From her secret perch at the top of the stairs, Gabriella Harrison watches the guests arrive at her parents lavish Manhattan town house. At seven, she knows she is an intruder in her parents life. Later, hiding in a closet, the click, click, click of her mothers high heels will strike terror in her heart.
Gabriella believes, as she is told, that she is to blame for her mothers rage - and her fathers failure to protect her. When her parents marriage collapses, Gabriella is given her first reprieve, as her father disappears, and then her mother abandons her to a convent. There, Gabriellas battered body and soul begin to mend.
Amid the quiet safety and hushed rituals of the nuns, Gabriella grows into womanhood in a safe, peaceful world. Then a young priest comes into her life. Father Joe Connors never questioned his vocation until Gabriella entered the confessional and shared her soul.
Confession leads to friendship. And friendship grows dangerously into love. Like Gabriella, Joe is haunted by the pain of his childhood consumed by guilt over a family tragedy, for which he blames himself.
With Gabriella, Joe takes the first steps toward healing. But their relationship leads to disaster as Joe must choose between the priesthood and Gabriella, and life in the real world where he fears he does not belong, and cannot cope. Exiled and disgraced, and nearly destroyed, Gabriella struggles to survive on her own in New York.
There she seeks healing and escape through her writing again, this time as an adult, and her life as a writer begins. But just when she thinks she is beyond hurt, Gabriella is once again betrayed by someone she trusts. Brought to the edge of despair, physically attacked beyond recognition and belief, haunted by abuse in her present and her past, she nonetheless manages to find hope again, and the courage to face the past.
On a pilgrimage destined to bring her face-to-face with those who sought to destroy her in her early life, she finds forgivene Gabriella Harrison, who has suffered abuse at the hands of her wealthy parents and has found peace in a convent, meets Father Joe Connors, who is haunted by the pain of his own childhood. There friendship grows dangerously into love and leads to disaster.