Read An Excerpt

by Bernice Layton

Genre: Multicultural, Romantic Suspense

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Charlene was overcome with emotion when she went to Tyler and Corinne’s home. 

It was a lovely home. Everything was new and stylish and bright. To Charlene it was exactly the house Corinne used to talk about having when they were kids.

While Tyler went into his study somewhere off the living-room, Charlene walked about the first floor rooms. She imagined Corinne walking beside her and giving her the grand tour. The sunroom that was just off the stately kitchen sported a large bay window. It was full of plants, most needing water. Filling up a pot with water, Charlene went about watering them. In the kitchen, she crossed over to the refrigerator and couldn’t help but smile at the two birthday drawings taped to the door. 

Taking the drawings and holding them to her chest, Charlene left the kitchen and passed through the living-room. Stopping to stuff the drawings into her pocketbook, she recalled what Corinne had told her about the scene that unfolded there between her and Tyler. She could almost see Corinne standing there with flashing angry eyes after Tyler had confronted her with the divorce papers and the pictures.  

Leaving her crutch in the living-room, Charlene climbed the stairs.  

She wandered about the wide hallway then stopped at Shelly’s room. The room was an organized mess. Charlene smiled to see a train set on one side of the room. Many little toy animals sat in carrier cars. Not many dolls with frilly clothes, instead Shelly had lots of stuffed animals and many pairs of sneakers that were all jumbled together in the bottom of her closet.

Next, Charlene made her way to Shane’s room. He was the neat one. His bed was fashioned after a race car. Checking out his chest of drawers, Charlene touched his little boy shirts. Little action figures lined the tops of the dresser’s and the windowsill. Under one window, he’d built a fort and a rescue was taking place…two little glass kitten figurines were sitting on the edge of the windowsill waiting to be rescued by the action figures below.  

Charlene was stunned to see the figurines. She had seen them before. Scooping them up, she stuffed them into her pocket. Turning to leave, she spotted a picture of Shane and Corinne on his desk. In the picture, Shane sat on his mother’s lap. “Oh, Corinne, he’s beautiful and sweet, both of them. How proud you had to be of them,” she said.

Composing herself, Charlene left the room and walked across the hall to what she thought was Corinne’s room. Pushing the door open she realized it was Tyler’s bedroom and quickly closed the door without going inside.

The largest room was the master bedroom suite. It was Corinne’s room. The bed was neatly made-up and the same jacquard prints covering the bedding adorned the windows. Charlene’s eyes surveyed the room. It was a profusion of green and yellow. There was a sitting area that clearly Corinne had used. It looked like a quaint living-room. The Native American artwork in that area caused Charlene’s breath to catch in her throat.

A built-in book shelf was filled with an assortment of books. Too many for Charlene to even guess what Corinne preferred reading most. But there had to be at least twenty picture frames holding pictures of the twins, along with her and Tyler.

Charlene picked up each one for closer inspection. She could see how the twins grew up. “Lovely,” she said, then heard Tyler calling up and asking if she was ready. “Be right there,” she responded. What struck Charlene most about the sitting area was the one painted accent wall. Easing down on a foot stool, Charlene let her eyes take in the color. The combination of yellow, orange and red caused her eyes to sting until their watery pools spilled down her cheeks. To anyone else it probably was an awful color choice, but Charlene knew that Corinne picked the color as a tribute to their teenage years.  

Many years ago, she and Corinne had sneaked into a house on their block that was being renovated. Tiptoeing through the vacant house, they’d imagined living in such a house instead of the one that they’d lived in…a rented fixer upper. After running their hands across the wide kitchen counters they stepped out onto the back porch. Corinne had been the first to spot the cans of paint stacked up on top a pile of debris set out for trash collection.

Opening some of the paint cans, they found three that were partially full with the top layers mostly dried out. They’d taken the cans back to their house and mixed the three colors together. It was just enough for them to paint one wall in the bedroom they shared.

Smiling at the memory, Charlene realized Tyler was correct. The color was atrocious in the beautiful setting of Corinne’s room. Their father had pretty much said the same thing. But when they’d finished painting the wall, she and Corinne thought it was beautiful.

Charlene’s head began to spin. “It’s too much. Corinne, please help me,” Charlene whispered. She waved a hand toward the wall. “This hideous wall tells me you never forgot us.”