Excerpt of Caught in the Act:
Hands down, that was the best ass sheâ€™d ever seen.
It was even better at fifteen times magnification.
Catherine Davenport Carlton leaned over the kitchen sink, resting her elbows on the faucet handles to steady her arms, and gripped the binoculars a little tighter. She bit down on her lower lip as she watched. The jogger was heading in the opposite directionâ€”exactly as heâ€™d done the last two morningsâ€”and if recent events were any indicator, heâ€™d be heading back up the beach and passing by her rental within the hour.
Cute Butt rounded the bend in the distance and disappeared from sight, and Cat straightened from peering through the window like a stalker. She pursed her lips as she thought about how sheâ€™d spent her mornings since sheâ€™d arrived in Maine. She really should stop ogling her neighbor.
But then again, maybe she should just get up the nerve and cross their backyards to introduce herself. Then she could ogle up close.
She grinned at the picture that brought to mind. What was an escape from reality without a summer tryst thrown in to take her mind off things?
Shaking her head at her unladylike thoughts, she dumped berries and protein powder into the blender and topped it off with yogurt and flaxseed. Her one true ability as a â€œcookâ€ was a healthy breakfast smoothieâ€”which, combined with daily yoga, barely kept the width of her hips in check. Then she went back to thinking about her neighbor.
She couldnâ€™t have an affair. Even if she wasnâ€™t in the last place sheâ€™d ever consider having a fling, it had been over four years since sheâ€™d been naked with a man. Nineteen years since sheâ€™d been naked with anyone other than her late husband. She wouldnâ€™t know what to do with her neighbor if she caught him.
Of course . . . it was supposed to be just like riding a bike.
And she was there alone for three more weeks before her kids would show up.
She turned off the blender and grabbed a glass, reminding herself that she wasnâ€™t that adventurous. Not these days. Maybe she had been nineteen years ago when sheâ€™d seen that other naked man. Only, with him at fifteen, he hadnâ€™t exactly been a man. Theyâ€™d both been only kidsâ€”but she had been willing to take a few risks back then.
Which had turned out like shit.
Her teenage tryst was the reason sheâ€™d chosen Maine as her getaway destination. Or rather, what had happened because of Brody was the reason. It was time to find closure. To figure out a way to forgive herself.
But she was also here for an escape. From her job as well as from her kids.
Her kids were great. Truly. They were her life. She loved them more than she could have ever imagined possible. But sheâ€™d been a single mother for four years now, and she needed a break.
And then there was her job.
She closed her eyes and rubbed a finger back and forth across her temple. Running her familyâ€™s foundation wasnâ€™t easy. She was good at it, yes. Actually, great at it. Sheâ€™d perfected the art of showcasing herself and her family in only the best light years ago. But sheâ€™d grown antsy over the past months. She wanted . . . more. Or maybe she wanted less.
A family legacy started by her great-great-grandfather, the Davenport Foundation served many organizations in the Atlanta area, as well as all of Georgia, and Cat had been director for the last five years. Only this year had she hired someone to share the load with her. But what she was finding was, the more the other woman did, the less Cat wanted to do. Yet Cat was a Davenport. Maybe it was no longer her legal name, but it would always be who she was.
How could she be any less?
And did she want to?
These were questions she hoped her time in Maine would answer. Not to mention, she now had to wrap her head around just who her family really was. They were supposed to be the revered Davenports. Upstanding, moral greatness representing the United States in one way or another for over a century.
They did no wrong.
Only . . . they had. A lot.
Her own secret flashed brightly in her mind. Sheâ€™d believed for almost nineteen years that she was the only Davenport to risk tarnishing the name.
The flame of anger that had been churning inside her since her recent conversation with her brother grew brighter. Given the truth about her family that she now knew, her mother could have lessened her guilt all those years ago. All it would have taken was a few simple words.
Yet she hadnâ€™t done it.
The reality was, sheâ€™d only made Cat feel more guilty.
Cat peeked out the kitchen window again at the still-quiet stretch of beach running past her rental, grateful for her in-laws. Theyâ€™d been able to fly to Atlanta a few days earlier than planned so she could go ahead and get away. They were all staying at Catâ€™s house now, but the kids had Disney World to look forward to, then another week at their grandparentsâ€™ Florida condo before returning home, and eventually up here to Maine. It was time to introduce them to the town the Davenports had once called home.
This wouldnâ€™t be a one-time-only trip, either. She intended to resume her long-ago ritual of summer breaks on coastal Maine. Becca and Tyler deserved that.
And she deserved to move on from the past.
Of course, they all had to survive her motherâ€™s and fatherâ€™s pasts firstâ€”which she hoped stayed buried.
She rinsed out the blender as she thought about what the next few months might bring.
Her mother was running for reelection for her Senate seat in the fall, and her opponentâ€™s family was known for slinging mud. Congressman Harrison was looking for dirt. And it seemed he had his pick to choose from.
Lies, secrets, and illegitimate brothers. All his for the taking.
All he had to do was find them.
Cat ground her teeth together as she grabbed her smoothie and cell phone and headed to the deck, remembering at the last minute to take the binoculars as well. Her kids would be calling soon to wish her a good morning.
And then her neighbor would be making his way back down the beach.
Since family values had been blown out of the water, she figured she might as well embrace the new peeping-tom side of herself. Why worry about maintaining high morals when no one else around her did?