All She Ever Wanted

All She Ever Wanted

by Lynn Austin

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All She Ever Wanted is the emotion-packed story of three generations of women: Kathleen, her mother, Eleanor, and her grandmother, Fiona. Each woman left home to escape her family's past and to start a new life. Kathleen has been estranged from her family for 35 years, and she is torn between the need to forgive and the urge to forget. Hoping to find answers that will patch the wounds of her tattered heart and salvage her relationship with her daughter, Kathleen embarks on a journey into her family's mysterious past.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441202758
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2005
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 439
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Lynn Austin is a former teacher who now writes and speaks full time. She has won three Christy Awards for her historical novels Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, and Hidden Places. She and her husband have three children and make their home near Chicago, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

All She Ever Wanted

By Lynn Austin

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2005

Lynn Austin

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7642-2889-7

Chapter One

Bethesda, Maryland

This wouldn't be the first time Kathleen Seymour
left home and never returned. But after the day
she'd had, she was sorely tempted to pack all her
clothes, climb into her Lexus, and drive as far
away as a tank of gas would take her. Judging by
what little she knew of her ancestors, it was
almost a family tradition to leave home when
things got rough and start life all over again in
a new town. In fact, if the bigwigs who ran the
federal Witness Protection Program wanted a few
pointers on creating a new identity in a new
location, they could consult Kathleen's family.
They were experts.

"I'm leaving home and never coming back!" Her
sixteen-year-old daughter, Joelle, yelled, echoing
Kathleen's thoughts. Joelle stomped dramatically
up the stairs to her bedroom, but the thick
carpeting muffled the impact of her tantrum.

"Don't bother!" Kathleen called up to her. "I'll
leave first!"

Joelle slammed her bedroom door in reply, rattling
the teacups on the dining room shelf below her

"You know, I've had about all I can take, Joelle,"
Kathleen shouted, then clapped her hand over her
mouth. She'd used the same phrase, in the same
tone of voice, that her own mother had always
used. When had Kathleen turned into her mother?

She sank down at the kitchen table, her legs too
unsteady to hold her any longer. They had begun to
tremble during the confrontation with her boss a
few hours ago and had barely been strong enough to
carry her out to the parking lot as she'd stormed
from her office building. It was a good thing that
she'd been sitting down in her car, removing her
high heels, when the police called on her cell
phone. She might have collapsed on the spot.

"Mrs. Seymour? This is Officer Marks of the city
police department. We have your daughter, Joelle
Marie Seymour ... in custody...."

Kathleen couldn't remember much after that.
Somehow she'd driven to the mall, found the
security office, and sweated through an agonizing
meeting with Officer Marks and the undercover cop
who had caught Joelle shoplifting a seven-dollar
tube of lipstick from the cosmetics counter. It
had seemed like a bad dream, especially Joelle's
reaction to it all. She had shown no remorse as
she'd slouched in the chair with her arms folded,
refusing to make eye contact and coolly swinging
her foot-beautiful Joelle, with the
cinnamon-colored hair that reminded Kathleen so
much of her own father's. But the last thing
Kathleen needed in this situation was to be
reminded of her father.

Thankfully, she was able to persuade the store
manager not to press charges since it was Joelle's
first offense, but she would be banned from
shopping at the mall for one year and a second
offense would earn her a trip to the police
station and a juvenile record. Kathleen had
practically kissed Officer Marks on both cheeks.

"Where are your friends?" Kathleen asked Joelle
when the police finally allowed them to leave.
"Didn't you come to the mall with Colleen and

Joelle shrugged. "They ditched me when I got

"Some friends."

"Can you drop me off at Colleen's house?" Joelle
asked when they reached the car.

Kathleen stared at her in disbelief. "Are you out
of your mind?"

Joelle sank into the passenger's seat and slammed
the door, ignoring her seat belt and the annoying
ping of the warning bell. When she reached to
crank up the volume on the car radio, Kathleen
shoved aside her hand.

"Leave that off-and put your seat belt on!"

"Like you care what happens to me!"

Kathleen felt herself losing control. She started
the engine and pulled out of the mall parking lot,
tires squealing. "Why would you do such a stupid
thing, Joelle? What were you thinking? I give you
fifty dollars a week for your allowance-what
would possess you to steal a seven-dollar

Joelle shrugged. "It's no big deal. They let me

After that the ride home degenerated into a
screaming match, ending with Joelle's threat to
leave home and never return. Kathleen had made the
very same threat-how many years ago? But she had
followed through on it.

Kathleen's hands were still trembling as she
reached across the kitchen table for the portable
phone to call her husband. Thankfully, she got
Mike himself instead of his voice mail. "What's
up, Kath?"

"You need to come home," she said, her voice

"Can you tell me more than that? I'm kinda busy-"

"Joelle was arrested for shoplifting." Her tears
started to fall then, tears of rage and
incomprehension and grief. At first she made no
sound as they trickled down her face, but when she
glanced up at the refrigerator door and saw the
note reminding her that Joelle needed to bring a
snack to the youth group meeting at church
tonight, she began to sob.

"I'll be right home," Mike said quietly.

He arrived in time to stop Joelle as she dragged
her backpack and an overstuffed suitcase down the
stairs. "I'm not letting you run away, sweetie,"
he soothed. "Let's go upstairs and talk about

Kathleen wondered if Mike would have tried to stop
her if she'd been the one with the suitcase
instead of Joelle. She listened to their voices
drifting down from upstairs, envying the
relationship they had, aware that she had blown it
once again. She and Joelle fought just like
Kathleen and her own mother used to fight-maybe
more. Kathleen kept promising herself that she
would try harder to be a better, more caring
mother, but she didn't know how or where to begin.

She reached for the framed snapshot-taken last
winter on their skiing trip to Colorado-that she
kept on her desk in the kitchen. All three of them
were smiling as they squinted in the glare of
winter sun, their faces scrunched together in a
rare moment of bonding, a picture-perfect family.
Mike's habitual worry lines were relaxed into
smile lines, and his bristly, steel-gray hair was
hidden beneath a ski cap, making him look younger
than his fifty-eight years. Kathleen herself was
used to being told that she didn't look
fifty-four-thanks to regular workouts at the
health club and a creative hairdresser who kept
Kathleen's light-brown hair fashionably styled and
free from encroaching gray. She had been
thirty-eight when Joelle was born, after years of
medical procedures and countless prayers. She'd
vowed to stay young looking for her daughter's
sake, but today she felt like the wicked old crone
in a bad fairy tale.

In the photograph Joelle's reddish-brown hair was
a mass of natural curls, framing a face that still
held a child's softness and innocence, yet hinted
at the promise of womanly beauty and sensuality.
"Lord, help us," Kathleen breathed, closing her
eyes. Joelle was only sixteen and already in
trouble-God only knew what lay ahead.

"I've got her settled down," Mike said when he
came downstairs an hour later. He had loosened his
tie and rolled up the sleeves of his starched,
white shirt. "But I think you should go up and
talk to her. Let her know you still love her."

"I'm very, very angry with her right now,"
Kathleen said in a tight voice. She had finally
summoned the energy to push her chair away from
the table and start heating up leftovers in the
microwave for their supper-although the last
thing she felt like doing was eating. She hadn't
taken off her suit coat or her shoes and panty
hose, as if still toying with the idea of leaving

"We've given her everything she could ever want,
Mike, yet she's so ungrateful. I longed for a life
like hers when I was her age. I can't believe
she'd toss it all away for a stupid tube of
lipstick. Why would she do such a dumb thing? We
give her an enormous allowance. She could buy a
dozen lipsticks."

"Maybe she's trying to get your attention."

His words felt like a slap in the face. "How dare
you say that to me? You're away from home for
weeks at a time! I'm the one who has always been
here for her!" She yanked her purse off the table,
fishing out her car keys as she headed for the
back door.

"Don't walk out, Kathleen. This is one problem
that you'd better not run away from."

She whirled to face him. "I'm not running
away-although I'll admit I'm tempted! I'm just
going outside for some air!"

He snatched the keys from her hands. "Don't get
behind the wheel. You're in no condition to


She stalked down to the end of the block, then
back again, her high heels too painful to take her
any farther. The upscale neighborhood was quiet,
not at all the sort of place where children rode
their bikes or played stickball in the street on a
warm summer night. She didn't have to worry about
nosy neighbors overhearing her screaming match
with Joelle or wondering why she was stomping up
and down the street in her business suit. The
houses sat isolated from each other on their
half-acre lots, shielded behind bushes and trees,
all outside noises muffled by the whir of
air-conditioners and the hum of swimming-pool

Kathleen stopped at her mailbox on the way back to
the house and pulled out a wad of catalogues,
flyers, and junk mail. Finding a handwritten
letter among the junk was such a rare occurrence
these days that the lone envelope seemed to jump
out at her. She looked at the return address and
saw her sister's name and an address in Riverside,
New York, where they had grown up. Why was Annie
writing? Kathleen tore open the envelope.

Inside she found a gaudy invitation decorated with
balloons and party hats. It looked as though it
had come from a dollar store. She scanned the
details, then read them again to make sure she
hadn't misunderstood: Her sister was throwing a
party for their father. Please try to come, Kathy,
she had printed across the bottom. It would mean
so much to Daddy

"This is the last straw," Kathleen muttered. She
strode up the driveway and into the house, trying
not to picture her father's infectious grin,
trying not to remember the happiness she felt
every time he scooped her up in his freckled arms
and called her "my Kathy." Happy-go-lucky Daddy
with his cinnamon-colored hair. For all she knew,
he could be bald by now. After all, it had been
thirty-five years since she'd seen him.

But she couldn't go home-not now, not ever. Just
the thought of returning to Riverside made her
want to cover her head in shame. She would have to
drive past her old high school, where she'd spent
four years walking around with her head down,
hoping no one would notice her, hoping no one
would call her "Cootie Kathy" or, worse, "Kathy
the Commie." No, she'd run away once before and
would never go back ... least of all for her

Kathleen threw the invitation into the trash can
beneath the sink and tossed the rest of the mail
onto the table in front of Mike. He was digging
into a plate of leftover Chinese takeout and
reading the Washington Post. "I'm going to bed,"
she told him. "I want to forget that today ever

"Hey, hey, wait a minute, Kath. Don't you want to
eat something, first?"

"I'm not hungry." She walked as far as the kitchen
door, then turned around to add, "By the way, I
had a fight with my boss this afternoon-before
the incident with Joelle. I walked out on him. I
think I might be unemployed."

She didn't wait for Mike's response but continued
upstairs to their master suite and took a long hot
shower. This was much worse than just a bad day.
Kathleen's carefully constructed life was falling
apart all around her, and she didn't know how to
fix it. She thought of the Bible character, Job,
who'd lamented that the thing he'd feared the most
had come upon him. Kathleen's greatest fear was
much the same as his: that everything she'd worked
for, everyone she loved, would be snatched away
from her.

She let her tears fall freely as she showered.
When she came out, Mike was sitting on their bed.
"I found this in the garbage," he said, waving the
balloon-covered invitation. "Did you mean to throw
it away?"

She exhaled. "I would have run it through a paper
shredder if we had one."


Excerpted from All She Ever Wanted
by Lynn Austin
Copyright © 2005 by Lynn Austin.
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.

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