Francis Frailey fears he might become as abusive as his uncle once was, so he admires his young family from a distance. His plan is lonely, but safe, until his wife Christine sneaks past his staunch decorum. With tender devotion she coaxes him beyond his wretched childhood memories to a place where trust and love grows.
The fragile bond shatters when Francis’ family intervenes and he must decide if hate will rule his heart. Christine promises forgiveness will make him whole, but Francis aches for revenge. He’s determined to kill his uncle and be done.
Christine’s brother, Joe Douglas, has plans of his own that include asking his wife Annie to face her troubled past. But to help Christine, Joe agrees to go after Francis and bring him home. Taking his young son and nephew with him unhinges them all. Joe doesn’t know if the love Francis has for his son is stronger than the hate he harbors for his uncle. Or perhaps Francis despises himself most of all. Joe fears the wrong person may end up dead.
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A reminder ~ this is a family saga with several POV!
Once they reached the Douglas farm, Francis refused to stay for the evening meal.
“For damns sake, come in,” her father, Will, ventured. But Francis stood stiffly at the entrance as she and her children shifted uneasily beside him. The dangling lanterns above the table and others on the mantel lit up their expectant faces.
“There’s plenty left,” her mama said.
Elizabeth opened her arms, and Jimmy and Crystal stepped into her embrace. Christine eyed her children snuggling safe in her mother’s arms and her throat tightened.
Will Jr. stood, looking as dark and tall as her father. He didn’t extend a handshake to Francis or offer her a hug, and that just wasn’t done in her family. Hugs were as numerous and hearty as the horses in the pastures. Instead, her brother’s usual friendly grin tightened and his gaze hardened as Christine fumbled with their trunks and gestured for her children to greet their aunt and uncle. Their watching made her self-conscious and her fingers inched toward her face to hide the scratch.
Her chest tightened all the more when her parents gaze moved from Francis to her, neither voicing their worry, even as it filled their faces.
Francis opened the door and the crisp dampness of the on-coming night cooled her hot cheeks. His eyes touched hers only for a moment, and they were much too guarded for her to question his decision to leave.
“Good to see you all,” his voice cracked as he gripped the door.
Elizabeth stepped forward, her hand reaching out for him, but Francis swept across the threshold and pounded across the shadow-filled porch.
No one moved to stop him and moments later Christine heard the carriage careen down the lane. She eased the door shut, unable to answer the question in her mother’s gaze. Her mama turned to the kids and urged them to the benches at the table and to the remains of a peach cobbler, her smile warm and reassuring. Will’s three daughters stepped toward the table too and Christine smiled to each, struggling to recall their names.
The room was too quiet to be her family. Her father and brother settled in rockers by the hearth and Tess fussed over Jimmy and Crystal, commenting on how much they’d grown.
Her parents home had always made her feel secure and Christine tried to smile, venture into conversation. She fooled no one. Apprehension made her voice shake. Nothing was secure now, and she wondered if she should have tried once more to stop her husband.
About the author:
DL Larson always thought she’d be a city girl, but instead, she has spent the last 40 years surrounded by corn fields. She lives in northern Illinois and enjoys the outdoors, especially gardening, boating and bike riding with her family.
Reading is a big part of DL’s life, both professionally as a writer and as a Children’s Librarian.
She likes being in the know, seeing firsthand what folks like to read. Going back to school as an adult rejuvenated her desire to become a novelist. The writing awards she received lifted her up and reinforced her drive to tell the best story she could. Her second novel, Promises To Keep was a 2008 Reader’s Choice Recipient.