Authors: Anna Jacobs
Table of Contents
CHANGE OF SEASON
THE CORRIGAN LEGACY
A FORBIDDEN EMBRACE
AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
IN SEARCH OF HOPE
LICENCE TO DREAM
MARRYING MISS MARTHA
MISTRESS OF MARYMOOR
A PLACE OF HOPE
REPLENISH THE EARTH
SEASONS OF LOVE
THE WISHING WELL
WINDS OF CHANGE
SHORT AND SWEET
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First published in Great Britain 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
First published in the USA 2014 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of
110 East 59
Street, New York, N.Y. 10022
eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright © 2013 by Anna Jacobs.
The right of Anna Jacobs to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
In search of hope.
1. Inheritance and succession–Fiction. 2. Abused women–
Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations–Fiction. 4. Absentee
mothers–Fiction. 5. Lancashire (England)–Fiction.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8332-2 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-494-3 (trade paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-475-1 (ePub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
As Libby was carrying out the rubbish, the bag split. It was the final straw in a horrible week, during which her husband had been in a foul mood.
She was fighting to hold back the tears about the mess when she saw a stained and dirty letter among the rubbish … sticking out of an envelope addressed to her. It had been opened and thrown away without her even seeing it.
Her husband usually took out the rubbish, but he’d forgotten today, because he’d been too busy complaining about their four-year-old son’s untidiness. His need for perfect order and tidiness was beyond reason, an obsession that was hard to live with. And poor Ned did very well for a child.
Steven always picked up their mail from their PO Box and she wasn’t surprised that he’d opened her letter. It wasn’t the first time it had happened. But why had he thrown this one away without letting her see it? This seemed to be a new step in their deteriorating relationship. Or had he been doing that sort of thing all along?
Grimacing at the mess of coffee grounds and vegetable peelings which now decorated the letter, she took it out of the rubbish, wiped it and began to read.
Dear Mrs Pulford
You appear not to have replied to our previous letter, although it was sent by registered post and was signed for by someone at your address.
In brief, your grandmother, Rose King, has died and left you a bequest of £20,000, plus some residual money which will come from a later sale of goods.
If you will be so kind as to contact us, we will explain the conditions attached to your inheritance and arrange to have funds transferred to you once you have signed the agreement …
Libby gasped and clapped one hand to her mouth. She hadn’t seen her grandmother since she was twelve, when her mother had remarried and moved from Lancashire to Bristol, but she had very fond memories of Grandma Rose and had hoped to see her again one day.
It was her stepfather who had kept her away from her straight-talking grandmother. He’d claimed the ‘old hag’ was teaching his stepdaughter to be cheeky and answer him back. And anyway, since Libby was adopted, Rose wasn’t really related to the child at all, so there was now no need for them to keep in touch.
There had been a few spectacular scenes, but in the end her mother had given in, as she always did, begging her daughter to let the matter drop and do nothing more to upset her stepfather.
Libby had written to Grandma Rose every year at Christmas, however, sending the letter secretly and getting the replies sent to various friends. But the replies had stopped after she got married and, when she asked, Steven had told her gently that her grandmother had died.
But that couldn’t have been true, if her grandmother had only just died. It was just another of Steven’s lies. But why had he said it? What harm could it have done for Libby to keep in touch?
She sighed. Were you fated to repeat the mistakes of your parents? Her mother’s second marriage had been unhappy – but not, she thought, as unhappy as her own. Libby had married young, desperate to escape her stepfather and enjoy a proper family life. It had been all right at first, not perfect, but mostly happy.
The turning point came when she got pregnant. Steven hadn’t planned for a child yet, so he grew angry when she suffered morning sickness and let the house get a little untidier than usual.
After Ned’s birth, things had continued to deteriorate. Steven had taken charge of her life so slowly she hadn’t understood for some time what he was doing to her. By then it was too late: she had no friends, little confidence in herself, no money of her own and a child dependent on her.
How to get away from him had been worrying Libby for some time. You couldn’t escape without money and he made sure she had none to spare.
She turned back to re-read the letter with a surge of hope, bright and shiny as a new coin. This was the answer to her problem. She could now afford to leave him.
At six o’clock Steven turned into the drive and Libby stiffened her spine. The small inheritance had given her the courage to act. Tonight she was going to tell him she wanted a divorce. She would try to do this openly first.
Steven didn’t beat her, so she wasn’t afraid of him physically, but she sometimes thought the way he treated her was worse than physical violence.
He sauntered into the kitchen from the garage, stopped to hang up his keys and then studied her face. ‘What’s wrong this time?’
So she blurted it out, couldn’t hold it in any longer, not now she was filled with hope for the future. ‘I want a divorce, Steven. I can’t go on like this.’
His face went expressionless, something he’d perfected over the years. ‘No.’
‘I mean it.’
‘I mean it, too. If you try to leave me, I’ll take Ned from you. They’ll give him to me, too, you know they will, because you don’t have any way of supporting a child and I do.’
She didn’t tell him she knew about the money. ‘I can get a job.’
‘Your skills are way out of date. You aren’t even au fait with modern technology.’
‘And whose fault is that? You won’t buy a new home computer.’
He had the gall to smile. ‘You don’t need one. You’d only play around on it.’
‘I could soon catch up with technology.’
‘Oh, and who’ll care for our dear little son while you’re working
studying? I, on the other hand, can easily afford to employ a nanny, and I have a history of stable employment, not to mention a very successful career.’
She tried one last time to make him see sense. ‘Steven, you know we’ve not been happy together for a while. Can’t we just call it quits and arrange an amicable divorce?’
‘There’s no such thing. They always give far too big a share of the goods and chattels to the wife. I’m not handing my money over to you.’
‘I won’t ask for anything financially.’ She gestured to the house. ‘You can have all this. I just want Ned and my freedom.’
He moved closer, impaling her with those icy grey eyes. ‘But I don’t want
freedom. You’re very useful to me – most of the time, anyway – a credit to me in public, if not always satisfactory in private, and an excellent housekeeper, for all your other failings. Besides, your timing is terrible, as usual. I’m in line for another promotion and, though the company may not specify it, given the stupid rules for political correctness people have to comply with these days, it’s well known they prefer married men. Maybe we’ll think about a divorce in a year or two, once I’ve reached the top echelons …
you do as I ask in the meantime.’
He’d said that last year when she hinted at a divorce. She’d thought he meant it, because he’d moved into a separate bedroom that very night, but he’d laughed in her face after he got the promotion.
‘I mean it this time, Steven. I’m leaving you.’
There was the patter of footsteps and their son peeped into the kitchen, saw his father’s scowl and ran away again.
She pointed her finger at the retreating child. ‘See what you’ve done to him! Ned runs away from you.’
Steven flicked one hand in a carelessly dismissive gesture. ‘He’ll learn to obey me once I turn my attention to training him. He’s getting old enough to understand what I want now. Maybe I’ll start at the weekend.’
He pushed her roughly aside. ‘End of discussion. Now, get the dinner on the table. I’m hungry.’
‘Get it yourself.’ She turned to leave the kitchen, knowing it would infuriate him to be directly disobeyed.
But what happened shocked her rigid.
Joss Atherton drove slowly home from the physiotherapist. Final session, thank goodness. They’d done as much as they could for him. He felt well again; better than he had for years. A crash during a car chase had put him and another police officer in hospital. The other guy had recovered fully, but Joss would always have a weakness in his left leg.
He’d been offered a desk job but couldn’t stand the thought of spending his life in an office, so had opted for compensation. He could live on it for years, but he was bored and couldn’t seem to settle on another direction in life.
He picked up the mail – one catalogue and two bills – and moved into the back room of the small terraced house he now owned outright. Ironic really. Fate had taken away with one hand and given with the other. His elderly neighbour, who had been his landlord for the past five years, ever since his divorce, had left him the little two-up two-down house when she died.