The suspicious death of Dante Bartholomew’s wife changed him, especially in the eyes of the residents of St. Giles. They no longer see a successful businessman… only a monster they believe was involved. Dante’s horrific reputation eclipses the truth to the point that he sees no choice but to isolate himself and his heart.
The plan backfires when he meets counselor Beau Clarity and the children he works with. Beau and the kids see beyond the beastly reputation to the beautiful soul inside Dante, and Dante’s cold heart begins to thaw as they slip past his defenses. The warmth and hope Beau brings to Dante’s life helps him see his entire existence—his trials and sorrows—in a brighter light.
But Dante’s secrets could rip happiness from their grasp… especially since someone isn’t above hurting those Dante has grown to love in order to bring him down.
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There was a wave of silence as the collective talking came to a stop and all heads turned toward him at the same time. One of the waiters approached, and Dante took a glass of champagne from the tray, thanked him, and continued on through the room. He’d known it would be like this and had been stupid to even bother coming. The town rumor mill had had plenty to feed itself on over the years, and it seemed the stories had gotten bigger with each retelling.
“It will be all right,” Yates said as he came up and stood next to him.
“Do you think I care what these people think?” Dante asked, then drank, emptying half the glass. “God, this stuff is awful.” He set the glass on a nearby tray. “Is there a bar?” He hoped so. Maybe two or three double whiskies would do the trick.
“Yes. It’s in the room off to the side over there.”
Yates seemed exasperated as Dante stomped off to get himself something that would make this night tolerable. There was a line, but it evaporated when people saw him, and he practically walked up to the bar. He ordered and paid for his drinks, placed a nice tip in the jar, and left the room before the whispers could start. For two years he’d stayed away, putting on a brave front, but…. Dante raised the glass to his lips, downed the first of his scotches, and set the glass aside. He held the second one, intending to sip it for a while.
The waves of people seemed to part, and Dante got a glimpse of a brown-haired man with intense blue eyes standing on the other side of the room. His nose was crooked and he was a little gawky. Handsome wasn’t a word that Dante would have used to describe him. He had seen better looking men, but few with the intensity and drive that churned in those blue orbs. His tuxedo looked at least one size too big for him, and his shirt was a little wrinkled. Dante barely noticed. What he saw were those fiery eyes and a pair of lips turned up in a smile as he spoke to the short lady in front of him. Dante had seen plenty of beautiful people, but few of them captured his attention the way this man did.
“Yates,” Dante asked as his lawyer passed nearby, tugging him off his path. “Who is he?” Dante didn’t dare take his gaze off him for fear that he was an illusion and would disappear into the crowd and Dante would never see him again.
“Beau Clarity. He runs one of the programs at the Center. That’s the reason for tonight’s fundraiser. We’re expanding counseling services here, and he runs the program.” Yates brushed something off Dante’s arm.
“How is that possible? He looks like….” Words escaped him. An angel, or maybe it was the devil himself in an ill-fitting suit but with a nose and face that stopped Dante in his tracks. Beau chuckled and then laughed, adding to the glitter of the evening with the joy in his eyes.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.