KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Once upon a time, Tayanita Moya had what should have been a perfect life. She had a handsome, ambitious husband who was like her best friend, and an adorable daughter. Things should have been perfect — but they weren’t. So, she walked away.
Now, her teenage daughter wants her to be part of that life again. Tayanita isn’t so sure she can be strong enough to watch another woman live the life she should have had. In a moment of desperation, she reaches out to an unsuspecting, sexy, anonymous voice on the phone one night and unloads her whole dreadful secret life.
John Ashford looks forward to his nightly call from his secret, sexy siren. He hears hundreds of voices on the phone every day, but few sound as broken and haunted as his secret caller. Since being injured in the line of duty, Lieutenant Commander Ashford has a few secrets of his own.
Can Tayanita and John rectify the past and build a future together?
THIRTEEN. IT DOESN’T SEEM POSSIBLE that Ketki is thirteen. Yet, as she is trying to describe the game theory behind an arcade game to Shelby, the graces of womanhood are trying to overtake the child who was once there.
Ketki crosses her arms and scowls. “Mom! I told you to go right! Why did you go left?”
I suck in a breath as anguish slips past my carefully constructed mask.
Shelby shrugs and says, “I thought there was a shortcut there. So, sue me. I’m hungry anyway.”
Mark rolls his eyes as he responds, “These days, it seems like I’m always feeding one or both of you. You guys are about to eat me out of house and home.”
Shelby grins. “It’s Ketki’s birthday. We’re supposed to be eating like there’s no tomorrow. After all, you ordered enough pizza to feed an army.”
Mark bends down and kisses Shelby right in the middle of the pizza parlor as if there is not another soul around. I have to look away as a soft bemused look crosses his face and he says, “You’re right, there’s nothing I like better than taking care of my girls. I love the fact that you watch out for Ketki.”
I know Mark doesn’t mean anything by those words, but to me, they feel like a thousand scalpels to my heart.
I should be the one that Ketki calls Mom — but I’m not. I gave up that right.
I should be the one Mark is kissing — but I’m not. I gave up that right too.
I should be the one playing arcade games with Ketki — but I’m not. I forfeited that privilege more than a decade ago. Now, I just sit on the sidelines and watch as another woman lives the life I gave up.
Most of the time, I can live with my choices. They were made a long time ago in a different place and time in a different state of mind. Then wasn’t now. Today, it’s all just too hard to watch. Mark is a man who used to be my best friend and who is the kindest, most gentle man I ever knew — although he can be sharp-tongued and blunt at times. I watch with a profound sense of regret as he cuddles his new fiancé and gently kisses her as he watches our daughter’s antics in the arcade. My heart squeezes painfully as I have to come to grips with the fact that the scene of domestic tranquility used to be my life. I had that life and I gave it all up.
Over the years, I tucked that decision far away in the back of my mind. I tried to pretend that the happily ever after white picket fence life that I had and gave up never existed. I gave myself an imaginary lobotomy. I had the before and after version of Tayanita. That approach served me well for almost a decade; but then fate intervened and I was thrown back into Mark’s life and I could no longer pretend that Mark and Ketki never existed.
Ketki exists in beautiful three-dimensional living color and it’s been impossible to adequately explain to her what I don’t quite understand myself. How do I explain to my inquisitive teenage daughter how I could just walk away from her when she was not even yet a toddler? How do I explain the debilitating effects of postpartum depression and the overwhelming impact of Mark’s law school schedule on our lives? I completely lost myself and my identity in being a mother and I was sure I could never succeed. I had a dream of what being a mom was like and when it turned out not to be like that, I felt completely and utterly hopeless. There just aren’t enough words to explain the why.
Mary Crawford has been lucky enough to live her own version of a romance novel. She married to the guy who kissed her at summer camp. He told her on the night they met that he was going to marry her and be the father of their children. Eventually, she stopped giggling when he said it, and they‘ve celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. They have two children. The oldest is in medical school, where he recently found and married the love of his life, and the youngest has is tackling middle school.
Ms. Crawford writes full time now. She has written and published over a dozen books and has several more underway. She volunteers her time to a variety of causes and has worked as a Civil Rights Attorney and diversity advocate. Ms. Crawford spent many years working for various social service agencies before becoming an attorney. In her spare time, she loved to cook, decorate cakes and of course, obsessively, compulsively read.
Links to Mary’s website, blog, books, etc.
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