It Started One Christmas(31)

By: Susan Mallery


“Oh, that explains it because you were really stiff with that Treasure person. I didn’t like her song, by the way, but then I’m not her target audience, am I? Are you going to be well enough to fly to Hawaii tomorrow?”

“That’s the plan.” Finola did her best to keep her voice light even as tears poured down her cheeks. “Going to Hawaii with my husband.”

“You should talk to him about getting pregnant. It’s long past time, Finola. More important, I want grandchildren. All my friends have them. Most have several. A few of them have so many they complain about it. You’re the only one who’s married, so it’s up to you.”

The words were meant to induce guilt. Finola doubted even her mother would want to know how much pain they caused. She sank back on the bench and tried to stem the emotional bleeding.

“Ali’s getting married.”

Her mother made a dismissive sound in the back of her throat. “Oh, please. She’ll wait at least a year before getting pregnant. I want grandchildren now.”

“Too bad you can’t order them off Amazon. You’re a Prime member. You could have one by Tuesday.”

“Very funny. All right, I can see you’re going to ignore me, as per usual. Regardless, I love you and I hope you and Nigel have a wonderful time. Once you’re back from your vacation you can help me get the house ready to sell. There’s a lot to go through and I expect you girls to do a lot of the work.”

Not anything Finola could deal with at that moment. “Sure, Mom. I’ll call you when I’m home. Bye.”

She hung up before her mother could say anything else, then dropped the phone on the carpet.

Now what? She had no idea what to do or how to make the pain at least bearable. She wanted to crawl into a dark space and hide like a wounded animal. She wanted to go back in time so she could stop the affair from happening.

How could he have done this to her? He was supposed to love her forever. They were a team, a partnership.

Her phone buzzed as a text message flashed on the screen. She pushed the button to make it appear again. Her heart pounded when she saw it was from Nigel.

We need to talk. I’ll be by Sunday around noon and we can figure out what happens next. There’s the Hawaii trip. You have all the paperwork there. Can you cancel it?

A second text filled in below the first one.

I’m sorry.

“That’s it?” she shrieked at the screen. “That’s all you have to say? Just that? Where’s my explanation? Why aren’t you making this right?”

There was no answer, no sound, nothing but her phone screen slowly fading to black.

Finola stood. Nigel was gone and she didn’t know if he was coming back. He’d always been there for her, loving her, making her feel amazing and now it was all gone. Just gone. Worse, she didn’t know how much of their marriage had been a lie.

She walked into her own closet and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt. After she washed off her makeup, she went into her small study and booted her laptop. Thank God for the internet, she thought bitterly. It only took a few clicks and zero conversation to undo their trip. Once that was done, she went into the guest room and closed the blinds before crawling into bed and pulling the covers up over her head.

She curled up as tightly as she could and told herself to keep breathing. That was all she had to do. Everything else would take care of itself. Nigel wasn’t an idiot—he would remember how much he loved her and how good they were together. Treasure was just a fling. He would get over her and come back where he belonged. They’d go into couples therapy where he would realize how much he’d hurt her and he would beg for forgiveness. She would refuse at first, but then he would win her over with his love and kindness. The break in their marriage would be healed and they would go on, slightly scarred, but wiser and more in love than ever. They would grow old together, just like she’d always imagined. It was going to be fine. It had to be.

Need to know what happens next? Order your copy of California Girls wherever you buy your books!