Title: Sea of Hope
Author: Penelope Marzec
Genre: Inspirational Romance
After being assaulted in the city, Doria Hanrahan returns to her hometown, jobless, paranoid, and expecting to cash in on her father's fishing trawler. When she discovers the trawler has been willed to Murray Santoro, who cared for her father during his final illness, she is filled with anger and guilt. Desperate for cash she joins the crew of the Merrichase. On the ocean, far from land, she learns Murray is not only a doctor, but suspected of murder and awaiting trial. She cannot comprehend how her father trusted Murray. She suspects Murray coerced her father to change his will. Murray finds Doria a true test of his new faith with her stubborn attitude and lack of trust. As challenges mount on their voyage, he struggles with his Christian principles. He can't assume he has a future and his hope falters. Yet, it is Doria's surprising strength and compassion which inspire him to be a better disciple. Then his past returns and threatens to destroy everything.
Doria Hanrahan clung to the railing of the Port Harbor fishing pier with one hand and clutched the keys to her father’s trawler, the Merrichase, in her other hand. The old, but well-kept vessel now legally belonged to Murray Santoro. Doria’s father had clearly stated in his will that Mr. Santoro deserved the boat.
The wind roared like some mythical beast but Doria only narrowed her eyes as a powerful gust slapped her. She refused to cower in the face of nature’s fury just as she would not allow someone else to own the Merrichase. It should belong to her!
She glared out over the crashing waves with her lips pressed tightly together and realized how numb and heavy her heart felt, as though it had been weighted down with lead sinkers. Alone with her grief for the first time since her father’s death, she relished the blast of the gale. It pumped some of its power into her thin frame and woke her from a weeklong nightmare.
“How could you do this to me, Dad?” she cried out over the howl of the storm. “You made a promise to me.” The tempest tore her words away and answered her question with the wind’s shrill scream. A shower of salty spray stung her eyes.
Sheets of rain pelted her and the pier shuddered as the waves slammed into it, but Doria stood her ground. With a nor’easter battering the New Jersey coastline, conditions on the pier were hazardous. However, what she intended to do would only take a moment.
She opened the palm of her hand and frowned at the keys, each one labeled with her father’s tidy printing. Seeing the neat handwriting nearly immobilized her as her heart filled with remorse. She hadn’t helped her father when he needed her.
She clenched her teeth tightly together and struggled with her emotions. Still, she couldn’t forget that Murray Santoro had robbed her. The Merrichase should rightfully belong to her. Aware she would merely create a delay with her reckless action, seeing the stony arrogance on Mr. Santoro’s face crack would be worth it. She wound up her arm to pitch the keys far out into the surging tide when suddenly someone grabbed her from behind.
She screamed as one massive hand snatched the keys from her while the attacker’s other arm held her fast in a steely grip. For a moment, she froze in total panic as the memory of being mugged at gunpoint in New York City flashed through her mind.
But this wasn’t New York City. This was Port Harbor. Her terror dissolved as adrenaline shot through her system. She flailed her arms and legs, but that didn’t help matters. She could see nothing of the hulking figure imprisoning her except for his yellow slicker.
“Let me go!” she demanded while pummeling the thief’s arm with her fists.
In answer to her command, the mugger lifted her up and slung her over his broad shoulder. The action robbed Doria of air for a minute. Gasping for breath and disoriented by looking at the world upside down, she clung to the yellow slicker with white-knuckled hands. They passed through the gate at the entrance to the pier. With a flick of his free hand, the man shut the gate and snapped the lock securely.
Despite the throbbing blood rushing to her head, she renewed her struggle. One of her fists made an impact and momentarily halted the lengthy stride of her kidnapper.
“Cut it out,” he rumbled.
Doria gasped. She had been attacked by Murray Santoro! “Put me down!”
He ignored her shrieks until they reached the porch of the bait house. There he slid her off his shoulder and deposited her on her feet with a bone-jarring thud. Despite the fact that he had treated her so callously, the man had the nerve to glare at her. Doria’s blood simmered.
“Of all the idiotic, insane—” He slid back the hood of the slicker to reveal his face. His expression would have frightened a timid woman but she had never been intimidated by anyone except the mugger in New York City and that was because he had a gun. She put her hands on her hips.
“You had no right to—”
“What? Save your life!” he boomed. “You don’t weigh more than a signal flag. A wave could have knocked you right off that pier.”
“I have stood on the deck of the Merrichase in twenty-foot seas,” she spat out.
Murray dug into his pocket, pulled out the ring of keys, and waved them in front of her face. “These are mine and don’t you forget it.” Then he snapped them shut in his fist.
Pain stabbed at her heart and her throat tightened. She took in a ragged breath and studied the seething man beside her. In the flickering light of the porch lamp, the golden strands in his hair gleamed. Her father had always disapproved of men who wore long hair. Yet Murray stood arrogant and proud with his long ponytail tied neatly in a leather string at the nape of his neck.
Doria twisted her mouth at a wry angle. Some might consider him handsome. With a wide forehead, high cheekbones and straight nose, he looked more like an investment broker than someone who worked on the docks. But his refined features didn’t make the situation any more palatable. Her dream of owning a restaurant would be postponed because he had stolen her future.
She spun on her heel to dash off the porch.
Unfortunately, Murray had longer legs. He grabbed her arm before she had gone three feet.
“Hey, be careful,” he warned. “It’s gusting up to sixty-five miles an hour.”
“I can take care of myself.” She injected a dose of chill reserve into her voice.
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Penelope Marzec grew up along the Jersey shore. She started reading romances at a young age and fell hopelessly in love with happy endings. Two of her inspirational romances won EPIC’s eBook Award and another was a finalist in that contest. Her paranormal, Irons in the Fire, was a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award. Visit her website at penelopemarzec.com for more information.
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