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Today was no different. I pulled my four-year-old white Honda CR-V into the parking area, my eyes scanning for an empty space and, at the same time, my ex-husband's sparkling new Jaguar XJL. Supercharged and gun-metal gray. I was unsure as to whether I hoped he would be there before me or not, but when his car was nowhere in sight, I felt instant relief.
I parked under the shade of a blooming pink crepe myrtle, turned off the car, took a deep breath, and sighed. "God be with me," I said out loud. I gave my watch a quick glance. It was nearly 1:30 in the afternoon; our hearing was set for 2:00.
Set for 2:00, but experience told me we could be sitting there for several uncomfortable hours before our case was called. I reached over the console for the short stack of manila folders I brought with me, each one meticulously labeled. Divorce Papers
Correspondence/Charlie and Kids
Correspondence/Charlie and Me
Evidence Obtained by C. Jefferson
A tapping at my window startled me, and I jumped. I turned toward the noise as I pressed my hand against my chest. "Heather!" I let out a breath. "You nearly scared me to death."
My younger sister stood bent over at the waist, her pretty face just inches from mine, separated only by the window glass. She smiled, even as her brow furrowed. "Are you okay?"
I opened the car door. "I am now." I returned the smile as I swung my legs toward the asphalt. "You're here."
"Where else would I be?" She wrapped me in one of her delicious hugs as soon as I stood. "You're my big sister and you need someone to be here with you. So, here I am."
I hugged back then pulled away. "I can always count on you."
Unlike my relationship with Jayme-Leigh, Heather and I shared a bond like that of twins. We understood each other's needs, sometimes even before we knew them ourselves. And, other than always being right about everything, she was so easy to get along with. Her laughter came effortlessly, her close-set blue eyes sparkling. Always.
Sometimes a tad too much. I closed my car door. "What are the kids up to?" I opened the back door to retrieve the matching jacket to the flared floral skirt I'd chosen for the hearing.
"Swim practice. It never ends, even when school is out." She tossed her head. Her white-blonde curls, which refused to be tamed, even when clipped at the back of her head, shimmered in the harsh Florida sunlight. "But don't worry about the time; now that Toni and Tyler are old enough to drive, my role as Mommy is dwindling."
We walked toward the courthouse. "What does that mean?" I asked.
Heather shrugged. "Nothing." I thought I detected a choking in her voice. "Just that with the twins at seventeen and Lenny at fifteen, there's not much they need from me these days."
"Other than cooking their meals, washing their clothes, picking up after them, making sure they're home by curfew ... other than that?"
Heather looped her arm with mine. "You'll know soon enough, Kimberly-Boo," she said. "Chase is fourteen already, and with Cody being—what?—eleven, pretty soon the three of you will be ships passing in the night."
We ascended the courthouse steps as I said, "But doesn't this give you more time with Andre?"
My sister snorted, an annoying habit she's had her whole life. "He's always so busy putting in those long hours at the drugstore ... at least that's where he says he is."
My brother-in-law Andre has worked as a pharmacist for CVS "since it was Eckerd," as he puts it. While I was sure it was true his hours were demanding, I was equally as positive some of his time spent away from home was to avoid a sometimes overly clinging wife. "I'm sure he is exactly where he says he is," I said just as we reached the double glass doors, which I opened for us.
Heather stepped in ahead of me. Viewing her from the back—and her dressed in a floral sundress, odd-shaped freckles splayed across her shoulders—I was reminded of the dream I'd had the night before. I felt an emptiness fall from the middle of my throat to my stomach, missing Mom again more than I thought possible.
Of all us girls—Jayme-Leigh, Heather, Ami, and me—Heather looked the most like Mom. We all had Mom's square jaw, china-doll lips, and blonde hair. Ami had more of Dad's oval face and dark features. In recent years, Jayme-Leigh had taken to dying her hair auburn because—she said recently during a family dinner—as a pediatrician, she was taken more seriously.
That comment caused me to frown. After all, I'm not only blonde, I'm an educated schoolteacher.
"So what does that make me?" Heather had asked across the great length of my mother's dining room table with our father at the head and our stepmother sitting properly at the other end. Quiet and reserved, Anise closed her eyes and shook her head so slightly I wondered if anyone other than me even noticed it.
Baited for a fight, Jayme-Leigh merely blinked and raised her brow. "Exactly what you are, Heather. A homemaker. And before you start something, I'm not belittling your role within your family." She looked over at Andre, whose broccoli-filled fork was suspended between his plate and his O-shaped mouth. "I'm sure Andre and the kids would be lost without you."
"Why is it," Heather now said as she dropped her purse onto the belt of the security scanner, "that I always feel the family is trying to convince me of Andre's undying loyalty or my children's need for me?" At the direction of the pretty but stoic-faced police officer on the other side of the metal detector, she walked forward.
I gave a smile to the officer standing at the head of the x-ray scanner as I dropped my purse, my jacket, and my files onto the conveyor belt. "How are you today?" I asked him.
"Good," he said, not smiling. "And you?"
"Good, thank you." I gave a glance to the officer sitting at the monitor. He looked to be all of twenty-one. Dedicated, his eyes never left the screen.
I followed my sister's steps through the metal detector. It went off.
"Step back through, ma'am," the officer on the other side of the metal detector said. Her face continued to reflect her no-nonsense attitude.
My shoulders drooped, but I dutifully went back through. The officer at the head of the belt said, "It may be your shoes."
I looked down at the black linen strapped wedge sandals I'd worn in hopes of looking a little less like a teacher and a little more like a serious mother. Whatever that meant. I slipped off the shoes, placed them in a small tray on the conveyor belt, and stepped back through. This time I didn't set off any alarms.
Minutes later, Heather and I sat side by side on a hard bench near Hearing Room 102S. From our position, which I had purposefully chosen, we had a perfect view of the front door. My body temperature had already started to drop; I eased my arms into my jacket just as the front door swung open, letting in a blast of hot air and blinding sunshine ... and Charlie. All six-foot-three of him.
"Well, there he is," Heather said under her breath. "Mr. Suave and Sophisticated himself."
I watched numbly as he casually dipped his tanned hands into the pockets of his khaki chinos. Ralph Lauren, I'd wager. He swore by Ralph Lauren. He drew out the contents and placed them in a bowl on the conveyor belt. His wallet and brown leather belt followed. All the while he conversed with the same officer I'd briefly chatted with earlier. To look at them, one would have thought them old chums. Yet I knew the chances were slim they'd ever seen each other outside of this courthouse.
Charlie stepped through the metal detector but not before sharing a chuckle with both the officer at the head of the conveyor and the one viewing the monitor. Even the stoic-faced officer on the other side seemed to be in on the little joke.
I absentmindedly chewed on my bottom lip. Beside me, Heather was adding her two cents, but I couldn't make out a single word she said.
The metal detector sounded in alarm.
Charlie smiled, only one side of his mouth going up as he looked down at the officer who I could see was smiling up at him.
"My gosh, he's a charmer," Heather said.
This I heard. Like I needed to.
"Even gray hair looks good on him."
"More silver than gray."
"What did he do, have one of those tans you paint on?"
I started to laugh, then muffled it. Charlie returned through the detector, removed a large gold link bracelet previously hidden by a starched long-sleeved white shirt. This time the alarm didn't go off.
"Who wears long sleeves in this heat?" Heather said.
I looked at my arms cloaked by my jacket. "He knows how cold it can get in here." I glanced at her bare shoulders. "You'll be freezing before you leave here."
She shook her head. "I'm never cold. I think I'm going through the change already."
I didn't comment. I couldn't. I could only stare at the man I'd once pledged my life and undying love to. He slid his belt through the loops of his pants, adjusted the waist along his narrow hips.
Oh, Lord ... why does he still have to look so good to me?
"Would you stop staring at him?" Heather chided. "You act like a timid sophomore ogling the senior quarterback."
I pulled my eyes away from Charlie and to my sister. She was right. I was acting like a schoolgirl. "I could shoot him for looking so good," I said.
"How much weight would you say he's lost?" Her eyes followed him as he walked to the other side of the narrow waiting area.
"Twenty-three pounds exactly." I looked at Heather, who had turned her attention to me. "I know because he told Cody, who made it a big point to tell me."
Heather pulled her eyes away from mine and back to Charlie. "Not to say that he couldn't have stood to lose a few pounds. Your good cooking had fattened him up. Nothing wrong with that ..." Her voice trailed in the mix of courthouse chatter. "I thought you told me you didn't need an attorney for this."
"We don't," I said. "We're just seeing a general magistrate."
"Then who is Charlie talking with? Isn't that his attorney?"
I swung my head around to face the other side of the room. Sure enough, Charlie's ruthless attorney stood next to him with his wheeled catalogue case at his feet. "Alex Jansen," I whispered. I looked at Heather. "My attorney said this was going to be easy. All I had to do was express to the G.M. what the children have told me, show some of Charlie's emails between him and the kids and him and me, present the evidence of the private detective I hired, and ask that his visitation this summer come with stipulations."
"Stipulations? Personally, I'd ask that the court never let him see them again."
My mouth gaped. "I'm not trying to keep him from his children, Heather," I said. "I'm simply asking the court to remind him that he should keep his partying to the times when the kids aren't with him. He's setting a bad example of adulthood. One we promised we'd never set for the boys." Of course, we'd promised a whole lot of other things Charlie had conveniently forgotten.
Heather opened her mouth in rebuttal, then closed it. Her attention shifted to the doors again. "What is she doing here?" she said when she found her voice.
I looked over. Anise was stepping up to the security conveyor. "She volunteered," I said, keeping my eyes on the fortynine-year-old gentle beauty who'd captured our father's heart. Their marriage had done as much to shake the core of our family as our mother's passing only a few months before their nuptials. "I couldn't hurt her feelings and say no."
"I could have." Heather's shoulders squared, and she pressed them against the wall behind her.
When Anise spotted us, she smiled, then cut her eyes over to where Charlie stood watching her. Almost imperceptibly, she held up a finger as if to ask us to wait one minute, then stepped to our right, walking toward Charlie and Mr. Jansen.
Heather sighed so loudly I expected the front doors to blow open from the inside out.
"Shhhh," I said.
"What does she think she's doing?"
The question was rhetorical. Anise was not the kind of person to draw lines in the sand. Family was family, no matter what. Charlie, in Anise's way of thinking, was the father of two of her step-grandchildren.
Her grandchildren. Neither Chase nor Cody remembered my mother, their biological grandmother. Anise had bestowed as much love on my sons as she did everyone she came into contact with. While Heather would never fully forgive Dad for his hasty marriage to Anise, I couldn't fault him. Her gentleness was, in many ways, an exact replica of Mom's. And, while Mom had been a stunning beauty, Anise's loveliness was earthy.
I watched now as Anise reached Charlie. He cupped his hands around her upper arms; she rested hers under his elbows. They exchanged the briefest of hugs, a kiss on the cheek, then drew back. I watched as they spoke ... as Alex Jansen looked on, concern flashing across the sharp features of his face. But then Anise turned to Alex, extended her hand in introduction, and I smiled in spite of myself as the shadow from his face lifted. He, too, now smiled easily. His shoulders fell in defenselessness.
Heather continued to grunt.
"Heather, hush." I looked at her. "I don't need any problems here." I could sense more than see Anise coming toward me, so I turned to greet her with a smile I knew she'd return. She moved like a ballet dancer, feet shod in flat slippers, the hem of her full olive green linen skirt flowing along her calves. She wore a long-sleeved, pin-striped cotton blouse barely visible behind an oversized shawl. A gold collar pin winked in the filtered sunlight.
When she reached us, I stood. Heather remained seated.
Anise hugged me in the same manner as she had Charlie. She whispered, "You look marvelous. Strong and sure of yourself."
I stepped back as Anise peered around me. "Heather," she said. "Hello."
"Hi, Anise." At that Heather stood. "I have to find the little girls' room." She looked around as if she actually needed to go. "Any idea where it is?"
I sighed. "It's exactly where it was the last time you were here, Heather," I said. I nodded toward Charlie. "It's that door just past where Charlie and Mr. Jansen are standing."
Heather swiveled toward me as she took her first steps. "I guess I'll have to make nice talk with Charlie." Her dramatic flare was almost comical.
When she was no longer in earshot, Anise said, "I've blown it with her again."
I returned to my seat, and she took Heather's place. "Don't worry about her."
"I've tried so hard to be her friend but ..." Anise raised her delicate hands, then dropped them back into her lap. They lay cupped together as though one supported the other.
"I know." It was all I knew to say. At forty-nine—only eight years older than me, and twelve years older than Heather—she certainly could have been one of our peers. While I do admit to having been shocked by Dad's sudden marriage, I wanted him happy. While two emotions conflicted within me, I eventually allowed the latter to win. Heather had not. Jayme-Leigh remained much too wrapped up in her own life to share any opinions. Although, I reasoned, her pediatric practice was in Dad's office. She had more reason to stay neutral than the rest of us. Ami, the baby, was in her mid-teens when Mom died. Anise became the healing balm she needed, filling every gap Mom left behind. Back then, Ami was showing extraordinary talent as a ballet dancer. Anise—though not nearly as gifted—had spent the better part of her childhood in a dance studio. This gave them a common ground on which to build a lasting foundation.
The heavy double doors leading to the courtroom opened. A commanding bailiff stood in the gap, clipboard in hand. "Klein," he bellowed. "Anyone here for Klein? We're ready to get started." Then he looked around at the mass of others waiting for their legal fate as a handful of people walked slowly toward the courtroom. "Be with the rest of you shortly Just sit tight."
I blew a pent-up breath from the deepest part of my lungs. My chest actually hurt.
"Are you all right?" Anise's hand came to rest on mine. "You're trembling."
Excerpted from CHASING SUNSETS by EVA MARIE EVERSON Copyright © 2011 by Eva Marie Everson. Excerpted by permission of Revell Books. 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.
Posted June 16, 2011
Kimberly Tucker doesn't want her ex-husband, Charlie, to have more time with their two boys, Chase and Cody. The boys are her life, and it's come to her attention they spend more time with their grandparents when visiting their father, who is once again enjoying the dating scene. What she can't understand is why they divorced in the first place. Their life represented the picture-perfect American family.
When the judge awards Charlie the right to keep his boys over the summer, Kimberly is faced with coming to terms with the situation. At her father's request, she heads for the beach house in Cedar Key, where she will work at finding a replacement housekeeper. Kimberly doesn't want to be there, and she plans to return home, close to her boys, within a week or two.
What Kimberly doesn't expect is to befriend the older woman next door, run into her first love, and have a second chance at the life and love she's desired all along.
Eva Marie Everson shows us that love still prevails in her Cedar Key novel Chasing Sunsets.
Perfect for that summer beach read, Chasing Sunsets is filled with Eva's wonderful descriptions and characters we can relate to and fall in love with. If you can't make it to the beach, no worries, she'll take you there!
Available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
If you desire a summer's worth of great reading material, be sure to pick up copies of Eva's novels Things Left Unspoken and This Fine Life, as well. I promise you won't be disappointed!
9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 13, 2014
Posted June 27, 2012
Posted June 19, 2014
Posted June 8, 2014
Serious conflicts resolved too quickly or were pretty much presented then swept into a corner, but overall a decent, light read about a second chance at love. I haven't checked, but all those loose ends usually point to a sequel...that I probably won't be reading. Review by CherishD
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2014
Was good read until it came to an abrupt ending but geuss what - you can buy the next one to see what happens next. I for one will not be seeing what happens next!!!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 27, 2014
I didn't like that the author brought in back stories of minor characters. I felt if detracted from the main story. Then the ending seemed just thrown together and wasn't really believable. I guess it is to get you to buy the other books in the series.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2014
I loved the story line and the twists and turns but it ends very abruptly with no resolution for any of the characters. I realize now that it is free to hook you into buying the other books in the series. I have purchased sequels in the past but I refuse to spend money on any more books by this author. I may borrow them from the public library, but I will never buy one.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 11, 2014
Posted January 23, 2015
An easy read... So far, well written and nice story. but still a few chapters to go. Not thrilled with how much the author goes back in time, but I guess it adds to the story. I definitely recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2014
Loved this book, until the last page anyway. Great writing, believable storyline, but horrible way to end it. To get the full story, you NEED to purchase the next book in the series, and at $7.99, I'm not sure I will be doing that.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2014
Posted November 11, 2014
Posted September 29, 2014
Posted September 16, 2014
The writing was good, and the storyline interesting, but as I got further into it, it became a little too sugary. As a Christian, I like books without a lot of superfluous sex, but the adults in this one had trouble even mentioning the act. Instead they would say things like, "you know...we can't get together". You could almost feel them blush. Also, there was a lot of reference to alcoholism. In short, I felt the storyline was eventually lost to both of those topics...no sex prior to marriage, and drunkenness. It could have addressed both subjects without sounding to preachy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2014
A cute, clean romance that made me want to red the next book in this series. First time reading this author but she introduced us to her characters and they welcomed us into their lives. The story was dotted with some very meaningful outlooks on everyday life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2014
Posted July 5, 2014
Christian publication. Very clean romance. Heroine was pretty whiny at first. Book was also pretty preachy. All the main characters were horny, but would not have sex before marriage, even though they were widowed or divorced. Except for main chacters ex, he was a player. There are some rather tame adult topics in this book. It is rather entertaining, especially if you read it with a sense of humor. It is a goody, goody two shoes type of book. For readers 16 and up, it does teach morality. Chick lit.
Posted July 1, 2014
Posted June 27, 2014
Easy read which I found particularly enjoyable because of the setting. I've been to Cedar Key many times and was familiar with places used in the book. That always makes me feel like I am in the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.