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Ravished My Heart

Ravished My Heart

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Ravished My Heart

Length:
401 pages
5 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 21, 2017
ISBN:
9781370575862
Format:
Book

Description

Zoe Grant’s entire life is turning on its head. The Group for Addicts is changing leadership, her best friend is pregnant, she’s graduating college, and it seems like God is changing her most basic definitions of life.

Merrick Jameston, III, has everything a man needs, but his friendship with Freya Harris is making him question if his choices were really the right ones to begin with. Is there really more to life than success and money?

Nathan Coleman is content with his life thus far. He’s divorced, estranged from his brother, but not-so-estranged from his meddling sister, Riley. He dates with little expectation of the future he wanted with every fiber of his being: marriage and children.

Clementine Harris is done with men breaking her heart. Well, really, she’s done with the one man who blew the entire organ to smithereens. She’ll be alone the rest of her life, and the only person who has a problem with that is her mother.

Each with a tainted past, each questioning the choices they’ve made and the future they’d settled for. Will God answer the desires of their hearts, or have they gone so far afield, He’s stopped listening?
Ravished My Heart is the conclusion of the Your Mess Is Mine Series.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 21, 2017
ISBN:
9781370575862
Format:
Book

About the author

Arie Hill is an accredited Over Thinker, curator of Fake Accents, and a lover of Exotic Food. Plotting her next Christian romance the way a villain plots to dominate the world, she can be found in the dark, hunchbacked over her laptop with a glazed look in her eyes. Her husband and daughter are incredibly worried for her mental heath, but are thrilled to report her next book will be out soon.


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Ravished My Heart - Arie Hill

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Ravished

My Heart

A Novel By

Arie Hill

Your Mess Is Mine Series, Book 4

LEGAL Speak

This is a work of fiction, which means none of it is real. Names, including yours, characters that sound like you, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's screwed-up imagination or used in a fictitious manner. (Who knew it would sound allegorically, metaphorically, and symbolically like your exact situation?) Any resemblance to actual persons (it's still not you), living or dead, or actual events (it really wasn't that one time all those years ago) is purely coincidental. Swear. I promise.

Copyright © 2017 by Arie Hill.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Scripture quotations are by New American Standard Bible,

Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995

THE LOCKMAN FOUNDATION

A Corporation Not for Profit

LA HABRA, CA

Freepik.com is the wonderful distributor of the gorgeous art :

DEDICATION

For those of us with trust issues.

1.

BAD DRAWINGS

Every artist has thousands of bad drawings in them and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out.

~Chuck Jones

Zoe Grant slid silently from the bed, and shuddered in disgust. She swore she would never be here again, in her own personal hell with Beelzebub himself, Tyler Reid. Rolling onto his side facing the opposite direction of where she stood, she held her breath fearing he would wake up and talk her into staying, although it wasn't his words she worried about, she didn't climb into his bed because he was a smooth talker. The sheet slipped down his hip revealing the meaning of butt naked, and she gulped back the desire battling against her good sense.

Nothing good came from spending time with Tyler or his naked behind.

Case and point, she was covering her own shame with the wrinkled dress from last night.

Maintaining a level of silence ninjas would envy, she gathered her purse and heels, and tiptoed through the front door without attracting attention. Leaning against the gateway to hell, she looked at the sky. There was a hint of light filtering through the darkness, and it made Zoe cringe like a vampire. Maybe if the light didn't find her on this porch, dressed in her walk of shame, maybe she wouldn't burst into flames.

Maybe God would still forgive her.

Hours ago, life was carefree, filled with art, and the illusion of luxury. A night off this close to graduation was a gift she didn't plan on wasting. Her friend, whom she hadn't seen in a while, giving her an invitation to the exhibition at the hottest gallery in town was kismet, if she believed in such a thing. No, it was God handing her a gift, permission to enjoy her passion without worrying about deadlines or the unexpected. She and Dulce dressed up, wasted their last few dollars on their favorite restaurant, and decided to be art critics. After months of honing their creativity for their own graduate art installations, critiquing someone else's art was just pure ecstasy.

The exhibitions were mostly avant-garde mixed-media which had its drawbacks in Zoe's opinion. The galleries were losing their purity of painted canvas and sculptured mediums in favor of multiple platforms. Sculptures of found items, collages covered in stenciled paint, and several who printed their handiwork with laser jet printers over silk were just the beginning. Dioramas of 1950's medicine cabinets, spray-painted toys, and melted trash coated the front half of the gallery. These pieces took no technique, made no statement, nor began any conversations beyond what her mother would say if she saw this, Why didn't you clean up your mess if you knew people were coming?

Half the challenge of art was to bring technique, skill, and thought to the table. You didn't have to have a message, simply loving the color was enough, but it had to have passion. An old, plastic dinosaur toy spray-painted like it accidentally stood in the way of the furniture you were refurbishing was not soulful.

As Zoe wandered through the hallway-shaped gallery with coves designated to certain types of art, she breathed the environment in. Life flowed in vivid color all around with hovering champagne flutes with sparkling light bouncing off the glasses. The hum of conversation filled the cavernous spaces as people discussed technique, process, and emotion. Rising laughter tinkled through the air like a cathedral of hushed reverent tones.

Most people were exquisitely dressed, canvases themselves, on display for the masses. Zoe's own look was sleek. Her blonde hair swept up, her black strapless sheath dress brushed the tops of her knees, and her heels extended her lean calves to fearsome lengths. Her show-stopper was an elaborate bib necklace of delicate gold wire spun into an intricate beaded cobweb covering her right shoulder and draping across her chest almost touching the left shoulder. Highlighting her long neck, Zoe favored accents bold enough to attract their own attention willing them to share their boldness with her. Rounding the corner, Dulce appeared at her side.

Here, you need this, Dulce passed her a champagne flute. Zoe was going to put it on a passing waiter's tray, but Dulce put an arm around her waist directing her into the opposite direction. Remember Octavia Windsor? Pompous, nasty witch that dominated our art contests? She's here. Zoe didn't care, but Dulce did. No one hated her as fiercely as Dulce Valdez who swore Octavia's fame was based on stealing Dulce's idea.

"I should have gotten that article. It was all my idea. Artist Breaks Boundaries Between Art And Industry. Dulce mocked with derision. They asked her how she engineered the piece, and because she couldn't explain it, she gave some froufrou-crap answer of it being based on simple inspiration." Zoe heard this argument a thousand times since the article came out. Next would come the math to back up her claim, and one day it would be Octavia's reckoning. Zoe rolled her lips together to keep her impatience in check.

The ominous words Dulce usually ended her tirade with came back to Zoe and her steps faltered. Would Dulce try to ruin Octavia's display tonight? It took word of mouth and a bit of fame to get into a gallery like this, and Octavia's article and sale of her sculpture would be just the ticket to attract the deep pockets of investors.

Zoe looked down on her friend who stood six inches shorter than her without the heels. Dulce was generally too tightly-laced to be considered an artist, and Zoe blamed the math portion of her brain. One side was based in absolutes while the other blurred those lines as far as they would go, which for absolutes, was admittedly not very far. She dressed almost professionally to every class, faced down every academic obstacle with a steely gaze, and constantly focused on what her resume would say. Most of the artists in their graduating class were partying to consistently look for their muse, and barely getting their act together when the deadlines hit. Whereas, Dulce, had her work in days prior. When you thought the art community would eschew Dulce's rigorous standards, being atypical only made them accept her entirely, because what was more artistic than a piece that didn't fit the mold?

Turning on her ballet flats, Dulce pulled Zoe through the next archway in the gallery. Naturally the type of art changed, but instead of taking her time and enjoying it, Dulce headed into the center of the action. Pulling her arm from Dulce's distracted grasp, Zoe cringed at Octavia holding court in the center of the cove. Dulce was not only determined, but there was a possibility she had been planning her revenge out for a year. Zoe shivered, but remained where she was. The ruckus Dulce made carried, and the others gathering for the shouting match actually applauded Octavia for having a piece that could start wars. Octavia, lauded as a revolutionary, was not swayed one iota towards the powerhouse of Latina yelling in her face. Even the bit about mathematical notations wasn't taken seriously when the crowd began to disperse.

So much for justice.

That's when he found her. Tyler Reid.

You're here.

The satisfaction in his voice, hell, his voice alone, made her want to punch him and kiss him simultaneously. Tyler was the first man Zoe ever loved, or what her teenaged brain concocted love to be. He was her first everything, and that little factoid made him her kryptonite. His lips brushed her ear and she bit her lip. No matter how high her heels, Tyler was always taller, always able to cage her in with his body. A fox trapping the hare, it wasn't fair. Tonight was meant to be fun and relaxing, not tormented and edgy. I was hoping you'd show.

Who let you in? Zoe stepped away from him with a glare, but her heart trembled with how good he looked. Life had been kind to Tyler Reid over the years she'd avoided him. The bastard broke her heart, and was the wind to her tornado of destruction. He didn't get to look good.

I know Blaze, the guy working the list. He put a hand on her upper arm to stop her backwards flight from careening into the waiter behind her. Since she couldn't shake Tyler with a swift exit, she decided to distract him with the inconsequential to give her time to plan her next move.

Blaze? That's his actual name?

Tyler nodded when classmate, Maeve, came up with her dreadlocks swept into a very extravagant updo to talk with Tyler. Seeing her interest, Zoe enveloped Maeve like a best friend.

Tyler Reid, this is Maeve Montgomery, Slightly pushing the newest victim into Satan's clutches, Zoe spun on her heel and didn't look back. She wasn't going to hunt for Dulce. She was going to hunt for someone who could be a fake boyfriend...

Arms snaking around her midsection stopped her in her tracks.

Not so fast, ZuZu.

His voice buzzed in her ear, and his lips grazing her neck transported her back to high school, when she couldn't wait for Tyler Reid. He knew all of her sweet spots, knew all of her points of weakness, sweeping her away in a fog of desire. For the rest of the night, Zoe's heart and body traded her mind for one more moment of feeling important to someone.

Well, she hoped they got what they wanted because the fallout was not worth it.

Zoe sat in the back of the cab returning to the scene where her will-power gave out.

Tyler didn't let her out of his sight all night except to use the ladies room, and even then, he stood outside the door. She plied him with other female sacrifices by way of introduction, but he didn't go for any of it. The fox toyed with the timid hare, daring her to run, to escape.

He claimed to anyone who was listening he was her boy-toy, flirting his way through one crowd and into another. His fingertips grazed over her hips, caressed the bare skin of her spine, and the outside of her thighs over her dress intoxicating her. Zoe giggled as Tyler made everyone want him. Male, female and hermaphrodite, they all were caught up on his cloud of charisma. Her friends laughed, and made hateful comments about how right they were together. They were adorable, and Zoe needed someone to lighten her up. Other artists were propositioning Tyler to use his body, if it looked as alluring as his face, as a central focus for their art.

Everyone wanted to go home with Tyler Reid, and like the sex god he portrayed, he divinely chose Zoe.

And she did go home with him.

Sucked up into the Tyler Reid Vortex of Sex and Shame, Zoe shut her eyes, kept her hands in the air, and moaned through the whirlwind of an evening spent with him. He was familiar with all of her curves and angles, knowing how to keep her head in the clouds long enough to prove his point.

You're mine, Zoe Grant. All of you belongs to me.

Zoe blinked back tears as she stared out of the filthy back passenger window of her cab. He'd been whispering those words in her ear since high school. Tasked to watch his baby sister at her first party at the tender age of fourteen, she looked to her older brother's best friend as a protector, an advocate. Tyler's formidable height and boyish good looks were a magnet for the chicks his age, and effective at keeping the boys at bay.

At fifteen, some jerk put his hands on her, and Tyler was there in a flash throwing out the garbage. He kissed her forehead and caressed her face to calm her, and assess her damage. For all the rowdiness of her brother's usual haunts, no guy had the nerve to touch her, and Tyler's consolation brought out a yearning she couldn't name.

Each party after that, when her brother wasn't watching, Tyler danced with her. He held her hand, and delivered beautiful, forbidden kisses to her mouth. He made all the rules about guys, and their proximity to her, and her brother reinforced it without ever realizing Tyler did all the touching. Exciting and secret, her infatuation with her protector grew.

Which meant the devastation of walking into her first party after graduating high school, and finding Tyler shirtless with his tongue deeply embedded in some other woman was so profound her entire life snapped. His proclivity to entertain females in a one-mile radius of any party was confirmed by those who witnessed her life shattering.

Heartbroken, she avoided anything having to do with Tyler Reid, and achieved her revenge when she hit college. Zoe was no stranger to parties and men, but without a protector, she personally discovered the different types of trouble a young girl could get into. Years of vengeance, and she was the only one who truly suffered between them.

After all of her lessons, all Tyler Reid had to do was show up and prove she was just as vulnerable to him as she'd always been.

He still owned her.

Paying the cabbie, Zoe got into her own vehicle still parked in the gallery lot. She had no excuse for her behavior last night. She wasn't drunk or high, nor was she still hell-bent on the revenge that consumed her thoughts for three years. She was just stupid.

Despair filled Zoe's chest as she drove home. Would this be the sum of her life? Stuck with the first mistake she ever made until all doors and options were closed to her? She pulled into her driveway, her heart crying out for one name, the only name that could save her.

And He was the last one she wanted to see her this way.

Slowly coming to the surface out of a dreamless sleep, Merrick blinked his eyes. Something blocked his vision, but split into see-through strips. Putting his hand to his face, it was disconcerting to realize what covered his face was neither a blanket or a shirt. Smelling faintly of perfume, it tickled his nose and mouth.

Hair.

Brushing the thick mass away, he wasn't sure it was hair now that he touched it, and that meant he had an unknown substance rubbing all over him. Thoroughly disgusted, Merrick slid quickly out of bed. His latest conquest sighed and repositioned herself on a makeup smeared pillow. Relief poured into his senses when she remained asleep. He wasn't prepared to deal with that yet, especially, not without a shower.

Merrick stepped into the shower and set the temperature to sting to scrub off the debauchery of the previous night. When would women realize synthesizing extra hair was the starting point for a shed load of questions no man wanted to think the moment he was finished with her? For instance, what was the explanation for the bra coming off and taking half the bulk with it? When a man smeared a woman's lipstick, it was hot, but when sleeping produced a Picasso-like smear of ghosted characteristics, it was revolting. He understood he was finding these crumpets at bars and clubs, but just once he would love for one of them to be genuine. He didn't stuff his shirts when he went out, or wear platforms to give himself height, why would a woman?

Merrick wrapped a towel around his waist and headed for the closet. The crumbly mess of tart was still fast asleep taking away any sense of accomplishment in having shagged her. He didn't even feel satisfied. Dropping the towel into his hamper, Merrick pulled a shirt over his head. No, he was bored. Granted their conversation at 34th & Vine was not one of keen interest on his part, but she was willing company and he didn't pass her up.

These days every lush woman looked the same: twenty pounds of makeup under ten pounds of hair on what could be an eighty pound body wobbling on three foot heels. They laughed loudest, drank the most, and were bold enough to approach him for a good time. This pleased him when he was a younger man still proving his mettle to the world, and he was indiscriminate with who he brought home. His younger self would have laughed at a woman's extension draped on his face instead of real hair, or her melting face on the pillow case. The old one was not amused.

Looking at the woman who slipped in a retainer between the moment they finished and the moment she started snoring, he was wondering how to dismiss her. Unable to devise a full comprehensive plan on the fly, Merrick buttoned his pants on his way to make a cup of tea. Tea would solve all of his problems, or at the very least, get his motor running. Putting the kettle on to boil, the latest inquiry knocking about his brain, popped up.

Was this his life, the sum of his parts, work, friends, home, and one-night shags?

As the tea steeped, he grabbed two eggs and palmed the package of bacon in the refrigerator only to think better of it. If he started breakfast, the woman in his bed might not leave in a timely fashion if he fed her. Remaining empty handed when he closed the fridge door, his stomach growled in protest. Bugger. He needed sustenance, and what was a better way to send a guest home, but on a full belly? Merrick reopened the fridge, and was back to the problem at hand.

What would he change about his life, if he were so inclined?

He was well-situated in a home he loved and a job he excelled in, and even though his mother and sisters were still in Britain, he had friends here to keep him company.

You need a woman, Merrick. His mum's typical conclusion to their weekly conversations. She would politely discuss his life, his sister's lives, and the weather, only to take the hairpin turn straight into what Merrick lacked. How am I going to have grandbabies, if you don't find a woman? Nevermind his sister providing their mother with grandbabies, according to her, he needed a woman to give her some.

Merrick shook his head.

He was not gagging for a woman. Not yet, anyway, and judging by his mate's experience, Merrick was definitely okay with the status quo the way it was.

His friend, Ben, recently lost his woman to another man, and his current emotional state left something to be desired. Inconsolable was too small a word for Ben's behavior, mental was more apt to describe to his frayed disposition. He could have avoided all of the heartache if he heeded the red flags raised by family and friends, instead he put all his eggs in one basket, and now he paid the price.

Bacon sizzled in the hot pan while Merrick whisked his eggs.

The addition of a woman to the life of a single male was a sure recipe for disaster, but carrying on with the usual suspects stationed at the bar no longer held its appeal. For that he blamed Freya.

The day they met, Merrick had a beautiful girl wrapped around his arm, and in ten seconds, Freya stripped away her beauty with a lovely face and a lovelier mind. Wry humor and mostly logical reasoning, the interesting part was how much he enjoyed being around her. She didn't endeavor to impress him, and determining her disposition by the size of her smile or the brightness in her eyes, was refreshing. Enjoying their widely-ranged discussions, she quickly became the most enjoyable part of his day. It would serve him well to find a woman like her, easy-to-read and genuine smiles.

Where could he find a woman as real as Freya?

Freya was unavailable the moment they met, and his hope to exchange their friendship for something more romantic died on arrival. Anyone looking at her could see she was head-over-heels for Jack, and only a couple of months after meeting her, they were married on the beach with Merrick as a guest.

He smiled as he flipped his eggs.

Maybe Freya knew someone she could set him up with? A real woman with viable interests, someone who would last longer than the chat up. Resolving to ask her when he saw her for lunch, Merrick heard rustling from across the flat.

Before he could come up with a solid plan for the future, he needed to close the door on the past.

Zoe tried to ignore the cramp in her side, the lack of oxygen, and her sock slipping off her foot creating a blister that could take down an elephant.

Well, that's what they invented flip-flops for, wasn't it? Zoe distracted herself with the mental picture. Open sandals so the masses stupid enough to take up this sport could still have foot wear after damaging their heels.

With each step she took, Zoe cursed the road, cursed the sunlight, cursed the tightness of her running shorts, and cursed the fact she thought this was a great idea. The stitch in her side was becoming unbearable, and she couldn't remember if it was caused by being out of shape, or by breathing too much or too little.

She could ask Eve about the stitch, but The Machine had her two-to-one breathing sound down, and she'd hate to interrupt. Although throwing Eve off her game gave Zoe a sick pleasure somewhere between the eight and ninth rib.

How you been? Eve's voice cut through the pain momentarily distracting her. So, she could have interrupted her without distracting her, good to know.

Taking a couple more strides in silence, Zoe shrugged her shoulder in response. Too many emotions filtered through to just handover winded by the run, and exhausted by the amount of times they circled around her head. She wasn't ready to break the silence with a laundry list of problems. The stitch in her side was an innocent topic to talk about and not at all incriminating to the chaos churning inside. She should have just asked about the stupid cramp before Eve got her question in.

Just eh?

Zoe shrugged away Eve's question again, not wanting to waste this time together on her problems. Between Zoe's schedule and Eve's, this moment was a rare fit. She was hoping when she laced up her shoes that Eve would talk about her worries, ask Zoe for advice, and then by proxy, Zoe would regain her confidence in life.

That was fair right? To go around being a sounding board, doling out advice to everyone as if she hadn't messed up for the umpteenth time and slept with Tyler.

Zoe's heart shriveled with the thought.

She slept with Tyler.

She could just tell Eve. Blurt out what she'd done, and pray Eve didn't give her the Sideways Jogger Glance of Judgment. If she could spit out the whole thing, would Eve remind her salvation wasn't a license to sin and tell her she needed to get her head examined? Fear curled around her heart with the possibilities. Eve wasn't a mean-tempered woman, but she was straight forward. Zoe couldn't picture Eve wrapping an arm around her shoulders whispering the words, There, there.

Sleeping with Tyler was a setback, but wasn't it marked improvement she didn't swallow a pill first, or get so wasted she blacked out? Although without pharmaceutical intervention she forgot just how good Tyler was between the sheets. Zoe ground her teeth in exasperation.

Damn! It was just sex! Why did it have to mean the whole world? Why did it put the fear of God in her heart with every step?

Zoe collapsed into a ragged breathing mess barely held up by her hands on her knees. The adrenaline of running sent her limbs shaking adding motion to her fear as it clutched her heart tighter.

Zoe didn't want to call her life for what it was: A series of failures. She got out of bed—BOOM! Failed. She breathed—BOOM! Failed. She did nothing—BOOM! Failed. She met Jesus and she accepted His salvation—BOOM! Failed. She changed her entire life. Partying was no longer her thing. She lived life sober, and made new friends—BOOM! Failed. Was it so much to ask to complete a cycle of the moon without the weakness of temptation? This couldn't to be her lot in life.

What matters more, My forgiveness or how you're perceived?

Another proverbial kick to the solar plexus had Zoe gasping for air. She kept her distance from the Savior of the world these last three days, and the loneliness of not opening her Bible were adding ballast to the base of the shame she couldn't see past. Confiding in God was worlds different than confiding to another human being. She couldn't see God's eye-rolled frustration, or hear the sigh before telling her one more time that He loved her. Eve, however, was a nurse by trade and used to the excuses of poor behavior that accompanied the need for a hospital visit. Eve would show no mercy.

Are you sure about that?

Would confiding in Eve relieve the pressure, an abscess lanced, from her soul? She heard her paster say a boil, or abscess, was excruciatingly painful for whoever had it, but once pierced, the relief the person felt was so great, the pain it took to cut into it was worth it. Which was more embarrassing? God knowing what I did, or Eve? Was the pain of cutting into her sin worth the relief of it being cleaned out?

There was only one way to find out. Time to bring on the pain.

Standing erect, Zoe turned to Eve who kept the bounce of a waiting jogger.

Tyler found me at the gallery last night. Eve stopped bouncing in place and waited. Her expression open, she waited to hear what Zoe had to say next. The thing is, I didn't drink, I didn't enhance my mood at all, and I still went home with him. Zoe wiped sweaty hair away from her face. The wet, sticky line made her feel slimy everywhere else. She was slimy everywhere else, but it was time to go for broke, release the hounds of hell tormenting her every step.

I'm lost, Eve. It doesn't matter where I go or what I do, he's waiting in the wings to make a fool out of me. There's no reason he should have been at that gallery unless my brother told him, and that could only happen if my mother told my brother. Zoe shook her head, it doesn't matter. Tyler came, found me, and I still went home with him. Tears welled up in Zoe's eyes. "I'm at the point, Eve, that I have no control around him, no autonomy. I can't even call myself a Christian any more. I've got to give one of them up, myself

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