Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?
Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.
But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking...and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.
Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.
Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?
“You’ll never guess who I met the other day,” she said.
Sam stopped crying and dried her tears with a delicate stroke of her finger. Lara couldn’t resist a frown at how the perfect face was not marred by crying. Trust her perfectionist BFF to use only waterproof makeup.
Better get back on the topic. Her throat closed for a second, refusing to allow her vocal chords to utter the sound of his name, because saying it aloud would change everything.
But she was doing this for Sam. So she leaned forward and dropped her voice to a low, conspiratorial tone to share the confidence. “I saw Eric.”
Sam’s eyes grew wide as she bolted upright in her seat. “Get out of here! You met him? And is it the same person I’m thinking of?”
Lara smiled, happy to see the mood back to friendly chatter. She nodded. Sam was the only person who knew of her past with Eric.
“Well, are you just gonna sport such a dumb smile? Come on, out with it. I want all the details.”
Sam’s voice thrummed with excitement. Lara laughed, and recounted the meeting at the clinic.
“Okay, the real question I want you to answer. Was he wearing a wedding ring?” Sam asked as Lara finished her tale.
The elation of sharing the confidence crashed, the shards wrapping around her like tendrils of choking agony. “He had a ring on his right hand.”
“So he’s not married.”
“You’ve forgotten how European, and especially French men wear wedding rings on the right hand.”
“No, but this convention means squat in Mauritius. If it’s not on the left hand, the ring means nothing.”
Damn it all to hell—could there be hope? Could Eric be unattached, after everything that had happened?
And where on earth would such confirmation get her? Eric was out of her league, always had been. The sooner she reinforced that in her mind, the better.
“Come on, Lara. So this means he could be free, and what you saw could’ve been a misunderstanding—”
She shot to her feet. “I know what I saw, Sam. The photo didn’t lie, and the paper said he and his French floozie named Sophie de-whatever-bollocks were expecting their first child.”
“Still, it doesn’t sound like Eric,” Sam said in a soft tone.
Lara whirled around to stare at her friend. “Excuse me? I remember thinking you’re the one who wanted to lead a mob to rip the skin off his spine when you found out.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Don’t I recall that.”
“Then what the heck are you talking about today, giving him the benefit of the doubt?”
“Because life is short, you idiot. And we’re all older and wiser today.” Sam paused. “Tell me, sincerely, would you refuse if you were given a second chance?”
The slow burn of anger, combined with the bite of disappointment and the sharp rips of crushed dreams, slashed their way through her. “You know what? If that happened, I definitely wouldn’t care.”
“The more fool you, then,” Sam said.
“Oh, bugger off, you sanctimonious cow.”
Sam snorted. “Trust me, we are so not done with this topic.”
And that’s exactly what has me worried. Lara turned her head the other way. She couldn’t bear for Sam, the woman who’d always read through her like an open book, to see how a senseless part of her would grab on to the mere hope of another chance with Eric if one ever came within a hundred miles of her.
(available at the discounted price of $2.99)
About the author
Stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of culture
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.
Back in the year 2000 (when this story takes place), divorce was an almost-alien, shunned & vilified concept. People were still supposed to marry ‘for life’ and a wife left her husband’s home only in her coffin. Those who dared brave this silent edict did it at the risk of becoming marginalized and cast away. Like Lara, the author, Zee, divorced her British husband and returned to the island to face such drama. Much of the divorce angle in the book comes from her own experience.