Get your next glimpse of THE VISITOR! Book 29 in The Friessens series is on the way, but you can preview Chapter 4 now!
In Laura Friessen’s peaceful, comfortable world, her family is everything, and at times she has to remind herself how lucky she is. These days, she gives barely a passing thought to her unsupportive, hypocritical parents or to her husband’s father, who, as far as she’s concerned, is a scourge on the earth. Good riddance to them all!
However, her world comes crashing down in a single day. First, her husband’s father shows up on their doorstep without a penny to his name, believing Laura is solely responsible for his misfortune in life. Then an article appears online about her
parents, who run a church mission in Africa and are portrayed as saints, with no mention of them ever having a daughter. Last, a courier arrives with an envelope addressed to her, with no return address, containing only three words: You owe me!
Laura believes this is Andy’s father’s pathetic attempt at revenge, at extracting what he believes he’s entitled to. She knows that if they let Todd Friessen through the door, he’ll attempt to manipulate not only Andy but also their children and grandchildren, who don’t know the man who now wants to be called Grandfather.
Unfortunately, what Laura doesn’t realize is that even though she has an amazing life, before she can move forward into her future, she has to confront her past.
THE VISITOR (The Friessens, Book 29) is available for pre-sale at:
Did you miss your sneak peek of Chapter 3? If so, click here.
Laura lifted her hand in the water and listened to the silence of her bathroom as she lingered in the soaker tub, feeling safer and cocooned. The sounds of the house, the voices that drifted in, sounded much like a hum in the distance.
She knew Todd Friessen was still there with her husband, her kids, and she knew the questions they had to have. That was the reason she was now alone in the bath in their bedroom, trying to make sense of this insanity, of what had been the start to a really shitty day. For a second, she had to fight the worry at what else could possibly show up to smack her upside the head and take her down once and for all.
She shut her eyes and leaned back, running her wet hands over her face and pulling her hair up in a messy bun. She wasn’t sure what had her looking up, but there was Andy, leaning in the doorway, watching her. His expression seemed tired, and his emotions, she could already tell, seemed so mixed.
She wondered what he was thinking, feeling. He made a face, and she took in the lines etched around his eyes, the gray now mixing with his dark hair, which made him even more handsome than when she’d first seen him years earlier as a young, stupid girl. He was still so tall, so broad-shouldered, the love of her life.
He leaned against the door frame and then lifted his hand and rubbed his face, his faded blue shirtsleeves rolled up to reveal dirt on his forearms. Just looking at him, she could see the resemblance to his father. It was around his eyes, in his expression. Why hadn’t she noticed before?
“You didn’t ask him to leave,” she said. She pressed her hand to her chest, feeling the way her heart beat, the way her chest ached. She had to remind herself to breathe.
Andy sat on the edge of the tub and let his hand drop in the water as it skimmed over hers, her arm, her breast. She loved the feel of his touch, the roughness of his skin, his large hands. He pulled it away and rested it on his leg, and she could see the confliction as he said, “I never expected to see him, not after everything that happened. What did he say to you?”
She made a face and moved to sit up, pulling her knees against her chest. It wasn’t even lunchtime yet and the day had already gone to shit. She rested her hand on his blue-jeaned leg and wondered how to explain how much Todd Friessen despised her. Even the words he’d said to her, she didn’t know how to speak them so that Andy understood. Todd had never come right out and said anything horrible. Instead, the words had been there in the way he looked down on her, at her, through her. It had been so loud and clear as he danced around it and said everything but.
Andy would think she was crazy. Todd Friessen had never said how much he hated her, but it had been there in his eyes. He blamed her for him having nothing, for all his misfortune.
“What do you want me to say, Andy? He despises me, always has. Why is he here?”
He just stared at her. She could always tell when he was thinking of what to say. “He says he wants to meet his grandkids, get to know them, see me and try to repair our relationship. We were close when I was young, and I suspect he wants that back. I don’t know. He’s older now, not a young man. Maybe he has regrets? Another chance, some kind of relationship.” He shrugged.
What was that? Andy never shrugged. She wondered if he really believed that or if it was something he wanted to believe. Like, where had that come from? Andy had made it clear his father was out of his life. After all, he was the scourge of the earth, all about money, position, power. That was the way of the world. She believed love, to him, was meaningless—except, maybe, his love for his son.
She wondered whether she made a face, as she could feel how on edge Andy was. “You seriously don’t believe that, do you?” she said. “This is your father we’re talking about, who has only ever been all about himself. Coming in here and looking down on me as if I’m no one, as if the only thing I’ve done right has been to give you more kids…” She could hear how bitter she sounded.
Andy’s gaze was hard. He pulled in a breath and glanced away, around the bathroom, and back to her. “You know my father has never respected women.”
It took her a second to understand what he was saying. It sounded like an excuse. “I know that, Andy, but at the same time, he doesn’t get a pass for treating me and all women like crap.”
He furrowed his brow, and she knew he wasn’t understanding, so she leaned back in the bath. The water was cooling already. “Your father is despicable, and he’s here and talking to our kids. I don’t want him here, Andy. He makes me feel as if I’m worthless, as if I’m nothing—as if I’m responsible for him having nothing and for you losing everything you were to inherit.”
“Oh, we’re not going there again.” He cut her off sharply and stood up, dismissing her. It was something she hadn’t been on the receiving end of for so long.
“Andy, I’m your wife, and I’m telling you how I feel, how he made me feel. You can’t honestly tell me you didn’t see it, or maybe you didn’t want to see it. This is my house, and I can’t remember anyone ever making me feel as if I was an unwelcome guest. Your father is still here, and right now, the way I’m seeing you, I can tell you’ve bought whatever it is he’s dishing out hook, line, and sinker. To make it worse, you’re trying to explain that boys will be boys. Your dad has always treated women terribly, but I’m supposed to…what, just shake it off, paste a smile to my face, and say, okay, I’ll let it go? No! No fucking goddamn way. We’ve raised our kids better than that.”
“You’ve had a crappy morning,” Andy said. “I mean, are you sure this isn’t about your parents and that article?”
The way he cut her off, she knew his voice carried, and she wondered if anyone could hear. He closed the door to the bathroom. Maybe he knew. She could see how rattled he was, something else she rarely saw from her husband. Andy handled things, looked after everything. He argued, he was passionate, and she didn’t know what she’d do without him. At the same time, there was a side of him that could be cruel. It had been a long time since she’d felt his words like a slap to her face.
He shook his head, running his hand over his face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. Look, let’s just table this. He’s here. He doesn’t know you. You know I love you, and this is about you and me and our family. Your parents, my dad, they’re just…not part of our lives. Just get out of the bath and get dressed. Maybe he’s changed—and don’t give me that look. People do change, Laura.”
She was shaking her head. “Andy, your father would just as soon see me out of your life. He even said it, not in so many words, when he said you chose me even when you had so many better options. Like, how do you expect me to feel?”
She unplugged the tub and stood up, and Andy held out a towel as she stepped out of the bath. He allowed his gaze to linger on her, appreciative and possessive, letting her know with just that look that she was his. He wrapped the towel around her, and she dried herself off before tucking the edge in at her breasts and taking in the way he stared down at her. Then he glanced away, considered, and nodded.
“What do you want me to do, ask him to leave?” he said.
She almost said yes before she realized it could be something that came between them down the road. “No,” she said. “Fine, I get it. I’ll get dressed, come on out, paste a smile to my face, and listen to your dad go on and on. But hear me, Andy. I won’t be treated like a servant or like I’m an unwanted guest in my own house, and if he says one more, cruel, demeaning…”
He touched her, his hand on her shoulder, squeezing, supporting, and then he ran it over her collarbone, her chin, her cheek. “Then he’ll be out of here,” he said and leaned in to press a kiss to her lips, a kiss that lingered, a kiss that reassured.
She looped her arms over his shoulders, around his neck, as she went on her tiptoes. He pulled her right against him so she could feel all his hardness. It was a place where she fit, where she felt loved, and he was giving her the reassurance she hadn’t realized she needed. When he stepped back and kissed her again, her towel slipped. There was that teasing smile as his hand touched the doorknob and hers gripped the towel.
“See you out there,” he said. Then he was off, and she took in the way he walked with the most perfect ass she’d ever seen before he stepped out and closed the bedroom door.
Out of nowhere, again, it seemed as if she’d forgotten to breathe.
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