Book Three in the Of Love and Madness Series
Unable to overcome the loss and betrayal she’s faced, Kate Donaldson knows there’s only one way for her to heal—and that’s to walk away from everything and pick up the pieces of her shattered life.
Cutting herself off from everyone she loves, Kate settles in on the rocky coast of southern Maine. At first wanting nothing more than to be left alone, she eventually learns to deal with all of her hurts except one—Billy, her estranged husband.
But when her past comes roaring back, Kate must choose between her head and her heart.
Billy McDonald has hit rock bottom. When his wife disappears, he is forced to confront his demons. Winning that battle brings success, and for the first time in more than two decades, his music career is finally about to take off. But without Katie by his side, it’s a bitter victory.
What do you do when the thing you thought you wanted isn’t really what you wanted after all?
All I Ever Wanted is the third book in the Of Love and Madness trilogy, and the conclusion of a love story that defied the odds for twenty five years. But for Kate and Billy, it’s up to them to decide if it’s the end, or a new beginning.
Billy got Kate settled into the passenger seat, then climbed in behind the wheel and slipped the key into the ignition. She gave him a loopy smile that he felt down to his toes.
“It’s beautiful tonight. Put the top down.”
When he pointed out it might be a little too chilly, she told him to “blast the heat.”
He recognized his way back to the house, but as they neared the turn toward Cousins Island, Kate directed him to take it.
“This is the scenic route,” she insisted.
They drove for a while before they came to the end of the road, looking out toward the ocean. Billy parked and cut the engine. The night smelled of wood smoke, ocean air, and the sweetness of oranges. Lights glowed on the distant horizon, and the stars overhead twinkled like diamonds on a field of black velvet.
Kate’s sigh wrapped around him like a warm honey. She tilted her face up at the sky. “Isn’t it beaut—”
He leaned across the console and kissed her. He’d taken her by surprise, but she didn’t stop him. Her lips were warm and tasted of wine. When she didn’t push him away, he kissed her again. His hand snaked up her arm and along her neck. Cradling her head, he pulled her closer, careful of the gearshift between them.
When she ran her fingers along the side of his face, he thought he might cry. Her hand dropped to his chest and gripped his shirt. Then gently, she pushed him away. He tried to see her eyes, but it was too dark. All he could hear was the gentle lapping of water against the shore and the sound of Kate’s breathing.
“Take me home.” Her voice was low and thick. “Please.”
His heart sank. His fingers thrummed nervously on the steering wheel as he navigated back to the highway. Less than ten minutes later, he was nosing her Saab into the garage.
They sat in the car as the garage door closed behind them.
“I’m sorry,” he said, wanting to remind her that she’d kissed him back. But he didn’t, he just savored the taste of wine on his tongue, not because it was wine but because it was Kate. Just as the tang of salty air was now Kate, along with the familiar scent of oranges.
The first few days were damp and dreary. Not cold enough for snow, but cold enough for a chill to settle deep in her very core. Kate woke early the morning after Tom left. Gray light filtered through the barren branches outside her window. Pale strands of pink stained the horizon.
She dressed quickly. Together, she and Charlie descended the steep hill down to the water. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her lined jacket and stood at the edge of the steps that led to the dock. Her breath floated in tiny clouds about her face, mimicking the mist atop the water. A cormorant skittered across the glassy surface, then lifted out of the water with a great disturbance of air and headed toward the open sea. The expanse of ocean that lay before her was deserted. Empty docks lined the cove. The boats harbored there had long been removed for the winter.
A forest of dense pine ringed the inlet. At high tide, the water seemed more like a lake than a finger of the Atlantic. The rising sun illuminated a thin band of white clouds hovering above the tree line, still black against the fading darkness. Shades of orange, from palest apricot to deepest tangerine, streaked the horizon until Kate was finally forced to shield her eyes as the sun burst above the trees in a neon ball of butterscotch, blinding in its brilliance.
The imprint of the fireball was seared upon her closed lids, and despite the cold, she felt the memory of its warmth upon her face. Her senses awakened. Her lungs held the tang of the salty ocean and marshy shoreline. She heard the haunting cry of sea birds springing to life as darkness surrendered to day.
It took her by surprise, but there it was—a fleeting hint of promise. No more than a flutter, really. Her heart was heavy, and it was nearly impossible to see beyond the sadness, but somewhere deep inside, an errant ray of light squeezed its way through a tiny crack and called her name. It was gone in a blink, but she recognized it all the same: hope.
Karen Cimms was born and raised in New Jersey and still thinks of the Garden State as home. She is a journalist and lifestyle editor of a daily newspaper. She and her husband live in Northeast Pennsylvania. They have four children.
✬At This Moment: Of Love and Madness Book One✬
We All Fall Down: Of Love and Madness Book Two