Soaring (Magdalene #2)
Author:Kristen Ashley

He studied me for another second before he did a short nod, turned and walked down my front walk that was also jagged, inlaid here and there with interesting pieces of glass, edged in a thick line of travertine.


I stood and took in the way he walked, how comfortable he was with his bulky frame. I also fully took in his clothing.


He was a firefighter.


That was not surprising.


Then it struck me that I was standing in my doorway watching him, and if he caught me, what that might say, so I quickly jumped back and closed the door.


I turned to my living room.


Upon arriving in Magdalene the day before, I’d picked up the keys and the garage door openers and done the first walk-through of my house.


I’d been thrilled to find that it was even better than the pictures. It was a newish build by the award-winning Scottish architect, Prentice Cameron. I knew his work because he’d designed a home in La Jolla that I’d loved so much when I saw it, I’d done something I’d never done before. I’d looked it up and then researched him on the Internet. When I did, I’d found all of his designs were breathtaking.


They were all modern without looking space-age, instead seeming timeless. Unusual. Multi-level. Spacious. Open. With generous use of windows, in my case one whole side of the house—the one that faced the Atlantic Ocean—was floor to tall ceilings view. A view that was such a view, it was almost like you were floating over the sea.


It was amazing.


So when Conrad, Martine and the kids had moved from La Jolla to the small coastal town of Magdalene in Maine and my world imploded, after which I’d made my decision to move out, I’d found to my glee this Cameron home was for sale. So I’d jumped on it.


It was only five years old but the couple who’d had it built had split. It was not amicable (oh, how I understood that) and they’d fought bitterly over the house. In the end, the judge had forced them to liquidate.


Their loss.


My gain.


That was what I thought yesterday.


Right then, staring at what was already stunning, and I hoped by my hand I could make exquisite, I worried.


I worried if I did the right thing following Conrad and Martine and moving to Maine. I worried if my children were as angry as Conrad. I worried if I had it in me to show them all I’d changed. I worried if I could win my children back. I worried if I could create a safe place for them; a comfortable home, a happy, extended family.


I worried if I could do what I should have done three years ago but didn’t.


Beat back the bitterness, the loss, the anger. Give my children a mother they could love, be proud of, not be ashamed of and hate. Build a new life for myself and find some contentment.


I worried I didn’t have that in me. I worried with all I’d done—even while doing it knowing it wasn’t right—that I couldn’t beat back that part of me that was pure Hathaway. That was selfish and thoughtless and sour and vindictive.


I didn’t believe in me. I’d lost it all. My husband. Custody of the kids except every other weekend, which changed to once a month when Conrad and Martine moved to Maine. My self-respect.


Heck, I didn’t even know me so there was no me to believe in.


That thought drove me around the edge of the sunken living room, my bare feet silent on the beautiful gloss of the wood floors. I hit the doorway off to the side and walked down the short hall to the flight of four steps that guided me up the elevation of the cliff the single-story house rambled along. One side of the hall all windows, open to the sea, the other side my three car garage.


I continued down that hall and up two more steps into the master bedroom that was gigantic. So big you could fit bed, dressers, nightstands, armoires and jewelry cabinets in there, plus couches, day beds, club chairs, a TV, whatever I decided. There was even a luscious, staggered stone fireplace, freestanding, delineating what I envisioned would one day be the bed area at the back (and currently was, as my big king was there) from a seating area (to be created) at the front.


I walked through it to the bathroom that ran the width of the room. It included two walk-in closets and a large, oval, sunken bath at the end that had windows all around, butting up to the sea so you could take a bath and gaze at the ocean, feeling you were bathing and floating. There were also double-bowled sinks (and the sinks were beautiful bowls). The entire room was paneled in a rich, knotty wood, bringing together a rustic and elegant feel in a way that was astonishing.


I didn’t see any of that.


I walked by the huge mirror over the basins and into one of the closets where there were wardrobe boxes and suitcases.


Something in me drove me straight to a box. I ripped off the tape and the front panel fell away.


I reached in and pulled out the clothes randomly. Strewing them over the tops of other boxes, I pulled out more and did the same. Some of them landed on the boxes. Some on the floor. All haphazard. Messy.


It was wrong to do. They were designer. They were expensive. Many women would want their whole life just to own one piece of what I had many, but they’d never be able to afford it.