For Richer For Poorer
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : S D Johnson
Word Count :61162
Publication Date :2022-08-26
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3588-2
When a small-time crook is intent on expanding his evil empire, people are going to get hurt.
As new parents, Matthew and Beth long for a peaceful life with their baby daughter. They get caught up in the aftermath of the disastrous relationship between Gemma Hooper, a promising student, and Janos Farkas, a small-time drug dealer. Intent on using her to expand his evil empire, he transforms her into a glamorous woman.
Determined to turn Matthew’s centres for the poor and disadvantaged into outlets for his illegal drugs trade, he is prepared to destroy anyone who stands in his way.
Can Matthew protect Beth as Janos’ actions reawaken the horrors of her past? Can their marriage survive as Matthew continually puts his compulsion to do good before the needs of his own family?
Their lives are changed forever as the fallout from Janos’ crimes lands at their door.
The days Matthew and Beth spent together whilst he was on paternity leave were idyllic. It didn’t matter to them that Gwynnie disturbed them six or so times in the night. Each waking proved she was still safe, still healthy, and all theirs.
They stayed home for those precious days, apart from a daily walk to the park. Beth was content to let Matthew go alone for the first couple of days, and then she joined him, walking tentatively, as each step pulled on her stitches.
Matthew was well-known in their village. He was one of the clergy at the parish church, though his paid occupation involved setting up day centres for the needy in towns across the county. It meant that the people who attended the church were eager to greet him and his new baby, and it slowed their progress as they were compelled to stop frequently. These people acknowledged Beth, though they were only vaguely aware of her existence. She chose not to attend church, though she knew she would eventually need to re-examine her feelings, because Matthew would want their baby baptised.
Their precious time together reached its end and he had to return to work, leaving Beth alone with Gwynnie. This presented no fears to her. She had been employed as a nanny before their marriage, and she relished the prospect of looking after her own child.
She hadn’t reckoned on the daily stream of visitors. They were the women who had stopped to talk when they had been out walking. She didn’t even know their names. They took it upon themselves to visit each afternoon, knowing that Beth would be on her own after Matthew’s return to work.
It was Friday afternoon and the fifth time these women had laid siege. Beth looked round the tiny, crowded sitting room and let her mind drift. She tried to block out the chattering of the matronly women who had come to bring their latest offerings of casseroles and cakes.
They weren’t bringing their home-cooked offerings for the baby, two weeks old, who was fast asleep in her wicker basket, or for her mother. Everything was for Matthew. They said they had to look after him and make sure he was fed. They seemed to think he was being neglected as she adapted to motherhood. No chance of that, she thought. He was her soulmate, the love of her life. She would die for him.
The aging women in his parishes had always felt the need to mother him. He had an other-worldly, shambolic appearance. He looked as if he needed some new clothes but didn’t care enough to buy them, and as if eating regular meals never entered his head. These women thought it their duty to look after him.
They always made the obligatory enquiries about her and Gwynnie’s wellbeing, made fleeting admiring comments about the baby, and without waiting for the replies, settled down to their tea, which Beth made. They also set about the cakes they’d brought along and gossiped away as if she was invisible. She knew they would go at around four, leaving their cups and plates on the floor by the side of their seats. She anticipated with resentment the pull on her stitches as she stooped to pick them up.
The bell rang again. Their dog, Sasha, barked furiously, and Beth sighed as she stood to answer the door. She wouldn’t be able to find another chair to seat anyone else and she was scared the dog’s commotion would wake the baby. She went to the door, every step hurting a little more, yearning for a miracle to give her some peace. She wanted to curl up and spend some time with Gwynnie.
Gemma, a sixth form student at the local college, was at the door. She was delivering her mother’s fresh batch of scones and sausage rolls.
“It looks like you’re entertaining the coven,” she said, having recognised the cars that were parked outside.
Beth allowed herself to raise her eyebrows and roll her eyes.
“Leave it to me,” Gemma said.
The girl breezed into the sitting room and greeted the women warmly. They knew of her through the village gossip mill. She instinctively reached down to fuss the dog, who was leaping up and demanding her attention.
“Hello ladies,” she said. “Have you all finished your tea? I promised Matthew I would pop in and babysit whilst Beth gets her rest this afternoon. Apparently, she was told to get some rest after lunch.” She shook her head at Beth in mock disapproval. “She’s been getting herself over tired.”
She busied herself collecting cups, taking them through to the kitchen.
Beth noticed with satisfaction that they had taken the hint and were on their feet, picking up their handbags and saying their farewells.
“I’ll show you to the door,” she said. “It will save Beth getting up.”
They left, commenting on what a kind and thoughtful girl she was, oblivious to the deception she had just unfolded in front of them.
“Old biddies,” she said, laughing as she went back to the sitting room.
“That was naughty,” Beth said with a smile. “I really thought they were settled in for the afternoon. Thank you for saving me.”
“They were certainly hunkering down for a long stay,” Gemma said. “They mean well, but once they start talking, they get a bit carried away. You do look worn out.”
“It gets a bit much,” Beth said. “They’ve been coming every afternoon and I don’t have the heart to turn them away. They bring cakes and casseroles for Matthew.”