This Could Be Us – Skyland Read Online Kennedy Ryan

Categories Genre: Alpha Male, Contemporary Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 143
Estimated words: 136743 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 684(@200wpm)___ 547(@250wpm)___ 456(@300wpm)

Soledad Barnes has her life all planned out. Because, of course, she does. She plans everything. She designs everything. She fixes everything. She’s a domestic goddess who's never met a party she couldn't host or a charge she couldn't lead. The one with all the answers and the perfect vinaigrette for that summer salad. But none of her varied talents can save her when catastrophe strikes, and the life she built with the man who was supposed to be her forever, goes poof in a cloud of betrayal and disillusion.

But there is no time to pout or sulk, or even grieve the life she lost. She's too busy keeping a roof over her daughters' heads and food on the table. And in the process of saving them all, Soledad rediscovers herself. From the ashes of a life burned to the ground, something bold and new can rise.

But then an unlikely man enters the picture—the forbidden one, the one she shouldn't want but can't seem to resist. She's lost it all before and refuses to repeat her mistakes. Can she trust him? Can she trust herself?

After all she's lost . . .and found . . .can she be brave enough to make room for what could be?

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

—Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God



I’m sure I loved her once.

And she loved me.

I remember the fluttery emotions early on, the quick-burn passion, the commitment that felt like it was anchored in cement. It became something that required little thought or feeling. What had once been a groove carved between our hearts settled with dismal comfort into a rut. Seated across from Tremaine now as we “mediate” the end of our marriage, looking into her eyes, I only see the remains of that love—mutual affection and respect.

We failed each other epically. Not through cruelty or infidelity, but through neglect. The idea we had of a love that would last forever, it’s a casualty of hardship and indifference. This should hurt more. I should be more disappointed that my marriage is over, but instead there is a sense of relief that almost overwhelms me. A breath that has been lodged behind my ribs, maybe for years—I released it when Tremaine finally asked for the divorce. What should have felt like a slice through me instead felt like a sigh.

Yeah, this should hurt more, but it doesn’t. So all I can think about now is the end and the new beginning, whatever that means for her, me, and our twin boys, Adam and Aaron.

“Custody,” says Kimberly, the child specialist, glancing up from the small stack of papers on the coffee table in our living room. “We need to create the parenting plan.”

“Right,” Tremaine agrees, uncharacteristic uncertainty in her eyes. A small frown knits the smooth brown skin between her brows. Her hair, in two-strand twists, billows around her face like a weeping willow, softening the keen features. “I don’t know how much they understand.”

“Adam gets it,” I say. “He’s been asking about divorce nonstop. He told me today it derives from the Latin divortere, which means separation. He can’t always wrap his emotions around things, so he leans more on facts.”

“Wonder where he got that from?” Tremaine asks with a wry smile.

Tremaine used to joke that the diagnoses for our twin boys might not be autism. Maybe they’re just mine because they share so many traits with me. I admit I may not have a formal diagnosis, but the more we’ve learned about autism over the last decade, the more of myself I’ve seen and understood.

“In my meeting with the boys,” Kimberly continues, “it did seem that Adam grasped what was happening. Aaron… I’m not so sure.”

Both boys are on the spectrum, but they present differently. Aaron doesn’t have much expressive language and is classified as level 3, which simply indicates the intensity of support he needs. Many tend to underestimate him, to overlook him, because he doesn’t often speak. Adam, classified as level 1, is less “observably” autistic than Aaron to others, so people often assume he needs less support than he actually does. Because he’s so bright in the ways in which we often measure intelligence, people may offer him fewer accommodations or expect things he has trouble giving. Some people still speak in terms of more or less severe, but it’s all autism. Just different needs that evolve, and we meet them as best we can.

We don’t compare Aaron and Adam, but try to meet each of them where he is with whatever he needs. They started at basically the same place, but along the way their paths diverged—Adam making more gains faster and Aaron lagging behind, still gaining, but less and more slowly.

“Aaron may not talk a lot,” I say. “But his receptive language—what he understands—is much higher.”

“Most of the time he just doesn’t care to let you know he understands what you’re saying.” A smile dents dimples in Tremaine’s cheeks. “That boy. There’s a whole world in his head he keeps to himself.”

“I did sense that,” Kimberly says. “Regardless of how much they understand, this is a huge transition. It would be for most, but especially for kids who need routine and predictability as much as Aaron and Adam do, for kids with autism.”

She pauses, looking between us.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I should have checked. Do the boys like to be referred to as ‘autistic’ or ‘with autism’ or…”

“‘Autistic’ is fine,” Tremaine replies. “We appreciate you asking.”

“Just wanted to make sure. Different families prefer different things.” Kimberly closes the file on the coffee table. “We’ll have to handle this transition with care.”

“Tremaine and I want to do anything we can to ease their way,” I offer.

“That’s what this whole process is for, right?” Tremaine sends me a quick look, as if to confirm we are on the same page. I nod and reach over to squeeze her hand where it is clenched on her knee.

We’ve both made sacrifices, each of us working from home or not at all early on when the boys kept getting kicked out of daycare centers or we had to assume their education ourselves. Adam, so bright he eventually placed in gifted classes, struggled with potty training even at seven years old. He has poor interoception—meaning his body can’t always sense what’s happening inside it. He had trouble telling when he needed to go, and by the time he realized how close he was, it would be too late. Interoception is a complex concept even for some adults to grasp, and kids definitely didn’t understand. They teased him badly. Adam felt so much shame when he had accidents at school and begged us to let him learn from home. Tremaine delayed law school and worked at night, staying home with the boys during the day, while I took the evenings. One year I freelanced, pursuing forensic accounting cases that allowed me to work remotely, squeezing in the boys’ lessons while Tremaine busted her ass at the firm.