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Authors: Liz Crowe

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Mutual Release

BOOK: Mutual Release
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Mutual Release

By

Liz Crowe

Mutual Release (Stewart Realty #7)

Copyright © 2013 by Liz Crowe

Cover Art and Design by Mina Carter

Dear Readers ~

A book like this takes a lot of emotional energy. But because of the propping up and general rah-rah’s you can do-it’s from many, it is now ready for public consumption.

Huge thanks as always to my family for eating cereal and keeping the Domino’s pizza guy in tip money during the many stages of writing, editing, proofing and weeping-slash-wailing over various issues.

A shout goes out to my “street team” for continuing to help me build the buzz – you know who you are.

Many thanks to the fellow authors who keep me grounded and have no problem smacking me around when I start whining too much (Katalina Leon, you rock most especially).

Thanks to all the reviewers and bloggers and authors who have discovered their inner Liz Fan and for the posts, tweets and other cool and supportive stuff you do for me.

Muchas gracias
to my main yahoo peeps, Romance Books 4 Us, an amazing group of authors, readers, reviewers and publishers that is a total “prop up” sort of place for me.

Oh, yeah, and to Susan for saying “hey your next book should be called Mutual Release” and who is living out her own, well-deserved romance novel as we speak.

Brava to all the editors who had a hand forming this story into what it is.

And of course a giant standing-O for my publisher without whose guidance, reassurance and general “get over yourself” moments there would be no Stewart Realty series at all.

But most of all THANK YOU READER! Now, enjoy Evan and Julie’s story. I very much enjoyed bringing it to life. And I’m taking memberships for the New Team Evan right about…now!

Cheers,
Liz
March 11, 2013

Contents

Cover Page

Author’s Note

Table of Contents

Part I:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Part II:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Part III:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Part IV:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Epilogue

Other Titles

About the Author

Part I: Evan

Chapter One

Evan dropped his soccer bag on the laundry room floor and stripped out of his soaking wet kit, stuffed it all into the washing machine, and tossed in detergent before dragging a clean pair of jeans out of the dryer. His mom had trained her children well. She took reluctantly to the stay-at-home thing, inside the large house where he grew up in a wealthy suburb of Detroit. And her resentment sometimes manifested itself in fits of over-the-top organization, as if she had something to prove.

Those days the house fairly bristled with aggressive homemaker energy. But they always ended up balanced out with long stretches of pure chaos – like the days the family had to use the laundry room as a closet because the clean clothes stayed in a tumble on the floor. Or when she got caught up with a new craft club and the study would become a messy catch-all room for scrapbook paraphernalia. It made for a lot of tiptoeing around for Evan and his twin sister. But she demanded her kids clean up after themselves, especially when it involved either stinky ballet wear from Olivia or his own various athletic gear. So they did, or risk a long, arduous guilt trip.

He could hear his father’s voice, then his sister’s, as they had their usual arguments about, in no particular order, her weight, her grades, and her newfound smart mouth. Evan rolled his eyes as he pushed the start button on the washing machine before grabbing a towel for his hair. He wandered into the kitchen ignoring them both, and grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl before putting a kiss on his mother’s upturned cheek.

“How was practice?” She handed him a fresh green bean from the pile on the counter. Evan allowed himself to relax, sensing she was in neutral mode today, which was a relief. He had no energy for any family drama.

“Soaking wet,” he said around bites of food. His stomach grumbled loud enough to make his father turn from his tirade. Olivia stuck her tongue out at him behind his back, making his mother frown. “Excuse me,” he said, grabbing a couple more beans. “Need a shower.”

“Evan, can I get a ride later?” Olivia said before pulling a heavy sweater over her bony frame. “To the studio.”

“Fine.” He glanced at his parents to monitor their reactions. He knew Olivia was getting ready for an important audition. They all believed she would get a callback for the prestigious ballet school that had sent out a panel of judges to the performing arts school she attended. Their father was against it on general principle, worried, with good reason, that Olivia would make the cut and end up in New York. Their mother was indifferent or at least appeared to be, as usual, lukewarm about anything related to his sister. Olivia had picked up on their mother’s ambivalence and spun it into an annoying refrain of “she always loved you better anyway’s,” that he fielded a lot from her lately.

His father usually stayed above the fray, so far above as to be substantively absent. Or at least was considered a benevolent deity they all turned to as supplicants when money was required. Evan could not wait to get away from them all, although he regretted how far apart he and Olivia had grown.

When neither parent spoke, he shrugged and headed upstairs just as the phone rang. He listened to his mother answer it, half-hearing the early murmurings of conversation, then stopped dead in his tracks at the top of the steps when he heard, “Oh no! When?” His mother never spoke above a civilized tone, no matter the crisis. He clattered back down the stairs and into the kitchen, heart in his throat.

His mother stood, hand over her mouth, shaking her head at whatever was being said. She handed the phone to his father without a word and sat, eyes dry, but face set in serious lines. Evan took her hand and willed her to speak. His sister remained standing apart, her usual location, simply watching them as if she had nothing to do with what was going on in the room.

By the time his father hung up the phone, Evan was convinced something horrible had happened to either his grandparents or his Uncle Jeff, or maybe all of them at once. His father sighed. “So now what?” his mother asked, voice heavy as she stared at the table.

“Would somebody tell me what is going on? Please?” Evan glared at them but didn’t forget his manners. Olivia kept the privacy barrier she’d built around herself firmly in place, staying apart from the drama in body language and attitude.

His mother put her hand on his. “It’s Carol. The cancer… it finally took her.”

“Oh, uh, okay.” He sat back, his mind reeling. Carol was his mother’s childhood best friend. They’d attended college together, but she’d moved to England when she married some British guy she’d met right before the women graduated. Evan had met her once or twice but hardly knew her at all. “Sorry, Mom.” He started to stand and stretch, relief coursing through him, his mind already on a stack of homework and the girl he’d been flirting with in chemistry class. He’d even started mentally counting the days until he could leave here, move away from the quiet dysfunction they all masked with energy and apparent abundance.

“So are we supposed to take him?” his father asked, making Evan turn, curious but no longer really concerned. Olivia had already opened her math book and was sipping hot chocolate while she worked.

BOOK: Mutual Release
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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