I really loved my self publishing adventure last year.
The Love Brothers, Mama and Daddy Love, Angelique and all the new in-laws and children have become such a part of me, I am loathe to give them up.
But I am in a tough spot. I am hearing more and more from readers that they really want the “next story.”
True Love: Life Goes On was planned. But real life has intervened and I am afraid that I can’t write and publish it the way I want—with professional editing and proofreading, a beautiful cover that matches the others, and the sort of promotional push that requires the sort of funds I can’t put towards this effort.
As you may or may not know, I have an entirely new series that I am giving away for free. If you sign up for my once-a-month-spam-free newsletter right now, you can download APPRAISED, book one of my Real (Estate) Romance series. CONTINGENT, book 2, which has my Beta Reading Loyalists beside themselves with happiness, will be available to you as a subscriber on March 1 of this year. I’m already planning book 3, QUITCLAIM for a potential April 30 release.
But you know….this Love family will NOT exit my imagination. So I’ve made a decision. Since I can’t find a publisher willing to take them on and help me defray some of the promotion and production costs, I’m gonna write TRUE LOVE a few chapters at a time and put it up on Wattpad.
I suggest you get over to Wattpad right now and join up. I already have one serial novel, a funny chick lit romance going over there. And APPRAISED is also there, in case you would rather read it that way versus downloading it once you subscribe to my newsletter.
If you aren’t a Wattpad member, just make a profile and start reading for free today.
TRUE LOVE will debut there once I get about 7 more chapters in…
In the meantime, I give you, the Prologue and a few snippets of Chapter One!
The Love Brothers
Cara stood at the kitchen sink, staring out into the still early-morning-darkened yard, hardly registering the near foot of snow that had fallen the night before. Or the fact that today was her forty-fifth birthday. She sipped coffee that had gone cold, taking long, deep breaths and reminding herself that she was, indeed, a lucky woman. She did this happiness inventory taking thing a lot—more and more in the past three years. And today it felt especially necessary.
She was married to a loving, hard-working man—principal of the high school they’d both attended years before. Her sons Frankie and Sean were loving, smart and healthy. Both were playing football and basketball and doing all the things healthy pre-adolescent boys did. Her baby girl Lindsay—not so much a baby anymore—had started first grade the year before. While her own mother was, and always had been, a flighty, needy disappointment of a person, her husband’s family was amazing—loving and supportive in ways she’d never imagined even though she’d practically grown up with them all in their tight-knit, small town way.
Her hand shook so hard when she set her cup down, she slopped coffee out onto the formica counter. All those fun renovation plans she and Kieran would share would never manifest and she knew it. The kitchen of the house they’d bought in the first flush of their reunited relationship hadn’t changed a lick since the day they signed the papers on it, other than getting more crowded and beat up, of course.
But Cara knew all of that was a blessing. So she kept counting them.
Her mother-in-law, Lindsay Love, had weathered virulent cancer, a broken hip and any number of son and daughter-induced family drama and if anything was stronger for it as she rounded her seventy-fifth year. Her father-in-law Anton loved nothing more than a full frontal assault of grandkids of all ages, now that Lindsay and the boys had convinced him to retire from full time work at the brewery he’d founded with his brother over forty years prior. A terrifying heart attack two years ago had actually been what had convinced him, but he let his beloved wife and mother of his brood of grown children think otherwise.
Cara had a passel of brothers- and sisters-in-law thanks to the Love family’s sheer size. Her kids were never short of cousins to play with no matter which house they were gathered at, for any reason. She had babysitters galore thanks to the varying ages of all the kids related to her. She had a job she loved, head of a chain of successful physical therapy clinics that had just gotten the contract to provide training to the local high school sports teams.
The wet, heavy snow had not let up. It kept piling onto tree limbs, the kids’ climbing toys, the deck railing. Cara watched it, words running through her brain, reminding her how very lucky she was.
Her husband’s voice startled her out of her daze. She turned, leaning back, observing him standing in the doorway dressed in his usual dress shirt, tie and trousers, his thick auburn hair wet from a shower. He put a lot of thought into looking professional every day except Fridays, believing firmly in the power of positive suggestion to the near eight hundred kids in his charge.
She closed her eyes, thanking God for that last thing….the fact that Kieran Love could stand at all, much less walk down the halls of Lucasville High after the nightmare four years prior. She felt his arms around her, calming her. His lips pressed to her hair. He tilted her chin up to meet her eyes. “What’s with the tears, baby?” He kissed her then, his familiar perfection making her entire body tingle with pleasure.
She broke away, swiping at her eyes. “Nothing. It’s…”
“Oh, almost forgot,” he said, pulling a small box out of his trouser pocket.
“Kieran Francesco Love, I told you, no presents. Definitely nothing that would fit in a box that size.” She had her fingers twined together, more words flowing around in her head, words she wished to hell she’d never heard coming from her sister-in-law’s mouth.
He shrugged and held it out, looking for all the world like the gangly, shy boy she’d fallen madly in love with a million or so years ago. “Go on,” he said. “It’s not like I shopped at Tiffany’s or anything.”
She took it from him and opened it up, gazing down at the pair of drop earrings made from silver and semi-precious stones she’d admired a few months prior at an artisan’s market in Louisville. The damn man had probably bought them that weekend they’d spent together, sans kids, enjoying the hotel sex like nobody’s business in between eating at restaurants they couldn’t afford and drinking too much. It had been heaven. She should have known things would not stay that perfect.
“Kieran, I…” She closed the box and sunk down to her heels, back pressed against the kitchen cabinets that needed replacing and never would be.
“Cara, what’s wrong?” He crouched down to be on her eye level. Kieran was not cowed by female tears. Never had been. It was one of the things she adored about him. And one of the things that made him such an amazing teacher, coach and principal.
“Diana,” she said, naming one of her sisters-in-law, the one married to Dominic, the proverbial bad boy brother who’d taken over at Love Brewing. “She’s…”
He held out a hand to assist her to her feet. “Come on, baby. What’s so bad? Is it Jace?” He named Dominic’s son from an earlier relationship. The boy was in his fifth year playing for the Louisville Cardinals basketball team after red-shirting a year thanks to a neck injury. He was headed to medical school in the fall, and had not, to Cara’s knowledge, been any more trouble than any other college kid. “LeeAnn?” He named Diana’s daughter from her previous marriage, the little girl who’d never known her biological father and was so much the epitome of a “Daddy’s Girl” to Dominic. “The babies?”
Cara shook her head, her mind still spinning from the most recent meeting with all the “Love wives club” as they called themselves. Diana Love had called this particular meeting, presiding over the room with her out-to-here pregnant belly, her bright blue eyes shining as she broke the news, leaving the room stunned, silent, and then full of tears.
“It’s Dom, honey.” She put her fingers on Kieran’s smooth jaw, anticipating it even as he clenched it. “It’s...”
“Don’t,” he said. “I don’t want to hear it. Whatever it is.”
“I know,” she said, taking his arm and leading him to a chair. Dominic had been the main reason—likely the only reason Cara sometimes believed—Kieran was alive for her and her children today. He was definitely the main reason the man could stand, and walk, and make the sort of love to her she could still feel from the night before. Her throat was closing up, watching him, the tall, red-headed, peace-making Love brother, at times the anchor of the entire crazy clan. He sat and closed his eyes. She ran her fingers through his damp hair reliving the hours and hours Dom had spent taking Kieran to and from the sort of intense therapies Kieran had required after multiple, painful surgeries on his spine. The fights they’d had, in this very kitchen, over the fact of Kieran not giving up when he wanted to. How close the two men had gotten even as she feared many times that one of them would haul off and throw the other one out the window.
The doorbell rang. Leaving Kieran to his thoughts, she went to the door and opened it, revealing the man himself, Dominic Sean Love, tall, tanned, still too handsome for his own good, standing there in a brewery T-shirt, dark jeans and work boots. “Where is he,” he asked, hanging back in uncharacteristic shyness.
“Kitchen,” she said, pulling him inside. “I didn’t tell him.” She crossed her arms, mad at the man, as unreasonable as that was.
“Thanks,” he said, wiping a shaking hand across his lips. She noted that his eyes were sunken in, and his shoulders slumped. “I hope…uh, Dianna really wanted to handle that, the…ah…way she did. I didn’t really get a vote.”
Hot tears rolled down her face. She nodded, unable to form words. Of all the shitty luck, she would swear on a stack of Bibles this family had already weathered its fair share. The past five years had been beyond tough, but Kieran came through it, thanks to the man standing in front of her right now. Things were good, God damn it.
“Fucking hell, Dom.” She side stepped him, unwilling to allow any more delays. Kieran had to know the truth. “Go on,” she said, pointing to the kitchen.
She wanted to go to Kieran and hold him and shelter him from this. But according to Dianna, the only reason she was risking her pregnancy at almost forty-one years old was because Dominic had about two more months to live. They’d known for over a year and had told no one, in a stunningly un-typical Love family close-lipped move. Their twin girls were due in three weeks and Dianna was bound and determined that Dominic would hold them.
Dom squared his shoulders, wiped his lips again, then headed for her kitchen, leaving Cara slumped against the wall, hands over her ears.
Seventeen Years Later
“I don’t care, Mama! I hate him and I am not going to prom I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what Grammie says. I don’t care what anybody says!”
Dianna watched, exhaustion stealing over her like a damp, smelly blanket as one of her matched pair of red-headed twin daughters stomped and flailed and screeched her dismay over her boyfriend’s latest transgression. Half-amused, half-sick at the irony over the fact that one half of her and Dominic’s beloved little girls had more or less turned into her own mother and fallen for the worst sort of asshole—football playing rich asshole—she sought out the girl’s twin, praying she would talk sense to her compatriot, as usual. The two of them had been literally inseparable from their time in her womb, an emergency C-section required to disentangle them and their umbilical cords and God help you if you put them in separate beds even as newborns. They would only calm if she kept them side-by-side, their tiny bodies warming each other, their flailing arms sometimes even hooked together at the elbows.
“Janie-bell, you know I don’t care if you don’t go to prom and I can’t imagine why you think your Grammie cares either.” She glanced over at Lindsay Love, nearing ninety- two and sitting with her e-reader on and her hearing aids off. Lindsay adored and spoiled every single grand baby her sons and one daughter had presented her. But Dianna knew she reserved a special corner of her very soul for Dominic’s twin girls, Grace and Jane.
“He’s a stupid red neck, Mama and I’m just not…What?”
Dianna sighed and held out her arm. Janie flew to her, sobbing in her typical drama-queen way. “Oh Dom,” she thought, holding the girl close. “You bastard.”