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Authors: Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill

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BOOK: For the Love of Suzanne
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“It was an avalanche. They were trying to go
through a hill for that road they’re building and it sort of
just came down on them,” he finished quietly. “I’m
sorry.”

She nodded. “Was anyone else hurt?”

“No, ma’am,” he said somberly.

“That’s good. When did this happen?”

He checked his watch. “About three hours
ago. The medical examiner would like you to identify his body. Do you
feel up to that?”

She swallowed hard and nodded. “Um, let me
get dressed. Where is the medical examiner’s office?”

“I’d be more than happy to give you a
ride, if you like.”

“Thank you, Pete,” she said shakily.
“I’ll be ready in a minute.”

Suzanne couldn’t bring herself to speak to
Pete as he drove to the Medical Examiner’s office. She stared
out the windshield with her hands folded on her lap and a pit in her
stomach, dreading what was to come.

Pete didn’t press her for conversation and
escorted her into the building, opening the doors for her. He told
the portly, balding man who she was and stepped back.

Suzanne waited patiently, her heart pounding in
her chest as she watched the man dressed in a white lab coat open a
sizeable stainless steel drawer just far enough to let her see Beau’s
face.

Suzanne felt tears come to her eyes as she viewed
her husband’s handsome face that was now pale and devoid of
life. Just because she’d thrown him out yesterday didn’t
change the fact that she’d once loved him very much, had made
her life with him and was now pregnant with his child. She’d
wanted him to change. Not die.

She looked at the doctor. “That’s
him,” she said softly.

“My condolences,” he said sincerely
and eased the drawer closed again.

After a few minutes of doing paperwork and signing
forms, he gave her an envelope with his personal effects in it. His
keys, wallet and his wedding ring were all in there as well as the
money they’d found in his pockets.

“Would you like to take his clothes, too?”
the medical examiner asked her with compassion in his voice.

She shook her head. “No, thank you,”
she whispered, choking back tears again and gathered the envelope and
her purse and rose to her feet. “Thank you for being so kind,”
she said shakily, and rushed out the door to the street and broke
down sobbing.

Pete was behind her a minute later and guided her
back to the sheriff’s SUV that was parked in the lot, feeling
bad for her. He didn’t say anything on the way back to her
house, but took her inside and sat with her for a minute before being
dispatched to another call.

She thanked him for everything and after he’d
gone she called Beau’s parents in New York.

Chapter 3

John and Darla Dillon arrived at Suzanne’s
trailer, overdressed for the heat. John wore his traditional black
suit with a black shirt and white collar, the uniform of a minister,
while Darla wore a shapely black dress with long sleeves, an enormous
black hat with a huge white flower in the band and black high heels.
They both looked like they were ready for the funeral that wasn’t
to take place for another two days. Suzanne cut them some slack.
They’d never expected to bury their son.

Darla was understandably devastated; her wrinkled
face was swollen from so many tears shed over the past few days. She
looked older than her forty-seven years, but her secret love for gin,
combined with the grief of losing her only child, would do that to a
person.

John, as always, was reserved. He never drank
alcohol and no matter how he begged his wife to stop, she wouldn’t
hear of it. He never complained to anyone, but it distressed him. And
now that Beau had been so tragically and unexpectedly taken from
them, her drinking had increased and he found himself alone more than
usual. He normally dived into his work, but couldn’t
concentrate now because of his own grief. He couldn’t even pray
which distressed him even more.

Suzanne got them settled into the bedroom she and
Beau had shared and asked them if they would like some iced tea or
something to eat. They both politely declined and Darla laid down to
rest.

John followed his daughter-in-law out of the room,
pulling the door closed behind him to allow Darla some peace. He sat
down at the kitchen table as she stood at the refrigerator with the
freezer open, dropping ice into two glasses.

She filled them with tea and put the pitcher back
in the refrigerator before setting one in front of John and taking a
chair across from him. “I wish this visit was under better
circumstances,” she said morosely.

“Me, too,” he said with a sigh and
sipped the tea. “I keep telling myself that there’s
wisdom to it all, but as it is now, I’m failing to see it.”

She saw plenty of wisdom to it. She’d loved
Beau intensely at one time, but that feeling had begun to fade with
the way he’d acted. Now she felt guilty after throwing him out
of the house the night before he was killed. Of course, there was the
baby to consider. She would never know if Beau would have continued
to beat her while she was pregnant or if he would have come to his
senses and laid off. She would never know if he’d accept his
own child and love it and straighten out his life for it. God had
taken care of all of that for her; although she felt guilty, she was
also relieved.

“What happened to your face?” John
asked her curiously.

She covered the black eye with her hand
self-consciously. “I fell,” she lied easily. She didn’t
see the need to drag Beau’s name through the mud to his father.
It was over and would never happen again. She just wanted to let it
go.

“Where? It looks awful,” he said
sympathetically. “I’ll bet it hurts.”

She choked back tears at the memory of the last
fight she and Beau had. Maybe she should have let him sleep it off
before she’d thrown him out, but he was as angry as the devil
himself. “It’s okay,” she said quietly.

He looked at her with disbelief in his dark eyes.
“He hit you, didn’t he?” he asked suspiciously.

“Who?” she asked innocently.

“Beau. He hit you.”

“It doesn’t matter now, John,”
she said in a soft voice, avoiding his brown eyes. “It’s
okay.”

“My son abused you a lot, didn’t he?”
he asked knowingly.

She had always liked her father-in-law. He was
such a compassionate man, a trait that hadn’t been passed onto
his son. He was handsome with a full head of dark hair that he kept
short and combed to the side, clean-shaven, tall but shorter than
Beau, and physically fit. Not that she hung out with a lot of
ministers or priests, but he was the best clergyman she had ever
known. He genuinely cared about people and was always willing to help
anybody in any way he could.

“I think I made him mad a lot,” she
said with a heavy sigh. “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t
love him. I miss him.”

“I know you do. I’m sure this hasn’t
been easy on you,” he said understandingly.

“It hasn’t, but I’m not the only
one affected by this,” she said shakily, letting a lone tear
spill down her cheek. “He was your only child. I know you’re
suffering, too.”

He nodded slowly. “Are you okay?”

She sniffed reverently. “Yeah. Are you?”

“I will be. I wish I could say the same
about Darla, though,” he said despondently.

She blew her nose politely into a tissue and
sniffed. “How is she?”

He shook his head forlornly. “She hasn’t
been sober since it happened.”

Suzanne knew Darla had a mean mouth when she was
drunk and was sure she blamed her for everything. Darla had never
liked her. They’d never confronted each other, but had come
dangerously close on more than one occasion. The only thing that had
stopped her was the fact that Darla was Beau’s mother and
deserved respect just for that.

“I’m sorry about this, John,”
she suddenly burst into sobs. “I didn’t mean for him to
die.”

He knelt in front of her and took her hands. “It
was just an accident, Suzanne. You had no control over it. It was
God’s will,” he consoled, feeling better himself at just
saying the last sentence. It really had been God’s will to take
his son and nothing in the world would have changed it. Not one
person or thing. It was meant to be.

“But we had a fight and I threw him out,”
she wept. “I didn’t want him to die.”

He gently squeezed her hands. “I think you
put up with a lot of crap from him, Suzanne,” he said in that
knowing tone again. “I love my son and I tried to bring him up
right, but he missed something or maybe I missed something. I don’t
know. But I do know he was mean to you and I know he was no fun to
live with. You did okay,” he soothed and put his arms around
her. “You did all you could do.”

“He was so upset with me,” she
murmured into his shoulder. “I told him I was pregnant and he
went crazy.”

He took her by the shoulders and gently thrust her
away and looked into her teary blue eyes. “You’re
pregnant?” he asked with surprise.

She nodded, wiping her nose again, choking on
quiet sobs.

“He didn’t like that, huh?” he
asked in dismay.

She shook her head. “He hit me and I pulled
a knife on him and told him to leave. I did it for my baby,”
she said as if she were in trouble. “I was scared.”

“He never should have laid a hand on you,
especially in your condition,” he said seriously. “You
were right to throw him out.”

“He didn’t think he was the father,
but I’ve never had an affair with anyone,” she rushed on.
“He was the only man I’d ever been with.”

“He was running around on you, though,
wasn’t he?”

She nodded with a sniff. “Almost from the
time we moved here. He had a lot of other women. He was just so damn
good looking,” she said with a short laugh of wonder. “I’m
sure the women just fell at his feet.”

John smiled before becoming serious again. “Do
you need some help?”

She slowly shook her head. “No, thank you.
I’m going to be fine.”

He sighed heavily and entwined his fingers as if
to pray. “I probably don’t have a right to ask
this, considering how my son treated you, but after the baby is born,
are you going to let us see it?”

“Of course, I will,” she said as if
doing anything else was ludicrous. “This kid would really miss
something if it didn’t know you.”

He blushed a little. “Well, I don’t
know about that,” he said modestly.

She smiled. “I do. You’re a nice
person.”

“You’re going to make a good mother,
Suzanne,” he told her sincerely and hugged her again.

“I hope so. You’re going to make a
fine grandfather, too.”

“My son definitely missed out,” he
said softly and drew away from her and stood up. “Are you
hungry?” he asked with sudden cheeriness.

She nodded.

“Let’s go get something to eat. We’ll
bring something back for Darla.”

“I would like that,” she said with a
slight smile, brushing her tears away. “Thank you.”

Chapter 4

Jeannette Lightfield arrived with her husband and
his four daughters a few hours later. Jeannette had never married
Suzanne’s father, but had married Jim Lightfield shortly before Suzanne
had graduated from high school. He was a lawyer who was quite wealthy
and had moved Jeannette from a small town in New York to a swanky
apartment in Manhattan after Suzanne had run off with Beau. Her
mother had promptly retired and dedicated her life to raising Jim’s
four girls who were out of control, rude and mouthy.

Jim was a few years younger than her mother with
short strawberry blond hair and clear blue eyes. He was rather short
as far as men go, but he had a brilliant mind and was well respected
amongst his peers.

Suzanne really wished her mother hadn’t
brought the girls with her. She’d never developed any sort of
relationship with them being that they were so much younger. They
ranged in age from seven to fourteen and were already squabbling less
than a minute after being in the house.

Jeannette blew past them and went to Suzanne and
hugged her fiercely. “Oh honey, I am so sorry,” she
murmured in her ear and kissed her hair as she rocked her.

That drove Suzanne to tears again. She openly wept
while she clung to her mother helplessly.

“Sh-h,” she whispered to her,
comforting her by running her hand up and down her back
affectionately. “It’s all right, honey.”

Jim herded his daughters into the kitchen and told
them to be quiet, wanting to leave Jeannette alone with her daughter.

Jeannette led Suzanne to the ratty couch and sat
down with her and held her. “You can come back to New York with
us,” she said decisively.

“Not right away. I want to stay here if I
can.”

She gently shoved her head off her shoulder and
searched her face. “And do what? Work at that dingy diner for
the rest of your life?” she said with disgust.

Suzanne looked at her mother, wondering when she’d
become so pretentious. She’d always been very beautiful with
straight blond hair that hung to her shoulders, blue eyes, tall, slim
and trim, but somewhere along the line she’d lost her humility.
She hadn’t always had money and had worked at a café
herself while she’d put herself through school to become an
accountant.

“I’ll do something else eventually,”
she said with a sniff and sat up straight. “I have a baby to
consider, Mom. I have to support it somehow.”

“A baby?” she echoed with a frown.

She saw the look of disapproval cross her mother’s
heavily made-up face. “I’m pregnant,” she affirmed.

“Oh, my God. Did Beau have life insurance?”

“No.”

“Accident insurance?”

“No.”

“So, he left you with nothing,” she
said sharply.

“He wasn’t even twenty-five years old,
Mom,” she said defensively. “He wasn’t planning on
dying so young.”

BOOK: For the Love of Suzanne
8.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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