Legally Wed is her ninth novel to be released.
Shirley: I see your book is about marriage, Patty. If that was the inspiration to your new book, we'd love to hear about it. The cover and blurb is already exciting.
Patty: I was a jittery bride. I mean, a really jittery bride. I was so nervous about my wedding that I refused to plan it. I wanted to just elope but my mother begged me to have a "real wedding," and I agreed... with a few conditions:
He slowed his steps to a leisurely stroll and glanced down at her. She only came up to his shoulder, and she resented having to tip her chin to look him in the face. Young Hardware stood on Main Street, one of the first stores built on this street before the town sprung up around a crossroads with a gas station, a diner and a church to serve the farms in that area. Now it joined many businesses flanking Main Street, and she couldn't help but feel like every single of one of them watched.
"We used my Uncle Neil to finalize the divorce, remember?" Rich asked.
"Yes, that sounds right." As she hurried Ricky past Whirlwind Realty, the business next door to the hardware store, she felt a rush of relief that Jane, the head realtor for the place, stood with her back to them. One less person to give her the third degree later.
"Well, as it turns out, Uncle Neil was having trouble with alcohol at the time and..."
"And never filed it. It sort of slipped through the cracks."
"Sort of?" What on earth are you talking about?" Lisa heard her voice rising in pitch. "He never filed the papers?"
"Looks that way."
"And how did you figure this out?"
"When the IRS audited me. My accountant thought I'd had my identity stolen. The IRS thought I was fraudulent."
"Ouch." For the first time, a pang of pity replaced irritation for the man. She stopped at the street corner and looked across the intersection at the coffee shop. A couple of people visible in the window ordered their drinks. She glanced back at Rich. "So you came out here to get me to sign?"
He squinted in the bright sunlight and pressed his lips together. Finally, he gave a slow shrug. "That was the plan."
She turned her attention to the envelope in her hands. It had been a long time since she'd held divorce papers, and they still felt ominous and weighty. She nodded.
"Okay. Well, I'll take a look at these then."
"Look, I'm sorry about this." Rich put his hands into his pockets and looked down at his shoes. He raised his gaze to meet hers. "I know this is a surprise."
"You could say that."
He gave her one of those lopsided smiles of his and for just a moment she could see the boy with the spontaneous grin and cajoling eyes she'd fallen in love with all those years ago. Why could Ricky always speed up her heart, even when every logical bone in her body knew he wasn't in her best interest?
"Well." She cleared her throat. "Thank you. I'll see you around, I'm sure."
Lisa raised her hand in an awkward wave and turned back towards the hardware store.
Married. Her body moved like wet clay, and when she fumbled about inside for her feelings she discovered -- nothing. Not yet. Later. Time enough for a meltdown in privacy.