A Family Affair: The Wish: Truth in Lies, Book 9

BOOK: A Family Affair: The Wish: Truth in Lies, Book 9
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A Family Affair: The Wish
Truth in Lies, Book 9
Mary Campisi
Introduction

H
eartache
. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Redemption... It's time to head back to Magdalena, New York, and spend a little time with the people we love to love and even a few we love to hate.

B
ree Kinkaid is finally going
to get her happily-ever-after with Adam Brandon (from
Paradise Found,
That Second Chance series), but it's not going to be quick or easy. You won't want to miss the fireworks as one of Magdalena's favorites meets Mr. West Coast. Should I mention he's handsome, intelligent, wealthy, and an all-around good guy? (Oh, but he has a broken heart...forgot about that.) Guess that makes him a wounded hero in need of a second chance, and we all know Magdalena's just the place for second chances.

And I know many of you have no time or patience for the “bad girl” of Magdalena, Natalie Servetti. She’s done her share of wrong and worse than wrong, including almost breaking up Nate and Christine Desantro. But those of you who read
A Family Affair: The Secret
know she’s trying to right her past misdeeds, and now she’s met a man who might just give her a chance at happily-ever-after. Will her past destroy that chance or will love indeed conquer all?

BONUS MATERIAL:
Included in this e-book is an excerpt from
Not Your Everyday Housewife
, That Second Chance series, Book 5. It is also a prequel to
A Family Affair: The Gift.

T
ruth In Lies Series
:

Book One:
A Family Affair

Book Two:
A Family Affair: Spring

Book Three:
A Family Affair: Summer

Book Four:
A Family Affair: Fall

Book Five:
A Family Affair: Christmas
, a novella

Book Six:
A Family Affair: Winter

Book Seven:
A Family Affair: The Promise

Book Eight:
A Family Affair: The Secret

Book Nine:
A Family Affair: The Wish

Book Ten:
A Family Affair: The Gift

Book Eleven:
A Family Affair: The Weddings

Book Twelve:
A Family Affair: The Return

I
f you love
to read about second chances, don’t miss:

That Second Chance Series:

Book One:
Pulling Home
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: The Promise
)

Book Two:
The Way They Were
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: The Secret
)

Book Three:
Simple Riches
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: Winter
)

Book Four:
Paradise Found
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: The Wish
)

Book Five:
Not Your Everyday Housewife
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: The Gift
)

Book Six:
The Butterfly Garden
– (Also prequel to
A Family Affair: The Return
)

Title Page

A Family Affair:

The Wish

Truth in Lies, Book Nine

by

Mary Campisi

T
his book is dedicated
to Alexis: Follow your dreams and your heart to peace and happiness.

1

B
ree Kinkaid sat
in the semidarkness of her bedroom, staring at the wedding picture of her and Brody, their smiles filled with such joy, hands clasped, hips touching. The beginning of a lifetime that would span years, create dreams, embrace possibility. She and Brody were young, in love, with a world of hope in front of them. Friends had looked on with admiration, maybe bits of envy.

Until the day the admiration and envy turned to pity.

Bree flipped the photo over, tossed it on the bed, and closed her eyes. “You’ve ruined me, Brody. Torn my heart in two, stomped on it until I couldn’t feel it beating anymore. I’ll never trust another man, never love another one either.
How
could I? Why would I? So he can destroy me like you have? I don’t think so. You’ve done this to me, left me with a scar that will not heal. But it’s a reminder, too: trust no man, love no man. Ever.”


I
f that bastard
weren’t already in the ground, I’d put him there myself.” Rex MacGregor never made a threat he didn’t plan to carry out. Lucky for his dead son-in-law there was no need to execute the threat.

“Rex, don’t talk like that. It won’t help matters and you know Doc Needstrom said he doesn’t want you getting all riled up. It’s bad for your heart
and
your blood pressure.”

“This is our baby girl we’re talking about, Kathleen. How long are we supposed to sit back and watch her destroy herself?” He shook his head, heaved a sigh. “I can’t do it any longer. Bree’s lost the bubble and snap that made her who she was. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was an old spinster who’d never known a second of joy in her life.” He sighed again, sank onto the sofa next to his wife. “When was the last time that girl wore makeup or fixed her hair? And didn’t she used to love the lotions and fruity concoctions you bought for her? Smelled like a piña colada; we used to accuse her of bathing in coconut. Don’t need to worry about that now.” Rex rubbed his jaw, slid his wife a look that dared her to disagree. “We’re lucky if she takes a shower to get the stink off her every now and again.”

Kathleen sniffed. “I know. Do you think I can’t see what’s become of our daughter? Do you think it doesn’t tear me up that she’s all but become a hermit, ignoring her friends, burying herself in that damnable business? All we ever wanted was for her to be happy, and all she ever wanted was to be a wife and a mother.” She swiped a hand across her cheek, her next words splitting Rex’s heart in two. “Now, she’s not a wife, and when she’s with the girls, she’s tired and sad, and it’s tearing me apart because there’s not a darn thing we can do.”

Rex clasped her hand, gentled his voice. “I have a plan to help our baby girl.” He’d do anything to put a smile back on his wife’s face and see Bree happy again. Their daughter was so lost right now. They’d waited for her to come around and start acting like she cared about life—
her life
. But it hadn’t happened yet. How long were parents supposed to sit back and watch the disaster that had become their child’s life before they jumped in and made a rescue attempt? Damn Brody Kinkaid and his miserable self for having a heart attack in another woman’s bed. Rex didn’t need one of those fancy counselors to tell him what to do. Bree was his daughter and if he had to carry her on his shoulders until she recovered from what that imbecile husband of hers had done, then so be it. Rex MacGregor was nobody’s slouch; he knew about tough love and protecting his own, and it was time to save his baby girl from a life of misery and despair.

“Rex?” Kathleen’s voice yanked him back, forced him to meet her gaze. “What kind of plan?”

He’d hoped for a little time to sell her on the idea, soften her up so she’d agree without a lot of fuss. Or questions. But it didn’t look like that was going to happen, not if the narrowed gaze and pinched lips were an indication of her mood. This conversation was headed downhill fast and it was up to him to slow it down and find a detour. Rex worked up a smile and patted his wife’s hand. “I’ve come up with a plan to help our daughter get her life back.” He liked the sound of that. Hopeful. Helpful. Yes, indeed, those words sounded like—

“Rex MacGregor, will you stop flopping around the question like a trout caught in a net and tell me what’s going on?”

This woman was one tough cookie and it didn’t matter if he was married to her another thirty years, she’d still be tough. Truth was, he couldn’t lie to her, couldn’t even pad a story without feeling guilty about it. He looked away, scratched his head and shrugged. “I’m thinking of sending Bree to the trade show in Chicago.” Pause, a throat clearing, and then, “Now before you go giving me a hundred reasons why this is a bad idea—”

Kathleen flung her arms around his neck, gave him a quick hug before pulling back, her eyes bright. “I think it’s a wonderful idea. Perfect.”

Her voice spilled over him, all soft and gooey like those caramel brownies she used to make for him before she crossed them off the okay-to-eat list. He liked it when she looked at him that way, like he was the king of her world. That look made him bold, made him want to stretch it out as long as he could. “I figure she can take in the trade show, see the new machines and the technology other plants are using, and meet a lot of people.” He tried to hide a smile, but his wife spotted it.

“People?” She raised a brow. “You mean men?”

Damn but Kathleen was a smart one. Rex nodded. “Yup. Lots of them.” She stared at him like she was trying to burrow straight into his brain. They’d tried to introduce Bree to a few different men since her jerk husband’s death, but their daughter wasn’t having it, not a cup of coffee at Lina’s Café or a walk for an ice cream. No movies, no drinks, no dinners, no nothing. Bree said that part of her life was over, dried up like fallen leaves and buried in the ground with her dead husband. They let her talk, but Rex and Kathleen had other ideas for their only daughter and they did not include watching her shrivel into a has-been with no dreams, no hope, and no possibility of a happily-ever-after.

“Men,” Kathleen repeated. “Maybe she’ll relax and give one of them a chance. You never know.”

“I’m not talking about wedding bells; I’d be happy if she came home with a smile on her face.”

His wife narrowed a gaze on him. “What exactly does
that
mean?”

“Just that maybe she’ll meet someone and…”

“And what? You want our daughter to have sex with a stranger?”

“No! Of course not.” Well, maybe. He hated to admit what he might be considering. No father wanted to think about his daughter having sex with anybody, let alone a stranger. But no father wanted to watch his child withdraw from life either, day by day, breath by breath, until it was almost too painful to watch.

“Bree’s vulnerable.” Kathleen sighed. “I don’t want to see her get hurt. She hasn’t been with anyone since Brody. Matter of fact, she hasn’t been with anyone
but
Brody. Goodness, maybe she shouldn’t go alone.” Her face lit up. “Maybe you should go with her.”

“Me?” Rex shook his head. “No. That would not be a good idea.” There’d be too much standing, too much handshaking, too much drinking. He’d done that years ago, and by the time he’d made it back to Magdalena, he was in sad shape: aches and pains from his head to his feet, a brain saturated with liquor, and a vow to learn his lesson before the next trade show. Of course, he never did and now he was glad that part of his life was over. “Bree needs to do this on her own. It’s only three days, and who’ll help you with the girls if I go?” The look she shot him said that was about the weakest excuse she’d ever heard. Okay, so he didn’t pitch in as much as he should; that didn’t mean Kathleen wouldn’t need his help. Besides, he wanted Bree to enjoy this trip, and sending her solo would be a show of faith in her ability.

His wife’s next words said she felt the same way. “It would mean more if she knew you backed her on this.” Pause. “But how on earth will you convince her to go?”

Rex smiled. He knew his baby girl and she might not be the spark of fire she once was, but she wouldn’t want to disappoint him. She’d go, and once he laid it on thick about needing her opinion on the trade show and the technology, she’d not only go but vow to do him proud. “How else do you think I’ll convince her to go?” The smile spread. “I’ll sweet-talk her, like I’ve been doing with my
bride
since the first time I laid eyes on her.” Yup, that did the trick. Kathleen knew he was full of crap, but she blushed the prettiest pink and swatted him on the arm.

“Rex MacGregor, you’re a scoundrel.” She leaned in and pecked him on the cheek. “But you love us and I know you’ll do whatever it takes to help our girl get back to her old self.”

“That’s right. Whatever it takes.” Rex cleared his throat, met his wife’s gaze, and said, “That’s why I’m selling the business.” Kathleen usually had a response ready and aimed before he finished his sentence, but not this time. This time she had her mouth open and no words coming out. Shock? Maybe. Disbelief? No doubt. They’d never talked of selling the business, dreamed of keeping it in the family for generations to come, but that was before Brody Kinkaid up and made a fool of himself by croaking in another woman’s bed and stealing their daughter’s happiness. Now the only thing that might save their girl was selling the business so she could find her way back to a life that included a family, maybe even a man.

“I…don’t understand.”

It wasn’t like his wife to bluster around, tripping over words. Her face had gone from a pink blush to paste, like the color had been wiped from it. Not good. Hell, so not good. “Don’t get upset, Kathleen. I can’t have you getting all jittery on me.” He reached for her hand, clasped it between his. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and what if I contacted Roman Ventori about finding us a buyer? The boy knows real estate and he’s a big deal in Chicago. I’ll bet he can hook us up and we won’t get swindled either.”

“How would he do that from Chicago?” Her eyes clouded. “And what would happen to Bree?”

He squeezed her hand, relieved there were questions to answer instead of pauses and a jumble of words that made no sense. Questions he could handle. That meant his wife was thinking and hadn’t nixed the idea. “Roman’s in real estate and Pop said the boy took on a lawyer partner who specializes in buying and selling businesses. That’s what we need. We get hooked up with an interested party or two, check each other out, decide on terms, and make a deal.” The phone call he wanted to make to Roman Ventori was what had kept him awake the last several nights, because once he made that call, it would be real. The idea had lived in his head for months as he watched his daughter change from a burst of joy and energy to a quiet, withdrawn, thirty-something widow. It had to stop and he was going to stop it, even if it meant selling the company.

“But what will happen to Bree if you sell the company?”

There was no hesitation or doubt in Rex’s words as he gave his wife the only answer that mattered. “She’ll get her life back.”

A
dam Brandon was
a straight-up kind of guy who believed in honesty first and avoiding situations that required him
not
to be honest in the important areas of life. Like with women. Or business. Or family. Once a guy started playing around with the truth, it always came back to bite him. He’d witnessed quite a few “bites” in his thirty-some years, from the fiancée who didn’t know about the girlfriend to the business owner who kept two sets of books, to the father who spent four nights a week in a bar and called it “working overtime.” The lies piled up until eventually, they toppled from the weight on a person’s soul, psyche, or heart, and then look out. Disaster and disastrous consequences found their way into a person’s life and crushed what was left of the truth, leaving behind real heartache, pain, and betrayal.

It was easier to play it straight and he’d done that his whole life. People knew what to expect from him and they appreciated that steadfastness. They called him loyal, honorable, a man of his word. The world needed people like Adam, his mother had always said, especially when they had the opposite in his older brother, Matt. Fortunately, Matt had toned down the attitude and the arrogance when he’d fallen in love, gotten married, and had a child. Baby number two was on its way in a few months. Life was good for Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Brandon; some would call it perfect. Adam was one of those people. He loved his brother, his sister-in-law, their baby boy. If he thought about it in a sentence, it didn’t make his breath catch and the guilt didn’t choke him. But if he dissected the words, about the time he reached the “loving his sister-in-law,” that’s when he couldn’t breathe.

Adam had loved Sara Hamilton first, recognized a gentleness in her that spoke of compassion, not the contrived maneuverings of most women he knew. But it hadn’t mattered, because she’d fallen for his playboy brother and while Adam served as best man at their wedding and godfather at their son’s baptism, he could not remain in California. That’s what landed him in Chicago, partnered with his longtime friend, Roman Ventori, heading up the acquisitions area of the real estate development company. Most of the time it was a good fit, but every once in a while Adam wondered if Roman didn’t think a bit too much with his heart instead of his head, especially since he’d married Angie and had a baby.

Thanks to Angie and the baby, Adam lost his dinner and drinking buddy. It’s not that he couldn’t have any number of ready and willing guests, but the female variety would draw conclusions that weren’t there and a lot of the men were “attached” and had to fill out special requests to stay out later than usual. Not Adam. He was free and definitely unattached. He could go wherever he pleased and stay out as late as he wanted. It was a good deal and if he couldn’t find a woman like Sara, at least he had his freedom.

Tonight he had a taste for seafood and decided on one of Chicago’s trendy new hangouts. He liked the place because a person could have a conversation, digest his food, and enjoy a good glass of wine without “headache” music or over-the-top chatter. Unless a bride-to-be was having her bachelorette party in the place. No missing that picture: the pink and silver streamer crown dangling from the brunette’s mass of curls, the laughter, the pastel martini glasses. He scanned the room and zeroed in on the woman in the corner booth. Alone. Head bent. Shoulders shaking. Crying? Definitely not part of the bridal party. His brother had always told him no good came from getting involved with a crying woman, especially a stranger, because there was always way more baggage than what it was worth, even if the woman was beautiful. Hard to tell what this one looked like aside from the jumble of strawberry-blond hair.

BOOK: A Family Affair: The Wish: Truth in Lies, Book 9
2.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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