Worth the Drive Online - Mara Jacobs

Prologue

We were happily married for eight months.

Unfortunately, we were married for four and a half years.

– Nick Faldo, professional golfer

“I’m not sure I ever loved you.”

Wow. She hadn’t seen that one coming.

Still, Katie Lipton supposed, if you’re stupid enough to ask the question, “Don’t you love me anymore?” you ought to be prepared for the answer. Whatever it turned out to be. But she couldn’t believe the words coming out of Ron’s mouth.

She watched as he stood in the bedroom and continued to pack his suitcase. Like picking at a scab, she couldn’t stop herself from pursuing his comment. “What do you mean you never loved me? What were the last seventeen years, then – a crush?”

“Don’t, Katie. Don’t do this to yourself. It’s over.” His look for her was patronizing, filled with false empathy. She wanted to put her fist through his Greek god face. Make his incredible good looks bloodied and bruised, to match her heart.

Her best friend Alison would have done it. Wound up and cold-cocked him right there, right now. Not caring if he bled all over their cream carpeting or their cream comforter in their cream-colored bedroom. Or she would hurt him with the words that wouldn’t come to Katie. Alison’s quick wit and razor-sharp mouth would bring Ron down to size. But Katie wasn’t Alison.

Her other best friend, Lizzie, would probably have seen this coming months ago and had some kind of plan for when the moment arrived. Or, she’d diffuse the situation with her calming, soothing nature. But Katie wasn’t Lizzie either.

While Alison’s smarts and Lizzie’s shining personality would have been so useful now, Katie’s incredible beauty - what she was known for - did her no good in this situation. All she could do was sit on the bed, stunned, and watch as her boyfriend of four years, husband of thirteen, packed his tee shirts and boxers into the his of their his-and-hers matching luggage.

“Ron, if this is about the baby…” her voice trailed off. What? What could she say? Promise not to mention the baby again? Promise to abandon her dream of becoming a mother? Could she do that? If it meant keeping Ron, would she do that?

“See, Katie, you even say ‘the’ baby, not ‘a’ baby, as if one ever existed.” His voice was harsh. “There is no baby, Katie. There never was a baby. There will never be a baby.” He paused. “Not for us, anyway.”

There was something in his voice as he made the last comment. Something cutting and mean. Katie had come to recognize that tone. It had been so foreign just a few years ago, when his voice had always conveyed his love for her. “What do you mean, ‘not for us, anyway’?”

“It means no baby for us, Katie. Just like I said.”

Don’t do it. Don’t ask. Don’t jump at his baiting voice. But she couldn’t help herself. “Is there a ‘but’ at the end of that?” she asked.

Obviously he’d been dying to get to this, knowing she would lead him there eventually.

“Yes, there is a but. There will be no baby for us, Katie, but,” he dragged the word out, emphasizing every letter, “there will be a baby for me. In five months to be exact.”

She wanted to double over, the pain was so great. Her breath totally left her body. But some small shred of dignity made her sit still, not even flinching. In the back of her mind she wondered what hurt more, the knowledge that Ron had betrayed her or the thought that yet another woman would have a child and she would not.

Ron seemed disappointed that she hadn’t crumbled, and that gave her a little bit of strength. Enough to say, “And just who is the mother of your child?”

He turned his back to her, going to a drawer in the dresser and taking out all of his socks. Socks she had bought for him. Socks she had washed. Socks she had picked up off this bedroom floor more times than she could remember.

“Amber Saari,” he said.

Katie couldn’t hide her shock this time as a small gasp escaped her. “Amber Saari? She’s a child herself. She’s one of your students.”

“Was. Was one of my students. She’s twenty,” he said, hurt and indignant. Like how dare she believe he’d ever have anything to do with one of his students at the high school. Oh no, he’d wait until they were out for two years before sleeping with them. A man of honor, her