Title: Slow Burn
Series: The Fitzgerald Family [Book1]
Length: 290 Pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Ashley pursed her lips at the picture of three of them together. Her mother and father were on either side of her. “Dad…my father had shown me how to set the camera on a timer. See?” She indicated the background. “It’s the same room as in the first photograph.”
Ron gave her the third photograph. She studied the glossy print. “I took this one outside Carlyle House…I mean, the Carlyle Club, as it was called then. It was the first time I saw it. It looked so grand, magnificent, like a castle straight out of a fairy tale.”
“An exclusive club for the A-list stars was more like it,” he corrected wryly. “A cousin of my mother’s ran it at the time. You were probably the only child ever to enter it at night. I’d been inside it numerous times, but always during the day, when families used the pool and the restaurant.”
If only she could remember going inside. It was frustrating, but at the same time, comforting. She knew it was cowardly of her, but the fewer the memories of that particular night the better.
There was a brief, tense silence. From Ron’s expectant expression, she knew he was waiting for her to say something. She’d never wanted to discuss what happened, but something about the man’s calming presence urged her on.
“It was my birthday,” she finally said, deciding to tiptoe rather than dive into the horror.
Ron’s eyebrows shot up. “The day of the fire?”
She gave him a weak smile and nodded. “Makes one wonder what the big guy upstairs was thinking.”
“Damn,” he said under his breath.
Damned was exactly how she felt on her birthdays. Celebrating, and at the same time mourning, was enough to throw a kink in anyone’s psyche. But to a child, it was pure torture. Without her dear, loving Aunt Estelle, she didn’t know if she could have endured it.
A frown creased her brow when she caught Ron’s expression. Was it pity or compassion? Pity was the one emotion she refused to accept from anyone. She clenched her hand.
“I’ve learned to live with it.” Her tone came out defensive. “My aunt made everything okay.”
Ron shook his head. “But you’re reminded of your loss on your birthdays. How can anyone make that okay?”