Genre: Contemporary Fiction
In this journey into second-chance love, author Cheryl Robinson invites us to ponder whether we would rekindle a romance with someone who had broken a promise to forsake all others.
Meet Ray and Sarita Saint. In 1987, they pledged to love, honor, and cherish each other until death. When Ray goes missing a year later, Sarita wonders whether he’s dead or alive. While she was dreaming of their happily ever after, Ray was exploring greener pastures, a new relationship. Sarita—a virgin until marriage—took her vows seriously and believed Ray did, too. Instead, he left their marriage and their life in Detroit to reinvent himself. Sarita always held out hope that he would return one day. And he does. It’s twenty-seven years later, and Ray is determined to find his one true love. What he discovers has him question everything he thought he knew about Sarita, as well as himself.
NOVEMBER 19, 1988
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” I say from behind the wheel of my Sunbird as I make the sign of the cross.
It’s seven in the morning. I’m sitting in my car outside Ray’s mom’s house, a well-kept, red-brick fourplex on the corner of Santa Clara and Stoepel. Down from Tradewinds, the liquor store where Ray said his mom buys her alcohol and cigarettes. Ray loves that I don’t drink or smoke the way Miss King does. Ray loves me. And he’s everything to me. I hope nothing’s happened to him. Please, don’t let him have been carjacked. Then, it’ll be my fault because he didn’t even ask for that car. His Renault Alliance was old and always in the shop, and I wanted him to have something reliable. Because I love him and I can afford the car note.
I work at GM. So.
I have an MBA. Doesn’t matter.
I’m a CPA. Irrelevant.
I’m a wife. Ray Saint’s wife. And he’s missing.
My husband is missing on our first wedding anniversary.
“Lord, please lead me to him.” I wipe my tears away, and I take a few deep breaths. I thought about going to the morgue, but I can’t lose faith that Ray is still alive. So, instead, I came to Miss King’s house. The only relative of Ray’s that I know. I knew Paw Paw, Ray’s grandfather, but he passed away in August, and Ray changed not long after. He got real distant toward me. Death will do that sometimes. Wedge a gap so wide that those on the other side have no choice but to fall through. I refuse to. I hope Ray didn’t hurt himself. I keep thinking about what Graham said about mental illness being hereditary. I’m not sure if Ray is mentally ill, but I do know he gets depressed from time to time. I shake the thought from my mind as quickly as it enters. Ray’s fine. He’ll be home soon.
I take a deep breath and stare at the stop sign up ahead. Maybe I should stop. Don’t get out of my car. Don’t go up to that woman’s house. Leave, because something is going on with her, but I haven’t figured out what yet. The only thing Ray told me was that he doesn’t want us associating with her, but he didn’t say why. The one time I met her, shortly after Ray and I got engaged, she was very dry toward me. I also find it odd that Ray has to call her Miss King instead of Mom. Still, I have to let her know that Ray’s missing because she’s his mother, so I attempt to open my car door, but the strong winds blow it shut. I try again, and the same thing happens. I’m pretty sure it’s a sign. I look toward the multifamily home. There’s a wall unit sticking out of the second-floor window. Ray’s mom lives on the first floor, on the Santa Clara side that I’m parked on. On the Stoepel side, there’s a handicap ramp that leads up to another door with two more doorbells. This is where my husband was raised. There isn’t a wall unit on the first floor. Is that why Ray keeps our apartment so cold, even in the winter? Is he trying to make up for those years without air conditioning? I scoot across to the passenger seat and get out, and this time the wind doesn’t interfere. As I trudge against the gusts up to Miss King’s front door, I’m praying for a peaceful interaction with her. My armpits are sticky, even though the temperature is in the low thirties.
There are two doorbells, and I’m not sure which to ring. Logically, the one on top should be for the upper, so I ring the bottom one, and then I wait. She’s probably asleep, but this is important, so I ring the doorbell two more times, and not long after hear a woman shout, “If you not from Publishing Clearing House, don’t be ringin’ my damn doorbell this early.”
Miss King yanks the door open. She’s wearing a sheer, floral nightgown with a plunging neckline that exposes her large breasts. Her waist is small, and her hips are in proportion. I’m sure bodies like hers served as inspiration for the Commodores’ “Brick House.”
“Miss King, I’m so sorry to bother you—”
“And who are you?”
“Sarita Saint, your son’s wife,” I say matter-of-factly.
Miss King rests the side of her arm against the door, crosses her bare feet, and wiggles her toes, which are sparkling with pink glitter. She gives me the once-over, and then says, “You don’t look like her. Even though I only saw the thing once.” She puts her cigarette to her mouth, takes a long drag, and blows the smoke off to the side, into the hallway. “Did you put on some weight? ’Bout two pounds? And lettin’ your hair grow out?” She shakes her head and chuckles. “None of that’s gonna keep my son because he just like his daddy. They eyes roam so much I’m surprised they not crossed. What’s so important that you gotta be ringin’ my bell at seven in the damn mornin’? And where is Ray? Because if he told you he was over here, he a damn lie.”
“He’s missing, Miss King.” My voice is trembling from cold, fear of what may have happened to him, and my anger at being called a “thing” by my mother-in-law. “Have you seen or heard from him?”
Her expression is empty. She shakes her head and then grins and takes another long drag of her cigarette. “He done left your ass, girl. That’s all it is. If that boy ain’t just like his daddy, I swear.” She bursts out in laughter.
I shake my head. “No, he didn’t leave me. Something’s happened…
Cheryl Robinson has the Until Ray trilogy set in her beloved hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Cheryl currently resides in Central Florida. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University. This is her eleventh book.
Amazon Paperback: http://a.co/ehNCP35
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