It had been eighteen years since she had seen him. Eighteen years. She could feel her heart begin to roar in her ears when he walked into the courtroom. As she tried to control her breathing, Ariana was certain that everyone around her could see her chest trying its level best to contain her racing heart. The rumors were true. Josiah Gaines was back in North Carolina. The only question was: What in the Sam hell was he doing back here?
Success is sweet. But for Miss Ariana Privott, it’s not quite enough. Yet the first moment she feels those butterflies fluttering in her stomach, her impulse is to turn tail and run. Will she ever overcome her fears and finally open up to the man of her dreams? Is it possible to turn your back on trauma and open your heart to love again? Will Ariana be able to hold it together, if she can finally fit her perfect little family together under one roof? And if so, for how long?
Tonza Ruffin’s latest novel is an exploration of love and loss, of grief and resilience. At once, an exploration of abuse and trauma, Ruffin navigates the dramatic emotional landscapes inhabited by her characters while somehow still instilling an overwhelmingly sense of hope in her reader.
Ariana and Josiah came together as young, hungry, starry-eyed lawyers in a small southern North Carolina town. Ari, already disappointed and guarded from a failed relationship in law school, was frightened by the intense love she felt for Josiah. Rather than wait for him to break her heart, she abruptly ended the romance and shifted her focus to her career and parenting.
Josiah, heartbroken and devastated by Ariana’s sudden decision to dump him, accepted a position in Florida, leaving North Carolina and Ari behind.
Both eventually married and rose to the top in their legal careers. Ari married the person that she felt was safe to love. Josiah married the woman that he thought he had grown to love, but something was missing.
Wanting more than an empty marriage, Josiah filed for divorce, closed up his successful Florida practice, and returned to North Carolina determined to prove to Ariana that they were meant to be together.
Finally deciding to open her heart to Josiah, Ariana experienced the most fulfilling love she had ever felt. Unfortunately, Ariana’s decision to take a chance on love came at a time when her body was desperately fighting off the cancer that silently lurked for at least a year. Her impending death meant mourning the time lost, and opportunity to love, and be loved by the man that she ran away from years ago. Was the path of safety worth it?