A poignant exploration of marriage and motherhood, An Illusion of Trust is the story of a young woman who discovers that having her dreams come true can’t erase her nightmare past.
When Renee Marshall married Jalal Vaziri, she got all the love and security she craved. But now, with a baby on the way, she has to leave her perfect seaside cottage to move into the mansion Jalal shared with his beloved first wife—a woman Renee fears she’ll never completely replace. Unsettled by changes the relocation makes to her idyllic life, she allows her dark memories to resurface and feed her insecurity. With the threat of losing all she treasures, Renee will have to confront her past and learn to trust love.
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Dawn has only begun to filter through the curtains. The muted light reminds me of foggy mornings at Bahia when life seems wrapped in a secret, like those mornings after I first met Jalal and waited by the beach to see him run out of the fog, my heart leaping at the sight. He didn’t notice me at first. All that mattered was that I saw him. And then he did see me, and all that mattered was that I allowed myself to dream he could love me.
I study my handsome poet while he studies his son. Jalal was clean-shaven when we met, had always been, as far as I know, but he started growing a beard and mustache on the day Adam was born. He keeps both fashionably shaped and closely trimmed, a fine black etching. A symbol. I’m a father now, it says, a real man.
Jalal clears his throat, but then he remains silent during the last ten minutes of the drive. Sometimes his damned sensitivity to my moods ticks me off more than anything. I’ll be going to lunch with Judith, not because of my stubbornness, but because he’ll insist. Just before we turn into the driveway, he reaches for my hand and brings it to his lips.
It’s hell being married to a saint.
Jalal and I put the kids to bed early so we can have a quiet dinner alone. As we take our places at the table, my future flashes before me. In a few years, I’ll be just another rich, suburban mom, shopping in my designer jeans, classic pumps, and diamonds, chauffeuring my kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons in a huge, black SUV, scheduling hair, spa, and Botox appointments between luncheons and teas, and attending endless cocktail and dinner parties.
In other words, my future sucks.
Finally I’m cried out. I’m wrapped in peace. I’m wrapped in Jalal’s arms. And now I’m conscious of the heat of his body, the scent of his skin, and I want him to make love to me. He said nothing while I cried. I don’t know what he’s thinking or if he’s in the mood, but when I tease his nipple, he slides his hand down my back and presses me against him. There’s no mistaking his interest now, so I roll to my back, and he slips lower until our lips meet. His hand begins its exploration. Though my body aches in anticipation of the pleasure he will give me, I will him to move slowly. Make this last. Never let me go.
This is the kind of house most people only dream of living in. I hate it. There are too many rooms. Empty rooms. Ghosts behind the closed doors. How did Meredith stand it all those years alone here? Maybe she didn’t sense them. Or maybe they didn’t bother her because they knew she would be one of them. I lie here in the dark and feel her outside the door, waiting for me to drift off, so she can rush in to stand glaring over me. On particularly bad nights, I imagine she creeps up to lie between us, alternately whispering her love in Jalal’s ear and threats in mine. She’s the reason I sleep fitfully, seeming always to wake on the last note of a scream.
I am losing my mind.