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Authors: Marita Conlon-McKenna

Three Women

BOOK: Three Women
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About the Book

Kate Cassidy
is about to celebrate twenty-five years of marriage to Paddy. But the secret she has kept all this time is about to be discovered.

Erin Harris
has always known that she is different from the rest of her family. Over the years she has begun to put the pieces together and now she is determined to find out who she really is and where she comes from.

Nina Harris
has always put her marriage and family before everything else. But now she must learn to accept her daughter’s decision to go and search for a woman she doesn’t know.

There is no escaping the past
. As Kate, Erin and Nina face the truth about what happened so many years before, each is given a second chance for love and happiness.

Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

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

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Chapter Forty-five

Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-seven

Chapter Forty-eight

Chapter Forty-nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-one

Chapter Fifty-two

Chapter Fifty-three

Chapter Fifty-four

Chapter Fifty-five

Chapter Fifty-six

Chapter Fifty-seven

Chapter Fifty-eight

Chapter Fifty-nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty-one

Chapter Sixty-two

Chapter Sixty-three

About the Author

Also by Marita Conlon-McKenna

Copyright

THREE WOMEN

Marita Conlon-McKenna

For my wonderful mother,
Mary

Acknowledgements

Thank you to my amazing family: my husband, James, and our children Mandy, Laura, Fiona and James and my son-in-law, Michael Hearty, and my two little sweethearts, Holly and Sam.

To my sister Gerardine. Thanks for being there – the two of us sharing so much.

And to Michael Fahy – almost part of the family.

To Anne Murphy for her understanding and for making me laugh so much in Canada.

To Fran Leach, for her constant encouragement, friendship and fun and all those sunny days in Baltimore.

To my friends Catherine Harvey, Anne O’Connell and Joyce Van Belle.

My special thanks to my wonderful editor, Linda Evans. Also thanks to Joanne Williamson, Vivien Garrett, Bella Whittington, Aislinn Casey, Kate Green and Sarah Whittaker, and to everyone at Transworld’s London office for their immense support, encouragement and work on this book. And to Eoin McHugh in Transworld Ireland’s Dublin office.

To my agent Caroline Sheldon, for her constant belief in my writing and the excitement that working together on every new book brings!

To Simon, Gill and Sophie Hess, Declan Heaney and Helen Gleed O’Connor and everyone at Gill Hess, Dublin, for making it all seem easy and for looking after me and my books so well!

To bookshops and booksellers everywhere – thank you for bringing my books and readers together.

To Sarah Webb, Martina Devlin and Larry O’Loughlin, and all my fellow writers – thanks for just being there!

To my readers – thank you for making me enjoy writing so much.

Chapter One

ERIN HARRIS STUDIED HERSELF
in the mirror. Long light-brown hair with an undeniable tint of red and gold, pale skin, freckles, weird blue-green eyes that seemed to change colour with her mood, long limbs and an okay figure. At twenty-six years of age she guessed she was kind of attractive – not beautiful, not pretty, but definitely attractive for someone who had just completed the first quarter of her life.

Her mum and dad and brother Jack had already texted her their birthday good wishes, and later they would all get together for a family dinner at home. Today was going to be a good day. Even though it was only early March it was sunny and bright outside and, judging by the banging around in the kitchen, her two flatmates were busy making her a birthday breakfast before they all set off for work.

She dragged the hairbrush through her thick, wavy hair and, grabbing her dressing gown, joined Nikki and Claire in the kitchen.

‘Hey, we were going to bring a tray into the bedroom to you!’ laughed Nikki, giving her a hug.

‘The scrambled egg and salmon will be ready in a min,’ added Claire, ‘and I’ve made us all a pot of proper coffee.’

‘I prefer eating here,’ Erin assured them as she curled up on to the old leather armchair that had pride of position at their kitchen table.

‘I’ll get the pressies,’ said Nikki, as Claire poured Erin a big glass of orange juice.

‘You two are spoiling me,’ sighed Erin, glad that she was sharing her apartment with two of her best friends.

‘That’s what birthdays are for,’ replied Claire, giving her a hug. ‘When you’re a kid it’s all parties and presents and no homework, but us grown-up girlies still deserve a bit of pampering from our best friends on our birthdays.’

‘I can’t believe I’m twenty-six!’ Erin marvelled. It sounded so old. Yikes – thirty was only around the corner!

‘Sssh!’ hushed Nikki. ‘We won’t mention ages or years at this table. Agreed?’

‘Yes,’ nodded Claire and Erin, both aware of how obsessed Nikki was with age and beauty and looking good.

‘Here’s my pressie,’ said Nikki.

Erin opened the pink-and-white-wrapped package. It was a bottle of her favourite perfume and a voucher for a facial at L’Esprit, the expensive salon that Nikki always went to in nearby Ballsbridge.

‘Nikki – you spent far too much!’

‘I’m a good customer there, so they give me a bit of a discount for my friends,’ Nikki confessed.

Claire’s present was wrapped in zany Quentin Blake printed paper and contained a cute pair of pale-blue pyjamas decorated with little white rabbits.

‘Oh, I love them!’ said Erin.

‘Open the other present,’ urged Claire.

Erin laughed when she saw the latest Rachel Allen cookery book. ‘You two are just trying to get me to do some of the cooking round here.’

‘True, but there’s some really great recipes in it and they’re easy – even for someone like you or Nikki,’ replied Claire, a natural cook, as she served them creamy scrambled egg and salmon on toast along with their coffee.

The sun poured in through the window as they ate and, just as she was finishing, her phone went.

‘Hi Mum!’

Erin listened as her mum’s voice broke into the familiar refrain of ‘Happy Birthday to You’. Claire and Nikki both joined in the singing too.

‘Mum, thanks for phoning. Listen, I’ll see you and Dad tonight.’

Her mum was big into birthdays. Erin guessed that’s where she got it from too, wanting to celebrate and mark birthdays and special dates and traditions.

‘Hey, I’d better rush.’ Nikki jumped up from the table. ‘We’ve a client meeting first thing. You and Luke enjoy tonight!’

‘Thanks, Nikki.’

‘Nikki – you’ve hardly touched a thing!’ complained Claire.

‘You know I’m not a breakfast person!’ called Nikki as she disappeared.

‘Talk about understatement. She has literally just had black coffee and a finger of toast and hasn’t touched her egg.’

‘You know what she’s like,’ said Erin. ‘She just wants to be stick thin like a super-model.’

‘I’d better get going too.’ Claire drained the last of the coffee. ‘Old Mr Stevens and his bad knee are my first
appointment
today. Wednesday always seems to be my OAP day at the surgery – they all seem to need physio for something or other!’

Ten minutes later Erin was on the DART train heading into work. She smiled as she read Luke’s text. He was in London for the day at a meeting, but promised to be back in time for tonight’s dinner. Sometimes she could hardly believe that she was going out with someone as cool as Luke, who also happened to be as nice and kind as they come. Three years older than her, he worked on the finance team in Hibernian Stockbrokers, which impressed her parents and friends but also meant that they could still afford to eat out and go away for the odd weekend. So many of her friends had lost their jobs or were in pretty dire financial straits, but thank heaven Luke’s firm was okay. He might have to work crazy hours but at least he had a job, and a good job at that.

Erin’s own salary had been cut by more than twenty-five per cent in the past two years, and she knew that De Berg O’Leary Graphics were hanging on by a thread. This year no graduates had been taken on and a few of the staff were on a three-day week. Monika De Berg and her husband Declan O’Leary had built up a wonderful business over the past fifteen years in Ireland, and had worked on some amazing campaigns, but the firm now spent a lot of time pitching for smaller jobs and tendering for design contracts that might never happen.

Erin tried not to get disheartened. At least she had a job when so many graphic designers didn’t, and she was doing something she loved. She had to stay positive and believe that, career-wise, things would improve.

She walked briskly to the office, where Alice, their receptionist, let her in. Sliding into her desk on the second floor of the old Georgian building, she switched on her computer. Today was going to be a good day, she resolved … a really good day.

Chapter Two

KATE CASSIDY STOOD IN
the kitchen trying not to give into the overwhelming sadness she felt. Every year it was the same, the date imprinted on her mind for ever. No matter how much she tried to forget it, to put the past behind her, the date on the calendar always rekindled that sense of panic and pain that she still remembered so acutely.

She’d been only twenty years old when it happened, and so naïve and stupid it was beyond belief. One mistake that had cost her so much and changed everything. One mistake that she could never forget, or undo, no matter how hard she tried. She steadied herself and gazed out in the garden. It was covered in yellow daffodils. She’d planted the bulbs under the trees, in the flowerbeds and crowded them into pots. She loved their colour and sense of joy. They symbolized the arrival of spring … new beginnings.

The daffodils always evoked that period when her life had changed and she had given up her baby for adoption. At the time it had seemed a solution to her problem, but what kind of woman was she that would allow her own flesh and blood,
her
daughter, to be raised by strangers? Somewhere out there people she had never met had raised her child and made her their own.

Over the years she had somehow learned to accept it. Still, it didn’t stop her from thinking about her daughter and wondering what she might be like now.

Her phone went. It was her sister, Sally. She smiled – good old Sally was wonderful.

‘You okay, Kate?’ Sally asked, her voice full of concern.

‘Yes.’

Sally was the only one in the family who knew her secret, who had helped her at a time in her life when she was desperate and felt so alone. And, like herself, Sally never, ever forgot the date. Every year her sister would phone to talk to her and later they would meet up for a chat or a walk and lunch. It was almost a ritual by now. A ritual that Kate valued so much – the only acknowledgement there was of what had happened.

She looked around her kitchen, neat and clean with good, hand-painted cream units and a top-of-the-range Neff cooker. She had a lovely home, a good husband, three children – and yet she always felt that something was missing, something that she could never have, could never regain … ever …

BOOK: Three Women
5.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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