311 Pelican Court
By Debbie Macomber
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
From the moment Rosie Cox entered Cedar Cove's divorce court, she'd felt a renewed sense of failure - not to mention
betrayal. Who wouldn't
feel that way? After seventeen years of what she'd believed to be a reasonably good
marriage, Zach's infidelity was the last thing she'd expected.
He'd never openly admitted to the affair. She hadn't found her husband in a compromising situation, hadn't found any
concrete evidence - no matchbooks from expensive restaurants, no jewelry receipts or motel bills - but in her heart
she knew. A wife always does.
Rosie owned up to the truth - she was angry and she'd expressed that anger by making this divorce as complicated and
difficult as she possibly could. Why should she go easy on Zach or walk away from their marriage without one hell of a
fight? And fight she had, with both fists raised.
As she turned away from the judge, the final decree in her hand, she realized she'd made another mistake.
Rosie had assumed that once the divorce was granted, the anger and bitterness of these dreadful months would be
lifted. Wrong again. An even heavier burden had been added. When the joint custody agreement she and Zach had so
carefully worked out, point by point, was presented to Judge Olivia Lockhart, the judge had rejected it.
Instead, Judge Lockhart had stated that it was emotionally detrimental to kids to shuffle them between residences every
few days. Allison and Eddie needed stable lives, according to Judge Lockhart, and they hadn't asked for the
divorce. Some people considered the judge innovative, Rosie thought, disgruntled. How about interfering? Or out of her
mind? Because - of all the crazy settlements - she'd awarded the children their house. That meant Rosie and Zach
would be the ones moving in and out.
Talk about ridiculous! Talk about impossible.
Now that the divorce was final, Rosie and Zach would have to figure out some kind of living arrangements. The
ramifications of what they'd agreed to were starting to hit Rosie and she hadn't even left the courtroom.
"Rosie," Sharon Castor, her attorney, said as soon as they were in the silent hallway outside the courtroom. "We have
to meet with your ex-husband."
One look told Rosie that Sharon was as flustered as she was herself.
Otto Benson, Zach's lawyer, joined them. Although he remained outwardly calm, his face was tense. She dared not glance
in Zach's direction. In fact, she'd avoided looking at her ex-husband from the moment she'd walked into the courtroom.
"Let's get a conference room and discuss the details," Zach's attorney said.
Rosie peered at Zach, standing behind his lawyer. He didn't seem any happier than she was with this decision, but she'd
keel over in a dead faint before she let him know how she felt.
"Rosie and I should be able to work this out ourselves," Zach said with an edge of irritation.
Given the way everything had gone so far, that suggestion wasn't promising. "If you remember, it took us weeks of
haggling to come up with this joint custody agreement," she pointed out. She enjoyed reminding him what a jerk he'd
been. Rosie supposed Zach was hoping to avoid more attorneys' fees. Too bad. If he ended up with less money to spend on
his girlfriend, that wasn't her concern.
Fists clenched, Zach snarled something under his breath. Probably just as well she couldn't hear it, Rosie decided,
proud of her own display of self-control.
"What makes you think we're capable of agreeing to anything without a mediator?" she asked sarcastically.
"Fine," Zach muttered, with a pout reminiscent of their nine-year-old son. Staring at him now, Rosie had trouble
believing she'd ever loved Zachary Cox. Not only was he smug and argumentative and self-righteous, he had no idea what
it meant to be a husband and father. Granted, Zach was a handsome man; not only that, his appearance proclaimed his
success as a businessman, a professional. Although, in her opinion, anyone with half a brain would instantly peg him
for an accountant. He had that narrowed look about his dark eyes, as if he spent too many hours a day squinting at
columns of tiny numbers. Despite that, he was appealing to the eye with his broad shoulders - which nicely set off his
expensive suit - and thick, dark hair. At one time he'd been an athlete, and even now he routinely jogged and kept in
Rosie had loved the firmness of his muscles as she stroked his back during lovemaking. Of course, it'd been months
since they'd slept in the same bed, and much longer since they'd actually made love.
Rosie didn't even remember the last time. Had she known, she might have appreciated it more, lingered a moment longer
at her husband's side, savored the feel of his arms around her. One thing was certain: Zach hadn't been interested in
her from the day he'd hired Janice Lamond as his personal assistant.
The thought of him entwined with Janice nearly suffocated Rosie and she forcefully shoved the image from her mind.
Anger and revulsion at her husband's - no, ex-husband's - unfaithfulness rose like bile in the back of her throat.
Zach's raised voice caught her attention; apparently he'd agreed to have their attorneys negotiate this added
complication to their divorce decree. Otto was checking with the clerk for an empty conference room.
Once a private room in the law library was secured, Zach and his attorney sat at one side of the table, across from
Rosie and hers.
Even the attorneys seemed perplexed by the situation. "I can't say I've ever heard of such a decree before," Sharon
said, starting the conversation.
"Me, neither." Otto frowned. "This is one for the books."
"Fine," Zach said in a curt voice, "it's unusual, but we're both adults. We can figure this out. I know I was
sincere about putting the children first." He glared at Rosie, as if to suggest she hadn't been.
"If you were sincere, you would've had second thoughts about sleeping with that slut." Rosie hadn't intended to be
argumentative, but if her ex-husband was so concerned about their children's welfare, he would never have broken his
"I refuse to dignify that remark by responding to it," Zach said through gritted teeth. "Besides if you were home more,
instead of volunteering for every cause known to mankind, every cause except your children, you'd - "
"Well, I refuse to allow you to blame me for what you've done." Her volunteer efforts were Zach's big
complaint. He had his wish; she'd had to resign from every position she held and seek paid employment. She hoped he was
happy. For the first time since their children were born, Rosie wasn't a stay-at-home mom.
"I thought we were here to discuss this divorce decree?" Zach asked with a bored look, an expression that was obviously
for her benefit. "If we're going to trade insults I'd rather not pay our attorneys to listen."
Excerpted from 311 Pelican Court
by Debbie Macomber
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.