To Be Continued

To Be Continued

Charmaine Gordon

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Abandoned by her husband, disappointed in daughter Susie's casual attitude – ‘Dad's having a mid-life crisis’, Beth decides to re-establish herself as the winner she once was. When Frank Malone returns, he's in for a big surprise!

 
PUBLISHED BY: Vanilla Heart Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-935407-43-0
PUBLICATION DATE: 2010
WORD COUNT: 72600
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 3 3 3
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Romantic Fiction, Contemporary
KEYWORDS: romantic elements, ficiton, drama, Charmaine Gordon, Vanilla Heart Publishing
 

EBOOKS BY Vanilla Heart Publishing

EBOOKS BY Charmaine Gordon

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Charmaine Gordon/2010


Chapter 1

Sun sneaked through blinds.

Eyes shut tight. Not quite ready to open. Elizabeth Malone wanted to revel in memories of the great sex she and Frank, her husband of forty years, had last night. At his insistence, for God’s sake. She practically had to seduce him before they did it anymore; was on the verge of suggesting those little blue pills the girls talked about, when out of nowhere he became amorous. And it was great. No. . .wonderful. No. . .Fan—fargin’—tastic!

“Mmmm.”

Fingers crept along the sheets searching for her mate. They groped to where Frank could be found most early mornings except on golf days or scheduled surgery. She touched the edge of his pillow but no Frank.

Turning her head, she called his name. At the same time she saw an envelope lying on top of the pillow. Never like Frank to leave a note but how sweet is this? A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth and she sat up. The sheet slipped down and there she was. Naked. Liz, you’re such a slut. Where oh where is your nightie, you naughty girl. A heap of green satin lay on the floor next to the bed, evidence of last night’s pleasure.

With care, one long polished nail sliced through the envelope. The nail snagged on an edge and broke. “Shit.” Nothing was going to spoil the moment because this was the first letter from Frank in all the years of togetherness and she planned to keep it. She withdrew the letter.

Stumbling off the bed, letter clutched in her hand, she groped for reading glasses, found them, dropped them, on hands and knees patting the carpet, found them again. Naked on the floor, she read:
Dear Lizzie, It’s not you. It’s me. I have been uncomfortable in my own skin for a long time and have decided I must make a change in my life. I sold my half of the practice to George. You, dear Lizzie, are well taken care of. Call Bruce Bradley. He has all the papers, investments, everything you will need to live in comfort. The house is yours. Last but not least, I signed my portion of divorce papers so whenever you want to, sign yours. Bruce will take care of it.”

She leapt up—made it to the toilet and retched. Foul taste in her mouth, Elizabeth returned to the bedroom and stared down at the despicable letter. “He called me Lizzie. Twice. He knows I hate that name. Liz was okay but the despised Lizzie, never.” Her skin crawled with pain and fury. “Oh God. What am I going to do?” No answer in the silent room. “Divorce,” She shouted to the empty house. “People like us, we don’t divorce, you stupid ..” Tears streaming, she pounded her chest with the letter, crumpled it into a ball and flung it across the room.

She staggered to his closet, slid open the mirrored doors, heard empty hangers clicking against each other before they came in sight. Gone. Wiped out. Nothing left but dust and a few empty shoe boxes, lids tipped over. Elizabeth’s knees buckled and she sank to the floor, head in hands. After a few moments, her head snapped up. When did he do this? Maybe he slipped a little something in my drink last night to make sure I slept while he packed and flew the coop. “That son of a bitch. That God damn son of a bitch.”

She tore sheets from the bed not caring if they ripped to shreds and stuffed them in the laundry chute where they’d land in the basement; imagined Frank stuffed in the chute, hurtling into the mouth of certain doom.

Standing, careful not to fall, she trailed a hand along the wall ‘til she reached the bathroom and flicked the switch. Blue and yellow tile gleamed under the bright light--double sinks were illuminated. His cabinet stood open, empty except for a rusty razor blade on the top shelf. Too rusty to slash my wrists. Wild eyed, hair standing on end. Her reflection stared back for a second. Who is this stranger? A small clenched fist pulled back, trembled; the urge to smash her image was strong. She wanted, needed, to demolish something. If she cracked the mirror, maybe she’d sever an artery and bleed to death. The trembling fist pounded her head, one, two, three. It hurt and she cried. Beth sobbed with the woman in the mirror.

In the shower, under the pulsating stream of hot water, Beth emptied an almost full shampoo bottle on short brown hair. “I want my forty years back,” she whispered through tears choking her throat. Too much conditioner followed the abundance of shampoo as she braced trembling arms against the shower walls and sudsy water sluiced down her body. The hot water gave out and so did she. Wrapped in a striped blue and yellow bath towel, she dripped her way over to the crumpled letter, stomped on it and walked barefoot to the small balcony outside the bedroom.

Shivering in the chill of a late March morning, Elizabeth Malone surveyed the property as far as she could see. The beautiful pool slept under a green cover soon to be removed and she’d swim every day in the heated water. Water so warm you could make soup in it, Frank would say. Would—past tense.

“Why?” she cried out. “Why?” and ran inside. Shaking from the cold, she called George Lehrman, Frank’s partner. Maybe he was still asleep; she didn’t care. Sure enough, a sleepy voice answered the phone. Marilyn, his wife. Marilyn who never liked her.

“Marilyn, it’s Liz Malone. Let me speak to George, please.”

“He’s sleeping, Liz. Do you realize it’s not even nine o’clock? We were out late last night.”

“Marilyn,” Liz’s voice rose a notch, “If you don’t put George on, I’ll be at your door in ten minutes.” She heard two muffled voices and George picked up.

“What seems to be the problem?”

By now the knuckles of the hand gripping the phone were white. “George, I need to know when Frank arranged to retire, what excuse did he give you and do you know where he is.”

He cleared his throat and sighed. “I’ll tell you what little I know.”

She heard him ask for a cup of coffee. “A few months ago Frank said he wanted to retire, sell his half of the practice to me and leave town. I thought it was settled so this call comes as a surprise to me.” He’s lying.

“George, we’ve known each other a lot of years and you’re loyal to your partner, but if you’re lying to me and I think you are, I’m coming to the office tomorrow and screaming in front of patients so you better tell the truth.” Liz, naked and shivering in a wet towel, didn’t know or care where she got the nerve to say this but she did. Now she waited for him to change his story,

Rapid breathing and whispered consultation from the other side. “I’m sorry to tell you but Frank was determined to move on and I bought him out. I swear that’s all I know.” He paused. “That’s the whole story. I paid him and that was the end of thirty years of a close working relationship. If there’s anything we can do for you, just call. Goodbye, Liz.”

And that was it. Fini as far as George and Marilyn Lehrman were concerned. Who else could she turn to? Sharon, of course, her one and only best confidante at the club. She dialed her number. The maid said they were away for two weeks. To Antigua on holiday, she said. Any messages? No.

Wonderful how she took off with the devoted husband at a moment’s notice without telling me. Maybe she ran away with Frank. Oh God, I’m off the wall like Humpty Dumpty. Liz could hardly catch her breath as she sank to the floor still wrapped in a wet towel and cried and cried.

She caught her breath and tried to think. If Mom were alive, I’d call her. More tears. Where did they come from? Mom, I need you. You were the one who told me to marry Frank. Thoughts tumbled over; Liz held her throbbing head, tried to think coherently to no avail. Past and present mixed in a kaleidoscope. Frank loves me ‘cause I’m a winner/ No-nonsense Coach says “Go to college on the scholarship—train for the Olympics.” Mom/Frank/Coach pulling me until I almost fell apart. I have no one to turn to except for daughter Susie who idolizes her father. How did everything that seemed so right go so wrong?

Liz shivered and cried out, “I gave up swimming, a chance for Olympic gold, my college scholarship for you, Frank. Doesn’t that count for something? The first time we met, when I won the State championship, you said you loved a winner.” She pulled at the towel wrapped around her. “When did I stop being a winner and become a loser?” The empty house had no answer. Hurling the towel toward the bed where it landed with a soggy splat, Beth looked at her nakedness. She lifted small breasts and let go, no bounce; gazed at all her parts in pretty fair shape from swimming and diving for more years than she wanted to remember. She cried out, “Not young enough for you, Frank?” Her voice ricocheted around the room and boomeranged back--not young enough--not anything enough--not enough.
 

 
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