The Marriage Intervention

BOOK: The Marriage Intervention
10.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty


Thank you for reading

About the Author


Title Page



Sharing a secret can bind people together. Keeping one can tear people apart.

Josie Garcia had kept her own secret folded into the recesses of her memory for the past six years. But things change, and recent developments had forced her to begin unwrapping it, revealing it layer by layer until it stood directly in the spotlight.

Now, she turned her secret over and over in her mind as if it were a precious gem.

Rowdy’s Saloon buzzed with activity on this Thursday night. College kids in trendy skinny jeans and beanie caps sipped beers with a practiced nonchalance while basketball games played on a half-dozen TV screens above the bar. The after-work crowd trickled in, and men and women in smart suits drank cocktails and ate pub mix, laughing loudly at jokes too inappropriate for water cooler conversation.

When Josie realized her two best friends, Summer Gray and Delaney Collins, were practically boring holes in her with their eyes from their respective spots at their usual high top table, she tucked that gem safely into the back of her mind as if she were hiding it in her bra, and smiled, first at Summer and then at Delaney.

“What?” she said, going for casual.

Delaney picked up her beer, but instead of drinking it, she pointed it at Josie.

“What’re you thinking about?”

Her offhand tone contrasted the intensity of her stare. Although Josie was tempted to look away, she gazed back at Delaney.

“Nothing,” she answered in a tone she hoped matched her friend’s.

“You’re a crappy liar, Josie,” Summer said.

This time, Josie looked down, into the depths of her vodka cranberry. The half-melted ice cubes shifted, catching the twinkling lights draped along the ceiling at Rowdy’s. They reminded her of gems, of the secret she wasn’t supposed to be thinking about. She sighed.

“I was thinking about Paul,” she lied, knowing they’d believe her.

“What about him?” Summer asked.

“Oh, you know.” They didn’t, so she added, “Just hoping he stays safe tonight.”

That, at least, was the truth. As an undercover cop, Paul’s evenings often comprised drug deals and takedowns, shifty, knife-wielding felons and thousands of dollars in cash.

Summer reached across the table and put her hand on Josie’s arm.

“You know I’m kind of psychic,” she said. “My gut says he’ll be fine.”

Josie smiled at her, but it was half-hearted.

“This is our weekly Happy Hour,” she said. “We should be talking about happy things. I know you quit working here, Delaney, but do you think you could go mix me another drink?”

Delaney laughed. “I’m pretty sure it’s still against policy, but I’ll go up and order you one.”

Summer sighed with contentment as she and Josie watched Delaney approach the bar.

“She’s so much happier now,” she said. “I am so glad The Dating Intervention worked.”

“That was a stroke of genius on our part,” Josie said, nodding and raising her empty glass in a toast. “It really was.”

Summer clinked her water glass against Delaney’s. “We should have taken over her love life years ago.”

“Definitely,” Josie said. “But it’s all about timing, too. I don’t think she was quite ready for a great guy like Jake before the Intervention.”

Delaney returned, Josie’s drink in hand. She set the glass on the table and Summer pinned Josie with The Look.

“All right, sister,” she said. “You’ve got your refill. What’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”

Josie thought of her secret. She thought of Delaney, still in that new-relationship dream state with Jake Rhoades. She thought of Summer, madly in love with her husband Derek, expecting their fifth child. How could they possibly understand?

“Okay. I’ll spill,” she said.

Instead of telling the truth, she decided, she would tell
truth. It wasn’t like she was lying. She was simply keeping a secret. Even as these thoughts rushed through her mind, she chastised herself for finding a loophole. Summer and Delaney had been her best friends for more than twenty years. Since junior high. They were fourteen then and thirty-four now. Adults. Surely she could tell them. Again, she sighed. She’d promised to keep a secret, and she always kept her promises. Well, almost always.

“It’s Paul,” she said.

The girls looked at her sympathetically. Summer, who had just popped another green olive into her mouth (she always ate them during pregnancy), nodded. Delaney’s forehead crinkled in concern.

“I think we’re on the brink of divorce.”

It was almost comical the way both of her friends’ mouths dropped open in surprise. They glanced quickly at each other, and then looked at Josie again.

“What?” Delaney said. “You’re kidding, right?”

“I’m sure you can work it out,” Summer said. “Right? I mean, can’t you? What’s going on?”

“Wait,” Delaney said. “How did it get to this point without us knowing about it?”

“Well, admittedly, we’ve both been a bit distracted,” Summer said to Delaney. “You with Jake and the new job, and me with the band and the pregnancy. I feel terrible about this, Josie. Really bad. What’s going on?”

“The truth is,” Josie began, pausing when she felt the unfamiliar pressure of real tears in her throat and behind her eyes. “Things are really, really bad.”

When neither Summer nor Delaney spoke, Josie continued. “I never see Paul anymore. I mean, hardly ever. We’re never home at the same time, and when we are, he’s distracted. Not just watching-basketball-and-eating-chips distracted, but, like, thinking about drug deals and drug dealers and answering calls from informants distracted. And he’s so angry. He’s angry all the time.”

Summer put her hand on Josie’s arm again. The gesture was supposed to be soothing, but Josie didn’t miss the quick look Summer and Delaney exchanged—again.

Delaney licked her lips in that way she always did when she was nervous. She inhaled quickly, as if she wanted to say something, and then she pressed her lips together as if to hold the words in.

“Spill it, Collins,” Josie said, knowing Delaney would cave if she put her on the spot.

Summer’s hand slinked back to its own side of the table. She entwined it with the other hand. Josie had no idea what she was looking at. A spot on the table, maybe? A water droplet on her napkin?

“Well?” Josie said to Delaney.

“It’s just that, well, you know, Josie, you’ve been kind of, um, a bit, you know … a little help, here, Summer?”

Summer’s eyes met Josie’s. “I’ll give it to you straight, my sister. You’ve been pretty angry lately, too.”

Well, that was definitely a truth.



Thursday night Happy Hour with Summer and Delaney ended just moments later. Summer’s husband called to say one of the kids had stuck a pencil eraser up his nose and couldn’t get it out, so the girls quickly packed up their purses.

“This will all turn out fine,” Summer whispered to Josie as she wrapped her in a tight hug. Then, still gripping Josie’s shoulders, she looked into her eyes with a thoughtful expression. “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you try really laying on the romance? I mean, how long has it been since you and Paul had sex?”

Josie opened her mouth, then closed it again. How long
it been?

“I honestly couldn’t say,” Josie said.

“Well, if you couldn’t say, then that means it’s been way too long. Go home and set the scene. When Paul comes home, ravish him like he’s never been ravished before. It’ll be fun. And sex always relieves the tension. Opens the doorway for conversation.”

“Now we know the secret to Summer’s ever-growing family,” Delaney said.

Summer pressed a hand to her belly. “True. But everything I just said is true, too. Try it. Gotta go. As you know, Luke is my difficult child, and you know he won’t let his dad get near him with a pair of tweezers.”

It was good advice, Josie thought as she perused the meat section at the grocery store a few minutes later. She’d feed Paul a fat steak, a baked potato, and some salad. Add a little wine and music, maybe some candles.

Did they even own candles? Josie checked her watch. It was five-thirty. Paul had gone into work at nine that morning, which meant she had about an hour and a half until he got home. Presumably. Unless something came up, which seemed to happen a lot lately.

“Stay positive,” she said to a potato she picked up to examine. “Negativity kills a relationship.”

At least, that’s what all the “experts” said. If you considered authors of online articles experts. Yes, she’d done a quick Google search in the store parking lot:
how to fix my marriage.

Was she negative? As she pushed her cart through the store, she thought about some of her recent interactions with Paul. Shame crept in like a spider under a closed door, fast-moving and sneaky.

Just last week, she came home complaining about how the new teachers at her school would be starting at a higher salary than she had during her first year of teaching. The next day when Paul got home, she complained about the terrible driver she got stuck behind on her way to the district office. To her credit, the middle-aged, pot-bellied, mustached woman driver couldn’t use a turn signal or go even remotely close to the speed limit to save her life. The next day (the very next day, she thought, wanting to kick herself) she spent some time—a long time, really—complaining about how the school parking lot was closed for resurfacing.

“It’s so inconvenient,” she said as he took off his gun holster and the bullet proof vest he wore under his T-shirt. “It’s like they expect us be sherpas or something! We have to park on the street and carry our supplies all the way to the building!”

Never mind that parking on the street meant walking only a few extra yards.

Yikes. No wonder he wants to work all the time.

Now she was on a roll. She searched the internet for
relationship mistakes
, and found that she was committing quite a few of the “7 Most Common Relationship Mistakes” and “12 Mistakes Couples Make Without Realizing It”: taking her partner for granted, complaining about her partner, being passive-aggressive (how many times was she going to “forget” to pick his uniform shirts up from the dry cleaners?), believing her partner should be able to read her mind.

She found some scented candles in the grocery store’s home section. Another quick search on her phone turned up an article about the seven best scents to enhance your love life. The top two were cinnamon and vanilla, so she set one of each in her cart.

At home in her kitchen, she laid her purchases out on the counter. To give the candles time to work their magic, she set them on the dining room table and lit them right away. She popped the potatoes in the oven and went to work on the steaks, rubbing them with olive oil and steak seasoning so they could marinate. As she began chopping vegetables for the salad, inspiration hit and she dug out a love songs CD someone had given to her and Paul for their wedding.

BOOK: The Marriage Intervention
10.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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