The Heavenly Fugitive (House of Winslow Book #27)

The Heavenly Fugitive (House of Winslow Book #27)

by Gilbert Morris

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While studying for his law degree, Phillip Winslow has found his niche working at Thornton Stables. His sister, Amelia, is still searching for something that will bring her happiness. Her rebellious nature, once kept in check by a desire to please her missionary parents, finally breaks free from those restraints. Against her family's wishes, she becomes a nightclub singer and dreams of making it on Broadway.

While Amelia has gangster Tony Morino's bodyguard to thank for jumpstarting her career, Phillip finds himself drawn to Tony's daughter. As both Winslows are pulled further and further into a dangerous underworld, everything they hold dear is threatened.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441270528
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2006
Series: House of Winslow , #27
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 981,533
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

GILBERT MORRIS was a pastor before becoming an English professor and earning a Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas. He and his wife live in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Gilbert Morris spent ten years as a pastor before becoming Professor of English at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas, and did postgraduate work at the University of London. His publishing credits include some two dozen scholarly articles, 200 poems, and more than 200 novels, including series such as House of Winslow, Lions of Judah, and Cheney Duvall, M.D. (coauthored with his daughter, Lynn Morris). Dr. Morris passed away in February 2016.

Read an Excerpt

A Spoiled Beauty

New York City

November 1923

A series of harsh cries caught Phillip Winslow's attention. He turned to watch four black crows arise from a field with a great flapping of wings, then alight on the branches of a leafless oak tree. Its bare limbs cast long shadows across the frozen ground to where he stood. He shivered in the cold air and went on his way, slapping his hands together and whistling a favorite hymn. The old hymns kept him from getting too homesick for his parents in Africa, where he'd spent his childhood. He wondered how his sister, Amelia, was doing—if she was enjoying life in the States as much as he.

Phillip had quickly adjusted to the faster pace in New York, and after living there for over a year, he had even adopted the American preference for nicknames, gladly answering now to "Phil" and asking everyone to call him that. He had always been a good student and a hard worker, so his college studies were stimulating, and his job at the Thornton Stables provided the physical work his manly young body needed. Except for missing his parents, who now pastored a church in Nairobi, he loved his new life in America. But he worried about Amelia.

When he reached the whitewashed barn of the Thornton Stables, he made his way inside and down a line of horse stalls. The smell of horses, leather, and feed had become so normal to him he no longer noticed the odor. Stopping before one of the stalls, he looked at a sleek Arabian mare, who stared back at him with cold arrogance.

"Ready for your trip, girl?" The horse gave him a snorting reply. He picked up a bridle and cautiously opened the stall door, waiting to see what the mare woulddo. When she merely stared at him, he laughed. "You're in a better mood this morning. Yesterday you tried to wipe up the floor with me." He stepped forward, grateful when she accepted the bridle. Slapping her on the neck, he said, "That's a good girl. Come along, now. You're going to your new home."

He led the mare out of the stable to a horse trailer hitched to the back of a truck. He cautiously guided her up the wooden ramp into the open door of the trailer, admiring her sleek coat, which glistened like sunlight on water. To his surprise she entered the trailer without hesitation. He closed the door and stepped back to take one last look at her before delivering her to her new owner. He had longed to put a saddle on her and try her out himself, but his boss, Luke DeSalvo, had refused to let any of the stable hands ride this particular animal. She had been kept for a special customer.

Phil turned and walked over to a small brick building, the downstairs of which housed the office for the stables and the upstairs a small apartment for DeSalvo. The door opened before he reached it, and the manager stepped out to greet him. DeSalvo was a short, stocky man with muscular legs and arms and almost no neck. He wore a pair of faded corduroy trousers, old rubber boots, and a tattered sweater. He thrust a clipboard toward Phil and, chomping on his ever-present cigar, growled at him, "Here, college boy. See you don't let nothin' happen to that mare."

Taking the clipboard, Phil read the order. He smiled and said, "Boadicea, huh? That's a pretty fancy name for a horse."

DeSalvo rolled the cigar around in his mouth with his tongue and studied Winslow. He had not wanted to take on the young man, who had seemed too educated, in his opinion, to work at the stables. He had told the owner, "He won't last. The first time he has to muck out the stalls he'll be outta here." Phil had proved him wrong, however, for he had cheerfully mucked out stalls and never complained about the dozens of other chores DeSalvo heaped on him. Now that he was in college and had to study every day, Phil couldn't come to work until midafternoon, but he willingly worked late into the evening when necessary to get all the chores finished.

For all his gruffness, DeSalvo admired the young Winslow and couldn't figure out what such a bright young man was doing working at the Thornton Stables. He eyed the nineteen-year-old briefly and took in his tall, lean physique and ruddy complexion. Much outdoor living in his years growing up in Africa had made Phil strong. Strands of auburn hair stuck out from under his cap, and he had the most penetrating green eyes DeSalvo had ever seen. He wore a pair of faded blue trousers, a striped shirt without a collar, a gray waistcoat fastened by two buttons, and rubber work boots.

Phil looked up and said, "Ten Oaks. Where's that, Mr. DeSalvo?"

"Just the other side of the Jamison place, where you took the gray stallion last Thursday. Ten Oaks is about a mile beyond that, back off the road, with a big black iron fence around it."

"Yes. I know the place."

DeSalvo removed his cigar, studied it as if it were a valuable jewel, then jammed it back into his mouth. He drew on it until the end glowed a cherry red and nodded. "Keep your mouth shut when you're there, college boy. There's some real tough hairpins in that place."

Startled by this revelation, Phil focused on the stubby manager, waiting for some explanation. When none was forthcoming, he asked, "What do you mean ‘tough hairpins'?"

"This mare belongs to Tony Morino," DeSalvo said with a snort. "You ever hear of him?"

"No. Don't think so."

DeSalvo laughed. "Well, you don't know everything, college boy. He's a tough one, but he's managed to stay out of jail."

"You mean he's a criminal?"

"He's never been convicted, but everybody knows he's a big-time bootlegger, and he's got his finger in other pies, too. He runs with a rough crowd, so mind your manners." He paused then and almost turned to go back in the office, but curiosity touched his gray eyes. "What are you doing mucking out stables, anyway? A college boy like you could get a cleaner job."

"I like being around horses. One of the things I miss about my home in Africa."

"What kind of horses they got in Africa?"

"Same as here. Some fine ones like that mare and some not so fine."

DeSalvo grunted. "Well, get on your way. Mind what I told you."

"Okay, Mr. DeSalvo."

The manager watched Winslow climb into the truck and start the engine. As the truck pulled away, a tall, heavyset man with blunt features approached DeSalvo and grinned broadly. "What's Joe College doin' now? He don't look like much man to me."

"What would you know about it, Cotton!" DeSalvo spat. "If you had his brains, you'd be in velvet! Why, I showed that young Winslow the stud book last week, and he just leafed through it and memorized that mare's bloodlines all the way back to Adam. I couldn't believe it. He's got a memory like flypaper!"

Cotton wasn't convinced by the boss's defense of Winslow. "Some kind of foreigner, ain't he?" Cotton grumbled. "Why didn't he stay where he come from?"

"Go feed those horses, Cotton!" DeSalvo grunted and stepped back into the office. Despite his praise of Winslow, he too wondered about the young man. Funny guy. Smart as a whip but don't mind muckin' out stalls. Not many like that around....

* * *

Following DeSalvo's instructions, Phil drove past the Jamison place and a mile farther down the road spotted the black iron fence. The house was set back off the road, and the driveway was lined with large oak trees reaching their naked limbs into the sky—Like they're praying, Phil thought. He stopped at the front gate and got out, leaving the engine running. There was no sign with a name on it, but he knew this had to be the Morino estate. He punched a button but heard no bell. He waited, glancing around at the woods that surrounded the property. A blue jay lit above him, proclaiming his presence loudly, his bright colors shining brilliantly against the dead grays and browns of the trees. Hearing footsteps, Phil turned and saw a small man approach the gate. He was bundled up in a heavy plaid coat with a soft cap pulled down over his forehead.

"What'cha want, eh?" The question was shot at Phil like a bullet from a gun.

"I'm delivering a mare for Mr. Morino from the Thornton Stables."

"You got a paper that says so?"

"Right here."

Phil shoved the invoice through the bars and watched as the man scanned it suspiciously. Apparently satisfied, he handed it back and unlocked the gate. Phil had started back to the truck when the guard's gruff command halted him. "Hold it right there, Mac!"

The man walked toward him and said, "I'll have to frisk you."

"Frisk me? What for?"

The guard's cold gray eyes twinkled at Phil's confusion. "Gotta see if you're packin' a gat."

"What's a gat?"

"Don't give me that, kid! I ain't got time for games." The man ran his hands up and down Phil's body.

Remembering DeSalvo's instructions, Phil kept still. When the inspection was over, he smiled and asked, "Am I okay?"

"I'll have to check the truck and trailer."

Phil walked back to the truck and waited while the man checked under the seats and inspected the horse trailer.

"Okay," the guard said, turning. "You can go on in."

"Where are the stables?"

"Take that road up to the house. Bear to the left and circle around. You'll find them out behind in a big field. Ask for O'Connor. He takes care of the horses."


Getting back into the truck, Phil was amused at being the object of such suspicion, but he had read enough detective novels to recognize the methods of gangsters. Now he was even more curious about Morino, but he knew he'd better be careful. The guard's businesslike attitude and steely eyes warned Phil that he was walking into a potentially dangerous situation.

He chuckled to himself as he made his way to the stables and thought, Maybe I'll get to see a real live American gangster. I've heard about all the bootleggers but never thought I might meet one!

* * *

A white ball rolled across the green felt, struck a red ball sharply, and sent it toward the pocket, where it disappeared with a heavy plunk! The girl who had made the shot nodded with satisfaction at her younger brother. Fifteen-year-old Rosa Morino shook her lustrous ebony hair and grinned, a sparkle of mischief in her enormous dark eyes. She moved around the table with the awkward grace of an adolescent and made shot after shot. When she had cleared the table, she racked up the balls for a new game, but the noise of a truck backfiring caught her ear. She slammed the cue down on the table and ran to the window. "Jamie, she's here! My horse is here!"

Leaving her brother and running out of the billiard room, Rosa dashed down the hall but halted at the sound of her father's voice coming from an open door. "Where are you going, Rosa?"

Rosa stepped into her father's study, her eyes flashing, and cried out, "It's my mare! She's here, Daddy! I'm going to ride her right now!"

"Oh no you're not, young lady! Not until O'Connor checks her out."

Rosa's father rose from his desk chair and came toward her. A daunting figure, he was a solid man with heavy legs and arms and massive fists. He had a round face with blunt features and a ragged scar that traced its way down his right cheek and along the jawline. The scar was the result of a run-in with a horse, not a brawl. He had been kicked, but as was typical of him when it came to animals, he had insisted it was his fault, not the horse's.

Big Tony Morino was more understanding of animals than of human beings. He had come to this country as a child speaking only Italian and had fought his way up through childhood on the tough streets of New York City's Lower East Side. He had managed to stay out of the clutches of the law except for one thirty-day bout behind bars, but after that month of incarceration, the crafty Morino had determined to find a way to get rich without going to jail for it. He now ruled over several organized gangs of bootleggers in New York City, along with five or six other kingpins.

Though Morino was a fearsome man to anyone who crossed him in his business dealings, to Rosa he was simply her father, and she was not afraid to plead with him to let her see the horse right away.

The hardwood floor shook with his weight as he crossed it and stood face-to-face with Rosa. "No riding until O'Connor's checked her out," he bellowed.

Rosa was hardly fazed by his stern demeanor. "Oh, Daddy!"

"You mind what I say, Rosa. O'Connor said that horse is too lively for you."

"I can ride her!"

"Maybe you can, but you're not going to yet. Now, you mind your father." His dark scowl relaxed a bit as he reached out and tenderly tugged a lock of Rosa's black hair. Her skinny, girlish shape had given way to womanly curves, and she looked stunning in a pair of dark blue jodhpurs, a wine-colored jersey, and shiny riding boots. Big Tony took special pride in her beauty, and he often gave in to her pleading expressions, but this time he refused to let her get the better of him completely. "You can look at her—but no riding without O'Connor. And that's final!"

"Oh, all right, Daddy." She suddenly threw herself against him and kissed him on the cheek, her eyes sparkling. "Thank you so much, Daddy. It's the nicest present anyone ever got!"

"Well, go along now," Tony said, pleased at her embrace. She was an affectionate girl, and as she wheeled and ran out of the room, he realized how much of his heart was in this girl on the brink of womanhood. His first wife had given him no children, and after her death Tony had married Maria, who had quickly given him two—Rosa, followed two years later by James. Tony never minded interruptions from his family, and he was especially happy when Rosa was around. Now he moved back to his desk and perused his list of business contacts.

Before long he was interrupted again—this time by his wife. He looked up as she entered the room and smiled at her. "The mare is here, Maria. Rosa's already gone out to look at her."

Maria Morino crossed the large study and stood beside her husband. She was a trim woman of forty—nearly twenty years younger than her husband. She had been raised in a conservative home, and her family had been horrified when she had announced her engagement to Big Tony Morino. Although she had introduced him as Mr. Anthony Morino, they knew who he was and what he did for a living. They had done all they could to prevent her from marrying a gangster but to no avail. Maria could not explain it to herself. She had turned down many more suitable men, and her family feared she would never marry. But then Big Tony had simply swept her off her feet. She was happy in her marriage and proud to have given Tony two fine children. She was grieved at his illegal activities but had never tried to interfere in his work. It was one area of his life she could not touch. She knew the nature of his work when she married him, but she couldn't help loving him for who he was at home. He was always kind to her and loved his family as much as any man could. There was nothing he wouldn't do for them. He was also a patriotic man who loved America with a passion. He proudly carried the American flag in parades and attended Fourth of July speeches, applauding with his ponderous hands and whistling at the oratories extolling the virtues of his adopted country.

"I'm worried about that horse," Maria said. "O'Connor tells me she'll be a handful for Rosa."

"Rosa can handle her," Tony said confidently.

"But she's barely fifteen."

"She's been riding since she was six years old, Maria. She's ridden everything we've ever had on the place with four legs, even that big dog we had when she was a little mite." Tony grinned. He stood up and hugged his wife. "She'll be all right, dear. I won't let her ride the mare until O'Connor says she's ready. You should have seen her just now. She's so happy."

Maria reached up and touched his cheek, and when he kissed her, she said reluctantly, "You're so sweet, Tony, but I worry about Rosa. She's quite spoiled, you know. A spoiled brat, really."

"Why, you shouldn't say that, honey."

"She is, Tony! She's had everything she ever wanted. You can never refuse her anything."

"Well, what's money for if not to make you and the kids happy? I only wish you wanted something for yourself. You never ask me for anything."

"I don't need anything, and Rosa has too much. Someday," Maria said quietly, "she's going to want something you can't buy for her."

Tony snorted. "Why, money buys everything!"

Maria shook her head but did not answer. "I hope you'll talk to O'Connor," she said as she turned to leave. "Tell him to be extra careful."

"Okay. I'll give him the straight talk." Morino smiled and sat back down at his desk. He couldn't concentrate on his work, however. His mind was filled with the pleasure of giving his daughter the purebred Arabian. Staring out the window, he daydreamed of seeing his lovely little Rosa bringing home trophies in all the riding shows.

* * *

As soon as Rosa darted out the door and caught sight of the truck pulling the horse trailer, she ran toward it full speed, her hair flying out behind her. She scarcely glanced at the young man who had gotten out of the truck and now stood beside the trailer. Her eyes were all for the horse, and she peered in through the windows, admiring the mare's sleek coat. She smiled at the large eyes that watched her in return—rather wickedly, Rosa thought.

She cried out, "Oh, you beauty, and you're all mine!" She turned to the man and said impatiently, "Well, don't just stand there! Get my horse out!"

"I'm supposed to see somebody named O'Connor first," Phil said.

"He's not here. I'll sign for it."

She moved to the back of the trailer and snapped her fingers impatiently, but when the driver only looked at her and made no move to open it, she said, "Didn't you hear me? I said open the door and bring my horse out!"

"I'm sorry, miss. I can't do that. I have to have an adult here. Is O'Connor around?"

Rosa's dark eyes flashed. She had little time for hired help, and now she marched over and snatched the clipboard out of the young man's hand. "Look," she said, pointing to the paper with a superior air. "Anthony Morino—that's my father. He ordered this horse for me. Now just unload her and be on your way. Give me a pencil. I'll sign for it."

Phil made no attempt to remove the pencil that was behind his ear. He looked down at the attractive young woman whose beauty, he thought, was considerably marred by her spoiled attitude. "I'm sorry, but I can't do it, miss."

"I'm Rosa Morino, and this is my horse!"

"I'm sure that's true, Miss Morino, but—"

"Look, you see the name of this horse? I gave it to her myself. It's Boa-ad-ecah."

Rosa was surprised when the deliveryman laughed. "What are you laughing at?" she snapped.

"Well, I don't think you pronounced it quite right."

"What are you talking about? There it is right there! Boadicea. She's named after a queen from Egypt, and I guess I know how to say my own horse's name!"

Phil found himself enjoying the confrontation with the young woman. She was as pretty as a girl could be and had more spirit than the mare, if that were possible, but he could not help wanting to put her in her place. "Just two things wrong with that, Miss Morino. The name is pronounced Boo-dee-kuh, and she wasn't an Egyptian queen. She was from a tribe in Britain, the Iceni. When the Romans attacked her people and raped her two daughters, she raised an army and led them to battle against them."

Rosa's eyes flashed. "You don't know what you're talking about! I don't care what you say! This is my horse!"

Rosa whirled and moved back to the rear of the trailer. She reached up to unlatch the lock but was suddenly seized from behind. She began to kick and scream. "Let me go! I'm going to get that horse out!"

"I'm sorry, miss. I can't let you do that."

In her fury, Rosa swung around and slapped his face with a sharp crack that carried on the air. When she tried to slap him again, he caught her wrist. She struggled, and since she was a strong young girl, it took a great deal of strength to hold her off. Phil was embarrassed. "Cut it out, Miss Morino," he said with exasperation. She tried to pummel him with her fists, and it was all he could do to hold her without hurting her. She thrashed and kicked, screaming, "You turn me loose!"

While Phil was trying to defend himself without hurting the girl, he did not see the big man lumbering toward them from the house. Dominic Costello, bodyguard for Big Tony and his family, had heard the altercation from inside and came running as fast as his huge frame would allow. He had the blunt face of a pugilist, one ear puffed up, scar tissue around his eyes, and cold light gray eyes. He reached the struggling pair and pulled the girl loose so violently she staggered. Without hesitation he struck out with a tremendous right-hand blow that instantly cut Phil's eyebrow to the bone and drenched his face in blood.

Stunned, Phil fell backward, seeing nothing but swirling lights—yellow, red, and brilliant blue. He felt strong hands yanking him to his feet, and then another blow rocked him on the other side of his face. He tried to get away from the blows, but the powerful fists landed squarely on his face every time.

Rosa caught her balance and stopped dead still as she watched Dominic pound the helpless young man into semiconsciousness. Even as the man was falling toward the ground, Dominic dealt a massive blow to his midsection. Rosa heard his muted cry of pain as he doubled over and fell facedown in a pool of blood.

When Dominic began kicking the man as he lay still, she ran forward and grabbed his arm. "Dom, stop—!"

"I'll kill him," Dom screamed, still kicking. "He was trying to hurt you!"

"No, he wasn't, Dom! I was trying to get the horse out, and he was trying to stop me."

Dom stepped back to catch his breath and looked at her, puzzled. "You mean he wasn't bothering you?"

"No, Dom. It was my fault," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks at the trouble she had just caused. Rosa knelt and gently rolled the inert body over. She was sickened by the wreck that Dom had made of the man's face, and she whispered, "Oh, Dom, you've hurt him bad!"

"Well, how was I to know he wasn't bothering you!"

Her face pale, Rosa shook her head. "Quick, carry him into the house. I'll have Daddy call a doctor." She whirled and ran inside. Dom knelt down, stared at the bloody face, and shook his head. "You shouldn't've put your hands on her." He scooped Winslow up with barely a grunt and marched toward the house. He felt bad about the misunderstanding, but he knew he would not be in trouble for it. After all, he was there to protect the family of Big Tony Morino. He was just doing his job.

* * *

"Is he all right, Daddy?"

Morino had stepped into the drawing room to talk to Rosa and Maria. Rosa's face was pale, and her hands were trembling. Tony could not stand to see his child in distress, and he put his hand on her shoulder, saying, "He'll be all right. The doctor's with him and will take good care of him. Now tell me once more what happened." He listened as Rosa went over the story again and shook his head. "I wish you hadn't made such a fuss over that horse, Rosa. We don't need something like this."

Rosa's eyes filled with tears, and she whispered, "I'm sorry, Daddy." She had a tender heart, despite being so spoiled, and now the tears ran down her cheeks. "Dom hurt him so bad. I never saw him act like that before."

Tony had hired Dom for his destructive ability, but Tony had always kept his business out of his home. Rosa had no idea how violent a man her father was, nor how violent were the men with whom he surrounded himself. She had grown up sheltered from all of this. Now Tony met Maria's eyes and winced at the accusing glare in them. "He'll be all right, sweetheart. The doc will fix him up."

The three waited for what seemed like a long time, and finally Dr. Clarkson came striding into the drawing room. Instantly the three converged on him.

Rosa was the first to ask, "Is he all right, Dr. Clarkson?"

"No, he's not all right, Rosa." James Clarkson was a tall, rangy man with light blue eyes and reddish hair, whose speech carried the echoes of his boyhood home in the North Carolina hills. He had been Rosa's doctor since she was born, but Clarkson now ignored her and glared at Tony. "You're in trouble here, Tony," the doctor snapped.

"Why, what's wrong with him?"

"He's got a broken nose, and those cuts around his eyes are going to leave scars. Besides that, he's got several broken ribs. What was he trying to do—rob the house?"

"Well, no, he was just delivering a horse."

"Why did Dom beat him up so badly?"

Rosa spoke up timidly. "He ... he thought the man was bothering me."

"Was he bothering you?" Clarkson demanded.

Rosa dropped her head. "No, sir, he wasn't. I was being awful to him. He was trying to stop me from letting the horse out of the trailer."

"Well, that's not good, Tony. He may go straight to the police—maybe even sue you for this. If there's a trial, I'll have to be a witness against you. I won't have any choice."

"We'll take care of it, Doc," Tony assured him. "He'll be okay."

The doctor eyed Tony pointedly. "But he may not be, Tony. He could die—you understand? He needs to be in a hospital for observation. And you ought to get rid of Dom. He's a dangerous man."

Tony did not comment but instead asked the doctor, "Is he awake?"

"Yes, but I've sedated him, so he's groggy. I tell you again, he needs to go to the hospital."

"I'll take care of that, Doc, and all the expenses. Don't you worry."

Clarkson stalked out of the room, indignation in every line of his body. As soon as he was out the front door, Tony said, "I'll go see him."

"I want to go with you, Daddy."

"Better if you didn't, sweetheart."

"But I want to. It was my fault."

Big Tony shrugged, and the two of them, along with Maria, made their way down the hall and into the bedroom where the young man rested.

As Tony walked in the door he was shocked to see the damage Dominic had done. The man's face was puffy beyond recognition and badly discolored under both eyes. A bloody bandage covered his forehead where the doctor had stitched up the most serious wounds over the eyebrows. His lips were swollen, and his eyes stared steadily at Tony through narrow slits.

"I'm sorry about all this," Tony said gruffly. "What's your name?"

"Win ... slow. Phil Winslow." He could barely pronounce his own name.

"Well, it was all a misunderstanding, Phil," Tony said quickly. "Now, listen, we're going to put you in the hospital—and I'm going to take care of all the doctor bills—"

"No," Phil said, his tone firm this time.

Tony halted and looked at him, surprised. "Look, young man, you need to go to the hospital."

"Gotta ... take ... truck back."

"I'll take care of all that. I'll have one of my men drive it back. I'm going to have another one take you to the hospital."

Phil found it difficult to move, but he struggled to his feet. Rosa stepped forward to help him and said, "I'm sorry. It was all my fault."

Phil glared at her. "Forget it," he whispered. "Now ... I wanna go home."

"Sure," Tony said quickly. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of bills. "Here, you'll be off from work awhile. This will take care of that."

Phil stared at the bills but could not even shake his head he was in such pain. "No ..." His voice was barely audible. "Just ... home."

Tony argued briefly, but finally Maria said, "You'll have to let him have his own way. He's going to pass out."

"Okay. We'll get you home. Don't worry about a thing." Tony rushed out quickly and came back almost at once with Dominic behind him. "Dom will take you home. He's sorry about what happened—wants to make it up to you. Anywhere you say, and we'll be in touch. I still think you ought to go to the hospital, though."

Phil did not answer. He didn't want to be anywhere near the man who had beat him senseless, but he was too weak to argue. He shuffled across the floor like a very old man, moving on willpower alone. Dom reached out to steady him, but Phil deliberately pulled his arm back.

When the door closed behind the two, Rosa began to cry. "He's hurt so bad, and it's all my fault. Why wouldn't he go to the hospital?"

Tony's eyes were fastened on the door. "He wouldn't take money, either. Not a very smart kid turning down dough. He'll learn better someday," he murmured. Then he turned to Rosa and put his arms around her. "It's all right, sweetheart. He'll be okay. Don't worry about him."

"But, Daddy, it was all my fault, and he's hurt so bad."

"People get hurt bad, Rosa," Big Tony Morino said. "You'll learn that as you get older."

Excerpted from:
The Heavenly Fugitive (HOUSE OF WINSLOW series)by Gilbert Morris
Copyright © 2002, Gilbert Morris
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

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