(The copy in this email is used by permission, from an uncorrected advanced proof. In quoting from this book for reviews or any other purpose, it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes on these proofs before the book goes to press. This book will be available in bookstores April 2019.)
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."—Marcel Proust
Grace Porter woke on Valentine's Day, happily married and blissfully unaware that was about to change.
Downstairs in the kitchen she added slices of cheese to the bread she'd baked fresh the day before, put fruit and raw vegetables into lunch boxes and then checked her list.
Number four on today's list: remind Sophie about dinner.
She glanced up. "Don't forget Dad and I are out tonight. Your dinner is in the fridge." Her daughter, Sophie, was messaging a friend. "Mmm..."
"I know! No phones at the table—but this is urgent. Amy and I are writing a letter to the paper about that development they're going to build on the edge of town. Dad promised he'd publish it. Can you believe they want to close the dog shelter? Those dogs are going to 'die' if someone doesn't do something, and that someone is me. There. Done." Sophie finally looked up. "Mom, I can make my own lunch."
"Would you include fresh fruit and veg?"
"No. Which is why I'd rather make my own." Sophie gave a smile that didn't just light her up, it lit Grace up, too. "And you're starting to sound like Monica, which is a little scary."
Her daughter was like sunshine. She made the world a brighter place. For years Grace had been braced for her to rebel, take drugs, or roll in drunk after an illicit party with friends, but it hadn't happened. It seemed that Sophie's genetic makeup favored David's side of the family, which was a relief. If Sophie had an addiction it was causes. She hated injustice, inequality and anything she deemed unfair—particularly when it related to animals. She was the champion of all dogs, especially the underdog.
Grace was quick to defend her friend. "Monica is a wonderful mother."
"Maybe, but I can tell you that the first thing Chrissie is going to do when we get to Europe this summer is feast on a ton of fries to make up for all the years her mom wouldn't let her touch them." Sophie finished her oatmeal. "Did you say something about dinner?"
"Have you forgotten what day it is?" Grace closed the lunch boxes and put one next to Sophie. The other she slid into her own bag.
"Valentine's Day." Sophie slid off her chair and picked up her empty bowl. "The day it becomes public knowledge that nobody loves me."
"Dad and I love you."
"No offense, but you're not young, cool and athletic."
Grace took a mouthful of coffee. How much should she say? "It's still Sam?"
Sophie's smile faded as if someone had hit the dimmer switch. "He's seeing Callie. They walk round together holding hands. She keeps giving me these smug smiles. I've known Callie since I was three, so I don't understand why she's doing this. I mean date him, sure. That sucks, but it's life. But it's like she's trying to hurt me."
Grace felt a burning in her chest. Not heartburn, but parenthood. As a mother, her role was to support from the sidelines. It was like being forced to watch a really bad play without the consolation of knowing you could leave in the interval.
"I'm sorry, honey."
"Don't be." Sophie put her bowl in the dishwasher and then added the one her father had left on the side. "It would never have worked out. Sophie and Sam sounds pretty lame, don't you think?"
Her hurt slid into Grace and settled deep in her gut.
"You're going to college soon. After a month in California you won't even remember Sam exists. You have your whole life ahead of you, and all the time in the world to meet someone special."
"I'm going to study, graduate top of my class and go to law school where I can learn how to sue people who are assho—"
"Er...not very nice people." Sophie grinned, slung her backpack over one shoulder and stroked her long ponytail over the other. "Don't worry, Mom. Boys drive me insane. I don't want a relationship."
That will change, Grace thought.