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Standalones - The French Wardrobe

Standalones - The French Wardrobe

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"I pace back and forth in my living room, my mind racing with all the unanswered questions about Todd's death. The police say it was an accident, but I know better. Todd was always careful, and he would never have put himself in harm's way.

I refuse to believe that he died just because of a simple mistake. There has to be more to the story than what the police are telling me. I need to know what really happened to him.

With nothing left to lose, I set out on a journey to uncover the truth about Todd's death."

Read Chapter 1

Present Day

Seattle, Washington


“Hi, Brian, I just arrived home. Give me a second.” Vivienne fumbled for her keys in the driveway of their home. Her son sounded anxious, which wasn’t like him.

“Mom!” he yelled into the receiver. “It’s Dad.”

“Brian, what’s wrong?” Her pulse began to pound. He sounded nearly hysterical, and then she heard more sobbing.


“There’s been an accident. I’m so sorry, Mom! Dad’s…dead.”

The call from her son, Brian, hit Vivienne like a boulder to the chest. Everything ceased in her world for the briefest of moments as the realization actually became her reality. Before the dreadful news sank in, her knees buckled beneath her and she landed hard on the grayed wooden porch.

She’d walked from the driveway to the front of their Lake Union, Washington, house while searching for her keys in the dark depths of her purse. She’d just had them in her hand when she closed the car door, but her mind was elsewhere. She barely remembered the drive home.

When the phone vibrated in her hand, the tremor had scared her like a sudden sting from a bee, and she sensed that a harbinger of bad news awaited. Her first instinct had been to pitch the mobile as far as her strength allowed. But then she saw who was calling and felt inane for a second. What mother wouldn’t want to talk to her adult son in the middle of the day? She’d answered the call, and her first impression came true—the worst news she could ever imagine.

Brian’s speech was off right away; there was something wrong immediately. He’d held his voice together until the end, and then he broke down. She was silent, in shock for most of the conversation. This has to be some morbid joke. But her son wasn’t one for making fun of things, especially over something like this. Still, her mind tried to find a reasonable explanation, some semblance of normal in the horrid travesty her life had suddenly turned into.

Todd couldn’t be gone. No. There must be some mistake.

After a moment Brian spoke again. “Mom, I have to go to the morgue to identify his body. I’ll call you on my way home.”

“I…I want to go, too.”

His voice was graved with pain. “Mom, no,” he said as if she were crazy. “He wouldn’t want you to see him…this way.”

“Brian, come and get me—now. I want to…I have to say good-bye to him. I have to. It’s what I want.”

There was a silence, then that dragged out for too long. She knew her son was warring within with what his father would want him to do at this very moment, but she needed to see Todd again, one last time, and if Brian wouldn’t take her, she’d call a cab because she didn’t think she’d be able to drive that distance through the heavy Seattle traffic this time of day, especially after seeing her husband’s mangled body.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I’ll be there in a few minutes to pick you up. Mom, you know he was hit pretty badly? Hit and run, in fact. Bicycle versus speeding car. He never saw it coming. The police said he probably didn’t feel anything.”

“Hit and run?” She couldn’t deal with that now. “I know what you’re trying to tell me, son, but I still want to see him one last time. He would do this for me.”

“I should call Isabel.” The thought just occurred to Brian out of concern for his sister living in Paris, France. “She doesn’t know.”

Her voice was raw, but she said anyway, “No, don’t. Let me tell her. The news should come from her mother.”

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” Brian said, and then he ended the call.

Vivienne sat there, stunned. The midmorning sun shone bright through the crimson trees, unusual for a fall day in Seattle. No, the ever-persistent gloom of Seattle’s norm should be present on a day when the worst possible event in her life has just taken place.

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