Forgiveness may heal a broken marriage but can they take the next step and take in the boy who killed their child?

Meet the characters of this entrancing novel, taken from a true story of love and forgiveness.


Raine turned to watch the tall Cherokee negotiate the hallway. That was interesting. There was something different about him. Not like the men who moved in her circle. Might be the faded jeans and tee shirt, both tight enough they left little to the imagination. She seldom met a man who caught her interest, had recently come to the reluctant conclusion that she would never marry again. Maybe never have a satisfactory affair. If indeed she knew what that was. But meeting Spinner, well, he was definitely a possibility. And his eyes revealed he felt the same.

With trembling fingertip she touched the scarf covering the scar on her throat. Called up the vow she’d made. Best if she steered clear of this man, yet she had a deep down feeling that she wouldn’t and it terrified her.


The sky glowed like burnt silver when Lucas jerked awake, wringing wet and slumped against the wall under the window. Whimpering, crying, shaking. Expecting more monsters. Yet, there was no one in the room but tendrils of the fading nightmare. And himself. Lucas Pell, in sweat-soaked, dirty old clothes that raised a stench to rival the room where he cowered.

Dragging himself upright, he waited for the trembling to cease. Was that the nightmare? Or this? Hard to tell, but it mattered little.

Had to take a piss. For the first time in memory he had a bathroom to himself, if you could call it that. And real or not, he would use it. A shower in one corner with a mildewed curtain, a commode and sink, both streaked by rust stains that looked like dried blood. When he screwed the taps real hot water came from the shower head, and he peeled out of his clothes, took a leak, and stepped under the spray. He stood there for a long time while it beat down on his head. Feeling good despite everything. A sliver of cracked soap swam in the dish, and he scrubbed himself from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, rubbing between each with a finger. The water cooled before he could drag himself from under it.


Jonathan sat immobile in his Mercedes outside Craig General until the warmth from the morning sun reminded him that he needed to move on. From her bed up there behind those windows, Becca’s last words echoed in his throbbing head. Of course he cared that his son was dead, cared even more that the little beast who killed him was today walking free on the streets of Chota. If he thought he could, he would find him and drive back and forth over him until there was nothing left but a bloody puddle. There was something to say about being too civilized to give in to such urges, but he wasn’t clear exactly what it was.


She went to the island in the center of the kitchen, yanked open a drawer, and pawed around till she found a small notebook and a pen. Perching on a walnut stool, she made a list of all the ways she could get back at that little killer for what he’d done to her and her family. He wouldn’t get away with serving a lousy year and some few months in a sissy home and getting out so he could go about his business.

Sitting there, thinking and writing, the pen point cut deep into the paper. Something infinitesimal glowed deep in her gut, like a fanned coal in the ashes of a long ago fire. She felt alive for the first time since that night she’d swung open the door and found two harbingers of death standing on her door stoop.

All she had to do was find Lucas Pell and make him pay for murdering Jeremiah. Then everything would be all right. She wrote it down with big, broad strokes.



The boy slouched in a chair across the table from Spinner, who more than took up the other. Lucas made every effort to appear iced, but Spinner wasn’t fooled, not for a minute. Poor kid might as well be hanging from a precipice by the tips of his fingers. Buck naked. In a freezing wind. He’d seen them before, these pathetic, self-destructive monsters in the making. Most of them beyond help. Some had slipped from his grasp, until it was getting so he doubted his ability to drag yet another from the terrible place where their minds took refuge.

Not good. For him or this poor kid. Yet, if he lost his confidence, he might as well go to work flipping burgers. Somehow he would find a way to help this one.

The kid stared at the toes of his dirty, worn sneakers. Spoke into his worn shirt. “I need to tell them I’m sorry, man. Everything’ll be okay if I can just say I didn’t mean it.”

Where did anyone get this idea that a few insincere words could mend a destroyed life and make everything all better?

“You can’t just walk up to someone and tell ’em you’re sorry you killed their son. What do you think? They’re going to pat you on the head and say it’s okay, go forth and sin no more?”

The kid squinted a spiky blue gaze through a fringe of dishwater hair and gnawed at a dirty thumb. “Why not? It’s one of the twelve steps… admit you done wrong and seek forgiveness.”