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The Laws of Attraction
By Sherryl Woods
SilhouetteCopyright © 2005 Sherryl Woods
All right reserved.
This didn't have to be the worst thing that had ever happened to her, Ashley decided stoically as she stashed groceries into the refrigerator at Rose Cottage.
Two of her sisters and their husbands were close by, so it wouldn't be like she was isolated among strangers. She could always order cable, so she could get Court TV and CNN. She'd brought a case of her favorite wine with her from Boston, along with a year's worth of articles by some of the country's foremost lawyers. She'd even tucked a few novels into her suitcases, books centered around trials, of course.
The key was going to be planning out her days, organizing every minute so she wouldn't have time to think about what had happened in that courtroom back in Boston. Heck, that ought to be a snap. She excelled at organization. That was one reason she'd been able to maintain such a high caseload.
Dispersing those cases among the other partners for the duration of her absence had taken an entire week. She'd worked compulsively to make sure each attorney fully understood her clients' needs. She'd briefed them so thoroughly, they'd seemed a little eager to see her gone.
After that frenetic pace, after loading up the car with all the essentials she couldn't possibly live without and after the long drive, she was just starting to feel a bit of a letdown, that was all. It was to be expected. By morning she'd probably be climbing the walls...or calling the office every five minutes to make sure all the cases she'd left behind were being handled properly. She knew it wouldn't take more than a day for that to wear thin with the already exasperated lawyers she'd left in charge. She would simply have to resist the temptation.
She put her laptop on the kitchen table and placed a stack of legal pads and pens right next to it. It had taken every ounce of willpower she possessed to leave behind her law books, but there was a lot of information to be found on the Internet. She'd make a few notes on her pending cases and pass them along when the time was right.
The mere sight of those familiar tools made her feel better, as if her life hadn't spun wildly out of control.
No sooner was everything in place, though, than Maggie and Melanie swept in the back door, took one look at her stash of supplies and loaded the lot into a shopping bag. They ignored every one of Ashley's heated objections.
"What the hell do the two of you think you're doing?" she demanded, trying to snatch things back as fast as they picked them up. "This is my house. Those are my things."
"Actually it's grandmother's house," Maggie reminded her.
"Don't you dare start nitpicking with me," Ashley commanded. "I will leave here."
"No, you won't," Melanie soothed. "You know this is the best possible place for you to be right now."
"And all your precious stuff will be at my place for safekeeping," Maggie promised. "You can have everything back when you leave."
"I need it now if you expect me to stay sane," Ashley protested.
"Forget it," Maggie responded. "And while we're at it, hand over your cell phone."
Ashley felt an unfamiliar hint of panic crawling up her throat. "Come on, Maggie," she pleaded. "I want that stuff. And I've got to have a cell phone. What if somebody needs to reach me?"
Maggie gave her a wry look. "Can you honestly say there's anyone back home besides Mom and Dad and Jo that you're anxious to talk to right now? As for the rest of this, you only need it when you're working."
"And you're on vacation," Melanie reminded her, even as she checked out the stack of reading material Ashley had piled up on the counter. "Sorry. This needs to go, too." She rummaged in Ashley's purse and plucked out the cell phone.
Ashley frowned at the pair of them. "What the hell am I supposed to do for three whole weeks?"
Melanie chuckled. "You're supposed to relax. I know it's a foreign concept, but you'll get the hang of it eventually."
"I can't sit here all day doing nothing," Ashley protested. "I'll go out of my freaking mind."
"We thought of that," Maggie soothed, handing over a bag filled with videos and paperback novels. "Comedy and romance."
Fluff, nothing but fluff. Ashley moaned. "Dear God, what are you trying to do to me?"
"We're trying to get some balance in your life," Melanie said. "Of course, there's a lot to be done in the garden now. The tulip and daffodil bulbs need to be thinned, and I bought some new ones to be planted out front."
"It's fall, not spring," she reminded Melanie. "Aren't you supposed to plant things in the spring?"
"Not bulbs. They come up early, remember? Trust me, this will be good for you. A little physical work in the sun will take your mind off your problems."
"I don't do physical work," Ashley retorted, glancing at her perfectly manicured nails and trying to imagine them after gardening. She shuddered at the image.
"You go to a gym," Maggie reminded her. "In fact, you're as compulsive about that as you are about everything else. This will be even better for you. You can go for long walks. You'll be breathing in all this fresh, salty air."
"It smells like fish," Ashley retorted, determined not to take pleasure in anything just to spite her hateful sisters. How had she gone all these years without noticing how controlling and obnoxious they were?
Clearly undaunted, Melanie bit back a grin. "Not so much in the garden. You'll see. There are lots of wonderful fragrances out there. Grandmother saw to that and Mike and I recreated it just the way it was."
Defeated, Ashley sat down at the kitchen table and rested her head on her arms. "I want to go home."
"Don't whine," Maggie chided. "It's unbecoming."
Ashley's head snapped up. "You sound exactly like Mom."
"Of course, I do," Maggie said. "We all do, with a touch of Grandmother Lindsey thrown in. They were our role models. The only thing missing is the Southern accent."
Excerpted from The Laws of Attraction by Sherryl Woods Copyright © 2005 by Sherryl Woods. Excerpted by permission.
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