Our featured author today is Marie Landry and we’re excited to be showcasing an excerpt from her latest novel Waiting for the Storm. Marie has featured with us on Aside From Writing several times since she released her debut novel in early 2012, and she is a firm favourite 🙂
~Meet the Family~
From WAITING FOR THE STORM by Marie Landry
I asked him to start the water for the pasta while I assembled the salad. We’d made enough food to feed about half a dozen people, even though I wasn’t sure anyone else would be joining us.
As if on cue, Ella entered the kitchen and froze when she saw Ezra standing at the stove. Her eyes roved over him from head to toe, and a wolfish smile overtook her face.
“Hi there,” she said, sashaying further into the kitchen and stopping a few feet from Ezra. She struck what I’m sure she thought was a sexy pose, with her hand on her hip. “Who’s this?”
I was ridiculously pleased to see that Ezra didn’t look impressed by Ella. I figured that said a lot, considering my sister was wearing about the shortest dress I’d ever seen, baring an almost indecent amount of perfectly tanned skin.
“This is Ezra,” I said when he didn’t answer right away. “Ezra, this is my sister El…Gabriella.”
“Ezra,” she said slowly, eyeing him like he was a big piece of man candy. “What a cool name. Where’d you get it?”
“I’ve always had it,” he said, and I couldn’t help the snicker that rose to my lips.
Ella shot me a nasty look, her sexy smile fading. “A funny one,” she said, turning back to Ezra. “I like that.”
Ezra smiled, but it wasn’t one of the knock-your-socks off smiles he’d been giving me all day. I’d seen guys give girls that smile—the kind that didn’t reach their eyes—when they were giving them the brush off.
“Ezra’s staying for dinner,” I told Ella. “It should be ready in about ten minutes.”
“Oh, what a shame,” Ella said, looking at Ezra as if he was the one who’d spoken. “I’d love to stay but I already made plans with Caroline from next door.”
“That’s too bad,” Ezra said, shooting me a surreptitious look of relief.
Ella must have seen the look that passed between us because her expression turned sour. She covered it quickly, and said to me, “It’s so good to see you making friends, Charlotte.” Her tone was sweet, and she spoke slowly, as if she were talking to a very small child. “It’s not healthy for you to spend so much time alone. I worry about you, you know.”
She brushed past me, patting my shoulder and sending a dazzling smile in Ezra’s direction. “You kids have fun. Don’t wait up!”
I turned quickly toward the stove, stirring the sauce with new vigor as I tried to avoid looking at Ezra.
“What a bitch,” he muttered.
I looked over at him and almost laughed when I saw that he’d clapped a hand over his mouth.
“I’m sorry,” he said quickly. “That was so inappropriate. She’s your sister, and…”
“She is a bitch,” I agreed, surprised to hear the words coming from my mouth. I’d thought them often enough over the last few months, but I’d never said them out loud.
Ezra looked relieved, and when he smiled it was one of those genuine knock-your-socks-off smiles that made my heart stutter. “I’ve never understood why people feel it’s necessary to cut others down in order to make themselves feel better,” he said. “But especially when it comes to family. I…I heard what she said last night. On the beach. I couldn’t see your face, but I knew you heard her, too.”
I sighed. I’d been hoping he hadn’t heard what Ella said to that guy. And yet, it didn’t seem to change the way Ezra felt about me. He’d still talked to me today, and he was still here now.
“She just…” I shrugged, uncertain how to explain the odd relationship between Ella and me. “I don’t even know anymore. We used to be close when we were younger. Things just got messed up somewhere along the way.”
Ezra nodded. “I can understand that,” he said quietly.
His expression was so earnest I wanted to pour my heart out to him and tell him everything that was on my mind—my mom’s illness, how my dad was acting so strange, my sister’s resentment toward me, my fears and insecurities and uncertainty over my own future.
But then I remembered that we’d only just met, and you didn’t dump all your crap on someone you’d just met. I had no idea if he was just being nice to me, as the new girl in town who happened to be the daughter of his mother’s childhood best friend, or if he was interested in being friends…or dare I even consider something more?
Either way, I wasn’t going to unload on him until I was sure.
We finished making dinner, and I got out three pasta dishes. I was about to go in search of Dad when he peeked his head into the kitchen.
“Oh, Charlotte. And…Ezra, is it?”
“Yes, sir,” Ezra said.
“I thought I heard voices. And smelled…” He looked toward the stovetop and I suddenly remembered that alfredo had been one of Mom’s specialties. She’d taught me how to make it before she got sick, and it was one of Dad’s favourites.
“We were just about to eat,” I told him. “Why don’t you join us?”
He shook his head slowly. “I’m not hungry.” He looked exhausted, even though I knew he spent a lot of time sleeping lately. Or maybe he was pretending to sleep so he wouldn’t have to deal with Ella and me, or the rest of the world. “I’ll eat later. I’m just working in my room if you need me.”
“Okay, Dad,” I said, feeling slightly deflated. I thought maybe having Ezra there would have made a difference; that Dad would make more of an effort with someone else around. Clearly I was wrong.
Dad looked between us, nodding his head absently. He gave an equally absent smile and headed back to his bedroom.
“Well…” I said after I’d heard Dad’s door click shut. “That’s my family.” My voice wavered a little on the last word, and I turned away.
“Hey.” Ezra laid his hands lightly on my shoulders. “It’s okay.”
It wasn’t, but the way he said it almost made me believe it was true. He gently turned me around so I was facing him. With him standing so close, I realized how big he was—tall, broad, and muscular. He had to be at least six feet tall, and he ducked down slightly so we were eye to eye.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes…no. I don’t know. Things are just so…” I let out a noise of frustration, unable to voice all the thoughts swirling through my mind. “The way my dad was just now—that’s how he’s been since before my mom even died. It’s gotten worse in the last week, though. He hardly speaks to me, he barely eats, he sleeps a lot, he’s just…he’s here, but not here. He’s just sort of…checked out, you know?”
Ezra’s eyes darkened, and he nodded. “I do know.” I waited for him to say more, but once again, he didn’t elaborate.
“I just wish I could have some normalcy,” I said.
“Well, I can’t promise you normal,” Ezra said with a crooked smile, “but I can try to make sure you have some fun this summer. Does that sound like a good compromise?”
I blew out a long breath that ended on a light laugh. “Yeah. That does sound like a good compromise. Thank you, Ezra.” Since his hands were already on my shoulders, I impulsively closed the small gap between us and hugged him.
He stiffened for a moment, and I automatically started to pull back, feeling my cheeks flush with embarrassment. He drew me back, keeping his arms loose around me, but it didn’t escape my attention that our bodies fit perfectly together.
“Charlotte?” he whispered, his breath tickling my ear.
“Can we eat now? I’m starving.”
I shoved him away, glad the moment hadn’t had a chance to turn awkward. After being introduced to my crazy life, the least I could do was feed him.
Marie’s novel Blue Sky Days is also out now!
Would you like to know more? Check out the links!