Welcome to A Week of Romance: From Our Heart to Yours miniseries where we’ll be sharing excerpts from some of our romance novels. Today we have an excerpt from one of our contemporary romances, A Worthy Heart, by Sara Beth Williams. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and celebrate the love of reading with us!
Joel Bennett has always known Serena Hayes as his sister’s gregarious best friend. In the three years since Lacey began college, Serena became a regular house guest, but lately, she’s absent more than not. When Joel discovers she’s in an abusive relationship, protectiveness from within roars to life.
With only a part time job to support her and nowhere to go, Serena fears leaving her current relationship would jeopardize her chances of graduating college. After a brutal attack leaves her no choice, she courageously moves out. On her journey toward regaining confidence, self-worth, and independence, Joel falls in beside her, encouraging her. The way he emulates Godly love and compassion draws her close—not just to him, but to the God who can satisfy her longing for love better than any man.
Attraction sizzles between them, but events from their pasts cast shadows of doubt.
When the unthinkable happens, can Serena open her heart to a second chance at love, or is she destined to be alone?
When they arrived at Joel’s house, Lacey bid them both an exhausted good night and headed inside. Before Serena could follow, Joel gently tugged on her elbow and pulled her into another warm embrace. She buried her face in the fabric of his sweatshirt, breathing in the sharp, spicy scent of his aftershave.
He ran his hands up her arms, across her shoulders, and gently over her face. “Did he hurt you?”
“No.” She shook her head and pressed into his chest again.
He encircled her and kissed the top of her head. “You’re safe now.”
His whisper washed through to her soul, eliciting more tears. She lifted her head a moment to speak, but before she could utter a word, his lips met hers. His mouth covering hers was a delicious and electrifying surprise, one laced with dormant longing. She reciprocated the intensity until her heartbeat spiked with fear.
What am I doing? I don’t know if I’m ready for this.
While his lips were intoxicating, deep in her heart she knew kissing Joel was not the same as kissing any other man. Kissing him meant stepping into a long-term, serious relationship.
When their lips parted, he clutched her against his chest again and rested his chin on top of her hair. She closed her eyes, exhaling with contentment, sheer desire temporarily blanketing her fears.
When he stepped back, letting his hands drop, the absence of heat left her breathless. Then he captured her hand in his and led her inside.
On the couch he wrapped her in his arms again; words weren’t necessary. What mattered were his actions. Reassurance radiated from every gaze of compassion, every tender grip of his fingers, every embrace.
Her mind wanted answers, even within this net of intimate security. Was Chris right that she’d left him just to be with someone else? That was certainly not the reason she had left Chris—but right now, all her heart wanted was a solid sense of security, and nestling in the crook of Joel’s arm as they watched TV provided exactly that.