Life is full of surprises…
Claire Martin’s life is perfect, or at least she tells herself it is. She owns a successful clothing boutique, has a steady, dependable boyfriend, and a beautiful grown daughter who is about to be married. Sure, Claire’s husband of twenty years left her for a younger woman four years ago, but that is all in the past. Now, Claire is looking forward to her daughter’s Bahama wedding and spending a week in paradise. The only thing Claire dreads is her ex-husband and his wife will also be on the island. Claire is determined to make the best of it, though. What Claire doesn’t realize is ignoring her ex-husband for the week is going to be impossible.
James Martin’s life is a mess. His wife of less than four years has made him the most miserable man on earth and now they are in the middle of a messy divorce. He’s happy that he can forget her for a week as he goes off to the Bahamas to attend his lovely daughter’s wedding. Jim is embarrassed to admit to his daughter and his ex-wife, Claire, that he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left her for another woman, so he makes up a story as to why his new wife didn’t come along. When he and Claire are unexpectedly forced upon each other, Jim soon realizes what he’s lost and he begins to wonder if he can find a way back into Claire’s heart.
Jim’s eyes turned back to Claire standing beside Mandy and Kaylie in the water. The three women had picked up something from the water and were standing close together, examining it. The younger girls were wearing bikinis. Claire had on a bikini too, but she’d pulled on a pair of jean shorts over the bottoms. Jim wondered why. Even at the age of forty-five, Claire’s body could hold its own against the younger girls. Jim smiled as he admired her long legs and narrow waist. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think all three women were the same age.
Steven had proposed to Claire. That unwanted thought popped into his head out of nowhere. What in the world did Claire see in that stiff, egotistical, workaholic? Sure, Steven always said all the right things at the right time, but didn’t Claire realize it was a show put on by a practiced salesman? Steven was a phony, through and through. Claire couldn’t possibly want to marry a jerk like that.
But why do I care? I’m the one who left her. Those words came uninvited into Jim’s head.
Jim lifted his body and propped himself up on his elbows, his lower back suffering the consequences of his actions. His eyes scanned the beach. Craig and his friend Cameron were out in the water, snorkeling. Mark was a short distance away from Jim, lying in the sun while Angela walked down the strip of beach looking for seashells. Glen and Lisa had gone on a beer run. But despite everything else Jim could have focused his eyes on, they still returned to Claire.
Jim thought back five years to when he started looking at Diane instead of Claire. He’d just turned forty-one, he was working all the time, and his daughter was grown and in college. Claire was always busy with her boutique, or so it seemed, and Jim found himself spending more time at the office and less time at home. He and Claire had been together for twenty years. They’d grown comfortable with each other. Too comfortable. They no longer etched out time to spend together as they had earlier in their marriage. There were no date nights, no dinners out, and no going to the movies. They saw each other in the morning before work and on Sundays when both were home and Mandy came home for dinner. As far as either of them knew, their marriage was typical of other couples their age. But then, Jim met Diane, and something changed.
Jim had felt he was growing old, and if he admitted it to himself, he’d been afraid of it. Diane, on the other hand, was only twenty-five, had a zest for life, and for some unknown reason had a crush on him. Instead of ignoring her, he’d enjoyed the attention of this younger, attractive woman who built up his ego and made him feel young again. She told him he was handsome, she laughed at his stupid jokes, and she was available. He fell hard for her, and had left Claire behind.
“Why?” he asked aloud as he sat alone on the beach.
“Why what?” Glen walked over with a cooler full of beer and plopped down beside Jim, offering him a bottle. Lisa waved at them and headed out to where Claire and the girls stood in the water.
“Nothing,” Jim said in answer to Glen’s question. “I was just talking to myself.”
“Hmmm. Could be the first sign of heatstroke. Maybe we should get you in the shade,” Glen said with a grin.
Jim took a sip of beer and let his gaze trail off toward Claire again. She was laughing at something Lisa had said to her. He wished he could make her laugh again. With him, not at him like she had last night about the creaking cot.”
Jim pulled himself up into a sitting position and made an old man grunt from the pain it caused his back.
“What was that coming from you?” Glen asked.
“That’s the noise of an old man who slept on a cot last night,” Jim told him. “And it isn’t pretty.”
Glen laughed. “That’s what you get for divorcing my sister. It’s karma, man.”
Jim looked over at Glen. They hadn’t spent much time together since the divorce, but when they were together for family events like Mandy’s college graduation, Glen had always been nice to Jim. “Why don’t you hate me for leaving Claire? You’re her big brother. You should have punched me out.”
“Well, I did think of it, but I figured your punishment was losing Claire. And if you were happier not married to her, then I guess I thought she’d be happier without you.”
Jim stared at Glen. “Is she? Happier without me, I mean?”
Glen shrugged. “She has Steven now. You have Diane. People move on.”
Jim turned to look in Claire’s direction again. The women were walking back toward shore.
“You have moved on, right?” Glen asked.
Jim looked at Glen. “Huh?”
Glen pointed toward the women. “I have a feeling you’re not watching Mandy, Kaylie, or Lisa. If it’s Claire you have your sights on, watch out. You’re married to Diane now. Claire is off limits.”
Jim sighed. “Even if I had my sights on Claire, she’d be the first one to tell me off. So you don’t have to worry.”
“Good,” Glen said. “Don’t hurt her again, Jim. She deserves better.”
Jim nodded. Glen was right. So why did it bother him so much?
Deanna Lynn Sletten is a bestselling and award-winning author. She writes women’s fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.
Deanna’s women’s fiction novel, Widow, Virgin, Whore, made the top 100 bestselling books on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble in 2014. Her romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara’s Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.
Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.
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- Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Destination-Wedding-~-A-Novel-ebook/dp/B00JJESQNQ
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- Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Destination-Wedding-~-A-Novel/dp/1941212131/ref=tmm_pap_title_0