Vivian, page 1part #3 of Three Mrs. Monroes, The Series
The Three Mrs. Monroes Trilogy
Bernadette Marie and 5 Prince Publishing copyright 2014
This is a fictional work. The names, characters, incidents, places, and locations are solely the concepts and products of the author’s imagination or are used to create a fictitious story and should not be construed as real.
5 PRINCE PUBLISHING AND BOOKS, LLC
PO Box 16507
Denver, CO 80216
ISBN 13: 978-1-63112-042-8 ISBN 10: 1631120425
Copyright Bernadette Marie 2014
Published by 5 Prince Publishing
Front Cover Viola Estrella
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations, reviews, and articles. For any other permission please contact 5 Prince Publishing and Books, LLC.
First Edition/First Printing September 2014 Printed U.S.A.
5 PRINCE PUBLISHING AND BOOKS, LLC.
Other books by Bernadette Marie
The Keller Family Series
The Executive’s Decision
A Second Chance
Lost and Found
The Merger (Fall 2014)
The Escape Clause (Winter 2015)
Aspen Creek Series
On Thin Ice
The Matchmaker Series
The Three Mrs. Monroes
Cart Before the Horse
The one who leads me to all healing by being by my side.
To Stan and our boys who make every pain I ever have (physical or emotional) go away because of your love.
To Mom, Dad, and Sissy, your love and support is immeasurable! Thank you for it!
To Connie, Clare, Marie, and Grace, you literally keep track of all my pieces and make sure they fall back into place. You are glorious women!
To June thank you for being you. Thank goodness this isn’t our last year together!
To my Street Team and Beta Readers, you continue to inspire me with your love and support!
Here we are at the conclusion of the Monroes.
What a wonderful journey I have had with these three women. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have.
In the final installment, we see the rise of Vivian. For so long, she’s been the angry, bitter, moody side of the Monroes. Now we begin to see her soften with the love of a good man who sees a silver lining in everything.
I hope you enjoy Vivian. I fell in love with her writing this.
What’s next for me? Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be the first in line to see the progress of my new family series, The Walkers—coming 2015.
God she was miserable. Vivian Monroe sat in her car just on the outskirts of town. The late November wind was kicking up. It was cold and her damn car had stalled—just like everything had for her for years.
It had been less than six months ago that she found out her husband of ten years had married two other women before his death.
Never in a million years, though, did she think she’d make a new life with those other two Mrs. Monroes. Adam, her late husband, had left her with nothing. His second wife, whom he’d left everything to, had stepped up to make sure that Vivian and her daughters were always taken care of. She may never admit it aloud, but she’d learned a lot from Amelia.
It had been Amelia who had come up with the plan for Adam’s widows to take what he’d left and start a business. It would help to take care of Adam’s children and then no one walked away with everything. They were building a daycare center of all things. It would open next week if everything went according to plan.
Her mind shifted to Penelope, Adam’s newest wife. Though Penelope was only ten years, or so, younger than her, she felt as if she were a mother to the girl. Penelope was eight months pregnant with Adam’s baby. She needed compassion—especially from Vivian, who’d been through the process.
Vivian gritted her teeth and tried to start the engine again. Nothing.
She’d called for help, but it was going to be awhile. Sam, her late husband’s lawyer and Amelia’s new fiancé, was in court. Amelia had an inspector at the old house they were converting into the daycare center. And Penelope and Brock, the man who had been by Adam’s side when he died in combat and now was Penelope’s fiancé, were in a doctor’s appointment.
She was totally alone. Even her own girls were at the rec center daycare for the day. That, she thought, was the only plus to the day.
The day trip to Oklahoma City to find out anything she could on Adam’s mother hadn’t turned up much. Stella Monroe, by all accounts, seemed to be missing.
Vivian hated that she thought it wasn’t really a bad thing to have the woman MIA. But, it did mean they didn’t know where she was and there was a great chance she’d be coming after her.
After Adam had died, her mother-in-law had, well, gone off the deep end. Her husband had even found it beneficial to move her to Florida and away from Parson’s Gulch, Oklahoma where she’d made her home for most of her life.
Still, she’d texted Vivian three weeks ago saying she was coming after her and then the house where they were building the daycare had been broken into. Things just weren’t adding up.
Vivian smiled when she thought about the books that had been thrown around in the attic the night of the break in. They’d all been full of money. Six thousand dollars had been found in between the pages and in the cutouts of the vintage books. Adam’s grandmother had stashed it all there. As far as she was concerned, when they were given the house and all of its contents that included the money too. Of course, now sitting in her broken down car meant it might have to be used for costly repairs.
Another car pulled up behind hers, but it wasn’t one of the four people she’d called. She looked into the review mirror and saw Clayton North stepping out of his car.
Great. The one man who had turned her head in all these years had come to rescue her. He and that shiny gold band on his hand that she’d neglected to see the first day she’d met him.
Oh, she had to have looked stupid flirting with him like she was. What made her think he was available? And why did she care, except she’d gotten caught up in all this falling in love that had been going on. First Amelia and Sam and then Penelope an
She let out a long breath and waited for him to come to her door. When he tapped on the window, she opened the door.
“It’s so dead I can’t roll down the window,” she said, forcing a smile on her face.
“I brought cables. I’ll give you a jump.”
“Thanks.” She popped the hood of her car, climbed out, and watched as Clayton walked back and climbed into his car. He drove it around the quiet road so that he was parked right next to her.
He popped the hood of his car as he climbed out. “It’ll just take a moment.”
He pulled the cables out of his car and walked around to the front of the cars.
Clayton chuckled to himself. “I always forget which way these go.”
“Red ones are positive. Black are negative.”
He nodded. “Right. You’d think that would be easy enough to remember.”
Clayton went about connecting the cables and Vivian watched, then what he said hit her.
“You said you brought cables. You didn’t just have them and saw me stranded?”
Clayton shook his head. “The gal at the front desk of the rec center lent them to me. I’d gone to get my girls and they said you’d called because you were going to be late. I told them I’d come get you.”
Vivian nodded slowly, her stare fixed on this man she’d flirted with and even had invited to a private bar-b-cue. She sickened herself. Though he did come without his wife. That didn’t uphold his character very well, she decided.
“You drove all the way out here to get me?”
Clayton looked around and then back at her. “Because you’re stranded.”
She crossed her arms over her chest as much out of irritation as to shield her from the cold. “Just a nice guy routine?”
Clayton’s sandy hair was blowing in the opposite direction in which he’d combed it, giving it a ledge. His brown eyes were narrowed on her as he held the last cord in his hand.
“No routine going on. I thought we were friends and you needed some help.”
“Friends? I just met you a few weeks ago.”
“Right.” He winced. “You invited me to a party too. Friends do that. Even if they just met. Remember I’m new in town. I don’t know too many people.”
“Whatever. Thanks for coming out. Very strange, but thank you.” She couldn’t even stand the sound of her own voice as she talked to him. The first time they’d met she was giddy and gushy—not like her either. But now she was being crude and snide. More like her, she thought, but not nice.
He clamped the last cable to the side of the engine compartment. “Okay, go start your car.”
Vivian walked back to her car and turned the key. The car sputtered and finally came to life. When she looked up Clayton stood there with an enormous grin looking down at two running engines.
That nerdy grin was making her insides gooey again, just as it had when he’d arrived at the old house looking for a daycare for his girls. Two of the cutest girls she’d ever seen.
It was stupid to be mad at herself just because an attractive, smart guy considered her a friend. And then there was the matter of fact that he was going to be paying some of her bills when his daughters attended their daycare.
She let her mouth slide into an easy smile as she climbed out of the car.
“I really appreciate you coming to help me out. That was above and beyond.”
“I’d like to think that someone would help me someday too.”
Cute and genuinely nice. His wife was a lucky lady—whoever she was.
Clayton took the cables off of the batteries and rolled them around his arm. Vivian slammed down her hood and he did the same.
“Amelia is with the inspector now getting everything signed off on the daycare. If everything goes well, we should be open next week.”
His eyes grew wide. “Oh, that’ll be great. My girls talk about your girls non-stop. They’ll be glad to be around them all the time.”
He was easy to look at and easy to talk to. She found herself wanting to do just that—stare and talk.
“How is school going?” she asked, remembering that he was a new school teacher in town.
“So far, not bad. I’ve been called Mr. South, Mr. West, Mr. East, and Mr. Northbound.”
She chuckled and he eased his hip against his car, which only made him cuter.
“Third graders are funny like that.”
“Sometimes sassier than high schoolers.”
When he crossed his arms over his chest, she was reminded of that wedding ring on his finger. She didn’t want to be that other woman to worry about.
Vivian pushed back her shoulders and held out her hand. “Thank you, Mr. Northwest, for helping me out today.”
He grinned as he shook her hand. “My pleasure.”
“I look forward to seeing the girls next week.”
She turned back to her car and began to climb inside.
“Hey,” he called. “I’m taking the fam out for pizza on Saturday night. That place on the edge of town with the video games.”
She nodded. She knew the place too well. That was where she and Adam had spent many of their teenage lustful nights.
“Anyway,” he continued. “Why don’t you and the girls meet us there? We can have family pizza night for everyone.”
Vivian swallowed hard. “They’d like that.”
He gave her a wave as he climbed into his car and motioned for her to drive ahead of him.
She put the car in gear and started back down the road.
Looking back in her rearview mirror, she saw him on his cell phone. No doubt talking to his wife.
She was a big enough woman to be friends with him—and the wife. She’d been lied to and she didn’t trust anyone, so this would be a good step for her. Trust a man she just met that makes her insides gooey—and spend time with his kids and wife.
Nothing seemed off about that at all, she tried to convince herself. He was just a good, decent man. He’d come to her rescue and his daughters would be in her care next week when her business opened.
But it didn’t stop the fact that he was so handsome and she wished he was single.
Vivian had stopped for a few groceries before picking up her girls from the rec center daycare. There was undoubtedly some thrill in knowing that they wouldn’t have to go there next week, for her anyway.
The entire reason they’d decided to open a daycare center was so Vivian and Penelope could have their children with them at all times.
As she and the girls walked through the lobby, Amelia peeked her head out of the gymnasium doors. She’d been teaching self-defense and kickboxing there since July. And even though there was work for her at the daycare, Vivian was sure she’d never give up her teaching. It was part of who Amelia was—one bad ass girl.
“Hey, I wanted to tell you that we passed all our inspections!”
Vivian let out a deep breath. “I didn’t doubt it but I sure feel better knowing it.”
Amelia smiled. “Sam picked up a bottle of champagne and some sparkling cider for Penelope and the girls. We thought we’d celebrate tonight over at the house.”
Vivian nodded as Amelia ducked back into the gym. She’d really wanted to just go home and soak in her tub, but it looked like she’d be heading over to the old house they’d remodeled to celebrate the opening of the daycare.
After a glass of champagne, she’d head home to soak in a tub full of bubbles that went up to her eyebrows. The thought made her smile. She’d have to make sure the girls were asleep first, or she’d have company.
When she pulled up in front of the old house, she was more than surprised to see Clayton carrying things out of it.
“Mommy, they’re here!” Emma screamed from the back seat, loud enough it made Vivian wince.
“Yes, honey, they are.” But why we
Vivian stepped out of the car and opened the back doors to unbuckle her girls. They wiggled free, jumped from the car, and she watched them run off and into the house.
Clayton gave her a wave. “Your girls couldn’t get here fast enough. Stephanie has been asking about them for a half hour—nonstop.”
“Why are you here?”
Again her words sounded curt and nasty. What was it about this man? To look at him set her insides to goo and then she’d talk and nothing but ugly came out.
“I ran into Sam at the rec center. He takes yoga,” he said quietly as if maybe no one was supposed to know.
“He’s really good at it. It keeps him calm.”
Clayton considered it. “Maybe I’ll be wanting to look into that before the end of the school year.” He laughed and wouldn’t you know it—that was sexy too. “He said he and Brock could use a hand moving some things out of here.”
Brock walked out of the door with a suitcase and hoisted it into the back of his truck.
“What is all that?” Vivian asked.
“Penelope’s stuff. I think it’s time she moved in with me. The baby looks to only be a few weeks away.” He was grinning and beaming, she noted. The man was as giddy for this baby to arrive as he was to marry a woman that Vivian should absolutely despise—but she loved her instead.
“I just thought we were going to wait a bit.”
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