So I have figured out I’m doing this free read wrong. So here are the prologue and the first two chapters of Cousins Four – Lizzie
Two weeks before Christmas – 2013
Tears streamed down Lizzie’s face and sobs wracked her body as she hung up the phone.
Sara immediately drew her into her arms. When Lizzie’s sobs quieted, Sara asked, “What’s wrong, Liz?”
“That was Mom. Gran wants everyone to come to the resort for Christmas in two weeks. They just found out Gramps has cancer and the doctors don’t expect him to be here next year.” Fresh tears streamed down her face.
Sara kissed her forehead. “Oh, Baby. I’m so sorry. I know how close you are to him.”
“I think the last time we were all together was ten years ago when Uncle Dave and Jesse brought the twins home.” Lizzie sniffed. “Come to think of it, we weren’t all there then. Scott had already left home and Cassaundra and Catherine haven’t been to the resort since Cassaundra and John got divorced.”
“I’ll call the airlines.” Sara brushed the hair off of Lizzie’s tear-dampened cheeks. “You call Seamus.”
“I wonder if anyone contacted Scott. We’re the only ones who know where he is. Maybe I should call him.”
“It wouldn’t hurt.”
New Year’s Day, 2007
Lizzie stood at the stove fixing breakfast when Jerry came downstairs. “Good morning. Coffee’s in the pot,” she said as she looked over her shoulder.
Jerry poured a mug of coffee and sat at the table.
“You were very quiet at Gran’s last week,” Lizzie said. “Is something wrong?”
“Lizzie there’s something we need to discuss.” Jerry ran his hand through his hair. “I want a divorce.”
Lizzie turned off the burner under the bacon, wiped her hands on the kitchen towel on her shoulder and turned to face him. “What did you say?”
“I said, I want a divorce.”
“That’s what I thought.” Lizzie sat across the table from him. “When did you decide this?”
“A couple of weeks ago.”
“Is there someone else?”
“In fact there is.” Jerry stood and walked across the room. “I swear, Lizzie, it only happened once.”
“So when was this once?” Lizzie asked.
Jerry again ran his hand through his usually neat hair. “Remember the fundraiser in October when you were ill and I went alone? We’d booked a room so we wouldn’t have to drive home so late. I got a little drunk. The last thing I remember is someone helping me up to the room. The next morning, I woke up in bed with this woman. We were both naked and she told me what a good lover I was.”
“Based on one time, you’ve decided you want her instead of me? That doesn’t sound logical. Why did it take two months to decide?”
“It isn’t that I want her instead of you. She’s pregnant.”
“Pregnant! In this day and age?” Lizzie nearly shouted. “Isn’t she on the pill? Who is she?” She took the towel from her shoulder and twisted it. “Is she part of the campaign group? Do I know her?”
“She’s not part of the campaign.” Jerry looked down at his feet. “It’s Catherine,” he said quietly.
“Catherine? My cousin Catherine?” Lizzie stood and threw the towel on the table.
“Well, she finally got what she’s always wanted.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ever since I can remember, she’s always wanted whatever I had. When we were five it was dolls. Then when we were ten, her mother bleached her hair so it would be the same color as mine. When we were in high school, I made the cheerleading team and she didn’t.” Lizzie shook her head. “I even went to prom with the guy she wanted to go with. Of course, that was after she’d told him she wouldn’t go with him because she hoped the captain of the football team would ask her. She ended up going alone.” Lizzie sat back down and remain quiet for a couple of minutes. I guess I should be more upset. But, I’ve known for months this marriage wasn’t working. All I feel is relief. “I won’t fight you on this, but I think you’d better pack a bag and leave.”
“Where am I supposed to go?” Jerry whined.
“I’m sure you can find a hotel room. After all, Los Angeles is full of hotels.”
Lizzie and Mr. Ellis, her lawyer, entered the conference room where Jerry and his lawyer waited. An older woman sat at a side table with a laptop computer in front of her.
Jerry, impeccably dressed as usual, stood and pulled out a chair as Lizzie entered. “Hello, Lizzie. I hope we can make this as amiable as possible.”
“That’s up to you, Jerry,” she responded.
Jerry’s lawyer handed folders to Lizzie and her lawyer. “I think you’ll find everything agreeable. Mr. Martin agrees to buy out Mrs. Martin for her half of the equity in the house. He also agrees to pay her half of the value of all furnishings. Mrs. Martin retains ownership of her car and Mr. Martin will finish the payments on it.”
“Wait a minute,” Mr. Ellis said. “The house was purchased in 2005. We asked for an appraisal of its current value and it has appreciated by over $100,000.00. Mrs. Martin requests half of the appreciated value in addition to her half of the equity.”
Jerry jumped up. “You have to be kidding! You want an additional $50,000.00? Where am I supposed to get that kind of money?”
Lizzie raised an eyebrow and grinned wickedly. “I’m sure your future wife or her mother can come up with it. I also want the furniture my grandmother gave us. Part of it is family heirlooms.”
Jerry sat back down. Anger blazed in his eyes. “They’re Catherine’s family heirlooms also.”
“Maybe so,” Lizzie said. “But if you ask, you’ll find she wants nothing to do with them.”
“Besides,” Mr. Ellis injected, “according to community-property laws, anything Mrs. Martin brought into the marriage belongs to her. Mr. Martin has no claim on it, only things purchased after the marriage.”
It took two more meetings with the lawyers before things were finally agreed on. One trip to court, and Lizzie was free. She moved out of the house and in with her parents.
* * *
A week after Jerry and Catherine were married, her mother burst into Lizzie’s bedroom. “You’ll never guess what Uncle John told your dad. Catherine was never pregnant. She lied to Jerry so he’d leave you. She has her sights set on being the Governor’s wife someday. She actually told him nothing happened the night he woke up with her.”
Lizzie collapsed onto the bed in a fit of laughter. “Serves Jerry right, the pompous ass. I told him she just wanted what I had.”
“I have to admit, I never understood what you saw in him, but I didn’t say anything. He was your choice, and I vowed never to interfere in my children’s love lives.” Her mother sat in the easy chair. “Catherine also refused to move into the house. Jerry’s had to put it up for sale at a figure about $50,000.00 below the appraised value.”
When her laughter finally died down, Lizzie sat up. “Mom, I’ve been talking to Uncle Jesse. He sent some of my designs to his cousin at the New York branch of the company. His cousin Seamus will give me a job if I move there.”
“New York! Why would you want to move there?”
“I want a change of scenery. I don’t want to be running into Jerry and Catherine every time I turn around.”
“Did you love him that much?” her mother asked.
“I thought I did. I was surprised I wasn’t more hurt when he left.” Lizzie lifted her long, blonde hair off her neck. “I think I was really kind of relieved,” she continued. “Marriage wasn’t all I envisioned. Our society tells us how great sex is. If what I had with Jerry is anything to go on, I’ll do without, thank you.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way. Your father and I have always had a good sex life.”
“Mother! I don’t need to hear that.”
“I’m just glad you didn’t have any kids,” her mother said.
“Well, it wasn’t because Jerry didn’t try to talk me into it. He thought it would increase his popularity with voters if he had a family.” Lizzie paused. “He probably would have insisted I stop work and stay home. I’m not ready to give up working at the Glassworks.”