Title: Art of Survival: Part 1
Series: A Stern Family Saga
Author: Monique Orgeron
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Release Date: August 23, 2018
Cover Design: Serendipity Formats

You think you know me? You think you know the things I have been through?

My life, like I said before, has been written through my sons’ lives. 

But not all.

Once, there was a girl, who was left alone in this world to fight and defend herself.

She did exactly that and became,

Catherine Stern.

Becoming someone, I wasn’t, was not easy.

It came with strings that strangled every part of my old self out.

The girl I once was would have to be destroyed and replaced with a woman who would rule.

A woman who was a fighter and a survivor.

The problem is, I’m not sure I have what it takes to fight anymore battles and endure what is coming.

Memories come flooding back like tidal waves hitting the shore. No, not the shore. The damn rock walls, bashing against them with so much anger. All the anger I thought I buried deep inside of me is rushing out. Sitting up in my bed, I let my head fall back against the headboard, my eyes shut tight, trying to control the anger. Anger which is truly nothing more than fear. Seems that fear has always been my driving force. Fear I would finally be destroyed, that everything in my life would untwine like a badly tied knot. 

On a deep sigh my eyes open staring at the blank ceiling, at nothing. Then I notice a tiny crack and I can’t help but let out a chuckle. In all my years, nothing has ever come closer to representing the fear I’ve been carrying more than that tiny crack in the ceiling. One hairline fracture in my armor could grow until everything comes crumbling down on top of me. I guess it’s finally time for the truth to come out and let the chips fall where they may. 

As I glance around my bedroom, seeing all my beautiful surroundings, it’s a far cry more than I ever hoped for or deserved but I earned it, all of it. My eyes land upon the table by my windows. Lying on top are pictures of my children not only my boys but their wives and my three grandchildren. They are my life, always have been. They were my saving grace more than they will ever comprehend. If they only knew that they are the true reason for my survival. 

Feeling extra emotional, I reach into my nightstand and pull out my journal. My hands gently rub the leather-bound book, thinking of the first day I started writing in it. It was almost six years ago, after I found out about my diagnoses, right before I heard from Laura and found Fallon. Up until then, I was an internal wreck, going through the motions. Then that one phone call from Laura gave me the thing I needed the most. From the minute I laid eyes on Fallon, I knew what had to be done. From then on, I had a purpose. One that would help me to prepare and take my mind off my doom. Beginning on that day, the journal became a way for me to tell my story while I prepared my sons for a life without me.

Grabbing the pen attached to the book, I open it and with a heavy heart, I write my latest entry. 

Today is the day that I have feared would come. It’s not the end, but I never feared the end. In some ways, I look forward to it, to the rest. No, today is the day that I prayed would never come, the day they will all fight me.

What makes me livid is that in a matter of minutes, everything was exposed. It wasn’t by choice, or by my admittance but the second I saw that medical file in Theo’s hands, I knew all my plans were for nothing.

Even this journal could be misunderstood. They could take the pages I filled for nothing more than excuses instead of the true reasons behind my decisions.

I wanted to leave my boys something I never gave them. I wanted to give them, me. All of me. The true me, not the facade. I shielded them from her their whole lives, but they deserve to know their mother for who she really was and why she did some of the things she did.

Every decision made and every day I survived was for you, my sons.

Catherine Stern

Written by Monique Orgeron’s eldest, most beautiful, and intelligent daughter. (My sister is going to hate this part.)

My mom happens to be the most caring, loving, and stubborn person I know, well anyone knows. She gives 100% percent of herself to everyone and has given up so much of herself for my sister and I. For twenty-one years she has poured her heart and soul into making sure we know that we are loved and that we can do anything we put our minds too, but it was about time she figured that out about herself. 

Up until this year I hadn’t seen my mom do anything for only her, but this book has allowed her to travel the world through the pages of a book, make new friends, and feel the joy of doing something exciting. 

There is a new light behind her eyes and it is just making me feel more joy than she can ever imagine. While she might be annoying most of the time, I am so thrilled that she is finally allowing herself to grow as a person and not spend all of her energy on her family. 

It has been a long journey of self-discovery for my mom; she has gone from domestic supermom to domestic goddess throughout the process of writing. 

We are so very excited and proud of you! I love you as big as the world.

-Bria and Tony


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