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Don’t Look Back

Lily’s Story Book Two

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Hiding from her estranged husband Trevor, Lily Jamison has changed her name and settled in a small town in the California Central Valley. Though she continues to receive emails from Trevor that range from threats to professions of love, she tries to move on with her life.

To hide her identity she’s had to lie to all those around her. To further protect herself she gets a dog and takes self-defense classes, but she lives in constant fear that all of her efforts will not keep her husband from tracking her down.

Eventually she comes to realize that to truly put her past behind her, she needs to divorce Trevor. However, he has some demands of his own, including being involved in the life of the child Lily is carrying in her womb.

Scroll down to read the first chapter.

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Chapter 1

I stood on the gravel driveway and gazed at the house I wanted to live in. Blue shutters framed the windows and colorful pansies lined the walkway leading to the wide front porch. If I’d ever imagined the perfect place to live, this would be it. The only thing missing was the picket fence.

Excitement pulsed through me as I pictured myself living there with my baby. But when I considered how high the rent would surely be, worry replaced the excitement. Though I had eighty-five thousand dollars to draw on, I had no immediate prospects for a job and needed the money to last as long as possible.

But I needed to find a place to settle. I had to try.

I hurried back to my car and took my new cell phone out of my purse, then called the number written on the For Rent sign. Disappointed to get voice mail, I left a message and put the phone in my pocket.

Eager to get a better look, I walked around the side of the house and went through a gate, then made my way to the back porch. A door led to the kitchen, and when I cupped my hand to the window on the door, I saw a small kitchen with plenty of cupboards and an adjoining breakfast nook. I walked around the entire house, but the rest of the windows had curtains and I couldn’t see inside.

Back on the front porch, I peered through the living room window and saw a small room with hardwood floors and a fireplace. 

This place was adorable.

Ready to make my way back to the motel where I’d spent the night, I walked back to my car, but before I got in, my cell phone rang. Startled by the sound, and afraid the caller would somehow be my husband, Trevor, I pulled the phone out of my pocket and checked the Caller ID. It was a local area code.

It must be the owner of the house.

“Hello?” My voice betrayed my eagerness.

“Is this the person who called about the house?” The woman sounded friendly.

“Yes. Is it still available?” 

“Oh yes.”

“That’s great.” A smile of anticipation curved my mouth. “I’m at the house now. Is it possible for me to take a look inside?”

The woman spoke to someone in the background, then to me. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

After promising to wait, I closed my phone, then realized I’d forgotten to ask about the rent. Frowning, I sat on the porch.

Fifteen minutes later I heard a car approaching, and when I looked toward the road I saw a car turning into the gravel drive, then pull to a stop. A moment later an older woman climbed out of the car and made her way toward me.

Standing as the woman approached, I smiled.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” the woman said, then glanced around. “Is it just you, dear?”

I smiled. “Yep, just me.”

“Oh, I see.”

“I’d really like to see the inside of the house, if that’s okay.” I hoped she wouldn’t have a problem with me being on my own.

The woman smiled and held out her hand. “I’m Mary.”

I shook her hand, my fears easing. “Kate. Kate Jamison.” My false identity sounded foreign to me, but I hoped I’d said it naturally enough. I would need to get used to using it since I’d decided that using my real name, Lily, would make it too easy for Trevor to find me. 

She pointed to my car. “I see you’re from Nevada. I lived there for a while myself.”

“Oh. How long have you lived in California?”

“About thirty years, I guess.” She paused. “How old are you, dear?”

“I’ll be twenty-one next month.”

“And your parents don’t mind you moving all the way here by yourself?”

Unprepared for the question, especially since it reminded me how truly alone I was, I hesitated. “I don’t know how they would feel. They’re both . . . dead.” To keep the tears at bay, I blinked several times.

Mary placed her hand on my arm. “I’m so sorry to hear that. How sad for you.”

Nodding, I tried to smile.

“Well, let’s take a look inside, shall we?” She pulled a key from her pocket and unlocked the door, then stepped back to allow me to enter first.

The interior was stuffy from being closed up on a warm day, but I still liked the feel of the place. It was a small house—more like a two-story cottage—but it was clean. I walked around the empty living room, taking in the scuffed walls, but thought the room was plenty big. 

“You would be welcome to paint, if you’d like,” Mary said, obviously seeing the same scuff marks I’d seen.

“Okay.”

A combination half-bath/laundry room was off the hall that led to the kitchen, which excited me—having my own laundry room would be a luxury. 

“The washer and dryer are older, but they work,” Mary said.

“Perfect.”

We moved into the U-shaped kitchen. Medium-sized, it had plenty of storage and counter space, as well as an adjacent dining room.

“This house has been here for a long time,” Mary said as I followed her from room to room. “My husband and I bought it and lived here when we first moved to California. We quickly outgrew it of course, but we decided to hang on to it.”

“How many bedrooms are there?” I asked as we ascended the narrow staircase.

“Just the two.”

At the top of the stairs I turned right, which was the only way to go. I walked down the hallway and turned left, into the larger of the two bedrooms. Like the rest of the house, it had hardwood floors. There were two windows—one each on two separate walls.

“Lots of natural light,” Mary pointed out.

I nodded as I walked out of the bedroom and peeked into the small bathroom situated next to the master bedroom. I stepped across the hall into the second bedroom and could immediately picture a crib along one wall and a dresser and changing table against the other.

“This would be perfect for the baby,” I murmured.

“Baby? What baby?” Mary asked.

Alarmed that I’d spoken out loud, I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Are you pregnant, dear?” Mary asked, glancing at my left ring finger.

Glad I’d left my wedding ring on, I nodded.

“Will the baby’s father be living here too?”

Panicked that if I gave out too much information Trevor would somehow find me, I hesitated. “No. He’s no longer . . . around.”

“What do you mean? Is he . . . dead?”

Somehow, at that moment, it seemed easier to let the woman believe I was a widow. I nodded.

“You poor thing. You’ve certainly had your share of tragedy, now haven’t you?”

Thinking about the last year, the loss of my father, and my bad marriage to Trevor and how he’d treated me, lied to me and about me, I couldn’t hold back the tears. It was like a damn bursting and I pressed my hands to my eyes to try to stop the flow.

Mary wrapped her arms around me and murmured comforting words. The empathy I felt from her made me sob even harder, but after a few minutes I managed to get myself under control. Wiping the tears from my face, I straightened and faced her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lose control like that.”

“That’s okay, dear. Sometimes we need a good cry.”

I nodded as she ushered me back down the stairs and onto the front porch. Calmness settled over me. “Thank you for showing me the house.”

“Do you like it?”

“Very much, but I’m afraid I probably can’t afford it.”

“How do you know that when I haven’t even told you how much the rent is?”

“Well, I can only imagine how much it is and I doubt it will fit my budget.” I smiled again, trying to hide my disappointment. “But thank you for coming all the way out here to show it to me.”

“Young lady, I do believe we can work something out.” Kindness radiated from her eyes. “I’d like to see you live here. I think you would take good care of this old place.” She paused. “Tell me how much you’ve budgeted for rent.”

I told her the most I felt comfortable paying.

“That seems fair to me. And the peace of mind I would have in knowing my property is in good hands has value too.”

“Really? Are you sure?” I could hardly believe my good fortune. 

“This place is paid for. And the last few tenants didn’t love the place like I know you will.” 

“Thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to me.” I gently stroked my flat stomach. “To both of us.”

She arranged to meet me back at the house the next morning so I could sign the rental agreement and pay the first month’s rent along with a security deposit. 

As I drove back to the motel, I paid careful attention to where I was so I could find my way back the next day.

* * *

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