Ashlyn Forsyth believes she and her husband have come to idyllic St. Simons Island to restore romance to their flagging marriage. Then, without warning, Craig hands Ashlyn divorce papers. In shock, Ashlyn watches him drive off with a female colleague from his office. She soon discovers he is being pursued by the Russian mafia and investigated by the FBI for money-laundering. Abandoned on St. Simons Island, Ashlyn faces not only emotional turmoil but financial ruin, the shipwreck of her career, harassment by the FBI, and pursuit by the Russian mafia. Even as her ordered life plunges into chaos, she finds herself increasingly attracted to Remy Jeandeau, a shrimp boat captain. Will she find the spiritual resources needed to overcome adversity? Will attraction blossom into romance?
|Publisher:||Pelican Book Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.73(d)|
About the Author
First and foremost, Eric E. Wright is a simple follower of Jesus who is profoundly grateful for the undeserved grace of God bestowed when he was ninteen. Out of his conversion and the ongoing grace of God has come everying good in his life, including this wife Mary Helen, his three children, and his nine grandchildren. Eric E. Wright is the published author of ten books in English plus six self-teaching textbooks translated into Urdu. He has 50 years of experience as a missionary, pastor, seminary professor, writer, and editor. He earned a BScF in Forestry from the University of Toronto and a BD from Colombia International University. His 16 years of service in Pakistan involved mission leadership and co-founding of the Open Theological Seminary, an extension school now serving well over 2500 students. His 15 years of pastoral experience involving pre-marital and marital counseling prepared him to empathize with those struggling in their marriages. His writing credits include the six self-teaching textbooks he produced for the Open Theological Seminary in Pakistan. Evangelical Press published his Tell the World, Strange Fire?, Church-No Spectator Sport, and Revolutionary Forgiveness. Day One Publications published his Down a Country Road and A Practical Theology of Missions. His two suspense novels, The Lightning File and Captives of Minara won the Word Guild Canadian Writing Award for best mystery/suspense novel in 2008 and 2010 respectively. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, The Word Guild, Spirit of the Hills, and the Brighton Arts Council as well as several online and in-person critique groups. For seven years he was editor of the Fellowship LINK, a quarterly magazine for mature adults published by the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada. To God be the glory!
Read an Excerpt
By Eric E. Wright
Pelican Ventures, LLCCopyright © 2013 Eric E. Wright
All rights reserved.
Craig and I were standing in the congregation at First Baptist Church on St. Simons Island, Georgia, singing when he stopped and handed me a sealed envelope.
"What's this?" I whispered as I turned to him, but he was already striding up the aisle towards the exit.
My stomach knotted, the bulky envelope growing heavy in my hand. I stared at it, unthinking, and then glanced at the heavy oak doors. Craig was gone.
Forcing my mind to focus on something other than the confusion and dread swimming through my head, I realized that the music had stopped and I was the only one standing. With a flush creeping up my neck, I grabbed my purse and fled. Fortunately, this wasn't our home congregation in New York where everyone knew us.
Outside, I caught sight of Craig getting into a silver sedan. I peered at the driver. A woman. Marlee, one of the investment advisors in his firm? What was she doing here?
Marlee stared at me over her shoulder, grimaced, and then hit the gas. The wheels kicked up gravel as she accelerated out of the parking lot.
I stared after them with my mouth open until the fluttering clouds of Spanish moss hanging from the ancient oaks hid them from view.
I gazed at the envelope, and then jammed it in my purse. No need to read it — yet. Instinct told me what it contained.
Sorry, Ashlyn, but this is not working. I've tried, but I just don't love you anymore. I want a divorce. Blah, blah, blah.
Our attempt to recover what we'd lost by spending two weeks on romantic St. Simons Island had failed. Was this it, then? Twenty-one years and two kids meant nothing? How would I explain to Tiffany and Tyler?
Something black and terrible began to gnaw at my insides as I searched the parking lot for our car. Tears coursed down my face. At least he left the car.
I fumbled in my purse for the keys, opened the door, and jumped in. Skidding out of the parking lot, I drove with one hand and pounded the dashboard with the other. The arrogant brute. A dear-John letter during a church service. Real macho. Well, two could play at that game. If he thought I'd just roll over and play dead, he was sadly mistaken. I'd make him regret this day.
Gritting my teeth and swiping at the tears I couldn't quell, I drove without thought while rage ricocheted inside me. When I ran out of road, I screeched to a halt, slammed the door and set off down the beach. Oblivious of cruising terns and diving pelicans, I walked aimlessly on the hard sand kicking every shell I saw, imagining it was Craig's vaunted manhood.
In spite of my attempts to avoid softer patches, the heels of my Sunday pumps sank into the sand, and I tumbled backwards. For a few minutes I lay there, not caring about the effect ocean water would have on my best dress. Then I sat up, slipped off my pumps and stared at them.
Aren't heels archaic anyway; as archaic as marriage? As outmoded as promises — 'til death do us part, for better or worse, in sickness and in health? Is that what I am, prehistoric? The model Christian wife; gentle, obedient, faithful? Well if I get my hands on him again, I'll show him how gentle I am — and how faithful.
Tears began to stream down my face anew. I thought of all the advice I'd given clients in my family therapy practice. Just be patient with one another. Hah. Forgive one another. Double hah. Not so easy now to spout glib clichés about being forgiving.
As I sat there in the damp sand feeding my rage, the scrape of a beach chair on a deck made me aware of how strange I must appear from the cottages fronting the ocean. Grasping my shoes in one hand, I leapt to my feet and set off barefoot down the beach.
I must have walked for miles, oblivious to my surroundings until I found myself on a wooden pier staring at the water swirling at my feet. How had my life come to this? The face that stared up at me looked otherworldly, a phantom with red-rimmed brown eyes, wild fawn-colored hair, and a brooding mouth. I reached up to touch the mole on my left cheek — to see if it was really pulsating or just a trick of light. I shivered.
"Are you all right, ma'am?" The shout woke me from my brooding.
I became aware of the reek of fish and the shrieks of seagulls wheeling overhead. I frowned as other sounds pierced my consciousness: the creak of ropes, the scrape of metal, the lapping of waves. I turned towards the voice. "What?"
Two piercing, sapphire eyes set in a leathery face looked down on me from the deck of a shrimp boat.
My mouth fell open. What was I doing here?
"Please ma'am, move back from the edge of the dock. It's dangerous with the tide coming in so strongly."
I stared at my bare feet. They curled over the very edge of the dock. I swayed. A hand reached out and grabbed my arm, pulling me back from the brink.
I turned towards the man who had jumped down on the dock to keep me from falling.
"I'm sorry. I was distracted ... thank you."
The man who held my arm in his massive, calloused hand had bushy brows and a stubbly, creased face. He wore a captain's hat perched on sun-bleached hair. My nose wrinkled at the pungent odor of fish that wafted from his boat.
He dropped my arm and moved back a step. "I thought you'd fall. The water here in the sound is treacherous."
I reached up and patted my windblown hair. "My mind was on some ... some bad news."
He cocked his head to one side and squinted at me. "Are you sure you'll be all right? I can drive you back to your hotel."
"No, no, I'm fine." I grimaced. "Although I must be a sight."
He crossed his muscled arms over his faded gingham shirt. "A sight? You are that; right perty."
I looked down, and then turned away and headed back up the pier as a flush began to creep up my neck for the second time that day.CHAPTER 2
Back at the beach house I tossed my ruined patent leather shoes onto the porch and collapsed into a lounge chair. My head throbbed. I should've eaten something, but I couldn't bear the thought of food.
My purse hid incendiary cargo — Craig's letter. But instead of opening the purse and extracting the letter, I reached down to finger a broken toenail. My feet were a mess. My barefoot ramble along the beach had left them stinging from scratches and cuts where I'd stepped on shells and caught a sliver from the dock. So much for the expensive pedicure I'd had in high hopes of weaving together the tattered strands of our marriage.
Three days of effort, that's all he'd given it before taking off with that tart in her silver Lexus. And I'd thought Marlee was not only one of his business partners, but a friend. A couple of years earlier, we had even been close. She babysat my kids; we had girls' nights out. Craig and I had included her in our family barbecues.
I felt the rage build up within. Looking back, I could see that they'd been too chummy, sharing private glances when they thought I wasn't looking. How could she?
Was I overreacting? But what other reason could she have for being here on the island — waiting to pick up Craig — unless they were having an affair?
I'd trusted her, loved her as a Christian sister, and she'd stabbed me in the back. Stolen Craig. Or was Craig responsible? Had it all started the time he drove her home when her car broke down? I'd been right to worry about his wandering eyes.
I opened my purse, took out the bulky envelope, and tore it open. A legal document, a note, and some hundred-dollar bills held together with a paper clip fell into my lap. I tossed the money aside. Did he think he could buy me off? The legal document, as I'd feared, was notice that he was filing for divorce. I tossed it after the money and turned to the handwritten note.
Our marriage is just not working out. No matter how often we've tried, it remains a shell. Spending more time talking — arguing — isn't going to help. This holiday has only made it clearer. Except for the kids we have little in common anymore.
Don't bring up the Bible and talk about an eternal covenant and all that stuff. I'm sure God doesn't expect me to keep on living a lie.
I don't blame you. We're just not in love anymore. It happens all the time, so please accept it. You don't love me either, or you wouldn't freeze me out.
I've applied for a divorce. Please don't contest it. And please understand that I never wanted to hurt you. You've been a great mother to Tiffany and Tyler. Blame me if you like, but I just can't continue with the kind of armed truce we've negotiated over the last five or six years. The kids are independent now and very resilient. They'll get over it.
I've enclosed $700 to cover any bills I may have forgotten. The beach house is paid for until the end of September. Oh, and Tiffany's tuition is paid through the end of next term. I've sent a money order for Tyler to pick up when he gets to Melbourne.
I'm dropping out of sight for a while so you won't be able to contact me.
I threw the note after the money and bit my lip in an attempt to smother the storm rising within. Not even a Dear Ashlyn or Love, Craig. This was the work of a cool-headed financial consultant, cutting his losses. The creep must have been planning his exit for some time; never meant to use our time at the beach to sort things out. No wonder people gave him money to invest. How could I have been so blind, so naïve?
My lips trembled. I was determined not to cry again. But despite my efforts to swallow my grief, tears gushed down my face as I remembered some of the good times we'd had.
A couple walking hand in hand on the beach road glanced my way. I fled into the beach house where I slipped off my dress and tossed it over a chair. In the bathroom, I washed my face with water as cold as I could stand. Taking a deep breath, I collapsed onto the toilet seat and looked around.
Craig's toothbrush was gone along with his toiletries. His robe no longer hung on the hook behind the door. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of something under the sink. I reached down and picked up a small fragment of hard plastic.
Someone had cut up a credit card. All I could make out were the first two letters of a name, a "C" and an "r". Craig? Why would he cut up one of his cards?
I marched into the bedroom and flung open the closet door. Empty hangers mocked me. His bureau drawer was also empty. I scanned the room. Gone were his cell phone, his travel alarm, the book on offshore investments he'd been reading, his briefcase, and suitcase.
All that remained of him was an indentation on the bed-sheets and the mug in which I'd brought him his morning coffee.
So cold and calculating! Blast! He must have arranged for Marlee to pick up everything while we were in church.
Craig, I hate you! And Marlee, I despise you.
I stared at my image in the full-length mirror. Red circles rimmed my eyes. My shoulder length brown hair looked mousy and dull. Even sucking in my breath I couldn't hide the thickening waist and the slight bulge of my tummy. Nothing could disguise the stretch marks from two pregnancies.
I picked up the mug he'd left and hurled it at the mirror. It bounced twice and rolled intact under the bed while the mirror shattered into a thousand silvered pieces. How ironic. He had waltzed away to start a new life while I was left to pick up the pieces.
I stood there looking at the scattered fragments and thinking how useless mirrors were to reflect what I'd actually contributed to this marriage. Thousands of rides to and from school, ten thousand meals prepared, a hundred thousand dishes washed.
With a sigh, I avoided the shards of mirror on the floor, pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and ran a hand through my hair. Then, slamming the bedroom door, I went into the kitchen to put on the kettle for a cup of tea.
While the kettle was coming to a boil, I rummaged in the cupboards for teabags and something to eat. Crackers. A can of soup. Another of spaghetti sauce. And no tea bags. But there was a box of chocolates.
I grabbed the box, turned off the element under the kettle, and strode into the living room. Flopping on the sofa, I opened the box. Chocolate truffles, almond nougats, and coconut clusters stared up at me seductively. With a deep sigh, I closed the box and set it on the floor beside me.
How many times had I welcomed distraught women into my office and prayed with them about bingeing on chocolate, or wine, or shopping? Now it was my turn.
Ashlyn Forsyth, the esteemed family counselor, needed counsel; the dedicated Christian savoring a corrosive rage, plotting revenge.
I forced myself to stop acting like a jilted teenager. To grow up. To remind myself that I'd seen this coming for a couple of years.
One thing was clear, I wouldn't be going back to my practice for some time. How could I face more marital sob-stories and spout more platitudes. I'd have to get my secretary to cancel all my appointments — give her some time off.
What about the kids? No need to call Tiffany yet. Break it to her slowly. Let her enjoy the first few weeks of her new term. Tyler, hiking in the outback, wouldn't call in for a week or so. That left me a couple of weeks to figure out what to do with the wreckage of my life.
I got up and wandered around the living room; gazed out the picture window at the turquoise ocean and the cloudless sky. A couple of terns wheeled and dived for fish. Why couldn't the sea reflect the storm within?
My stomach rumbled. I frowned. How could I be hungry when my world had shifted on its axis? True, I hadn't eaten since the night before; we'd slept too late to grab some breakfast before dashing off to church.
I wouldn't give Craig the satisfaction of turning me into another middle-aged excuse for a woman. I'd attend to the basics. Take it one step at a time. Get some food. Read a good book. Go for a long walk. Life would go on — eventually.
In the bathroom I brushed my hair and dashed on some fresh makeup. Then I grabbed my purse and headed out the door. As I turned to lock up, I noticed the divorce papers and money I'd tossed on the veranda.
I tucked the money into my purse and threw the divorce papers inside the cottage.
With a grim smile I tore Craig's note into tiny pieces and tossed them into the air. Littering? So what.
In the village, I parked in front of the Shrimpboat Café, where I could be fairly sure not to run into any of the Sunday church crowd. Inside, I paused and glanced around. Four tough looking men occupied a table to the left of the door. A net decorated a wall to the right. On every other free space hung a requisite, but bewildering array of fishing paraphernalia.
A chunky blonde with weary eyes and too much make-up smiled. "Lots'a choice, darlin'. Pick yuhself a table."
I selected a table off to the right in a corner.
The waitress passed me a menu. "Tea?"
"Uh, no, do you have coffee?"
"Do we have coffee? Darlin', you came to the right place."
She left to fetch coffee, while I turned to the menu. The original prices had been covered with white-out and new prices written in.
Having settled on the shrimp dish with hush puppies, fries, and coleslaw, I set down the menu and glanced around in an attempt to distract my mind. The café-style checkered curtains that framed the lower half of the front windows looked clean, but faded. Beyond the four men, a couple with two children occupied another table. The boy tried to stuff a fist-full of fries in his mouth. His sister laughed. A decade ago, that could have been us.
Lottie Jane, according to her nametag, set down a mug of coffee and some creamers on the table. "What'll it be, darlin'?"
I gave her my order and sat back to see if her promise of a good cup of coffee was just whistlin' Dixie. I'd learned from Craig to enjoy bold coffee and turn down the insipid stuff.
How long before thoughts of Craig would quit popping up in my mind? I sat back sipping the coffee and trying to purge him from my thoughts.
The tinkle of the bell over the door interrupted my reverie. Three men entered wearing stained jeans and heavy work-shirts open half-way down their chests. Two of them wore baseball caps advertising some obscure product. The third sported a weathered captain's cap at a jaunty angle. It was the burly shrimper who'd grabbed my arm to keep me from falling off the pier.
I quickly picked up the menu and pretended to peruse the meal selection.
Lottie Jane arrived with a huge platter of food. "So, what's the verdict?"
Stunned by the quantity of food in front of me, I stuttered. "Pardon?"
"The coffee ... thinking of switching to tea?"
"No, the coffee is wonderful. The best I've tasted since leaving home."
She folded her arms. "Our customers think so. None of that dishwater those other guys serve."
I tried to smile, but only succeeded in grimacing.
Excerpted from Riptide by Eric E. Wright. Copyright © 2013 Eric E. Wright. Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Riptide by Eric E. Wright. It was fast-paced with many twists and turns which made exciting reading. I loved the island setting and learned interesting facts about the shrimp trade. Not only was it a good read, it also provided helpful insight into coping with divorce and learning to move on after a crisis in life. Well done!
Although this is the first time I've ever read a book by Eric E. Wright, this won't be the last! I was hooked from the first page. This book is written in the first person point of view, which I love. It is a very fast paced, suspenseful novel. The story starts out with Craig and Ashlyn vacationing at their beach house. They are hoping to rekindle their marriage, but things don't go as planned. The whole story and relationship between these two take a turn that I didn't see coming. Things get more and more complicated as the story goes on. I would definitely recommend this book if you like good, clean, fast-paced, suspenseful novels. I look forward to reading more books by this author. I received this book from Net Galley and the publisher for my honest opinion.