Robyn Crandall thought she had the life she’d always dreamed of, with her childhood sweetheart, until he asked for a divorce. Gone with him are her hopes of a perfect home and family. Moving back in with her mother, broke and broken, Robyn has no plans to do anything besides lick her wounds and hold on to her faltering career. But then she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to a man who has everything and yet seems to have nothing at all.
Every single milestone Chris Scaife set, he’s reached and surpassed. The one place he feels out of his depth is being a father to his three kids–all them practical strangers–and dealing with their mothers who view him as a never-ending source of income. Between that, and managing his music empire he doesn’t have time for distractions, but one shows up anyway.
Robyn is a woman who deserves the kind of life he doesn’t feel equipped to give her, but walking away might not be that easy; especially since she’s also shown him glimpses of a life he didn’t think he could have.
WHERE IT BEGINS:
Chris is hosting the wedding of one of his best friends on his considerable estate, and happens across a mutual acquaintance of theirs, Robyn. She’s different than he remembered her, and something about her mood is reminiscent of his own. They talk for awhile as Chris feels the beginning of one of his increasingly frequent migraines. He feels certain he can tough it out — that’s been his M.O. in life, “toughing it out”. But this time he’s wrong.
EXCERPT FROM ‘AFTERWARDS’:
Turning again toward the dance floor, Chris saw that Brendan and Tracy had progressed from dancing to kissing, just as Patti Labelle hit her high note. Taking a deep breath, he decided to leave them to it. Almost all the guests had begun to make their way to their cars but alone, at one of the tables, he noticed a woman he recognized as Tracy’s mother sitting , watching the couple on the dance floor, her face wistful. Nearby, Brendan’s parents stood side by side. Mrs. Cole was holding Tracy and Brendan’s four-month old daughter, smiling, watching her son and new daughter-in-law with unabashed pleasure. They were Smiling People. That’s how Chris thought of them—like their son, they seemed not to have any other way to look at the world except through smiling eyes.
Inside, his housekeeper, Mrs. Lawson and the wedding planner had begun to give instructions to the staff and crew who were discreetly beginning clean-up. Mrs. Lawson looked up as he entered and gave him a wan smile. She was dressed up for the occasion, wearing a peach colored suit that looked like something that she would have worn to a high school graduation, or a baptism at church.
“How did you make out?” she asked him, and Chris knew she was referring to his migraine from earlier.
“Not too bad,” he said, nodding at her.
But that wasn’t exactly the truth. He could still feel the tiniest of twinges at the base of his skull like a little blossom of discomfort that would in short order grow into a drill-like pain if he didn’t get to sleep soon. It had begun around the time the preacher started talking about the “inexorable optimism of the human heart.” The only thing that felt inexorable right about now was this headache.
Occasionally, sleep was the cure, and at other times, caffeine. But there were times—more frequent lately—when nothing helped except the Relpax Dr. Allen had prescribed. Chris hated the idea of resorting to the little orange pills just to live a normal life. Drugs of any kind were a thing for him: he hated them. Unless he was about to be cut open for surgery, his preference was to stay away from any controlled substance.
Mrs. Lawson was still looking at him as though searching for signs that perhaps he wasn’t being completely honest with her.
“This was supposed to be your weekend off, wasn’t it?” Chris asked her.
Mrs. Lawson hesitated before nodding. “Yes, but I had no problem staying, Mr. Scaife. I know you needed the extra help.”
“You always say it’s not a problem,” Chris told her heading towards his office. “Go on home. Give the rest of the staff instructions and then go on home.”
“Mr. Scaife . . .”
Chris stopped and turned to look at her. “Go. Home.”
She smiled at him and finally nodded. “Okay. You . . . make sure you . . .”
Chris cocked his head and raised his eyebrows, stopping her in the middle of the admonition—which he’d heard many times before—that he ‘take care of himself.’
“Goodnight,” he said pointedly.
Mrs. Lawson wiped her hands on the front of her dress like a woman removing remnants of flour from her skirt while baking a cake. That was how she probably saw him, Chris thought with amusement, as a work in progress, an unbaked cake.