Today we also share a snippet from AJ's upcoming Short Story edition as promised during the interview.
Enjoy and don't forget to ENTER!
At the book shop I have a Fantasy author also featured for the next 48 hours. you might be interested in checking him out when you finish here. Link.
Travis Luedke (Night Life Series). You can also get his free book from the series there.
She stood at the front door and glanced behind her at the room that had taken her weeks to decide on colors and furniture. She liked bold colors; the dark red and cherry wood had complimented each other well and she’d been pleased with the result. They’d enjoyed this room for many years, held parties here and celebrated Christmas with stockings hung from the mantle and a Douglas Fir tree poised in front of the large picture window. She placed her house key on the desk by the door…what Jim was going to do with the house she didn’t know. She had to admit that at this point, she didn’t really care anymore. She took one last look as she walked through the front door and down the steps to her car in the driveway. She placed her purse on the passenger seat and put her key in the ignition. This was it. Her marriage was over.
Anna took a deep breath, put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway. She drove the seventy or so miles to her aunt’s house without shedding a tear. Those had stopped weeks ago. Now she just felt relief; relief she’d been brave enough to say the words to him, and relief that he’d seen it coming and had resigned himself to the fact their twenty-year marriage had ended.
They’d celebrated their anniversary just a few months previous by taking a trip to the Napa Valley and staying in a bed and breakfast that overlooked the lush green hills of a vineyard. She’d convinced Jim to take a couple of days off work, combined with a long weekend they had five days to reconnect and relax. It hadn’t worked. Jim brought his laptop along and every time Anna made a comment about his working, his replies were designed to make her feel guilty.
“Somebody has to work in order to pay for this trip,” he’d say. Or, “I have a responsibility to my clients. They pay me to work not take time off.” Or, “Anna, you like to do all these things that cost money and pay no attention to the fact that we struggle to make ends meet every month, yet here we are, charging an unnecessary trip to a credit card.”
Anna knew exactly how much money they had, or didn’t have, as it were. But after eight years without even an overnight get-away, she’d decided a short trip for their twentieth anniversary was not extravagant. She knew that if they continued the way they were, they wouldn’t make it to twenty-one. And they hadn’t. Three months shy.
Pulling into her Aunt Mary’s driveway, Anna turned off the car and took a deep breath. When she’d called to ask Mary if she could stay with her until she figured out what to do with the rest of her life, Mary had immediately agreed. A widow who’d been unable to have children of her own, Mary had been a second mother to Anna, and a full-time mother after her own had died of a heart attack just a couple of years ago. She had a comfortable home with room for Anna, and their temperaments and interests complimented each other. Anna had no doubt they would get along just fine and that perhaps Mary might even enjoy the company. The thought, however, did nothing to alleviate her feelings of failure. Could she have done more? Should she have just stayed in a loveless marriage?
She and Jim had become more like roommates than husband and wife. They still shared a bed but hadn’t made love in months…well, almost a year. Not even on their trip to Napa had they felt the desire to share a deeply intimate moment. Anna supposed that was probably when she consciously admitted that they were in trouble. She’d attempted to talk to Jim about it several times, but he wasn’t really interested in listening to her…he was too busy with work. Well, he didn’t have to worry about her intruding on his precious time now, did he?
Her big regret was having to tell their daughter, Lexi, that they were divorcing. And to do it over the phone had been cruel, but Lexi was a sophomore at Arizona State University so Anna didn’t have a whole lot of choice. She was a strong girl and had good friends that would help her through it, but it still ate away at Anna knowing she couldn’t be there to comfort her only child. At least email and texting and phone calls on the weekend kept mother and daughter in constant communication. Anna didn’t know how often Jim spoke to their daughter, but that was no longer any of her business.
Mary’s appearance in the doorway brought a smile to Anna’s face as she pulled the key from the steering column and gathered her things in the front seat. She hurried up the two steps into the plump waiting arms of her aunt. Suddenly it all became very real and the tears she thought no longer existed began to fall slowly at first, then streamed down her cheeks, soaking the cotton fabric of Mary’s summer dress.
“There, there,” Mary soothed as she held Anna tightly. “It’s going to be okay, you’ll see.” And Mary pulled her into the house and shut the door behind them.