Authors: Mary Campisi
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Family Saga, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Sagas
A Family Affair: Spring
is a story of betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption, all wrapped up in the lives of the people we love to love, and even a few we love to hate.
Blacksworth is rich, handsome, the ultimate playboy with a killer smile and a clever wit. He’s fought it, denied it, ignored it, but the damn truth won’t go away: He’s fallen in love. And just when he’s accepted that fact, Greta Servensen, the only woman he’s ever trusted, breaks his heart.
Blacksworth and Nate Desantro beat the odds when they fell in love and married. But staying married is threatened when the foundation behind every good relationship—trust—is challenged.
Blacksworth descends upon Magdalena in all of her designer-clad arrogance, determined to make Christine change her course and return to Chicago and her old life. It may take a well-planted lie or two, but Gloria doesn’t plan to fail. When she finally confronts Miriam Desantro, the “other woman”, Gloria discovers more than she ever wanted to know… or admit.
“Pop” Benito is The Godfather of Magdalena. Nothing happens in that town without his knowledge or approval. And Pop doesn’t do anything without a long sit-down with his dead wife, Lucy, and a half dozen pizzelles by his side. He’ll need a lot of lung power and a tray of his favorite treat to help Nate and Christine out of a real mess. And he may need the help of his checkers buddy and Magdalena’s shining star, Lily Desantro.
Truth In Lies Series
A Family Affair, Book One
A Family Affair Spring, Book Two
A Family Affair Summer, Book Three (2014)
A Family Affair Fall, Book Four (future release)
A Family Affair: Spring
Truth in Lies Series, Book Two
Table of Contents
I never intended to write a sequel to
A Family Affair
, let alone a series. For me, the story was done and I moved on to my next book. Readers had a different idea. I began to receive emails, Facebook comments, and blog posts, asking to know more about these characters. Did Nate and Christine marry? What about Harry and Greta? And heavens, did Gloria Blacksworth ever get her comeuppance? The correspondence from readers requesting more was heartfelt and humbling, and yet, turning a book into a series that was never intended to be one is a huge and daunting task. I wasn’t going to do it unless I could feel the passion for the continuation of that story. It was a struggle, yet it remained in the back of my mind as I wrote one book after another.
I do some of my best thinking when I’m walking my dog and during a particularly cool morning
walk, I started playing around with scenarios and characters. I let my imagination go and didn’t try to shut anything down. I did the same thing the next day, and soon Lily, Nate, Christine, Harry, Gloria, Greta—the whole crew— had taken residence in my head. They wouldn’t go away and that’s when I knew I
to write about them and gave the series what I think is an appropriate name:
Truth in Lies
I have absolutely loved every part of this process and the characters have entertained me as well as broken my heart a time or two. Long before I wrote “The End”, I’d already decided what the storyline would be for
A Family Affair: Summer
. If you guessed Cash Casherdon and Tess Carrick, you are exactly correct. I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey and before long, we’ll take another into
A Family Affair: Summer
Thank you to all the dear readers who wrote to tell me they wanted a continuation of
A Family Affair.
I have indeed heard you!
To all of the readers who wanted to know more about the Blacksworths and the Desantros…because of you, this book exists. Thank you.
“I ain’t leaving this place again, Lucy. I promise you that.” Angelo “Pop” Benito sighed and sipped his root beer. Nothing better than a cold “beer” after a morning walk, especially now, with spring emerging like a baby bird, mouth open—eager, excited, joyful. There was none of that in the place he’d just escaped. The only sprouts he ever found there were the ones in those fancy grocery stores, all packed up and marked “organic”. His son almost croaked when Pop demanded he stop the car to look for dandelions and mustard greens.
What are you doing? Why would you eat weeds?
They’re probably coated with insecticide and dog urine.
Pop guessed his son didn’t remember all those years ago and the baskets of “weeds” they’d picked and brought home to his mother for cooking with oil and garlic. His son forgot a lot of things that tied him to his roots. Or maybe he just didn’t want to remember.
Well, the boy could choose his own lifestyle and what tickled his taste buds, but he sure as hell wasn’t trapping Pop in that California dungeon he called home ever again. If Pop hadn’t wanted to see his granddaughter so bad, he’d never have agreed to flying to California for Christmas, and then he would have been in his own home when he had the
trans ischemic something or other—dammit, it was
a stroke. And he would not have taken a header on the bottom step and broken his hip because Pop’s house was a ranch and nobody in Magdalena had fancy, slippery steps glossed with five inches of varnish.
was his son’s wife’s doing, her and her designer must-haves. And
is what landed Pop in surgery and rehab, and for the first and only time in his seventy-three years, thinking about taking his last breath.
Pop remembered those days and even now found it hard to believe he’d come so close to giving up. Lucy wouldn’t like hearing that but he had to tell her. “I had a long conversation with the Man upstairs, and I vowed if I made it back to Magdalena from that godforsaken place your son calls home, I’d turn a new leaf, eat more greens, put a nightlight in the hallway, everything to keep me regular and upright.” He clutched the arms of the rocker Nate
Desantro had made him two years ago and closed his eyes. “I’m going to keep my promise, Lucy, don’t you worry about that, okay?”
Pop didn’t wait for an answer.
No matter what some of those New Age types preached, he didn’t believe loved ones talked from the grave and that’s where his Lucinda rested these past twenty months, weathering mounds of snow, fresh blades of grass, parched roses, and scattering leaves. Only to begin all over again, season after season.
The cancer took her, ate her female parts and stole every last red curl.
But even on that final day, with her plump body worn to the size of a No. 2 pencil, her lips bare of the poppy lipstick she loved, her olive skin bruised and paper thin, he could still see his Lucinda.
He opened his eyes and reached for his mid-morning snack, a
pizzelle, which might not be on the heart-healthy eating list but had its own restorative powers. It was a pizzelle that got him his first date with Lucinda Vermici. It was a pizzelle that had a part in making their son, Anthony, and it was also a pizzelle that became the solace for news of the cancer. Lucy’s last taste of solid food was an anise pizzelle that Pop had cut in bite-sized pieces and carefully placed on his wife’s parched tongue.
There was nothing better than a
pizzelle, except maybe a good bowl of pasta in marinara sauce with a side of bracciole. His thought processes kicked in as memories of Lucy bombarded his brain. He’d only been home four days, but word had it Nate Desantro had taken another wife and not just any wife, but Christine Blacksworth. Hah! How long did the boy think Pop would let it go before he requested a visit with her? Just because Pop was one of the only residents in Magdalena who had not held a soft spot for Charles Blacksworth did not mean he would shun the man’s daughter. If she gave the boy a smidge of the happiness Lucy had given Pop, that would say something, and maybe then Pop would keep his thoughts about her father and his cowardice to himself. But probably not, which was why Nate hadn’t called. Didn’t matter. As soon as he polished off his snack, he’d head out back, check his hostas and tulips to make sure the deer hadn’t chomped them last night, and then he’d make the phone call Nate knew was coming.
Christine read Uncle Harry’s email, the third one this morning with the first delivered at 5:45
. Uncle Harry, sending messages at 5:45
.? These last several months he’d become the person she’d known was inside the drinking, carousing, swearing, just-turned-fifty man she called Uncle Harry. He’d become responsible. That was a word not often associated with Harry Blacksworth.
was another unfamiliar term. Of course,
always been able to depend on him; it was the rest of the world he’d shut out, intent to let them think he was not reliable and therefore incapable of making a decision that was not connected to fitness, food, or attire. But he was an integral part of Blacksworth & Company these days with a sign on his door that read Chief Executive Officer. He called her with questions now and again, sometimes about the small set of clients she maintained, other times in regard to broader issues. Truthfully, he’d slid right into the high-powered position as though he hadn’t spent the last twenty-plus years perfecting his golf game and enjoying a workout and long lunch during business hours.
Maybe the change had to do with her leaving the company and moving to Magdalena. Or it could be tied to the secret he’d carried for so many years:
He might be her father. Hadn’t he said that if he’d known she’d look to him as a father figure he would have done things a bit differently? As in the running around, swearing, drinking, and overall debauchery he so enjoyed for too many years. Or did the miraculous change in her uncle have to do with Greta Servensen, her mother’s cook-turned-manager at Harry’s Folly, one of Chicago’s new trendy restaurants? Uncle Harry avoided questions pertaining to Greta, but Christine didn’t miss the faint pink that crept up his neck when he talked about her, or the way his voice dipped, like he was thinking about her and not as a manager.
The truth would spill out eventually. It always did.
Nate said she shouldn’t try to play matchmaker for the rest of the world, that some people really
want to be alone. What did he know? When they first met, he’d tried to push her away with his harsh commentary on her life and her family and given her a thousand reasons why she should leave Magdalena. But the pull to find the truth about her father’s secret life had proved stronger than Nate’s insistence, and once she’d glimpsed the real Nathan Desantro—kind, gentle, trustworthy—she’d acknowledged there was nowhere she’d rather be than beside him. Safe. Secure. Committed.
She traced the intricate design of the wedding band on her left finger. They’d exchanged vows in the living room of Nate’s log cabin ten days before Christmas, surrounded by red and white poinsettias and the people who meant most to them. Uncle Harry was there, gold pocket watch dangling from his jacket, his tanned face serious. Lily stood next to him, dressed in green velvet and patent leather, her smile brilliant, her
Blacksworth eyes bright. Miriam had swiped at her face and sniffed a few times while Winston Hardin, Magdalena’s justice of the peace, recited the vows.
And then it was over and Nate had taken her in his arms and kissed her with such reverence, Christine cried.
Big tears, the kind that smeared makeup and created streams of mascara on a woman’s cheeks. Nate hadn’t cared. He’d wiped her tears and whispered in her ear,
I love you, Christine Desantro. Today and always.
The tears multiplied and spread to Lily and Miriam, and she hadn’t been certain, but Uncle Harry had appeared wet-eyed as well, though he attributed his to an allergic reaction to the pine from the Christmas tree in the corner.
The ceremony bore no resemblance to the high society affairs Christine had attended in Chicago: silks and satins, vases with orchids and roses smothering entire rooms.
Chateaubriand, Swarovski crystal table arrangements. Limousines. A flutist. A pianist. A harpist. Champagne and chocolate fountains. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, glistening and glimmering on hands and necks and wrists. Outdone and overdone. That was the type of wedding her mother had planned for Christine and Connor Pendleton. Fortunately
wedding hadn’t happened. Fortunately, the Desantros crept into her heart and claimed it, making her one of them.
“Are you working or daydreaming?”
Nate’s voice still made her tingle, even after all these months together. She guessed it would be this way ten or twenty years from now. “A little of both.”
“Ah.” He slid a plate in front of her and set his own down before sitting next to her. “I thought only writers and creative types stared off into space and called it ‘work’.”
She laughed. “Maybe I’m turning into a creative type.”
His dark gaze settled on the top button of her shirt. “You’re creative.” His gaze slid lower, settled on her breasts. “No doubt about that.”
When he looked at her that way, she almost forgot to breathe. It was unsettling and exhilarating and no other person had ever been able to do that. She cleared her throat and struggled to change the topic.
Nate forked a piece of egg and sausage and said
, “I have an appointment with the bank this morning. Stan said we could look at the numbers again.”
Ketrowski, assistant bank manager, captain of his bowling team, lector at St. Gertrude’s. Nice guy. Uninformed banker. “Still don’t want me to take a look?”
She nodded and picked up a slice of orange. “Even though I could analyze the numbers and make a recommendation before Stan adjusted his reading glasses?”
Nate’s lips twitched. “He’s just old school. He’ll figure it out.”
“Eventually, he’ll come up with something.” She shrugged and pulled a smile across her lips. “But you’ll be too old or too arthritic to carve a simple spindle.”
“Have a little faith. Stan’s a good person.”
“So am I, and I’m your wife. Your partner. We’re supposed to talk and decide things together.” Just because she’d never seen her own parents sharing anything didn’t mean it wasn’t what a marriage should be. Couples talked and shared and gave to one another. Why did it have to be “mine” and “yours”? Nate still hadn’t bought into the idea of “team”, if it had to do with money or obtaining it. She’d tried to tell him that her money was his money, and she wanted to provide the cash to set up his furniture business, or at least cosign a loan. He’d refused, saying he already owed her for the loan her father had given ND Manufacturing.
“Stan and I have a history. He helped my dad out of a tough spot a long time ago. I owe him.”
“Hmm. Well, I certainly can’t compete with that.” His words hurt and the fact that he might actually believe them hurt more.
Nate clasped her hand. “Look, I know you want to help and I appreciate it.
Really. Give me a little time to see what Stan comes up with, okay? If I can’t get the loan or the terms don’t make sense, we’ll talk about it.” He squeezed her hand. “Deal?”
She shrugged. “You’re making me look bad. How am I going to continue in business if my own husband is determined to stay with someone who still believes in passbook savings? I’ve had people approach me about investing in you
: Rex McGregor three days ago and last week it was Nanette Giraldi. They’re watching, Nate. They want to see what you’re going to do, and more importantly, if you’re willing to back Charlie’s daughter, a city girl with big ideas for their town.”
The left side of his jaw twitched, twitched again, a sign she’d come to recognize as controlled annoyance. “It’s not that simple. If you come in and take over, I might as well put on a skirt, because the town you think you know so well will view your help as weakness on my part.
And ineptitude.” The jaw twitched again. “And I’m neither.”
Christine leaned forward, closing the gap between his reticence and stubborn conclusions. “I know that. I also know that I can help you realize your dream, if you let me. The people in this town have been kind and welcoming. They’ve accepted my suggestions on financial matters, turned over their money for me to invest. They aren’t as judgmental and unaccepting as you think.”
He laughed and shook his head. “A ruse. All of it. Sure, they’re accommodating and polite, but don’t think they don’t have a bead on you, waiting to see if you’ll mess up. They might not wear fancy suits and drive big cars, but they know people better than most therapists. You’re still on the outside and if I let you just take over my business, they won’t respect me.” He paused, his voice fell. “Or you.”
“I think you’re wrong about them. I haven’t seen anything to indicate wariness.”
“That’s because you don’t recognize it.” He pulled his hand away and crossed his arms over his chest. “How many have asked about me, or Mom, or Lily?”
“All of them. But what does that have to do with trust?”
“And how many made mention of your father, even though they know you’re Charlie’s daughter?”