Tear Stained Beaches by Courtney Giardina
Book blurb: Haylie Julian wants nothing more than to put her crumbling marriage back together. Chase used to be a fun-loving, light hearted husband who had lately become an overworked attorney obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder. It isn’t long before Haylie starts waking up next to a man she barely knows. His secretive phone calls and late nights at the office leave her feeling alone and afraid of what he might be hiding. Ignoring his continuous pleas to just leave well enough alone, she continues to dig for answers and discovers a heartbreaking truth.
Struggling with what she has just learned, Haylie sets off to a quaint little North Carolina beach town to decide if her marriage can survive. It isn’t long after she arrives that her world is once again turned upside down as Chase’s secret stares her right in the face.
Tear Stained Beaches explores what happens when a marriage isn’t the happily-ever-after you thought it was. Can trust be rebuilt? Can a wife forgive the ultimate betrayal?
I’m not sure what it was that night. Lying in bed tossing and turning, I wasn’t able to sleep. My head was spinning with all sorts of thoughts, and my heart raced at the very fact any one of them could be true. He had been texting often lately; much more than ever before. His phone never seemed to leave his side and you could see the panic on his face every time it was within my grasp. His business trips became more frequent. Yes, work was busy, but how often does a lawyer need to travel when they’re only licensed to practice in one state?
I kept telling myself that I was being paranoid, that he wasn’t like my exes. After all, he wasn’t the high school boyfriend who shattered my heart into pieces; he was my husband of five years. The most trusting man I had ever met. There’s no way the man who proposed in a quaint little bed and breakfast, after drawing me a bath and ordering in room service, would do anything to intentionally hurt me. I must have been crazy to think that.
I tried my best to smile and drew the covers up to my chin, telling myself to relax. He was just a dedicated working-man. A man who worked hard for the house we had, the life we lived and the luxury cars that sat in the driveway.
I closed my eyes, and our Jamaican honeymoon came to life. What an amazing time we had that week. It rained for most of it, but those were the best parts. No one was hogging the Jacuzzi when it was pouring, so we saw our chance and took it. Hell, we were wet anyway, so the rain didn’t bother us. I actually found it romantic. Every evening, at sunset, we headed down to the deserted end of the beach and took pictures of the starfish that hung close to shore. The last memory before falling asleep was of myself: bright orange starfish in hand, turning my head toward the camera, smiling and in love.
It was almost two in the morning when I woke to the door squeaking open. I kept my eyes closed, listening to him move around in the darkness. After a few moments, he lifted the covers to crawl in. He nudged closer to me and wrapped his arm around my waist. I took a deep breath and paused. My eyes shot open as a tear slowly rolled down my cheek. I stared straight ahead, careful not to move and betray that I was awake. A shiver ran up my arm where his hand rested. I lay there, staring into space, my gaze lingering, almost as intense as the smell of her perfume.
I let the tear fall onto my pillow. He’d never come home with the smell of perfume before. Nor had he ever been out past midnight. Where could he have possibly been until two in the morning? I refused to move, I couldn’t let him see me like this. There was no way I could explain myself, and throwing around accusations when I had nothing to back it up seemed useless. I listened to the clock tick for what seemed like hours. Actually I’m pretty sure it was. I was making myself sick just thinking about what he would say in the morning. Was he really out with just a friend? Or was there another woman? What did she look like and did she know about me? Was she taller than me, skinnier than me, prettier than me? My head was spinning. This was not happening. There’s no way that my husband was having an affair. He knew how strongly I felt about adultery. The mere thought of it made my skin crawl.
I told myself I was being ridiculous, that I was overreacting. But now, now I didn’t know anything anymore. Never before had I woken in the middle of the night to roll over and find my husband not there, only to have him stumble in the early morning hours. The second hand seemed to move slower and slower. Every time I thought I’d actually been able to sleep, I’d look at the clock and not even five minutes would have passed. I lay there, wide-awake, in his arms, praying quietly that my intuition was just out of whack. It was every wife’s worst nightmare. The one thing they all fear, and it was possible I was living in the middle of it.
I’m not sure what time it was when I finally fell asleep, but I jumped up at the sound of the alarm clock at 7am. He slowly unwrapped his arm from me and reached over to turn it off. Even with his lack of a full-night’s sleep, Chase had no problem waking up. I, on the other hand, was completely exhausted. My eyes were so heavy; I kept them closed as long as I could. Begging for just a few extra seconds back of the sleep I’d lost.
“Good morning beautiful,” he said.
I rolled over onto my back and smiled. When I finally opened my eyes, his were looking back at me. I wanted to cry. Thinking of those eyes looking at any one else the way they looked at me broke my heart. He kissed my forehead and rolled out of bed, grabbing his cell phone from the night stand before heading into the bathroom to get ready.
“Late night huh?” I asked.
“Very late, sorry about that. Alex called me when I was finished with my meeting. Said he needed to talk. I guess he’s having some trouble at home. So we went out to Happy Jack’s for a couple drinks and just got carried away. I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“I think I heard your car pull in, but must have fallen asleep before you even came in,” I lied.
I tried to push all the awful thoughts to the back of my mind. After all, it is possible there was a simple answer to the perfume, and he really could have gotten caught up in an innocent conversation with a friend. I know it’s happened to me when I’ve gone out with my girlfriends. Time just gets away from you. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I watched him button up his blue striped shirt and khaki shorts.
“Going golfing I presume?”
“You know me so well.” He laughed as he walked over, leaned in and kissed me goodbye. I watched him walk out the door.
There was no way I was going back to bed, so I headed to the kitchen to make some breakfast. I pulled the frying pan out of the cupboard under the island and lit up the gas cook top to make an omelet. Once the eggs started to cook, my mind wandered. I could see her vividly; a ghost made real by my insecurity. She was blond, tall, with hazel eyes. Then, my height, about 5’3” with the same short brown curly hair I had. It wasn’t that I thought I wasn’t attractive enough for Chase, but if he was really having an affair, there must be something I was lacking. Maybe she liked to talk about football or cars. Maybe she could make him laugh more than I did. Was she better in bed? I probably could’ve driven myself crazy thinking of scenarios. My poor omelet received the brunt of my frustration as these thoughts pummeled my mind. I used the spatula to poke it to death. It didn’t really matter anyway; at that point I had lost my appetite. I banged the frying pan on the side of the trash can and let the eggs fall in.
There was only one thing in life that could calm me down in moments like this: running. I used the alone time on the open road to clear my head. Now seemed like a good time to find some tranquility, so I dressed in my workout gear and headed out the door. The music on my iPhone was turned up, but I couldn’t drown out the horrible thoughts that screamed in my head. I ran fast, pushed hard. Not because I was running towards anything; I was running away. Away from a life that had become so intertwined with doubt that I didn’t know what truth I could hold onto anymore. I felt the sun graze my face as I sped further and further from it all. The only negative part about running was that at some point I knew I’d have to stop. I’d have to turn around and go back. And whatever troubles had haunted me when I left, would be waiting upon my return.
**About author, Courtney Giardina: Courtney Giardina has always had a creative streak and a wild imagination. She has been fascinated by writing and the entertainment industry since she was a kid. Courtney grew up dancing, cheerleading and playing piano before she turned to writing as her creative outlet. She won an award for her writing in elementary school and wrote countless poems, songs and short stories.
Courtney was born and raised just outside of Rochester, NY. In 2012, she moved to Charlotte, NC and has been focusing on finally doing all the things she said she would do “someday.” After making a New Year’s Resolution in 2012 to write her first novel, Courtney completed Tear Stained Beaches after 9 months of long nights and wearing out the delete button on her keyboard. It was published by Take Two Publishing in February 2013. She has also started acting and has appeared in 3 short films in the Charlotte, NC area. She has a passion for health and fitness and enjoys living a very healthy lifestyle.
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