The Ex Read Online S.E. Lynes

Categories Genre: Romance, Suspense, Thriller Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 103
Estimated words: 96374 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 482(@200wpm)___ 385(@250wpm)___ 321(@300wpm)

The love of your life… or your biggest mistake?

It’s hard, meeting your ex after so much time apart. You remember the hurt, the tears and accusations, but you try not to show it. You smile politely, even while your heart beats faster.
You watch as he looks down into the stroller, at the beautiful blond-haired blue-eyed baby kicking his little legs in the sunshine, whose innocent smile lights up your world.
You see his face change. You know what he’s thinking.
The next day he calls. His voice is shaking. He wants the truth. Is it his child?
You hesitate, your throat dry, good and bad memories swirling in your mind. You’ve missed him so much… but can you ever trust him again?
After a sleepless night, you arrange to meet, agreeing that the most important thing is doing what’s right for baby Tom.
But months later, when the sirens wail in the night, you have to admit: you never thought either of you would go this far…



December 2021

It’s over three months now since Sam Moore was pictured on the Lyme Times website for reasons no one would ever have wanted. The headline read: Child Abduction: Local Man Held; Wife Still Missing.

That was the morning after, before the press had fully caught up. Since then, of course, the news has moved on and we are back to new variants and vaccinations, the threat of yet another lockdown and what that means for our much-loved seaside town.

I should probably introduce myself. My name is Miranda Clarke, and Sam Moore was my closest friend. My reasons for trying to tell this story are partly to make sense of it, partly to set the record straight and partly to ask myself what I could or should have done differently.

Where to begin? Just over eight months ago, I think. The world is blinking in the light of post-lockdown. We have spent over a year shielding our loved ones, trying to protect people we don’t even know, and our nerves are still jangling. Some of us have suffered unimaginable grief and anguish. Most of us have experienced stress and anxiety. Some of us are poorer. Some of us richer. Some have become more determinedly sociable than before, some lonelier, more isolated. No one has come out unscathed. We are changed in ways we don’t yet know. And maybe that’s what this story is about too: change.

As for me, I’m one of the lucky ones. On the professional front, as a garden designer, I’ve been able to work either from home or outdoors during these crazy and difficult times. Sam was my chief landscaper, the guy whose talented hands gave life to my technical drawings, who transformed paving into patios, scrubland into lawn, rubble into rockery. In short, I showed the clients the dream; he was the one who fulfilled that dream.

For the purposes of this account, I’ll do my best to keep myself out of it, though I suspect there will be times when I’ll jump in. There will be things I’ll want to make sure I get across. It’s all been so complicated. It’s all been such a mess.

So please – bear with me.

Sam’s story starts as it always would: on a hike, muddy boots, no phone. That was Sam – a hard man to reach.

It is a sunny spring day towards the end of April 2021. Here is Sam, leaving the lush jungle of Ware Cliff at his back. He is heading down through the holiday chalets towards Monmouth Beach when he sees her. Another step down, another, his eyes fixed now on the slowly coalescing form of a woman half obscured by the bowling green wall, a woman walking from town towards the car park. Because that’s all she is as yet: the shape of a woman, a half-figure in the distance.

But still in his stomach a knot of dread tightens.

The woman emerges from behind the wall and he sees she is pushing a stroller, the seat tipped back, what he presumes is a baby tucked underneath a blue blanket. Not her then, he thinks. It never is. She used to appear to him constantly, like a host in other women’s bodies: today a young mother, out for an afternoon walk.

The knot of dread loosens. It is not her. Thank God.

Beyond the stony beach, vanilla sunlight bounces off a graphite sea. It is warm enough that his hike has left him sweaty, the sleeves of his jumper tied around his waist, cagoule rolled up and nestling in his rucksack in the space left by his sandwiches. His gran, Joyce, made these sandwiches for him early this morning. He ate them on the bench at the viewing point just before dropping down: wide skies over Charmouth, the rise and fall of the land’s edge tracing a lazy line over to Weymouth – to Portland on a clear day. Walking has kept him sane this last long, solitary year. The elements have brought him the peace he has craved.