Overview

Anya Mitchell feels greatly blessed. The owner of a successful Los Angeles financial services company, she is also prosperous in love, thanks so handsome writer Braxton Vance. True, they have real differences over their future and she must struggle at the same time to show her emotionally wounded cousin Sasha the right way in life. But Anya's faith in God's promise is unshakable...until the night she is brutally attacked in her office. Reeling with anger and fear, she wrestles with soul-wrenching doubt and the ...
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Joy

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Overview

Anya Mitchell feels greatly blessed. The owner of a successful Los Angeles financial services company, she is also prosperous in love, thanks so handsome writer Braxton Vance. True, they have real differences over their future and she must struggle at the same time to show her emotionally wounded cousin Sasha the right way in life. But Anya's faith in God's promise is unshakable...until the night she is brutally attacked in her office. Reeling with anger and fear, she wrestles with soul-wrenching doubt and the temptation to reply more on her own strength. Even more devastating is Braxton's insistence that she trust his version of what God wants her to do. Facing heartbreak and disillusion--and answers she never could have expected--Anya must now come to terms with what she truly believes...and discover that the joy that lies in God's surprising plan.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Anya Mitchell seems to have it all: a thriving business, a large diamond on her left hand and a solid relationship with the Lord. But her life is not as perfect as it seems. Her hunky fianc?, Braxton, turns out to be self-absorbed and faintly conniving. He files for custody of his son from a previous marriage without telling Anya, and then tries to persuade her to sell her business and be a stay-at-home mom once they wed. Adding to Anya's nagging doubts about Braxton is David, a charming (and single) financial whiz whom Anya has just hired. When Anya is attacked by a rapist who's been stalking her for months, she realizes she needs to rethink her life. Should she marry Braxton or pay attention to the inner voice that has been telling her for weeks that their relationship is unsalvageable? The plot is predictable; most readers will figure out the identity of the stalker pages before Anya is raped, just as most will predict that she'll dump Braxton for David. And the subplot a visit from Anya's recently divorced cousin Sasha doesn't add much. Anya spends most of the book trying to bring Sasha to faith, but Sasha's sudden conversion at the story's end manages to seem simultaneously inexplicable and predictable. Still, as the response to books like Sharon Ewell Foster's Passing by Samaria shows, there is a clear need for African-American Christian fiction; despite its flaws, it is likely many readers will savor this novel of romance, intrigue and faith. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446553773
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/14/2008
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 135,495
  • File size: 515 KB

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

The man entered the apartment, secured the upper and lower locks, then chained the door. Only then did he feel it was safe to turn on the lights. His eyes adjusted to the bare overhead light and he scanned the concrete-gray, paint-chipped walls, trying to soak up every picture. There were photos of her all over, probably at least one hundred, if he'd taken the time to count them. One day he would. He stood with his back to the door, admiring his sanctum.

The heels of his shoes clapped against the planks of the wooden floor as he walked to the center of the room. He took off his tailored suit jacket, loosened his red tie and threw both on the iron cot. He turned and took twelve steps to his kitchen.

A sudden swell of revulsion hit him as he opened the microwave. The stench from the half-eaten dinner he'd left there almost scurried to meet him. With his nose upturned, he used the tips of his fingers to dump the brown-green furry object into the sink. The two-shelf refrigerator tilted as he opened the door. It was empty. He'd forgotten to buy food. No matter. He was too tired to eat anyway.

He opened a drawer from the old dresser, and pulled out the photo album crammed with pictures. He flipped through the images of her at work, jogging on the beach, leaving church, going into her townhouse. But even though he had come here to look at the pictures, he didn't have the energy to do it tonight. He slammed the book shut and dropped it to the floor.

Walking back to the cot, he counted the steps in his mind. He always did this, though he didn't know why. Out of habit, he supposed. He knew how many steps it took to get to each part of this room. Five steps to the bathroom, eleven to the clothing rack; thirty-eight steps and he could walk around the entire apartment.

The cot creaked under his weight as he fell onto it. He thought about changing his clothes, but there were no more steps in him. He lay back, making a mental note to buy a pillow, but only if it didn't cost more than five dollars. No need to splurge on frivolous, unnecessary items. He wouldn't be keeping this place much longer anyway.

He picked up the towel from the floor, threw it over the clock and wondered if he'd be able to sleep with the light. He'd have to-he wasn't getting up now.

Finally, he closed his eyes. It had been a long day. He'd spent his free time watching her-sometimes up close, sometimes from far away. But that was the best part; she never knew it.

The man felt himself drifting off to sleep, comforted by the muted, steady tick-tick-tick of the alarm clock. A vision slowly filled his mind. She was dressed in a suit, the burgundy one-his favorite-the one that made her look like a real woman.

She was looking straight at him, unbuttoning her blouse. Her face was soft with desire. All signs of her usual arrogance were gone. Now she was just a woman, doing what she was supposed to do: preparing herself for him. He smiled in his slumber. It would only be a matter of time. Then Anya Mitchell would be completely his.

Chapter 1

Any day now!" Anya shouted, as the car in front of her remained motionless even though the other lanes were inching forward.

Anya leaned on her horn, the blaring sound startling drivers around her, causing them to turn and stare. The driver in front of her looked back through his rearview mirror, held up his hands, then rolled down his window.

"Where do you want me to go?" he yelled. Anya almost smiled. He really didn't want her to answer. She honked again-just a little, to annoy him, but she felt bad the moment she did it. She couldn't help it though-it was one of those habits that lingered from her college days in New York. Twenty years later, she used her horn as if she were still in Manhattan. She bounced back in the seat of her BMW and tapped her fingers on the steering wheel, praying for a break in the traffic. She only had ninety minutes to get back to the office and then to the restaurant.

"Ahhhh!" she yelled. She squeezed her fingers around the steering wheel and a pinpoint of sunlight burst through the windshield, hitting her ring at the perfect angle. Her emerald-cut engagement ring sparkled like lightning, and the rainbow hues danced across her slender mocha finger. Anya stared at the flawless diamond, hypnotized for a moment by its brilliance.

Her cell phone rang and she jumped. She clicked the speaker button.

"Hello," she said, forcing a smile into her voice. "What are you wearing?" His seductive tone put a smile on her face. "My burgundy suit." "The one with the short skirt? Umm, my favorite. How's your day?" "Don't ask. What about you?" "I've been in front of the computer all day, but now I want to see you. Are you going to be on time tonight?"

She detected a sprinkle of sarcasm in Braxton's tone and her smile faded a bit. "I'll be on time, Braxton, I promise," she said, running one hand through the tight curls on her head.

"Good, 'cause I can't wait to see you. We haven't spent enough time together lately." "That's not true." "Seems that way. That's why we should live together now. Waiting for the wedding doesn't make sense."

Her smile disappeared. "Braxton." She exhaled his name in a whine.

"Never mind. I'll see you in an hour. I love you."

She clicked off the phone and tightened her grip on the steering wheel. She shook her head to clear it of thoughts of her fiancÈ. There were more pressing issues in front of her.

Cars were beginning to creep forward and as her speed increased, she looked across the freeway's lanes. No three-car wreck, no stalled big wheeler. Nothing to cause the hour-long backup. She put her foot down on the accelerator and zipped her sports car across the lanes and around snail-paced cars. Maybe she could salvage the rest of the day. But the twisting in the pit of her stomach made her seriously doubt it.

"Hi, Anya. I have a couple of-"

Anya raised her hand, stopping her assistant mid-sentence. She skimmed through the pink slips Dianna handed her and sighed deeply. "Just take messages for the rest of the afternoon."

Without saying another word, Dianna nodded knowingly. The entire office had been tense as the date approached for the final pitch to Linden Communications.

Anya threw her briefcase on her desk and flopped into her leather chair. She swiveled and turned to face the large floor-to-ceiling glass windows that extended over two walls of her corner office.

It was a sparkling clear southern California day. The day after one of those El NiÒo storms that washed all the smog and dirt from the air and removed much of the shoreline from the southern Pacific Coast as well.

Anya stood, pulled her silk suit jacket over her hips, and strolled to the windows. This was why she had chosen this space. When she'd needed to expand her office, she'd been determined to find one with a breathtaking view of the city. These windows removed her from the present and took her to a faraway place when she needed to escape.

What is wrong with me? Anya wondered, as she looked down at her ring. She wanted to feel it-all of the blessedness that had been there at the beginning. But all she felt was what she'd been feeling the last few weeks: She was falling headfirst into an abyss.

She did remember the happiness that consumed her the day Braxton proposed. They were in church, in the middle of the service, right after the offering, when Pastor Ford had called his name.

"Braxton Vance, can you come up to the altar?" Anya had frowned and pulled Braxton's hand. "What's going on?" she whispered with narrowed eyes.

He stood, looked down at her and smiled but wordlessly slipped away. Her eyes focused on him, as he trotted down the green-carpeted aisle.

Braxton moved up the two steps to the altar and took Pastor Ford's outstretched hand. She led him to the podium.

Clearing his throat, he pushed his thin gold-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose, then ran his hand across his almost bald head before he spoke. "Good morning, family." He paused as the congregation responded. "As many of you know, I'm a writer and this isn't the easiest career. In the beginning it was a struggle, but I am blessed that it is no longer. And now that the trial has passed, people everywhere remember me when and want to befriend me now. But most important to me are the people who were with me when times were thin-people who never cared about what I did for a living, where I lived, or what I drove." He looked directly at Anya. "Anya Mitchell, would you please come up here?"

It took the nudging of the woman next to her to make Anya stand. She moved haltingly through the silent congregation until she was by Braxton's side. Her trembling hands were hidden behind her back. What is he doing? she thought, as possibilities ran through her mind.

Braxton took her left hand. "Anya, you've always been there for me and our friendship has turned to love. So now..." He slowly lowered himself until he was balanced on one knee. Then he removed a glinting object from his sports jacket.

Anya was frozen in place. Her glazed eyes fixed on the image in front of her. But she could hear the soft, growing rumble that moved through the six hundred or so parishioners sharing this moment with her.

"Anya Mitchell. In front of God, Pastor Ford, and our church family, would you make me the happiest man on earth and agree to become my wife?"

While the congregation cheered, Anya just stared. Pastor Ford's voice brought her back to consciousness.

"Anya, you haven't said anything," Pastor Ford said, as she joined the two at the altar.

Anya allowed herself to smile but didn't trust herself to speak. She nodded.

"Braxton, I think you can take that as a yes!" Pastor Ford laughed. The congregation roared when Braxton slipped the ring onto her finger. As the cheering continued, Anya allowed herself to relish the moment in front of hundreds of onlookers.

Anya smiled now, as she remembered that moment a little more than six months ago. She'd loved Braxton so much then and she certainly loved him now-even more. So what was wrong? Obscure emotions had unnerved her for several weeks, making her believe something bad was going to happen. But there was nothing specific she could pinpoint causing all of this doubt.

Braxton Vance was everything she'd hoped for-he was a man of God, professionally successful, and financially stable. And there didn't seem to be any dirty secrets or angry women lurking in his back-ground, waiting to pounce upon them. Topping it all, he was certainly easy on the eyes, as the women in her office told her whenever he came to visit. He was the perfect package.

Anya sighed deeply, and walked back to her desk. As she sat, her fingers did a syncopated dance atop her marble desk and she let her eyes wander around the office, finally settling on her brass desktop clock. Hastily, she pulled the Linden Communications folder from her briefcase and turned on her computer, determined to work efficiently during the next half hour. But within moments, she was leaning back in her chair, twisting the ring on her finger.

Two short knocks at the door interrupted her thoughts. Before she could utter a word, the door opened and David Montgomery strolled in. Anya hated when he did that, just walked in without her permission. But no matter how many times she brought it to his attention, he continued doing it.

"Alaister finished all the numbers for the presentation." David sank into one of the cream-colored leather chairs in front of her desk and crossed his legs. "I've looked it over, but you can glance at it before tomorrow's meeting."

Anya gazed at him, sitting so casually, decked out in one of his tailored suits that looked like it had been sewn directly onto his muscular frame.

"How does it look to you, David?" Anya asked in her most professional voice.

"It's fine, I'm just giving you this professional courtesy." Anya cringed, took a deep breath, and willed herself not to blow like an over-inflated tire. David had been working with her for a bit more than a month, but this wasn't the first time he had spoken to her in a tone bordering on insubordination.

She had to remind herself why she had hired David in the first place-University of Virginia M.B.A., certified financial planner, ten years of financial-planning experience with American Express in the Dallas office, national top-producer awards. Anya knew that David could help Mitchell & Associates Financial Services achieve all of her objectives.

Still twisting her ring, she stared at him, hoping her eyes delivered her message. She took off the ring, placing it on the desk before she spoke.

"Is this the complete report?" Her voice was stiff. "Yep, all numbers have been triple-checked. You know I never bring you anything unless it's perfect."

Anya pursed her lips, leaned across the wide desk and took the report from David's outstretched hand, tugging at it just enough for him to feel it, and just enough for her to regret it. She shouldn't be acting this way-it wasn't David's fault she was in a bad mood.

"I'm getting ready to leave, so I'll take this home." She tried to soften her voice.

David raised his thick eyebrows. "You're leaving? I thought you'd review this right now. The meeting is set for nine. So if you have any changes..."

Anya lifted her chin. "If I have any changes, I'll handle them in the meeting."

David held up his hands in surrender. "Whatever you say, Boss." He walked to the door, then turned back suddenly. "You know we're going to get this account. All of the numbers show that we can save them almost $100,000 a year on their benefits. I know Linden will be ours." He grinned, his deep-set dimples becoming even more visible.

The moment she was alone, Anya stuffed the report into her briefcase. He probably thinks I'm suffering from PMS or something, she thought. But she didn't have time to think about that now. If she hurried, she would still be on time for Braxton. She picked up her briefcase and rushed out, without saying a word to her flustered assistant.

Anya leaned into the soft seat and the tension of the day began to ebb from her shoulders. The traffic flowed easily down Wilshire-a surprise because she'd expected the trek from Wilshire to Melrose to be, at best, sluggish and stressful.

She popped the CD of her church's choir into the player and started swaying as the melodious sounds filled her car. This is what I should have done before, she thought. Praising the Lord always took her back to where she was supposed to be.

She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel pretending she was Sheila E., when she was jolted by the shrill ring of her cell phone. She debated whether to answer. It was either Braxton checking on her or Dianna calling with an urgent message that she didn't want to know about. "I'm not going to answer!" she yelled at the portable phone. On cue, the ringing stopped.

With a wide smile, she continued tapping her fingers to the music, but groaned a few seconds later when the phone rang again. She picked it up on the second ring. "Yes!"

"Anya?" Who else would be answering her cell phone? "Yes, Dianna. What is it?"

"God, I thought I would never get you. You ran out so fast and you didn't tell me where you were going. So I figured the only way to get you would be on your cell phone and I am glad-"

Anya rolled her eyes. She loved Dianna, who was more than competent. But sometimes... "What is it?" she interrupted. "Oh, you left your ring."

Dianna spoke so casually, it took a moment for Anya to realize what she was saying. Confused, she looked down at her left hand as her right one clutched the steering wheel. The third finger was bare.

"Oh, no," she groaned, vaguely remembering when she'd taken it off.

"I went into your office to straighten your desk and your ring was just sitting there, sparkling. I still think it's one of the prettiest rings I've ever seen. I can't wait until-"

"Di-an-na!" "Sorry."

Anya considered her options. "Look, I'm supposed to meet Braxton"- she glanced down at the clock and moaned-"in five minutes. And I'm five minutes from the restaurant."

"I'll bring it to you! Where are you and Braxton going to be?" "No!" Anya shook her head at the thought of Dianna popping into the restaurant saying "Surprise! Here's your ring." What would Braxton think?

"I'll turn around and drive back down Wilshire. Meet me at the corner of ...Wilshire and LaCienega. I'll be waiting for you right in front of the Red Lobster."

"Okay." Dianna seemed to sing the word.

"And, Dianna"-Anya softened her voice-"thank you." Anya clicked off the phone and looked at her naked finger once again. How would she have explained it?

She made an illegal U-turn and headed back toward her office, shivering as goosebumps rose on her arms despite the closed car windows. Just the other day, she had found her ring on the edge of the kitchen sink.

Is this a sign? she asked herself. She shook her head and sighed deeply. The tension of the day was gone, but replacing it was a feeling of deep uneasiness.

By the time Anya pulled up in front of Crossroads, she was thirty minutes late. She jumped from the car and tossed her keys to the valet. "Thanks, Michael," she called to the young man who often parked her car when she and Braxton came to her favorite restaurant.

Her heels clicked against the brick walkway as she rushed through the entrance, then stopped short behind a couple talking to the waitress. She squinted into the dark room and, seconds later, saw Braxton waving at her. She tried to read his expression, but he was too far away for her to discern his mood. The hostess motioned for Anya to follow her.

Heads turned as Anya made her way to the table. She strolled with the confidence of royalty, gliding by the restaurant's packed tables.

Anya kept her soft brown eyes fixed on Braxton and never noticed the admiring glances from men and women alike. When she was close enough to see Braxton's smile, she exhaled.

Braxton took her raincoat and handed it to the hostess. "I got a call from my editor just as I was leaving, so I just got here myself."

Anya was relieved when Braxton pulled her close, hugging her. He was a head taller than she was, and he had to lean over slightly to rub his smooth face along her cheek. She eased her hand up his back, feeling the toned hardness, and closed her eyes trying to enjoy the moment. Braxton had a way of contacting her emotional nerveendings with one gentle touch. But she didn't feel it today, and pulled back.

He hesitated for an instant, then brushed his lips against her cheek.

Anya responded with a smile. "How are you?"

"Wonderful, now. You sound like you had a tough day." He pulled the chair out for her, then moved his chair closer to her. With gentle fingers, he massaged her shoulder.

She nodded and closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of her muscles relaxing. "We're jamming in the final changes for the presentation tomorrow, and I got stuck on the 405 and then I got into a little thing with David." Anya's words rolled over each other. She opened her eyes, glanced at the ring, then said a quick, silent prayer of thanks.

"Another little thing with David? What was it this time?" "Oh, nothing," Anya said, waving her hand and ring in the air.

"Just the usual..." She left the sentence unfinished and picked up the menu. The aroma of the Creole spices teased her, reminding her just how hungry she was.

"Well, I don't want you to think about work. I have something that will take your mind off it." He reached to the chair next to him.

A bunch of yellow roses suddenly appeared on the table. She dropped the menu and brought the bundle to her face. "Thank you!" She smiled. "But what's the occasion?"

Braxton kissed her fingers. "The same as every day. I love you." His light brown eyes enveloped her. She did love this man. "Oh, those are beautiful!" the waitress exclaimed as she came to their table. "Are you guys celebrating something special tonight?"

Anya looked directly at Braxton. "We're celebrating our love." She laid the flowers on the table.

"Hey, now, that's a good reason. Would you like something to drink?" the waitress asked Anya.

"An iced tea." The waitress nodded and left them alone. Anya picked up the menu again. "I think we should order."

"I already ordered, honey," Braxton said, taking her hand. "When I realized you were running late, I thought I'd better. That's okay, isn't it?"

It was a moment before Anya responded. "What are we having?" "I ordered the Georgia salad for you. I didn't think you'd want anything heavier."

Her smile drooped, and she pulled her hand away. From a nearby table, the aroma of the crawfish stew drifted over to her. She inhaled, then picked up her glass of water and took a long sip.

Braxton took her hand into his once again. "Anya, there is something we need to talk about."

She chewed on a piece of ice. "What is it?" He sighed and dropped his head, dropping her hand at the same time. "I've been thinking about this marriage counseling." It was Anya's turn to sigh. "Braxton, not again."

"I don't want to fight," he said, holding up his hands. "But I think we should really think about this before we start. It will be harder to get out once we begin."

Anya shook her head, but remained silent.

"Counseling is going to be a waste of time," Braxton continued. "You haven't gone through this before, but I have."

Anya closed her eyes and held her head in her hands. Around her, glasses and silverware clanked and laughter rose. But all she could hear were the words of the many discussions they'd already had on this subject. Some time passed before she opened her eyes.

"Braxton, just because you think counseling didn't work for you before, it doesn't mean it won't work now. If that were true, then you shouldn't even be thinking about getting married again, because your first marriage didn't work out."

He shook his head. "I'm not saying that. I'm saying that counseling is for kids just starting out."

"This has nothing to do with age. This is about taking time with our pastor to discuss all of those issues that come up in marriage. It's about being prepared, Braxton."

"We don't need outside help with our relationship." "Obviously you could have used some help before." She softened her tone when he winced. "Braxton, just look at this for what it is-a way for us to learn how to keep God in the center of our lives. Why are you so against this?"

"Honey, I'm not against anything. I'm just saying that we already have God in our lives. We're two born-again, spirit-filled, committed-to- God people. That's all we need. We don't need counseling." He paused. "But if you're going to force the issue..."

She sat straighter in her chair. Her voice went up an octave. "You do remember that Pastor Ford requires this counseling if we want her to marry us."

He nodded.

"So, maybe you're saying something else." She twisted her ring with her words. "Maybe you don't want to get married at all."

Braxton shook his head. "That's ridiculous. We don't agree, but you know that I want to marry you. All I'm saying is that we can tell Pastor Ford that we're too busy right now, get out of counseling, and she'll still marry us."

"I can't believe you are actually willing to lie to Pastor," she said through clenched teeth. "We keep talking about this-going over the same thing. How can taking one hour a week, talking about putting God in the center of our lives, be a bad thing?"

"Here we go," the waitress sang, silencing their argument. The plate in front of Anya was filled with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, while an overflowing dish of pasta topped with peppered jumbo shrimp sat in front of Braxton. Her eyes darted between her plate and Braxton's, and her stomach growled. Braxton took Anya's hand, and they bowed their heads while he blessed their food. When he lifted his head, his smile had reappeared.

"Okay," Braxton said, motioning with his fork, "if I have to live with counseling, then I want you to do something for me." Anya stabbed at a plump cherry tomato.

"I want to set our wedding date," Braxton continued, not noticing Anya's silence. "Let's go in there tonight with an announcement. I think we've put off setting the date long enough, don't you?"

Anya swirled a piece of lettuce in the vinaigrette dressing. Ever since their engagement, Braxton had been pushing to set a date. But she had continually put him off, saying that there was no need to rush. She was just too busy with her business and he was too busy with his writing.

She looked up at him. Now, as Braxton looked into her eyes, Anya knew there were no more excuses. What was she waiting for anyway? "Do you have a date in mind?"

"Tomorrow," Braxton chuckled. Anya flinched. "Can't do it that fast."

"Just kidding-and hoping. How much time do you think we'll need? It's not going to be a big affair." "It will still take time to plan, Braxton," she said coolly. "Let's do June. That gives us six months, and Junior will be out of school so he could spend some extra time with us." Braxton smiled widely as he mentioned his son.

Anya hesitated. "That's fine," she replied, with as much enthusiasm as she could muster.

Braxton leaned over and kissed her, leaving the savory taste of the peppered shrimp on her lips. "Great! We'll tell Pastor tonight and then we can tell Madear."

Anya couldn't help but smile when he mentioned her grandmother, the woman who had raised her since she was thirteen. Madear was so happy that Anya had found herself "a good Christian man."

"You do know how much I love you?" Braxton ran his palm across her cheek.

"I know," Anya said honestly. She never doubted his love. Braxton talked throughout dinner, while Anya smiled and nodded.

She watched as Braxton swept the last shrimp through the sauce on his plate and popped it into his mouth.

He smiled at her. "Are you finished?" She munched on one last piece of flavorless lettuce. "I've had just about enough."

"Great, let's get to church!" Anya wasn't surprised at Braxton's newfound eagerness. After all, she had given in. Well, she thought, as she backed away from the table, isn't that what a relationship was about...compromise?

The wheels of the metal cart creaked along the carpet. The cleaning lady paused outside David's door.

"Good night, Mr. Montgomery." With her thick Spanish accent, she always spoke slowly, drawing out every word to make sure she was understood.

David raised his head and squinted through tired eyes. "Good night, Gina."

Since he'd joined this firm, it had been this way-even the late-night cleaning people came and left before he did.

"I will lock the doors." The older woman gave David a toothy grin, then ambled toward the front of the office.

David knew what would come next. He waited, counting the seconds and her steps, and then heard her voice.

"Don't work too late, Mr. Montgomery. It's not normal for a handsome young man like you to be working so late. You should be home right now, taking care of a wife and some children. You shouldn't be alone." Gina tisked and continued mumbling indecipherable words.

David massaged his temples, trying to relieve the headache that had taken up permanent residency there. He waited to hear the office doors close and lock, the signal that Gina had completed her nocturnal soliloquy. Finally, he leaned his tall, ex-tight-end football player frame back in his chair, as Gina's words played in his head.

She'd said he was young and handsome. Young-that was hard to believe because he felt well beyond his thirty-two years. He moved forward so that he could glance at his reflection in his oversized glass-and-chrome desk. Many people said that he was good-looking, at least in recent years. When he was younger, girls preferred the fair-skinned boys. With his dark skin, he was the last one anyone looked at. But times had certainly changed. He was one of the handsome Black men of the new millennium. Chocolate brothers were in demand, and his smooth dark complexion was disturbed only by the close-cut beard that he'd recently started wearing. He guessed he could be considered good-looking, if the way women now reacted was any indication.

But Gina was right about one thing: He was alone. And going home to his Huntington Beach condo served only to remind him of decisions he'd made. It was there that he seemed to remember all the things he tried so hard to forget.

Mitchell and Associates was another attempt for him to start anew. But though he had been in Los Angeles for more than a month, he felt like he was still in the middle of Manhattan.

He glanced at the Linden presentation laid out before him. Seven-day weeks filled with fourteen-hour days had delivered what he knew was a flawless proposal. The office's atmosphere had been electric today, charged with expectation as everyone felt this million-dollar account was about to become part of Mitchell and Associates.

He had brought Linden Communications to Anya the first week he was here. He remembered her face when he told her the numbers this account would bring. She'd shaken her head and called him Mr. Boy Wonder. David exhaled loudly. "Mr. Boy Wonder." If she only knew.

The miniature walnut grandfather clock chimed softly eleven times. He didn't have to raise his head to know that, finally, it was time to go home.

Slowly, he stuffed papers into his briefcase. He never looked at anything he took home. He was always too tired. But he took them just in case he awakened in the middle of the night.

He stood, closed his eyes, and released a long sigh. He couldn't wait to fall asleep; unconsciousness was his relief.

He turned off the lights and walked through the capacious office, stylishly decorated with glass desks and black lacquer furniture. Moving silently along the rich mauve carpet that Anya had installed when she'd rented this space, he paused in front of one of the positive affirmation posters she had hung throughout the office. DON'T QUIT, he read silently. That was the only thing he hadn't done.

It would be midnight by the time he got home. He would sleep for a few hours, then be up at five for his normal hour run on the beach, before returning to the office by eight-always before anyone else. He knew he was pushing himself, but it was the only way for him to survive.

Copyright (c) 2001 by Victoria Christopher Murray

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(41)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    I enjoy this author

    I have purchased ms. marray's books before truely enjoyable

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Anonymous

    This book is great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2011

    A MUST READ!

    This book is awesome in demonstrating that with faith all things are possible!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2011

    New to author

    This is the first novel I've read by this author. I enjoyed the story line and how she weaved faith in Jesus into it. I did purchased this electronically and that does influence my overall feelings. There were spelling and punctuation errors throughout the book that was annoying and disturbed the flow. The overall electronic style, layout, was lacking in what you would get in something tangible. However, it was well written, I felt for the characters, and I enjoyed it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This is a must read. I could not put this book down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    An Insprirational book

    Reading this book has led me to all of Victoria Christopher Murray's books and I must say my only disappointment was that I have no more to read. I cannot wait for another book by this author. This book is so inspirational. It has the right amount of balance, the characters are so relatable and I understood all the feelings that the author intended to portray. Great book a Definate good buy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2008

    Great Read Could Hardly Put It Down!

    This story kept me captivated... I couldn't wait to find out what each new chapter would bring... I would definitely recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this book at the hairdresser every Friday for a month. I believe as much as I wanted my hair done. I wanted to get there to read this book. Praise God

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2006

    Awesome read

    This was an awesome read. I suggest all Christians who are in significant relationships or who are considering a relationship read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2006

    Outstanding and inspirational

    This was a very inspiring book. Of all the books I have read, an I am a avid reader, this is the best so far. This was my first time reading a book by this author and I was very impressed. If you have not read this book, please get a copy you will not be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    Beautifully written!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As a backsliding Christian this was one of the first books that I have read that really helped me put in perspective who/what needs to be the head of my life . .. . .. GOD!!! I recommend this book to anyone who wants to come closer to HIM, because after all He is able!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2004

    AWESOME!

    This book made me laugh, cry, shout hallejuiah and want to lay folks out. The story was full of twists and turns, and it was very hard to put down. Miss Murray is a writer who captures your interest from the beginning, and makes you think about the characters long after the last page. This book ministered to me in many different ways, and encouraged me and blessed me. I could read it over and over again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2004

    WONDERFULLYSUPERBULOFABTABULOUSLYRIFIC!

    I Loved this book! What an example of a Christian! All that She went through she still lived and spoke the things of God. Which led two more people to Christ. I loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2004

    Joy is a wonderful book

    Victoria Murray does a great job in providing this book's message about faith and trust in the Lord. A good book that cannot be put down once you start reading!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2004

    Excellente'

    I really enjoyed Joy. I could not put the book down once I started. It is so refreshing to read such an uplifting spiritual book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2003

    ...but 'Joy'

    Christopher-Murphy has done it again!!! This was the best one of her novels that I've read. The marriage didn't turn out the way I thought it would, but I admired Anya's stand for what she truely believed in. The touchy part was when Sasha, the wild one, gave her life to the Lord. And like Sasha, somethings we don't seem to understand, but who said we'll understand anything - God's thoughts are higher than ours. This is an excellent read!!! I recommend this one to everyone. Again, hats off to Ms. Victoria. I'm waiting on the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    Another Awesome Book by Victoria

    This book had it all drama, action, suspense and more. Victoria has created yet another great storyline. Some of the content may have been tough to take for some but it was real to life and really spoke to my heart. I love her books because she displays true-to-life situations and shows how God is in the middle of it all. I thank God for Victoria and other authors like her. May she continue to produce quality books like this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2003

    Great Read

    I truly enjoyed reading this book. It was refreshing after reading so many novels focused on sex and such to find something as fresh and as wholesome as Joy. Although I tend to disagree with some of the material overall the book was great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2003

    Phenomenal

    This was no doubt the best book I have ever read. It kept my attention thoughout the whole book. I couldn't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    Wayne

    ?is jesus good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews

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