All That Lies Broken
Ashmore's Folly, Book 2
adult contemporary fiction, women's literature, romance, mystery-suspense
June 23, 2015
From the ashes of great tragedy rises a great love...
After fourteen years, Laura and Richard now stand face to face, equals, at the same place in their lives.
She is no longer that girl, separated by time and violence from the only man she has ever loved. He no longer stands alone, a young man devastated by betrayal and his own terrible folly.
But the world is not so easily forgotten. Even as Richard begins to dismantle the past that blocks his future, he struggles to open his heart to the last love of his life. Laura chafes against her place on the edge of his life, wanting so much more, no longer willing to settle for less.
"I won't be the woman you can't admit to."
Enemies challenge the life they are struggling to build together. An estranged wife seeks to smash the man she hates so fiercely. A younger brother rages against the man who bested him in life and in death.
"Something always gets broken...."
Secrets unravel. A world begins to shatter when a reporter stumbles across Laura’s secret. Then a sliver of bone resurfaces in a place of great sorrow, and a ghost of a girl rises from the past….
Please read All Who Are Lost first! Some trilogies can be read out of order -- this isn't one of them. This is not a standalone story; it picks up the day after All Who Are Lost ends.
The e-book of All Who Are Lost is ON SALE for only $0.99 through June 30, 2015! Click here!
Oh, and this one also ends on a cliffhanger! Rest assured, I am all about the HEA, and I am halfway through writing the third book. Look for it in early 2016.
Need more information? Check out the full cast of characters, family trees, and maps, QR codes and links to back-story timelines and other supplemental material on www.ashmoresfolly.com!
Diana was late again. Lucy had told her to meet at the coffee shop at 7:15; Tom had gone in early to prepare for a deposition, so he couldn’t catch her talking with her sister. Diana had promised to be there with bells on, hinting mysteriously at some juicy gossip.
But, as usual, even though Lucy had called and left a reminder on voice mail, Diana couldn’t be bothered to show up on time. Lucy had skimmed the paper, reviewed her schedule, made notes on a contract she was revising, and read the next chapter in her mystery – and Diana still hadn’t waltzed in the door.
The customer in the next booth was drinking such strong coffee that Lucy was starting to feel sick. Sick was good, she reminded herself. The waistband on her skirt digging into her skin was good. Crying over Titanic with Julie Saturday night was good. But the coffee – if Diana didn’t get here soon, her anxiety was going to ensure that the coffee was not good.
Five minutes before the deadline she’d given herself for leaving, Diana came rushing in.
“I know I’m late, Luce, I’m sorry.” How many times had she heard this in her life? Diana looked flushed this morning, but not as hung over as usual for Monday, and she slid into the booth with more energy than Lucy had seen her exhibit in a long time. “How are you doing this morning? Things okay? You sounded so secretive last night—”
Lucy reached out, took her sister’s hand, and shoved Diana’s jacket sleeve away from her wrist.
Silence between them. She must have sliced herself up royally; the bandage covered more area than the last time. Well, that explained Richard’s cryptic requirement for the negotiations. He’d known already that Diana had tried to kill herself again, so this must have happened before he’d left with his mystery woman on Friday night.
She stared at her sister. Diana stared back until her lashes flickered, and she pulled her hand away and reached for a menu.
“What happened?” Lucy couldn’t believe how calm her voice was. She felt anything but calm. Richard had known. Tom must have known. Certainly Diana had known! And not one of them had bothered to tell her. She was getting tired of everyone sheltering her as if she were made of glass. Diana was her problem to deal with. “When?”
“Friday,” muttered Diana. “Will it make you sick if I get fried eggs?”
“Yes,” said Lucy. “When Friday?”
Diana was studying the menu religiously. “I’m thinking pancakes then, or waffles. Those shouldn’t bother you. And OJ instead of coffee—”
Lucy jerked the menu away from her. “Forget food, Di. What happened?”
“Oh, honestly!” Diana yanked the menu back. “Stop obsessing about it! Friday, okay? I was at Daddy’s with Laurie, and—”
Lucy felt herself about to become seriously unglued. “What do you mean, Laurie? What was she doing over there?”
“Waffles and OJ,” Diana said to the waitress. “And a side of bacon and biscuits. Thanks.” She made a production of putting the menu back in its holder while Lucy sat there fuming. Then she settled back against the seat, clasped her hands in front of her, and gave Lucy a look that promised to be open and honest and was anything but. “She came over to help me clean. Oh, did I tell you, we found those checks you’ve been looking for?”
Inside, the cool air brushed their faces. Laura pushed the subpoena towards Richard and set a late-night dinner out for Max before her cat could deposit the rest of his fur on Richard’s suit. He worked beside her, setting the kettle on for her tea, measuring the ground beans into the coffee maker, pulling down mugs from the cupboard. How comfortable it felt, the two of them, working side by side, performing these small domestic tasks – no, she wasn’t going to succumb to what-might-have-been. The subpoena had been a rude awakening. Eleven years of separation or not, Richard still had a wife with an interest in his past and a desire for revenge.
And she not only knew about that past now, but she had the most compelling evidence of all in her daughter.
She heard herself say, “I don’t have any papers. Why does Di think I do?”
Richard carried his coffee over to the trestle table and held out a chair for her. “Actually,” he said when she sat down, “you may have something and you don’t know it.”
“I don’t have anything,” said Laura. “If you’re thinking about those tapes—” Francie’s foray into the world of erotic fiction. She shuddered. “All her stuff is in storage. I can’t imagine those tapes would be good after all these years.”
“Not the tapes.” He shook his head. “I got rid of those years ago. No, what you may have is a burgundy book with gold lettering on the front – it’s her flight log, and I signed and dated every lesson as her instructor. It completely slipped my mind until I was filling out my flight log yesterday. I’m certain she took it with her. No one ever mentioned it. Did you see something like that?” He looked at her and exhaled. “Yes, I see you did.”
She’d seen that book every weekend during the final spring of Francie’s life. “Cam signed it when he gave her lessons in ’91. I know exactly where it is.” From the look on his face, that was not welcome news. “But it’s okay, really it is! It’s in storage with the rest of her stuff.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Richard said flatly. “Read the wording. If it’s in your control—”
She touched his arm. “But it’s not, that’s just it! After—” she took a breath and plunged ahead as his eyes shadowed— “after Francie died, I was sick for a while, so Cam had his admin pack up her stuff and rent a storage space. I never had the key. He always kept it in his desk drawer. Everything is probably still there – I’m certain he never gave it another thought.”
He drew a breath and said patiently, “You don’t understand. You’re his heir, so I assume you inherited the furniture. That’s what this whole brouhaha about the piano is about, isn’t it? That means the desk, and its drawers, and its contents, belong to you. So, yes, you do control it.” She started to speak, and he overrode her. “Listen, Laura, I’m no lawyer, but I’ve dealt with subpoenas for years. Architects get dragged into lawsuits all the time. You may be a thousand miles away, but the desk and its contents are still in your control.”
“But that’s it, Richard!” She smiled triumphantly. “I wrote an email tonight giving Mark the desk. I thought it was his all along. It belonged to their father at the bank. How was I to know? I haven’t thought about that key for years. Mark wrote me this plaintive email about how I could take every stick of furniture and would I please let him keep that one thing – why are you laughing?”
“Oh, God.” He covered his eyes with his hand. “I can just imagine Kevin Stone’s reaction to the timing of your transfer of that desk. Well, here’s the good news. On the face of it – my signing that flight log was no more incriminating than your husband signing it. It links her to me, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because you’re not going to testify.”
He acted as if he had a magic wand to make it all disappear. “Lucy said she couldn’t help me, since she’s your lawyer. So she’s going to talk to a friend of hers and see if he’ll represent me.”
He nodded. “She told me. It’s fine that you’re getting a lawyer, but I promise you that you won’t need one.”
Laura was getting tired of those words. “You keep saying that. How can you make this go away?”
Richard reached into his briefcase, pulled out a blue-backed sheaf of papers, and put it in her hands.
“I filed for divorce this afternoon,” he said. “Diana was served at the Tavern this evening.”
If he’d meant to knock the breath out of her, he succeeded. She stared at him in shock. She must have imagined his words; he hadn’t said what she thought she’d heard. He hadn’t stepped off the precipice so abruptly; he hadn’t tossed away eighteen years of marriage – miserable years, but, still, eighteen – for her. He hadn’t decided to cut the love of his life out of his life for her.
But he had. He’d laid the petition in her hands in the same way that Max liked to bring her his dead bug trophies. Maybe, she thought hysterically, he wanted her to pat him on the head and tell him what a good boy he was.
He was divorcing Diana.
“Why?” she whispered.
He paused for a moment. “It’s time.”
She nodded, dazed, and looked down at the petition. Richard Patrick Ashmore, Complainant, vs. Diana Renée Abbott Ashmore, Defendant…. Plain words on a paper. Eighteen years of marriage, the end of the fairy tale, right here in her hand. She bit her lip and felt tears bathing her eyes. Stupid to cry, she hadn’t even cried when the FedEx package had arrived in London with Cam’s divorce petition, but no fairy tale had ended there. No Prince Charming had danced with his Sleeping Beauty at City Hall in San Francisco.
She paged through the petition, unseeing. He said nothing, he justified nothing. He merely waited while she absorbed the reality that in her hands lay the end of one dream and – no, she wouldn’t think it, wouldn’t wonder if it could be the beginning of another. This was a tragedy. Two people who’d been in love beyond all thought were finally admitting that their love had come up short, that they hadn’t well lost the world for each other.
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Buying Links: Book 1
Lindsey Forrest, a lead writer/editor for an international information company, writes about income tax but prefers to dream of heroes and heroines and grand romance. With the publication of her trilogy, she checks off the top entry on her bucket list. She lives in north Texas with her family and cat and has a five-year plan for becoming a full-time novelist and editor of indie fiction. When she isn't working or writing, she amuses herself with reading, needlepointing, tramping around historical sites and houses, and outbidding everyone who gets in her way on Ebay.
Visit Lindsey's web site at www.lindseyforrest.com. You can also learn more about the Ashmore's Folly Trilogy at www.ashmoresfolly.com.