A Promise in the Moonlight

by Maxzell Lerm

A Promise in the Moonlight by Maxzell Lerm
When you love someone so much that you can’t possibly imagine leaving them behind, you do the unthinkable and make sure they don’t spend their life alone...

When Cathy-Lee discovers that she has months to live, she ignores her health, hides her secret, and decides to spend her remaining days finding a woman to replace her when she’s gone. The idea that the man she has loved her entire life will grow old alone breaks her heart and spurs her into action. Cathy-Lee sets out on a life-altering journey, meeting a variety of women and trying to imagine them taking care of her children and husband – all the while never revealing the true nature of her friendship. In the process, two strangers become the unlikeliest of friends during the saddest time of their lives — while both loving the same man.

Inspired by Nicholas Sparks and his great love for romance. He has a way with words, which captivates even the most unromantic souls.

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Release Date: August 9, 2022
Genre: Contemporary



Chapter 1: The Haven

When she was twenty-two, Bethany could no longer understand and tolerate her father’s abuse of her mother. She didn’t understand how two people could love each other so much yet thrive in such a destructive relationship. Thankfully, her father had never assaulted her, but on many occasions, he had threatened to do so, then turned his fists on her mother, who simply took it. Bethany moved into a small apartment with a friend and never looked back. She visited her parents from time to time but felt that getting out of such a toxic environment sooner rather than later would be best.

Bethany pushed aside her memories of the past and moved over to the front seat. She applied a layer of lip-gloss and some mascara, trying to feel better than she looked. She also tried her best to ignore the dark bruises on the side of her neck, using foundation to conceal them as best she could. She glanced down one last time at the map on the front seat, then decided that the first café she stumbled on would suit her just fine.

* * *



“Sweetheart, are you sure you’re feeling all right?” Jeffery asked his wife, who knelt over the toilet bowl, gripping it as if her life depended on it. Cathy-Lee had never been sick a day in her life. She could count on one hand the days she’d been ill since childhood. When her dizzy spells had started a few weeks earlier, she knew something must be wrong, but she hoped she was mistaken.

“Sweetheart?” Jeffery asked.

“I told you, I’m fine. Must be that fish we had yesterday,” Cathy-Lee rasped, her voice muffled as she spoke into the toilet bowl.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re pregnant,” Jeffery teased as he pulled her hair out of her face.

Cathy-Lee grimaced and turned her bloodshot eyes to her husband.

“My darling, you’re always the most beautiful woman in the world to me, so don’t take this the wrong way, but you really look horrible.” He continued in mock offense, “I can’t let anyone see you. They’ll think I made a mistake in marrying you.”

Cathy-Lee giggled with her head resting on the toilet seat.

“Go get me a coke, please. I just need some sugar and a long, warm shower.”

Jeffery hesitated, then bent down and kissed his wife’s forehead.

“Jeff, the kids...”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take them to school and pack their lunches,” her husband reassured her.

Cathy-Lee watched him leave and admired the lithe ease in his movements. He was tall, with broad shoulders. Though his black hair had sprouted a few greys, they didn’t diminish his appearance. Every morning, he enjoyed a vigorous swim in the dam behind their house. He relished working on their farm, and his enthusiasm infected his employees. Jeffery was a man who was much admired, not only for his success but also for his ability to relate to people. People were drawn to him like flies, and he could make anyone laugh. He often told Cathy—which was what he called her—saying that she was feminine and delicate and that the Lee didn’t suit her—that he was the lucky one. However, secretly, she knew that she was, indeed, the one in their marriage who was lucky to have him by her side. They had met during a sport event in high school. They had been on opposing sides, but that hadn’t discouraged Jeffery from following her as she walked with a group of friends from one sporting game to the next. He’d found it oddly exhilarating that she watched his game. He’d returned the favour and was glued to the side of the netball court when it was her turn to perform. That was twenty wonderful years ago. It was predestined that they would enroll in the same university. On the day that Cathy graduated, he asked her to marry him. They were wed one year later.

Both of them were deeply ambitious. Jeffery knew that he wanted to produce his own wine and immediately set about creating the foundation for the lovely farm they had today. It wasn’t always easy, but ten years of hard work and dedication had finally begun producing award-winning wines. Before the children arrived, Cathy had been a teacher at a preschool in Franshoek. She yearned to have children of her own, but she knew that she had to give Jeffery time. He had to be ready. One night, a few days after his thirty-first birthday, he had turned to her and asked if she’d like to start a family. He’d asked with so much tenderness that tears sprang to Cathy’s eyes. She knew he was finally ready.

One year later, Taylor was born, a healthy little girl with blonde hair like her mother and dark eyes like her dad. Three years later, the twins, Jonathan and Richard, arrived. They were premature, and it was apparent from the start that Jonathan was a much bigger baby than Richard. For a month, Richard struggled to survive but, in the end, no amount of tubes, machines, and doctors could keep him on this earth. He wasn’t destined for this world. There were nights when Cathy and Jeffery would lie in each other’s arms and talk about him, wondering how different he would be from his identical twin brother, who was asleep in the room next door. It was because of each other that Cathy and Jeffery finally managed to overcome the suffering and endless torment that plagued them after the death of their son, who was one month old on the day when he drew his last breath.

Laughter echoed up from the kitchen table and pulled Cathy from her sombre thoughts. She stood on shaky legs and brushed her teeth. She knew the children would be up soon to greet her, and she wanted to look presentable. Cathy had just gotten out of the shower, water dripping from her hair, when Taylor burst into the bathroom.

“Mommy, Mommy, we’re going to leave now,” she said, bouncing from one foot to the next, exuding the boundless energy that only seven-year-olds possessed. She wore a red-and-white floral dress, and her blonde hair was pulled into pony-tails on the sides of her head.

Cathy wrapped herself in a towel and bent down, hugging her daughter to her chest.

“Ewww, Mommy, you’re wet,” Taylor squealed.

Cathy laughed and kissed her daughter on the cheek, then released the squirming bundle in her arms.

“Tee, where’s your brother?”

“He’s late.” Taylor rolled her eyes. “I’ll fetch him,” she declared, taking charge. She stomped off, silently declaring her obligations as the older sibling.

By the time Taylor returned with Jonathan in tow, Cathy was dressed in comfortable jeans and a turquoise blouse. The colour complemented her green eyes, something she knew her husband would appreciate.

“Jo, come here and give Mommy a kiss. You’re going to be late for school,” Cathy said as she bent down and hugged her son to her chest. He clung tightly to her, and her heart swelled with love for this little boy who was the spitting image of his dad.

Just then, Jeffery walked in and eyed the tender scene before him. Wanting to join in, Taylor threw her hands around both her mom and her brother.

“Come, you two devils. You’re going to be late,” Jeffery said. He watched his wife reluctantly release their children.

They dashed past their father, yelling their farewells and racing to the car for the front seat.

“You look beautiful in that colour,” Jeffery said, encircling Cathy in his arms.

“You say that to all the girls,” she teased.

“Normally, I comment on their shiny hair or small ears or something like that.”

Cathy gave her husband an amused grin.

“I’ve left some pancakes and a coke in your study,” he finished before kissing her gently on the mouth and walking away.

A while later, Cathy entered her study, her blonde hair dried and hanging in waves down her back. She noticed that the pancakes were covered to retain the heat and saw a single rose in a small vase on the tray. She knew that the rose was from the many that graced the sides of the house in her meticulously trimmed garden. The gesture still made her smile. Her husband, the romantic. She couldn’t imagine her life without him.


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