Safe in His Embrace [NOOK Book]

Overview

Forced to flee for her life, Senetra Blain has moved to Alaska armed with a new identity. The last thing she wants is another relationship—until sensitive, sensual Alex Wilson tempts her to open up. But how can she ever trust another man? The seductive engineer seems to know who she is and what she wants. And that makes him dangerous to know…and dangerous to love.

The sultry new high school teacher is definitely hiding something. And Alex has a pretty good idea what it is. So ...

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Safe in His Embrace

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Overview

Forced to flee for her life, Senetra Blain has moved to Alaska armed with a new identity. The last thing she wants is another relationship—until sensitive, sensual Alex Wilson tempts her to open up. But how can she ever trust another man? The seductive engineer seems to know who she is and what she wants. And that makes him dangerous to know…and dangerous to love.

The sultry new high school teacher is definitely hiding something. And Alex has a pretty good idea what it is. So Alex will take it slow. And, kiss by scorching kiss, he'll show this alluring woman of mystery how right they are together—and that he'll always be there to protect her. Because the closer he gets, the more Senetra's letting down her guard. Now if only she'd let him into her heart….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426846465
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Series: Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #172
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,243,723
  • File size: 455 KB

Meet the Author

Candice Poarch, a nationally best-selling author, fell in love with writing stories centered around romance and families many years ago. She feels the quest for love is universal and portrays a sense of community and mutual support in her novels. Married thirty years, Candice is a mother of three children. She is a graduate of Virginia State University and holds a degree in physics. Please visit her website at www.CandicePoarch.net.

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Read an Excerpt

Senetra Blain's heart beat erratically as icy points of fear gripped her. She was in her old bedroom in her mother's L.A. home, hastily tossing her things in a suitcase. The pale green walls contrasted with the slightly darker green-and-white bedspread. Her debate, soccer and softball trophies were lined up on shelves. Her ballet costume graced the wall like a beloved portrait. No shelter here. Would she ever see this room again? Would she ever see her mother again? Her stomach clenched. She was running on adrenaline, trying to stay alive one day at a time.

"I don't know how Timothy keeps finding me," she said of her husband. "I just can't get away from him."

"It's entirely my fault," her mother, Dorothelia Jackson, said. Just looking at Senetra distressed her. Still slightly swollen and bruised, the marks from the assault just now fading to a light purple shade. It would take weeks for the marks to fade completely. Her mother balled her hands into fists, her nails biting into her skin. "I just needed to see you, and look at what he did to you. I'm so sorry."

"Don't you dare take responsibility for Timothy's actions. It wasn't your fault. You didn't do this. He did." Senetra hugged her mother briefly, holding back tears of rage and pain.

Wanting to free herself from Timothy as quickly as possible, Senetra had returned to Milwaukee to sign the divorce papers. Apparently, her husband had been trailing her because he abducted her right off the street. Her sixty-five-year-old mother was knocked to the sidewalk when she tried to stop him.

Timothy took Senetra to the posh home she and he had shared for more than a year. And there he beat her before her mother and her lawyer came tearing in with the police. Senetra didn't know any of that at the time. She'd lost consciousness.

Senetra shook her head and grimaced when pain stabbed her. She'd spent a week in the hospital. She was released yesterday and with security guards her mother had hired, had flown to L.A. with her mother hovering close by.

She was leaving within moments—maybe forever.

Senetra fought tears. "I want to see you, too, Mama. We shouldn't have to stay apart. I shouldn't have to hide. He breaks the law and he gets away with it." Damn it, where was the justice in that? Absurdly, Timothy had claimed self-defense. He had a top-notch attorney to represent him, and so far no charge seemed to stick.

Timothy had started hitting her within six months of their marriage. Senetra refused to take it. She moved out, but she quickly discovered leaving him wasn't so easy. He found her—and of course he beat her. But it was nothing like this time. She knew he'd kill her if he ever found her again.

"There is an option we haven't considered," her mother said.

"Oh?"

"The sperm donor your father and I used to conceive made arrangements for you to contact him if you wanted to," she said. "Did you ever tell Timothy about him?"

"Are you kidding? I had to be from the right pedigree to satisfy his snobbish family."

"They have nothing to turn their noses up at. Your donor father comes from a well-respected family, as do your father and I. Why don't you contact him, honey? If you're in trouble, I'm sure he'll want to help you."

"That's pretty far-fetched, Mama, for me to come out of the blue and announce that I'm his long lost daughter and that I need sanctuary." Senetra zipped up the suitcase.

"Why not? He was a compassionate man. He knew how desperately your father and I wanted you, which was the reason he agreed to the procedure."

"I'll be okay, Mama. I'm more worried about you. I'll find a way to contact you so you'll at least know I'm safe."

"Take this anyway." Dorothelia thrust a small envelope into her hand and Senetra quickly stashed it in her purse. "Will this nightmare ever end?" She took her daughter's face in both hands. "I love you so much. And I miss you. We were so close."

"We still are. He can't change that. We just can't be physically close," she murmured past the lump in her throat. "I'll miss you, Mama. More than you'll ever know."

"I wish your father was still alive."

Her father had died while her mother was pregnant with Senetra. But as he was dying he wrote several small books for her that she cherished dearly. Thank God, she'd left most of them in her mother's home when she married. Otherwise Timothy would have destroyed all of them or held them hostage the way he was holding the two she'd left in Milwaukee. He'd already destroyed one of them.

She hugged her mother tightly and quickly. One of the security guards came for her luggage and reminded them it was time for Senetra to leave. With teary goodbyes she headed for the stairs.

"Maybe…maybe I can join you one day," her mother called after her desperately.

"I'd love that."

"God will find a way so that we can be together."

Senetra would never forget her mother's beautiful, anguished face. Her complexion was a little lighter than Senetra's medium brown. Her hair was curled under and brushed her shoulders. She was an intelligent woman with aristocratic features. Before Senetra's marriage, she'd looked years younger, as if she were in her fifties instead of her sixties. Now she looked her age.

Hours later, Senetra boarded a ship and was on her way to the first leg of her journey. Her mother didn't have a clue as to her destination. She'd worked it out in her mind while she was in the hospital. Alaska was the only place her husband would never think to search.

She and the security guys had set up an elaborate escape. They only knew part of her route. She'd changed her appearance. She wore a wig and colored contacts and dressed twenty pounds heavier than her actual weight.

In the interim she would stay with the sister of a long-ago acquaintance on an island near Seattle to wait to see if he was able to secure a teaching position for her under the new identity the Milwaukee courts had established for her. She'd considered moving to a small, isolated town of no more than three hundred, but a place like that lacked vital services. There were certain things she wasn't willing to give up—teaching and creature comforts.

Settling back in her seat, she pried open the envelope and retrieved a single sheet of paper. "Mackenzie Avery" was printed in her mother's lovely script, along with his address and phone number. He lived in Virginia. Senetra shoved the paper back in the envelope, stashed it again in her purse and glanced around. Since she first ran away, she was always cognizant of her surroundings.

She couldn't contact Mr. Avery. One of her high school friends was also the product of a sperm donor.

They'd made up elaborate plans for her to meet the man, thinking he would welcome her with open arms. Her friend could barely contain her excitement. Senetra remembered the day vividly. It was nice to meet her, her donor father had said. She'd certainly turned into a nice young lady. But he'd made it clear he didn't consider himself her father.

Eight months was a moment or an eternity.

"Ms. Novak," a voice called up to Senetra's second-floor apartment, loud enough to wake everyone on that side of the building.

She couldn't believe that boy was yelling to her before five o'clock and on a Saturday morning. She pushed the sliding door open and went out on the balcony.

"Hush, Mark, before you wake everyone."

The lanky six-three senior hadn't quite grown into his height. He stood next to his best friend, Anthony Wright. "Dad's leaving soon," he said impatiently. "You're gonna miss him."

"I'm coming down now," she told him.

"Throw down your keys so I can warm up your car."

Handing her keys over to a seventeen-year-old wasn't something a sane teacher would do. But she'd likely miss the older man if she waited to warm up the car when she went downstairs. The temperature had dipped near zero the night before. She retrieved the key and tossed it down to him.

Senetra had arrived in Homer, Alaska, the beginning of September and began to work immediately. They had given her seniors. At first she thought it was a curse. It turned out to be a blessing. It left her very little time to think. Seniors were a handful and although it was only March, they were bursting with excitement about graduation and college.

Except for one of her favorites, Mark Kirill. He was a bright student, but his father was vehemently against him going to college. Senetra agreed to talk to him. The older man was going fishing that morning and she didn't know when he'd return.

Homer might be warmer than most of Alaska, but it was still cold as heck, she thought as she went outside. Gray exhaust was sputtering from her Jeep.

Mark and Anthony got out. "Mom and Dad argued again last night," Mark said, his face furrowed.

Senetra patted his arm. "I'm sorry."

"Mom put him out of the bedroom."

Senetra brushed a hand across her face. Danya Kirill's wife was a tiny woman. The image of her ordering a man the size of a bear around almost had Senetra bubbling with laugher. But she curtailed it. Clearly Mark was distressed.

"He respects you," Mark said. "Maybe you can get him to see reason."

Senetra stifled a moan. She wished Mark hadn't put too much trust in her abilities to persuade his father. "I can't promise you anything, but I'll do my best."

"I know you'll convince him. I just have to go to Anchorage. Anthony and I are gonna be roommates."

"I have to get to the dock first," she said, getting into the Jeep.

She'd sent letters to Mr. Kirill requesting a conference with him, but once he realized her repeated requests dealt with college forms and not some problem the teenager was having in school, he'd ignored them.

The Jeep wasn't actually warm, but the motor was warm enough to drive. She drove the three blocks to the Spit, a small boat harbor with launching facilities and charter boats. On a warm day she would have walked.

The beauty of the Kachemak Bay spread out before her in a seascape worthy of a painting. Gathering her coat around her, she climbed out of the car. Fishermen were still pulling out to sea. The few boats scattered about were a tiny fraction of the bustling activity when she'd arrived. She perused the pier until she located the boat she was searching for. She gave a sigh of relief. The captain was still there with his brother, but the engine was running.

Senetra jogged down the dock, waving her hand to get Danya Kirill's attention. "Mr. Kirill, Mr. Kirill," she shouted. "May I have a moment with you, please?"

He scowled over the motor's loud roar, indicating he'd heard more than enough from her already.

"What is it now?" he growled with a frown designed to send her fleeing. It reminded her of Mark.

"The deadline is almost here. I need you to complete a few forms so Mark can apply for a scholarship."

"How many times have I told you Mark's not going anywhere? He's going to stay right here and fish with me," he said, pointing toward the deck with a long finger. "We're fishermen, Ms. Novak. Now I've got work to do."

"Mr. Kirill. Please," she entreated. "The form doesn't obligate Mark."

"Don't have time to waste. In the summer I can make enough to support my family the entire year. Now, how many jobs can let a man do that these days?"

Mark wanted to attend college desperately, so she renewed her efforts. "Not many. But you obviously enjoy your work. And most of your runs are made during the summer when Mark will be home from college and available to work with you," she said. "Give him a chance to direct his own future."

"I make a good honest living. And I've raised my family in a good, safe community," he said. "And at least my son is safe here."

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