THE LAST BREATH
The Breathless series, book 1
by Leigh Lennon
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction Romance
Cover Designer: LKO Designs
Release Date: Nov 17, 2017
Loss is not foreign to Julia Barnett. To the outside world she is the epitome of the perfect mom. That is, until the doors of her impeccable life are closed and reality hits her square in the face. Once the leading lady in her own epic love story, she can only look back at what used to be. With an absent husband, an intrusive father, a troubled child, and an ex-fiancé that is still tied to her life, it’s no wonder Julia is grasping for air in her chaotic world.
The bruises that Julia lives with are invisible to those closest to her. She lost so much early in life, more than most could survive. Now, she grapples with resentment towards her husband because of all the empty promises he’s made. In the midst of this turmoil, test results reveal an illness she is not sure she will survive.
For Julia, it is not her life that may be cut short that consumes her, but how her family will endure without her there. As everyone rallies around Julia while she fights like hell to live, she learns that family, along with love, comes in many shapes and sizes. It is her family that gives her the strength to fight the biggest battle of her life; one she doesn’t want to lose.
Every year as summer faded into fall and fall approached winter; Julia would find herself watching the calendar with dread. She knew that as November approached, she would once more have to face the reminder of her life’s greatest tragedy.
The day served as a bitter memento of what Julia had lost seventeen years before. What made the anniversary even worse, if that was possible, was the fact that she could not confide in her husband the agony she felt.
Joe, her husband, did not share in her grief and considered the events surrounding that fateful day to be a part of her life before him. While she wanted to be held by him and consoled as she worked through the agony of her loss, Joe treated it all as a distant anecdote in their lives that had no bearing on life today. In Joe’s eyes, the time Julia spent mourning the loss of her first child was her way of continuing to mourn for the life she once had.
Sitting in her office that morning, Julia stared at the bouquet of baby pink roses that had just arrived. She received the exact same flowers every year on this day. They came from the same florist and were always sent by the same man. The trouble was that these flowers never came from her husband, Joe. They came from Dean Edwards.
Julia was a rare beauty. She had an olive complexion just like her father’s and dark brown hair accented by mocha brown eyes. While she only stood 5 feet and 3 inches, Julia had no problem standing out in a crowd. Besides her obvious beauty, Julia was a kind-hearted woman with a warm and caring personality. She loved the people in her life immensely and worked hard in each of her relationships. She was an excellent boss, a trusted friend, dedicated wife and mother. It was her ambition to serve as a model for other people and to treat them, as she would want to be treated.
As Julia looked up from the flowers before her, she noticed her business partner, Len Edwards, waving to get her attention. This man was like a second father to Julia.
“Hey Jules, mind if I come in for a second? I see Joe sent you some flowers. That man sure has a way with making you feel special, wouldn’t you say?” Len didn’t know the flowers were actually a gift from his son Dean and not Julia’s husband.
Smiling warmly at Len, she did her best to ignore the compliment about her husband the same way she was trying to ignore the roses sitting on her desk. “Hey Len, come in. I’m glad you’re here. I need to take off early today. I have some personal stuff that I can’t keep putting off. Mary Beth will be here though, and she can take care of anything that comes up.”
Julia Hudson and Len Edwards had been in business together for the past nine years. They ran a very successful marketing firm that had grown from a small independent company into one of national prominence. Their success was due to a shared commitment to core values of honesty and integrity.
“You okay, Jules?” Julia understood that Len had always looked at her as an unofficial daughter and worried about her. This fact was less than surprising given how long Julia had been a friend with Len’s own children along with the amount of time they had all spent in the company of one another.
Like many who had known Julia for years, Len could see that she had lost the spark that had once been in her eyes. He knew that life at home was hard for her and had been for some time. In truth, the spark had started to fade seventeen years prior when Julia had mysteriously broken off her engagement to Dean. She had regained some of that spark back two years later when she met Joe, her husband today. The trouble was that in the past five years, it had started to fade again.
“Oh, yes, um, sorry to just leave like this. I have the Laney Farms contracts ready for signatures. Mary Beth will come get you when they arrive for the 2:30 meeting. She’s lead on this contract, but it may help if you are there as well.” She was distracted, grabbing her keys, pocketbook and flowers. She tried her best to make it to her car before she fell apart. If it hadn’t been for this important contract, she would have never even attempted to come in at all today.
The flowers were not the only routine event she followed when this day arrived each year. It was a standing custom that Julia and Dean would arrive at the cemetery around the same time. Julia knew that the roses she received were never for her, but were a clear indicator that the fateful day had once more arrived.
This novel releases Nov 17th.
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Leigh Lennon is mother, veteran and a wife of a cancer survivor. Originally with a degree in education, she started writing as an outlet that has led a deep passion as she wrote twelve books. Now ready to publish all of them, she lugs her computer with her as she crafts her next story. She can be found drinking coffee or wine, depending on the time of the day.