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Pages of Promise AUDIOBOOK

Pages of Promise AUDIOBOOK

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Don’t let the fact that Pages of Promise is a clean romantic suspense fool you, this novel packs quite the punch, and is one of my favorite suspenseful January reads.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I couldn’t put this book down! Jessica Ashley’s Christian romantic suspense has it all…a broken heroine, a protective hero, and a stalker who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.”

____

A wounded veteran who walks by faith. A traumatized woman struggling with hers.

Main Tropes

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Faith-Based Romance
  • Loads of Sizzle. No Spice
  • Small Town Romance
  • Pulse-Pounding Suspense
  • Standalone

Pages of Promise Synopsis

I left everything I'd ever known behind. And that decision may cost me my life.

The moving truck hadn't even been unpacked when my fresh start went up in flames.

A frightening letter left in my mailbox and signed Always Yours sends me running to the only man in town who can help me.

Driven by his protective nature and a mission he believes comes from God, ex-Army Ranger Lance Knight agrees, despite the fact that I've made it no secret I want nothing to do with him--or anyone for that matter.

The longer we're together, the more I begin to realize that Lance is more than I gave him credit for. Something that troubles me nearly as much as the fact that an unknown man seems to have already claimed me as his.

Trouble is, my admirer has a jealous side, and it's not long before Lance is pulled into the crosshairs right alongside me…

Read Chapter 1

I have this recurring nightmare where I’m lying on a set of
train tracks in the dark. I can feel the chill of the steel beneath my body as a light breeze blows across my face. The deep booming of the train horn is deafening as the lights grow brighter and brighter the closer it comes.

Even as the vibrations grow stronger, I do not move.

Owls hoot, and coyotes yip,
seemingly warning me to get up. To get away.

But I don’t.

I just lie there. Waiting for an end to a life that I don’t feel I ever really lived. My therapist believed it was because I felt as though I had no control over my
life. No real purpose besides being arm candy to my husband. Then again, she
also thinks my divorce was strictly to gain that control. Likely because, as it turns out, she’s one of the nine other women he was having an affair with.

Truth be told, my marriage was little more than a shell long before I learned about his infidelity. Mean fists and a meaner tongue stole away plenty of years before that particular embarrassment came.  What’s sad, though, is it wasn’t until I learned he’d been cheating that I found the courage to leave. I was more concerned with what the public saw than what went on behind closed doors.

You’re not there anymore, Eliza, I remind myself.

For the first time in ten years, I’m free.

For the first time in my entire life, I’m free.

Whatever that means.

I shove the past where it belongs and focus on what’s right in front of me. The sign for
Hope Springs is straight ahead. The population number is worn down so much that I can barely make it out, though I know from my research it’s in the vicinity of seven thousand.

The complete opposite of where I’m coming from, which is perfect. I want nothing to do with who I was before. It’s a fresh start for me, baby. A brand-new Eliza.

As I sit here on the side of the
road in the early morning, no one passes. The road has been relatively vacant for the past fifteen miles, so I remain right where I am a bit longer, staring
at the sign ahead and the sand dunes all along my left where ocean meets land. To my right, a parking area with two cars allows visitors the chance to move across the highway and head down to the water.

The idea is tempting, but if the
pictures of my new home are anything like those the realtor sent, I’ll be sitting beachside momentarily.

“Okay, old girl. We’ve got a few
more miles, right?” I gently pat the dash of my beat-up old car just before turning the key, breathing a sigh of relief when the engine rumbles back to life. The guy I bought this beat-up old car from hadn’t believed it would make it all the way across the country, but here I am.

Grinning, I roll the window down and take a deep breath. Salty sea air fills my lungs, and
I grin. I’ve lived near a beach my entire life, and yet, I already can’t wait to get my toes in the sand as though it’s my first time.

Because here, in Hope Springs,
Maine, I am getting my fresh start.

No cheating husband.

No abuse.

No pitied onlookers who knew it all and chose to do nothing to help.

Just me. My computer. And blissful silence.

With a smile still lingering on my face, I guide my car back onto the road and head into town. Main Street looks exactly like it did in the pictures I found on the internet. Weathered, aged buildings line the street, a mixture of brick and wood that are beyond charming. The place might as well be the cover of a Small Coastal Town USA magazine. If such a thing existed.

People stroll down the sidewalks, smiling and chatting happily, completely unaware that I’m driving in for what is the first—and hopefully last—time.

As I drive, I make note of the
buildings and business locations so, when I head out later, I’m not completely lost.

The hardware store where Felix
Bishop—the plumber who will install my new water heater works—is absolutely adorable with a freshly painted sign and bright yellow and white awning.

The small movie theatre is playing a movie that has been out for nearly a year in LA, yet there are a few people standing in line to buy tickets.

Through the picture windows of the diner, I can make out happy people dining together.

A gorgeous white church with a single steeple is the only building on Main Street that sits on the side of the ocean. Man, I bet the view off the back is stunning.

I turn the corner and pass a school with a playground full of small children. From the research I did, I know it’s one of the rare schools that house all grades, K-12. And with an average class size of twelve, it makes perfect sense.

After following the road past the school and over a small hill, I finally get the first look at the out-of-service lighthouse that will serve as my new home. Its
tall tower is wrapped with faded red and white stripes, and the light may have gone out years ago, but I was able to pay cash for it, thanks to the divorce settlement.

Which makes it all mine. Honestly, aside from this car, it’s the first and only thing I’ve
ever owned completely. Even the clothes on my back once came with stipulations.

“Smile, Eliza.”

“Look like a woman worthy of being on my arm, Eliza.”

“Befriend that woman, Eliza.”

Shaking my head to clear memories I’m determined to keep in the past, I focus fully on
what’s ahead of me as I pull down the gravel drive, put the car in Park, and turn off the engine.

I grip the steering wheel tightly
and close my eyes, breathing in the salty sea air again through my open window. As I do, I imagine myself stepping outside with a fresh cup of steaming coffee and a good book. “Welcome home, Eliza,” I whisper to myself then climb out and stare out at the ocean view that should have cost me a fortune but thankfully didn’t.

A rickety fence and a small sand dune are all that separates me from a gorgeous beach and an even more stunning ocean. How cool will it be to sit right on the porch and stare out as storms roll into the harbor?

Peace. That’s what I’ll find here. In my home. Not Erick’s, not a foster home, not an orphanage. Mine. And I know exactly what I’m doing first.

After locking the car, I rush toward the sagging iron fence then push the gate open and descend worn wooden steps. As soon as I’ve reached the bottom, I slip out of my shoes and slide my toes into the sand.

It’s cold. Nearly freezing in the February weather, but I can’t be bothered to care. Because there is no one here to tell me how foolish it is to walk barefoot in the sand. No one to tell me all the hazards waiting for me for simply enjoying the way it feels.

“There are worms in the sand, Eliza.”

“Junkies leave their needles on the beach, Eliza.”

Nothing Erick said to me will ever matter again. None of the things he told me I could never do, or the behaviors he expected out of me, will stand even a second longer. From here on out, I will do what I want. When I want.

As soon as I’ve brushed as much sand from my feet as I can, I slip back into my flats and climb up the stairs toward my house. I unlock my car and grab my purse from the
passenger seat then make my way up onto my porch.

The front door is aged, some of the wood splintering, but some sanding and a fresh coat of paint will have it gleaming once more. I stretch up, gently tapping my fingers on top of the doorjamb as I look for the key the realtor left. As soon as my fingers close in on it, I pull it down and slip it into the lock.

Why does unlocking a door feel so good? The moment I hear the lock disengage, I nearly do a happy dance.

And the simple fact that it would have horrified my ex has me shaking my hips happily as I push the door open. With
each move I make toward my new destiny, I feel like I gain back time lost in a marriage that tore me apart.

Stale air greets me, and dust particles dance in the air, thanks to the light breeze
carrying through from outside. All of the furniture is covered in dusty white sheets, but as I flick the switch on the wall to my left, I’m elated to discover the light fixtures are in working condition.

The floor is old wood, but I know all it needs is a good cleaning to gleam like it once did. A metal spiral staircase encircles the interior, but I don’t head up just yet, opting to inspect the small kitchen instead. It’s a far cry from an
entertainer’s space, but given that I want to avoid all people for the foreseeable future, it’s perfect.

Aged wooden countertops can be sanded and sealed, and the sink may be coated with dust, but it’s a good size for just me. The appliances are long gone, but I already have new ones on the way to be delivered along with my furniture later this afternoon.

I turn and head for the staircase, following it up to a single bathroom and bedroom. Just off the bedroom, a balcony waits for new iron railing, but I still risk stepping out to stare out at the ocean.

Forget the front porch. This is
where I’ll take my morning coffee.

Nearly squealing with excitement, I race back downstairs and start pulling the sheets off the wooden furniture that is likely older than I am. A rocking chair, splintering coffee table, and a couch with torn and dusty cushions set atop a cracked wooden frame.

Still, I smile. Because, even in its current state, this tiny lighthouse feels more like
home than the four-thousand-square-foot house I lived in with my ex-husband ever
did.

“Okay, Eliza, this is it. Time for a fresh—”

Someone knocks at the door, so I cross over and pull it open. I’m expecting my realtor,
or possibly the moving company here early, so when I’m greeted by a too handsome-for-his-own-good man wearing a tight white t-shirt and dark jeans, I’m instantly put on edge.

All humor vanishes, and I’m left with this twisting in my gut that is part attraction and all nerves.

His hair, a light auburn, is longer on top and short on the sides, and a neatly trimmed
auburn beard has threads of gold woven into it. Freckles give his face character while also managing to somehow make him look even more masculine.

Or, perhaps, it’s the light coat of dirt on his tanned arms and the toolbelt around his waist that does that particular trick.

“Can I help you?” I demand, realizing with complete mortification that I’ve been staring.

“I’m actually here to help you.” He smiles and holds out a hand. “I’m Lance, and I believe I’m supposed to be installing a hot water heater out here today? That is if you’re Eliza Pierce.”

I study his hand with the intensity of someone trying to diffuse a bomb but don’t take it.
Slowly, he lowers it. “No, Felix Bishop with Hope Hardware is supposed to be coming.”

The man smiles, and the part of me that isn’t dead inside warms. Which, of course, is aggravating. Haven’t I had enough of handsome men? Men who come in and charm you then turn out to be literal walking nightmares?

“Felix had to watch his
granddaughter today,” Lance replies. “He sent me over to get it installed for you, Ms. Pierce. However, if you’d prefer him, I’m sure he can get out here tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? There’s no hot water.”

“Hence my visit.”

I swallow hard, contemplating just how much I’ll hate not getting a shower tonight. I did
my research on Felix since he was the one I was expecting. The aged hardware store owner and local plumber checked out completely. But I know nothing about this man.

I scan his hands for a ring, but there isn’t one. Which makes me even more uncomfortable.

“Why don’t you call and check in with Felix?” Lance questions. “Put your mind at ease that I am who I say I am.”

“Yeah, I should do that.” Except, I don’t have a cell phone. “Never mind, I don’t need to do that.”

He arches a brow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” I force a half-smile, but based on how I’m feeling inside, I imagine it reflects just how uncomfortable I am. Why did I not get a new cell phone? Of course, I know the answer to that. Money. “Go ahead and do it. I can show you where it needs to go.”

“That would be great, thanks.”

Stepping aside, I make space for him to come in and instantly regret not just pointing and giving directions. The man takes up space in a way you only ever read about. Even movies can’t quite do it justice when showing the presence some people simply have.

And Lance—whatever his last name is—has a presence about him. An authority that unnerves me. “I need to go out to my car,” I blurt. “The water heater is just back that way.” I point in the general direction.

Lance nods. “No problem. I can manage.” He smiles again and heads through the small living area until he reaches a back room and disappears inside. As soon as he’s out of view, I head out onto the front porch and take a deep, steadying breath.

You’re fine, I tell myself. Erick is halfway across the country and has no idea where you are.

The mantra is something I’ve repeated to myself over and over again for the past few weeks, ever since our divorce was finalized. Yet, right now, it doesn’t seem to do much to quell my nerves.   

Lance comes back out of the house and heads straight for his truck—a white Chevy—parked just behind my car. He reaches into the back and pulls out a box that seems far too small for a water heater before setting it on the ground and retrieving a toolbox.

“What is that?” I ask, pointing to the box.

“A tankless water heater,” he replies. “Felix said it’s what you ordered?”

Feeling foolish, I breathe a sigh of relief. What did I think was in the box? Come on, Eliza. Get it together. “Yes. That’s what I wanted.” I cross my arms over my chest and step back as he passes, keeping a wide berth between us.

“Great. Do you mind grabbing my toolbox for me?” Without waiting for a response from me,
he lifts the water heater box and heads inside.

I stare at it for a few moments, trying to decide what to do. I really don’t want to go back into the house with him, but the sooner he gets it installed, the sooner he can leave.

Which is also what I want.

Ugh. With a groan, I head
over and lift the heavy toolbox, then head back into the laundry room. There’s no old tank, just a spot where it once sat along with a bunch of fresh copper piping that looks like it’s only been in there a few days.

He flashes another grin at me. “Thanks.”

“Seems like I’m paying you to install, not have me carry things for you.” Despite my tone, his smile brightens.  

“Doesn’t hurt to shave a few minutes off the install time, does it?” he asks as he pulls out a knife and starts opening the top of the water heater box. Not only is he thoughtful, but the muscles in his arms flex with each movement, and my attraction for him begins to grow.

Which, of course, agitates me even more. He just had to be attractive, didn’t he? I cross my arms. “So, you work for the hardware store?”

He unboxes the new water heater—a grey box with connection points out the bottom. “No. I ran into Felix at the diner when I went in for breakfast, and he asked for help. I wasn’t doing anything this afternoon, so I stepped up.”

I stiffen. “I’m sorry, but are you a licensed plumber?”

Lance stops and looks up at me. “As it so happens, I am. I just don’t do plumbing as my day job anymore.”

“So, you’re out of practice yet feeling the need to—what—fill a nice-guy quota for the month?” My anger is misplaced, I know that, and still, I can’t stop it. He’s not supposed to be here. But here he is. On his knees in my laundry room.

Lance cocks his head to the side and studies me. “All right, Big City, how about you fill me in on just what I’ve done to offend you in the mere minutes since we met?”

“No offense,” I reply coldly. “But you’re not the man I hired for the job. Not only that, but you’re also not even a practicing plumber.” The moment the words are out of my mouth, I feel like an idiot. But I refuse to be charmed by any more men. They can keep their smiles and bright eyes to themselves.

“Practicing plumber?” He laughs. “I’m not a doctor, Ms. Pierce. And installing a water
heater is hardly surgery. I don’t need to be actively practicing in order to do the job properly. And, if it makes you feel any better, I just installed one of these last week for Mrs. McGinley down at the library.”

“Since I do not know Mrs. McGinley, nor can I follow up on your claims, it doesn’t make me feel better.”

Lance cocks his head to the side once again—like he’s sizing me up. I step back. Despite my tone, he doesn’t look angry. Not like Erick would have. Honestly, Lance looks…confused?

“Again, I will ask, if you would
prefer Felix to do the work, I can gladly have him come over tomorrow, once he’s done watching his granddaughter.”

I should say yes. Should insist on it.

But the idea of a hot shower calls to me.

“No. Just do the job.” I turn on my heel and march out onto the porch, all the while feeling angry at him and furious with myself because he didn’t actually do anything to deserve my attitude. Not all men are Erick. I’m not so jaded that I
don’t see it.

An aged minivan pulls into the drive, and a woman wearing a brightly colored floral sundress climbs out. Her flaming red hair is a dead giveaway, and I find myself smiling as I cross down to greet her. Birdie has been an absolute delight to work with,
even though, as soon as she found out I was newly single, she insisted on setting me up with her brother, who she swears would be perfect for me.

Thankfully, I sidestepped that by reminding her I just got out of a nasty divorce.

“Mrs. Eliza Pierce,” she says with a bright smile.

“No Mrs. anymore,” I reply. “Just Eliza. It’s nice to finally meet you in person.”

“You too. Get in here!” The realtor I’ve spent the last few months going back and forth with wraps her arms around me and pulls me in for a hug.

I pull back as quickly as I can without being rude.

“You are just as beautiful as your pictures. Maybe even more so.” She beams. “Are you sure you don’t want to meet my brother?” Before I can respond, though, she throws her head back and laughs. “I’m just kidding, I know you’re in the
process of moving on. We’ll table it for now.”

“I—”

“Well?” she interrupts. “What do you think? Is it everything I told you it would be?”

The woman is a whirlwind. “Yes. Complete with a not-plumber installing my water heater.”

Her smile fades just a bit. “What do you mean?”

“A man named Lance is in there. He said he doesn’t work for the hardware store but was
doing the man you recommended a favor?”

That smile broadens. “Ahh yes. I heard Felix is on grandfather duty today. Lance is good
people. He moved here about seven years ago, I think? Came from Boston.”

“Boston.”

“Yes. Handsome as God makes them, isn’t he?” She wiggles her brows like I’m supposed to giggle and flush with color like some sort of schoolgirl.

“Arrogant, too,” I reply.

“Really?” Her brows draw together. “I’ve never gotten that from him.” She looks past me toward the porch and smiles brightly. “Hey, Lance! I see you’ve met Ms. Eliza Pierce.”

“Something like that.” Just the sound of his voice has me on edge. His tone is calm. Gentle. But it carries an edge and washes over me like warm rain. I don’t care for it. Not even a little.

I force a smile and turn toward him. “Taking a break already?” I ask, venom lacing my words.

“Hardly,” he replies. “It’s done. Pleasure meeting you, Ms. Pierce.” He shifts his attention to Birdie. “Tell that husband of yours I’m up for some fishing next week.”

“Will do. See ya, Lance.” She waves him off then turns back to me. “What exactly happened between you two?”

“Nothing. He showed up and wasn’t what I expected, then informed me he wasn’t a
practicing plumber. I voiced concerns; he dismissed them.”

“Practicing plumber. Is that a thing?” she asks. “Never mind. Come on, let’s go see your new home!”

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