Her Ex Next Door Online - Beverly Farr

CHAPTER ONE

Ginny Russell sat at her antique Stickley desk and scanned the balance sheets on her computer screen. She’d been denying reality for several months now, but the numbers didn’t lie. She had a cash flow problem, and if she didn’t land some big clients this quarter, she might as well kiss Innovative Designs goodbye.

Charlotte, her assistant, knocked on her office door. “I’ve finished the invoices,” she announced. “Do you need anything before I go home?”

Other than a million dollars? Forty thousand would tide her over for a while, but if she was going to dream, she might as well dream big. “No, thank you,” Ginny said with a smile. There was no point in worrying her staff until it was time to hand out the pink slips.

Charlotte started walking to the front doors, then turned back. “Oh, and your mother called. About the shower.”

If her mother couldn’t reach her private cell phone, she would call the office. “Thanks, Charlotte. Good night.”

Ginny sighed and leaned back in her padded leather chair, putting her hands behind her head. She was glad she was marrying Phillip Stewart, but many of the preparations that her mother deemed essential for the perfect wedding, seemed excessive to her. It had been a lot simpler nine years ago.

At the University of Arizona, there had been no wedding showers, no big church ceremony with expensive flowers, and no lavish reception afterwards. Instead, she had taken a quick trip to Nevada, said a few words before a justice of the peace, and made love in the back of Derek’s van because they didn’t have money for a hotel.

Ginny felt her face flush at the memory, then pushed herself away from her desk. She would not waste any more time thinking about Derek Landon and their disastrous marriage. Great sex wasn’t enough to make a marriage last, she reminded herself sternly. Marriage required honesty and trust. This time, she was going to do it right.

But first, she had to take care of her business. She ruffled through the pile of bills on her desk. Was it time to mortgage her condo or call it quits?

A traitorous little voice in her mind reminded her that she could ask her mother for a loan, but she pushed the temptation aside. She looked out the large windows at the Dallas skyline. If she couldn’t stand on her own two feet as a professional interior designer, then she deserved to fail. But Innovative Designs was her baby, everything she’d worked for. What was she willing to sacrifice to make it succeed?

Ginny glanced at her watch. No more procrastinating. There wasn’t time to go home and change, but she should be able to get to her mother’s house on time, if all the traffic lights were green.

As she neared the quiet, beautifully landscaped streets of Highland Park, she took a deep breath and felt the tightness in her shoulders relax. John Armstrong had known what he was doing back in 1907 when he hired Wilbur David Cook, the landscape artist who had planned Beverly Hills, California to design Highland Park. The tiny town, only two point two square miles, was an oasis of beauty surrounded by the hustle and noise of Dallas on three sides.

She drove past one of the city’s numerous public parks and turned into the quiet cul de sac where she had lived as a child. When she was younger, she thought Adele Circle was the center of the universe, and for her mother, it still was. Miranda had obtained title to the house in her divorce from Harold Russell, her first husband and Ginny’s father, and with each of her subsequent marriages, she had insisted that her husband move in with her. She often joked that “husbands come and go, but Highland Park is forever.”

As Ginny walked up the stone walkway to her mother’s massive limestone and brick three-story home, she saw that the gardeners had redone the front flowerbeds. She also noticed the construction sign and large waste receptacle parked in the circular driveway next door. It had been there for weeks. Miranda said the new owner had gutted the place. Ginny could hear what sounded like an electric saw. She was surprised. It was a late for workmen to be there, but perhaps the new owner was paying overtime. Ginny glanced briefly at the darkened windows, wondering what it would look like when it was finished. One of these days, she’d love to have a tour.

Crandall her mother’s butler