Suzanna Caulder is about to graduate from college, and she’s just been invited to qualify for the professional ladies golf tour—life seems to be moving in the right direction.
But when she is also invited to the engagement party of Patrick, her high school sweetheart, back home, she realizes that four years isn’t long enough to heal her broken heart or her haunted past.
Having left home suddenly halfway through her senior year, Suzanna has maintained contact only with her friend Chloe, leaving the rest of the “fabulous five” and her dark secret behind—or so she thought. Now, seeing that to move forward requires confronting the past, Suzanna returns to find closure with Patrick, only to find that their love is as strong as ever. But he doesn’t know what drove her away the first time.
Should Suzanna try to let go of the past and allow herself to enjoy a successful life and a relationship with a future?
Beneath the Lie is the first book in a series that follows the stories of the fabulous five, a group of tight-knit friends—Suzanna, Chloe, Patrick, James, and Landon—as they begin to build their lives in the great state of South Carolina.
Chapter 2 (Present Day)
As I am unpacking my duffel bag, separating the clean clothes from the dirty ones, I hear the doorbell ring. Then, I hear the click clack of Chloe’s yellow wedges hitting the hard wood floors as she makes her way to the door. Our house is a small, two bedroom duplex in the nice neighborhood of Forest Hills. Lucky for us, we found this house as soon as it went on the market a couple of years ago. I was more than thrilled to move out of the ancient dorm room I had been living in my freshman and sophomore years. Chloe was too, only having to endure dorm life her freshman year. Forest Hills is a very desirable neighborhood, so we had to move fast to get the place. My parents were looking for investment opportunities at the time and it just so happened I convinced them that this would be a great one. Long story short, they bought the entire building and rent to us and the tenants who occupy the other duplex apartment. The neighborhood is more of the family type so my parents made Chloe and I promise that we wouldn’t hold any wild college parties. We stick to the rule with the exception of the occasional out of town USC football game in which we invite a few friends over. The location is extremely convenient to our classes and the downtown bar life, and is only a fifteen minute drive to the golf course on which I practice with the other Gamecock lady golfers who make up our team. I love living here and I’m going to miss it when I graduate. Chloe is begging me to try and find work around the Columbia area so she doesn’t have to find another roommate. However, I really need to get out of this town and away from the prestigious University of South Carolina law school before next year. I can’t chance running into Patrick and his lovely bride once they settle here in Columbia while he attends law school and she does whatever it is she does.
I hear Chloe in her most charming southern accent inviting her date in the house for a drink before dinner. I know it would be rude for me not to go out and introduce myself, even though I look like shit from the long drive from the beach. I finish separating the clothes and try to straighten out my windblown hair, with little success. I exit my bedroom and walk down the hall to meet the ‘date of the week’. Chloe hears my approach since these hard wood floors are so unforgiving to footsteps of any kind and turns to me with a smile. She looks stunning all dressed up for her date. Her dirty blond hair is styled in its natural wavy state, sitting right above her shoulders in a stylish bob. Her makeup is subtle, since she has the most gorgeous olive skin year round. The only makeup she usually wears is some earth tone eye shadows and mascara that showcases her beautiful brown eyes. Only standing a mere 5’4, she has curves that rival those of Scarlett Johansson and makes men notice. Her most striking feature, however, is her smile. When she flashes those pearly whites, men lose their ability to speak and just start drooling. As I approach, her smile has obviously put her date under the same spell because he doesn’t even notice that I have walked into the room. Chloe breaks her spell by introducing me. “Brian I’d like you to meet my best friend and roommate, Suzanna. Suzanna, this is Brian Westwood.” Brian politely, but not so eagerly, turns from the fabulous view of Chloe to acknowledge my presence. I walk closer to the couch and offer my outstretched hand.
“Hey, Brian. It’s so nice to meet you.”
He kindly accepts my hand, but instead of the obvious hand shake, he gently raises my hand to his lips and deposits a soft kiss on the opposite side of my palm. Then in his most charming voice, he replies, “Hello, Suzanna, the pleasure is all mine.”
Oh, my. Chloe may have met her match in the charming department. I really seem to like this guy so far and his southern charm. Also, Brian is very easy on the eyes. He towers over Chloe, standing close to six feet in height. He is thin, but lean with broad shoulders. Dark, almost jet black hair frames his chiseled facial features, accentuating his big blue eyes. He is definitely a looker! Chloe is beaming, excitement lighting up every inch of her face. After the introductions, Chloe and Brian settle onto the couch and I in the chair opposite all enjoying a glass of wine before they leave for dinner. Come to find out, Brian is originally from the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He was a gold medal swimmer in high school and could have attended any of the state colleges or universities on an athletic scholarship, but just like Chloe, followed his passion of theatrics and decided to enroll at USC for its drama program. He is, also, in his junior year like Chloe and they share a couple of classes. I can tell from our brief conversation that Brian is extremely bright and passionate about his field of study. Although he doesn’t mind being in front of the cameras, his ultimate goal is to be behind the cameras, as director or producer of some big production. As we finish our wine, Chloe and Brian stand and start heading towards the door to leave for dinner. I grab the empty glasses and walk towards the kitchen. “Y’all enjoy dinner and have a great time!”
Chloe turns and pleads to me with her eyes before her voice starts. “Think we might see you and Wyatt later for after dinner drinks? Please. We would love for you guys to join us and it would give Brian a chance to meet Wyatt.” What is it with Chloe that she has to have an entourage with her for a dinner date?
“I’ll think about it. I still have to finish unpacking and do laundry and then go through that huge stack of mail. Remember? Just text me when dinner is done and y’all decide where you are going for drinks. I’m not promising anything.”
Chloe sighs, “Oh my gosh, Suzanna. You sound like an old hag. Laundry, really? Just put that off ‘til tomorrow and come have some fun. I haven’t seen you all weekend. Plus, this will give you a chance to catch up with Wyatt, and also, get to know Brian some more.” Brian looks like he is using all his acting skills to perfect the perfect pout that mirrors the one Chloe is now displaying all over her pretty face. I laugh and finally give in.
“Okay, but I have to at least get through this mail first. I’ll call Wyatt to see if he’s up for drinks. Text me. Now go, get out of here!” Chloe and Brian both smile and then head towards Brian’s car to leave for dinner. I shut the door behind them and take their empty wine glasses placing them in the dish washer before refilling my glass and walking back to the kitchen table to attack the stack of mail. Most of the mail is junk mail related to credit card offers or magazines subscriptions that need renewing. Some of the letters are from junior golf academies across the state offering me summer employment to work with the junior golfers and camps. Making some head way, I finally make it to the bottom of the pile. The next letter I open has my heart soaring. It is an invitation to the qualifying round for the Ladies Professional Golf Association being held in early August in Hilton Head. This is just a regional qualifying round that takes lady golfers from the Southeastern states. If I make the cut, it would guarantee me a spot for the national qualifying that would be later in the fall. I am ecstatic! All my hard work and lessons and golf rounds were finally paying off. I would have to practice every day, playing 18 to 36 holes, to get ready. But, I can’t wait. I also can’t wait to tell Chloe and my family. They will be thrilled! Jumping up and down, squealing like a school girl, I almost forget about the last unopened piece of mail. I glance back at the table and pick up the impressive envelope with my name and home address beautifully written in calligraphy. Very fancy I think. There is no return address, and in all my excitement with the previous letter, I really am not thinking what’s in this pretty piece of mail. When I open the letter all my excitement and happiness from earlier disappears as I look down at the picture of the love of my life and a very attractive brunette. Tears sting my eyes and immediately blur my vision of the lovely couple and the words that appear around the picture, in the beautiful bold script. I wipe a stray tear away to take a better look at the most gorgeous face I have ever seen of the boy I have known since I was eight years old. His big blue eyes sparkle and dance showing his happiness. His blond hair is still as blond as ever, making his eyes even bluer. He looks like his skin has been kissed by the sun, golden and radiant. His smile is breathtaking showcasing his straight white teeth. He is just too beautiful for words. I trace my damp finger over his face and feel a warm sensation flow through my body. Then, the sensation turns to extreme pain when I realize that Patrick isn’t looking back at me in the picture. He is lovingly looking at the gorgeous brunette that shares the photo on the invitation. His head is cocked towards her as his arm wraps around her shoulders in a tight embrace. She is looking right back at him with the same goofy happiness spread all over her pretty face. In the picture, they seem like America’s sweetheart couple. Realization then dawns on me and a loud sob breaks through the silence of the empty house. Unable to control my breakdown, I clutch the invitation in my hand and slide to the floor. Leaning against the kitchen chair and still crying, I continue to torture myself by staring at the happy couple. I don’t know how long I sit on the floor giving in to my breakdown. Finally, when I don’t think I can shed any more tears, I try to read the words on the card stock. With each word, I feel like a voodoo doll being stabbed by pins repeatedly.
Please Join us to Celebrate the Engagement of Patrick Miles and Katelyn Bostick
Saturday, May 10, 2013, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. David Jones, Garden City Beach
The invitation is real. It is happening. Patrick is engaged and getting married. Married to some girl named Katelyn. No, he is not supposed to marry Katelyn. He’s supposed to marry me. We promised each other. Even though we were young and in high school, we vowed to each other that we were destined to be together forever. I remember it like it was yesterday…
Virginia C. Hart resides in her beloved state of South Carolina, where she was born and raised. Married for fourteen years, she and her husband have two beautiful children. After graduating from Francis Marion University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, followed by a master’s degree in education, Hart has been teaching part-time at the local technical college for nearly a decade.
When she’s not teaching or chauffeuring her kids around, Hart is likely to be found typing away at a new book, furiously reading yet another book, or visiting her favorite South Carolina coastal spots.
Inspired to write her own romantic fiction when she was reintroduced to her love of reading a few years ago, Beneath the Lie, was published in 2104. The Final Pairing is the second book in Hart’s Fabulous Five Series.