Healing Hearts 5: Safe in Their Arms

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Casey feels broken down and as if she just isn't meant to achieve success, and happiness, never mind love. Until she winds up in the arms of four very special men. She has low self-esteem and when her abusive family begins to mentally break her down and convince her that someone else is better for her, someone who will accept her faults and all, she weakens and makes the wrong decision that ultimately threatens her safety and her life.

Somehow the force of desire, compassion, and fate is more powerful. But will it come too late? Will her own realization of what true love is and what a healthy relationship entails overpower her own insecurities, or will it place her life in the worse danger possible?



Prologue



Casey Lane looked at the old dresser at the yard sale. She stared at it, imagining what she could do with this piece. What color she might add to it. Maybe a shabby chic gray-blue or perhaps a dull Victorian white. With some chalk paint, she could enhance it with a few aged, distressed effects. She wasn’t sure as she rubbed her chin.

“Are you buying it or what, lady?”

She was caught off guard by the male voice and looked up and behind her to see some heavy-set guy with a beard staring at her. Apparently he was interested in the item, as well.

She felt that familiar insecure feeling, the need to move away and not get into some confrontation. She swallowed hard, her mind in a whirlwind of insecurities as usual. She went from thoughts of Lionel, the gunshot wound to her shoulder—a scar she would have forever—then to the self-defense classes she had been taking and the confidence builder it was becoming. She glanced at him again. “If you don’t mind, sir, I’m deciding if it’s the piece I can use or not. If you would be so kind as to give me just a few more minutes, it would be appreciated.”

He opened his mouth but then looked her over and nodded.

She pulled the light sweater a little tighter against her body. She was a lot thinner these days, though her breasts were still full and her cleavage deep, which was hard to hide, so she was more self-conscious about what she wore and what she exposed. Kiana, a therapist she saw that Amelia had recommended, told her it was a natural reaction after what she’d been through and, of course, with what she experienced still from her family. If her friends knew about that, they would be pretty upset. She was embarrassed by her mother, her father, and even her brother.

She pushed those thoughts aside and focused on the piece, as well as on her determination to do something with her life, something that she’d always wanted to do but had been influenced in a negative way or told she couldn’t do it. It was something Kiana had suggested. Since Casey was only working part-time at the boutique, she had the spare time to recover, build her life, and surround herself with positive things. She was still working through her emotions and dissecting her life, her decisions, and, of course, her ignorance in reading people and not seeing the evil, the bad intentions they had. In fact, as she looked back to her time with Lionel, she realized that the signs were there, but she was always appeasing him, forgiving him, trying to bend over backward to keep him happy. It had been a bad relationship. And his abuse, though more verbal than physical, had broken her down and left her at a point where she was just rolling along with him. She didn’t want to face failure in a relationship, in anything she did because it made her think about her parents’ reaction and their abusive attitude.

Was she becoming her mother after all? Someone so weak-minded, so controlled by her husband that there was no escape? Her mom never snapped back at her father, never gave him lip, but to Casey, her mom was nasty and mean. It was like she took out the abuse she got from her husband and it trickled down to Casey. Tears filled her eyes, and sickness hit her belly. It attacked her self-confidence, which was low and something she was trying to build up. However, years of being put down didn’t help. Nor did being used by Lionel, tricked by Lionel, and nearly killed by him. How had things gone so badly? Was she destined for men like him? Men who didn’t appreciate, care for, and love a woman like her? People told her all the time how beautiful she was. How stunning her eyes were and how sexy her body was. She even hung out with gorgeous people, both men and women, so how did she wind up involved with a loser? She didn’t want her mother’s life. She didn’t want her brother’s girlfriend Eve’s life, for she was heading down the same path, but more often than not, she thought that was her destiny. Especially now, when everyone knew what had happened to her. No man would want a woman with such baggage and such emotional troubles. She just wanted to be loved. To be held and put first. Her friends found that kind of love. Why couldn’t she?

She swallowed hard. She wouldn’t wind up like her mother. Abused, taken advantage of, and battered by her husband. She wouldn’t succumb to a family tradition of overpowering men dominating their women and thinking that their hands were weapons to keep their women in place. The thought made her feel sick. Especially knowing that her brother was in a relationship now and his girlfriend was a victim and couldn’t get out of it. She had to focus on bettering herself and getting strong. Kiana said it would take time.