Read Husband Stay (Husband #2) Online

Authors: Louise Cusack

Husband Stay (Husband #2)

 

 

HUSBAND
STAY

Book 2: Husband Series

 

 

 

By

Louise Cusack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover
design © Hang Le
 
byhangle.com

Title:
Husband
Stay

Copyright © 2016 by Louise
Cusack

All
rights reserved. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the
non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this
e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted,
down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into
any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means,
whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without
the express written permission of the publisher

All
characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author
and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They
are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the
author, and all incidents are pure invention.

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for the Author
:

 

“Hold
onto your panties! Husband Sit by Louise Cusack is sexy and titillating from
page one. But it’s more than that. It’s also funny and has a surprisingly deep
emotional core that sneaks up on you. It’s utterly unique.”
 ~
Amy Andrews, award-winning, USA
Today best-selling author

 

 

“Crazytown. I loved it.”
 
~ NY Times & USA
Today Best Seller Kylie Scott, Stage Dive series

 

 

“Just as you
think you can predict what will happen, Cusack throws up surprise after surprise
- guaranteeing that you will be picking up the next book, almost before you
have finished the first. This is addictive storytelling.” ~
DoubleDay
Book Club

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

For the first time I
could remember, I felt nervous about being onstage. Not the sort of nerves that
give you an edge and makes you shine. This was nerves like I’d never had before—sick,
churning, in danger of vomiting, nerves. I wanted to press my sweaty palms
against my stomach to try and soothe it, but instead I wiped them on the sides
of my black satin sheath as I waited for the intro music to begin so I could
mount the stage.

My condition was completely
understandable. I hadn’t sung in six months. In fact, I hadn’t gone out at all
if I could help it. So I felt awkward in high heels, and when the music finally
began I tottered to the microphone instead of strutting. New shoes had been a
crazy idea, but I was desperate to show the club owner Bernie that I was the
same ‘Indian diva’ who’d pulled the crowds before I found out my husband was a
cheating bastard.

As a result, I was
overdressed and under-prepared. I hadn’t even practiced, because I knew my
voice would be there for me. It had been every day for thirty years since I’d
won a pre-school singing competition. For some reason I’d never understood, the
gods had tapped me with the singing wand, and I took that completely for
granted.

Unfortunately, in
my pre-occupation with big hair and sexy curves, I’d completely forgotten that
my usual set started with
All by myself
, a love-gone-wrong classic.
Since I’d left Danny I couldn’t bear to hear it, let alone sing it. So when the
opening bars swelled, instead of slowing my breathing as I normally did, recognition
and fear made me choke like a deer in the headlights, staring out across the intimate
lamp lit tables to the retro seventies bar on the back wall.

All I could think
was
I’m about to bomb. This is it. The end of my singing career.

I couldn’t even
swallow, my throat was so tight.

Then, for some
reason, out of nowhere, I suddenly imagined my girlfriend Jill standing in
front of me, and as clear as day I heard her saying
Danny took fifteen years
of your life and you’ve nothing to show for it except singing in the club twice
a week. Are you going to let him take that away from you too? Bastard!

A welcomed surge
of adrenalin coursed through my veins, and as the music swelled, I realized I
wasn’t
going to let him destroy my career. He’d sidelined my dream of motherhood. He
wasn’t having my love of singing as well! So I pushed back my shoulders and
raised the microphone to my lips. I was a professional. I could do
this.

And I managed the
opening lines without faltering. I was starting to feel as if I’d be okay,
right up until I hit the chorus
All by myself,
where my voice wobbled
into nothing. I had to repeat the line, but I couldn’t breathe. Instead of singing
to the back of the room as I always did, pretending the barman was my audience,
my world contracted, and in
that
moment I saw movement at the front of
the stage and it distracted me further.

A drunk in an
oversized cowboy hat stumbled out of his front-row table where he’d been
sitting alone—no surprise there. The backing track carried on without me as he
staggered forward to slump over the front of my stage. Tendrils of apprehension
raced through me. Was he going to vomit? His shoulders rose and I was
immediately reminded of Mixie, coughing up a fur ball.

I took a tentative
step back, and tried to catch up with the song, but just as I was wavering, “
I’m so unhappy. What’ll I do
…” a harsh guttural sound cut
across me and a projectile stream of disgusting
something
splattered the
club’s small stage.

I vainly tried to hold
the note as I skittered backwards so his regurgitation wouldn’t land on the
silver sling-backs Jill had given me to wear as her bridesmaid—shoes I
shouldn’t have taken out of the box. But my six-inch heel caught a lump in the
carpet which the landlord must have thrown—not nailed—across the stage. I lost
my balance and went flying backwards, straight back on my tailbone and then my
wrist, unable to stop my legs flinging up and both shoes flying off.

The club wasn’t
packed, but there had to be at least fifty people who saw beneath my dress to the
pink G-string I’d bought to cheer myself up. The thin strip of fabric would
have been highlighted in the harsh spotlight. I was mortified, and wrenched my
knees together before I tried to scrabble upright.

But when I pushed
down on my wrist…
pain
.

No wait
. Agony
.
It radiated up my elbow and into my shoulder like a wrenching cord of molten
barbed wire. I yelped in distress and pulled my hand up to my chest to protect
it. Five seconds later the sound technician Ralph jumped up onto the small
stage and grabbed my wrist, wrenching me to my feet.

Then I screamed.

Something was
seriously wrong, and as agony combined with the threat of passing out, all I
could do was slump against Ralph’s thankfully substantial frame and gasp, “I’m
hurt. Call an ambulance,” tucking the wrist against my midriff like a broken
wing.

The pain was so
bad, in fact, that it over-rode embarrassment. I could hear pandemonium behind
me where the cowboy was still puking and people were making sounds of disgust. A
few heartless patrons were slow-clapping in appreciation of the drama, laughing
as if my act had been karaoke gone wrong.

But this was my
career.

Or at least it had
been, before Danny had ruined my confidence.

Tonight’s debacle
certainly hadn’t helped.

“Don’t worry,
Angela,” Ralph said, as he tucked me under his arm and led me barefoot down the
carpeted stairs. “I’ll get Bertie to look at it.”

He took me behind
the stage and into the dressing room. I was grateful for his help, but I had to
say, “It’s not a sprain. Something’s broken.”

He held my bare
shoulders and eased me onto one of the stackable plastic chairs with my back to
the medicine cabinet that doubled as a booze stash and makeup mirror.

The pain was getting
worse and I blinked back tears, suddenly remembering, “My shoes!”

He stared at me
with what could have been disbelief, as if a woman couldn’t be in mortal pain
and worried about her footwear at the same time.

“They’re
expensive. Please get them for me.”

He sighed and
turned away, saying “Sure,” before he lumbered out, a ginger-haired yeti in his
techie uniform of black Tee-shirt and jeans.

“Please,” I
whispered again, knowing Jill would kill me if I lost them.
I’d
kill me.
I should have saved them to wear at her wedding, but this was my first night
back and I’d wanted to feel good about myself. That meant new shoes, even if
Jill expected me to wear them for the first time in a bridesmaid’s dress.

It had never occurred
to me that anything would happen to them.

Anything
being vomit.

But I wasn’t going
out after them. The more time passed, the more my wrist hurt. What had started
as a sharp pain quickly morphed into a sharp ache that throbbed through my body
and felt like it was rattling my brain with each
thump
. I wanted to
stand up and go looking for a phone, but I was terrified that I’d faint. I
really needed a doctor.

Finally, the club
owner Bertie came in, smelling of cheap aftershave and cigarettes. He put his
nicotine-stained fingers on my shoulders, and although I normally tolerated his
groping—within limits—this time I shook him off in revulsion. Pain had obviously
erased my ‘good manners’ program.

“Angie, baby,” he
said, as if we were in a seventies video clip. He was old enough to remember
them. “Fat boy says you’re hurt.”

“I think I’ve
broken my wrist. Could you call an ambulance?” I said this through gritted
teeth. My face felt cold and I was growing dizzier by the second. My lips were
tingling. Was I in shock?

Bertie smiled at
me, which was confusing given the circumstances. “Already rang one for the
puker. He’s collapsed. They can check you over when they come, but I think
you’ll be fine.”

Outrage blew away
the cobwebs of my fuzziness. “Why does
he
get an ambulance?” I glared at
Bertie, who I suddenly noticed was looking shifty. “Is this about your
insurance?” Maybe he didn’t have Workers Compensation cover. “I don’t care
about that. I’ve got my own health cover.”

“Probably just
sprained,” he said and winked at me. “Nothing to worry about.”

That only
infuriated me more. Unfortunately, a wave of nausea hit me then and I stumbled
away from him to the disgusting toilet adjoining the dressing room,
unfortunately bumping my elbow on the way.

That sent
shockwaves of pain into my wrist and I barely got the toilet lid up before my
mango korma dinner came back up my throat and spurted out in a totally
unladylike fashion. Even while I was vomiting, I was appalled with myself. And
when I’d finished, the sour taste in my mouth wouldn’t wash out no matter how
many times I tried. Even worse, the floor of the toilet room was sticky under
my bare feet, and that grossed me out totally.

I’d made a point
of never using the ‘facilities’ attached to the dressing room, and now I felt
completely validated for having refused. Employees weren’t supposed to use the
patrons’ toilets—which weren’t the Hilton either—but they were a quantum leap
from this germ pit.

I stumbled back
into the dressing room and found it populated by Bertie, Ralph, and a female
paramedic.

“Here she is.”
Bertie pointed, as though the paramedic wasn’t capable of working out that I
was the patient. Then he turned to Ralph and snapped, “Back to work,” before
stalking out.

I used my good arm
to grab Ralph’s as he turned. “My shoes?”

He shrugged.
“Gone.”

“Oh my god.” I
slumped into the plastic chair. Jill was going to kill me. Aside of which, how
the hell was I going to get home with bare feet? The club was carpeted, but
outside on the street there could be broken glass or anything. I hadn’t gone
barefoot outdoors for twenty years—since I was a teenager.

The paramedic
distracted me by crouching in front of me. “Hi. I’m Sally. They said your
name’s Angela.” She was lean like a whippet, with cropped blonde hair, pointy features
and slim shanks. A world away from my dark hair and ‘Beyoncé curves’ as Jill
called them.

I nodded. “Angela
Lata. I have health insurance.”

She smiled as if
that was none of her business and I was telling her too much, but in my
confused state, I was likely to say anything. “So.” She raised an eyebrow.
“Arm?

I tried not to be
annoyed. She did look competent. “Broken I think.” I held out my wrist.

“How did it
happen?”

I told her as
succinctly as I could. She nodded and held my arm gently at the elbow. “Is that
why you were vomiting? Pain?”

I nodded again,
wishing I had mints or some toothpaste.

“Worse than
childbirth, eh?” She cracked a smile, then let me go to rifle through her kit.

“I wouldn’t know,”
I said shortly, and the grief that had swelled with the song, tightened my
throat again. Damn Danny. The one thing I’d wanted from him was the one thing
he’d made sure I could never have. Cheating had been bad enough. But a
vasectomy was taking cruelty to a whole new level. I still couldn’t comprehend
the betrayal in that, when he
knew
I was desperate for a baby.

Not that I’d ever
told him how frantic I was getting, nor even my three closest friends. People
thought Danny and I were a ‘cute couple’, and I
had
loved him as my
husband and the prospective father to my children. But there’d never been
passion. Ours had been as close to an arranged marriage as you could find in
Australia—arranged by our Mumbai-born parents who’d been thrilled that their
grandchildren would be Indian and not mixed-race.

I’d always doted
on Danny, but I’d never missed him when he was away. And though I hated going
through a divorce, I certainly didn’t want him back. What I did want back was
the twenty years I’d wasted on him: five years of dating and fifteen years of marriage,
with no children to show for it. I was probably still fertile at thirty-five, but
the clock was ticking.

Loudly.

My mother had often
called her children
the great loves of her life
and I wanted that. I
didn’t expect to love a man that way. But surely I deserved a child.

“Here.” The
paramedic put a pill in my good hand. “Take this.”

I swallowed it dry.
“I’d like to go to hospital.” Focusing on my immediate problems was a good way
to distract myself. I wanted to keep to that plan and not dwell on the fact
that my first night back at the club had gone horribly wrong and my tentative independent
future was collapsing before my eyes.

“Sure. You’ll need
to ride up front with me. Zac will be in the back with our other patient.”

I pulled a face.
“I don’t want to be anywhere near him. It’s his fault I did this.” I raised my
wrist.

“I’ll keep you
apart.” She sounded as though she was worried I’d punch him. Luckily for him, I
wasn’t the violent type.

Poisoning, I could
consider...

Sally, however,
didn’t give me the opportunity. She was right beside me all the way, helping me
retrieve my handbag from my locker and even going with me to check around the
stage but no, my shoes were gone. Someone said
Nice undies
behind me and
I gritted my teeth.

Sally just patted
my shoulder and said, “Ignore the bastards,” before ushering me quickly through
the club, walking beside my damaged arm so no one would bump me.

Then we were out
into the cool night air and I was picking my way barefoot across the sidewalk,
which thankfully had no broken glass as I’d imagined. Once she’d settled me
into the front seat of the nice warm ambulance with the seatbelt carefully
fastened, she went back in to help her partner with the drunk.

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