They wouldn’t call it falling in love if you didn’t get hurt sometimes, but you just pick yourself up and move on.
Gregory Thomas Garcia
It’s been absolutely ages since I last posted but I do have a good excuse – or two. Firstly, my mother has been ill and has had two operations so I’ve been focusing on her a lot, but we think she’s now on the mend. Secondly, I’ve been working hard on my second novel, Finding Mother, and finished the first draft last week. Yeh! It’s now been sent out to beta readers and a professional assessor. Then it will be re-writes, edits etc but hey, I’m nearly there.
Would you like to read an excerpt? Good, here it is!
‘I want a divorce!’
Nicole’s cry hung in the air as she slammed out of the house. She flung herself into the driver’s seat of her car, an Audi TT parked adjacent to its twin. After substantial and unnecessary, but therapeutic revving, the car shot out onto the road as Tom appeared at the front door, shouting something Nicole couldn’t and didn’t want to hear.
Half a mile along the road towards Bath, she pulled into a layby and, leaning her head on the steering wheel, sobbed. A few minutes of unrestrained tears later, Nicole reached for a tissue from her handbag and, using the vanity mirror for guidance, wiped the black streaks of mascara from her face and blew her reddened nose. She took a few deep breaths to regain control of her breathing, her head thumping from the release of emotion.
I thought crying was supposed to be good for you, but I’ve never felt so awful. Well, not since I broke my leg skiing when I was twelve. In a rare moment of clarity she wondered which was worse – a broken leg or an unfaithful husband. It was a close call. Reclining the car seat, Nicole stretched out her tall, slim frame, allowing her clenched muscles to finally relax. What a mess!
It had all started when she wanted to order a food delivery from Sainsbury’s Online and couldn’t find her credit card. After calling out to Tom if it was okay to use his – being a joint card – Nicole took the answering grunt from upstairs to mean a yes. Pulling out his wallet from the jacket hanging on the back of the kitchen chair, a bill fell out.
As she picked it up the heading caught her eye, ‘The Stratford Manor Hotel, Warwick Road, Stratford upon Avon’. Odd, when did Tom stay there? Opening it out Nicole saw it was dated for the previous weekend and was a receipted bill for two nights in the name of ‘Mr and Mrs Oxford’. Nicole held onto the chair as the realisation hit – he was still being unfaithful. Tom had assured her he’d got it out of his system and was now a devoted husband. Except it appeared he wasn’t.
Nicole’s feet felt as if encased in lead boots as she went upstairs to the bedroom. As she flung open the door to the designer decorated room which, at least for her, had represented love and harmony, Tom was shrugging into his jeans. Recently showered after his run, his light brown hair stood up glistening and spiky.
Moving slowly into the room she threw the bill onto the cream velvet bed-throw. Tom stiffened and turned towards her, the turned down mouth and contracted eyebrows offering the mournful look of a penitent.
‘Please, darling, it’s not what you think …’
‘Oh, what is it then? Entertaining a new writer, perhaps?’ Nicole’s voice sounded harsh, even to her own ears. As a television producer Tom would often have meetings with programme writers. But they were not usually conducted in a hotel bed, or so she assumed.
Tom opened his mouth but nothing came out. Unheard of for him.
‘Didn’t you tell me you were attending a conference in Birmingham last weekend? At a city centre hotel?’
‘Yes, but I . . . I wanted to get away from everyone. That’s why I moved to Stratford.’ He must have seen the disbelief on Nicole’s face as he went on, ‘It wasn’t anything important, really it wasn’t, darling. It’s you I love, you know that, don’t you?’
Tom reached out to Nicole who stepped back from him, a coldness clutching at her heart. The thought of being touched by those adulterous hands made her feel sick. Anger at his betrayal triggered off a flow of adrenaline, propelling her through the bedroom door and down the stairs, grabbing her bag and car keys before slamming out of the house.
Thinking now of her parting shot at Tom, Nicole asked herself if she really did want a divorce. They appeared to have everything. Both successful in their media careers – she being an investigative journalist for the same television channel – beautiful, renovated farmhouse near Bath; exotic holidays when they found the time; and no children to restrict them.
She had fallen madly in love with Tom twelve years ago when they’d met at the radio station where they then worked. He had seemed equally smitten and proposed two years later with a huge diamond solitaire.
Nicole sighed as she thought back to those early days when the world was at their feet. Both dynamic and ambitious, they progressed into television to further their careers. And there Tom met temptation.
Another deep sigh escaped her lips as she lay back with her eyes closed. Her marriage mirrored her life generally – glamour and glitter on the surface but no real substance.
It was too depressing for words and Nicole knew that something needed to change if she was to love and respect herself again. It was clear Tom had not changed and, at thirty-seven, it wasn’t likely to happen. At least not until he lost his looks or his power. Or both. Nicole wasn’t proud that she’d been seduced by great sex, an expensive lifestyle and the kudos of being not only a ‘name’ in her own right, but also of being married to an even bigger one in media. Everything came too easily for her, beginning with the very comfortable and spoiled upbringing of an only child in Jersey. It was pay-back time. Nicole squared her shoulders as she sat up and started the engine before swinging the car round to face the house from which she’d driven so furiously what felt a lifetime ago.
‘We need to talk,’ she said, coming into the kitchen and finding Tom slumped in a chair.
‘Darling! Thank God you’re back! Please, please let’s start again. I swear I’ll never so much as look at another woman if only you say you forgive me and will stay.’
He certainly looked miserable. She took in his tousled, uncombed hair, the pulled-down corners of his mouth and the blue eyes missing their usual sparkle.
He rose to meet her but she shook her head and motioned for him to stay seated. His gaze was wary as Nicole sat opposite him at the scrubbed pine table at which they hardly ever ate together, so busy were their respective schedules.
Nicole took a deep breath, willing herself to stay calm and not let emotion sabotage her hastily rehearsed speech.
‘I do want a divorce, Tom…’
‘No, you can’t, darling! Let me…’
The story focuses on Nicole, who, after her marriage hits the rocks, decides it’s time to trace her natural mother. In the process she not only finds who she is but want she wants from life. Along the way Nicole finds another family who have hidden secrets for years and her arrival on the scene is the catalyst for their release, with unexpected results. . .
I’m looking to publish within the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement 🙂
Anne Allen is the award-winning author of The Guernsey Novels. By profession she was a psychotherapist, however, is now retired from the day job to concentrate on writing. Anne has a restless soul and has lived in many fascinating places, including the beautiful island of Guernsey where she lived for fourteen years.