Till Death Us Do Part
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: December 29th 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
The fateful day Mimi Marcus has dreaded begins with a phone call…
The wife of a U.S. Marine, Mimi spent countless nights worried that her husband Joel would fall in the line of duty. He had fought valiantly and served his country with honor. That’s exactly what they tell her when they deliver the news—Joel was taken by the enemy in Afghanistan. Her husband is dead.
In desperate need of closure, Mimi travels to the one place Joel still has ties—The Marcus Ranch in Texas, inherited by his handsome younger brother Austin.
New beginnings are only an illusion…
The closer Mimi grows to the Marcus family, the more she considers it home. But when suspicions of Joel’s past surface, Austin refuses to disclose family secrets—even to his brother’s widow. It’s only by accident she uncovers evidence of Joel’s tainted past. Devastated by his lies and betrayal, she slowly opens up to Austin, and together they unfold layers of pain and grief.
Mimi is sure she’ll never love again, but is Austin the man to prove her wrong? Then the unthinkable happens…
Just as Mimi finds new hope in a future with Austin, Joel returns home from war. Enraged, traumatized, and teetering on the edge of insanity, Joel confesses to a history of deception, revealing yet another secret—this one too terrible to forgive.
In an awful twist of fate, Joel proves marriage vows are made to be honored.
No matter what.
Mimi had been dreaming of a storm. Heavy rain, violent claps of thunder, and lightning flashing simultaneously.She saw Joel, reaching out for her, his body bloody and wet. She awoke in the darkened room. It was 2:17 a.m.—the exact time she had woken up for three nights in a row. She slipped out of bed, her pyjama bottoms loose around her ever-shrinking waist. The air was freezing. She dashed across the room to wrap herself in the fleecy dressing gown her mother had just bought her for Christmas.
6:47 a.m. in Afghanistan.
Her stomach growled, begging for food. She couldn’t eat. She clicked onto her Twitter feed to check for more updates since the suicide bombing in Kabul, which had claimed at least six—two were American Marines.
Mimi had contacted the Embassy several times, but nobody could tell her anything. The pain of not knowing was taking away her ability to breathe normally. The silence was too loud. She had tried to remember their last conversation. Did she tell him that she loved him? Words so quick to fall off the tongue to end a phone call. Love you—bye. Often she had felt like she was holding a grenade—being the wife of a Marine, always waiting for a letter, hearing his voice, waiting for news that he was alive or dead.
She took the palm of her hand and wiped her face. “You don’t mean that.” She paused and looked at him. “Do you?”
“Yes, this is so fucked up Mimi. You don’t belong to me. You belong to him.”
“But…God, Austin, I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking or feeling.”
“I don’t care. The truth is, I got caught up in everything with you. I felt sorry for you; I pitied you.”
“Austin stop,” she cried “You don’t mean that.”
“Mimi, I do. The truth is. You were my final up-yours to my dear brother.”
He took his hands out of his jean pockets and placed them on her sunken shoulders and looked firmly into her eyes. “Yes I do. Everything I told you about loving you was a lie. And this, what we had was nothing but revenge. Joel played it well, the son of a bitch. He even cheated death. Now get your goddam bags packed and get the hell out of my life.”
She jolted back, falling out of his grip.
Austin stood in silence after the hard slap connected across his left check; it caught his lip, making it bleed. She turned on her heel and ran away, her long hair flowing in the breeze behind her.
He stood there for a second, but it seemed like an hour. He walked a little, and then for the first time in his adult life, he cried.
The digital clock read 2 am. He gazed out of the window. The sky was tar-black, the large clouds gathered fast and furiously. Soon, the gentle specs of rain flicked against the window. As it grew heavier, the tarmac on the car-park soon turned into a black river. He saw a man quicken his pace and slip into a beaten old truck. He opened the door, letting the rain fall on him, drenching through his clothes. He moved out into the stormy weather, needing to wash away the hurt that lay inside him.
He remembered having this feeling once before, after the death of his father. It was then that the divide between him and his brother had become even greater. It had torn them apart, ripping them at the seams. Austin had stolen Joel’s father, and now he was taking his wife. He had no control over the first time, but he swore that he wouldn’t let Austin win this time.
Blood pounded in his ears; he was still at war, but this time with himself.
He watched her, his eyes sad. They appeared to gleam in the flash of simultaneous lightning; he appeared to reach out to her, his body bloody and wet.
Mimi remembered a dream that she had, a few months before, the night before she had been informed that Joel had been killed. Only, this wasn’t a dream. She was awake and he was standing in front of her.
She felt the blood drain from her face.
“What is it?” Austin asked.
“It’s Joel. He’s…he’s outside.” Her voice trembled.
Austin leapt out of bed. He saw his brother standing out in the pouring rain. He felt a wave of anger, followed by fear. Joel looked like a ghost, lost, broken, but the way his body stood rigid told him he needed to worry.
“I’ll go talk to him,” he said, pulling on his jeans that were draped over a chair sitting in the corner of the room.
“No, don’t. He looks crazy,” Mimi said, her voice high-pitched.
She’d never ever been fearful of her husband; he had never given her reason to, never any doubt, but in the darkness of this stormy night, something inside was telling her she had cause to panic.
“Just stay here, alright.”
“Austin, please don’t go out there,” she pleaded “Let me go…I’ll talk to him; it’s me he’s come for.”
Austin swallowed hard. “Actually Mimi, I think it’s me he’s come for.”
Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of Till Death Us Do Part, her debut novel.
Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.
At the age of 11, her junior school teacher told her mother that she would be wasting her life if she didn’t become an author. Throughout her teenage years and beyond, her parents spurred her on to keep writing. She later began a career in commercial real estate, working in London’s West End, a corporate bubble where she was unable to fuel her passion to write.
It was on her Californian honeymoon in 2012 that the bug to write was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. After visiting Yosemite National Park she was inspired by the natural beauty of the land that surrounded her. Holding a special place in her heart, Yosemite would later be written into her debut novel.
She finally gave up the ‘big smoke’ when her son, Lucas, was born in October 2013.
When Lucas was a newborn, Cristina was told to sleep when the baby sleeps. She never could. There was a calling inside her to write. After getting to grips with her new role as a mother, she began working a psychological thriller, but she couldn’t fully connect to the characters she created. She ditched the manuscript and started Till Death Us Do Part (Limitless Publishing, 2015).
Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, crazy white German Shepherd and three spoiled cats. They can be found trekking through woodlands, or around the many shops Cristina loves to explore. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.
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