When The Hour is Darkest Love & Faith Can Conquer All
Recovering from his brush with death and newly (nearly) sober, Richard Mason begins the task of letting go of his sister, Hannah Rice. With her mind becoming clearer and love blooming sweetly between her and Nick “The Stud” Jackson, it seems nothing can stand in her way of becoming declared legally capable once more.
A shadowy stranger from the hidden past sets his sights on Hannah and her 3.5 million dollar trust fund. Watching and manipulating from the shadows of his battered car, he waits until the time is right to assume the identity of Little Ricky MacNeill, the baby Hannah lost in the fire at St. Anne’s Home for Wayward Mothers thirty year before. With revenge on his mind and spite in his heart, he’ll stop at nothing to claim his rightful inheritance even if he has to kill or send Hannah back to the miserable depths of despair and madness she worked so desperately to crawl out of.
The last of the Rice family secrets come to light in this roller coaster ride of suspense, love, betrayal, and faith.
Swallowing his pride, Mason told his tale of the white teddy bear that Hannah loved so much. Halfway through it, Mason watched Nick get up, take the bear from the piano in full view of Hannah and then hook it up to the laptop. Part of him wished the Stud hadn’t done that but, if he were in Nick’s place, Mason knew he would have done the same. Hannah had to see what she was being told in order to fully grasp the idea. She didn’t interrupt him. She let him keep talking as she poured herself another shot. When she went for a third Mason took the bottle away. “You’re gonna pass out, I know you took another pill, I see it in your eyes. No more booze for you. I didn’t do it to hurt you, Hannah, you were a stranger in my house and so was the home aid. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t keep an eye on you and go to work nine or ten hours out of the day. I was trying to make sure you were safe, that’s all.” No, that wasn’t quite all, “I wanted to observe you, ok? Happy. You were sort of an interesting subject but only when you first came here.”
“Another pitifully broken person coming to you for fixing,” she huffed. “A bug under a glass.”
“Don’t say it like that, even if it is true.” He wanted to reach for the bottle again but refrained. “I needed a way to keep an eye on you when I wasn’t here so I could be sure nothing bad was happening to you. You didn’t even really talk when you first got here.”
Hannah’s heart softened, Rick was a brilliant doctor and she was damn lucky to have finally come into his care. He did fix her and she had been so very broken. Since coming to live here she’d become fully aware that her brother had some unusual methods of healing. If he’d used one or two or ten on her then that was the way it had to be. Except that she’d left the bear behind months ago. She’d completely forgotten about it once she was back on her feet. It was Rick who reintroduced it to her when he started letting Nick look after her at night. “Maybe so, but lately you wanted to make sure I wasn’t having sex.”
“That too,” Mason rubbed his stubbly chin and readily admitted, “I’m responsible for you, do you get that? You’re a grown woman who’s made great strides but I’m still legally responsible for you. Even if you wanted to screw the Stud—”
“You can’t, not legally, if he touches you its rape under the law. Even if you want it, even if you beg him for it, they’ll put him in jail. You can’t give consent, get it?”
No, she didn’t get it, not at all. Yes, Rick was in charge of her. Yes, Rick made all of the decisions for her although lately he’d been giving her more freedom. Still, lots of men touched her. Lots of men had their way with her. No one gave a shit. From James Rice to Red Martin to Frank MacNeill himself and so many other residents of her group homes that she couldn’t even begin to count them nor did she want to for fear that God would think her a whore. None of that mattered. She lived here now. With her brother. Where it was safe. Where it was warm and welcoming where she was wanted and maybe even needed and loved. Where she’d dreamed of being since she was merely ten and their mother committed suicide in the garage because she couldn’t bear the shame any longer. “You were spying on me. You didn’t trust me.”
“I didn’t trust him,” Mason countered a he glared at Nick.