A Life Without Water by Marci Bolden Read Online (FREE)
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Carol Denman blinked. The long and slow kind that gave the brain a moment to process unexpected information. When she lifted her lids, her assistant still stood on the other side of her desk. Tiana’s near-black eyes filled with a million questions. The rich umber skin above her nose crinkled as she drew her brows together.
The words she’d spoken lingered in the air between them.
There was a man standing outside Carol’s office asking to see her. Not just any man. Her ex-husband.
“You were married before Tobias?”
Tiana’s voice was low enough that no one outside the office could possibly hear, but to Carol’s ears, the words sounded as if they had been announced through a bullhorn. The question spun her tightly held emotions out of control. The skin above her brow prickled with the first signs of nervous sweat. Clenching her fists, digging white acrylic tips into her palm, she took a breath to calm herself before the telltale sign of anxiety—bright red creeping up her pale neck until it settled over her face—could start.
She blinked again. This time the rapid, mind-clearing kind. She dislodged the knot in her throat before finding her voice. “Yes. A long time ago.” A lifetime ago. “Did he say what he wants?”
“No.” Confusion faded to what appeared to be concern. “He looks nervous. Should I tell him to leave or…I can call security.”
Security was a seventy-three-year-old overweight retired police officer who was far more invested in completing the Houston Chronicle’s crossword puzzle than he ever was in doing his job. Carol suspected even if she did need help, old Charlie Turner would call 911 and offer crowd control long before he’d intervene with some kind of physical altercation in her office. Not that she was worried about what her ex would do to her.
Just the opposite.
She was more concerned she’d grab the sterling silver scissors from her desk drawer and shove them repeatedly into his chest.
Outside her window, early summer sunlight reflected in a blinding starburst off the man-made pond where geese liked to gather as they migrated. This time of year the water was smooth. Still. Deceptively calm. As she stared at the water, memories of her life with John flashed through her mind like an old 8-mm film on a loop.
Laughter, singing, playing.
Screaming. Crying. Begging.
Tiana’s quiet voice cut into Carol’s thoughts. “Should I tell him to leave?”
“Um… No.” God, I’m going to regret this. “It’s fine. Show him in.”
She cut Tiana off with a resolute nod. “Show him in.”
Tiana hesitated before disappearing through the glass-paneled door. Though the three panes had been frosted to afford Carol some privacy, movement was evident on the other side. She felt her stomach knot, knowing Tiana was speaking to John, inviting him in to see the woman who’d disappeared from his life so long ago. Carol inhaled as much oxygen as her lungs would hold, then exhaled through parted lips in an attempt to regain her emotional footing.