Hunter Cabot deeply loves two things: the international tea company he’s helped his father build, and his wife, Sara. From the moment he first saw her wide smile on their college campus years ago, Hunter fell hard. Yet now, with other family members pushing to sell the thriving business and Sara grieving their failure to start a family, he’s suddenly facing the crushing loss of both.
The relentless ambition that Sara once admired in Hunter is now driving them apart. Each missed doctor’s appointment, neglected dinner date, and family squabble accentuates their differing priorities. Still, Sara struggles to create the home life they’d envisioned, until unsettling developments—both personal and professional—push them to the breaking point.
When love is put to the ultimate test, can Hunter and Sara stop fighting each other long enough to fight for their marriage?
Certain moments in a man’s life are engraved on his memory in 24-karat gold. Hunter Cabot recalled several, including his first kiss (Tina Baker) and his father’s proud hug when he’d graduated from college summa cum laude. But the shiniest memory of all involved the jolt he’d felt the instant he’d laid eyes on his wife, Sara, right here in Memorial Glade on Berkeley’s campus.
He’d been comparing Microeconomic Analysis notes with two classmates in the shadow of Doe—the university’s massive granite neoclassical-style library—when Sara exited the building and skipped down its stairs. Unlike most harried students, her miles-wide smile had radiated something other than stress. That smile and her bouncing honey-colored hair, both warmer than the California sun, had shone like a lodestar.
Mesmerized, he’d sprung off the ground, grabbed his backpack, and, without so much as a goodbye to his friends, chased her down before she could slip away. Luckily, his intensity hadn’t scared her off, and she agreed to dinner that night. They’d been together ever since, marrying by the age of twenty-five and living that happily-ever-after dream most people see only in the movies.
Or at least he’d thought so, until recently.
Now he stood at the edge of the glade, having returned for alumni homecoming activities, hoping the faint aroma of eucalyptus and pine would trigger her memories of what they’d once been and the promise of what still could be.
“Hunter! I didn’t expect to see you.” Greg Maxwell approached and sat on one of the new teak benches Hunter had recently underwritten.
“I know. It’s been too long since we’ve come to a reunion.” With his finger, he traced the letters on the plaque affixed to the back of the bench that bore Sara’s and his names.
Smiling, he glanced around at the other seven benches now flanking the glade. Instead of making his routine donation to his alma mater, this year he’d done something specific. Something to give Sara and him a permanent toehold on this particular ground. Not that she knew it yet. He planned to surprise her today, but Greg’s unexpected presence meant he’d have to wait until later.
He nodded toward the library. “Pit stop.”
She’d been complaining about headaches and bloating thanks to the daily course of shots and medications needed to coax her ovaries into producing more eggs.
“She still looks great.” Greg crossed one loafer-clad foot over his knee and casually stretched an arm across the back of the seat. “You got lucky with that one.”
“Luck’s got nothing to do with it, buddy.” He chuckled, although he knew he’d been damn lucky. Lucky no one else had been smart enough to scoop her up before he’d swooped in. Then again, from the start he’d known they were soul mates. No one and nothing could have come between them back then. Even with the recent tension, his faith endured.
Students were now crisscrossing the campus all around Greg and him, weighed down by backpacks and academic pressure. He wished he could tell them life got easier.
“Were we ever this young?” Greg shook his head of prematurely salt-and-pepper hair.
“Speak for yourself.” Hunter patted his own trim waist in jest. Avid cycling kept him fit, and his sandy-brown hair had yet to gray. “I’m still young. Just wiser and wealthier.”
Although some days he felt every second of his thirty-four years, especially lately.
“I suppose the upside of maturity is that I’m no longer invisible to women. Too bad you can’t join me in playing the field.” Greg glanced toward the library, raised his chin with a smile, and stood. “Here comes your wife.”
Hunter turned in time to catch Sara descending the library steps. Unlike the first time he’d seen her there, her signature smile remained hidden behind a shallow grin. She’d pulled her thick hair into some kind of twist that didn’t glint beneath the sun.
A cool autumn breeze tickled the back of his neck as she crossed the walkway and came to his side.
He captured her hand in his and kissed her knuckles, an intimate gesture he enjoyed. She had such soft hands, and he liked seeing his ring on her finger. “Feeling better?”
“Sure.” She nodded, but he suspected she was faking it for Greg’s sake. She leaned forward and pecked their old friend on the cheek. “Hey, you. Long time.”
“To look at you, I’d guess no time had passed whatsoever,” he replied.
Hunter knew Sara wished she were still that blithe girl, or at least that her reproductive organs were ten years younger. Still, she grinned at the compliment. “Since when did you become a flirt?”
“Better late than never. I like to practice on married women. They seem to appreciate the flattery more than others.” Greg gestured toward the pathway that led to the student union, where the alumni party was taking place. “I suspect that many husbands take their wives for granted after the honeymoon.”
“Savvy hypothesis,” Sara teased, but didn’t refute him.
“I take it back, Greg. I did get lucky. Luckiest guy on campus, actually.” He draped his arm over Sara’s shoulder as they walked along the paved pathway. He liked the feel of her against his side, her floral perfume hovering around them.
Familiar. Warm. His.
About the Author
Jamie Beck is a former attorney with a passion for inventing stories about love and redemption. In addition to writing novels, she also pens articles on behalf of a local nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth and strengthening families. Fortunately, when she isn’t tapping away at the keyboard, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.