schooling for children. But when the deadly drug lord, La Arana, attacks the school, Lia finds herself on the run for her life. The only person she can trust is the ex-SEAL sent to protect her.
chips away at the walls Lia has built, ghosts from her past threaten to destroy their fragile relationship.
Cav cursed softly. “Then he was the second man to show interest in you after your injuries?”
“Yes.” Lia fought against the burn of tears in the back of her eyes, giving him a sad, broken smile. “I thought wrongly that he liked me, my personality, that the scars didn’t bother him.” Her lips tightened. “In all fairness to Manuel, I never prepared him for the extent of my wounds, or where they were at. I’m sure it was a shock to him…”
“What did he do?” Cav demanded.
“He reared back. He wouldn’t touch me. All he could do was stare at them…”
Cav sat unmoving. He could see how fragile Lia really was in that moment. “Then,” he said, his voice harsh and low, “he wanted you for only one thing…sex. He never cared about you as a person, Lia. You realize that now, don’t you?”
Cav was desperate for her to see that. It could mean she could finally see both of those men in a different light. He knew very few women could have a night of sex for sex’s sake and then walk away without any emotional attachment. And Lia wasn’t one of those women. Jerry had cut her to her soul with the way he’d handled the situation. Manuel had burned it into her soul that she was some kind of freak of nature and therefore, undesirable.
“I try to tell myself that,” she said wryly. “On some days it actually works. On others, it doesn’t.”
“You can’t carry their immaturity and his selfishness around with you and make it your own, Lia. How they reacted to you, is on them, not you.”
The psychic damage he’d done to Lia was major, and Cav began to understand her shyness, her need to hide her scars beneath her clothing. Jerry had, for all intents and purpose, carved her up with the invisible blade of rejection. The second man had destroyed her confidence in herself as a woman. He watched her feelings play out across her desolate looking expression.
Nodding, Lia whispered, “I know that, logically. I’ve had therapy off and on over the years, trying to deal with their rejection and disgust. It’s one thing to know something mentally, Cav. It’s another to know it here,” and she pressed her hand to her heart. “I’ve just felt so shattered and unsure of myself since then. I came to realize I would never have someone who wanted me for the person I am, not the scars I wear.”
Cav had to be careful. He could feel her frailness. “Have you ever talked to anyone else about this other than your therapist?”
“No… I-I just didn’t have the strength to do it.”
He reached over, grazing her hair. “You’ve told me. That’s an important step, Lia. You’re a lot stronger than you think you are.” He searched her mournful eyes, feeling her yearning for intimacy, and her resistance to scaling the wall she’d built to keep it away.
Lia slowly stood up and moved her palms down the sides of her pants. “Since you’ve walked into my life, Cav, I feel stronger. I guess my confessing all this to you proves that, doesn’t it?”
Calmly, he said, “Not every man is like those two, Lia. I have my issues, but your scars don’t turn me off. I see you. I see your heart, your smile and your laughter. I watch you build those kids esteem. You value them and they know that.”
“I guess you see me differently, then.”
Cav nodded, watching her walk out toward the edge of the cliff. He drank in the shape of her lean, graceful body, understanding why she was underweight. Don’t eat and you’ll disappear. Just another way to hide, isn’t it?
“You,” he told her proudly, “have made a very brave step forward in sharing it all with me.”
Turning, she looked down at him. “And you’re not disgusted by it?”
“No. I’m pissed off as hell at the two men scarred you up. If I ever find them, they’re dead men walking.”
“They’re out of prison now. I don’t know where they are, and I don’t care.”
“They didn’t get long enough sentences,” he ground out. “They should be put away for life because they altered your life forever.”
She nodded. “Isn’t that the truth? I feel like I live in a prison within my own body. That the scars define me not who I am or what I can do. It’s a special prison all of its own.”
romance, adventure and suspense. She started writing at age thirteen and continues to hone her writing skills to this day. She sold her first romance novel in 1981. The rest is history.