bestselling author of 20 books, Kimberly Rae loves to write stories full of romance, suspense, and making a difference. She has been published over 300 times and has work in 5 languages.
Rae lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. She rafted the Nile River, hiked in the hills around Mount Everest, and tried cow brains just to say she’d done it! She now lives in North Carolina at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and two young children.
Rae’s 3 books in her STOLEN SERIES on human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) all are Amazon Bestsellers.