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Her Broken Trust

Her Broken Trust

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Layla Grant is the picture of domestic bliss. But behind closed doors, she's suffering.

She has a life many women would kill for, complete with two healthy young children and a doting husband who puts her every want and need above his own. Her happy family is the envy of friends and neighbors alike.

Looks can be quite deceiving. Layla's husband is in big, life-altering trouble and will soon be headed to federal prison. No one knows. Layla is desperate to keep it that way.

Can she withstand the pressure? Will her marriage survive? And how will she hold true to her own sense of right and wrong?

Her Broken Trust is the eighth book in the Rosemary Run Series featuring the women of a California town who face the darkness hiding beneath their community’s picturesque facade.

Publication date: August 31, 2021.

About the Rosemary Run Series:

In the charming Northern California town of Rosemary Run, there's trouble brewing below the picture-perfect surface.

Don't let the manicured lawns and stylish place settings fool you. Nothing is exactly as it seems. Secrets and lies threaten to upend the status quo and destroy lives when— not if— they're revealed.

With surprising twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end, each dramatized Rosemary Run novel features a glimpse into a different woman's nail-biting story. Books can be read in any order.

Look Inside


Layla Grant was angry. Urgently, desperately angry.

Her blood boiled inside her veins. She could feel it sloshing around her body, hot and insistent. If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought steam was rising from her ears on a regular basis as well.

She’d tried literally every possible way to stuff her anger down, to wish it away, to numb it, to drown it with alcohol, and even to take it out on others who might help shoulder the burden.

Nothing had worked. She’d remained imprisoned by her rage.

It seemed there was no escape. Not for Layla or for her husband, Trent Grant, who had been convicted of serious federal charges that could land him in prison for up to thirty years. Not to mention, he could be fined as much as one million dollars. Those facts only stoked the fires of Layla’s anger ever further, her organs feeling like molten lava that would soon melt and burn her from the inside out.

She smoothed her bottle-blonde hair nervously with her manicured pink fingernails as she waited with the crowd that had gathered in the courtroom for Trent’s sentencing. People scurried down the main walkway to find a seat on one of the crowded wooden benches, hoping to get settled into a spot before the room was called to order.

A jury had found Trent guilty of bank fraud just two days earlier, and the judicial system had seemed keen to dole out the broken man’s punishment as soon as humanly possible.

Despite Layla’s wish for space and privacy, a balding old man in a tweed jacket sat down beside her. She gave him a quick smile, but wasn’t in any frame of mind to chat. She was afraid that if she opened her mouth to speak to the man, her vitriol would spill out. So, she kept her gaze facing forward, focusing on the back of her husband’s head as she tapped a fingertip nervously on one knee.

Tears stung at Layla’s eyes. She tried desperately to force them away.

She could usually hide her emotions. She’d had years of practice in pretending that everything was alright. Appearances were important, after all. Especially in Rosemary Run, where every family seemed to have a perfect life.

Layla hoped she could hold it together for the entirety of the proceedings. She had been warned that a dramatic display of emotion could irritate the judge and make him come down harder on Trent as a result.

Once things got started, time moved at what felt like warp speed, everything set on fast forward. The crowd stood as Judge Roger Trumbell entered, then flattened his silky black robe, got comfortable behind the bench, and pounded his gavel. When he was finished, the people in the courtroom went back down as shuffling and nervous energy permeated the space.

There had been a lot of media interest in Trent’s case. Judge Trumbell had barred members of the media from entering the courtroom, but a gaggle of reporters and cameramen waited anxiously outside to report on today’s outcome the minute they received the news.

Just a short time prior, no one in Rosemary Run had known about the charges. Trent had known longer, and Layla had worked earnestly to keep word from getting out. But like a beachball stuffed under the surface of water, there would be no hiding the truth. Just as that beachball would eventually bounce upward, forcing its way out and into the open air, the truth of the Grant family’s predicament had found its way into the light of day.

So far, townspeople had-- mostly-- been kind. They’d kept their comments to themselves, at least, long enough for Layla and the kids to keep from hearing them as they’d navigated grocery store aisles and dinners out. Layla was thankful for that much. It had probably helped that one of Trent’s co-workers at the bank, Moe Griffith, was facing similar charges as an alleged co-conspirator.

Moe was a former NFL football player, making the pending charges against him all the more scandalous. His fame took some of the heat off of Trent, who was just a regular guy without the shadow of celebrity status hanging over his head. At least, the public believed Trent was a regular guy. No one had uncovered the deeper truth... yet. That revelation would come later.

Layla’s palms sweat as she wrung her hands, feeling the hardness of the unforgiving bench beneath her.

Luckily, she could focus on what was happening without having to tend to her two young girls at the same time. Hailey and Bethany had stayed home with their aunt, Tabatha Rhodes, affectionately called Aunt Tabby. Tabby had recently retired from her decades-long job as a school bus driver, and she was happy to find things to fill her newfound free time.

At ages seven and five, the trouble Trent faced was more than the Grant girls could comprehend. In fact, Layla had insisted that no one tell the girls the truth of what was really happening. If Trent did-- God forbid-- get sent to prison, Layla would tell the girls that he was away traveling for work. She knew it sounded preposterous because their father’s sentence could span decades, but protecting her family was priority number one.

What kind of mother would she be if she didn’t shield her young girls from such unpleasant, harsh realities? They needed more time to grow up before learning that their father was a criminal. It would change who they were at a fundamental level. Layla’s college degree remained unfinished, but it didn’t take book smarts to know how something like this could affect young children.

In a whirlwind of activity, the courtroom participants followed instructions and routine until it was time for Judge Trumbell to speak the words that would likely change the course of Trent’s life forever. Those words would affect his family, too. In a big way.

Layla thought her husband looked weak and frail standing there, bright overhead lights shining hotly on his head of thinning brown hair. He squinted and pursed his lips like a cave-dwelling creature who hadn’t seen the light of day in some time.

The stress had taken a toll on Trent and he’d missed one too many workouts. Love handles bulged from his sides. His hunched back made him look easily fifteen-years older. Gone were the muscle tone and physicality of the athletic man Layla had married a decade prior.

Layla felt a pang of guilt as she contemplated Trent, his softness and vulnerability, in part, her fault.

“Does your client wish to say anything before the sentence is imposed?” the judge finally asked, eyeing Trent’s council.

Attorney Fred Lowell, a slick, seasoned old man, stood next to Trent at the defendant’s table. Fred was known for representing white collar criminals all over Northern California. His track record was good but that didn’t mean he was a miracle worker. He had already advised Trent to expect a hefty fine and a significant amount of prison time.

There was no escaping the need to make amends and restitution. In the world of bank fraud, this particular crime had been too heinous to expect any chance of getting off scot-free.

Trent’s voice was small and timid, cracking like a teenage boy’s as he replied. “No, your honor.”

Judge Trumbell spoke quickly, his words booming throughout the room.

“Then I hereby sentence you to a term of twenty-nine years in federal prison and a fine of nine-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollars. Court is adjourned.”

The courtroom erupted into a sea of murmurs, gasps, and a few claps upon hearing the news. Someone ran out the back door, presumably to share details with members of the media. Within minutes, Trent’s fate would be heard far and wide on TV newscasts and in newspaper articles.

Layla thought she saw her husband’s knees buckle, and hers threatened to do the same.

She wanted to scream. Every fiber of her being wanted to wail like a banshee, to let out the frustration and the rage that had consumed her once tranquil existence.

Her fists curled into tight balls. She wanted to pound the marble column in front of her and have it give like bread dough. She wanted the column to bend and bulge inward, taking her pain with it. Her pain needed somewhere to go. If not the column, she wanted to turn and rip the wooden benches from the floor like the Incredible Hulk, busting bolts and loosening screws with ease. She wanted to smash and destroy everything in her sight. She wanted to crush the things around her in the hopes that doing so might dampen the fury pouring from her soul.

But she couldn’t.

Countless eyes were on Layla, watching for a reaction, gauging her handling of the news. She’d be a single parent soon, left to raise the girls and manage the family’s affairs on her own.

Layla hadn’t worked outside of the home since she’d become pregnant with Hailey eight years prior. Even then, she had been a low-rate retail manager with income too meager to provide for a family. She had let Trent, an MBA grad, be the breadwinner and handle their finances. Layla’s employment prospects didn’t look good.

As she stared at the scene in front of her, her husband a shell of the man she once knew who was destined to spend the better part of the rest of his life behind bars, it took every ounce of Layla’s mental fortitude to hold herself together without making the kind of dramatic scene she’d been warned about.

Her consciousness was a dense, hot fog of worries and regrets, but a single thought crossed Layla’s mind: Her plan had backfired, in a monumental, devastating way.

Part I
The Houseguest

Chapter 1
Family Ties

Two Weeks Prior

“Trent, honey,” Layla said sweetly through the closed bathroom door. “Breakfast is ready.”

She smiled as she listened to the sounds of her husband turning off the shower and grabbing his towel from the bar mounted to the wall nearby.

It was a pretty August morning in Northern California. As usual, a peaceful golden glow was settling over the day. Light streamed in through the large bedroom window where Layla stood.

Before the girls were born, Layla used to sneak into the bathroom for passionate lovemaking sessions as Trent dried off and before he’d had a chance to dress. He’d been so handsome back then, so full of life and vigor. Not that he wasn’t attractive to Layla anymore, but now, it felt like they were simply going through the motions.

She thought about unlocking the door with her thumbnail and surprising Trent by stepping inside. The girls were busy in the other room and Layla could surely steal a few passionate minutes with her husband. But she stopped short, assuming he probably wouldn’t welcome the intrusion, anyway.

There was a gulf between them that stoked the fires of Layla’s rage.

She often felt neglected by her man. With his busy work schedule and the kids, she tended to fall to the bottom of Trent’s list of priorities. Layla had tried to remain open and understanding about the distance. After all, she’d been the one who’d asked for the lavish lifestyle they enjoyed. She knew that Trent was the one who’d had to pay the price to get it. And for the time being, he still had a job to go to.

Trent typically worked twelve to fourteen hour days, six days a week. Sometimes seven days a week. But on Saturdays, he never went into the bank until nine or ten in the morning. The family knew they could count on him to stick around long enough for breakfast, and they made the most of it. The girls always made sure to wake up extra early to spend special time with their dad each weekend. Even the family dog, a spotted hound named Romeo, knew to get up and at ‘em bright and early on Saturdays.

Layla decided she’d focus on family time. Any special moments between the two of them would have to wait.

“Coming!” Trent replied cheerfully, loud enough for Layla to hear through the door. “Tell Hailey not to eat all the blueberries before I have a chance to put some on top of my pancakes.”

Hailey and Trent loved blueberries, while Layla and Bethany preferred strawberries. Since their preferences were evenly divided, they each only had one other person who might eat all of their favorite fruits before they had a chance.

Such matters were trivial given what their family was facing, but it was easier to talk about pancake toppings than what was really going on in their lives. Despite the coolness between husband and wife, Trent’s relationship with his girls remained warm.

Layla and Trent hadn’t discussed it yet in the light of day, but a few months earlier, their home had been searched by a joint team of investigators from both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Bureau of Investigation. Search warrants had been issued for documents and digital evidence to be collected by forensic experts.

Trent and Layla had been told that information obtained would be analyzed for any evidentiary value. They had nodded obediently as uniformed personnel rifled through their personal items, all while telling the girls it was just a misunderstanding and not to worry. Thanks to the seclusion of the dead end street where the family lived, the incident hadn’t turned into a spectacle. Layla was especially grateful for that much.

The Grant family’s magnificent home had been custom built a little over a year prior on ten picturesque acres on the outskirts of Rosemary Run.

A white picket fence lined the edge of the property and greeted new arrivals as they entered via the winding driveway. The house was white, too, with black shutters and grand columns that stretched beyond the second story to a majestic gable roofline. Plush landscaping and mature trees framed the home and led to a backyard vegetable garden.

It was drop-dead gorgeous, if Layla did say so herself. She thought it looked every bit as good as the most beautiful local homes featured in Vine Country Magazine.

Rosemary Run was a tourist town, and there was no shortage of breathtaking natural scenery. Beautiful homes with gardens seemed a logical thing to go alongside the region’s blessings from Mother Earth.

Layla had been the one to insist on acreage away from the prying eyes of nosy neighbors. It was ironic, really. Layla wanted so badly to impress the people of Rosemary Run, yet she didn’t want to associate with them too closely. She wanted to keep them at a safe distance. She needed to keep them at a safe distance.

Layla and Trent had secrets from their past that would change the way neighbors saw them, should those secrets be revealed. Layla didn’t think about such things on a daily basis, though it remained in the back of her mind. More often than not, her focus was on more mundane daily tasks like taking care of the house, keeping up with the girls and their seemingly endless appointments and commitments, and carving out precious family time whenever she could. The Grants may have been unusual in certain ways, but they were like any other American family in many of the ways that count.

“Looks delicious,” Trent remarked as he eagerly joined his wife and daughters at the kitchen table.

A large row of sliding glass doors framed the dining space, stretching behind them and providing an unobstructed view of the pool and fire pit area out back. Layla often thought her daughters took that view for granted. It had been the only one they’d known, after all.

By contrast, Layla appreciated her surroundings. Each and every time she looked out at the stunning scenery, she felt grateful that this was her life. Despite her anger and growing levels of frustration, she maintained perspective on the matter of her comfortable surroundings.

That part was right and good. It wasn’t the source of her dissatisfaction.

“I made the pancakes all by myself, Daddy,” Hailey chirped, “with the blueberries we picked.”

The little girl smiled brightly, longing to soak up every second of her father’s attention. She shifted her weight as she talked, forward onto her toes and then back again. One finger absentmindedly twirled a section of long blonde hair.

Both girls were natural blondes, their hair glistening in the sunlight as it streamed through the window. Several beautiful shades were visible in their long, flowing locks. They’d be returning to school for a fresh new year soon, and they’d already planned how they’d style their hair on the first day.

“I helped, too,” Bethany added.

“Nuh uh,” Hailey replied. “I made the pancakes all by myself. Like I said.”

“I helped with the booberries,” Bethany said sweetly.

At five, Bethany was old enough to pronounce the word blueberries, but she liked saying boo instead of blue. The innocent term endeared the girl to her big sister, who at age seven was learning to appreciate the differences in people.

Even when agitated, the Grant girls never got too far off kilter. Mild disagreements smoothed out like warm butter when misunderstandings were corrected.

“Oh, yes, you did,” Hailey conceded. She turned to her father as she clarified. “Bethany and me picked the blueberries with Mama. They’re very delicious.”

“I see,’ Trent replied. “They look very delicious. But it’s Bethany and I… not Bethany and me...”

Hailey nodded. “Sure, Daddy. Bethany and I picked the blueberries with Mama.”

“Good girl,” Trent said.

Both Hailey and Bethany were bright. They did well in school and aimed to please.

The children positioned themselves on either side of their father as they waited for him to take his first bite. Their grins were broad. Wide enough to cheer up even the most melancholy, in fact. Hailey and Bethany Grant were so happy, so positive, and so upbeat that it was hard for Layla to be depressed around them. Even as she faced a major upheaval in their lives, her girls were a shining bright spot.

“They were good helpers,” Layla said, stepping close to the table and tugging gently on Bethany’s ponytail as she walked by. “They carried the baskets, even when they got full and heavy.”

“What?” Trent joked. “Our girls carried baskets even when their bellies were full. That must have been hard. It’s tough to carry baskets on a full belly.”

Laughter erupted in the room as the girls reacted. Trent made a bewildered face, amping up the hilarity.

“No, silly,” Bethany explained, twirling her hair faster and bouncing on her toes. “We weren’t full…”

“The baskets were full… of blueberries…” Hailey added.

“Ohh,” Trent said melodramatically, stretching out his words. “I thought you meant… Hmm...”

“Daddy, you’re so silly,” Haily said cheerfully.

Romeo woofed from his spot in the corner, getting in on the action as much as a lazy old hound dog could. He wagged his tail slowly, the swish, swish of it sounding softly against the wall.

The girls clapped their hands as Trent finally tasted the blueberry pancakes, his lips curled with pleasure.

“Scrumptious,” he said approvingly. “These pancakes are so good, I think I could eat them every morning for the rest of my life.”

Hailey nodded, her little chin bobbing up and down.

“Will you make them for me every morning, for the rest of my life?” Trent asked the eldest Grant child, jokingly.

She looked down, bashful. “Not when I’m grown up. I’ll have to live in my own house then, Daddy.”

Trent raised his brows, then glanced at Layla. Neither wanted to be reminded of how fast the girls were growing up. Or of how soon the four of them might be separated.

“Can’t we live in this house together forever? Just like we do now?” he asked.

“Forever!” Bethany agreed. “Mama and Daddy will take care of us forever, Hailey,” she explained to her sister.

Little did the young girl know what troubles awaited. Her parents might not be able to take care of her next month or next year, let alone forever.

“We’ll certainly do our best,” Layla replied, glancing at her husband before smiling at her girls.

“Mama’s right,” Trent said, his tone serious. “You know we’d do anything for you girls, don’t you? We’ll do our very best.”

Hailey and Bethany nodded their understanding, but they couldn’t possibly know the weight of the words their parents spoke. Layla and Trent would do anything for their girls. They both loved their children fiercely and would protect them at all costs.

Unfortunately, though, there were limits. Limits that were imposed by law and order and the precarious circumstances the Grants found themselves in. If only it were a matter of good intentions.

“We know, we know,” Hailey said, her tone bored. “You tell us all the time.”

“That’s because we want you to remember our words,” Trent said. “If for some reason we aren’t here with you one day in the future, Mama and I want you to remember our words and know that you are very important to us. You are so loved.”

“We know, Daddy,” Hailey reiterated. “We’re loved. You and Mama are too.”

Trent wrapped a protective arm around each of his daughters, pulling them close. He leaned his chin down against Hailey’s head.

Layla’s stomach flopped inside her as she watched the scene, her emotions a mix of positive and negative, happy and sad. She wished she could somehow save her girls from the fate that awaited them.

As the oldest sibling, it would be up to Hailey to help comfort her little sister when things got difficult, as they inevitably would. Hailey would have to grow up fast. Way too fast. Bethany would have to grow up fast, too, but she’d have her big sister to help cushion the harsh realities of the world.

Again, Layla wished she could do something to stop the avalanche of destruction that had taken aim upon her family.

“Let’s all eat,” she said, redirecting everyone to the task in front of them. “Bethany, honey, will you pass me the strawberries?”

Taking their mother’s cue, the girls sat back down in their chairs and went about the business of eating breakfast.

Juice and syrup was poured, butter spread, powdered sugar sprinkled, and fruit piled high on each plate. They ate hungrily. Perhaps they needed to fill themselves to withstand the onslaught to come. Or perhaps Layla and Trent’s nervous energy permeated their home, spreading to their girls and making them all wish to soothe themselves any way they could. Either way, they ate and ate.

No one spoke during breakfast. The silence was heavy.

Layla thought she’d break the silence by inviting the girls to help her in the garden later, when Trent left for work, but the doorbell rang before she had a chance.

“Were you expecting someone?” she asked her husband, her voice full of worry even though she tried to hide it.

The Grant family didn’t get many visitors given their secluded location. After the early-morning search conducted by the feds, they were a little jumpy.

Trent shook his head. “No. Are you?”

Layla shook her head in reply. “Shit, shit, shit,” she mumbled, barely loud enough for the girls to hear her.

“You said a bad word, Mama,” Bethany chided.

Layla and Trent looked at each other. Distress and urgency lined their faces as silent communication spewed from their eyes. They were concerned. They were right to be. The caller at the front door was not a friend. No where close.

“Girls,” Layla said in the most authoritative voice she could muster, “go to your rooms. Right now.”

“Lock the doors and don’t come out,” Trent added reluctantly, “until you hear the code word.”

“But Daddy…” Hailey began.

“I’m serious, girls,” Trent replied. “Go now!”

They scrambled up the stairs, having practiced for just such an event. Hailey and Bethany knew the code word. And they knew what to do while they waited to hear it. They had practiced many, many times.

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