“The talented Molly Fader will keep you turning the pages right down to the oh-so-satisfying final twist.”
Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author
What drove their family apart just might bring them back together…
It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Ohio hometown on the shores of Lake Erie.
But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame—and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever.
With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.
|Publisher:||Graydon House Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
MOLLY FADER is the award-winning author of more than 40 romance novels under the pennames Molly O'Keefe and M. O'Keefe. She grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Toronto. The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is her first women's fiction novel.
Read an Excerpt
May 2018 DELIA
Delia Collins was not proud of her glee. It was unbecoming, she got that. And truthfully, she couldn't even say where it came from. What awful spring of motherhood created this kind of joy in catching her teenage daughter sneaking back into the house past curfew?
If she was a different kind of mother she'd be worried. Or angry. Even guilty.
And she was angry, worried and guilty (this had to be partly her fault — hers and Dan's — they were too lenient, too forgiving. Let her sleep too long in their bed when she was a baby. Something). But somewhere between her gut and her head the anger, worry and guilt morphed into this ... giddiness. Delia and Dan had told her they were trusting her. That this was — for real this time — her last chance. Brin had promised she wouldn't be late.
And Brin blew it.
Dan shuffled into the room, bleary-eyed, up way past his bedtime, and she felt a sudden rush of affection for him in his worn-thin Cleveland Browns pajama pants.
"Go on to bed," she told him as she dragged her old blue rocking chair across the carpet.
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing. Actually, can you ...?" The chair got stuck on the edge of the coffee table and she couldn't twist it away.
Dan reached down and pulled it loose, the momentum nearly knocking her sideways. "Careful," he said and reached out to steady her.
"I'm going to be the first thing Brin sees when she walks in the door." She glanced down at her watch. "A half hour late."
"Did you call her cell?" he asked.
"Yep. She didn't answer. But she texted to say she'd be home soon."
She texted because she'd been drinking and she knew Delia would be able to tell.
Delia ran into Jenny's mom the other day outside Giant Eagle and she'd clearly thrown up her hands trying to control Jenny.
She's mad at me all the time anyway, she'd said. Why make it worse?
Pick your battles, she'd said.
But what if Delia picked the wrong one?
"When was that?' "Ten minutes ago."
"Are you ... supposed to be enjoying this so much?" Dan asked.
Probably not. But Delia was the breastfeeding perimenopausal mother of a teenager and an infant. Enjoyment was wired wrong these days.
"What's your plan?
"She walks in the door and what?"
"Dan, I'll handle it. Just go to bed."
"You're gonna scream?"
"I'm worried about you," he said.
"Me?" Dan was stressed. Clearly. His appearance after 10 p.m. in the living room on a weekday was proof that something was cooking in that head of his.
"Between the baby, Brin, the store and your mom —" She sat down in her rocking chair, now conveniently positioned in front of the door. "I'm fine."
His silence seemed to imply that he thought otherwise.
The front door swung open and Brin walked in, curtailing the conversation. Brin, her beautiful daughter, looked from Delia to Dan and then back again.
And then her lip curled in a totally new and devastating way.
"What? You're like waiting up to yell at me?"
Delia's bright-eyed baby who had once slept curled like a question mark in the curve of Delia's body had turned into this teenager. Surly and sleepy-eyed, wearing cutoffs that were way too short.
Time folded like a fan and Delia was struck — anew — by how much Brin now looked like Lindy. It was shocking. They were carbon copies in different clothing. It was like having a ghost in the house.
Lindy. Delia still hadn't called to tell her sister about their mom. She just didn't know how to tell her.
The number of times over the last few months she'd sat at the kitchen table, her cell phone in front of her, was too many to count.
One touch of her finger and Lindy would come back. She knew that.
But then what?
Lindy had been the wild McAvoy sister, playing chicken with her reputation and her future, and in the end she left and broke Delia's heart.
All Delia wanted in this world was to stop Brin from doing the same thing.
The lake got inside Meredith McAvoy's head on a Sunday.
She knew it had been a Sunday because she'd been sitting on her back deck, working the crossword, the yellow tabby stretched out beside her, when she heard the screen door slam. Her first thought was that it was William. Which wasn't right. He got swallowed up by the lake years ago.
But still, she turned, her heart pounding hard. Hope like that never really went away. It was a loyal dog, sitting at her feet every day, waiting for a chance to break its chain.
Next thing she knew she was waking up in the hospital, her daughter Delia looking over her like Meredith had survived a shipwreck.
"You're okay," her youngest daughter said as if it were an order. And it was an order Meredith was trying her best to obey. Because Meredith McAvoy was no burden. Not on Delia. Not on anyone.
And some days she was okay; the lake in her head was still and flat. Calm. The world recognizable. The old blue house, gone gray in the sun, was her home. There was Gwen on the corner, who overwatered her yard, and Mike Porter next door, who shoveled Meredith's walk all winter long. Her life. Her grief. The imaginary dog of hope at her side. All of it her own, just as it was supposed to be.
But some days the Lake Erie storms roared up and the sandbars shifted and she didn't know what was real. She didn't know where her William was. Or why her Lindy had left. All she had were the secrets she had swallowed, and Meredith was afraid she'd open her mouth and they'd all fly out like bats at dusk.
She had given the babysitter Delia'd hired, that Tiffany woman, the slip after lunch. Meredith was supposed to take a nap like some kinda toddler, but when Tiffany went to sit on the back porch, Meredith had skedaddled out the front door.
In her quick escape she'd left without her hat and the sun was hot on the top of her head. It was William's hat, actually. The brim white with salt and sweat and sometimes she put her tongue against it just so she could taste him again.
Hold on, now, I am Mrs. McAvoy.
Meredith stopped and there was Garrett Singh walking along beside her.
How long has he been there?
His boot kicked a piece of gravel and it flew off the narrow spit to land with a thunk in the lake. Erie was still shallow at this part. The sand like clay. The water, when calm, a bright blue-green.
"Garrett," she said and got back to walking. No time for chitchat. Her palm was sweating so she switched the flare gun to her other hand. "If you're looking for Lindy, she's not here."
"I'm not looking for Lindy, Mrs. McAvoy." He kept along beside her.
"Probably for the best," she told him. "I love that girl but she's tough on the nice boys."
If William was still around maybe that wouldn't be true. Maybe Lindy would be less wild, but it was just Meredith and she was doing the best she could.
"Can I ask where you're headed?"
"It's obvious, ain't it?" The spit only went out to the Fulbright House.
He smiled. "I suppose that's true."
"Oh no, boy." She wagged the flare gun at him. "You save that smile for someone your own age."
He vanished that grin real fast. "Can I ask what you're doing with that gun?" I've got to do something, don't I? You can't expect me to sit at home and do nothing. Not while he's out there.
She was about to tell him all about it, glad actually that he was there in case she needed his help, but then they rounded that last curve and Fulbright House came into view.
And it didn't look at all like it should. It wasn't the grand mansion with bright white gingerbread and ruby red door. The gardens — a Fulbright point of pride — were overgrown and full of them pesky reeds that crept in when you weren't looking.
And Garrett, he was wearing a uniform. Not the high school lacrosse jersey Meredith remembered, but something new. Something ...
He's Police Chief Garrett Singh. Not that high school puppy following Lindy around.
Just like that the waves receded and the waters were still.
"Do you need help, Mrs. McAvoy?" Garrett asked.
Meredith McAvoy never needed help before, and there was already that Tiffany woman in her house these days, a babysitter in nurse's scrubs.
"Do you want me to call your daughter?"
Meredith wanted Garrett to call her husband. More than she could say, she wanted her William. He would know what to do.
She closed her eyes. This was a new kind of tired. Used to be, she could work for hours out on the boat and then come back and close up the shop and still go home and make dinner for the girls, play a couple hands of gin rummy on the porch. Every day she did that, for years, without even thinking about it much. The days were just days. The work just work.
But now her bones wanted a rest. How long have I been walking?
"Lindy will know what to do," she finally said.
"Mrs. McAvoy, Lindy doesn't live here anymore," Garrett said. "I can call Delia."
Delia's head would pop right off her shoulders and no one needed that. Meredith had caused that girl enough grief.
She remembered she had a cell phone in the pocket of her soft shorts. Delia'd insisted she have one, which seemed ridiculous.
Meredith and Lindy sometimes talked every week, but it had been a while. Time was a slippery fish these days, but Lindy had promised she'd come home if Meredith needed her. No matter what Delia had to say about it. And she'd wanted her daughter home plenty. Longed for her and missed so much it sat like a stone in her stomach.
But Meredith never needed Lindy before.
Meredith pulled out the phone. "Call Lindy."CHAPTER 2
This was it. Another highlight in the Lindy McAvoy story. Though, this one felt different. Special. In a lifetime filled with near misses, this might actually be rock bottom.
Sitting on the curb outside her apartment, her clothes raining down on her, thrown by her — now ex — boyfriend from her — now former — second-floor apartment, Lindy decided with the thunk of a Michael Kors knockoff hitting pavement that yep, this was rock bottom.
It had to be, because she sure as hell couldn't get any lower.
"Screw you, Lindy," Ben shouted. The window slammed shut and she flinched.
What could she say? Lindy made really bad decisions about men. She liked them talented, jealous and borderline unstable.
It was a flaw. One of many.
And in the case of Ben Ming she liked them to be the genius chef at TAO where she worked. So now she had no boyfriend, no apartment and no job.
While this might be the lowest she'd ever been, she'd been in training for just this kind of emergency for seventeen years and she gave herself to the count of five to get her act together. That was the rule for a woman with too much experience putting her chin up and getting on with things. Five seconds to wallow and curse and wail and then she had to get back up on her feet.
She put shaking fingers to her lips and refused to cry. Refused. She didn't love Ben, and knew he didn't love her. But she'd naively believed he respected her more than ... this.
Two ... three ... four ...
"You all right?" a girl asked as she picked up a pair of Lindy's underwear and handed it to her.
The kind pedestrian looked like she was on her way to some internship at a tech start-up or her brand-new job as a bank teller. Her glasses were ironic. Her hair, a day-old blowout, frizzing up in the Ohio humidity. This girl was putting her best foot forward.
In equal parts, Lindy wanted to push her away and invite her to sit down. So Aunt Lindy could tell her a few horror stories about how the world really worked.
"Do I look all right?" Lindy asked her. Wondering really.
"Yeah. I didn't think so." She sighed. "Word of advice," Lindy said as the young girl slowly backed away. "Don't go for the jealous types."
"I never do," the girl said before melting into the trickle of pedestrian traffic.
Well, bully for you, kid.
Lindy stood up — literally from the gutter — and picked up her black bra and her e-reader — now probably broken; thank you, Ben. The kimono from San Francisco, the stupidly expensive hairbrush she bought when she freaked out that she might be losing her hair.
Lindy gathered it all up, and like a true pro, she began making plans, so this moment, this awful low point, was already behind her.
The manager at The Fig Tree would hire her in a nanosecond; she'd been trying for weeks to poach Lindy from TAO. And The Fig Tree was so hot right now, the tips would be better.
Angela was visiting her parents at their lake house this week and Lindy had her key so she could water the plants and feed the fish. So, she had a place to stay.
It was already a funny story she'd tell Angela over the phone tonight.
No, I'm not kidding Angela. All my stuff ... out the damn window!
She'd laugh and laugh and never let on how bad it was. Not even a little.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she fished it out, answering without looking because who else would it be but Ben apologizing for this next-level tantrum.
And the hope ... God, it was embarrassing. Her relief that the man who just threw her underwear onto Third Street was calling made her mouth dry with self-loathing.
Lindy should be better than this.
She wanted to be better than this.
"I'm sorry, but I swear, Ben," she said past the stone in her throat. "I was talking to him about his girlfriend, who is a total —"
"Lindy? Is this Lindy McAvoy?"
That voice. That ... voice?
"Ben?" she asked, even though she now knew it wasn't him. But she couldn't quite place that voice.
"No. Lindy. It's Garrett. Garrett Singh."
This ... this was a joke. It had to be. Or a different Garrett Singh, because there was no way the Garrett Singh she once knew was calling now. The world was not that cruel.
"Garrett Singh from high school?"
"The ... ah ... one and only."
Look! Rock bottom has a trap door!
Behind her a woman picked up Lindy's favorite pair of jeans, holding them to her body to see if they might fit. Lindy hissed at her like a stray cat. "Those are mine!"
"Then get them off the street, girl!" she hissed back, dropping the jeans and stepping on a T-shirt as she walked past.
"I'm sorry," Garrett said. "Am I interrupting something?"
"No. Nope. Not at all. What can I do for you, Garrett?"
"Well," he said, but then in the background came another voice. An older female voice saying something she couldn't understand. "Funny you should ask. Your mom asked me to call you."
"My mom?" She bent over, picking up her scattered jewelry. "How ...?"
"Kind of a long story and I'm not sure how much you know about your mother's condition —"
She stood up straight.
Garrett's silence was pronounced. "The stroke?" he finally asked.
"Is she okay? Where is she?"
I have to get to Port. Keys ... where are my keys?
"You know," he said, "I think this is a conversation you should be having with your sister."
Great idea. Except Lindy and Delia didn't have conversations. Not for seventeen long years.
"Garrett," she said. "Just tell me what's happening."
"I found your mom walking down the spit to the Fulbright House with a flare gun. She was clearly confused. Disoriented."
Lindy started kicking her clothes into a pile, searching for her purse. Keys. Dammit. "And what about a stroke?"
"It ... it was three weeks ago. I think. They called it a brain event."
And Delia didn't even call her? Not even a message on Facebook or a text? It was easy not to be surprised. Impossible not to be crushed.
"I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to get in the middle of things."
"You're not, Garrett." There was the familiar rattle of keys and she dug through jean mountain to her purse.
"She's probably just been busy with the baby."
More awkward silence on his end. "You're kidding. Right?"
That her sister had a baby and didn't tell her? Ha! Hilarious joke.
"Totally kidding." She even laughed along.
"So anyway, your mom asked me to call."
"Can you put her on, please?"
"Sure. Just a second —"
You were always so sweet. Far too sweet for the likes of me. "Thank you."
"No problem, Lindy. It's ... ah ... it's good to hear your voice."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets"
Copyright © 2018 Molly Fader.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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