Katherine didn't expect to find love after the mysterious death of her husband but Ontario Provincial Police Officer Jason Wolfe has other ideas. As she struggles to overcome her husband's death and his betrayal with Beverly Jarvis, Katherine must decide if she is willing to surrender her feelings to yet another man caught in Beverly's sights.
With a family who is constantly interfering, and Jason's persistent attention, she must choose between living the life that she is accustomed to or find a new one elsewhere. And as Katherine is forced to make choices she has no wish to make, she must continue to outsmart the man who is trying to kill her too.
Can her growing love survive so much or will she run?
An Awe-Struck ReleaseComing Soon...
Donna Dawson began her writing career as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. Her non-fiction work took her into the equine industry, faith community and local media. Moving from freelance work, she has written three inspirational thrillers—Redeemed, The Adam & Eve Project and Vengeance— and co-written one apocalyptic thriller The Quinces. She is enjoying branching into inspirational mystery romance with Awe-struck books.
Donna is a sought after speaker for women’s ministry conferences and home teaching conferences. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband of two plus decades. Her work can be found on her website at www.authordonnadawson.com. If you wish to email Donna, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: 5 books
"Author Donna Dawson has penned a spectacular inspirational mystery -- not always an easy thing to accomplish. I enjoyed this story from beginning to end, and can't recommend it enough to those looking for a book in this genre."Sunflower -- Long and Short Reviews
"This is a beautiful story about faith and trust. The book is full of faith in ones savior and the strength to love the man that was sent from heaven in answer to a prayer. A break from a crazy world, this passionate love story is well worth a reader time to read."Delane -- Coffee Time Romance & More
"For lovers of romantic suspense this story, with its attractive characters, tastefully dispensed spiritual wisdom and satisfying ending, won’t disappoint."Line Upon Line
"Fires of Fury is a sweet romance with the added bonus of a mystery to figure out. I enjoyed my time with this book emensely."Heather -- You Gotta Read Reviews
Katherine awoke with the strange sensation that comes when cool air hits a wet face. Blinking her eyes against bright daylight, she sat up sending Digger sprawling off her chest. She wiped at her face and groaned at the smell of puppy saliva. And then she scrabbled for her watch left on the coffee table. The early morning news was filling the room with soft words and she relaxed as her sleep fogged mind registered the time—six a.m. “And are you ready for your bath today, Dig?”
The pup cocked its head and wrinkled its brows in concentration. Licking its chops once, it picked itself up and padded to the hall, stopping in the doorway to whine.
“Yah ok, I’ll let you out—and feed you. Sometimes I think you’re just a walking stomach—and teeth.” She stretched hard and picked up the throw blanket, folding it carefully before laying it over the end of the sofa. Falling asleep on the couch with the pup was beginning to become a habit and she wondered if she should do something about that. She shrugged and followed the steady whine out to the back door, releasing Digger for his morning necessities and his new plans of destruction.
Half an hour later Katherine sat at the kitchen table eating corn flakes and watching the pup inhale his food. She worked through her mind how she was going to accomplish the task ahead. He badly needed a bath but Digger was a good foot and a half tall and those gangly legs could scrabble and squirm pretty good. On the occasions where they ended up in a wrestling match, he always managed to break free as though he were doused in grease. She narrowed her eyes at him as she thought about how she would fit it into her day. “Maybe I can throw you in the shower, huh?”
Digger licked his chops again, and sat back, staring at the empty bowl as though surprised by the sudden absence of food.
“Come on. Let’s get this thing done.” She gave a low whistle and headed for the stairs. Abandoning the dish, Digger followed willingly, oblivious to what awaited him. The panic came when the bathroom door closed and the water began its steamy torrent. Katherine wrestled with determination, covering her clothes and the pup with enough shampoo to wash ten dogs and then took another hour to rinse him. By the time the task was over her hands were pruned and the bathroom was filled with steam. But Digger was clean and he shook himself vigorously in the confines of the shower stall.
Taking her turn, Katherine showered herself, wrapped her hair in a towel, slipped into her terry towel robe and ushered the pouting dog to the back deck, where he could shake to his heart’s content. She laughed as feet flopped and scrabble and water sprayed in all directions and when he was done, she called the dog back into the house where he could settle in his bed and groom himself. As she passed through the hall, Katherine tossed a glance at the clock and let out a squeak. Quarter to nine. Tearing up the stairs, she scrambled into jeans and a T-shirt and ignored the scarecrow hair as she grabbed her keys, shooed the dog out into the back yard again, and scooted out the door. “Man I’m glad it’s Saturday morning.” She found that she talked to herself and the dog more and more often since Darryl’s death and wondered if she should be worried. “I don’t care. I’ve got no one else to talk to half the time.” She shrugged the thought off and ran a free hand through her damp hair in hopes of half-way combing it before walking into Tiffany’s.
Tiffany was exactly what one would expect from a hair stylist named Tiffany. Stylish clothing and the latest hair cut graced a middle aged woman who carried herself with an elegance that couldn’t be taught. She was never seen in public without makeup
and Katherine had the thought that she probably wore it at home too. Yet beneath all the veneer was a truly genuine person who offered a patient ear to the many clientelle that entered her doors.
Katherine breezed through the doors, an apologetic smile on her face as she flipped a look at the condemning wall clock. Five minutes late. Her gaze dropped to the customer sitting patiently examining the final touches to a new hair style and she froze in mid-step.
“Why hello Kitty. Are you here for a beautification?” Bev looked Katherine up and down and smirked as her eyes rested on the wet mop of hair. “Nice hair style, dear. You should ask Tiffany to do something with it. She really is a marvel. She can fix almost anything.”
“As I can see.” Katherine offered a cool smile and worked to keep her hand from flying to her hair in an effort to fix it. She should have combed it.
Bev allowed the smirk to slip from her face and her eyes took on a mean glint. “So are you here to make yourself presentable for the party tonight? I thought I’d get a touch up. You know, just enhance what’s already there. Your cousin Damen invited me. At least some of your family has good taste.” The Cheshire smile returned and she looked into the mirror trying to make eye contact with Tiffany by way of gaining an ally. Tiffany continued to concentrate on her work.
“Yes Bev, some of us do—and some of us don’t.” Katherine sat down and picked up a magazine. Snapping it open, she focused her full attention on the first article she came to in an effort to ignore her opponent. When that failed to hold her interest, she scanned the hairstyles with half an eye while listening for those precious few words that Tiffany would soon utter.
“And so we are finished Beverly. Do you need any product?” The stylist spoke with exact pronunciation and an even tone. Katherine smiled behind her glossy magazine. Tiffany only did that when she was offended. Few things offended her but rude behaviour was one of them—something Bev wouldn’t understand.
Bev paid with a flourish, exclaiming over the price and directing her final words to Katherine. “That’s the price you pay for beauty—of course some pay more than others because some need it more. Isn’t that right Kitty?”
She ignored Bev and continued to stare at the words in front of her.
And then Bev was gone and Tiffany’s face lit up with a friendly smile. “I don’t usually confide in customers about other customers but for your sake, I’ll make an exception. That woman is insufferable.” Katherine shrugged away the sting of Bev’s comments and moved into the styling chair. “Now my dear, what can I do for you?”
“The hair? Do what you like. The makeup—yikes—I have no clue.”
Tiffany’s smile slipped into a thoughtful purse and her eyes narrowed.
“I’ve been waiting for you to say that for years. Just trust me, my dear. Beverly is going to regret her words if I can help it. But that remains between you and I yes?”
Katherine spent the next few hours under the gentle ministrations of the stylist. After careful consideration, they agreed to a hair style that, while being very different from the last cut, was still easy to manage. A soft perm turned the sleek black strands into soft curls and wisps that framed her heart-shaped face and her eyes widened in surprised pleasure as Tiffany drew closer to the finishing touches.
“Now for makeup. We will start at the very beginning and you will do it all, my dear—with my coaching of course. As much as I would love to pamper you, it will do you no good if you can’t repeat what I do. You are going to learn to take the beauty that you already have and turn it into something that will stand out in any crowd. Now tip back my dear and let me message your face first to relax it.”
A quick look at the clock showed Katherine what her stomach had already announced loud and clear. It was lunch time. “Tiffany. I’m sorry but I’ve got to get something to eat first. What would you like? I’ll slip down to Billy’s and grab something quick.”
“Oh no you don’t!” Tiffany slipped behind her desk and grabbed her purse. You mind the shop for a few minutes and I’ll get the food. No one is seeing you until you are completed. Understood? You are not to leave this shop.” And with that, she breezed out
the front door and clicked down the sidewalk briskly, leaving Katherine to study the effects of the new hair style.
Fifteen minutes later, Tiffany returned with a paper bag and two cups of steaming coffee. The smell of warm bread filled the air as she daintily unwrapped the bag and offered a portion to Katherine. The two women laughed and talked their way through the bagels and cream cheese and then Tiffany became all business once again, rinsing and drying her hands and then swinging Katherine’s chair back around to face the mirror. “You are a fortunate young woman, Katherine. Your skin is flawless but unusually pale. I’ll have a bit of difficulty matching the colour of your foundation without broadcasting to the world that you’re wearing it. There’s nothing worse than a line of makeup surrounding your face. So many people pick the wrong colour and don’t blend it into their scalp and neck.”
Thus began the lesson on helping Katherine to leave her tomboyish ways behind for a more feminine appearance. She didn’t know that applying makeup was such a difficult and time consuming practice nor could she understand why women weren’t willing to just be themselves. What was the purpose of makeup anyway? To please men? Did they really want this kind of goop on their women? She mentally shrugged and would have thrown the whole cluttered mess into the garbage. But her boss wanted it and she certainly wasn’t going to argue about it with her.
By the time the clock had ticked its way around to two o’clock, Katherine looked like a different woman. Her high cheekbones were accented with a hint of colour that brought her ivory skin to life. Lips that on their own were a light pink now bore the deep blush of a dark rose. If she had seen the indication of her Korean heritage in the shape of her eyes before, it had never been as pronounced as it was at that moment. Eye liner and mascara thickened and darkened her lashes. Hues of soft pinks and pale beiges dusted her lids, the creases shadowed with a darker brown. Her eyes looked large and luminescent and she smiled at the effect. Digger had eyes like that and everyone thought he was adorable. The thought suddenly hit her. Why do I care if I look adorable? And why am I comparing my looks to a dog? She let it go, not wanting to investigate it further. And then she was off, scrambling once more to get home and into the right clothes for the afternoon and evening’s events.
Digger scampered around the yard, happy with his freedom, safe within the confines of the chain link fence while she dressed in a spaghetti strapped cotton dress. It was another of Kathy Freeman’s specialties and she had to admit she liked the feel of it as it wrapped around her slender shape like glove. The large red flowers against the white background would have looked garish on anyone else but it gave Katherine the exotic appearance of the Polynesian islands. Hmm. So much for looking Korean.
A glance out her bedroom window brought another thought. She couldn’t take Digger. Not dressed like this. He didn’t seem to care either way. Flicking her gaze to the gathering clouds, she hoped Jasmine had been able to get the party tent like she had wanted to. It looked like rain might be in the immediate forecast. Plunking down on her bed, a frown creased her forehead. What to do with the dog? She couldn’t take him but she couldn’t leave him outside and he was growing out of the kennel—she couldn’t leave him cramped up like that for that long. Rising from her perch, she made up her mind and went through the upstairs closing bedroom, bathroom and closet doors. He’d just have to stay in the house. She’d leave the kennel door open so he could lie on his bed but she’d just have to hope that he didn’t do too much damage. A quick tour of the downstairs followed and Katherine closed all the doors and misted everything else she could think of with the bitter apple spray. Punching in her neighbour’s phone number, she waited for a few rings.
“Yes, Mr. Paisley? This is Katherine next door. How you doing today? That’s good. Look, I heard you weren’t going to this Canada Day thing at Jas’ house. Would you slip over and let Digger out into the back yard at around six o’clock? You would? I’ll probably be home at around ten. Oh! If you wouldn’t mind. That would be great! Thanks so much, Mr. Paisley!”
Opening the back door, she whistled for the gangly mutt, smiling as he stretched his awkward limbs in an enthusiastic charge on to the deck. She poured a dish of food, checked his water, scanned the hall for anything that might find its way to his mouth and then let herself out the front door to wait.
It wasn’t long before the newly washed Explorer hummed up the drive and slipped into park. Katherine held her breath as she waited to see Jason’s expression and she wasn’t disappointed.
He had come half way up the walk before he looked up and saw her and when he did, he stopped and gaped. And then collecting himself, he offered a broad smile, the dimples dancing to life and making her heart flutter. “My, don’t you look nice.” The deep voice caressed her. Katherine shrugged, feeling the warmth in her face again. “Can I hope this is for my benefit?”
She tensed and reminded her heart to stay calm as she allowed him to assist her into the passenger side seat. Offering a timid smile she waited for Jason to close the door for her and then she busied herself with the seat belt while he crossed around in front of the Explorer. And then he was there beside her, smelling faintly of that same cologne and his body warmth and she took a deep breath of his scent, hoping her suddenly pounding heart would behave itself.
“Katherine, can I ask a favour?” She nodded. “I know we’ve agreed to let the past go by but I’m not so sure I really want to. Can we maybe not forget it and just take it slow? I think I’d really like to get to know you.”
The truck continued its slow purr while Jason waited. Katherine tried to remember the reasons she didn’t want to get involved with this man. Was he using her because he thought she had something to do with her husband’s death? Was he interested in Bev? She looked at the concerns, felt her heart pound, smelled his hypnotic fragrance and then abandoned it all, turned her large eyes on him and nodded. She couldn’t see past this moment—didn’t really want to. Clear thought was gone in the sudden realization that she only wanted to be with this man. Jason pulled from the driveway and headed down Cherry Crescent. Quietly whistling a tune, he reached his right hand over and took her left, holding it gently while maneuvering the few blocks to Jasmine and Bill’s house.
The afternoon whizzed by in a flurry of admiring looks, giggled comments and good old fashioned community fun. Katherine introduced Jason to her parents, enjoying the conversation between the three, feeling somehow that this was so right. She watched with a strange pride as Jason moved comfortably through the small clusters of family and friends, asking questions that showed polite interest, laughing at old family jokes, and conversing with practiced ease. Jasmine was in her glory, flitting from guest to guest occasionally throwing an excited glance their way. The only fly in the ointment was the arrival of Bev on the arm of their cousin Travis. If Jasmine had known he’d asked her, Katherine was sure she would have given him a smack. As it was there were enough people to allow her to avoid the woman.
Dusk came and with it a light misting rain. Everyone huddled under the large canopy and watched the fireworks display presented by a water-soaked Bill. ‘Ooh’s and ‘Ah’s accompanied each burst of coloured light as bright firebrands shot skyward and spread out like rainbowed fingers. Jason stayed just behind and to the side of Katherine through the whole presentation and she could feel his gaze on her face when he should have been watching the bolts of light. From time to time, when no one watched, his hand would slide forward and grip hers lightly, the movement drawing his scent to her overloaded senses. She marveled that he understood her need to keep it quiet for now—like he had read her thoughts. It was that or he didn’t want anyone to know either. And then she chided herself for the thought—refusing to let doubt spoil the wonderful evening.
Jasmine had ordered a huge cake with the letters ‘Happy Birthday Canada!’ written in icing and when the fireworks were done, she began to serve the cake. As late as it was for the twins, they sat in their highchairs nearby and squealed for their share, smearing it onto their faces and dresses as soon as they were handed their pieces. Katherine smiled at her nieces’ antics and watched as the crowd clustered around the cake and the two small entertainers. She had had enough of the noise and merriment and slowly worked her way into the nearby darkness. Still Jason remained by her side.
“Let’s go out back.” The whisper sent a tingle down her spine and she smiled her response. In the cover of dark the two slipped around the side of the house and dashed through the light mist to the relative quiet of the back garden with its clematis covered gazebo. They stood there, inhaling the fragrance of unseen roses and Stargazer lilies and Katherine closed her eyes, trying to sort out what was real and what was fairy tale. She knew, for certain, only Jason in that moment. She felt only his presence and all remaining reservations were quickly drowned in the beating of her racing heart. She shivered as he ran his hands over her bare arms. “You’re cold. Come here.”
She found herself wrapped in his embrace and remembered that first night and the feeling of strength and security those arms had offered. Lifting her arms, she pulled them up against herself, drawing from the warmth of his muscled chest. His hand came out of nowhere and tipped her chin upward. The house lights cast a dim glow across the lawn and glittered in eyes hidden in shadow. “You’re beautiful.” He whispered the words and his breath brushed her cheek, heating it and sending a tremble down her body.
The kiss, when it came, was a light, gentle thing and it caressed her lips. She could feel the tension in his muscles and knew that he was struggling against the same rising passion she was. Her hands left his chest and slid around his back, her fingers enjoying the texture of his bulk through the cotton shirt. He groaned and pulled her closer. “You are quite the temptress, girl.” She smiled up at him and surrendered to another deeper kiss. And then he was gone, stepping back away from her, breath exploding from his mouth and a hand raking the sandy hair. She felt alone and wondered what had stopped him. “I’m not making that mistake again, Katherine. I’m not going to lose control and frighten you away.”
She smiled and settled herself on the cool stone bench. Moving close again, Jason joined her and she nestled against his warmth. They sat for awhile holding hands, listening to the rain patter against the gazebo roof. The silence was soothing, lulling her, calming nerves that had been stretched for far too long.
“Kat? Are you out there? Can you come in here for a minute?” Jasmine’s voice suddenly cut across the yard and Katherine jumped at the interruption.
She frowned and turned to Jason. “I’ll be right back. I’ll see what Jas wants real quick. Don’t go away, hey?” She leaned forward and landed a light peck on Jason’s cheek and he pulled her back down and wrapped her in a quick hug before she could move away from him.
“Don’t be long.” He growled the words against her hair. “I may have to come hunting for you if you are and I won’t be quiet about it.” She could hear the smile in his voice and made to stand again, feeling his reluctant release. What would Jas think if she knew she had just interrupted a romantic moment? Katherine could just imagine her sister squealing with excitement and demanding all the ‘gory’ details.
She threaded her way back to the porch and the bright lights within and cringed at the sudden cacophony of sound that assailed her as she searched the crowd for her dainty sister.
“Where’ve you been?” Jasmine’s voice jumped out of the noise and Katherine swung around to meet the question.
“I was out in the garden enjoying the quiet. Did you need me for something?” Jasmine was looking at her with a strange light in her eyes and she reached over and wiped at Katherine’s smudged lipstick. “You might want to fix that mess before anyone sees you—and wipe it off Jason too if my guess is correct. Never mind about the help. I’ll find someone else. You’ve got more important things to do…” and she was gone, sailing through the crowd like an ice breaker through the Atlantic.
Katherine turned back to the door quickly and let herself back out into the cool moist air, wiping the edges of her mouth for any stray lipstick. She’d forgotten about that little detail. Her heart pounded in yearning and she took a calming breath. Quietly, she followed the path back to the garden and Jason.
As she neared the gazebo, a giggle broke the quiet darkness of the night and Katherine stopped. She knew that voice. She would never, ever, forget that laugh nor the image it aroused when she heard it. Like a sponge clenched in an angry fist, she felt her heart tighten and she slipped into the shadows and followed the sound. There in the same shadows she had shared with Jason stood Bev, her arms wrapped around his shoulders and his around her waist. And from the flower covered shelter her words drifted to Katherine.
“Oh, Jason. I just don’t know what I’d do without you.” She giggled again and snuggled into his chest. Katherine didn’t wait to see more.