Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice
Jennifer had the perfect life. A loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a flexible job in the family business.
When it was all taken from her, Jen struggled to rebuild in her old home, but it was haunted by memories. She attempted to move through her days with the help of friends — but those friends couldn’t understand, and somehow expected her to get over it. Even her twin brother, Joshua, was unable to help her heal.
Then the divorce ended in the sale of her home. She needed time and the care of an old friend, so she and Ollie set out on a road trip of discovery. Along the way they met others who had lost a child or a marriage or both. None of them expected her to get over it, but they did help her go on living.
She began to figure out how to get through her days and build a life that honored her daughter’s memory. Her old friend listened, loved her, and guided her to an outlet for her feelings through music — and she connected with other bereaved parents through the internet, including a man whose son shared her daughter’s birthday.
Life would never be the same, but maybe she could find the music, find her voice, find her own path to living after her loss.
Jennifer stumbled to a halt in the hallway outside her husband’s office. Her tears were tracing down her face before she saw him there, leaning in, one arm around a woman in a crisp suit with perfect hair and nails and lipstick — a fellow lawyer, a co-worker. Before she processed that betrayal he turned and saw her. His eyes ran up and down her, assessing, judging and finding her wanting. He didn’t draw away from the other woman.
She almost apologized. Heat flooded her cheeks. The words “I’m sorry,” were on her lips as she stood red-faced and teary eyed, knowing she had interrupted. She swallowed back the words with her tears and straightened her spine. She gave Nathan a long look back.
The sneering man facing her was confirming the end of their marriage. Would he have stayed if they hadn’t lost their child?
Would she have wanted him to? She didn’t know this man, but if this was who he really was…
She raised her chin a little, and without a word she fanned the papers out, raised them high over her head, then let go. As they drifted toward the floor they separated into disconnected objects, going their separate ways, and she turned on her heel and headed back the way she’d come. It took every ounce of her energy to keep her back straight and head high until she was out of his sight. In case he was watching from his window, she held it together until she got to the car. She turned the key in the lock, blinking rapidly and breathing shuddering breath after shuddering breath until she was in the car, hidden by the driver’s seat. Then she collapsed over the steering wheel and began to sob in earnest.
Jennifer Robinson VanPelt — or just Jennifer Robinson now — began to strike the wheel with her fists. In a matter of weeks everything she believed about her happy life had evaporated. She began to look for a tissue to blow her nose. Tears were clogging her throat and she was having difficulty swallowing. The tissues she’d started the day with were already soaked and wadded in a pile on the seat beside her, but she had no choice. She had to use them again. She blew her nose and they disintegrated in her hands. She laid a couple together and tried again. A little better.
But not much. She looked at her wet hands and sighed. Well, she was headed home anyway. She wiped her hands on her skirt until they were reasonably dry. Then she fumbled for a bottle of water. Long, slow swallows cleared her throat a little and short-circuited the hiccups that usually accompanied this kind of sobbing. How many times in the last few weeks had she cried like this?
Her phone rang. Joshua.
She sighed. She should have expected it. She picked up the call. “Hey.”
“Jen, hon, how are you holding up today?” Dang that twin bond. She couldn’t even be alone with her grief for twenty minutes, and he was on the phone. She snuffed and swallowed and tried to stem the flow of tears long enough to answer him.
“N-n-no. I mean — I’m okay but …” That was all she could get out.
“If you’re headed home I can meet you there in 30 minutes. I’ll bring lunch. We’ll talk.” No need to ask how he knew she wasn’t home yet. He always knew.
“‘K.” One more word was more than she could handle. She punched end before he could say something sympathetic that would cause her to completely lose it all over again. She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and turned the key in the ignition. While her tears were letting up enough to drive she had to get of there. Time to turn her back on that sleeze she’d been married to and find her way to a different life.
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