Star’s Favorite…Authors- Roslyn Hardy Holcomb & Crystal Hubbard

31SQ6cy-QGL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-72,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I had a reader of this blog share a story with me a week or so ago. She talked about how much she enjoyed reading romance but that her last visit to the bookstore had left her yearning for more, something that reflected her as a black woman and the types of romance stories she enjoyed. She said she left the bookstore empty handed. She then commented how much she enjoyed my blog because I wrote interracial romance with black women and white men as the central characters. She also said she’d just discovered interracial romance books with black woman and non-black men as the hero and heroine. She was excited and it showed in how she spoke about this new romance sub-genre discovery.

I know the feeling, I discovered interracial romance in 2008 as my previous marriage was going down the crapper and I just needed something to take me away. I don’t remember how I actually found out that there were romances written about the type of relationships I’d been in all my dating life. But hallelujah and pass the tambourine, it was a joyous occasion. I remember buying my first three books of  interracial romances from Amazon, I wasn’t sure what to buy because when I discovered this pot of gold I also discovered the gold had been there many years. So there were a crapload of interracial romance books featuring black women and non-black men. How could I have been so blind? But two of those first three books I bought were by these two women and I’ve been a super fan of them ever since. Most of us don’t really get to know the authors of our books but I can say I know these two ladies via social media, they are both engaging and funny. They’re wonderful, genuine women which makes reading their books even better.

Roslyn Hardy Holcomb, writes some of the best interracial romance and erotica ever. The first book I ever read by her was Rock Star, if you haven’t read it pick it up. Also just pick up anything else she’s ever written too. She is amazing. She’s what I believe they were talking about when they say wordsmith. Her writing is crisp, full of emotion, and she doesn’t hold back. I enjoy that she doesn’t insult the intelligence of the reader. I figure she thinks if you’re reading this you’re smart enough for her to fully engage you. She’s never written a bad book, at least not for me. Anyone I’ve ever told to read her writing was as smitten by it as I was the first time I read her stories. She is not one to miss, go on Amazon now and put her name in the search engine and buy every book she’s written you won’t regret it, I guarantee. Also check out her blog The One Who Writes, she is funny and straight forward, and always has an encouraging word for black women. I can’t tell you how much you’ll enjoy it.

Now, Crystal Hubbard, I met online after reading her book. I think I talked about it in a little Yahoo online group I had regarding interracial romance books. She found the online chat group and just got in there like she’d known me all my life and in a way I felt she did. She’s so friendly, quirky, fun, and silly and has an amazing loving spirit. She has had an ongoing a battle with cancer that occurred a little after I met her. She has the most determined spirit. Both of these women are mothers and have some awesome kids and I like that they share that partially with us. The first book I read by Crystal was, Crush, I think I read it in 2 days. She took me there, her ability to weave a tale and put you right in the midst of it is fantastic. She’s got an amazing ability to be descriptive without being too wordy. She also writes children books and horror and fantasy stories. I can’t tell you anything but that you need to read her work. It will enchant you, as will she.

41UnnBlx0YL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_I am a die hard romance fan, always have been since my teen days but discovering interracial romance just brought me life. I cannot express in a more definitive fashion how important it is for you, if you’re a fan of this sub-genre, to get and read these two ladies’ books. Also find them online and talk to them, they are both thoroughly engaging, intelligent, funny, and kind women. You don’t always get that kind of opportunity with writers but I’m so glad I know these two. I’m even happier that I’m a fan of their work. Don’t forget to look them up at Amazon for all their titles.

Remembering Your Heart-Chapter 6

Mona had taken the day to drive out her Aunt Julie’s in Astoria, she was still living in the same home she’d lived in all her life. Mona had many fond memories of playing in the yard and family dinners and just plain love. She’d been feeling really down since her run in with Luke and his lunch date. She thought she might be ready to think about hearing him out but now she figured it was over. She pulled into the driveway of her Aunt’s house, it never seemed this little when she was a child but she remembered sharing a room with Georgie and Pauly as a kid. She smiled as she turned off the engine. Aunt Julie appeared on the porch and Mona jumped out to run into her arms. She loved her Aunt so much and she knew she loved her. They had a bond that even Georgie and Pauly didn’t share with their own mother.

‘Oh I’m so glad to see you, child,’ her Aunt said as she squeezed her tight and kissed her cheek.

‘I’m so glad I could come out.’ Mona leaned back from the embrace to look her Aunt. This woman was still strong and beautiful. She always had a regal appearance to Mona. Now she was little older and stiffer it seemed, but she was still gorgeous with gray hair she kept in a bun and as usual, she was the sharpest dresser ever. Every outfit for Aunt Julie was coordinated at all times, Mona figured that’s where Georgie got it from.

‘Come on in, I made lasagna for lunch.’

‘That sounds delicious,’ but as she said it Mona thought about Mr. Serrano’s lasagna which lead to thoughts of Luke and tears began to fall.

Her Aunt was shocked, ‘what’s wrong Mona? You never cry. You were the strongest little girl I ever saw. Okay, come on in and sit down, I need to know what’s going on.’

Mona trudged inside with tears still streaming down her face. She couldn’t believe that the mention of lasagna had in her in full blown tears.

‘Sit on down Mona. Darling, you have to tell me what’s going on.’

Mona set on her Aunt’s leather couch it was worn but still comfortable. Her Aunt sat down in her wing back chair that she’d had reupholstered a few years ago. Mona was trying to get her breathing together and stop the flow of tears but it was difficult.

‘Does this have something to do with that boy?’

Mona had told her Aunt a little about the romance between her and Luke but she hadn’t spoken about what had happened recently.

‘Yes, Aunt Julie, it is.’

‘Well, I spoke with your cousin and she told me you two had broken up awhile ago. Why are still upset? And why are you this upset?’ her Aunt’s face was a mask of worry.

‘Aunt Julie, it’s such a long story.’

‘Look here child I got all day, so you can tell it.’

Mona settled back into the couch and started to spill the whole sorted tale.

‘I couldn’t believe it Aunt Julie, I just couldn’t. I’d fallen in love with the man who had participated in the murder of my parents. How could I have been such a damn fool?’

‘Now okay Mona, I know you’re upset but no foul language in my house.’

‘I’m sorry but this entire situation has me in complete knots. I’m so hurt and torn up. I don’t know if I ever want to love anyone again.’

Aunt Julie was sitting there watching her niece. She had things she needed to tell Mona. Now looked like the opportunity she had been waiting on.

‘Mona, I need to share something with you about your friend, Mr. Serrano.’

‘What?’ Mona was confused what could her Aunt know about Luke.

‘I know him. I know you’re confused but I do know him. When your parents were killed, we tried our best to shield you from the whole situation. Now, I don’t know if that was a good thing for me and Uncle James Stanley to do, but we did the best we could. We went to the court for the trial, we met with the prosecutor. The whole thing was sad and I was angry, thank the Lord for your Uncle because I wanted kill some folks. Somebody had taken away my sister, my Emily.’

This was the first time she’d ever heard this from her Aunt. She has no idea how this had affected her too. Mona was just a child so her pain was the only important thing to her at the time, but she’d forgotten Aunt Julie had lost her beloved baby sister.

‘They weren’t sure they could find and convict that monster who did this, but then someone came forward. A witness. We were surprised and so was the prosecuting attorney but everyone was thrilled. Someone would testify to what they’d seen that night and what happened. This person knew who the person was that had set fire to your daddy’s restaurant. I was so thankful because if they hadn’t come forward, we would probably never had known who did that evil thing. You know who that person was?’

Mona just stared at her Aunt blankly.

‘It was your Mr. Serrano, I remember him. I wasn’t sure when you told me his name that this was the same man but it is. My Lord, what a small world we live in. He was brave and, yes I was mad he took part in that, but I knew he was kid and fear made him run. He didn’t help or even stay as those boys set fire to your daddy’s place and he did the right thing, he came forward. You know I think God brings people into our lives for a reason. We may not always know right then but it reveals it itself.’

Tears came to Mona’s eyes again, not tears of pain but tears of joy. He hadn’t actually been there, he hadn’t actually participated, and he’d testified against what she figured were his friends at the time. He’d done the right thing then, but she knew he’d done the wrong thing now by not telling her sooner. She wondered why. He could have easily explained this whole thing, why had he chose to keep it a secret? She’d told him about her parents, why didn’t he just say something.

‘Aunt Julie, thank you for this information. I remember when I was little my mama always telling me ‘remember baby, remember your heart, there’s a reason you have one’. I was never sure why she said that until now, my heart is forgiving. All these years I didn’t even realize I’d been keeping all this unforgiveness, all that hate in until right now. All my pain and anguish at the death of my mama and daddy. It was so unfair, it was so unfair.’

Her Aunt got up and went to sit beside Mona and put her arms around her and just held her as she cried.

‘It’s okay darling, it’s okay. You know God can give you double for your trouble. From what I’ve heard this man loves you, he treats you well. Yes, he wasn’t right for keeping that secret but I think he kept it because he didn’t want to hurt you.’

‘Hurt me? Hurt me? I’m in so much pain now.’

‘Listen Mona, we all do things that at the time we think are a good idea. I think me and your Uncle thought it was a good idea not to speak about your mama and daddy. We thought it would hurt you if we did so we just tried our best to make sure your life went back to normal. But really how is anyone ever going to be the same again when their parents die? Especially since you were so young. It was dumb of us, but we tried.’

Mona took her head off her Aunt’s shoulder and looked at her, ‘no, no Aunt Julie it wasn’t dumb. I knew you and Uncle James Stanley did the best you could in a tragic situation.’

‘Then why don’t you extend Mr. Serrano that same understanding.’

Mona had to sit back for a minute, her Aunt was right. But with all that had occurred between her and Luke she didn’t know if it could ever be the same between them.

‘I don’t know Aunt Julie. How do I overcome this?’

Her Aunt Julie looked at her with love and took her arthritic finger and poked her in the chest and said, ‘remember your heart.’

Through the tears Mona smiled for the first time in a long time. There was hope and she felt free.

‘Okay darling, come on back here and get some of this good lasagna.’

Mona realized then too that for the first time in a long time she was starving. They got up and headed for the kitchen with the smell of delicious lasagna. Mona was relieved, things would be alright.

shadow-man-woman<<<<<*****<<<<<>>>>>*****>>>>>

Luke was coming into his condo with take out, he’d been hold up there since his run in with Mona and had no idea how to mend this tragic situation. He’d been thinking about just showing up at her house with roses and the ring he’d been hiding in his sock drawer for the last 2 months. Yes, he wanted to marry her but just hadn’t mustered up the courage to ask before this debacle occurred and now it seemed it too late. He’d looked high and low for a ring to fit her and finally decided she was more unique than any diamond could express. He’d found a beautiful ruby ring with yellow diamonds surrounding it. It set him back a few thousand bucks but nothing was too good for Mona, nothing except the truth. Now it set his drawer, taunting him every time he saw it with his own stupidity. What the hell was he supposed to do now?

As he walked through the door, he saw Brady and Amber cuddled up on his couch laughing watching a movie. He really liked that those two were together and he tried his best not to put them in the middle of his drama. He’d explained to Amber exactly what happened the day they saw him at lunch with Sheila Webster, but he asked her not to tell her Aunt. He didn’t want to seem like a slithery snake running around having these kids do his dirty work. They deserved to enjoy each other. They’d both be heading back to school in the next week. He’d actually miss them both. Brady had been great to have here at the house and Amber was just delightful. He couldn’t have made a better girl for Brady. He hoped his son knew how lucky he was to have a great girl like her. It was something he knew now, he thought regretfully.

‘Hey guys.’

Brady looked up to see his dad and tried to shift so he and Amber didn’t look too intimate.

‘Hi Luke!’

‘Hey dad, what’s up?’

‘Nothing. How about you two?’

‘Nothing much just hanging out watching movies. What you got?’

‘Oh it’s Thai, do either of you want any? There’s plenty.’

‘We’re cool dad, we ordered pizza.’

Luke went into the kitchen and set down his bag and began to pull out containers. It smelled delicious but he wasn’t sure he was hungry.

Suddenly Brady and Amber appeared in the kitchen staring at him.

‘Dad, you okay?’

‘Yes, I’m fine. You guys go back and finish your movie.’

‘Luke, we’re just asking. We both worry about you and Aunt Mo.’

‘I know and you two have been fantastic but don’t concern yourself with what we old folks are doing. You two have college starting up soon, worry about that. Let me worry about what’s happening with me and Mona.’

‘Luke, I don’t know what’s up but I did want to tell you that my Aunt Mo went out to see my grandmother last week. And when she came back she was different.’

Luke furrowed his brow at Amber, ‘different? Different how?’

Amber looked over at Brady who just shook his head encouraging her to continue.

‘She seemed peaceful, not really happy but at ease. I don’t know. I asked her about it and she just kind of…I don’t know hemmed me off.’

‘Has she been like this the whole week, do you know?’

‘Yea, ever since she came back from seeing my grandmother in Astoria. It’s weird but she just seems better. I don’t know what that means for you Luke.’

‘Thanks for telling me that, sweetheart. Right now it doesn’t matter what it means. I’m just happy she’s better. You guys finish watching your movie.’

Amber smiled at Luke as she and Brady left and he returned it. He was thrilled to hear that Mona was okay, but he wondered what happened between her and her Aunt that she’d have this change of heart. He left his dinner and went into the bedroom and closed the door. He opened his sock drawer and extracted the ring box. It was beautiful box, black leather with silver stitching around it. He opened it to peer at the ring he wanted to give to the love of his life as he asked her to marry him. He looked and wondered what the news Amber had just given him meant for their chances or did they still even have a chance.

<<<<<*****<<<<<>>>>>*****>>>>>

It was 7:15 p.m. on a rainy Thursday evening. It has been getting colder as Autumn approached. Mona was sitting in the TV room with Vince Torino and Sergeant Chuck Riley at the table laughing and talking. She had a shift till 5 p.m. tomorrow then she’d be off a day then back on for a 14 hour shift. She’d been feeling better more like her old self again but she still hadn’t spoken to Luke. She knew she needed to but there was just something in her that was holding back. The odd part was after the visit with her Aunt Julie and letting her grief regarding the death of her parents flow, she’d forgiven Luke for his deceit. But there was still something that couldn’t let her face him just now. She’d been working on that but at the moment she still needed time alone to figure out where or if they’d be moving forward in life together.

The guys that were there tonight were either washing clothing or eating. Kimura and Powell were sitting on the couch watching something mindless on television, it was relatively quiet. Hopefully tonight would stay quiet, Mona hadn’t been getting as much sleep as she needed lately although but the nightmares about her parents had stopped. She wasn’t looking as haggard as she had but even she knew her glow had not returned. She kept wondering was that due to the fact Luke was still out of her life. She looked from Torino to Sgt. Riley both with happy and laughing at some joke Chuck had just told. They had loves of their own. Torino was dating a nice guy, Chuck’s family was great as ever, he and his wife were getting ready to celebrate their anniversary. That’s what Mona wanted, deep in her heart that’s what she knew she deserved. She decided right then that within the next couple of days she’d get in touch with Luke. She wanted this ache to be gone, she wanted to know what would happen between them. If the love was still there.

‘Mona, you okay?’ Torino asked.

‘Yea, Vince I’m fine. I’m just a little tired, maybe I need to turn in…’

The sound of the fire alarm cut off Mona’s reply. Time to go. She and the rest of the guys jumped up and headed for the poles, they made quick work of everything. Getting on their gear in a few quick minutes and onto the trucks. There was shouting of instructions as dispatch started giving details on the incident, a house fire, she disliked those. They could easily get out of control and spark fires in nearby homes, these houses were packed on top of each other in this neighborhood. It was a constant source of annoyance for the firefighters at the firehouse.

Mona set in the front cab of the truck, listening and taking notes as dispatch spoke. Kimura was sitting across from her, relaying information regarding the incident site. There were so many things going on all Mona could do is concentrate and pray. It never got any easier when they went out on a call, her adrenaline was always rushing, she was scared but that served her well. Frightened was good, it meant she avoided making stupid decisions at the incident site.

They pulled up and it was worse than they imagined, the fire was raging out of control. It was two story home and it looked like the fire’s origin was on the first floor. That would make it easier to try and get under control but there were so many things to watch. She was out in a flash, helping Kimura get the hoses unfurled and hooked up to the hydrant. She and Kimura worked well together he knew his role and she knew hers which made things easy. There was a couple with three kids standing near the street sobbing, the woman kept putting her head in the man’s shoulder.

She heard Chuck shout, ‘there’s one missing. There’s a kid missing,’ over to Torino and Powell.

She knew that meant, there was a person who may not have gotten out.

‘Powell. Anderson. Start searching. Torino get over here and get on the hose.’

Torino came running and Mona took off in one direction as Powell took off in the other around the perimeter searching for the other kid. She was 14 years old and named Phoebe Weiss. Mona had searched for missing people before at incident sites, she was sure that’s why Chuck sent her. She had a knack for knowing where people maybe hiding and that’s what she was praying for that this child was just hiding because there was no way anyone was going into the fire, not tonight. She heard Powell’s voice calling out to the side of her.

‘Hey, is anybody here? Phoebe?’

Then suddenly in her peripheral vision she saw him go toward the house. There was complete commotion everywhere. The last thing she needed was Powell doing something stupid.

‘Powell, what the hell are you doing?’

‘I’m going in. I hear her so I’m going in.’

‘Powell! Have you cleared that?’ she shouted running towards him. Sometimes the hissing of fire could sound like a human being, they all knew that. Why was this jackass going into that house? Even if it was the child’s voice it was too risky, especially alone. She saw him enter the burning house and thought, you idiot, this was going turn into a disaster. As she looked in she could see him, he was turning in circles as if he was disoriented, which wasn’t hard to do when inhaling smoke even with the mask on. Suddenly she saw him stagger and fall, it all happened so fast. Mona couldn’t wait, she had to get in there. She couldn’t leave a fellow firefighter to die even if she hated his guts. She was on her radio in a flash reporting to Sgt. Riley.

‘Powell is down. I’m going in after him.’

Mona didn’t wait for a reply she just charged ahead. It was foolish thing to do she knew but she no choice.

She heard a crackle and then Sgt. Riley say, ‘Anderson get the hell out of there! I’m ordering you to abort that rescue.’

Mona couldn’t hear much more as the fire crackled and sizzled around her. Items in the home were bursting from the flames and heat, the whole place was combustible. Then suddenly she heard it, the ceiling caving in and then she saw as it fell on top of Powell’s limp body which was now buried under a pile of burned wood and sheetrock. She turned to see Torino standing at the side door and suddenly Mona felt a hot swoosh as something landed on her hard. She went down as everything began to go black and the last thing she heard was, ‘Mona! Mona!’ as Torino screamed her name.

I Have Some Stories to Continue

Like many people who write romance I may every once in awhile write secondary characters that are in a budding romance themselves. In these stories I don’t go into much detail about these secondary characters or their story, but you get glimpses. Those glimpses are there so you know there will be an upcoming story, an offshoot, from the main romance about these two secondary characters. I’ve done this on a few occasions in A Common Kind of Love, Rendezvous, Remembering Your Heart, and now in Surviving in Dateland. As I’ve told you before I do love a series and I find this the best way to do series for romance. But the thing is you haven’t seen me start any of these stories, well at least you haven’t seen them posted yet on this blog. But please be assured, they are coming and coming soon. There are tons of story lines dancing in my head about secondary characters from the stories I’ve mentioned. So I want to encourage you to stay with me as I bring back some of my secondary characters in these stories for their own romantic adventures.

Zoe and Al from A Common Kind of Love

Kurt and Joy from Rendezvous

Amber and Brady from Remembering Your Heart

Bailey and his mystery woman from Surviving in Dateland

Also if you haven’t read some of these, please check them out. I thoroughly enjoyed writing and sharing them all. So please don’t worry if you liked a secondary character and were dying to hear their love story, it’s coming, it’s coming…

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Surviving In Dateland-Chapter 9

348474-adminThe Ferry was finally pulling into the terminal at Port Townsend, it was small quaint town and Sophie was nervous about this visit. As they drove off the Ferry, she looked over at Brock and he smiled at her. She’d been quiet most of the drive and he’d been filling her in on who would be out at this gathering.

‘My mother and father, of course, Gerta and Thomas Giles, my youngest sister, my younger brother, Bailey, my older sister Brooke and her husband, Dick, oh I mean Dirk.’

She laughed when he said that, ‘why did you get his name wrong?’

‘I don’t like Dirk and he doesn’t care for me. He’s a complete snob as is my sister sometimes but she has a good heart. He has no heart. They have two little girls, cute as buttons but spoiled rotten.’

‘Oh Brock! That’s what you do with children, you spoil them. Where do they live?’

‘In Sammamish in the highlands. Dirk’s family is wealthy and in politics in Georgia but not as wealthy as ours. He seems to think I’m some kind of ne’er do well because I worry about people less fortunate than me and I’m not trying to abuse my power. Which is weird because I actually haven’t got any.’

‘That bad, hmmm.’

‘Oh yea, please don’t worry if he says anything racist or stupid I’ll set him straight. He’s not that smart it will be easy to do.’

‘Okay,’ Sophie was not in the mood to battle idiots so she was happy Brock seemed to have no issue doing so.

‘Brock. Can I ask you a question?’

‘Sure, why not. I’m an open book for you, baby.’

‘Have you ever brought a black woman home to your family?’

He started to laugh heartily, ‘what an odd question. Are you concerned?’

‘Well…yes and no, but can I get an answer to my question.’

‘Well, no I haven’t, but don’t let that concern you. I haven’t brought a black woman home to meet my family but then again, I haven’t brought many women home to met them. My family isn’t perfect and although their name is attached to a corporation and I love them. They’re my family and I only bring really serious girlfriends around. That way it keeps down trouble for me.’

Sophie turned to smirk at him, Brock caught her look. Now she was really freaking out.

As they drove Sophie couldn’t help but notice the beautiful trees, it had been awhile since she’d been out to the Peninsula and it was gorgeous. She’d tried to pack conservative clothing she didn’t want to be too provocative. From what Brock had told her his family was mildly conservative. She’d also brought evening wear. He said it was a requirement that they dress up for dinner Saturday evening. She didn’t have an evening dress so she’d gone to Macy’s to buy one. She almost went to Lindstrom’s but she thought it was would be over doing it if she stepped into their household with one of their evening dresses on. Sophie had never even heard of dressing for dinner, she’d only done that as a child when they went to her grandparents house after church on Sunday. Leann had helped her pick out something for the dinner but as usual with Leann it was low cut and sexy. She wasn’t sure she wanted to do it but Leann had reassured it was in good taste and that Brock would love it. Leann had picked out a white one shouldered mini sheath with embellishment at the shoulder and a pair of strappy silver sandals with crystals on them. Sophie remembered the last outfit Leann picked for her on the date with the narcissistic lawyer, she hoped this whole thing went over well.

They were winding down a road with not much more than fir trees to catch their eye. It was Friday and summer so it was a cool night. The moon roof on Brock’s Prius was open and Sophie could feel the breeze she heard the crickets singing in the evening and although it was almost 8 pm, it was still light outside. She loved these northern summers. They came to a road that just looked deserted and Brock turned in although it was paved it wasn’t paved well. It seemed that if another car came toward them it would be a pretty decent game of chicken going on for who got the right of way.

‘Ahh the old homestead,’ Brock chimed in and he took her hand and squeezed it.

She figured he was trying to reassure her but at this moment nothing was going to make her feel better. As they drove along the road started to wind, Brock didn’t have any issues as they made their way further in. As they went along, Sophie could see something through the trees, just peeks but it was a very large clearing and a house, well not exactly a house, a mansion and suddenly he took another sharp turn and it appeared. Sophie was blown away it was huge, it was the biggest homes she’d ever seen.

‘Wow!’

She saw Brock turn to her and grin, ‘impressed? You ought to see the Italian villa.’

She looked at him, ‘you have an villa?’

‘Well, I don’t per se but the family does. This house is just a place to relax here in Washington. This is Vatten Stuga, the Water Lodge.’

‘Do you speak Swedish?’

‘A little, I had to learn on my own. My great grandfather forbade his children from speaking Swedish he wanted them to be real Americans,’ he says with sarcasm. He didn’t seem really proud of that part of his family story. But then he suddenly cheered up and patted her knee, ‘I’m so glad you’re here Sophie, I’m so glad.’

Sophie felt like he meant those words. She was glad to be here too because suddenly the cool and collected Brock she knew seemed nervous and stiff. She wondered what that was all about.

<<<<<*****>>>>>*****<<<<<

As Brock pulled up he parked by a Porsche SUV, there were a few other luxury vehicles parked in spaces as well.

‘I see Brooke is here with Dirk, this is his Porsche. God, he’s such a douchebag I really think he’s cheating on my sister but I can’t prove it.’

Sophie exited the car quietly she didn’t know what to say to that news but the easygoing man that had driven them here was gone and this tense one had taken his place.

As they opened the hatchback Sophie noticed three people headed their way. An older woman and gentlemen and a younger man about Brock’s age but shorter and he looked like he’d been working hard.

‘Hello Mr. Giles,’ the man spoke first as they approached.

‘Hello Mr. Rundquist and Mrs. Rundquist, how are you two doing.’

‘Fine. And yourself?’

‘I’m fine Mr. Rundquist. Let me introduce you. This is my girlfriend, Sophie Robeson. Sophie this is Mr. and Mrs. Rundquist, they’re the caretakers here.’

‘Hello,’ Sophie was cordial Mr. Rundquist greeted her, the woman however just nodded her head and looked suspicious. This was not how she wanted to start this trip but whatever.

‘Felix, how are you?’

‘Good, very good Mr. Giles.’

The man spoke with a slight accent. He was Filipino and seemed very nice.

‘Can I take those for you ma’am?’ he asked Sophie and started to take her bags and put them on a dolly. He took Brock’s after wards and headed back up to the house.

As Sophie got a good look at it, she really noticed how beautiful it was. It was a giant wooden mansion with intricate detail and carvings all over it. They looked to be Swedish traditional carvings, Sophie couldn’t believe how beautiful it appeared. The place was huge with a large porch that looked as if it went all the way around. She felt Brock’s hand on her arm.

‘Hey, Mr. Rundquist is everyone around the back at the pool?’ Mr. Rundquist told him yes and Brock started to lead Sophie toward to back of the house.

‘Pool? This place is by a lake, what’s the pool for?’

‘The kids. Come on, I’ll take you back there and introduce you to everyone. I think my Uncle Peter is here and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen him.’

‘Are your parents here?’

‘Umm yea, my mom was driven out and my dad’s Mercedes is back up there parked in the garage.’

Sophie just walked silently as they strolled along a rock path toward the back of the large home. It was a long walk but she noticed the lake as they walked, it was beautiful and serene. She could see other homes across its span with docks and large boats pulled up to them. She guessed this was the time for folks to be out on Discovery Bay. Summer here had to be spectacular. Brock took her hand as they approached the back of the home. She felt much better because as they walked the yard she was overwhelmed. It had guest houses and another large two story home she saw coming onto the grounds. There was large playground, tennis courts and a basketball court and lots of land. Sophie suddenly started to hear voices, a loud discussion about politics but not like anything she’d ever heard. It wasn’t not loud with laughter, it was a stern discussion of money. There were some people not agreeing about the economic future of our country.

‘Oh goodness, not already. I knew it was coming but not this soon. Sophie, please don’t break up with me because of my family.’

Before they entered the fray he turned to hug her, he kissed her tenderly then more passionately it was a kiss she’d never felt before. Sophie was swept away, they’d kissed many times but something about this kiss was desperate and hungry he squeezed her tight and clung to her. Sophie wasn’t sure what this was about but she liked it.

‘Uh-unh.’ Sophie heard the interruption to the side of her. Brock let his grip go slightly limp but still had her in his arms. They both looked to the person who’d interrupted their little intimate moment.

She was blonde, slim with blue eyes and a tall frame and she looked rather pissed.

‘Sorry sis,’ Brock told her looking contrite.

So this was the sister she’d heard so much about. She was lovely although not as beautiful as Sophie thought she would be but she’d keep that to herself. At her feet were two adorable little girls one was blonde and the other had brunette hair.

‘And there are my favorite nieces, come give me a hug.’

The two little squeaking delights ran toward him as he stooped. Sophie smiled it was such an adorable image, she could imagine him with their kids one day. Whoa! That thought was out of nowhere, they’re kids. Sophie pushed it aside.

Brock turned and stretched his hand out to Sophie, ‘Sophie, I want you to meet my two favorite girls. This is Tate and Morgan.’

The girls twisted in their little matching outfits and played coy, they were cute. Just as adorable as Brock had told her.

‘Hello, Tate. Hello, Morgan.’ They smiled shyly at her.

‘Also, this is my sister, Brooke. Sis, this my girlfriend, Sophie Roberson.’

Brock’s sister smiled toward her and extended her hand, Sophie shook it. It was rather formal but everyone’s family wasn’t hers.

‘Come on back, Brock, everyone has been expecting you. I know they’ll be happy to see you.’ She grabbed Brock by the arm and started to drag him toward the crowd. The girls went running in front of them. Sophie came in behind them, it seemed as if his sister was happy to see him but not thrilled to see the new girlfriend.

It had been a whirlwind, there were a lot of people in the back on a large stone patio and wood deck with a huge fire pit in the middle. Brock’s family seemed happy to see him. Sophie had been introduced all around, it was a large family and they weren’t even all there. Sophie had met his Aunts and Uncles and some cousins and lots of kids. His Uncle Peter would be there tomorrow on a plane from Puerto Rico, seems he was the black sheep in the family kind of like Brock and also his favorite Uncle.

‘Mom and Dad this is Sophie, my new girlfriend. Sophie, these are my parents Thomas and Gerta Giles.’

‘Hello Sophie, so glad you could join us. Brock doesn’t bring many of his female companions here so we’re honored.’

‘Thank you Mr. Giles.’ Brock’s dad was tall about as tall as he was. He had dark hair like Brock with gray at his temples with those chocolate brown eyes like Brock and was in great shape. He also had a slight British accent. Sophie was really happy he seemed really welcoming and friendly.

‘It’s so nice to meet you Sophie. Brock has spoken about you to me, it’s just wonderful to finally meet,’ his mother spoke to her smiling ear to ear.

‘It’s nice to meet you too, Mrs. Giles.’

‘Oh no, please call me Gerta.’

‘Yes, we’re not that formal here despite what Brock may have told you,’ Mr. Giles looked over at Brock and smiled.

Sophie noticed Brock’s mother was staring at her, it wasn’t oddly, she just kept smiling. She was tall but so were most of the women in Brock’s family it seemed. She had brown hair in a blunt haircut very stylish and was slim with a athletic physique. She was a very pretty woman and looked as if she’d been a real beauty in her day.

‘Well, I’m so happy to meet everyone,’ Sophie hadn’t been this nervous meeting a guy’s family ever but she had so many feelings invested in her relationship with Brock. She didn’t want this to go badly.

‘Where is Grammy?’

Sophie giggled a bit at Brock’s use of ‘Grammy’ it was so cute coming from this strong and capable man. He looked over at her a bit embarrassed.

‘Your grandmother went to bed at 7pm. You know how she is Brock,’ his mother responded.

‘I know. Sophie, my grandmother has a regimen that is strict, up at 5am to bed by 7pm. She’s kept it all her life and the woman is healthy as a horse. Where’s Bailey?’

His dad looked at his mom, ‘Bailey is on a business trip.’ He made the air quotes as he said it.

Sophie wasn’t sure but she was sure that something was amiss about his brother not being here.

A young woman came up and hugged him tight. She looked familiar like Brock’s mother.

‘Hey there, my little Bianca.’

‘I am not little Brock. Stop calling me that.’

‘You’re still little to me,’ and put her in a headlock which had her screaming to the top of her lungs.

‘Brock, let your sister go,’ she looked over at Sophie in exasperation, ‘I swear these two have been like this forever but he loves his sister. You two stop it!’

Sophie could see that. She finally got introduced to his little sister who was actually not little, she played basketball at Gonzaga and like his mother and older sister was a beauty with blue eyes and long brunette hair. She was a lot like Brock, fun and very social. She talked a lot and had brought her roommate, Vicky, to this family gathering. A pretty petite blond who seemed to have an eye for Brock.

Everyone had been really nice and friendly, everyone except his brother in law, Dirk. He’d been quite cold and although he treated her with disdain there was something in his eyes that kept watching her with disgust and sexual longing. It creeped Sophie completely out, he just seemed like a perverted ass who was totally about image while living a hidden freaky life. She was going to try her best to avoid him the remainder of the weekend.

Later that evening most everyone had settled in for the night. She, Brock and a few of his cousins along with his sister, Bianca and her friend were still up hanging outside drinking and chatting.

‘I like your family.’

‘They’re not bad. It’s sometimes like an out of this world experience coming here.’

‘Why?’

‘Well, look around Sophie. Who lives like this? Most of the time I’m in the real world and when I come here, it just seems artificial somehow.’

‘Well, I love it.’

‘Yea a lot of people do.’

Sophie looked over at him, he was staring at the sky as if he’d just checked out of the entire conversation. She decided to settle into his embrace as they both stared out to the beautiful clear night sky.

Sophie had finally gotten sleepy. Brock was leading her upstairs toward their room. If it looked big on the outside, the house was ginormous on the inside. The were staying in the East Wing while his parents, Aunts, and Uncles stayed in the West Wing of the mansion the part occupied by his grandmother. They’d come to the room on the second floor, yes the home did have three floors.

‘This is goodnight,’ he told her as he opened the door and escorted her in.

‘Goodnight? Where are you staying?’

‘I have a room down the hall. My grandmother does not allow unmarried people to share bedrooms in her home. She’s Catholic. So no hanky panky.’

Sophie stepped into the room, it was large with a large wooden canopy bed against the wall. It was beautifully decorated in hues of rose, a deep ruby color, and gold accents. She couldn’t imagine sleeping in here the entire night alone.

‘This room is too big, Brock.’

‘What do you mean, it’s the size of your apartment,’ he said sarcastically and grinned.

‘I’m not joking. It’s a little intimidating and kind of scary.’

‘Well, I’m sorry this is it. The majority of the rooms here are now taken. Don’t be frightened you’re safe as kittens here. Come on in and relax. This is part of my grandmother’s addition to the house and see, at least you have your own bathroom. I don’t even have that and I’m a favorite grandchild.’

Great, she thought.

‘You’ll be fine.’

‘I don’t think so. Where are you at?’

‘Two doors down, left side.’

‘Okay and by the way where’s your brother? Bailey.’

‘Huh? What kind of question is that?’

‘Well your mother seemed annoyed when you asked and your father and his air quotes and eyebrow told a me something was wrong.’

‘Are you trying to get me to stay?’

‘Well, yes and no. Brock, please, just stay till I go to sleep.’

‘Okay but if you get me in trouble with my Grammy…well young lady, this relationship could be on the rocks.’

Sophie laughed at him and ushered him in. She got ready for bed and got under the covers, she had to say the bed felt like cotton. This probably would be an easy rest tonight. He was still fully dressed just his shoes were off. She got under the covers and he sat on them and held her close. It was comfortable in the house, not too cold, not too warm. Sophie figured when she got to sleep she’d sleep well.

‘Well, are you going to answer my question.’

‘Bailey is with a mystery woman.’

‘What?’

‘For the last couple of months Bailey has been M.I.A. when it comes to family gatherings. My dad said when he ask where he was, Bailey just shoos him off. My mother is upset she thinks the woman is a bad influence on him if she won’t even let him come to spend time with his family.’

‘Do you know anything about it? Who she is?’

‘No. Bailey works for the family corporation. My dad is CFO, Bailey is Assistant Chief of operations. My brother is 27 years old, he’s his own man. I don’t get why mom and dad are so worried. He doesn’t shirk any of his duties at work, he just doesn’t come to family stuff all the time. My dad told me while I was down there that Bailey took the private jet to Italy this weekend. My mom doesn’t know.’

Private jet? Sophie was so overwhelmed by the wealth of these people she didn’t know how to cope barely but she didn’t want Brock to know that. She kept thinking about tomorrow’s dinner and that dress she bought from Macy’s these women probably had their dresses made by the best designers in Europe and here she comes with off the rack.

‘Oh,’ was the only response she could think of for what Brock just told her.

‘I don’t know. Bailey is very private. He’s always been that way, we’re not close because he’s more reserved than me. He went to military school for God’s sake. But we do have one thing in common.’

‘What’s that.’

‘We both love beautiful women.’ He peered down at her and Sophie could feel him coming in for the kiss. It was intense, he was going deep and gathering her up into his solid arms. They started to caress each other and then his hands reached under her nightgown. Sophie was all in now and suddenly he pulled away.

‘What’s wrong Brock?’ she was bereft and confused at his sudden change of heart.

‘This,’ he pointed down at the hardness in his shorts, ‘I want to make love with you so badly but right now I’m so horned up I’d make way too much noise. I better get to bed, so should you.’

Sophie knew he was right. She didn’t want to disrespect his grandmother’s wishes but she was just hoping she could get a little something, it probably would have put her to sleep. He got up and got himself in working order. Sophie walked him to her door, they kissed briefly before he left and before they ended up naked on that very big bed in the throes of passion.

She closed the door as he said goodnight and left. Sophie was feeling strangely about this entire trip not just about her awkwardness at being in the midst of the super rich but also wondering why Brock had brought her. He clearly wasn’t extremely close to his family, although they seemed very loving, and wasn’t part of the family business. She wondered what the hell was she doing here.