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Madeline, Avery, and Nikki are strangers to each other, but they have one thing in common. They each wake up one morning to discover their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager-leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.Throwing their lots in together, they take on the challenge of restoring the historic property. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, secrets threaten to tear down their trust-and destroy their lives a second time.
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Wendy Wax is the USA Today bestselling author whose contemporary women's fiction includes the highly praised Ten Beach Road, Ocean Beach, The House on Mermaid Point, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, Magnolia Wednesdays, and The Accidental Bestseller. A former broadcaster, she lives in the Atlanta area with her family.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Table of Contents
Ten Beach Road
An Excerpt from A Week At The Lake
“Wax, the author of The Accidental Bestseller, writes with breezy wit and keen insight into family relations.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“An honest, realistic story of family, love, and priorities, with genuine characters.”
“Bittersweet . . . Vivian’s an easy protagonist to love; she’s plucky, resourceful, and witty.”
“Atlanta-based novelist Wendy Wax spins yet another captivating tale of life and love in this wonderfully entertaining book.”
—Southern Seasons Magazine
The Accidental Bestseller
“A little bit Sex and the City with a dash of The First Wives Club.”
—Sacramento Book Review
“A warm, triumphant tale of female friendship and the lessons learned when life doesn’t turn out as planned . . . Sure to appeal.”
“A wise and witty foray into the hearts of four amazing women . . . A beautiful book.”
—Karen White, author of On Folly Beach
“A terrific story brimming with wit, warmth, and good humor. I loved it!”
—Jane Porter, author of She’s Gone Country
“A wry, revealing tell-all about friendship and surviving the world of publishing.”
—Haywood Smith, New York Times bestselling author
“Entertaining . . . Provides a lot of insight into the book business, collected, no doubt, from Wax’s own experiences.”
—St. Petersburg Times
Titles by Wendy Wax
7 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS
LEAVE IT TO CLEAVAGE
SINGLE IN SUBURBIA
THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER
TEN BEACH ROAD
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley trade paperback edition / May 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ten Beach Road / Wendy Wax.
1. Female friendship—Fiction. 2. Dwellings—Conservation and restoration—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3623 A893T46 2011
My life is like a stroll on the beach . . .
as near to the edge as I can go.
WALL STREET WEEKLY
Malcolm Dyer Joins Bernie Madoff
on Most Hated List
NEW YORK—Federal investigators raided the offices of Malcolm Dyer, head of Synergy Investments, in New York City this morning. Dyer is suspected of conducting an elaborate Ponzi scheme, similar to that employed by Mr. Madoff, and of bilking some three hundred clients of more than three hundred million dollars. Investors, who believed their money was being put in bank-secured CDs with double-digit yields, were, in fact, funding Mr. Dyer’s lavish lifestyle, which included a private jet, a seventy-eightfoot motor yacht, and homes in Westchester, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean island where the alleged securitizing bank was allegedly located.
For at least five years, investors did receive the promised returns, which were apparently paid out of successive investors’ deposits, rather than the nonexistent CDs. When clients, faced with a faltering economy and plummeting stock prices, requested their principal back, the scheme was uncovered.
Although investigators have seized records and frozen all of Mr. Dyer’s known accounts and assets, the majority of the missing money is assumed to be offshore. Dyer’s whereabouts are unknown.
Though she was careful not to show it, Madeline Singer did not fall apart when her youngest child left for college. In the Atlanta suburb where she lived, women wilted all around her. Tears fell. Antidepressants were prescribed.
Her friends, lost and adrift, no longer recognized themselves without children to care for. A collective amnesia descended, wiping out all the memories of teenaged angst and acts of hostility that had preceded their children’s departures, much as the remembered pain of childbirth had been washed away once the newborn was placed in their arms.
Madeline kept waiting for the emptiness of her nest to smite her. She loved her children and had loved being a stay-at-home mother, but while she waited for the crushing blow, she took care of all the things that she’d never found time for while Kyra and Andrew were still at home. Throughout that fall while her friends went for therapy, shared long liquid lunches, and did furtive drive-bys and drop-ins to the high school where they’d logged so many volunteer hours, Madeline happily responded to her children’s phone calls and texts, but she also put twenty years’ worth of pictures into photo albums. Then she cleaned out the basement storage unit and each successive floor of their house, purging and sorting until the clutter that had always threatened to consume them was finally and completely vanquished.
After that she threw herself into the holidays and the mad rush of shopping and cooking and entertaining, trying her best not to let the free-falling economy dampen the family festivities. Andrew came home from Vanderbilt and Kyra, fresh out of Berkeley’s film school and two months into her first feature film shoot, arrived in the first flush of adulthood and once again became the center of the known universe.
Pushing aside daydreams of the projects she’d undertake once they were gone again, Madeline fed her children and their friends, made herself available when their friends weren’t, and didn’t even react to the fact that she was barely an appendage to their lives. Steve, who loved the trappings of a family Christmas with the ferocity of an only child, seemed worried and distracted, but when she raised the subject he found a way to change or avoid it.
While basting the turkey on Christmas Day, Madeline realized that she was more than ready for her husband to go back to the office and for her children to go back to their new lives so that she could finally begin her own.
On this first day of March, the house was once again blissfully quiet. There was no television. No music. No video game gunfire or crack of a bat. No texts coming in or going out with a ding. No refrigerator opening or closing. No one—not one person—asking what was for dinner, when their laundry would be done, or whether she had a spare twenty.
Standing in the center of Kyra’s vacant bedroom, Madeline inhaled the quiet, held it in her lungs, and let it soak into her skin. Her nest was not only empty, it was totally and completely organized. It was time for her “new” life to begin.
Not for the first time, she admitted something might be wrong with her. Because the silence that so alarmed her friends sent a tingle of anticipation up her spine. It made her want to dance with joy. Go hang gliding. Cure cancer. Learn how to knit. Write the Great American Novel. Or do absolutely nothing for a really long time.
Her life could be whatever she decided to make of it.
Throwing open the windows to allow the scents of an early spring to fill the room, Madeline mentally converted the space into the study/craft room she’d always dreamed of. She’d put a wall of shelves for her books and knickknacks here. A combination desk and worktable there. Maybe a club chair and ottoman for reading in the corner near the window.
Madeline entertained herself for a time measuring the windows for a cornice that she might just make herself. This afternoon she could go to the fabric store and see what looked interesting. Maybe she’d hit some of her favorite antique stores and see about a worktable and a club chair that she could re-cover.
For lunch she made a quick sandwich and then sat down at the kitchen table to read through the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Steve’s Wall Street Journal, and the local weekly. She was in the middle of a story about yet another financial advisor who’d absconded with his unsuspecting clients’ money when the phone rang—an especially shrill sound in the cocoon of silence in which she was wrapped.
“Mrs. Singer?” The voice was female, clipped, but not unfriendly. “This is St. Joseph’s calling.”
Madeline’s grip on the phone tightened; she braced for a full-body blow. “A Mrs. Clyde Singer was brought in about thirty minutes ago. She was suffering from smoke inhalation and a gash on her forehead. We found this number listed as emergency contact on the file from her last visit.”
“Smoke inhalation?” Madeline hovered near her chair, trying to get her thoughts in order. “Is she all right?”
“She’s resting now, but she’s been through quite a lot, poor thing. There was a kitchen fire.”
“Oh, my God.” Madeline turned and raced upstairs, carrying the phone with her. Last month her mother-in-law had fallen in the bathroom and been lucky not to break anything. At eighty-seven, living alone had become increasingly difficult and dangerous, but Edna Singer had refused to consider giving up her home and Steve had been unwilling to push his mother on it. Madeline got the room number and a last assurance that the patient looked a bit beat up but would be fine. “It’ll probably take me about twenty-five minutes to get there.”
Exchanging her shorts for a pair of slacks and slipping her feet into loafers, she called Steve’s cell phone as she clattered down the front stairs. After leaving a voice mail with the pertinent details, Madeline headed for the garage, stopping only long enough to look up Steve’s office number, which she so rarely called she hadn’t even programmed it into her cell phone. Adrienne Byrne, who’d sat in front of Steve’s corner office at the investment firm for the last fifteen years, answered. “Adrienne?” Madeline said as the garage door rumbled open. “It’s Madeline. Can you put me through to Steve?”
There was a silence on the other end as Madeline yanked open the car door.
“Hello?” Madeline said. “I hate to be short, but it’s an emergency. Edna is at St. Joseph’s again and I need Steve to meet me there.”
Madeline slid behind the steering wheel, wedged the phone between her ear and shoulder, and put the minivan in reverse.
“Did you try his cell phone?” Adrienne’s tone was uncharacteristically tentative.
“Yes.” Maddie began to back down the driveway, her mind swirling with details. How badly damaged was Edna’s kitchen? Should she have Steve go to the hospital while she checked the house? “It went right to voice mail. Isn’t he in the office? Do you know how to reach him?”
There was another odd pause and then Adrienne said, “Steve doesn’t work here anymore.”
Madeline’s foot found the brake of its own accord. The car jerked to a stop. “I’m sorry? Where did you say he was?”
“I don’t know where he is, Madeline,” the secretary said slowly. “Steve doesn’t work here anymore.”
Madeline sat in the cul-de-sac, trying to absorb the words she’d just heard.
“I haven’t seen Steve since he was laid off. That was at the beginning of September. About six months ago.”
Madeline drove to the hospital and then had no idea how she got there. Nothing registered, not the street signs or the lights or the bazillion other cars that must have flown by on Highway 400 or the artery off it that led to the hospital parking lot. The entire way she grappled with what Adrienne had told her and Steve had not. Laid off six months ago? Not working? Unemployed?
At the information desk, she signed in and made her way down the hall to Edna’s room. There were people there and noise. A gurney rolled by. A maintenance worker mopped up a distant corner of the hallway. She sensed movement and activity, but the images and sounds were fleeting. Nothing could compete with the dialogue going on in her head. If Steve didn’t have a job, where did he go every day after he put on his suit and strolled out the door with his briefcase? More important, why hadn’t he told her?
In the doorway to her mother-in-law’s room, Madeline paused to gat...
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