- Toni enjoys making chocolate treats in her bakery. Haunted by her abusive past, she struggles with her faith in God. Her world changes when a handsome stranger arrives, reminiscing about his childhood. Jason Matthews misses his days of working in his family's pastry shop. Estranged from his father, he longs to rediscover the joy and comfort from baking. When Toni's life is threatened, Jason realizes how deeply he cares for her. Can Toni and Jason overcome their pasts and learn to trust one another?
The security guard grinned at Toni, wiping the crumbs away from his mouth. He placed the partially-eaten pink, heart-shaped cupcake on a napkin. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
She returned his smile, snuggling beneath the winter cape her fiancé Brian had gotten for her last birthday. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.” She took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. “I’m here to see Brian Carter.”
The guard nodded. “Go on up. His admin told me you’d be stopping by for lunch.”
“Thanks.” Toni’s high-heeled shoes tapped against the waxed floor as she strolled toward the elevator. Clutching the handle of her picnic basket, she entered, pressing the button for the third floor. “I’ve got to make it through this lunch.” She closed her eyes, the cool interior of the carpeted elevator bringing her a little comfort. Hopefully, her surprise Valentine’s Day lunch with Brian would give them a chance to talk about the problems they’d been having.
She exited the elevator, strolled to the double oak doors that led to Brian’s office. She slowly opened the door, blinked several times, her heart pounding. What in the world? This had to be a bad dream. Brian clutched his secretary, Gia, in his arms, kissing her! He moaned, opened his eyes, spotted Toni in the doorway. He dropped his arms, his light brown skin reddening.
“Toni—” He started toward her.
She froze, unable to move. She finally backed up, slamming into the wall behind her, her eyes locked with Brian’s. She opened her mouth, but she couldn’t speak. She glanced at Gia, who grinned, her eyes sparkling. Gia’s unbuttoned blouse granted Toni a peek at the lacy pattern of her bra. Finally finding her voice, Toni groaned, closing her eyes, her heart continuing to pound.
She swallowed when Brian approached, the tangy scent of his cologne surrounding her. She’d usually found joy in Brian’s scent, but now, the nauseous odor of his aftershave just made her sick. He reached for her.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Baby, just give me a minute to explain.” His deep voice filled the room, as Toni made her way toward the door. Gia buttoned her blouse, grabbed her pantyhose from the floor and rushed from the office.
The chocolate muffin Toni had eaten an hour ago swirled in her stomach. A sour taste filled her mouth. The picnic basket slipped from her sweaty, shaky hands and fried chicken and chocolate pie exploded from the container onto Brian’s immaculate beige carpet. Her Valentine’s Day card landed on top of the pie. The intermingled scents of chicken and chocolate filled her nose, the food making her stomach cramp. She pressed her fingers to her quivering mouth. A sour taste filled her tongue. Brian approached her, grabbed her arm.
Vomit gushed from her lips, right onto Brian’s fancy leather shoes. He dropped her arm.
Blackness swirled around her, and she blinked. She couldn’t faint, not right now. She needed to give Brian a piece of her mind. She glanced at him. He studied his shoes, refusing to give her any attention. Did he really care more about his shoes than their relationship?
She rushed from the room.
His voice echoed behind her but she couldn’t stop. Somehow, she finally made it outside to her car, got in, dropping her keys while trying to put them into the ignition. She couldn’t drive, not like this. Her phone buzzed, but she ignored it. Salty tears slid down her cheeks as she gripped her steering wheel.
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I spent the first ten years of my life on a military base in Aberdeen Maryland since my dad was in the Army. We moved to North East Maryland when I was about ten. I always remember the joy of opening a book, and reading mesmerizing stories that entertained me for hours! I went to the University of Maryland in College Park, earning my degree in Finance! My freshman English teacher claimed I was a great writer, and recommended that I change my major from Finance to English, but I didn’t heed his wise advice! Instead of pursuing a literary career, I worked as an accountant for a travel agency for ten years.
During that time, I traveled all over the world, including the following places: Germany, France, England, Tahiti, New Zealand, Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Santo Domingo. In 1994, I began writing for fun, and I kept doing it until I sold my first inspirational romance novel. Before I sold my novel, I wrote sweet romantic short stories regularly for national women’s magazines. I’ve published thirty-seven of these stories. I’m now working on other novels, and you can check the books section of this website to see a list of past and future releases! I love both secular and Christian fiction. I also love young adult fiction, and I hope to have my own young adult inspirational series someday!
I’ve been happily married to my husband for eight years. We currently reside in Maryland with our son.