Hiding from her ex is exhausting enough, but for Hope Drayden, putting her seven-year-old son through a life on the run and living on the streets has been mentally torturous. When a kind diner owner offers her a job, Hope begins to claw her way toward a new beginning for herself and Billy, one tip at a time. But since her son’s recent abduction, and with threats from her ex still fresh in her mind, she’s constantly looking over her shoulder. Then a surprising, and lucky, tip from a diner regular puts yet another target on their backs.
At the request of a friend, medical examiner Calder Stonewall has been looking for Hope and Billy for weeks. When they unexpectedly show up at the scene of a crime, his interest soon becomes personal. He’s amazed by the beautiful, brave woman and her resilient son. He’s also surprised by his growing need to take care of them both, although winning Hope’s trust won’t be easy. But when a tragedy thrusts the couple together, Calder quickly proves he’s a man Hope can rely on.
Which is a good thing…because she’ll need all his support, and love, to get through a threat they never saw coming.
** Justice for Hope is the 12th book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.
While all Susan’s female characters are put through a lot of harrowing situations, Hope’s is different in many ways. She was homeless with her son and after the incident in Justice for Milena, she left the area she where once sought shelter. The area she’s moved to has fewer shelters, but she got lucky. The owner of a diner, Joseph hired her, checked her and Billy into a motel and even let Billy stay in his office while she worked her shifts.
Calder has promised Blythe (Shelter for Blythe) to keep his eyes open for Hope and Billy. He’d been unsuccessful until he was called on an investigation. As one of the Coroners he was frequently called to the scene of a crime. When he saw the woman and child who’d made the call huddled together, he knew he’d found her and the reason he hadn’t before. She’d found a job and was off the streets. Now Calder has what I would call perpetual foot in mouth disease. The poor guy just can’t seem to have anything he says come out the way he really means it to.
This is a favorite scene when he gives Billy his badge for pointing out some evidence.
Billy bit his lip and looked up at his mother uncertainly.
Hope sighed and tried one more time to reject the gift. “It really is too much…uh…I didn’t catch your name.”
“Shoot. Sorry. I’m Calder. Calder Stonewall. One of five medical examiners in Bexar County. Friend of Blythe’s. Totally harmless, run-of-the-mill, forty-year-old guy who only wants to make sure the woman I’ve been searching for is safe, and to show her son that not everyone who carries a badge is a bad guy.”
She stared at him for a long moment before looking back down at Billy. “It’s okay, son.”
Billy reacted so quickly, Calder hardly even saw him moving. He snatched the badge from his hand and was looking down at it with curiosity, turning it over to see that it didn’t have a pin on the back, but rather a clip so it could be attached to a belt or a waistband and worn that way.
“What do you say?” Hope asked her son.
Billy looked up at Calder and nodded at him. Smiling,
Calder said, “You’re welcome.”
Moving slowly, so he didn’t startle mother or son, he stood, making sure to keep his distance.
“Can we go?” Hope asked. “It’s late and I have to work early in the morning.”
Calder nodded immediately. “I’ll need your contact information in case we have any more questions.”
She bit her lip and looked behind herself nervously. “Oh, well…”
“I swear that while I often say things that are odd, I’m a good guy. I just don’t seem to have the gene that allows me not to mess up casual conversations. I don’t mean anything by it. The state of Texas trusts me…don’t you think you can too?”
Calder winced as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Jesus, he was an idiot. He reached into his pocket even as he was shaking his head. He pulled out a business card and a folded piece of paper he’d been carrying around for months, just in case.
“That’s my business card,” he said, holding it out for her. “It has my office number and my cell written on the back. Call me. Anytime—for anything. I mean it. The other is a note from Blythe. I’ve been carrying it around for when I found you.”
“How’d she know you would?” Hope asked quietly, as she took both the card and the note from him.
“She didn’t. But she was hoping,” Calder told her. “Look, I really do need to get your contact info for the report. I’ll get my butt chewed out if I don’t. But I swear, after my investigation is over, I won’t include it in my official report. I know, Hope, why you’re reluctant to share it—but he’s not going to hurt you or your son again. I swear it.”
Stoker, Susan. Justice For Hope (Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Book 12) (Kindle Locations 156-178). Stoker Aces Production, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Calder continues to pursue Hope by having breakfast at the diner where she works. A somewhat stressful environment for Hope, where the waitresses are mostly snippy and a patron leaves lottery tickets as tips.
Things take an interesting turn in many ways when Eli gives Billy the lottery ticket and cash to his waitress. That ticket, a million dollar winner, begins a cycle of events that will have you turning the pages to see what happens next.
I love the way Susan portrays the life changing factors, the slow build of Hope and Calder’s relationship and the twist that brings them closer than ever.
It was great to see all the Badge of Honor crew as they gather to congratulate Hope. I shed more than a few tears over this book. I really can’t wait for the next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Susan!
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New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She’s married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.
She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.