Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert, she also happens to be stunningly beautiful. When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind? James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It’s rubbed off. Years ago, he disengaged from his brother’s smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, “Get married or lose your seat at the table.” Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn’t love her. But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she’s due to meet his family. Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure? A possible solution comes in an unexpected form: Neka. She’s not only a friend, but the daughter of his benefactor. And she’s right there, offering to support him. But will her support stretch to marriage? He attempts to win her over to his plan but collides with her powerful father who wants to leverage the situation for his own gain. In their fight for survival and love, they are forced to face some uncomfortable truths. Can they overcome thwarted dreams and missed chances to find true love, or does forcing destiny’s hand only lead to misery?
Nikhol Lacey stepped into the muted glow from the wall sconce above the door, grabbed her luggage from the porch, and hurried down the stairs. The path lights cast a shining arc across the yard. Pine scented the air, and fresh-cut grass clung to her sandals.
She sidestepped debris along the footpath to avoid snapping any twigs. To anyone looking, the maneuverings would have resembled a child’s game of hopscotch. It seemed like ages had passed, but at last she reached her destination. Lips curving into a fleeting smile, she placed her cases at the cab driver’s feet.
After shaking her hand, he lifted the bags. His raspy voice broke the silence. “Good morning . . .”
“Call me Neka.”
She scooted into the car and eased the door shut behind her. But she froze in place when the noisy driver stomped every twig she had missed and slammed the trunk. Her gaze swept over the second-floor windows. The house remained dark inside.
Good. No signs of movement.
Neka lay back on the cushion but bolted upright when the driver sped away, crunching loose twigs scattered across the road.
She brushed her fingers over her neck and chest and then clung to the front of her T-shirt. Familiar landmarks silhouetted against the dusky morning. She sighed, touching the window as her home faded into the receding darkness.
Regret surfaced. Would her family understand her leaving home without notice? Massaging her right earlobe, she laid her head against the seat.
James needed her. She was the only person able to help him. Finally, someone she cared about required assistance that only she could provide. Tears blurred her vision at the admission that she often felt unneeded. Self-revelation came at a price. Closing her eyes, Neka laid her face into the palms of her hand.
She was committed. It was too late to turn back now.
Lord, help me.
E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. For three and a half years, she published the Confidence in Life newsletter for Alpha Production Ministries, in addition to writing tracts and devotionals. Teaching a women’s Bible study at her church for eleven years led naturally to her current endeavor, writing inspirational romance novels. Her mission: spiritual maturity in the body of Christ through fiction.
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