Gentle suspense. Tortured heroes. Mischievous heroines.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Will She Forgive Those Who Hurt Her?

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​ ​Shackled by her past, can she be freed to forgive? Abused in her Mexican village, Marisol’s anger is her ticket to freedom in America or so she thinks. But her temper lands her in worse and worse situations. Trafficked and pregnant, she gives up her baby so it can have a better life. Now, ten years later her past returns to haunt her, just when she has caught the eye of Jesse, the one man who wants to know her…and not just her body. Marisol has struggled hard to disguise her past, but will the unforgiving spirit she harbors prevent her from embracing her future?
 Though delicately worded with veiled descriptions, this faith-based novel does depict some disturbing, yet unfortunately all too common, sex trafficking scenes necessary for the plot.

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Copyright 2015 © Julie B. Cosgrove

Marisol Hernández did a double take. An icy tingle slithered down her arms. She recognized the woman’s face. One she never thought she’d see again. Jen Westlaw. Except now her name read Wilson?
She backstepped a few paces to peer into Jen’s pixelated bluish-green eyes displayed on the Abundant Life Church’s marquee as it flashed the latest posts from their social media site. The face beckoned her—once again. Yes, definitely the same woman.
They met in 2013. The year Marisol’s life changed. Hadn’t the news reported she’d disappeared without a trace and was presumed dead years ago? Yet there she gleamed in 3D color.
A man with a handsome smile stood next to Jen in the photo. Tom, it read. She’d never learned his name, but she recognized him all right. He’d helped Jen escape. He had appeared again at the shelter on that horrid day—held Marisol’s hand, whispered she could trust him. She had, and part of her still regretted the decision.
Vivid memories flooded her thoughts, pressing against the emotional dam which she’d carefully constructed over the past decade. The hurt, once pooled deep inside, rushed from its stagnant state through cracks in her psyche. Waves of her secret torment rolled and crashed within the walls of her heart, threatening to drag her under. She gasped for breath.
“Watch it. Other people use this sidewalk.” A sharp male voice jolted Marisol back to the present. She’d absent-mindedly edged into the passenger’s path.
She dashed her gaze to the concrete. An old habit. Never look a man in the eyes. That had been pounded into her brain. And her back. Her last jefé once beat her with a belt for doing it. Ten lashes. Obey, or suffer. A tough lesson learned for a spirited, angry teenager who’d fought so hard to survive. She twitched her shoulder blade, the old pain jabbing her once again. Some scars never heal.
In a low voice she apologized to the stranger. “Lo siento. Um, sorry.”
“Yeah. Well, this isn’t Mexico.” Disgust vibrated through his words. “Give them some help and they think they deserve the world.” His grumbling faded with his footsteps.
Her eyes lifted back to the photo of the woman who had changed her destiny. Marisol should be grateful. But she wasn’t. The lady also represented every ugly, vile, and hurtful thing which happened to Marisol that year. Too many remembrances. So much shame. A tear trickled down her cheek. Oh, why did she have to see that face again? When could she finally forget?
With arms tight around her torso, the twenty-three-year-old Hispanic woman gulped back the emotions ebbing in her chest. That was not her life now. She spoke excellent English, carried a permanent green card, and held a good job…for which she’d be late if she didn’t pull it together. So why couldn’t she break her stare? As if the eyes…
A hand softly pressed onto her shoulder. “Are you okay, miss?”
Marisol buckled in dread. Another old habit when any man touched her.
Shoes shuffled towards her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. You speak English?”
She bobbed her head.
He bent down to meet her face. A black shirt came into view as a whiff of woodsy men’s cologne filled her nose. A small, wooden cross dangled from beneath his open collar. Marisol dared to raise her eyes, just a touch. They were met by a warm smile. Two strong hands gently touched her arms. “Come into the church. We can talk. Perhaps I can help you.”
Alarms went off. No. Never go anywhere with a strange man—ever again. Marisol twisted from his grip, her gaze returning downward.
The man released his hands and held them out, palms up. “My name is Pastor Jake. You can trust me.”
One eye cocked enough to peer into his. Honesty oozed from them, as did reverence, etched by slight crow’s feet. He appeared to be in his late thirties. A gold band glimmered on his left ring finger.
A shudder raced under her skin. “No. I…I’ve got to go.” She didn’t deserve to be noticed by anyone who served God. She might taint him with her presence. She willed her shoes to move—away from the man, the marquee, and her memories. But they locked to the sidewalk.
His eyes narrowed. “Do I know you?”
Marisol inhaled a shaky breath. Yes, you do. She recalled him as well, though they only met twice before…many long and difficult years ago. But she’d never reveal it. To do so would dredge up too much sorrow.
“I’m late for work.” Bottom lip tucked into her teeth, Marisol backed away, forcing her legs to pivot. She shuffled quickly down the street away from the pastor and the photo. Both dredged up her painful past.

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