Read A Broken Kind of Beautiful Online

Authors: Katie Ganshert

Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #United States, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Single Women, #Contemporary Fiction, #Religious & Inspirational Fiction, #Christian, #Literary, #Religious, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction

A Broken Kind of Beautiful (3 page)

BOOK: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
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“I’ll pass.”

“So you’re just going to sit out here the whole time?”

She slipped her phone from her purse and checked the display.

“Are you waiting for someone?”

“A cab.”

“In Greenbrier? I didn’t know they existed.” The island town might boast twenty thousand, but something about its slow-moving pace made it feel half that size.

“Apparently they only have one. It’s taking a long time.”

“Where are you going?”

“The airport.”

“Already?”

“Why the twenty questions, Dave?”

Why indeed? He nudged the plate with his shoe. A red ant scuttled toward the bread as silence settled between them, every bit as pronounced as the humid air. A swallow filled the void with song.

Ivy sighed. “I never hear the word ‘escape’ without a quicker blood …”

He cocked his head. “Emily Dickinson?”

“You know it?”

The surprise in her question matched his own. She was as unlikely a candidate as he to quote poetry. “I had an English lit professor who was in love with Ms. Dickinson. That’s what he called her too—
Miz Dickinson
. I think her postmortem status truly depressed him.”

A genuine smile tugged at her lips, but before it could take full form, she looked down and fiddled with the charm bracelet around her wrist. “If
you really must know, Dave, I’m running away. Do you know what that’s like?”

“Unfortunately.”

She raised an eyebrow, like she didn’t believe for a minute somebody like him would have anything to run away from.

“It’s something I did for a long time,” he admitted, wondering, even as he did, why he was opening up to her.

“Oh yeah? And how did it work out for you?”

Sadness spread its fingers and laid a heavy hand over his chest. “Not well.”

A cab grumbled down the cul-de-sac and stopped behind the line of parked cars crowding the driveway. Ivy stood. He joined her. In her high heels, she came almost level with his six-foot-two frame. He wasn’t used to looking a woman in the eye, especially not on his feet. “Good luck,” he said.

“With what?”

“Stopping. We all have to sooner or later.”

Something broken flickered in her eyes but disappeared before the lethargic shutter in his mind could capture it. She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his cheek, her breath minty and warm. “Happy mourning.”

She pulled her purse over her shoulder and sauntered to the cab.

Taking a temporary respite from the condolences, Marilyn Olsen clasped the cross on her necklace, sliding it back and forth along the silver chain, watching as Ivy slid into the backseat of the yellow taxi.

Marilyn’s house was full of people—if not mourning, at least acknowledging James’s end—yet from the moment she caught sight of Ivy at the funeral, her thoughts ceased being about her late husband. Some might think that callous, but in truth, Marilyn did not dread widowhood as many women might. Her good-bye to James was not one of holding on and
clinging tighter; it was more akin to slowly stopping after a long, grueling race. The flood of emotion she felt now was all about the girl riding away in the backseat of a cab.

Lord, my heart …

Sometimes obedience could feel like trudging through the mud, each acquiescent footstep weighted with resistance. That’s how it was with James. Marilyn didn’t want to forgive him, but who was she to ignore the words God continued to place in the palms of her outstretched hands whenever she prayed?
Absolve. Pardon. Exonerate
. Their crisp, sharpened edges left no room for misinterpretation.

Other times, though, obedience was unavoidable.

During her dark years, when James started drifting away and infertility defined her days, Marilyn took on the morbid habit of reading labor and delivery books. One author described the act of pushing like a train barreling forward at full speed. The doctor says “Push,” and the woman in labor doesn’t have to think twice. Her body takes over her will, bearing down with a fierceness that is nearly impossible to thwart.

As a woman who had never experienced such a phenomenon, Marilyn couldn’t fathom what that might feel like. Until she saw her—an eight-year-old girl with a Cinderella backpack who kept looking at James with a mixture of timidity and admiration. Only he never looked back. He didn’t acknowledge her at all. And as Marilyn beheld this girl standing in their foyer for the first time, taking in all the ways Ivy resembled James but not her, she could hear the whisper …

Love this one
.

It was as if God had shouted in a holy voice, “Push!”

She couldn’t have stopped it if she tried.

“Marilyn.” The greeting sounded so much like James that for one illogical second she thought it actually belonged to him.

Pressing the silver cross into the hollow of her clavicle, she turned around. “Bruce.” His name escaped on an exhale. What James and his
younger brother lacked in closeness, they more than made up for in resemblance. Looking up at him now brought on an eerie sense of déjà vu.

He reached out and squeezed her elbow—as close to affection as the two had ever come. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“And yours,” she said.

“Yes, well.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his trousers, his attention not quite meeting hers. “I didn’t know the cancer would take him so quickly. If I’d known …”

Marilyn let the unfinished sentiment fade into the chatter around them. She might have offered something comforting.
Nobody imagined he would go so fast
. Or
James knew you loved him
. But in truth, she didn’t have the energy to offer Bruce placations. Her concentration returned to the white bench where Ivy had been. Davis sat there now, elbows on his knees, playing with a sandwich he’d picked up from the plate between his feet. “How’s Ivy doing?”

“Hanging in there, I think.”

“I see her on those makeup commercials from time to time.”

“Unfortunately, she won’t be on them anymore.”

Marilyn looked at her brother-in-law. “What do you mean?”

“Reynolds has decided not to renew Ivy’s contract. They want a younger face.”

“What will she do?”

Bruce puffed up his cheeks and released a long breath. “I’m sure she’ll figure something out. Ivy always does. I know you had your doubts, but the kid’s had quite a run. A lot better than most.”

The words smarted. How could Bruce be so shrewd in business yet so obtuse in other areas of life? Yes, Marilyn had had her doubts, but they were never in Ivy.

“Speaking of our girl, have you seen her?”

“She left in a cab just now.” Marilyn spoke the words to the glass.

Bruce stepped closer, following her line of vision. “She left?”

The disapproval in his tone raised her hackles. Of all the things he could care about, it was this? Never mind the fact that Ivy was barely fourteen when Bruce invited her into a world built on empty promises. Never mind the fact that he saw nothing wrong with exploiting a hurting girl’s God-given beauty.

“I’m really sorry, Marilyn. I didn’t think she’d call a cab.”

“She’s not a prisoner, Bruce.”

Isn’t she?

The question might as well have been another one of God’s holy shouts. Just because the bars weren’t visible didn’t mean Ivy wasn’t a prisoner. They’d only grown stronger, more resilient in the ten years since she had last walked out of Marilyn’s life. Still, the whispered words that wrecked her all those years ago echoed in the deepest part of her heart. The place where mothers were made.

3

Ivy tore through her closet, pulling tops off hangers and discarding them onto the floor. A trail of black, turquoise, and plum, Versace, Chanel, and Vuitton made its way onto the tile of her bathroom. She removed a black sequined top from a plastic hanger, held it up to her chest, then flung it out the door.

“Whoa!”

Ivy poked her head out from the walk-in closet. “Annalise!”

Her friend was dressed in a black miniskirt, silver Louboutin heels, and her signature red beret. She dangled the sequined top off the ends of her fingers. “Clothing crisis?” Crisis came out sounding more like
cry-sees
. Even after ten years in America, Annalise still spoke in a thick French accent.

“I can’t find the top I’m looking for.” Ivy gave up her futile search and stood in front of the large bathroom mirror. “How was Miami?”

“Very hot.” Annalise dropped the shirt alongside the others and sat her lithe body on the edge of the Jacuzzi. “You know, Ivy, you really should not leave your front door unlocked. I could have been a crazy stalker. Haven’t I taught you anything?”

Apparently, Ivy was a slow learner. Otherwise she’d have kept her mouth shut and would still have a contract with Reynolds Cosmetics. A full week after Bruce delivered the news, and weariness still dragged at her soul—a cloying, oppressive heaviness that refused to leave. Ivy leaned over the counter, close to the mirror, and scrutinized her hair. She fished out a bobby pin from the top drawer of the vanity and wedged it between her teeth.

“I put your mail on the counter. It was sitting in front of the door. Along with a vase of flowers.” Annalise wagged her black eyebrows at Ivy’s
reflection. “A dozen red roses and a box of gourmet chocolates. Who is the guy?”

Ivy pulled back a lock of hair and removed the pin from between her incisors. “Probably the one who took me out on Friday.”


Si romantique
. The sparks flew, no?”

Ivy lifted her shoulder.

Annalise chuckled. “One of these days, you are going to mess with the wrong man. Tread carefully, my friend. You do not want to get hurt.”

Ivy’s insides twisted at the irony. The only man who ever had the power to hurt her lay six feet underground. And even there, he managed to reach up from the grave and clench an iron fist around her heart. She stuck the pin in her hair, freezing the pouf in place. James only had as much power as she allowed him, and she’d allowed him too much already. “I’m pretty sure my heart’s safe.”

“I was not talking about your heart. We all know that is untouchable.”

Ivy studied her reflection. She needed to look perfect tonight. Clara Vans—the new fashion editor for
Friction
—would be at the launch party. Maybe Clara would want Ivy for an editorial shoot. How long had it been since she’d last done one? Nine months? They paid hardly anything, but money wasn’t the issue. The exposure she needed to catch the eye of potential clients was.

“So what is the news with Reynolds?”

Ivy’s posture wilted. “Apparently, you were right. I lost the contract.”

“How terrible.”

Ter-ee-bul
indeed, but she shrugged like it didn’t matter.

“How was your father’s funeral?”

And there was a topic she wanted to talk about even less than Reynolds. “Death be not proud, though some have called thee …”

“You are quoting poetry at me, Ivy. I want to know how you are feeling.”

“I barely knew him.”

Annalise raised her eyebrows but didn’t push further. She picked up a black minidress with a deep-plunge neckline off the floor. One of the outfits Ivy walked in during last fall’s fashion week. Annalise tossed it at her. “Wear this. It makes you look like a goddess.”

Ivy stepped in the dress and zippered the side. She gave her reflection one more look and walked to her kitchen to check the mail. She picked up the stack and shuffled through it until her gaze connected with a familiar return address. New York University.

Last winter, she’d happened upon a course catalog—the sheer thickness of it something to behold—and spent three consecutive nights perusing the selection of classes, highlighting her favorites, picturing herself in one of those lecture halls with a fresh notebook and a brand-new gel pen. She imagined the professor’s imparted knowledge filling her back up again, replacing all that had been stolen over the past ten years. She imagined herself as a person with substance, someone who could do something besides model. The idea became so enticing that Ivy got on their website and filled out the application, and now her one and only backup plan had sent a reply.

BOOK: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
6.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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