Prologue— Arianne Douglas stood over her son. Her dead son. Murder weapon in hand. Blood and tears running down her face. Helpless. Powerless. Paralyzed. Recalling his first steps, first words. There would be no more firsts. Her child was dead. Startled by the buzzing of her cell phone next to his body, she answered but did not speak.
“Ari?” her best friend said, “you called but didn’t leave a message. Andrew texted me about the fight between Reece and Nash. I’m on my way to you now.”
“Lesley, I need you.” Arianne sobbed into the phone. “He’s dead, he’s dead… my baby… my son… Les, he’s dead… God, please no… I’m so sorry, baby…” Her voice broke with every word.
“Arianne, I’m on my way. Are you still at the house?” Lesley Huff remembered her recurring dream, pangs of regret pelting her heart. A storm was coming.
“Have you called the police?” she asked, certain Arianne had not.
“No, only you,” she cried. “My… my son…”
“Dammit Ari, call the police. Now.”
Chapter 14—The glint of light from the half-moon reflected easily off the bayou where Gregory liked to fish a few feet away from the graveyard. As usual, he was the first to arrive. Leaning against the sprawling oak, he was thankful little had changed since last summer. It was slightly overgrown with the newness of spring, but Arianne would love the lush green kudzu spreading across the light gray stones. He didn’t come here often, but when he did it was usually to clear his mind, yet Gregory always left with more to think about than when he arrived. The lure to read the broken headstones or take a nap under the old oak was as hard to resist as the woman he made love to on a blanket next to the water fourteen years earlier.
After the end of their short affair, Arianne would bring Pike, and the three of them would sit for hours. It was salt in his open, bleeding wound, but it was the only time in his adult life when it seemed as if he had a real family. Gregory realized she’d given him everything she could, knowing how much he wished Pike was his. And somehow that was enough. He saw the boy’s first smile, heard his first word, and helped him take his first steps. In the safety of that cemetery—the Potter’s Field—where the unknown and indigent were buried, where their very own sins were laid to rest… their life together found validation. It was real.
Chapter 45— On a bench in Jackson Square, Andrew sat with hands on his knees watching jazz bands and street performers entertain the crowd. Skeptics and believers alike flocked to the tarot card readers scattered throughout, hoping to learn their future. To his left, a family sat having a picnic in the shade beneath a large oak. On his right, young lovers walked arm-in-arm, enthralled with the mere sight of one another. Huffing to himself at their happiness, he knew his own meeting would not be as pleasant. As the fourth melancholy chime sounded from St. Louis Cathedral’s clock, Arianne appeared outside the wrought iron gate. A scarf and sunglasses carefully concealed her battered face, but Andrew knew his wife. She would never have been seen in public in this state unless she thought it was completely unavoidable. Rising to meet her, a lump formed in his throat. Their greeting was little more than a casual acquaintance. Her hand didn’t wrap around his neck and squeeze, and she’d pulled away before he could kiss her cheek. This was wrong. Very wrong.
The Waiting - Book One
© The Waiting Series by Elizabeth Burgess and Marie Hewes