The Color of Forever
From USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean comes the next instalment in her popular Color of Heaven Series, where people are affected by real life magic - and occasional miracles that have the power to change everything they once believed about life and love.
Recently divorced television reporter Katelyn Roberts has stopped believing in relationships that last forever, until a near-death experience during a cycling accident changes everything. When she miraculously survives unscathed, a deeply-buried memory draws her to the quaint, seaside town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
There, on the rugged, windswept coast of the Atlantic, she finds herself caught up in the secrets of a historic inn that somehow calls to her from the past. Is it possible that the key to her true destiny lies beneath all that she knows, as she explores the grand mansion and its property? Or that the great love she's always dreamed about is hidden in the alcoves of its past?
Release date: April 4, 2016
Publisher: Julianne MacLean Publishing Inc.
Print pages: 353
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
The Color of Forever
THE COLOR OF FOREVER
By Julianne MacLean
Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Secret of the Sea”
I’ve often heard that a close brush with death can cause your life to flash before your eyes in an instant. There was a time I didn’t believe it, because how could all the experiences of a person’s life possibly replay in his or her mind in such a short interval? Wouldn’t your brain be occupied by the task of finding a way to save yourself?
Some say that such a flashback is brought on by a rush of adrenaline, which causes the brain to function at hyper speed. Have you ever been in a situation of shock and panic, where the disaster appears to occur in slow motion before your eyes, yet you can do nothing about it? When your body simply cannot keep up with the velocity of your perceptions?
In other situations, people have been known to take action with incredible strength and speed—lifting a car, for instance, to save a crushed child. How can that possibly occur? Is adrenaline truly that powerful?
Others theorize that the purpose is to help the person to access all his memories in order to find a way to save himself, or someone else. This seems logical to me, but who knows the true origins of such miracles?
All I can tell you is that I believe it is true. Life can flash before your eyes at the moment of impending death. I know it because I am one of those people who—while skirting death by a narrow margin—experienced a rush of adrenaline so potent that I glimpsed my entire lifetime, like slides flashing rapidly before my eyes. So who am I to doubt such a phenomenon?
What I fail to understand, however, is why I saw a life that was completely different from my own.
Oddly, the life I viewed in those fleeting seconds before the accident was not someone else’s. The memories were all mine. I was the so-called protagonist in the show, confused as to why I felt such a deep, emotional connection to the people in my mind’s eye, who were complete strangers to me. I felt a love and a longing for them, with as much emotion and clarity as any other momentous experience, yet little that was revealed matched the existence I’d known.
In reality, on that day I peddled up the mountain with my cycling club, I was a thirty-two-year-old, childless divorcee. I wish I could say I was emotionally secure, happy to be a single, independent woman, and optimistic about starting a new chapter in my life. But on that particular day—like most days recently—I had woken up feeling desperately alone, with a knot in my belly the size of a football. And more so, because my ex-husband had just remarried after receiving a fantastic promotion. All I wanted to do was get into my car, drive to his office, ride the elevator up fourteen floors and rant to his boss about what a louse he was.
Did they not understand that he was unreliable, dishonorable and self-absorbed? How could they promote him to a partner in their firm when he was a philandering cheater who couldn’t be faithful to his first wife?
It boggled my mind that Mark always won. No matter who he stepped on, or who paid the price in tears, he always got what he wanted, then slept like a baby each night after enjoying the fruits of his labors—the luxury home, the trips to Barbados, the Mercedes and the beautiful wife who lay beside him in bed—probably wearing Victoria’s Secret lingerie.
At one time, I was that privileged, beautiful wife—and oh, how he adored me in those early years. I was an up-and-coming celebrity television journalist in Seattle with a good chance of eventually becoming anchor on the evening news. While still in my twenties, I covered major political events and attended charity dinners with the mayor. Meanwhile, Mark was an ambitious criminal lawyer who loved showing me off at every opportunity, because I shone a bright light on us as a stylish Seattle couple.
I hesitate to use the word perfect—because nothing is ever perfect, right?—but that’s how it felt, and that’s certainly how others perceived us. At least until everything came crashing down like a jet spinning out of the sky.
* * *
I remember, precisely, the day the turbulence began, and it’s rather unnerving that I can pinpoint the exact moment.
Mark and I had gone out for dinner with a few friends, and after they said goodnight and got into a cab, I stepped to the curb to flag down the next one, but Mark grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
“What are you doing?” he asked, glancing down the street. “It’s barely midnight. Let’s stay out.”
My heart sank because it had been a busy week at work and I was ready for bed. Looking back on it, I’m sure I could have convinced him to head home by slipping my arms around his waist, smiling coquettishly and promising some fun and games in the bedroom, but as I mentioned, it had been a long week and I was spent. I wasn’t in the mood for “sexy talk,” so I said the absolute wrong thing with a tired sigh.
“Come on, Mark. We’re not in college anymore. I’m done for the night. Besides, it’s time to grow up. Let’s leave the after-hours’ partying to the twenty-somethings.”
His head drew back and his eyebrows lifted. It was as if I had suggested we retire, downsize and move to Florida.
“You just want to go home? It’s Friday night.”
“I know…” I felt suddenly intimidated, inadequate. Dull. So I backpedaled and struggled to explain myself. “I’m sorry, but you know how stressful my week was. That story about the alcoholic bus driver really took its toll on me. I’m not up for more socializing. I just want to curl up on the sofa and watch TV.”
Frustrated, he inhaled deeply and held his breath for a few seconds, then looked away, down the street again. “We watch TV every night, Katelyn. It’s Friday. Don’t you want to be a social butterfly?”
Maybe I was a tad irritable because it was late. Moreover, I loathed the fact that he wanted me to fake it and play a role, when I’d just explained how tired I was. I wished he felt the same way—that the idea of curling up on the sofa with me held at least some appeal.
I realized in that moment that for him, it was the worst kind of torture—to stay at home, just the two of us. Sure, there had been a time when I loved going out every weekend, but I was starting to grow away from that lifestyle. I preferred an early evening that didn’t result in a pounding headache the next morning.
“Who are you hoping to see?” I asked. “The guys from work? Because I’m quite sure the partners are all at home with their wives and children. Isn’t that what you aspire to? To take some time away from the rat race?”
He frowned. “What are you trying to say, Katelyn?”
I knew, by the challenging tone of his voice, that he knew exactly what I was trying to say. I’d been dropping hints for two years.
“Don’t you think it’s time we slowed down a little? I just turned thirty. You know I want to have kids, and if we’re ever going to be parents, we can’t be out partying till four in the morning every weekend.”
He glanced around at the people walking past us on the sidewalk and lowered his voice. “I’ve told you, I’m not ready for that.”
“So you’ve said. Many times.”
I spoke loudly, heatedly, without concern for who might take notice, which was dangerous because, as I said earlier, we were recognizable in Seattle. Anyone could whip out a cell phone and start recording our argument. It could show up on YouTube within the hour.
Mark grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the recessed doorway of a flower shop.
“I’ve been patient,” I continued, roughly shaking his hand off my arm, “waiting for you to be ready, but I’m not getting any younger and neither are you. If we don’t start trying soon, I’m going to be popping out my first kid when I’m forty.”
His eyes widened with horror. “Forty!”
I laughed at him, bitterly. “What…? You think we’ll never be forty? We will be, eventually, Mark, and that day’s not that far off. And guess what. We’re going to be fifty some day, too. I’d like for our kids to at least be in middle school by then. Wouldn’t you?”
He stared at me in disbelief for a moment, then raised his hand to stop me from saying anything more. “I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
“When will you want to talk about it?” I replied. “Because you always put it off. You change the subject. And for the record, I hate it when you put your hand in my face like that.”
He turned away and strode to the curb. “Go home if you want, Katelyn. I’m staying out.”
I scoffed resentfully, and followed him. He raised his arm to flag down a cab for me.
“Do you want this one?” he asked as it approached.
“Yes,” I firmly replied. “I’m going home. Where are you going?”
He shrugged a shoulder and reached into his pocket for his phone. “I don’t know yet. I need to see where people are.” He searched through his texts.
I exhaled with defeat as the cab stopped in front of us. Suddenly, I wished the night weren’t ending like this. We’d had such a great time at dinner, and Mark had been his most charming self. He sat next to me with his arm across the back of my chair, listening attentively as I talked about the bus driver story. And he was so impossibly handsome in that gray sweater I’d bought for him at Bergdorf Goodman, in New York. It matched his gray-blue eyes and made me remember why I’d fallen in love with him. Was I crazy, leaving him like this, downtown at midnight on a Friday night?
The cab driver waited until I opened the back door, but I hesitated before getting in. “Mark,” I said more gently. “Why don’t you come home with me? We can talk about this some more. Figure things out.”
His eyes lifted briefly. “I told you, I don’t want to talk about it tonight. Go home. Get in your pajamas. I’ll see you later.”
He returned his attention to his phone and began texting.
“Fine. Bye,” I tersely said as I slid into the back seat and shut the cab door.
I watched him, still texting on the sidewalk as we drove off, but he never looked up. I wonder now if he had texted Mariah, the sexy, young articling clerk at his firm. I hadn’t suspected anything at the time, but if I had known about her—known what she looked like and how all the men at the firm were drooling over her like schoolboys—might I have mustered the energy to stay out a few extra hours and suffer the headache the following morning?
* * *
Much later that night, Mark slipped quietly into bed, working hard not to wake me. I lay with my back to him and pretended to be asleep, though I was fully aware that it was past 3:00 a.m. and he smelled like cigarette smoke. I wondered where he had been, but didn’t want to start another fight, so I decided to wait until the morning to ask about his night.
When I woke, he was gone. At least he’d left me a note on the kitchen table to let me know he’d risen early to hit the gym. It wasn’t unusual for him to work out on Saturday mornings—even with a hangover—so I simply let it go. I didn’t bring up our argument again.
Three weeks later, I would come to regret that decision.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...