Tag Archive | Nikki Walker

New Release from Nikki Walker! The Reluctant Fiancee

36930987_10211967033753591_9209597836218335232_nMoira Kelly fell by chance into a career that completely encompasses her gift of cooking and staging houses—not for potential buyers, but for homeowners like divorcees and widowers who suddenly found their homes devoid of love and warmth. She is completely content with her life of beautifying the lives of others, or so she thinks.

Her tagline? Create a home “With the look of love”. So efficient is her business that word of mouth spreads to billionaire and international playboy, Javier Hommes; a man whose life Moira has seen play out on the T.V. news, social media and any tabloid still in business.

When he expresses interest in her services, she is initially hesitant. He was gorgeous with a capital G oozing charisma from every pore. A few minutes in his presence makes her want to run. But finally, she agrees to the monetarily attractive offer on one condition, he must keep their interactions completely professional. No Flirting.

Billionaire Javier Hommes, whose legacy is Hommes International Resorts & Properties doesn’t doubt his ability to make his parents, and in particular his father, proud when it comes to his business acumen. His reports and increased revenue are proof of that. It’s his personal life that gives them pause. Is he truly settled enough in life to completely take on the reigns of the family business?

 He is convinced that he is. His parents will be visiting soon, and he just needs a little help from the beautiful Moira Kelly to stage his impulsive house purchase to look like the tagline she is known for.  It doesn’t hurt that she added a little challenge. She actually expects him to not flirt with her. Yeah, good luck with that! Him not flirting is like asking him not to breathe. And she is far too beautiful for him not to at least try to get next to her.

1-Click the second in the Reluctant Series today!

The Reluctant Fiancée—The Look Of Love

By Nikki Walker

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The Balm of Love ~ Only 99 Ct!

New Balm of Love 3There was maybe an hour of daylight left when Eleanor finally turned onto a stone and dirt road was like a car path through uncut forest.  Finally she pulled up to a guardhouse made of logs with ‘Welcome to Lewis Wilderness Park’ carved in a wooden plank that hung so that it greeted any arrival.

She hoped for her first meeting they didn’t ask her much about Lewis & Clark. She didn’t recall much history from her high school history class.  A tall light brown complected man with a short afro approached her car door.

She lowered her window.  “Hi, I’m Eleanor Lewis. I’m the new employee. I’m to meet with Mr. Murray in about thirty minutes.”

“Welcome to the Wilderness family. I’m Glen,” he said extending his hand through her window.

“Nice to meet you Glen.”

“So, you’re going to continue down this road and take a left where the road forks up ahead. Oh and no need to be nervous, Sean…well Mr. Murray is a cool guy. He will immediately put you at ease. See you later Eleanor.”

Eleanor now smiled a little easier. “Thanks Glen. I appreciate that.”

As he stepped back he smiled and waved her through and she smiled thinking of the friendly sparkle in his brown eyes. She eased the car forward and tried to follow his advice as she took deliberate slow breaths to attempt to calm her heart.

They’d done all the interviews by Skype, so this would be the first time they’d meet in person. They’d been desperate to fill the position and she’d been desperate to start a new life. Hiding out in some wilderness park seemed as different a life she could shoot for. Here, she was certain none of her old crowd would show up  forcing her to suffer sneers from those she’d alienated or looks of pity from those that once considered her a friend.

Soon she drove toward a group of buildings with log paneling on the outside sharing an extended porch embellished with tall rough rafters.  She grabbed only her purse, deciding to retrieve her luggage later.  As she walked up the steps of the porch she could see the first building was a restaurant and bakery with the next being an Outfitter store.

Moments later, she stood before the main lodge building.  She took a deep breath and pushed the door forward stepping into the main lobby, hearing a chirpy greeting which she searched out as her eyes adjusted to the cozy incandescent lighting.

The scent of fresh cut wood hung in the air and she was aware of the whirring sound of an electrical saw accompanied with hammering. Her gaze scanned the lobby which was beautifully decorated in leathers and faux fur textures.

Whatever construction was behind the scenes from where she stood, which was at the front desk before a bubbly, blond woman with a brass pin that read, Belinda who peered at her with clear blue eyes and a contagious smile looking to be no more than nineteen or twenty.

“Welcome to the Lewis Wilderness Park and Camping Lodge. Do you have reservations?” she repeated with no hint of it being the second time she’d asked.

“Hi Belinda. I’m Eleanor Lewis and I have an appointment with Mr. Murray.”

“Oh yes, I was expecting you. He should be ready to meet with you in about ten more minutes. Can I get you a beverage or cup of coffee in the meanwhile?”

“Some water would be great.”

“I’ll get that right away. Feel free to have a seat.”

Eleanor turned and after scanning the spacious lobby filled with various casual seating groups, decided to walk toward the chocolate colored leather club chairs beside one of the lit fireplaces. She was glad the lobby was empty. She didn’t want the added pressure of making small talk with a stranger.

Soon, she was sipping from a bottle of water trying to calm her frenzied mind and shrug off some of the traveling weariness. There was distraction in the quaint beauty of the room made cozy by warm colors and textile carpets that scattered across the stone tile floors and hung on some of the log paneled walls complimented by two huge stone fireplaces at opposite sides of the lobby.

“Mr. Murray will see you now,” Belinda said suddenly  beside her, startling her from her wandering thoughts.

Elaine stood up and took a deep breath as she followed the petite woman across the tiled floors to a discreet stairway tucked beneath a curved wall. Plush carpet met her foot fall and soon she was in a lavishly decorated office, reflecting a constrained passion for the Safari lifestyle.

She immediately recognized the aged Scottish man with shining dark eyes and plump cheeks that she’d been corresponding with over the past few weeks and smiled as she thrust her hand into his extended one. It felt like she was meeting an old friend.

“I’m so glad to finally meet you in person, Eleanor! Did you have a hard time traveling through the snow storm last night or were you already in town?”

Sean Murray had a slight trilling of his Rs despite the nearly thirty years of living in the States.  Eleanor had come to love hearing him speak.  “No, I was still a few hours away, but safely ensconced for the night.”

“Wonderful, wonderful well please have a seat. We are so happy you were available this weekend. There is a small investor group that will be arriving on Friday. They are interested in seeing some of the package tours that this lodge offers and as you can see there is a race to finish up the last of the construction projects on the main floor—only two days away mind you.”

“Well, as I’ve already expressed Mr. Murray, I am eager to jump in and get us completed by deadline if not before. I’ve been reassured even since arriving how kind you are, so I am thrilled to be working for you.”

She watched the once jovial expression on the man suddenly falter, his mouth now twisting to the side as his wiry eyebrows slash in lines pointing toward his nose.

“Did I say something wrong?” Eleanor inquired quickly.

“No, I think that somewhere along the line I have mis-communicated to you. I am not your boss. I merely handle the HR business. No my dear, your boss, well our boss… well here he is now.”

Eleanor watched as Sean Murray gestured with his hand even as he lifted his gaze beyond her.

She on the other hand was caught off guard by a subtle and yet familiar cologne that she’d only known one person to wear.  No! It couldn’t be. Could it?

“Mr. Lewis, I’m so glad that you will finally meet our new employee, Eleanor Lewis.  I thought it funny that you two shared the same last name. Don’t you?”

Eleanor turned so quick she thought her neck would suffer whiplash. “Oh no!”

“You.” He managed between gritted teeth.

Eleanor stood from the wing chair she’d been seated, even as she continued to grasp tightly to it for fear her jelly legs would collapse beneath her.

She stared into the clear brown eyes of the man who’d stolen her heart when she had only been a girl and dropped her gaze in haste.  She was too afraid to decipher what she might read there—most likely the truth about her, about the person she’d been but from whom she was trying to evolve. But he didn’t know that, nor would he believe it.

Still too afraid to meet his gaze, she instead took in his navy cashmere sweater and button-down striped shirt collar that revealed sparse hairs peeping from the top. His wide shoulders reminded her of how she once felt incredibly safe tucked within his strong arms.

Even standing still, his swagger was as she remembered, except somehow more charismatic.

Intensity bounced off him in waves and she knew she was the lightning rod for much of it.

He appeared calm, his hand casually tucked in the pant pocket of a pair of khaki pants, yet the tic in his jaw something only those who knew him well enough to look for, told the story.

Finally, her gaze lifted and she was slammed with his gaze, the ferocity of too many emotions, all focused directly at her. Sweat beaded on her forehead even as her heart did a frenzied canter within her chest.

“I can’t believe it,” she whispered. “It’s really you. This wasn’t the way I wanted us to meet again.”

The tension was thick as the HR manager’s eyes pivoted between the two of them. “Do you …know each other?”

“Actually Sean, you have managed to successfully hire my soon to be ex-wife, that is if the judge could ever sign and discharge the papers,” Terry said while he moved quickly, his long legs crossing the room in only a few strides.

In seconds he was a breath away from her. “Do you never do anything on the up and up? What are you doing here?”

______________

Can two people who’ve hurt one another manage to fall in love again? Check out my latest in the Serenity Inn Series. Tap into the joy, heartbreak and healing love of Lindsay, Chad, Eleanor and Terrance for only 99 ct for a short time!

The Balm of Love ~ Serenity Inn Series ~Book 3

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The Balm of Love Among USA Today Must-read Romances

I’m a little late in sharing this… I’m so happy to say that I was featured among the USA Today Recommended Must-read Romances once again!

The Balm of Love Cover c

Michelle Monkou says:

“Why you should read it: The dramatic saga of these friends and family around the Serenity Inn series continues with The Balm of Love. This time, Eleanor and Terry are face-to-face in an expected situation that provides the perfect opportunity for reflection on the verge of their divorce.

Nikki Walker turns the spotlight on each couple as they continue to face trials that test their faith and commitment. And when the trials rain down, the storm seems never-ending. Faith and persistence carry them through the darkness, and vulnerabilities are laid bare for judgment but also for forgiveness. Walker ensures there are lessons to be learned and valued in The Balm of Love.”

I’m so appreciative to be mentioned among these other wonderful writers.

 

Excerpt:

Pangs of the Heart

Terrance sat on the side of his bed and held his head in his hands. He didn’t know how he’d made it through the rest of the work day, but he had somehow. Leaning against his headboard of bed pillows, he closed his weary eyes. Maybe a drink would stop his heart from feeling like little hammers rapping on his ribs.

The downside was that it could be a drink that wouldn’t stop. For nearly three months after he’d split with Eleanor, he had hidden in a bottle.  It had gotten worse after his brother had moved to Virginia. The idea of building a wilderness lodge was borne of him taking a trip with his brother, sleeping out under the stars as they had once as children with their father.

That was when Chad had proposed that he do something similar. He’d initially balked at the idea. But after a few days of being in nature he felt reborn. It was as if his mind and heart began to focus again and he felt himself feel like he could breathe and possibly start a life again—without Eleanor.

He didn’t know what kind of set up he’d wanted as he and his brother bashed ideas around but he was sure it wouldn’t have the bed and breakfast feel that Lindsay and Chad were doing. No, it would be challenging like the week they’d spent, but with packages made according to camping skills. Some could have cabins and cottages while others could hike and use tents. Some packages could appeal to families while others would be made to appeal to companies who wanted to do group bonding.

With his brother and father as  backers he took steps to make it happen and two years later the park had exceeded his expectations. It turned out that the project had been just what he needed to distract him from the heartache that had begun tearing at him from the moment he’d walked in on Eleanor trying to seduce his brother.

Even though he’d known Chad had done nothing to encourage the attraction it had taken everything in him not to beat on his brother that night. Instead, he placed the blame where it belonged, squarely on his wife. That night he’d thrown her out of Chad’s house where they’d been living at the time.

It had been bad enough to go through something like that among family, but Lindsay, Chad’s then fiancé had visited along with the family friend Cook. All had become a witness to the most horrific moment in Terry’s life. Sad to say, he knew none of them were any more surprised at the outcome of the evening than he was.

Trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong in their marriage had nearly killed him. His mind would replay pivotal moments in time between him and Eleanor all leading up to when their marriage hit the wall.

After some therapy and self-reasoning he realized he had to simply let it go or he would self-destruct and destroy his relationship with his brother as well. Trust was a precious thing.

Despite his jealousy, he decided to take the gamble on his brother. He hadn’t regretted it. Chad wouldn’t let him because he could see in his brother’s eyes the regret he had being part of the most painful thing to happen to him. That pain that glanced from his eyes at first sight, each time they reunited made him want to hate Eleanor afresh.

She’d put something between them that he wondered would ever go away, and for what? So it was strange to discover earlier that of all the complicated feelings which whirled within him for her—that none of them were hate.

Still, now that she was here working for him, he would make her pay for all the pain she’d caused if it was the last thing that he did.

___________

If  you haven’t, please pick up the latest in the Serenity Series which reads as a complete story stand-alone as well.  But if you’d like to get caught up, check out the following links:

 

Her Guy-Friday New Cover Her Guy-Friday~Serenity Inn Series ~ Book 1 (June 2014)

Lindsay Morgan, the B & B Innkeeper has many secrets–starting with the domestic abuse that she endured in her marriage, which ends when her husband Warren is killed. But how does he die? Is it the result of her gunshots in self-defense, in the line of duty or is it the incompetent surgeon?

When Dr. Chad Lewis ends up at the B&B seeking peace and forgiveness, will the Serenity Inn live up to its name and offer two wounded souls the serenity that they desperately desire?  What will the future hold for these two, when Lindsay and Chad realize that their past is intertwined?  1-Click to Check into the Serenity Inn~ Her Guy-Friday!

Love Embraced New Cover

Love Embraced~Serenity Inn Series ~Book 2  (Sept.2014)

 When Lindsay and Chad met at Serenity Inn, there was immediate chemistry, but the timing for love was all wrong in the face of what they’d both just gone through. They decide to go their separate ways, but they keep in touch. Now the two have agreed to meet, this time on Dr. Chad’s luxurious home turf, with the feisty Cook along for the ride. The couple find that they not only still have feelings for each other, but those feelings have grown as though they’d never spent time apart. Their elation is short-lived; however, as they realize that with their burgeoning love comes a new challenge: Chad’s sister-in-law, Eleanor, who makes it abundantly clear that Lindsay is beneath Chad’s station in life. Is Eleanor’s assessment valid or does she have an ulterior motive for tearing Lindsay down?

While Chad deals with Lindsay’s unstable feelings, Walter, who has stepped into Chad’s shoes back at Serenity Inn has had his eye on Elaine for a while. She’s distrustful and secretive, but he still feels drawn to her. She pulls on the protector in him. When she finally begins to open up to him, her past comes crashing into her present and is laid bare right at Walter’s feet.  Will Walter continue to pursue Elaine, even in the face of her ugly past, which could put them all in danger and disturb their serenity? 1-Click to Check In!        

Sunday Excerpt: The Balm of Love

eleanor 2 good serenity 3b promo 2The first thing that Eleanor wanted to do upon reaching her cottage was pack her bags and leave—no note, no good-byes—no nothing. Besides, what else could there possibly be to say?

The thing was there was a lot to say. She’d start with the words Mood Disorder.  She’d try her best to explain something that she herself didn’t truly understand.  She’d try to explain how something that crazy sounding could make you do crazy things and even have melt downs in the middle of a kitchen—especially when everything you identified as your reality crumbled before your eyes.

Yeah that’s where Eleanor knew she would start. Filling silences with words that she’d filled her head with over the past couple of years, except she just didn’t know if in the end it was really going to matter.

She wished she could tell him all the things that had been on her heart. Things she’d only whispered into the cold side of her pillow when she was alone.

Or maybe she could just forget all those other words and just say, “Let’s try again.”

Was it as simple as all of that? It worked in Love & Basketball.  Except she didn’t play that game and there was snow outside…maybe a snowball fight?

She jumped up and grabbed her coat.  She didn’t want to think, she just wanted to keep moving, but she turned and ran into the kitchen and pulled out her bottle of brandy.  Maybe a drink would help just a little.

Thirty minutes and two glasses of brandy later she called for a car, and was now in front of Terry’s door. It was close to nine at night. Only one light was shining from the lower level. Taking in a lungful of frigid air she rang the doorbell.  Now what was I going to say again?  As she drew a blank, she turned and tried to retrace her steps. This was foolish. She needed to think, had she taken her meds today?

“Elly? Eleanor is that you?” Terry called out to her.

She stopped and slowly turned around, and began to climb the steps to the door. “Hey.”

“Hey, come on in,” he waved at the driver, a signal that meant he would see to Eleanor getting home.

“It’s freezing out there. Let me take your coat,” he offered.

She slid her arms from the sleeves as she took in the beauty of the front room. An eclectic mix of traditional and modern that made her feel immediately at home. She was suddenly aware of his warmth, of his scent—a mix of spice, cedar and everything masculine. He’d been wearing the cologne for years and now it had only come to signify him—the epitome of him for her. How she’d missed it.

“Can I get you something to drink? Tea, right?”

“No. Nothing for me…”

They stood in the middle of the floor for a moment. He watched her closely and noticed her discomfort.

“Well why don’t we sit?” He gestured and he grabbed one of the leather recliners and sat.  She took the other.

He leaned back, his arms resting comfortably on the chair arms. For the first time she noticed he’d already changed his clothes to a tee-shirt and pair of sweats. His feet were shod in his slippers. Clearly she’d disturbed him from his bedtime routine.

“I’m just noticing that you were ready for bed. I wasn’t thinking. I came over here on impulse and now I think what I wanted to discuss can wait.”

“Are you sure, Elly?” He asked and he watched her intently. “I mean hasn’t enough time gone by?”

“Wha-what?”

“I said hasn’t enough time gone by? It usually doesn’t take two years to tell someone something.”

She searched his face for anger or judgment, but what she saw was openness. His clear brown eyes searched hers and she knew he only wanted to hear truth from her.

 

1-CLICK 👆 my latest in the Serenity Inn Series and tap into the joy, heartbreak and healing love of Lindsay, Chad, Eleanor and Terrance!

 

Excerpt from New Release, The Balm of Love!

This story opens with a more humbled Eleanor. She has lost much since the last the last Serenity Inn installment and this loss has humbled her quite a bit. In fact, her humility brings her to the door step of Serenity Inn to see Lindsay who has since married Chad and is expecting their first child.

What happens next sets the stage for some twists and turns in the lives of not only Eleanor and Terrance but Lindsay& Chad as well.

Put your seat-belts on and get ready to check into more drama as it unfolds in The Balm of Love~ Serenity Inn 3.

 

 

“Tell me, do you think the hike was too strenuous?”  His whiskey colored eyes pinned hers and Eleanor found swallowing her food  difficult.

“I don’t think I’m the best person to ask.  I haven’t hiked in years, so for me it was challenging. Could it have caused Barrett’s heart attack, probably not. These things are usually by-products of a lifestyle. I’m sure it could have happened at any time.”

“Why didn’t you say something when you needed to stop?”

Eleanor continued quietly as she moved food around her plate. Why didn’t she say something? Is he kidding?  Sighing she lowered her shoulders. “ I didn’t want to show weakness. I couldn’t appear as if I wasn’t up to it. I mean wasn’t this a test for me?”  She shook her head from side to side. “No I had to prove to you that I could do it. If I had complained—well I might as well have been prepared to resign.”

“Are you serious?”

“I’m dead serious,” she said leveling her gaze back at him.  “You should just admit it. You clearly said as much just after the helicopter left that I needed to finish this. Remember?”

“Yeah but—“

“But what? You said I had to decide here and now what I wanted. I mean Barrett had just been taken away. I was devastated with worry. But you were dead set on finishing this hike.” She shrugged. “So that’s what we did.”

Terry looked away.  He had said that. Had he been so bent on seeing what Eleanor was made of that he missed early signals of distress in Barrett?

“Do you think I might have missed something? Maybe I could have helped him sooner.”  Terry continued his voice low and flat.

Eleanor took a moment to study him. It was evident he was suffering. His eyes were on his plate.  But it didn’t take long for her to respond.

“No. He seemed fine right up to the time you asked him to sit down. In fact they’d been laughing and talking just before.”

Terry seemed to mull her words over. “It’s just that I’d hate to think—“

“Look you have to stop second guessing yourself. You know you’re always careful in everything you do. You’ve been careful your whole life. It’s why this Wildlife Park is so perfect.” Her hand reached across the table impulsively grasping his.  “Trust me, you did everything right.”   eleanor 2 good serenity 3b promo 2

Their eyes fused.  He searched hers wanting to believe the truth that shined back at him. He could almost trust what he was seeing.  Slowly he pulled his hand away just as he dropped his eyes. “Thanks Eleanor.”

He slid his chair back and gathered the dishes.  “You can leave your dishes.  I’ll get them. We have to get an early start in the morning so you probably should go ahead and turn in.”

He turned away from her and headed into the kitchen.

“No, I can help,” she insisted picking up the remaining dishes from the table.

Terry took a deep breath and faced her.  “The truth is I really would just like to do this alone. I need to think things over.”

Eleanor frowned as she opened the dishwasher and began to load it. “Terry why did you hire me when you’re going to insist on pushing me away. I mean it’s not exactly something you can do with someone in the position you hired me in.”

Terry turned away from her eyes that were full of questions. Questions she had no right to ask him. Questions he didn’t feel the need to answer—wasn’t ready to answer. Yet he could feel her still staring into his back. Waiting. It wasn’t like he could say he hired her to punish her. Besides it was so much more complicated than that.

“Let’s just drop it, Eleanor. Go to bed.”  He took a dishcloth and began to wipe down the counters and the stove listening for her departure.

“Listen, I’ve waited to say this for a long time, and I can’t wait any longer. I’m sorry Terry. I’m so sorry for everythingthat happened.”

Terry gripped the counter and closed his eyes. Why didn’t she just leave?

“There probably won’t be another opportunity for us to get this out in the open, Terry.”

Eleanor rushed around to stand in front of him and grasped his arms. “Please Terry open your eyes and look at me. Can’t you see that I’ve changed? I’m striving everyday to be a better person.”

Terry clenched his jaw and moved away from her. As he walked toward the kitchen entry he slammed his hand into the wall. “Why couldn’t you just for once do as I asked? Why did you insist on pulling the scab off the wound I spent the last couple of two years trying to heal?  You should have just let it be Eleanor.”

Eleanor dropped her head as tears gathered in her eyes.  Her lashes tried to hold them at bay but failed.

“I guess I just needed you to hear my apology outloud. I…I needed to say it Terry because the idea of you not knowing how much I regret betraying you—“

“I don’t want to hear it! Can’t you get that through your head?” He turned and stared at her with eyes she could only describe as haunted.  Fear clutched at her heart as she watched the contorted face of grief and something else she couldn’t quite grasp.  What had she done?  She backed up for every stalking step that he took toward her until the sink hindered her retreat.

“I don’t care how sorry you feel,” he growled. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve changed. You broke everything in me and there are no words you can say that can change that. You took everything inside me that was good and trusting. You destroyed it on a childish whim— just to see if you could! I can barely stand to look at you. Do you understand that?”

 

Get caught up in the rest of this second chance drama, The Balm of Love, the 3rd installment of the Serenity Inn Series!

Sample Sunday. Excerpt from The Balm of Love; Serenity Inn 3

A Time for Goodbyes

Woman in Mourning at Cemetery in Fall, with Black Umbrella

Eleanor sat on the bench before the headstones that marked the graves of her parents. It had been an emotional past two years, where she’d watched as age and sickness robbed her parents of lucid memory and some of their dignity.  Now they were at peace—no longer suffering. Finally, she was no longer too busy to remember that along with them she’d lost a marriage and a man who had loved her since childhood, but no more.

She sighed before she moved closer to the graves, kneeling before them to clear the crisp leaves that had scattered over the graves.  Gently she placed the flower arrangements before her.  It made her feel better to know that she would be doing something to show she honored their memory before her long drive to Virginia where she hoped to make a brand new start.

Only weeks ago, she had responded to an ad that an independent recruiting company had placed for an applicant with strong decorator skills and hostess abilities needed to be the face of a new bed and breakfast wilderness lodge. The pay wasn’t what attracted her, living in forget-me-not, Virginia was a huge draw. She just wanted to disappear away from everyone that knew her, so that she could grieve.

She inhaled the floral scents as they floated on the wind as she straightened the roses against the white lilies in the stone in-ground vases. Her mind skipped back to joyful family memories as the breeze blew her tears across her cheeks. Once she became aware of the shadows lengthening, she slowly stood, pulling her curls from her face to behind her ear.  The shrill of the wind whistled between the trees across the valley of resting places as she turned and walked toward her nearby parked car where she spared one last glance.

“Bye mommy and daddy,” she whispered before she eased inside her sports utility vehicle.  She had only one stop to make before her final destination. Slipping on her shades she turned the ignition and pulled off into her future.