Authors: A. D. Ellis
The Later Years
Copyright © 2015
By A.D. Ellis
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Cover, spine, back by
The book you are reading wasn’t even an idea in my head when I started writing my first book.
A Torey Hope Novel Series
is my first series and the idea for
Torey Hope: The Later Years
came along when I was about to publish the final book in the first series.
Torey Hope is a small fictional town in Illinois. The series revolves around the main families of The Morgans, The Deckers, The Jordans, and The Martins. I’m including a family tree and short narrative to help you navigate these families if you’re new to Torey Hope.
I’ve also included a little background on The Center+ so that you can get a feel for where it began and what it’s grown into.
Also, this book has some suspenseful moments, but it wasn’t written to be a mystery. As a writer, I knew the secrets going in, but I also assumed that most readers would figure out the secrets long before the characters did. So, don’t be disappointed if you figure the secrets out, just enjoy the story and take the suspenseful moments for what they are.
I hope you’ll take a moment to find me on social media and connect with me; I love hearing from readers. Don’t forget, authors rely on reader reviews so please leave one when you finish reading.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
For those who like a little narrative along with a family tree. Here are the families of Torey Hope. Meet the Morgans, the Jordans, the Deckers, and the Martins.
John and Cindy Morgan
have twin boys
Nate and Nicky Morgan
and had children
Zachary Malone Morgan
Alyson Elizabeth Morgan.
and had children
Abigail Emerson Morgan
Sawyer Nicholas Morgan.
is sister to
, both are daughters of
Captain Robert Decker
and the late
. Robert later married
. Jeremiah had a son,
, from a previous marriage. Jeremiah and Audrey had
Megan Elise Jordan
Kendrick Robert Jordan
Jeremiah is the son of
Jack and Judy Jordan
Captain Robert Decker had an estranged brother, Richard who was married to Corrine and they had a daughter named
. Josie married Jeremiah Jordan’s best friend,
and they had children
Zoey Belle Martin
Asher Jeremiah Jordan
IF YOU HAVE A HARD TIME SEEING THE FAMILY TREE ON YOUR DEVICE, YOU CAN GO TO MY WEBSITE AND SEE A COPY OF THE FAMILY TREE.
(for those of you who haven’t been with The Center from the beginning)
The Center+ started out much smaller in the first Torey Hope Series (
This was the place where Cindy Morgan worked as a receptionist and her son, Nicky, attended classes. Due to Nicky’s developmental disabilities, The Center was a better fit for his needs. He took classes there instead of going to the local high school with his twin brother, Nate.
Nicky later got a job at The Center where he met Carly Malone (she was taking over the media specialist position for Libby Decker while Libby and Nate had their first child, Abigail Emerson; Nate and Libby later had Decker and Sawyer, the twins in this book). Nicky and Carly later married and had Zach and Aly.
Cindy and John Morgan were involved heavily in The Center because of Nicky. Libby later became involved and Nate naturally helped her out as needed. Over the years, other family members helped with monetary donations and time/services. When the younger generation (Nate and Libby’s twins, Decker and Sawyer; Nicky and Carly’s son, Zach; Jeremiah and Audrey’s son, Kendrick) were growing up, and spending much of their time at The Center along with their cousins and siblings, they began to dream and envision more classes, added facilities, and bigger programs for The Center.
These four men, Decker, Sawyer, Zach, and Kendrick headed out of Torey Hope for college, but they had every intention of returning to take over The Center and making it bigger and better (and later renaming it The Center+).
The Center+ offers art classes, fitness classes, talk therapy sessions, cooking/baking courses, health/safety courses, extracurricular activities, sports teams, life skills classes, trade skills, and various other games/activities.
First day of Kindergarten
Beckett Jordan gathered his younger brother and cousins around. “You guys are starting a new adventure, and it’s going to be great. You are brothers and cousins which means you’ll always have best friends to turn to. Be there for each other, support each other, have fun, learn a lot, and enjoy this journey.”
Always wise beyond his years, Beckett nodded sagely to the small boys staring at him intently with wide, solemn eyes. Decker Morgan nodded his head with a serious glint in his eye. His twin brother, Sawyer, took a deep breath as if to settle his nerves. Zach Morgan smiled playfully, eager for his first day of school to begin. Kendrick Jordan’s eyes lit up with anticipation and his usual adventurous spirit.
These boys had spent their entire five years of life together. They had sisters and girl cousins among them, but the four male cousins were just months apart in age and had grown up more as brothers and best friends than just cousins. They appreciated their wise, older cousin, Beckett, imparting his advice as they looked forward to this big step ahead of them.
Thirteen years later
Beckett Jordan once again gathered his younger brother and cousins around. “Well, guys, you made it through high school. It’s not been an easy road for some of you, but you’ve stuck together just like brothers and cousins and best friends should. College is going to be a new journey and a new set of challenges. I want you all to promise me that you’ll continue to stick together and support each other. I hope you all know how proud our family is of all of you. We are really going to miss you while you’re gone; we’ll be looking forward to seeing you on breaks. Have fun, be safe, and never forget where you came from.”
The four high school graduates nodded at their cousin and clapped him on the back. High school had brought a lot of challenges to the Morgan/Jordan boys, but they had stuck with each other and supported each other through it all. Years ago the boys had decided they would attend the same college and return to Torey Hope to help expand The Center that so many of their family members were involved with. Decker Morgan, always the serious, by-the-book one, was chomping at the bit to get settled at college and get some classes under his belt; but he knew his brother and cousins wanted to enjoy their summer of freedom, so he settled for taking some online classes.
Four years later
Four years of classes, homework, studying, tests, jobs, dating, parties, and fun had finally passed and the Morgan/Jordan boys were heading back to Torey Hope: back to their roots, back to their families, back to where they felt the most at peace and planned to settle down.
“So, what exactly are you saying here, Decker?” Angela Ford spoke in a way that made it obvious that she was not on board with Decker Morgan’s plans for their future.
“Angela, just listen. We’ve had three years together, but college is over and we aren’t heading in the same directions with our lives. You’ve got big plans in the city; you are starting at one of the biggest companies around. But I’ve got big plans too; you know that the guys and I have planned on going back to Torey Hope and expanding The Center. This has been our plan since before our first day in college, and we’ve never wavered from it. I’m not saying that we don’t have a future together. Actually, I’m not sure there’s a girl more perfect for me; you and I are on the same wavelength most of the time. We are both motivated, in control, and driven by success. But, for now, I think we need to just go our separate ways.” Decker paused a moment and felt irritated at his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend’s pseudo pouty face; he wasn’t impressed.
“Are you really telling me that you think you’re going to have time for a long distance relationship once you step into your new job?” He cocked a dark eyebrow and waited on Angela to almost imperceptibly shake her head ‘no.’
“Right, you’re going to be too busy climbing the ladders and jumping hoops and impressing the shit out of your new bosses. Just like I’m going to be too busy managing the new expansion of The Center; you know I’m going to have to keep my brother and cousins in line like usual. Plus, I’ll be back home with family I’ve missed for four years. I’m just being realistic and honest here; I know for a fact that I’m not going to have time for a relationship.”
A look of anger flashed in her eyes and Decker wondered if maybe Angela Ford wasn’t as perfect of a match for him as he’d once thought. They had never had heat or romance, but they had common goals and the same drive to succeed.
True, his brother and cousins thought they were a poor match. “Dude, I bet you and Angela sync your phone schedules so that you can schedule in sex.” Kendrick Jordan, the “baby” of the bunch by a few months, had teased Decker just the night before. “‘Oh, yeah, Decker! Give it to me baby! Harder, Decker! Faster! No, seriously, faster! We’ve got a meeting with a potential business partner in an hour, let’s get this finished’.”
Kendrick enjoyed trying to ruffle Decker’s feathers and found that it was very easy to do most of the time. Decker was a straight-laced, organized, in control type of guy. There was no gray area with him, things were either black or white. Rules were made to maintain order and control. Kendrick, along with Decker’s other cousin, Zach Morgan, felt that rules were made to be broken or at least bent on occasion.
Decker had rolled his eyes at Kendrick’s impression of his and Angela’s sex life, but deep down he realized that it stung a bit because it hit a little too close to home. It wasn’t that sex wasn’t good, but he couldn’t say he’d felt the earth move when they were together. He’d been with a couple other girls in high school and a few in college before he started dating Angela. The sex was good; he was a guy, was any sex ever bad? But, he’d always had to force himself to concentrate on the task at hand so that his mind didn’t wander to other, more pressing items on his agenda.
“So, let me get this straight. You’re breaking up with me? We’ve spent the last three years building a solid relationship and you’re going to break up with me on the night before we head back to our hometowns? Wow, Decker, we HAVE always been on the same wavelength, but you just lost me on this one. I thought we had something here; we’re so good together, baby.”
Decker had to fight the urge to wince at Angela’s attempt to sweet talk him; her calling him “baby” was like Cruella Deville speaking baby-talk to a toddler, it just didn’t work.
Taking a deep breath and trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice, Decker spoke firmly and with finality. “Angela, I’ve made my decision; this is what I feel I need right now. My time and energy and loyalties lie with my family, always; I need to be able to pour 100% into these next several months of building The Center to what the guys and I have always dreamed it could be. Once you and I are both a little more settled, we can revisit where things are with us. But, for now, I want us to part as friends; I have no plans on dating, but if you find yourself with the time and desire to date, go for it.” He thought his words were diplomatically delivered and made complete sense.
Angela obviously didn’t agree if the slap to his face was any indication. “Screw you, Decker! I didn’t put three years’ worth of effort into building this relationship only to have you throw it away because of some childhood dream between brothers and cousins. Go build your little ‘play-scape,’ but don’t come crawling back to me when you realize that you need me in your life.” She turned on her heel and stomped away.
Having never seen the ugly, dramatic side of Angela, Decker let out a deep breath and headed toward his bedroom in the apartment he shared with his twin, Sawyer, and his cousins, Zach and Kendrick. Thinking of the three men he considered his best friends, he wondered where the hell they had disappeared to; they had been playing video games when Angela arrived. He reached up to rub his still stinging cheek and heard a snort of laughter from behind him. Turning slowly, taking a deep breath to steel himself for the onslaught of joking that he knew was headed his way, he found them coming out from their hiding places where they had apparently witnessed the whole unexpectedly messy breakup.
From years of experience with his brother and cousins, he knew better than to interrupt their laughing and teasing; letting them get it out of their systems while they made fools of themselves was the quickest and easiest way to move on from their shenanigans.
“Bro, are you okay? She landed a solid one to your face there, man!” Sawyer, his younger brother by 2 minutes, attempted to look concerned and draped an arm around his shoulder.
“Yeah, man, I’m fine; I didn’t realize she’d be so upset about the breakup.” Decker rolled his eyes as Zach and Kendrick held each other and guffawed until tears ran down their cheeks.
“Dude! If that scene right there didn’t just prove that you and Angela were NOT a match made in heaven, I don’t know what will! That girl might as well have told you she wanted a ring on her finger before allowing us to pack up and head back to Torey Hope. We’ve told you before, just because she’s your little business-minded equal does NOT mean that she’s the girl for you. I’ve seen more chemistry between you and your sister than I ever saw between you and Angela. Let her go, man; good riddance I say.” Kendrick sobered for a moment as he spoke. Then, eyeing the ever-reddening hand print on his cousin’s cheek, he doubled over in another fit of laughter.
“Man, Kendrick’s right; that girl was not the one for you. I’m not sure the type of girl who will be ‘it’ for you, but you need to breathe a sigh of relief that Angela is out of the picture now. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us in Torey Hope, but we’ll hook you up with some of the local girls. Well, the local girls who don’t want us at least. Maybe you can get laid by someone who doesn’t check her day planner to clear a slot for sex.” Zach, ever the jokester, seemed to be genuinely concerned for his cousin.
Decker allowed the three to finish their laughter and wipe their tears before speaking. “Okay, so maybe you’ve all been right these last three years. I thought Angela and I were a good fit because we had the same goals and business sense. I don’t plan on dating for the next several months since we’ve got so much work to do on the expansion, so it’s probably good to make a clean break for it now. I’m glad you guys got such an entertaining show on our last night here.” Decker smirked at his best friends and knew that they loved him and would support him with no questions asked, just as he would them. “Come on, let’s finish packing; I want to hit the road early tomorrow.”
The next morning, the four friends stood outside of the apartment they had called home for the last four years. There had been both good and bad times in those four years. But, a day’s drive was all that stood between them and their futures; loading up the last of their belongings in the U-Haul, they piled into Zach’s dark red Ford F-150 Raptor. They would each drive about three hours and planned to reach home right about dinner time. The other three vehicles had been driven home by family members after graduation the past weekend.
The young men had enjoyed their time away; they had grown and learned and spread their wings. But, deep in their hearts, home had always been and would always be Torey Hope; they smiled to each other and felt a peace within as the truck rumbled to life. “The boys” were heading home.