When All is Said and Done
Publication date: December 5th 2023
Genres: Women’s Fiction
A heartbreaking novel about the sacrifices we make for love.
After an unstable childhood, marriage isn’t just a promise to Dustin Carver, it’s his lifeline. He and Tegan grew up together, fell in love, and planned their perfect life. When the future they imagined gets derailed by her demanding law career, their marriage slowly slides off the rails.
Tegan can’t believe her husband took her threat of a separation seriously and walked away without a backward glance. Heartbroken and embarrassed, she covers for his absence with lies. Lies she tells herself about her career. Lies she tells her family about her marriage. And lies she’s yet to confess to her husband about a secret she kept while he was away. When Dustin finally returns, she’s running on fumes and her lies are about to be exposed.
Seven weeks in Key West licking his wounds and watching his best friend fall in love is enough to convince Dustin to come home and fight for his marriage. Saving their relationship means returning to therapy and facing a bitter truth neither wants to address. What if their childhood romance doesn’t have a happy-ever-after ending?
This emotional read told with brutal honesty begs the ultimate question for marriages far and wide. At the end of the day-at the end of our lives-what is worth fighting for, and when, if ever, should we walk away?
He heard a noise from the kitchen, and his pulse picked up the beat. Was that the side door closing or the echoed rumble from his rebellious stomach? He stilled the strings with his palm and recognized the familiar sound of Tegan hanging her keys on the hook and shucking her shoes by the door. His heart lurched into his throat.
Dustin cursed himself for getting lost in the music and not preparing for her return. He should have been rehearsing speeches in his head or making dinner instead of mowing the lawn, adding a couple of towels to her burgeoning laundry pile, and playing around on the guitar. He propped the instrument against the couch and stood on unsteady legs.
A surging swell of love, swift and savage, swept over him as he looked at her, sent his heart thrashing against his chest. There she is—my center, my orbit—in living, breathing color. Tegan had her back turned and was flipping through the mail on the counter. Her hair was longer than normal, a dark curtain falling well past her sagging shoulders.
She gasped and spun, clutching her chest with both hands, her eyes blinking furiously. Frozen in that position like a still photograph captured on film, she looked thin—too thin—and fragile as blown glass. “Dusty.”
His name from her lips, soft and scratchy, scorched his eviscerated heart. “Sorry to startle you. I … I figured you’d see my car.”
She seemed confused, shaking her head, squinting her eyes. “Your car?”
“In the garage …” He tried and failed to keep the exasperation out of his voice. He’d been gone for weeks, and she hadn’t moved a muscle in his direction. Hadn’t flashed a smile or inclined her head or opened her arms to make him feel welcome. And after everything they had to say to one another, they were talking about his car?
“I parked in the driveway,” she said.
Her guilty tone and the way she tucked her chin to her chest were another lash to his pride. How many times had he begged her to park her car in the garage? They lived in a nice neighborhood, but why invite crime by leaving her car parked out in the open and alert everyone to her patterns of coming and going?
She read the look on his face and offered a muttered, “I was tired, and the garage door has been giving me fits. I think it needs grease or something.”
Stop talking about the stupid garage! He wanted to scream at her, grab her arms and shake her, invade the personal space she protected with her arms crossed tightly against her chest. He wanted to do something, anything, to get a rise out of her and stop the inane garage discussion.
The way she looked—the way she looked at him like a racoon caught pillaging the trash—kept his voice even and his feet rooted firmly in place. Even in the muted light, she appeared ready to drop. He longed to go to her, wrap her in his arms, let her lean on him the way she always had when life kicked her in the tail. But he couldn’t. Not now. Not with everything at stake.
Christy Hayes writes romance and romantic women’s fiction. She is the proud mother of two grown children and lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and rescue dogs.
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