Home > It's Better This Way(2)

It's Better This Way(2)
Author: Debbie Macomber

   Without Julia knowing what she had planned, Hillary confronted Eddie and Laura at Lake Sammamish on a family outing and called her every ugly name in the book. Using the same language Julia had used earlier. Not willing to tolerate Hillary and Marie’s outrage, Laura’s two sons verbally confronted the girls, and a shouting match ensued. Like a California wildfire, the situation had exploded, as both families attacked each other. Eddie got involved, demanding that his daughters respect his future wife. In the heat of the moment, he said words he would live to regret. If Hillary and Marie couldn’t accept Laura, then they could no longer be part of his life.

       Unsure what to do, Julia once again consulted the counselor, seeking his advice. She could identify with her daughters’ outrage. She’d been angry, too, going through well-documented stages of grief, only in this instance the loss was the demise of her marriage.

   Sitting in the counselor’s office, wringing a damp tissue in her hands, Julia explained what had happened.

   “I’m so sorry, Julia.” His expression was full of sympathy. “I know how badly you wanted to make your marriage work.”

   “I never meant for matters to get so nasty.”

   “I know.”

   “Should I sign the divorce papers?” she asked, praying he would give her the direction she needed.

   He was silent for several moments and seemed to carefully consider his response. “I can’t tell you what to do. I will say this, though: Love that isn’t faithful has little value. It really isn’t love at all.”

   With a heavy heart, Julia left the appointment, knowing what needed to be done.

   She had put up the good fight. The time had come for her to lay down her sword and accept defeat. Eddie was never coming back. This was the end. It was time to let go.

   Let go of her husband.

   Let go of her marriage.

       Let go of her dreams for their future together.

   Tears streamed down her cheeks as she stared at the document in front of her, the words blurred through the moisture that clouded her eyes.

   With her heart in her throat, she reached for the pen a second time and signed her name.

   As she did, she told herself: It’s better this way.



Chapter 1


   Nearly six years later

   Julia woke, glanced at the clock on her nightstand, and wondered how long it would take for her to sleep past six. Old habits die hard, even though she no longer had any need to set her alarm. For more years than she could remember, she had risen at six every morning. Her business, West Coast Interiors, had been sold, and she was easing into retirement, working part-time as a consultant.

   The decision to sell had been a weighty one and followed on the heels of her mother’s passing. As Julia neared sixty, she felt she had plenty of good years left. Then an offer had come through that was far and above her expectations. Julia didn’t feel like she could turn it down. She wasn’t ready to give up her work entirely, which was why she’d made continuing as a consultant part of the agreement. The buyers had asked her to stay on, as well. She could work as much or as little as she wanted. After finishing this latest project, she’d decided to take a few days off and test what semiretirement felt like.

       This certainly wasn’t how she’d once anticipated retirement. There’d been a time when she’d hoped to travel the world with her husband. Julia longed to explore Europe and Asia. As of now, traveling alone held little appeal. Perhaps one day.

   As she knew it would, her dream home had sold less than a week after it had been listed. So many changes had come into her life. After her divorce was final, she’d rented an apartment before making a decision on her new home. She knew she wanted to remain living in Seattle, and possibly in the downtown area itself.

   The city was her home and there had been enough upheaval in her life without facilitating another major life change. Her girls were close, as was her sister and her family. She waited a year to start looking, and then the search had taken on a life of its own.

   For three long years, Julia was on an endless quest to find a place she felt she could call home. The Heritage was an older brick condo building, built in the 1960s, that was filled with warmth and character. So many of the newer high-rise buildings were steel structures, with little to no personality or charm. Set in the heart of the city, it was close enough for her to walk down to Pike Place Market for fresh produce and seafood. The 5th Avenue theater was nearby, as was plenty of shopping. As a bonus, there was a coffee shop next door, as well as several restaurants on the block.

   The instant she stepped into The Heritage and viewed the large fountain in the center lobby, Julia sensed this was the place for her. The building, with only twelve floors, rarely had a vacancy. Julia was patient, and in time a unit became available. She’d lived here a little over two years now and loved the community of friends she’d made. Because it was an older building, The Heritage didn’t have many of the amenities of the newer condos that attracted the techies from Amazon and Microsoft. This move was a new beginning for her. A fresh start, and she had settled in comfortably.

       Tying the sash on her silk robe, she wandered into the kitchen and brewed a cup of coffee. Lazy mornings generally happened only on Sundays, when she attended the late service at church. She needed to create a new schedule for herself—or, on second thought, no schedule at all.

   She’d just taken her first sip of coffee when her phone rang. It was her sister, Amanda.

   “Hey, you’re up early,” Julia said by way of greeting.

   “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

   “No, I was up. I can’t seem to sleep past six. What’s going on?”

   “It’s Carrie,” her sister said.

   Julia’s niece, an only child, was especially close to her parents. She suspected what was coming. Carrie still lived at home, and the failure to break out on her own was a thorn between Amanda and her husband, Robert.

   “Robert and I had another heated discussion about Carrie last night,” her sister said with a groan. “He wants Carrie to move out. I mean, she’s twenty-eight. It’s time. Past time,” she added in defeat. “The problem is: How do we tell her?”

   “Glad it’s not up to me.” As Carrie’s godmother, Julia dearly loved her niece. She understood her sister’s concern. Carrie had graduated from college with a degree in French literature. A degree that didn’t offer much in the way of career opportunities. Never one to be idle, Carrie had applied for several jobs, many of which had lasted only a few months.

       Since her graduation from college, Carrie had steadily drifted from one position to another. She’d been a receptionist for a real estate company, worked for an accountant, had done a stint at an employment agency, sold cosmetics at a department store as a beauty specialist. And those were only the jobs Julia could remember. Except for that brief time when Carrie had sold high-end knives, of which Julia had a set. Her niece wasn’t lazy, she just wasn’t particularly employable. Six years after graduating from college, she still hadn’t found a job that suited her unique set of skills.

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