Luck of the Draw (A Betting on Romance Novel Book 1)

BOOK: Luck of the Draw (A Betting on Romance Novel Book 1)
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Kate Mitchell never planned to be a 31 year-old widowed single mom, but when her soon-to-be-EX husband up and dies, her dreams of finishing college and starting over are thrown in the air like a game of ‘52 pick-up.’

If only life had a refresh button…

 

 

 

LUCK OF THE DRAW

by CHERI ALLAN

 

~ Book One ~

A Betting on Romance Novel

 

 

COPYRIGHT

Copyright
© 2014 Cheri Allan

ISBN:
978-0-9904815-0-8

Editing
by Orchard Edits

Cover
Image © Elena Elisseeva | Dreamstime.com

 

Kindle Edition

 

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

DEDICATION

For my husband,

Who believed in me long before I believed in myself and gave me the gift of following my dreams. You are my every hero. Love you madly!

~ Your Cookie

 

Table of Contents

 

Tit
le Page

Co
pyright

De
dication

Ch
apter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Epilogue

Book
Two Coming Fall 2014:
Stacking the Deck

Acknow
ledgements

Abo
ut the Author

 

 

CHAPTER
ONE
____________________

I
T RAINED THE NIGHT
R
ANDY DIED—scattered spring storms that left shimmering puddles on the pavement under the streetlight outside the house. They swirled with surreal, iridescent color as Kate opened the door with one hand and clutched her robe closed at her throat with the other.

There were two of them, their uniforms dark with rain, eyes dark with fatigue. They spoke with gently dispassionate voices as they delivered the news.
Single car accident…
Only occupant…
They asked if she understood.
Yes
, she said.
Yes
. Was she alone?
No.
Would she like a drink of water?
No. No, thank you
. She didn’t want them in her home, didn’t want them searching for a clean cup in her kitchen, compassionately detached as they watched her and waited for her to fall apart.

After they left, she stared at the wet boot-prints on the living room carpet and wondered what she should do or whom she should call. Her limbs felt strangely heavy as she wandered through the house to her room, too stunned to cry, looking around for traces of
him
, but, of course, she’d already packed away the pictures and mementos of their life together. All that remained of their ten-year marriage sat in a small bowl on her dresser.

She picked up the ring, her breath held tight in her chest, and slid it back on her finger
—as if, somehow, by putting it on, she might magically go back in time and make things turn out differently.

But the miracle never happened, and then Liam woke up. She assured him everything was all right
—even though it wasn’t—and curled up with him on his small bed, in the dark, trying not to hug him too tight.

She didn’t sleep.

She didn’t weep.

She simply stared at the plain gold band on her finger as the pre-dawn hours slid into day.

June 7
Time. They talk about it flying, as if it were a child’s kite, but as I get ready for Liam’s third birthday party today, it occurs to me that for every year of his life, I’ve lived TEN. That’s not flying, that’s careening. Just sayin’.

CHAPTER
TWO
____________________
Seven weeks later…

“M
Y
G
OD,
K
ATE—I THINK I’D
die
if I were you.”

Kate Mitchell’s hand froze in mid-air, a m
ini wiener inches from her lips as she tried to think of an appropriate reply. Granted, wieners weren’t considered top-drawer fancy fare, but Liam loved them, and it was
his
day. She lowered her hand to her plate and forced a smile.

It was stunning how tactless people could be when expressing their condolences. Here they were, surrounded by streamers and giddy children, and yet Betsy’s china-doll blue eyes blinked earnestly as if they were standing next to Randy’s casket instead of eating finger foods at a three year-old’s birthday party.

Kate cleared her throat. “Yes, well, you know what they say about not being given more than you can handle.”

“Still, you’re so
brave
. I mean, how will you get by? I heard Randy didn’t even have life insurance!” Betsy finished
sotto voce
, her china-blues blinking back compassionate tears.

“Well, under the circumstances...”

“I know,” Betsy touched Kate’s arm meaningfully. “I heard about the DUI.”

She pronounced it ‘dee-wee’ as if it were some child’s game and not a misdemeanor crime. Kate fought the urge to stuff her mini wiener up Betsy’s pert, surgery-enhanced nose.  She pasted what she hoped was a suitably neutral expression on her face. “Oh?”

Lord, she hated this. Hated, especially, feeling like she
still
had to defend Randy even though he’d been days away from being her
ex
-husband, even though—ironically—he hadn’t actually been drinking the night he’d plowed his Lexus into a tree. No, it was enough he had the reputation of drinking and driving. It was enough he’d still, technically, been her husband.

Betsy gave her hand another pat. “I understand,” she said.

Kate stifled a bubble of hysterical laughter. How could Betsy possibly understand something she couldn’t understand herself? She couldn’t explain why Randy had run off the road that night any more than she could explain the wild mood swings that had plagued her the last few weeks, her gut turning over itself like she’d eaten bad chicken salad or something. Grief, the counselor had told her. But, it didn’t feel like grief. It felt like fear.

Kate glanced around for escape from Betsy’s glistening eyeballs and spied Nana
—dear Nana!—in the corner with elderly Mrs. Pemborly who lived next door at the end of their southern Connecticut cul-de-sac. It was a quiet neighborhood, picturesque, with forsythia bushes and mature trees shading small, well-tended yards. Just the place to raise a family. Or at least, that’s what Nana had insisted nearly three years ago when she’d offered to rent the house to Kate and Randy after Poppy died. Nana had decided to move back to her hometown of Sugar Falls, New Hampshire. She’d said she didn’t have the heart to sell the house in Connecticut but didn’t want to rent to strangers, either.

It hadn’t surprised Kate when Randy jumped at the chance to move out of the tiny second-floor apartment they’d rented since their wedding day. He’d always cursed the too-short shower and cramped kitchen. Made fun of the baby-blue walls.

But Kate hadn’t hated it. Snippets of memories flooded her. The bouquets of wildflowers she used to put in mason jars on the window sills. Liam asleep in his bassinet in the corner of their bedroom. How Randy had carried her up the narrow stairs and made love to her on the living room floor when they’d first moved in.

Lord, it all seemed a lifetime ago.

Another mother smiled and reached across Kate for a celery stick, her hand hovering momentarily as if assessing it for calories. The woman finally picked it up and nibbled delicately, her white linen pantsuit looking impossibly fresh and sophisticated next to Kate’s khakis and plain blue tee. Kate stepped aside and nodded politely in case the woman gave into temptation and picked up a carrot.

Liam waved from across the room and smiled, his forehead sweaty, his hair sticking up adorably on the side. Kate waved back, her heart squeezing in her chest as a swift surge of love flooded her.

She watched the woman pick up another celery stick, and the surge of love turned to a wave of guilt. She should be taking better care of herself, for Liam’s sake if not for her own. She should be reaching for carrots instead of loading her body with salt and nitrates. Hadn’t she given Randy heck every time he’d brought mini wieners home? Of course, she’d never expected to
like
them. She’d never expected she’d be a thirty-one year-old widow, either, for that matter.  Kate stabbed another mini wiener and stuffed it in her mouth, resenting the celery-eating mom’s self-restraint immensely.

“So,” Celery Mom said. Kate couldn’t for the life of her remember the woman’s name, but she was pretty sure she’d come with the girl dressed entirely in Hanna Andersson who was currently jumping on the sofa. “Kate,” she continued, her face creased in delicate sympathy, “have you made any plans?”

Plans?
Kate looked around at the three year-olds running rampant in her living room and wondered how these people could be so incredibly insensitive.  How was this any of their business? “I don’t know,” she murmured, grasping for something to say besides the impolite retort that came to mind. “My grandmother suggested I meet with her financial planner—”

“Oh, honey, I don’t mean
those
kind of plans.” Celery Mom backed up a little. “I was just wondering if you had any plans, you know, for the summer. Vacation?”

“Oh! No. No plans,” Kate said. “No plans whatsoever.” Without a plan.
Planless

That wasn’t precisely true, of course. Kate had lots of plans. Plans to get her life back on track. Plans to finally finish her art history degree and get a real job. Plans to prove to her parents once and for all she hadn’t flushed her life down the toilet the day she married a smart-talking bad-boy from nowhere.

Unfortunately, Randy’s accident had thrown all those plans up in the air like a messy game of
52 pick-up
. Without alimony or child support and, just as importantly, another adult to watch Liam, she wasn’t sure how she would manage classes and tuition now. If she could convince Nancy to let her switch to a reduced schedule or even a four-day workweek, that’d save on daycare expenses. She might just be able to swing it.

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