Authors: Beth Albright
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
SAVED BY THE BELLES
BY BETH ALBRIGHT
© Copyright 2014 Beth Albright
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To my Ted, my college sweetheart, my wonderful husband and my best friend. We will always be “Siamese twins connected at the heart.” I love you forever.
Accolades For Author Beth Albright
The Sassy Belles
*Top Five Summer Pick – Deep South Magazine
*Finalist: Best Debut Novel – Book Junkie Choice Awards
*RT Magazine Top Pick for August
*Nominated for GOLD SEAL OF EXCELLENCE, RT Magazine/August
Barnes and Noble Bookseller Picks: September Top Pick for Romance
PRAISE For The Sassy Belles Trilogy
Dripping with southern charm and colloquialisms, the novel once again proves Albright’s firsthand knowledge of southern culture.
The women in Albright’s novels are especially well written—
happy to challenge the status quo when necessary but also aware of that old adage, “You catch more flies with honey.” This delightfully campy and romantic read will satisfy fans of Mary Kay Andrews, Alexandra Potter, and Lisa Jewell.
Booklist Review for
By turns tender, witty, steamy, and sharp, Albright's debut novel proves she's a gifted storyteller
with intimate knowledge of southern culture. This charming tale is tailor-made for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Anne George." –
Booklist Review for
The Sassy Belles
with distinct nods to the strength of family, the friendship sisterhood and the indomitable Southern spirit...Albright's first novel is a frothy, frolicking story
Kirkus Review for
The Sassy Belles
“Albright good-naturedly displays her inner redneck while steering this giddy Dixie romp with ease-leaving lots of room at the happy ending for another adventure starring these steel magnolias
Publisher's Weekly Review for
The Sassy Belles
"The Sassy Belles are back and sassier than ever! ... With clever dialogue and richly drawn characters, Albright shows once again she's a natural-born storyteller who knows how to pen a charming tale
. Regardless of game-day colors worn, this sexy and fun Southern series will have readers coming back for more!" –
RT Magazine Review for
“The Sassy Belles reminded me that the South is like no other place on earth. Kudos to Beth Albright for capturing its spirit so perfectly in this lighthearted debut novel
.” -Celia Rivenbark, New York Times bestselling author of
We're Just Like You, Only Prettier
Table of Contents
The phone was ringing incessantly. Urgent. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I spread my legs and heaved myself up from the front porch swing. I was eight months pregnant and winter had fallen on Tuscaloosa like a silent frozen night. The air outside was so cold I could see my breath. The holidays had ended and with it all the exhausting festivities. Well, everything’s exhausting when you’re this pregnant. We were well into February and Sonny and I had settled in for the cold, drizzly, cozy months ahead, our baby on the way. It was a bliss I had waited for as long as I could remember.
But that phone wouldn’t stop. My cell was charging in the front room. I had taken a week off work at the law practice to get the house and our new nursery ready. A cup of hot chocolate was warming in my icey-cold hands. I went out to the porch to get a breath of the frigid winter air. Bruised and bloated clouds hung low, rolling over the tops of the pine trees that filled the yard. A winter storm was brewing.
decided to sit on the swing for a minute when my cell phone rang for the first time. I ignored it till it stopped. But then almost immediately, it rang again. I pushed the soft heavy cotton quilt off my lap while gripping my hot chocolate with my other hand. Sonny’s grandmother had made the crimson and pine colored heavy blanket when he was just a boy. He was so family-oriented. The house itself had belonged to his parents. His sense of family was one of my favorite things about him. Nothing was more important to him than our little growing family.
“I’m coming I’m coming, “ I yelled to the irritating ringing device. It was on its third set of rings by the time I waddled over to the leather chair near the stone fireplace and reached for the phone on the table. I didn’t even look at the caller I.D. It seemed like such an emergency. I hit the answer button as I brought it up to my ear.
“Hello,” I managed, a tad out of breath.
“Blake, I need to see you.”
“Who is this?” I knew who it was but couldn’t believe my ears.
“It’s Harry, you know, your other husband.”
“Harry! My God, you sound awful, and the divorce is all but final and no, I’m not married to Sonny just yet,” I said sarcastically. “So there is no
“Blake I need to see you. I’m coming home for a week and we need to talk.”
“No, Harry, we have absolutely nothing to say. Your life is in D.C. now and with whoever is your flavor of the week next to you in bed. So, nice of you to call but I’m a little busy getting on with my life.” I was exasperated.
Harry and I had been married for ten years when it all fell apart last year. I was going to talk to Harry about a separation the day it all happened. But my best friend Vivi got into a bit of trouble that day and that talk never happened—at least the way I had planned. I’m an attorney, mostly taxes and estates, but my BFF Vivi was in trouble—again, and Harry and I were her attorneys. Harry and I had a law practice together. That was about all we had been doing together for an eternity. Later, in November, Harry had run for the Senate and won. He moved to D.C. right after the election.
Right or wrong I saw Sonny, my on-again-off-again high school sweetheart last summer in the middle of Vivi's investigation and the sparks were still there. But, they were more explosive now since we weren’t in high school anymore. I had never felt such a sizzle as I did with him.
Sonny is rugged, a former boy scout who still prefers the lush forest or a blue, shimmering lake to an office. Even though I’m more of an indoor-girl, who loves her Jimmy Choos, the chemistry between us is crazy. I have never been so in love with anyone. Sonny and I began to see each other as my marriage dissolved under the pressures of Harry’s political campaign. But truthfully, the marriage had been falling apart, little by little, for years.
For example, Harry was caught in not one but two compromising positions last summer. I had the great fortune of catching him myself. It broke my heart, but deep down I knew he was so caught up in running for office that I had become his collateral damage. Nothing was ever more important to Harry than getting that Senate seat and moving to Washington. However, seeing him with other women really ended it all. It hurt me so deeply. I mean, it was one thing to know we had grown apart but to
him cavorting in our home was too much. I so wish it was possible to “unsee” things!
“Please, Blake, I have to see you before it’s too late,” Harry pleaded.
“Too late? You’re not dyin’ are ya?” Silence followed. “Harry? You still there?”
“No, Blake, I’m okay. But I think we need to have a heart to heart so to speak.” He laughed a little. That was our last name, Heart. Well, it was fixin’ to be my “former” last name. Sonny and I had plans to get married soon as the baby was here. He had proposed to me on New Year's Eve. The baby was due in March, next month. We already knew we had a boy on the way. A son. It warmed me at the thought. Now Harry had no place back in my life—especially right now. I was trying to nest and the baby would be here before we knew it. Plus, Harry and I were supposed to sign our final divorce papers next week. This was really bad timing hearing from him right now.
“Why, Harry? Somethin’ wrong? Your constant stream of lady-friends dry up?” I asked sarcastically.
“Blake—I uhm—I well…”
“Yes, Harry? Just spit it out for God’s sake.”
“Blake…” I could hear him inhale a deep breath then finally, “Blake, I’m still in love with you.”
I dropped the phone as I plopped onto the over-sized dark leather couch. I had been pacing since I picked up the phone—no sense sitting since it nearly took a crane to get me up these days. The phone was on the floor and I could still hear Harry talking from somewhere between my legs. Don’t think that, now. He never talked much from that angle anyway.
“Blake!” He sounded frantic, like he thought I had hung up. “Blake!” He shouted.
“Harry! I dropped the phone!” I screamed into the air, hoping he would hear me. I wriggled and squirmed, feeling for the cell phone on the wood floor between my feet until I felt it. I could also feel my face turning nearly blue as I struggled with my legs spread, bending over my huge belly searching for the cell phone. I couldn’t quite position myself to grab it right away.
I kept shouting into the phone, “Harry I’m tryin’ to pick it up—just a minute.” Finally, I managed to pick it up, breathless and uncomfortable on so many levels.
“Harry, you are not in love with me so get over yourself. You’re just being needy. Go find some floozy and you’ll be back in shape in no time. Now, I’m busy getting’ ready for the baby. The decorators for the nursery are coming and I got work to do. I gotta get back to my real job next week at what used to be
law practice and the baby’s due next month. We both have moved on and everything’s been said.”
“No Blake, I’ve already booked my flight. I’ll be in Tuscaloosa tomorrow. We have to talk.” He hung up before I could even utter another sound.
I sat there a minute, trying to process what has just transpired. I knew he was not to be trusted but something stirred in me.
There had been a time when Harry and I had been invincible. No, I wasn’t moved emotionally by this call. I was so in love with my sexy cop now I couldn’t see straight. But a little bubble of melancholy swirled through me as I sat on Sonny’s leather couch clutching my phone. Harry had been such an ass. A fool. He was driven beyond anyone I had ever known and at the sacrifice of anything and everything dear to him. Nothing would stand in his way to get that Senate seat. Along the way he had sacrificed us—me. I was momentarily sad for him. But only momentarily.
There was only one thing to do in times like this—call Vivi.
* * *
“He said what?” she yelled into the phone. “That stupid son-of-a-bitch better not bring his sorry ass down here unless he wants that sorry ass kicked personally by me all the way back to Washington. He was a jerk to you and to my Lewis, his very own brother, and I have yet to forgive him.”
Vivi was never one to hide her feelings.
“I totally agree,” I assured her. “But the thing is--he said he still loves me.” I just threw it out there. I figured she couldn’t yell much louder or she’d wake her baby, Tallulah. I was wrong.
“What the hell did you just say? He loves you, my big white freckled ass! Harry never loved anybody but Harry--and whoever could get Harry elected. He’s up to something Blake, but no matter what, don’t you let him back into your life. You’re a fool if you do.”