Disappointed, dumped, divorced. Everything Casey Slaughter counted on is gone. While contemporaries start their families, Casey works two jobs to haul herself out of debt. Friends and family recommend a new husband to solve all her problems, but Casey resists all well-intentioned advice. Although she longs for a soul mate, the last thing her flattened self-esteem needs is more rejection—and comparisons to her beautiful, talented older sister do nothing to enhance Casey’s confidence. Unable to have children, she feels she has nothing to offer in marriage. Will bitterness and insecurity destroy her, or can renewed faith in God provide some measure of comfort for this wounded heart? Can Casey ever find love again, or will a string of disasters keep her forever on the run?
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Stop it, Casey told herself. Red, puffy eyes would spoil the brave front she wanted to show her mother. Over the past few days, she’d practiced saying the word divorce until she no longer choked on it. She was confident she could now speak Dwayne’s name without crying. Only three months since I had to break the news to Mom about my hysterectomy. Now this. Surely I can keep a grip on my emotions for twenty-four hours.
Casey felt her plan falling apart as soon as she walked through the door of her childhood home. Her sister sat at the kitchen table with one arm around a weeping Marva Lanicheck. Eileen promised she would not breathe a word until Casey could tell their mom of her impending divorce gently in person. Did her sister slip up? Marva flew to Casey and flung her arms around her daughter. “Oh, honey,” was all she said.
With a questioning glance at her sister, Casey returned her mother’s hug. Feeling Marva’s tears on her neck made Casey’s stomach flip-flop. “Dwayne called me this morning,” Marva said. “He told me you’re divorcing him. His heart is broken.”
“What?” Casey was stunned. An overpowering rush of rage caught her completely off guard. “Did Dwayne happen to mention he cleared his things out of our apartment—and some of mine, too—while I was at work? That he didn’t have the decency to tell me goodbye, but left a note saying I should file for divorce as soon as possible?” Casey forgot her carefully rehearsed speech about irreconcilable differences leading to an amicable separation. Instead, she furiously unloaded a string of indictments against Dwayne. She recounted how he backed out of his promise to pay for her education if she supported them both long enough for him to get his bachelor’s degree. The secret that he’d vetoed her pleas to start a family until it was too late came tumbling out of her mouth. She even revealed how her husband pocketed the refund after switching caskets at his mother’s funeral, substituting the cheapest model for the coffin the Slaughter family prepurchased.
Despite her mother and sister’s shocked faces, Casey could not stop herself from citing example after example of Dwayne’s misbehavior. When Casey paused for a breath of air, Eileen glanced at her watch. “Arnold and the boys are probably home by now,” she said. “I need to go fix them some dinner. I’ll see you two at church tomorrow.”
“How would you like a plate of chicken and dumplings?” Marva patted Casey’s hand. Realizing her mother had made the effort to prepare her favorite meal almost put Casey past the tear line. But then, recalling what a low-class varmint Dwayne had been to phone Marva with his fake story brought her back.
“Where do I go from here, Mom?” Casey asked. “How did you put your life back together when Daddy died?”
With her back to Casey, Marva stirred the contents of a pot on her stove. “All I can say is you go on. You put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward despite the pain. Life can be good again, but it takes time for you to recover. You can’t expect things to be the same as they were before.”