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Authors: Anna Jacobs

Tags: #General/Fiction

Moving On

Recent Titles by Anna Jacobs from Severn House
CHANGE OF SEASON
CHESTNUT LANE
THE CORRIGAN LEGACY
FAMILY CONNECTIONS
A FORBIDDEN EMBRACE
AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
IN FOCUS
KIRSTY’S VINEYARD
LICENCE TO DREAM
MARRYING MISS MARTHA
MISTRESS OF MARYMOOR
MOVING ON
REPLENISH THE EARTH
SAVING WILLOWBROOK
SEASONS OF LOVE
THE WISHING WELL
MOVING ON
Anna Jacobs
This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
 
First world edition published 2011
in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2011 by Anna Jacobs.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Jacobs, Anna.
Moving on.
1. Separated women – Family relationships – Fiction.
2. Domestic fiction.
I. Title
823.9′2-dc22
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-072-2 (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8046-8 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-354-0 (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
To Jennifer, Eddy, Ann, Jane and the rest of the team at my own, real-life leisure village. Your creation has added another
,
very happy dimension to our lives. Thank you.
One
‘Why don’t you bring a friend with you to the wedding, Mum? Then you won’t have to sit alone.’ Avoiding her mother’s eyes, Rachel twisted and turned in front of the mirror, holding her hair up and checking her profile.
‘I don’t need to bring a friend to my own daughter’s wedding, surely?’ Molly picked up a tissue that had fallen to the ground, suddenly feeling apprehensive. What did Rachel want to change now? You’d have thought they were organizing the premiere of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, not a wedding.
‘We-ell, Dad’s a bit worried that with him and Tasha sitting together, and Brian sitting with Geneva, you’ll be on your own at the family table.’
Craig worried about her? No way. The last time he’d worried about her was when he’d asked for a divorce two years ago and been desperate to take as much money as he could out of the marriage with him. And the house. He’d badly wanted to stay in the family home, but she’d dug her heels in there.
When Rachel said nothing, Molly added, ‘Anyway, I won’t be on my own. My son and daughter will be on the top table with me.’
‘Yes, but . . .’
Here it comes, thought Molly, more bad news. It felt as if she’d been standing alone against the rest of the family ever since Craig left. She braced herself, determined not to weep or make a scene. She’d done that all too often over the first few bewildering months of sorting out a new life for herself.
‘Well, Mum, Tasha thinks she and Dad should sit on either side of us, and Jamie’s parents don’t mind.’
‘Tasha isn’t the mother of the bride. I am.’
‘I know, and no one can take that away from you, but you see, it’s her money that’s paying for such a swish venue. Dad’s not been exactly flush since you took the family home and he had to buy the flat.’
Thank goodness she’d come to her senses before it was too late, Molly thought. And thank goodness her friends had found her a good lawyer. ‘It was
my
family home, actually, which
I
inherited. Why should he take it from me?’
‘You have to keep harping on that, don’t you? It was Daddy’s home as well for ten years, and he misses it terribly. He looks so sad when he talks about it.’
Molly breathed in deeply. She’d promised herself not to do anything to spoil Rachel’s special day, because bad feelings about important occasions could linger for years, but it was hard sometimes to bite her tongue. ‘I thought we were having traditional seating.’
Rachel shrugged. ‘It’s a bit old-fashioned to stick to a formula. And does it matter that much where you sit, as long as you’re on the top table?’
‘It matters to me. Very much.’ Molly looked at her daughter, but Rachel had brushed her hair over her eyes and was pretending to try out a new style. When the fiddling with the hairbrush went on for longer than it needed to, Molly realized the seating change was a done deal. If she made a big fuss, she’d be the one in the wrong, as far as her daughter was concerned.
She moved to stand by the window, colours blurring as she blinked her eyes and looked out at the garden. She suddenly remembered her own wedding day and had to stuff her hand into her mouth not to sob. So much hope, so much joy.
She had to start fighting back more skilfully. They were steamrollering her. Only . . . was it worth creating a fuss about this? It was Rachel’s wedding, after all, not hers. The trouble was, these days she couldn’t be bothered to fight back most of the time. It was all just – too much. Her friend Di said she was depressed. Well, she had reason to be.
A bright yellow delivery van turned in to the drive and pulled up at the house. A minute later the doorbell rang, then Brian yelled up the stairs, ‘It’s a parcel for you, Rach, from that shoe place.’
Rachel squeaked and dived out of the bedroom.
Molly wiped her eyes hastily, but couldn’t wipe away the sick feeling. Thanks to her husband’s rich and extremely slim second wife, she now felt totally excluded from her only daughter’s wedding – and she was dreading the event.
She went to her own bedroom and opened the wardrobe door to stare at the blue dress and jacket she’d bought. ‘Perfect for the mother of the bride,’ the sales assistant had assured her.
‘It’s a pretty shade of blue,’ Rachel had said. ‘One of your favourite colours.’
But her daughter hadn’t seen it on, and the dress didn’t look half as flattering once Molly got it home. Dresses never did. She wasn’t good at choosing clothes. And anyway, she’d put on two kilos since then, what with all the hassles, all of it round her waist. She’d let herself go since the divorce and she wasn’t naturally slim.
No. 2 wife was not only slender but ferociously elegant, never seemed to have a hair out of place, and was the perfect partner for an ambitious man who’d climbed almost to the top of the executive ladder and was still going.
There was a joyous squeal from the hall. When Rachel squealed like that she wanted an audience, and if she didn’t get one here, she’d go round to her father’s, where Tasha would take an intense and clever interest in anything to do with clothes.
In the hall, Molly found her daughter balancing on shoes with impossibly high heels, moving to and fro, beaming at her reflection in the full-length mirror. ‘They look beautiful, darling,’ Molly lied. In reality, she thought heels that high not only looked ridiculous but were dangerous to walk in. But what was one minor lie in the confusion her life was in now?
Rachel wobbled across to the dining room to find the swatch of ivory satin and hold it against the shoes. ‘Oh, yes. The dyers got the shade exactly right.’
‘They certainly did.’
Beaming, Rachel walked up and down the hall again. ‘I’d better practise.’
‘I’ll go and start tea. Chicken breasts with salad all right? I’ve found a new low-fat sauce recipe.’ She turned towards the kitchen.
‘Oh. I’m not going to be here for tea, Mum. Didn’t Brian tell you? We’re both going over to Dad’s tonight.’
‘But we agreed we’d have a family night tonight! I bought some champagne and . . .’ Molly had been looking forward to an evening with just her two children, something which wouldn’t be likely after the wedding. She’d wanted them to reminisce about old times and get closer again, as they used to be. She’d hunted out some old photo albums for them to go through, something Rachel usually loved doing.
Of course, Brian would still be living at home after the wedding, but apart from piling his dirty clothes in the laundry and regularly eating the last of the bread, he wasn’t around very often, especially since he’d started dating his stepmother’s daughter, Geneva.
Molly turned away, hearing her daughter go in the other direction. Once this wedding was over, she’d have to find something more interesting to do with her life, something for her. What did they call it? Moving on.
But what could she do? She’d never had a career, just a series of jobs when they were first married and short of money, then years of being the perfect hostess for Craig. She was a good cook, at least; prided herself on that. She looked down at herself and grimaced. Too good a cook, maybe.
Only she wasn’t professionally trained, and anyway, the joy of cooking was giving pleasure to others . . . and soon she wouldn’t have any close family to cook for. She felt as if the world had tossed her on the scrap heap.
On the afternoon of the wedding Molly dressed carefully, sucking in her stomach and tugging the dress down over it. When she let her breath out, she moaned aloud because the dress was stretched too tightly. She should have tried it on a couple of days ago, while there was still time to buy another. But there was nothing she could do about that now. She slipped the jacket on and it looked marginally better – but it’d look frumpy and wrong against Tasha’s outfit, she knew.
When she put the hat on, she realized she’d made an even bigger mistake. The hat was huge, fussy and more suited to an English lady in Edwardian times than a modern woman. It was pretty in itself, but it did nothing for her. She tried it several different ways, but couldn’t get it to flatter her. Should she leave it at home? No, her hair had been messed up by it now. She wished she had nice bouncy hair, instead of straight fine hair with built-in flop.
Last week Rachel had decided she would be getting ready at her father’s house, so that Tasha could help her with her make-up. It seemed you had to be specially made-up for weddings these days, though with a complexion as good as her daughter’s, Molly wondered why she needed so much make-up.
Molly and her son were going to the church in a taxi. She tried not to mind too much about being left out of the preparations, and tried not to mind having a taxi instead of a limo, like the rest of the family. But she did mind. She should have ordered a limo for herself and Brian, only she had to be careful about money nowadays.
Oh, stop it!
she told herself crossly.
Stop moaning. You’ve done nothing but moan for days, Molly Peel. Just get the wedding over, then get a life.
‘Right,’ she told her reflection and squared her shoulders. ‘I will.’
Brian yelled along the corridor. ‘Geneva just rang. She wants me to ride to the wedding with her in the limo. Do you mind, Mum? After all, the taxi is booked. You’ll just have to sit in it like a queen and be swooshed away to the church.’
He didn’t wait for an answer – he never did these days – but rushed out of the house.
Molly looked away from the mirror and picked up the tiny bag that matched her outfit. Rachel had begged her not to take her roomy shoulder bag today and had helped her choose this silly thing.
Standing by the front door, she waited for the taxi. It was late. Five times she glanced at her watch, which equated to four minutes.
Ten minutes passed. She was getting seriously worried now.
Just as she was about to ring the taxi firm, a vehicle with a sign on top turned into the drive. With a sigh of relief, she locked the house door and got into the back seat.
‘Meesis Taylor? St Jude church?’ the driver asked in strongly accented English.
‘Yes. Can you hurry, please? I don’t want to be late.’
He set off as if he was fleeing from justice, screeching round corners and exceeding the speed limit whenever he could. But inevitably the traffic got heavier as they reached the town centre. People were starting to go home from work. Five o’clock was a stupid time to hold a wedding.
As the minutes ticked relentlessly past, Molly kept glancing at her watch.
It happened so quickly, she didn’t even see the other car approaching, but she felt the impact as it slammed into the side of her taxi. In spite of the seat belt, she bumped her head hard against the side of the car, and she really did see stars for a moment or two.

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