Saturday Excerpt: Forget Me Not by Brenda Jackson
Are you ready for a wonderful weekend? The latest from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson is the perfect way to kick off a relaxing weekend. Keep reading to discover more!
About Forget Me Not:
Brenda Jackson welcomes you back to Catalina Cove, where love is waiting to be reclaimed…
Ashley Ryan never doubted that her husband, Devon, was the love of her life. Even now, three years after Devon died in a car wreck while on a business trip, Ashley can’t bring herself to move on. But when her girlfriends surprise her with a getaway to beautiful Catalina Cove, Louisiana, she gets the shock of her life when she encounters a man—bearded, more rugged than before, but unmistakably her Devon.
“Ray Sullivan” moved to this quiet coastal town after waking up in a hospital with amnesia. Haunted by a life he can’t remember, he’s built walls around his heart and a quiet life running boat tours—a life that includes no recollection of Ashley, a woman he suddenly finds himself irresistibly drawn to.
Doctors warn Ashley of the danger in forcing her husband to remember the past. Though she longs to tell him the truth, she finds herself falling all over again for a man she knows may never truly come back to her. In this place where healing and second chances are just a heartbeat away, can love take root once more?
“Happy birthday, Ashley.”
Ashley smiled across the breakfast table at Emmie, Kim and Suzanne. Three women whom she considered her closest and dearest friends. She honestly didn’t know what she would have done without them for the past three years. They had been her rock and, in some cases, her sanity. Yesterday Kim and Suzanne, whom she’d known since her high school days in Topeka, Kansas, had arrived in town to celebrate her thirtieth birthday with her.
What she appreciated more than anything was that none of them ever said the words “We know just what you’re going through.” Because they didn’t. No one did. But at least they had given her their shoulders to cry on and there had been a lot of crying times.
Emmie was the only one who lived in Hardeeville. Suzanne lived in Atlanta and Kim in Dallas. “Go ahead and open your gift,” Kim was saying, smiling brightly.
Ashley smiled back. The box was wrapped so prettily, she hated untying the bow. There was no telling what these three had bought her and she decided to try to guess. “Is it something I can eat?”
Emmie laughed. “No.”
“Umm, something I can wear?”
“Nope,” Suzanne said, grinning. “Just open the darn box, and I’m telling the waiter to bring us another bottle of wine.”
“Open it, Ash, before Suzanne drinks the whole bottle by herself,” Kim said, chuckling.
“Oh, all right.” Ashley began untying the bow and used the edge of her polished fingernail to care- fully ease off the wrapping paper. Inside the box and buried beneath tissue paper was an envelope with her name sprawled across it in beautiful cursive. Ashley Ryan. Sometimes her mother would suggest that she go back to using her maiden name of Hardwick, and it upset her every time—as if she could just erase those five years with Devon from her life.
She slid her fingernail along the flap to open the envelope. “Ohh, wow…”
It was a gift certificate for a two-week stay at Shelby by the Sea. She’d heard reservations at the exclusive bed-and-breakfast in Catalina Cove, a quaint shipping town an hour’s drive from New Orleans, were booked for a full year in advance.
“We’re doing a girls’ trip,” Ashley said, smiling over at them.
Suzanne shook her head. “No, it’s not a girls’ trip.”
Ashley’s forehead bunched in confusion. “It’s not?”
“No,” Kim said.
“We know how hard these past three years have been for you, Ash,” Emmie was saying in a soft voice. “And we know you have decisions you need to make about a number of things.”
Since they were her best friends, they were well aware that her mother was determined to get her back into the dating scene. Ashley was satisfied just being left alone. It seemed no one but her best friends understood that. Her mother, Imogene Hardwick, certainly didn’t. All she was concerned about was be- coming a grandmother while she was young enough to enjoy her grandkids. Ashley had even overheard her mother whisper to her father that if Devon had to die at least he could have left her pregnant.
Her parents’ moving to Hardeeville from Topeka was supposed to be temporary to give their daughter support, but Ashley saw it as just the opposite and wished they would return home. At least she’d gotten them out of her house after she’d come home from work one day to find her mother had removed all the framed photographs that Ashley and Devon had taken together. That had been the last straw and she’d asked them to leave that night.
Her father had given her an appreciative nod. Although he hadn’t supported his wife’s foolishness, he was a weakling when it came to standing up to her. Instead of returning to Topeka like Ashley had hoped they would do, they had moved to an apartment across town, and three years later Imogene was still in Hardeeville, causing havoc in Ashley’s life.
Ashley studied the gift certificate. “What will I do there for two weeks by myself?”
“Definitely not what I’d do for two weeks by myself,” Suzanne said, wiggling her brows. Since Suzanne was a divorcée who swore never to marry again but to just have fun with men, they could imagine what she’d do.
Emmie rolled her eyes before giving Ashley a pointed look. “For starters, you’ll get a break from your mother.”
“True,” Ashley said, taking a sip of her coffee. Everyone chuckled since they all knew what a handful Imogene Hardwick could be.
“You can relax and enjoy yourself.” Kim smiled and then added, “Jon Paul and I went to Catalina Cove for our honeymoon and loved it. I understand the original owner died and the owner’s niece inherited it. I heard she’s kept those things that made the bed-and-breakfast unique, yet she modernized some things that you can appreciate.”
Ashley nodded. Since Kim and Jon Paul had gone there for their honeymoon, she wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of honeymooners there. How would she feel sharing space with them when they were starting their lives together, and hers had ended the day she lost Devon on their fifth anniversary? However, Ashley knew why they were sending her there. She couldn’t grieve for Devon forever. At some point she needed to get on with her life. A life without the man she loved. But she wasn’t sure she’d ever be ready to move on and allow another man into her life.
“We know what you’re thinking, Ash, and it’s okay if you come back with the same mind-set that you have now about things. But you can’t continue to work as hard as you do,” Emmie said, reaching out and touching her arm. “You haven’t taken any time off. You can’t continue to do so without giving your body and mind a break.”
Ashley drew in a deep breath. Emmie was right. Since losing Devon, she’d thrown herself into her work. StayNTouch had become her lifeline. She had started the company with Emmie six years ago. They connected friends as most social media companies did. But they went a little further by planning periodic trips for their members; sending reminders of important events such as birthdays, weddings and reunions; and becoming a huge support group when needed. And for the past three years it had been a support for her as well.