Sabina Reigns Miller had it all: a wealthy husband, a beautiful home, a daughter at a great college. Without warning, seven words blow the bottom off her world. “I’ve met someone else-and she’s pregnant.” Her husband of twenty years wants a divorce so he can move his mistress into their former residence. Although Sabina loses her comfortable life, she refuses to fall on her face. Her ex-husband’s girlfriend may be living in their house, but Sabina has interior design skills and a bucket of dreams.
Can she rebound from the unexpected change, stick to her principles, support her best friend, and find someone to love again?
~ PRAISE FOR SABINA REIGNS ~
“For fans of JoJo Moyes and Jodi Picoult, a beautiful novel from Lorraine Bartlett. Sabina Reigns is a smart talking, self sufficient woman with nerves of steel and a heart of gold. A fascinating portrait of a woman who lives life on her own terms. Smart, feisty and fearless, Sabina Reigns will steal your heart.”
—Mary Kennedy, National Bestselling Author of the Talk Radio Mysteries
“Sabina is not your typical getting-a-divorce-depressed woman. She looks at this time as a way to start anew. Grabbing life by the reins, she sets out to build her dream. But life hasn’t thrown enough obstacles in her way. Lorraine Bartlett offers us a cast of real people and shows us that when you get lemons, you can make lemonade.”
—Shirley Hailstock, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author
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Sabina sat primly in the uncomfortable gray upholstered chair, dressed in her most conservative navy linen suit, matching leather purse, and shoes, feeling like she was going on a job interview—which, she guessed she was. She brushed at her strawberry-blonde bangs and waited expectantly for the good news, waited as Jason Stone, the loan officer, shuffled through a pile of papers on his desk. Finally, he took off his glasses and tapped them on his open palm.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Reigns, but Mr. Miller has decided not to co-sign the loan.”
If only the man had whipped out a digital camera right then and there, Sabina was sure he would have captured the hysterical image of her bulging eyes and gaping mouth when she heard the news.
“What?” Sabina yelped. “What?”
Stone squirmed. “Err, it seems he’s had a change of heart. If you could find some other friend or relative who’d be willing to—”
Every sound in the room muted and Sabina was left in a whirlwind of thoughts and an expanding rage.
She was about to give up her beautiful home and was sitting on orders for thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise to stock her new business venture, all on her soon-to-be ex-husband’s promise that he would co-sign a business loan.
Sabina had no real money of her own. Jonathan’s insistence that she remain a stay-at-home mom had made sure of that.
She rose from her chair and was about to thank Stone when she reconsidered. Why should she thank another man who was content to keep her from achieving her dreams? Instead, she walked out of the office without even mumbling goodbye. She was too numb to speak. But behind the numbness boiled anger. She’d been brought up never to use four-letter words, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know them, or how to use them for that matter. At that moment, Sabina wanted to hurl every foul word she could think of straight at Jonathan and watch them simmer like acid on his skin. In that singular moment, she wanted to hurt him in every way she possibly could. She had attempted to keep things civil despite his barbaric showing of hedonism when choosing to stray from their marriage, but that restraint was quickly slipping through her fingers.
Sabina had spent her life living under the thumbs of far too many people—mostly men. Divorce could be devastating, sure, but it could also be freeing, powerful, and filled with motivation for the future. Her entire plan revolved around the idea that she could have a fresh start. And sure, the co-signer would be her ex, but he at least owed her that. After everything he had put her through, he should have been absorbing the cost, instead of co-signing the loan.
Nonetheless, a promise was a promise. Besides, he got something out of it, too. He got silence. Her silence. The amount of damning information she had collected on him through the years would easily knock him right on his butt.
Sabina frowned; she didn’t have that kind of malice within her. She was already scorned and angered by what Jonathan had done to their marriage, to their future, and to their daughter. So, trading a silence she had already planned on keeping was a no brainer for her.
The silence wasn’t for him though, it was for their daughter, Marisa. It was a way to keep her from seeing the hurtful truth of how terrible her father was—incapable, really—when it came to loving people. How he had thrown away years of marriage for what felt good at the moment. It was a barrier preventing Marisa from discovering her father’s true nature.
Sabina stomped out of the bank and onto the sidewalk, walking swiftly through the crowd of office workers on their lunch hours. She mumbled to herself in anger as her feet slapped the pavement. She was an angry woman, one with purpose and determination. One with a very large, very heavy axe to grind.
“Apparently Jonathan has never heard of the old saying,” she grumbled as she turned into the parking garage. “A woman scorned,” she huffed loudly, making a high-pitched laughing noise. “The woman scorned is talking to herself in the dang parking garage. That’s what she’s doing.”
She slowed her pace a bit, feeling a stinging sensation beneath the soles of the sensible flats she had slipped on to go to her meeting. Sure, the other woman pranced around in four-inch designer heels. So far, she didn’t have battle wounds from pregnancy and childbirth. She was freaking perfect.
Well, that wouldn’t last.
The keys slipped from Sabina’s hand and fell to the concrete as she approached her car. She leaned her head back and let out a deep sigh, feeling the weight of the situation almost burying her. Reaching down, she picked them up and silently got into her car. Carefully, she shut the door and gripped the steering wheel. She sat there in complete silence for several moments before shaking herself forward and back, her hair flying everywhere, screaming at the top of her lungs.
When she was finished, she patted down the wild hair and shook her shoulders. Giving herself a firm nod of satisfaction for getting it out of her system for the moment, she glanced over at a guy getting in his car. She didn’t know how long he’d been standing there, but from the look of his frozen posture and startled expression, he was likely to have witnessed the entire show.
Sabina laughed nervously and gave him a wave before starting the car and tearing out of there. She knew that was not where she needed to be scaring unsuspecting innocents. Where she needed to be was obvious, and Jonathan wasn’t going to like the not-so-surprise visit he was about to receive.
Completely flustered, Sabina reached down and jabbed her finger against the stereo knob. The sound of classic pop hits pumped loudly from the speakers, the soundtrack she had played as she was on her way to the bank just an hour before. She’d felt exhilarated, singing along with the music, feeling as though she was finally freeing herself to chase her dreams.
An hour later, she couldn’t turn the happy beats off fast enough. Her fingers strummed against the steering wheel, trying to calm herself. Her phone, vibrating in the center console caught her attention. Without taking her eyes off the road, she rummaged around, finally pulling it out. She hoped, for his sake that it wasn’t her ex, because there was no restraint in her whatsoever.
She stabbed the accept-call icon and speaker. “Hello?”
“So, are you the happy owner of a big fat check?” Julie asked with glee.
“I am going to rip his arms off, shove them up his ass, and then dance around him shaking a stick like he’s being sacrificed to the infidelity Gods,” Sabina replied evenly.
There was silence for a moment. “He didn’t show up, did he?”
There was that laugh again, shrill, malicious, and hoarse in her throat. “Oh no, of course he didn’t show up. I was literally sitting there in front of the loan officer who had to be the one to tell me.”
Julie hissed through her teeth, and Sabina could picture her friend wincing. “And where are you going now?”
“Where else would I go? To his office so I can kick his butt,” Sabina said.
“Sabina,” Julie warned.
Sabina let out a long deep sigh. “Don’t worry, I won’t resort to physical violence. Not yet anyway. I will, however, march my rear straight in there and demand that he do what he promised. I will no longer stand down in this situation. If he’s going to wage war on me, I will defend myself and redeem what is rightly mine.”
“Good lord,” Julie giggled. “You sound like a nobleman whose beloved was just stolen by a ferocious dragon hiding in the mountains. Will you be wearing armor?”
“Mental armor,” Sabina replied. “And I know that’s not something he ever dons, especially when he doesn’t know I’m heading straight for him.”
Julie laughed. “I mean, he has to have an idea you’re coming though. He knows you have a temper and he knows this is important to you.”
“And he’s going to know that if he doesn’t treat me fairly, I will bring hell down around his shoulders,” Sabina added. “He miscalculated if he thinks I’m just playing around with plans to open a business. That I’ll sit back and just let him take my marriage, my house, my furniture, and my daughter without a fight. He has royally screwed up this time. Royally.”
Julie smacked her lips. “Well, I wish you luck. Don’t forget to breathe. And try not to hit the big-shot attorney in front of witnesses.”
Sabina scoffed. “Please, he’s a business regulation attorney. The nerds of the big boys. Besides, words hurt Jonathan far worse than physical pain. Trust me, I know, I’ve spent more than two decades married to him.”
“Deep breaths, just like we practiced,” Julie told her. “In through your nose, out through your mouth.”
Sabina took a right turn down a side street and pulled over to the curb. Shifting the car into park, she did as Julie instructed, closing her eyes for a moment to collect her thoughts. After about a dozen breaths and her anger coming in and out like the tide, she was finally in a calmer state.
“Thank you,” Sabina told Julie, grateful that she had someone to help her keep her head on her shoulders. “Jonathan actually owes you, as well. You’ve kept him from death who knows how many times.”
Julie smirked. “I’ll bill his office. Now, try to walk in there with a level professionalism that he hasn’t seen from you. Remind him that you aren’t playing games with your company, that this is for real. You don’t have to put up with him demeaning your dreams anymore. If he wants out, then let him out, and show him everything that includes. A calm and adult Sabina, ready to tackle the world on her own.”
“It’s either that or I tackle him, and I would much rather put my life exactly where I want it instead,” she replied. “I’ll call you later with an update. Thanks again, I appreciate having a best friend with a modicum of understanding of just what I’m going through.”
“You got it,” Julie replied. “I’ve been a single mom for a long time and there’s been more than one moment of weakness where I wanted to track down Zoey’s father and shove him in the garbage disposal. And whoever this boy is—well, I won’t get into that right now. Just know that if Zoey even mutters his name in her sleep, we’ll need tarps, a shovel, and some bleach.”
“Got it ready in the shed,” Sabina said and laughed. “Love you.”
“Love you, too,” Julie said and sighed. “Go be you and remind him how much he’ll hate his life with the tart.”
“Easy,” Sabina scoffed, ending the call.
How much would he hate his life with the tart? It would happen, but not for a while. And trying to compete with a woman that young was just about impossible. Then again, there was no competition. Sabina had gotten a taste of what her life could be and if Jonathan wanted out, he could walk right out the door. Right after signing his name on the dotted line, whether she had to force him to or not.