The Letter By: Donna McGillivray
Whiskey Creek Press
Carrie Holland, widow, owner of bookstore in Sedona, Arizona receives a letter six months after her husband’s death telling her he has two children and begging her to contact them through their Uncle Ron. This unbelievable news throws her life in turmoil.
Discovering the children are five-year-old twins and were conceived through artificial insemination with the sister of the famed mystery writer, Ronald Burke, only complicates things. Can Carrie get past the hurt and betrayal to raise these children as her husband’s letter requests?
Ron has had the children since their mother was killed and doesn’t want to give them up. His answer is a marriage of convenience so they can raise the children together.
That would solve the problem, except that Carrie has fallen in love with Ron as well as the twins. Can she marry a man that doesn’t love her in return?
How long will it take Ron to see that he was so worried about a home for the twins that he didn’t realize that he was in love with Carrie?
Walking her property usually had a calming effect on Carrie, but today, it was just the opposite. Weeping uncontrollably, she returned to the house and collapsed in gut-wrenching sobs on the living room carpet in front of the huge picture window. She cried for Phillip’s illness, for his pain and suffering and for his death. She cried for all the long, lonely days and nights she’d endured since then. She cried for her anger at him for leaving her after only thirteen years and for her future without him, but mostly, she cried for the betrayal. The secret family he chose to keep hidden from her and her lack of understanding why.
“Mrs. Richards,” he managed to say, “how nice to finally meet you.”
“Please, call me Carrie.”
“Thanks, Carrie,” he said while shrugging out of his coat. “You have a lovely place here.”
“Thank you, I like it. Come on in the kitchen, I’m just finishing up the bread,” she invited as she took his coat and hung it on a hook. “You don’t mind eating in here, do you?”
“Not at all, it smells wonderful, oh, and look at this view. Mountains, snow, pine trees. It must be breathtaking in full daylight!”
“Yes, and at night when the city lights twinkle, as they are now, I think it’s my favorite view. That’s why we built here. You know, I lived in Phoenix when I met Phillip. We moved here shortly after we were married,” she went on, as she placed the lasagna and salad on the table. “Pour the wine, will you, Ron? By the way, do you have a last name?”
“Phillip didn’t tell you?” Ron was rather surprised by this. He filled the glasses and set one above each plate on the table.
“No, he referred to you only as Uncle Ron. I’m beginning to think of you as Mr. Uncle Ron,” she said, laughing.
Ron smiled as her laughter brought out the pink of her cheeks and the twinkle in her eyes. So pretty, so natural. Classic natural beauty. “It’s Ronald Burke,” he said, holding out his hand to shake.
“Ronald Burke, the author?” she asked, surprised as she took his strong hand in hers, shook quickly and released it, still feeling the warmth of his skin on her hand.
“One and the same,” he answered with a smile, displaying a row of even white teeth.
“I have all your books in stock. They’re very popular. In fact, don’t I have you scheduled for a book signing next month?”
“The Bookshelf? Is that you?”
“Yes, didn’t Phillip tell you?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” he replied.
“You know, Ron, I was married to Phillip for thirteen years and it seems there are a lot of things he didn’t tell me.”
Ron chose to ignore that comment. He was beginning to agree with Carrie. There were a lot of things Phillip hadn’t told her and he wondered just how much he was going to have to explain. With a feeling of dread, he chose to change the subject. There would be ample time to discuss the children after dinner.
“Carrie, could I please have another piece of lasagna? My housekeeper is an excellent cook, but she’s not into Italian cuisine. This is delicious.”
“Yes, of course. I’m so glad you like it.”
* * * *
Ron ate heartily as they chatted about first one book and then another. Carrie nibbled at her food, watching Ron eat. Why are we putting off discussing Phillip’s children, Carrie wondered as she sipped her wine. Maybe because the evening was so pleasant at this moment. She was amazed at how utterly handsome Ron was with coal black hair and maple syrup brown eyes. She scanned his face. Nice nose, kissable lips. Carrie felt her face grow hot and involuntarily jerked, tipping her glass and spilling wine on the place mat with it dripping to the floor. She jumped up to grab a towel, but found Ron already cleaning it up. She was so embarrassed and shocked. How could she ever think something like that? Kissable lips, indeed! So what if he is handsome and built like a six-foot cowboy. Hard and strong and sexy! This isn’t a date. It’s anything but! I won’t ever see him again after the book signing. “Oh, please excuse me.” In an attempt to camouflage the reason for her clumsiness, she said, “I guess I’m a little more nervous than I thought.”
“Me, too,” he smiled, “I was enjoying dinner so much, I forgot why I came. I know this must be hard for you.”
“No, I’m all right. Shall we take our coffee into the living room? I have a fire going.”
Ron took the tray and followed her out of the room. She motioned for him to sit opposite her as she took the love seat. “Ron, this is so awkward. I received a short, cryptic note from Phillip on Saturday, six months after he died, saying he has two children.”
“Yes,” Ron encouraged.
“Well, that’s all. He said I could call you if I chose to pursue the subject. Could you please enlighten me as to why he wanted me to know he’d been married before and had two grown children? He never even hinted at it in all the years we were married.”
Ron sat starring at Carrie in silence, a bewildered look on his face.
“What!” she asked in exasperation.
“That’s what he told you?”
“Yes,” Carrie blurted, “No, I mean, I don’t know. He didn’t tell me anything, except he’d always been faithful to me. I just assumed...” The words ended. Nothing more would pass as her throat froze and tears welled in her eyes.
Ron stood, walked around the coffee table and took Carrie’s hand in his. “Listen,” he said, “I think there’s been a big misunderstanding here. Phillip’s children are five years old!”
“No…no…no…” Carrie screamed, putting her hands over her ears. “He lied to me, my whole marriage was a lie!”