Read An Excerpt

by Emilie Richards

Genre: General Mainstream Fiction, Mainstream

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Most of the time, Dawson Nedley’s scowl was his most noticeable aspect. To look at him, anyone would think the boy’s fury was about to boil over into something destructive.

Georgia knew better than to be taken in by appearances. She believed that Dawson was simply determined to destroy any possible hope for a satisfying future.

Dawson’s IQ was in the genius range. He read voraciously. When he wasn’t harvesting hay or feeding chickens, he was teaching himself Latin or Chinese for fun. But so far nobody had been able to get through to him. Dawson sabotaged every effort. He refused to turn in papers or homework. He never completed projects. If a test seemed silly, he turned in a blank page. He was determined to ruin his life.

Today’s skateboarding in the school hallway was an excellent example.

She held out her hand. “No skateboards in school.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“I’m going to store if for you until the end of next week, when you can petition me to get it back.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Pay attention. I don’t kid.”

She watched him debate with himself. Scowling, he held out the board.

“Here’s an alternate solution,” she said when the skateboard was tucked under her arm. “The custodian is mopping the kitchen. Ask him to bring out another mop, and the two of you can finish the job together.”

“If I wanted to do stupid chores, I would have stayed home.”

“If you want to get your skateboard back a couple of days earlier, you’ll make the effort.”

“You don’t like me, do you?”

“What have you shown me that I could like?” She asked the question without rancor.

“Don’t they pay you for that?”

“They pay me to educate you.”


She held up her hand. “We’re done here,” she said. “Make your decision.”

Muttering, he started toward the hallway that led to the kitchen.

The clock claimed it wasn’t yet 7:00 a.m. She’d had one confrontation, and the day ahead of her promised more. But her day wouldn’t be as difficult as Cristy’s. Today the young woman would be leaving the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, after eight months. She wondered what Cristy was thinking now. She wondered whether living at the Goddess House would really help the girl heal.

She wondered if Cristy Haviland felt any remorse for walking out of a jewelry store with a diamond engagement ring concealed in her bag. Had giving birth to a son in prison, a son quickly taken away from her, helped her see that the straight and narrow might be a better path through life?

Were the women who laughingly referred to themselves as the anonymous goddesses about to make their first real mistake?

She turned back toward her office. The day was going to be a long one, with a long weekend ahead. All she could do was put one foot in front of the other and hope for the best.