Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Kristan Higgins

This book is dedicated to my aunt, Teresa Kristan, the best and bravest. The biggest heart, the smartest mouth and quite an inspiration, too, whether you like it or not, dear Tess. Love you.


A thousand thanks to Carin Tripodina, PhD, for sharing her knowledge, and for putting me in touch with Michelle Killingsworth, CNM, who walked me through the details of midwifery. A thousand thanks, Michelle! Without the firsthand information and wisdom of these two, I would not have been able to write this book. Any mistakes or exaggerations are mine.

Thanks also to Rachel of Daylynn Designs, for helping me envision the fascinating, gorgeous world of high-end event planning. I’m so glad your couples are not like Hannah’s.

To Stephanie Sykes, program and outreach coordinator at the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, thanks for giving me such great information on scallop fishing. I will think of you and the fleet every time I order my favorite seafood.

To Maria Carvainis, thank you for hand-holding supreme during a difficult year and being such a good friend. To the entire team at Berkley, thank you for the innumerable things you do for me.

Thanks also to Mary Ellen Pettit and Robyn Carr for so many wonderful conversations and laughs. Hilary Higgins Murray, Joss Dey and Jennifer Iszkiewicz, when you look up “best friends” in the dictionary, there you are, you gorgeous creatures! Hilary, extra points for being the world’s best sister. Thanks to my sainted mother for always thinking my ideas are great.

This book is, in many ways, about parenthood. When I started writing my first book, my kids were adorable toddlers who took long naps and went to bed at seven o’clock. Today, they’re adults and have lives of their own, and every day, I think about how wonderful they are and how lucky I am. To the Princess and Dearest Son, and also the World’s Best Son-in-Law, thank you for being the absolute best. I’m so proud of you, I have so much fun with you, and I love you all so much.

Terence Keenan, you are the love of my life. Marrying you was the smartest, best, happiest thing I’ve ever done.

Finally, thank you, readers, for spending your time with this book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Six months ago, if you had asked me what I thought I’d be doing today, the answer would not have been transporting a drugged skunk to the house where my soon-to-be ex-husband lived with his much-younger fiancée.

Yet here I was.

And today, for the first time in a long time, I felt happy as I bounced down the dirt road in my father’s pickup truck, my cute little cargo snug and snoring in the back atop a pile of blankets, sleeping the sleep of Benadryl.

If you live in the wilds of Cape Cod, as I do, you know about skunks. They’re everywhere—on the beaches, on the pond shores, in the woods, especially at dusk, or waddling past the house in the middle of the night, heavy with funk. When we were little, my older sister, Hannah, and I would lie still in our room and catch a whiff of that smell and instantly start giggling into our pillows, trying not to laugh and startle it. Back before Hannah left, that is. From time to time, my dad, who had also grown up here, would have to trap one if it made its home under our shed, before it had babies. We always used the catch-and-release traps. And since I was his shadow, I learned to do the same.

This morning, my mission clear, I walked from my house, which is tucked into a hill overlooking Herring Pond, one of the chain of glacier-formed kettle ponds on the ocean side of Wellfleet. I went down the steep, winding path of stone stairs we’d put in fifteen years ago, down the little path past the dock we’d rebuilt when we first moved in, and over to the sandy shore, accessible only to those who knew where to find it.

There was the trap, and there was my sweet little skunk, sound asleep, its little sides rising and falling, a slight snore escaping its pointy little snout. Adorable. Flower, I’d call her. I felt a little guilty for what I was about to subject it to. It wouldn’t get hurt. Brad was so not the type to do anything other than jump on a chair and scream. I couldn’t see Melissa bashing in a skunk’s head and possibly getting her perfect clothes messy.

The daughter . . . she might like the chaos. She was practically a teenager, after all. And my sources told me she also hated Brad, and possibly Melissa.

Today, Bradley Thayer Fairchild, my husband of nineteen and a half years, was at my sister’s office, making wedding plans with his child bride, sixteen years younger than he is. My sister, Hannah, is a wedding planner. The bride, or that slut, as I call her, was closer in age to our son than to Brad. Harassment was warranted.

The court views divorce as the dissolution of a business arrangement. It is a bloodless legal process that refuses to consider fairness, or hurt, or responsibility. It ignores the blazing trash fire of your life, in other words, and doesn’t want to hear about what’s fair or just.

Enter the skunk.

Brad and Melissa deserved some chaos after ripping up my life, my son’s life, our family and our future. I pictured them coming home to their perfect, vast, expensive house and discovering this cute little critter in their all-white home. The screams!

Flower would stamp her tiny front feet, then turn, twitch her tail upward, and spray, which, in this fantasy, would go directly onto one of their perfect white sofas, into the beautiful Persian carpets. Every rainy day, the smell would haunt them, no matter how hard they cleaned, or rather, how much they paid someone to clean. Even Melissa’s $500 Jo Malone luxury candles wouldn’t cover skunk, and with every whiff, they’d think of yours truly. Because who else would do something like this? They could call the cops, but I had babysat half the force and gone to school with the other half. Plus, I was leaving no clues.

It felt good to smile.

I wasn’t always a half-crazy harpy bent on revenge. A few months ago, I was just probably the nicest, most normal person you could find. A certified nurse-midwife, delivering babies, soothing worried moms-to-be, taking blood pressure and teaching childbirth classes. I was the adoring mother of a wonderful young man, the loving wife to Bradley T. Fairchild, PhD, and the devoted daughter-in-law to his parents.

Now, our son had just left for his freshman year of college (in Montana, the wretch), and Brad had dumped me for a thirty-year-old widow who loved money, herself and middle-aged men, and I was transporting a skunk to their six-thousand-square-foot architectural monstrosity on the other side of Wellfleet.

You’d have thought that at least they wouldn’t settle in my hometown. You would have been wrong.

Melissa. The name was a hissed curse in my mouth.

My sister had informed me that today was the first and lengthiest wedding consultation. Hannah, who owes me several decades of sisterly favors, is the most sought-after wedding planner on the Cape and islands. She was also my spy.

How would I get in the house with my furry black-and-white friend, you ask? Melissa’s house—Stella Maris, because of course it had a name—had both a hidden key and a code that might not have been changed since I showed Melissa the house last January. My in-laws were the Fairchilds of Fairchild Properties, and they’d been in Bali last winter. Vanessa had called—could I be an angel and show a house for them? Of course I could! Anything to help Vanessa, my beloved mother-in-law, more like a mom than my own mother. Seven months later, the new owner of that house would be marrying my husband. They’d gotten engaged three weeks after Brad moved out, which was also the day our son had left for the University of Montana.

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