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Starting Over

Starting Over

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Starting Over

4/5 (4 valoraciones)
225 página
2 horas
Dec 9, 2014


Liz Matthews agrees to a blind date for her daughter’s wedding with only one goal in mind- making her ex-husband jealous. The plan works, but also backfires as she finds herself enjoying the company of her younger date.
Widower Bennett Grayson has his hands full enough adapting to single parenthood of a teenage son and has no intention of falling in love again.  When a friend arranges a blind date, Ben reluctantly accepts as a favor to his friend, but gets more than he bargained as the funny and charming divorcee catches his eye.
Brandt Matthews has much to atone for in life, starting with his daughter and his ex-wife. In spite of their troubled marriage, the one constant for Brandt has been Liz, until a new man in her life makes him realize how much he stands to lose- or has already lost.
As Liz and Ben embark on a new adventure called dating, they are faced with a host of challenges, including the ghosts of the past and Ben’s son Landon, who wants nothing to do with his father’s new girlfriend.  Can they overcome the obstacles and start a new life together,  or will Liz succumb to Brandt’s charms again?

Dec 9, 2014

Sobre el autor

Michele Shriver grew up in Texas and now lives in the Midwest, where she has a general law practice. In her free time, she enjoys bicycling, Zumba fitness and watching sports on TV. She is working on her second novel, a spin-off of After Ten.

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Starting Over - Michele Shriver


Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over. —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Starting Over


























Author’s Note and Acknowledgements


Liz Matthews settled into Lotus position, her legs crossed and feet placed on opposite thighs, aiming for total symmetry. She relaxed her arms, elbows slightly bent, and rested her hands on her knees. When she first began practicing yoga two years before, she’d been convinced her fifty-two year old joints would not withstand being contorted into various pretzel-like positions.  In the time since her first session, she’d discovered a flexibility she didn’t know she had and an inner calm that she treasured. Yoga was her refuge after an emotionally draining day as a therapist.

Today, though, as her best friend and instructor, Maggie Wallace, led the class through a guided meditation in which they were supposed to envision themselves on a tranquil beach, Liz had difficulty letting her mind travel to the peaceful place. Instead, it remained preoccupied with her daughter’s upcoming nuptials. With the event only a week away, the planning was done except for a few last-minute details for the reception, and Liz should have been able to relax, except for one thing, or rather one person. Brandt Matthews. Once again, her ex-husband was calling on her to be the family peacekeeper and navigate them all through this momentous occasion with a cheerful smile and without any of the guests in attendance knowing that Chelsea was barely speaking to her father. As usual, appearances were the most important thing to Brandt.

Now it’s time to return to a full waking state, Maggie said. Take a deep breath as you become aware of your body and your surroundings. You might want to wiggle your fingers and toes a bit. When you’re ready, go ahead and open your eyes.

A few seconds of silence lingered before the sounds of the fellow class participants getting up from their mats filled the room. Liz opened her eyes and unfolded herself from the meditation pose just as Maggie walked over to her. Did that help?

Yes and no. Liz reached for her water bottle and took a drink. I always feel better when I leave here than when I came, and this is no exception, she said. I had a hard time turning off my brain, though.

Maggie nodded. Some days are like that, no matter how hard we try. Want to talk about it?

Liz stood and busied herself with the task of rolling up her mat, waiting for the room to empty out so they could chat privately. It’s more of the same, she said after Maggie bid goodbye to the other patrons and they were alone in the studio.

Ah, mother-of-the-bride stress. Maggie gave her a knowing smile. Or is it ex-wife of the father-of-the-bride stress?

As usual, her friend was very astute. Brandt thinks we should have the traditional parents’ dance at the reception, even though I’m sure his latest girlfriend will be in attendance, Liz explained. My daughter, meanwhile, would like to forgo any dance with her father, and she thinks I should bring a date.

That’s a terrific idea, Maggie said.

Are you kidding? It’s a horrible idea. Liz had said the same thing to Chelsea when she suggested it. I’m not into the dating scene. You know that.

Yes, because you spend way too much of your time preoccupied with one man, even though you’ve been divorced from him for seventeen years, Maggie gently chided. Much to the detriment of your emotional well-being, I might add.

Liz stifled a sigh. Oh, come on. Don’t start.

Maggie held up a hand. Hey, I’m not judging. I’m well aware that at his best, Brandt Matthews is a very appealing man. Unfortunately, at his worst, he can totally screw with both your head and your heart, and he’s done way too much of both to you, she said. If you ask me, it’s time to screw with his a little.

Meaning what?

Look, you just said yourself that Brandt will almost certainly bring his current squeeze with him, but he still expects you to be there for him, too, even dancing with him for appearances sake, Maggie said. If you’ll forgive the cliché, Brandt likes to have his cake and eat it, too. The corners of her mouth turned up in a mischievous smile. Imagine what it will do him if he sees you show up on the arm of another man.

I doubt he’ll much care, Liz said. He might not even notice. Still, she couldn’t deny that the idea of making Brandt a little jealous appealed to her.

Maggie shook her head. You underestimate yourself, something else I blame Brandt for. Trust me, he’ll notice. And he won’t like it one bit.

Liz remained skeptical. Even if I thought this was a good idea—and I’m not saying I do—where would I find a date on such short notice? I’m a little too old for the bar scene.

Perhaps. Maggie shrugged. I actually know the perfect man for the job. He’s gorgeous. And younger.

Gorgeous sounded good, but Liz’s brain tripped a little on the second part. How much younger? she asked. Because you know what they say about women who prey on younger men.

Maggie let out a laugh. He’s forty-seven. I doubt seven years puts you in cougar category, and besides, if it’s not a real date, you won’t exactly be ‘preying’ on him, will you?

Fair enough, Liz conceded. Who is this guy, and how do you know him? Her curiosity was now getting the better of her.

His name’s Ben Grayson. He’s a former client of Todd’s.

Oh, no. Liz shook her head vehemently. Maggie’s husband was a fellow therapist with an office in the same professional building as Liz. We’re not going there. If I wanted someone messed up, I could date one of my own clients.

Yes, and lose your license in the process, Maggie reminded her needlessly. Ben’s not ‘messed up’ as you put it. He’s a really good guy. He’s just had a hard time dealing with his wife’s death.

In that case, he has my sympathies, Liz said, regretting her earlier snap to judgment. She knew full well that not everyone who sought out a therapist classified as ‘messed up.’ He’s probably not ready to date again, though.

No, but he makes an ideal fake date to mess with your ex’s head, Maggie said. What do you say? Give me the word, and I’ll have Todd set it up.


More to the left! Go left! Bennett Grayson yelled.

Are you trying to teach the ball politics, or is that a prayer that your errant shot will somehow correct itself? Todd joked.

Ben ignored his playing partner, watching as the ball stayed right of the fairway, instead landing in the rough and with his luck, probably a horrible lie, too. I just shanked it, he said as he shoved his driver back in his golf bag.

I actually think your game’s improving, Todd said.

If you say so. Ben was less convinced, especially after drives like the one he just hit. Then again, considering he’d never set foot on a golf course in his life until Amy died, maybe he wasn’t doing too badly. Or at least his golf game wasn’t. Getting on with life was still a challenge. He credited Todd with helping him a great deal in that regard, though he was glad that a weekly golf game had replaced counseling sessions in Todd’s office.

You’ve come a long way in a year. Todd slung his bag over his shoulder and they began the walk down the fairway. What are you doing this coming Saturday? Any big plans?

Ben shook his head. My social calendar is pretty clear these days. His sixteen-year- old son Landon would probably be hanging out with friends, leaving Ben alone with a pizza, a beer and a ball game on TV. If Amy was watching, would she think it was pathetic? Why?

I’ve got something I want to run past you, and I want you to hear me out, Todd said. Don’t immediately dismiss it as a bad idea.

"When you start out like that, it tells me it probably is a bad idea." Still, Ben would try to keep an open mind.

A friend of Maggie’s and mine needs a date on Saturday, and Maggie thought of you.

I stand corrected, Ben said. It’s not just a bad idea, it’s a horrible idea. I can’t even believe you suggested it. You, of all people, should know that I’m not interested in dating again. He was getting damn sick of the suggestion, too. I’m especially not interested in being a charity date for a desperate woman. He began walking faster, forcing Todd to pick up his own pace to keep up.

It’s not like that. First of all, Liz isn’t desperate. She’s a very attractive, charming woman, Todd said. I’m sure if she wanted to, she could find her own date, but—

Great. Then let her find one, Ben snapped. He let out a sigh. Look, man, I’m tired of this. Amy’s gone. She’s not coming back. I get that. But why does everyone seem to think there’s a time limit on grieving, and now that it’s been a year, I should magically be okay and ready to date again? For all I know, maybe I’ll never be ready, and that’s my prerogative. He located his ball in the rough, and the lie was, indeed, terrible. Of course it was.

Yes, it is, Todd said. You didn’t let me finish. I know you’re not interested in dating. Liz isn’t either.

So you’re trying to set up two people who aren’t interested in dating on a blind date. Ben pulled the three iron from his bag. That makes sense.

It wouldn’t be a real date. You’d just be showing up with her at her daughter’s wedding, Todd explained. Her ex-husband will be there, of course, and she’s hoping to make him jealous.

Because yeah, that’s mature.

It was Maggie’s idea. I didn’t say it was necessarily a great one. Todd shrugged. Haven’t you ever done anything silly or immature in the name of love?

Not since high school. Which was kind of what this sounded like. So she wants the ex back is what you’re saying?

Something like that, which makes it completely safe for you. Come on. It’s a few hours of your time on a Saturday, and there will be free food at the reception, Todd said, as if somehow that was all that mattered. You’d be doing a big favor for a friend.

Ben crouched down, studying the placement of the ball. I’ll think about it, only because it’s you asking. He all but credited Todd with saving his life, which meant he’d ultimately say yes. He just wasn’t going to be too hasty about it.


It took until the third try, but Liz managed to press all seven digits in the phone number Maggie gave her. It rang twice before a man answered. Hello.

I’m trying to reach Bennett Grayson.

This is Ben. Who’s calling?

Liz took a deep breath. There was no going back now. My name is Liz Matthews. I’m a friend of Todd and Maggie Wallace.

Right. Todd said you’d probably be calling. I understand your daughter’s getting married. Congratulations.

He had a pleasant enough voice, Liz decided. Friendly. Thank you. Her fiancé is a really nice young man, she said. By the way, I’m very sorry for your loss.

That’s kind of you. It’s been a difficult time, but Todd’s helped me a lot... Ben’s voice trailed off briefly before he continued, Anyway, I hear you need a date for the wedding.

"I wouldn’t say I need one, exactly." It made her sound rather desperate, which was the last thing she wanted.

Of course not. I didn’t mean to imply... No offense intended.

None taken. Great, she already had him backpedaling and apologizing. Don’t be too prickly, Liz. So Todd filled you in?

Yes, I think I got the gist of it, Ben said.

I realize it probably sounds rather juvenile, and I don’t want you to feel used. If you want to back out, I completely understand. She hoped he wouldn’t, though. In spite of her initial reluctance to Maggie’s idea, Liz now found herself kind of looking forward to it. And Ben really did sound nice.

I don’t feel used. I’m flattered, actually, he said. I don’t have anything else planned for Saturday, and Todd tells me you’re very charming.

Charming. Maggie described Ben as ‘gorgeous,’ while he’d been told she was merely ‘charming.’ She wondered what his expectations were and what he would think when he saw her. You’re being stupid, she chastised herself. It’s not a real date, anyway. Who cares what he thinks? What mattered was what Brandt thought. If you’re sure, then...

I’m sure, Ben said. What time on Saturday?

Two o’clock. If you give me your address, I can pick you up. He rattled off an address in a rural community just outside of Concord, and Liz wrote it down. Great. I’ll see you then. She stopped short of telling him she looked forward to it.


Liz studied her reflection in the mirror, wondering exactly what she’d gotten herself into. A blind date with a younger man, that was what. Do I have time to color my hair before this wedding of yours?

What? Chelsea exclaimed. Mom, seriously!

Yes, I was serious. It struck her as slightly ironic that it was her daughter’s wedding day, but instead of helping Chelsea get ready for her big event, Chelsea was instead helping Liz prepare for her own date. Welcome to the twenty-teens?

Chelsea sighed. Then fine. Yes, you have time to color your hair before the ceremony, but don’t you dare think about doing it. You’re one of those women that can pull off salt and pepper, she said. Why mess with a good thing?

Because maybe it’s not such a good thing? What had come over her, anyway? Liz had always thought she wore her hair color well, and if someone else didn’t like it, that was their problem. She would look the way God intended her to.

You’re wrong, Chelsea said. You know what Hayden said to me the other day?


He said the first time he met you, he knew right away that I would age beautifully. She smiled. What does that tell you?

That your fiancé knows how to charm a woman? Liz mused.

Well, yes. Chelsea said. And also that you’ve aged beautifully. Don’t start second guessing yourself now. She sat down on Liz’s bed. Or maybe this date of yours is about more than making Dad jealous, and you’re actually looking forward to meeting this guy and concerned about making a good impression.

Was she? Liz wanted to deny it, but that wouldn’t be entirely honest. Didn’t every woman want to make a good impression on a man, regardless of whether they were on a ‘real’ date? What would you think if I was? You know, hypothetically speaking?

You mean, hypothetically speaking, what would I think if you decided to date someone?

Yes, that. Liz figured she knew, but it never hurt to ask.

Are you kidding? Do you even have to ask? I was the one who suggested you bring a date to the wedding, remember? Chelsea rolled her eyes. Fine. I love that Maggie hatched this plan for you to mess with Dad’s head by showing up with a gorgeous, younger man on your arm. It’s exactly what the asshole deserves. Once again, Chelsea didn’t mince words when it came to discussing her father. You know what I’d like even more, though? For this to be a real date. For you to fall in love again, this time with a man who deserves you.

My, aren’t you the romantic one now? Liz teased. She recalled a time in the not too distant past when her daughter was completely cynical, insisting she didn’t believe in love. Granted, Liz didn’t entirely blame her. She and Brandt hadn’t exactly set a shining example of what a marriage should be like. It was Hayden who finally broke down Chelsea’s defenses and got her to take a chance on love.

Yeah, I am, and what of it? It’s my wedding day, damn it. A hint of moisture glistened in Chelsea’s eyes. If I can’t be romantic now, when can I?

When, indeed.

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  • (3/5)
    I liked it but the turn around at the end by Ben (and Landon) was too easy. It never really felt like they resolved the issues between them (Ben & Liz) so the ending felt rushed. Other than that, it was a decent read. Also, Landon needed to be held accountable for his actions but he did try to make things right at the end which went a big way in redeeming his character for me
  • (5/5)
    Excellent read!!! Liz Methews was a strong woman ?who kicked her cheating husband Brandt ,who was a Pig ,he was a born cheater , shameless man who brought her mistress to his daughter's wedding, who was a slut?a bitch who tried to seduce Chelsea s boyfriend Hayden, harrassed Chelsea , the best part Chelsea was not blind like Liz who couldn't move on even after 18 years of divorce, still sleeping with Brandt when he wanted a free Sex?... Ben was an excellent man , thanks god he made Liz realised how useless her ex was at Sex even being a manwhore ? Ben was very loving and loyal...finally Liz kicked Brandt out forever, thanks to Maggie and her husband ?