Tara had always imagined her happily ever after. But her fiancé’s secrets are changing this story into one she doesn’t even recognize.
Tara Faulkner and Seth Grissom grew up next door to each other in Savannah’s historic district. Their parents are best friends. They finish each other’s sentences all the time. Their fairy-tale wedding is a foregone conclusion . . . until Tara discovers another side to Seth three weeks before the wedding.
Reality has crashed in on Tara’s fairy tale—but hope will lead her to a future she couldn’t have planned for herself.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Rebecca St. James, an Australian born Christian recording artist, is both a Grammy Award winner and multiple Dove Award recipient. She is also the bestselling author of Wait for Me, SHE Teen, and What Is He Thinking. She has appeared in the film Sarah’s Choice and provided a voice in VeggieTales An Easter Story.
Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband, Jim, have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
One Last Thing
By REBECCA ST. JAMES, NANCY RUE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue
All rights reserved.
What happened to Seth and me changed everything. Everything. And yet it began with a completely innocuous question: Where are we going to put the couch?
As a romantic I wish it had started with Seth coming to me and looking into my eyes and saying how he needed to share something with me, something deeply personal and disturbing, so I could help him, walk beside him, stand behind him. You know—be every preposition a woman can be to her man. If I'd found out that way, the whole thing might have unfolded differently. More like a bolt of silk.
Instead it reeled off slowly and painfully like a spool of barbed wire.
We were standing in the empty living room of our townhouse, Seth and I. Actually it was still technically Seth's townhouse for twenty-one more days. As soon as we could get to the bank after we exchanged I dos, then it would be ours.
Ours was at that point among my favorite words—right up there with scathing and translucent and feckless. You don't earn a master's degree in literary criticism without befriending your vocabulary. The simple word ours breathed from me like Jane Austen prose.
As I said, we were standing there, both of us in our bare feet on the heart-of-pine floor. Seth had the tape measure. I had the dimensions for the couch we'd ordered written on a slip of good stock parchment paper with Tara Grissom printed in burgundy at the top in Lucida typeface. Even though I was still Tara Faulkner, a whole set of matching notepads, sticky notes, note cards, envelopes, and shopping lists had arrived from Grand Mary two weeks before, so I could get used to seeing my new name. Little did my grandmother know I'd been writing it on notebooks, textbook covers, and just about any other surface I could put a pen to since I was fifteen years old. But I digress.
"It'll fit," Seth said.
"I know it'll fit," I said. "But will it look right? I mean with the end tables and the coffee table and two chairs? I was going more for casual elegance—not doctor's office waiting room."
Seth put his hands on hips no wider than a snake's and smiled until the almost-dimples almost appeared just above his dark beard. "You have absolutely no sense of spatial relations whatsoever, do you, Tar?"
"I don't even know what that is."
"Okay ..." Seth went to the wall we'd just measured seven times and stretched out against it on the floor. On the floor in a starched white Oxford shirt and pressed jeans.
"What are you doing?" I said.
"I'm six-two. How long is that couch again?"
"If I have no spatial relationships—"
"Then you have no memory. It's eighty-six inches including the arms."
Seth stretched his over his head. "I'm the couch."
He was nothing like a couch. Six-pack abs. Cut pecs. Ripped everything that was supposed to be ripped. Seth was the exact opposite of a couch.
"Picture an end table at my head and one at my feet."
I dove for him and planted what we in the South call my fanny on his belly and lounged. "Cute," I said, "but not very comfortable."
He rolled out from under me and came up on one elbow, dark eyes twinkling. If I were critiquing a piece that had his eyes twinkled in it, I'd comment about cliché. But his actually did. They were right up there with the proverbial little star we all wonder about in song as toddlers. He gave one of my long curls a signature tug and twirled it around his finger.
"We'll figure it out when they deliver it," he said. "What else are they bringing besides the living room furniture?" Another tug. "Or do I even want to know?"
My turn to twinkle, although my eyes—blue—tend to ponder rather than sparkle. Or so I was told by a street artist on the Parisian Left Bank when I was thirteen. I've hung on to that description ever since.
"Bookcases and a desk and a big ol' comfy chair," I said.
Seth eased his fingers into an entire hunk of my mop. "What study?"
"Did we decide on that?"
I poked at a dimple. "Like I said, you have no memory. Or maybe it's just selective."
"Uh-huh." Seth gave me a quick kiss and vaulted to his feet. A long-fingered hand reached down for me, but I batted it away and untangled myself.
He headed for the kitchen. "What did you bring me?"
"That was a total non sequitur," I said.
Feet padding on the still-rugless hardwood, I trailed him between the french doors and through the vacant, large-windowed dining room and tried to get to the Tupperware container on the kitchen island before he did, but he slid it off the granite countertop and put it behind him in one smooth move.
I took a second to savor that countertop: vanilla cream with flecks of gold and chocolate and cranberry. Seth's mother said it wasn't practical. Mine said it was a dream. What mattered was that it picked up the brass in the pot hanger over my head where the All-Clad sauté and saucepans were going to hang.
"Cookies," Seth said. He peeled up a corner of the lid and sniffed. "Madeline make these?"
"I am so insulted right now. No, my mother did not make these. I did. They're dulce de leche."
Seth grinned. "Sounds more like a cocktail."
"I can always take them home," I said. "Kellen'll eat them."
But Seth already had half of one in his mouth. His eyes closed as he chewed and a soft moan furred from his throat. Seth always had the right response. He didn't even have to mean it and it still worked.
"You having one?" he said. An oatmeal-colored crumb escaped and rested on his lower lip. Lucky crumb.
"Uh, no," I said. "My last fitting's tomorrow and I have to be able to zip that dress. You're going to want milk with that."
I opened the refrigerator. "Don't you have any real milk?" I'm seeing Almond Silk ... Rice Dream ... organic soy. "You obviously just made a Brighter Day run."
"Cow's milk is for baby cows," he said, mouth still stuffed.
"So ... isn't soy milk for baby beans? Sproutlets? How do they get milk out of a bean anyway?"
I closed the fridge and turned to Seth. He was biting into cookie number two.
"You're eating another one?" I pressed my hand to my chest, feigning shock. "Look out, now, darlin'—you won't fit into that tux."
Seth's mouth stilled in mid-bite. The air in the kitchen went abruptly testy.
"What does that mean?" he said.
I laughed. He didn't. There wasn't a twinkle within a Savannah city block.
"I was joking," I said.
"For the love of the land, Seth, you could probably eat the whole dozen and still not gain an ounce." I wrinkled my nose at him. "Not that you couldn't stand to."
Seth's eyes deadened as if someone had pulled the plug on them, and he pushed the container away. It bounced nervously against the umber Southern Pottery jar that held a bouquet of virgin wooden spoons. He spread his hands and looked down at his waspish waist. "Is this a problem?"
"What? Your body?" I could feel my eyebrows intersecting over my nose. "You're kidding, right?"
"I said I was."
It was getting weird. As in, this kind of stupid bickering never happened between us and I had no idea what to do with it. I just stood there staring at him in the sudden silence. The only sound was the rain splatting against the window behind me.
It wasn't quiet in my head. My brain started about six questions: Is he ... did I ... was it just me ...?
I finally came out with, "What just happened?"
I still expected a soft grin, a shrug of those shoulders, a reach for the hair I was piling on top of my head with one clueless hand. I got none of that.
"Nothing. Forget it," he said, and snapped the lid onto the container.
That was a glimmer of the Seth I knew. It was every guy I ever knew, including my father, my brother, Kellen, and the last thirteen-year-old boy I saw standing sullen-faced with his mother in the checkout line at Publix. Every guy who tells himself, You just said something stupid. Shut up. Shut down. Wait for the Coax.
I was good at the Coax.
"Darlin', have you ever heard me complain about your body?" I put my arms around his neck and looked up the eight inches between us.
He turned his face away, but I kissed the side of the beard that browned his chin like it had been painted on by Rembrandt. I punctuated each word with another kiss, making my way to his mouth: "You. Are. A. Crazy. Person."
His lips hesitated at first, but that was the game, right? I persisted—one, two, three—and he was kissing me back.
It was the five thousand and third time I wondered how we were keeping our vow not to sleep together until we were married. Three years is a long, long time when the man is tender, unselfish ... and hot.
Seth's arms tightened around me and he lifted me off my feet. I kicked one foot up the way Doris Day always did in the Rock Hudson movies—couldn't help myself—and nuzzled next to his ear.
"Tell me again why we're waiting twenty-one days?"
He let me go. I staggered against the dishwasher and it swooshed within, and Seth seemed to snap back from wherever he'd gone.
"You turned it on with your fanny," he said, sounding too forced for talk of fannies and cookies and waistlines. He also made a far bigger deal than he had to out of pushing buttons, opening the door, closing it again.
What. On. Earth?
We were back in unmarked territory, and I didn't know which way to go. "Okay," I said finally. "Let's review: we'll feel better if we wait."
"We'll be better if we wait," he said to the control panel.
I wrapped my arms around myself. "Does that mean we can't even kiss? I'm feeling like a piranha at the moment. No, pariah. What the heck am I trying to say?"
I tried to laugh again. He didn't again.
"I just don't want us to start something we shouldn't finish." As Seth turned to me, his voice took on a tone even too paternal for my father. "Come on, Tar, we've talked this to death."
"Are you scolding me?" I said. "What am I, five?"
My own voice did a thing it never did with Seth—hadn't done with anyone since middle school when I tried to flirt with an eighth-grader and came off like a mosquito.
Seth's face was impatient. "No, I'm not scolding you. I'm just hitting replay."
"Really?" I said. "Because I feel like I'm being reprimanded for wanting you."
"You're not," he said. With a martyred sigh. It was the sigh that wouldn't let me leave it alone.
"Correcting, then," I said. "Rebuking? Remonstrating?"
He opened his mouth but I held up both hands. Time to end this stupidness. "Never mind. I need to go. Can we just forget we had this conversation?"
"I'm good with that." Soft places appeared around Seth's eyes.
"You know this is about respecting you."
Respecting. Not lecturing?
I didn't say it. His sudden attempt to lighten up was glaring in my face.
"You meeting the Bridesmaids?" he said.
"Just like every Sunday afternoon," I said.
He followed me through the dining room and then the living room, where I grabbed my purse from the mantel and shoved my feet into a pair of black ballet flats.
"What minutia are y'all down to at this point? Who's gonna wear what color on which fingernails?" He reached for a curl but I shook him off.
"It's like a thing now," I said. "See you tomorrow?"
I pecked his cheek and turned to go toward the foyer, but he wrapped his fingers lightly around my wrist. "Not later?"
I put my face close to his. "Aren't you afraid we'll start something we shouldn't finish?"
Another peck and I was gone. I'd just extinguished the twinkle again.CHAPTER 2
It always seemed ridiculous to drive in the Savannah historic district when everything was so close to everything else. I could have walked to the Distillery on Montgomery in fifteen minutes. But I'd arrived at our townhouse on Jones earlier with a carload of everything I'd even glanced at on my last trip to Pottery Barn with my mother, and which she'd insisted I had to have if I were going to be even slightly content as a new bride, so I was saddled with her Beamer SUV.
Still, as I wended my way around Pulaski and Orleans Squares—two of the twenty-two charming spaces that gridded Savannah—I wished I'd left the car and walked. Even with the rain slanting down in sheets, I could have sorted things through more easily. I knew the predictable nineteenth-century rowhouses with their Georgia grey bricks and the clapboard homes with their high stoops would whisper ... You're making life more complicated than it is ... Come in ... Have a sweet tea. Driving, I had to pay too much attention to what I couldn't see between slaps of the windshield wipers.
By the time I pulled into the parking lot at the Distillery, all I had in my head was how the scene between Seth and me should have played out.
ME: (presses hand to chest, pretending astonishment) You're eating another one? Look out, now, darlin'—you won't fit into that tux.
SETH: I know, right? (selects another cookie) It was only a matter of time after I put the ring on your finger that I would let myself go.
ME: Well, give me one, then.
TARA reaches for a cookie. SETH redirects her hand around his neck and kisses her tenderly. FADE TO BLACK
It needed editing. Even I wasn't quite that sappy. It should definitely take a more Austen-esque tone. But what did go down wasn't any closer to reality, at least as we knew it. Again, Seth could do "Never mind—forget it—I'm going to pout" with the best of the male population. But testy? Scolding? Holier than freakin' thou? That right there—that was a first.
The rain was pounding by then and the wind wailed so wild I ditched the idea of using the umbrella and bolted from the car and splashed across the parking lot. A total of fifteen seconds and my feet were squishing in my flats and my hair stuck in tangled hunks to my face. Give it fifteen minutes and it would be frizzed out so far I wouldn't be able to pass through an antebellum doorway. I stood inside to drip and regroup.
When the Distillery wasn't being touted as "Savannah's Only Craft Beer Bar," it was advertised as "A Prohibition-Style Pub." The Bridesmaids and I met there because it was close to the SCAD bookstore where Lexi worked on Sundays and because it had the best alligator tail in Georgia, beer-battered and fried Southern-swamp style, with a honey jalapeño remoulade. That wasn't on my prenuptial diet, but the first time we came here after the wedding, I was so ordering it.
The other reason was the ambience. The building went up in 1904, which is new by Savannah standards, but the folks who turned it into a local watering hole in 2008 had done a fabulous job of making the cement floor and the brick walls and the steel posts work with remoulades and ganache and caramelized onions. Lexi, Jacqueline, Alyssa, and I were retro-and-remoulade kinda gals.
That Sunday, just a few days after Thanksgiving, lit garlands festooned the bar and the railings on the stairs I climbed to get to the Bridesmaids. I knew they'd be up there at our usual round table in the corner, the one that rocked and had to be shimmed with several folded napkins so Jacqueline didn't lose her mind. Stuff like that drove her right up the crazy tree.
Seth was right. We'd planned all the bridesmaidsy details of my wedding over the last six months, right there in that corner every Sunday afternoon. We'd discussed and debated and decided everything from the pros and cons of false eyelashes to whether they should go down the aisle in descending or ascending order of height. I had drawn the line at them wearing matching lipstick. But the four of us got so used to meeting, we just kept showing up. Once Lexi asked if we'd still be doing it after Seth and I were married. The responses were, simultaneously:
JACQUELINE: Well, yeah. Why not?
ALYSSA: Only if Seth lets her out of bed long enough.
What does that tell you about their personalities?
As I headed for them, Vic, the ponytailed server who even had freckles on his lips, called out, "What are ya drinkin', Tara?"
"Coffee," I told him. "With cream. No, hold the cream. Skim milk. Okay, maybe two percent."
"This isn't Starbucks, sweet cheeks. All we got is half-and-half."
I nodded and moved on to the corner. I heard him tell a table of Guinness drinkers, "Dude, I'll be glad when she finally gets married."
I was halfway out of my trench jacket when I got to the table. Alyssa stood up to reach across for a hug and stopped when her hand slithered down my arm.
"Geesh!" she said. "You look like a shampooed poodle."
Excerpted from One Last Thing by REBECCA ST. JAMES, NANCY RUE. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I first started reading ONE LAST THING I had been expecting one thing, but got quite another as I turned each page. Why I thought there would be a perfectly Happily Ever After I don't know, but the realistic story portrayed in this novel is astounding. I wasn't quite prepared for how one man's decision to look at pornography could impact so much more than a relationship with his finance. It made me realize as the story progressed that ANY kind of addiction can hurt so many people around us and ultimately ourselves. One of the hardest things about reading this novel is Tara's journey, yet it is so beautiful. I was so touched by her story in pursuing who she really was in Christ and experiencing His love for her own. She had many obstacles to overcome and by the end, she was able to look back and see God's love surrounding her through all the hardships. Overall, ONE LAST THING is a fantastic novel (though I will mention it was slow in a few parts and is why I'm giving it 4 stars). I definitely don't recommend it to the light of heart, but it is one I would recommend to any woman who wants to do the next true thing in her life with Christ at the center. *(I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.)*
When love hurts the most. A bride to be, trapped into silence, carrying a shame that is not hers to carry. By Rebecca St. James There is nothing like the weeks before the wedding, especially one that has been years in the making. All the “I’s” have been dotted, the “T’s” crossed. Everything is set and you are finally going to marry the man of your dreams, then suddenly, harshly, everything you thought you knew about your fiancé turns out to be a sham. He is not the man he has put himself to be. Your world comes tumbling down around you into tiny shards so small, even Humpty Dumpty’s army could never pick it up and put it all back together again. To make matters worse, you have promised not to speak of why to anyone, not ANYONE. So now this has become your burden, your shame, and you must carry it alone. Why? You have suddenly become the bad guy, and the hole gets deeper and darker. What is different about this story is the point-of-view. We hear how Porn affects men and tears their relationships apart and destroys their lives. But this story is focused, not on “his” story, but on “her” story. It is about the great harm it does to the woman and her lonely isolated battle of shame, denial, silence, and depression that often draw her down as she is shamed into helping to keep the secret for any number of reasons. This One Thing is a poignant story of a young lady faced with the startling revelation that her fiancé of great moral stature is in fact in the clutches of Pornography. Her story is the shared story of so many women who face the shame and despair of dealing with a significant other or spouse who find themselves stuck in the cycle of porn by a family member. They most often find themselves hiding it from family, friends, and society. This book is a message of hope for women who are hurting. It is a book of encouragement to seek support and assistance in the face of ridicule, for that is where true help and healing will be found. Most of all, in reaching out as women, we find that we are not alone. This is not an easy book to read because of the subject matter, but I strongly recommend the book as a good resource and encouragement. I am thankful for Rebecca St. James having the courage to tackle such a difficult subject and do justice to the subject matter while maintaining the integrity of a wonderful storyline that was full of hope. Christian Fiction Five Stars One Last Thing was provided by Net Galley to read for this review.