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Authors: Natalie Ann

Road to Reason

BOOK: Road to Reason
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Text Copyright 2015 Natalie Ann

 

All Rights Reserved

 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without a written consent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication: To myself.  Anything can be done if I put my mind to it.

 

Author’s Note

 

This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, events and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Follow Natalie Ann on
Twitter

 

Website
http://www.natalieannbooks.com

 

 

The Road Series

 

Lucas and Brooke’s Story-
Road to Recovery

Jack and Cori’s Story –
Road to Redemption

Mac and Beth’s Story-
Road to Reality

Ryan and Kaitlin’s Story- Road to Reason

 

The All Series

 

Ben and Presley’s Story – All or Nothing (coming summer 2015)

Phil and Sophia’s Story – All of Me (coming fall of 2015)

Alec and Brynn’s Story – All the Way (coming winter of 2015

 

Prologue

 

Katie put down her book and looked over at her older brother Ben while he sat quietly staring out at the water.  Even at a young age Ben had been able to conceal his emotions, but she knew him better than anyone else.  “Want to go swimming?” she asked.

“No,” he said simply.

“Come on,” she coaxed him. “Let’s race. I’ll let you beat me.” She only smiled at his snort. She may be a strong swimmer, but at four years his junior she wasn’t a match for him. No one in the family was. 

“Let me win? I doubt that.  Besides, you heard Mom. I’m not allowed on the water this weekend.” 

“You shouldn’t have swum so far from shore. But Mom said you couldn’t be
on
the water, not
in
the water,” she corrected him.

He grinned. “You’re right. She did say that, didn’t she? Let’s go.” He jumped up from the chair with an excited bounce.

She shook her head. At only twelve years old, she always paid attention to the details more than the rest of her brothers. She didn’t understand. How hard was it for them to just
listen
? “I’ll be there in a minute. I want to finish this chapter.”

Moments later Katie heard a boat pulling next to the dock, followed by another. Her older brothers and a group of their friends were arriving, along with a group of girls.  She placed her book down and watched when everyone hopped out of the boat and onto the dock. 

There were at least twelve of them exiting the two boats laughing and joking around. All the girls were tall and thin, exactly the body she wished she had. Sighing, she looked down at her own short chubby legs and soft stomach, not always successfully hidden by her baggy clothes.

But she tried, mainly because she was embarrassed at the changes in her body. Even her brothers teased her about wearing a shirt over her bathing suit lately. She couldn’t help it, though. Sometimes being a girl sucked.

She was used to seeing her brothers and their friends with girls all summer long, only this year it seemed her brother Phil and one of his friends had steady girlfriends. At least she thought so since she kept seeing the same two girls every day for the last few weeks.  Of course those girls had tall thin model-like bodies, with gorgeous long dark hair that fell in waves around the tiny bikinis they wore.

Ben stepped out onto the deck, interrupting her thoughts. “Come on, let’s go.”

She looked down at the group on the dock again longingly and back to her waiting brother. “Why don’t you go? I’ll just stay here and finish my book. Maybe later, OK?”

He looked at her and shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he said. Then he ran down the hill to the dock.

She heard one of her brothers speaking to Ben. “What are you doing? I thought you were grounded?”

Ben laughed. “Katie found a loophole. I’m going swimming,” he said, dropping his towel over the handrail of the decking in a run, then diving into the water.

“That’s Katie for you,” her older brother Alec said, elbowing his twin, Phil, in the ribs.

“Who’s Katie?” a leggy brunette hanging on Phil’s arm wanted to know.

“Our sister,” Phil replied with a nod of his head to Katie where she stood at the top of the house deck looking down at the group. He waved at her and she lifted her hand in return, her ponytail swishing around her face. Phil put his hand above his eyes against the sun’s glare. Katie wondered if it was bouncing a reflection off her braces when she smiled.

Their voices carried easily on the wind, and she heard the girl say with a bit of a bite, “
That’s
your sister? What’s she adopted? She looks nothing like you guys.”

The brunette looked at Katie’s tall muscular twin brothers and then Ben, who was now swimming laps in front of the dock.  The only similarity Katie had to them was the color of their hair.

“Leave her alone. She’s just a kid.”

Katie didn’t know who defended her; all their voices sounded alike and her brothers were always protective of her.

Not that she needed their protection. The brunette didn’t say anything Katie hadn’t felt about herself over the years. The little ugly duckling. She walked back to her chair, picked up her book and started to read, trying to wipe the conversation from her head.

“Katie,” she heard her mother call through the window.  “Want to help me make some cookies?”

“Sure, Mom.” At least she got something out of today. Cookies always made her feel better.

 

Family

 

 

Ryan Mathews pushed his chair back from the large mahogany desk in his office and looked out the window toward the State Capitol of Albany in the distance. Hands behind his head, stretching his back, he forced himself to clear his mind for the moment.

It was only Wednesday night and he’d already put in close to forty hours this week alone.  His eyes were blurry and he was having trouble focusing on the case file in front of him.  Brittany Fremont, single mother of three, charged in the manslaughter of her boyfriend, Jason Briggs.

Dropping his hands and pulling closer to his desk, he glanced at the framed photo he placed there this morning. It was a group photo taken just last week at Mac Malone’s house.  Mac’s wedding. Well, his first wedding.  A more elaborate affair would be later this summer.

Two weddings? Ryan grinned, thinking he’d never even want one. No way, not him.  He liked his life, liked being able to come and go when he wanted. 

No strings attached, unless he put them there, and he very rarely did. But when he did, they were tied loosely enough for him to leave with no hassles.

There he was in the photo, alone, on the end of the four other couples.

He stood next to his parents, Thomas and Michele Mathews, who’d just celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary a few months ago.  Then his brother, Lucas, next to his parents standing with his wife Brooke—who also happened to be Mac’s sister. Lucas and Brooke were jointly holding their six-week-old son, Michael Thomas. 

Further down the line were the bride and groom, Dr. Mac Malone and his new wife, Beth—heavily pregnant with her second child.  Just a few days ago she finally gave birth to their son, Evan.  Standing in front of the happy couple was Beth’s first child, Zoe, now also a Malone. 

Ryan had a brief moment of disgust when he thought back to the fall when he took on Beth’s custody battle case to get Zoe’s biological father out of their lives for good.

The amount of scum in this world frustrated him to no end.  Beth’s case wasn’t the hardest he’d ever had, not even close, but it was by far the most rewarding.  The beautiful shy Beth with her equally adorable daughter deserved the best in life. And they got that with Mac.

Last in line in the photo: Ryan’s best friend for the last fifteen years, Dr. Jack Reynolds, and his fiancée, Cori. Their wedding would be taking place in a few months at his house. 

It was second time Ryan would be Jack’s best man, and he was more thrilled this time around than he was when Jack married his first wife, Tracy, who died from cancer years before. 

Family. That’s what it was all about. 

He was shocked at the pang of envy that went through him just now looking at all the couples.  But it couldn’t be helped. He had a reason for the way he was.  A reason no one knew about, and he liked it that way.  It was his choice and he wasn’t changing for anyone.

Besides, he had never been lonely, not once in his life. Family had always been there.

If he wanted more than family companionship, all he had to do was look on his phone and randomly call any number listed in his contacts to have a willing woman for the night. For once, though, he wasn’t in the mood and pushed that envy aside.

With a deep sigh, he opened the file in front of him again.  Family was the most important thing in life above all else.  Keeping that in mind, he needed to find a way for his new client to not spend a minute more in jail. 

 

***

 

Two days later after another twenty-five hours of work, Ryan was ready to throw in the towel, which was why he was walking out his door on a Friday night immaculately dressed in dark wash jeans, a tailored black oxford shirt fashionably lying untucked at his waist, along with his favorite black Italian loafers. 

The dark choices of his clothing stood out more against his light blonde hair and blue eyes, making him almost appear rakish. Appearances were important to him.

He needed a beer and he needed some female company for the night. Currently in between girlfriends—and that suited him just fine—he would have to make do for one night of action. 

Calling someone he had been out with before was easy enough; she would accept his invitation for the night, but it always seemed to come with strings.

Regardless of how expertly he managed to loosely tie any strings, he wasn’t up to it tonight. He just needed to unwind.

Opening the door to a local brewpub, he glanced around and noticed the place was packed. Several heads turned his way, the bartender waving him over. 

He was on a first-name basis with several local establishments.  Of course having his image on TV either doing commercials for their firm or being interviewed by the news for a case didn’t hurt.

Most people knew who he was, then pretended they were his friend. Oftentimes he didn’t have a clue what their first name was but put on a smile and played along.

He sidled up to the bar where several blondes were gathered in a group. Girls’ night out, he summed up in his head.  And plenty were grinning at him with an open invitation.  He’d been leaning toward blondes lately.

But a redhead in the corner caught his eye. He had been out with her a few times years ago.  With a big inviting smile, he made his way to her.  Maybe it was time for a change from his normal preferences.

 

***

 

Isabel Harper had never been happier in her life.  All four of her children were together again under one roof and seated at her table for an early Sunday dinner.

Katie, her baby, had finally moved back home.  For the last decade she had been away, first to college at Harvard, then later moved on to Manhattan to make a name for herself on Wall Street. 

Several months ago she had decided she had enough of the big city life and wanted to come home and work with her father at his investment firm in Albany.  He welcomed her with open arms.

Ben. Isabel had been worried about him the most.  His career in the Navy never sat well with her, but she always supported her children.  Thankfully Ben was home safe and sound. At least physically.

Alec. The oldest of her twin boys by just two minutes. Alec had always been her steady one, always knew what he wanted out of life and worked hard to get there.

Philip. The other twin, the quieter of the two.  Phil and Alec were inseparable as children and even more so as adults, which was why they jointly owned Harper Construction.  Next to Phil was Linda, his girlfriend of five years.

Isabel was proud of her children, but she was ready to have them settle down.  Only she knew there was no way she could put any type of pressure on them. She and her husband, William, were going to have to figure something out if they were ever going to get any grandchildren.  She would keep that little thought to herself for now, though.

 

***

 

“So, Alec,” Isabel started. “What projects do you have coming up?”  She loved to be kept abreast of her children’s lives, Kaitlin knew firsthand.

“A few home remodels and a large office rehab. I’ve got the crew split between locations.  Phil’s got a few consultations coming up for new homes. And we were talking about buying some property to start a development, but we need to look into it a bit more.”

“That sounds exciting,” Isabel said, beaming. Kaitlin smiled; her brothers were such hard workers.

“I’ve got the Mathews law firm looking over some documents for us right now to see where we stand,” Phil added.

“Phil,” Linda said with a bright smile and syrupy sweetness. “Do you think we could build on the property if it goes through? I’ve been looking at floor plans lately and I know just the type of house for us to have for our family someday. I always wanted to live around a cul-de-sac in a development.”

There was an awkward silence around the table as Phil shifted in his seat and answered quickly. “Plenty of time for that down the road.” Kaitlin chuckled. Phil would rather have shot himself in the head than live that close to people, and his family knew that. Obviously Linda was clueless.  “So, Katie, how are you getting settled?” Phil asked, turning to her in his attempt to divert Linda.

Kaitlin tried not to roll her eyes.   She would always be little Katie to her family, even though she decided to use her full name when she went away. It was more professional sounding, but her family would never see her as anything other than the baby of the family.

“Not too much to really get settled.  My townhouse is quite a bit bigger than my loft was in Manhattan. I’m just finishing up with furniture and decorating.  Other than that, I’m almost done. Just a few boxes to unpack.  Work is easy. I’ve got a great boss.” She looked fondly at her father.  She had always been Daddy’s girl and wasn’t ashamed to admit it.

“And I’ve got a great new employee,” William said back, patting his daughter’s hand next to him at the large table.

Ben interrupted. “Mom, can I help you clean up?”

“What’s the hurry, Ben?” she asked, standing up and gathering her own plate. “I haven’t even brought dessert out yet.”

“Sorry,” Ben said sheepishly. “I’m heading over to Ryan’s in about an hour for poker night.”

Alec looked at his watch quick. “Crap, I almost forgot. Sorry, Mom, I’ll be leaving soon, too.” He turned to look at Phil and his father. “You two want in?”

They both said yes at once, Isabel laughing and Linda scowling.

“Do you really need to go play poker tonight, Phil? We haven’t seen much of each other all week,” Linda said in what Kaitlin thought of as a nail down the chalkboard kind of whine.

“Sorry. I missed out last time and really want to see Ryan.  Plus, I want to hear how Mac is enjoying the house, too, now that it’s finished.” He looked at his girlfriend apologetically. “It seems every time he has called you and I have plans, so this one time I would like to go. We don’t have any plans tonight so I’ll just drop you back at your place and go from there.”

Kaitlin had been watching the interaction between her brother and his girlfriend and couldn’t help but see the writing on the wall between them.  Phil had been dragging his feet for years with Linda.  She’d never cared for Linda herself, but it wasn’t her life. 

“I heard Lucas has a baby now.” Kaitlin spoke to no one in particular, hoping to ease the tension between Phil and Linda.

William answered. “A son, Michael Thomas, named after both his parents.  Thomas was in the office last week showing off pictures.  I have to say I’m pretty jealous. Thought I would have a grandchild in my arms by now,” he said looking around the room. He frowned when all his sons turned their heads to look at random spots on the wall.

Kaitlin just sighed. She had hoped to have a child of her own by now, too.  She had always been goal orientated, and she had accomplished all but one of her goals in life so far. 

She’d graduated top of her class from Harvard, received her MBA, and was recruited by a prime investment firm working on Wall Street. She spent the last several years of her life focused on her career, and reinventing herself in the process, in the hopes of finding the right man and starting a family.  Unfortunately, New York City turned out not to be the best place to find that man or raise a family.

So at age twenty-eight she moved back home with the hope of finding that here. Only there was one thing still standing in her way. 

The one thing holding her back was the fact she had yet to have any serious relationship.  She had tried.  She had dated plenty, but she started late. Embarrassingly, she didn’t have her first date until she moved to Manhattan and met her best friend, Sophia.

Sophia had taken one look at her and decided she was a makeover in progress. And make her over she did.

Thankfully Katie wasn’t the chubby shy awkward child she’d been growing up.  Years of discipline had transformed her baby fat into a curvy athletic body.  She still felt her chest and hips were too big, but she was toned and her waist was tiny.  Everyone told her she had a body to die for, but she would have been just as happy to be tall and thin, not curvy.

After the physical change, Sophia worked on Kaitlin’s flirting skills, getting her to come out of her shell. Within six months she was a whole new person and ready to take on the dating world.

Fortunately looking like a modern day Marilyn Monroe attracted plenty of men.  Too bad being the ripe age of twenty-three and still a virgin had scared them off. 

Therein lay her problem.  Now, at age twenty-eight, every time she got close to having a relationship and wanted to take it to the next level, they bolted once they knew she was inexperienced.  It was like she had the plague or something.

So before she could move on to her next goal in life of finding a man and starting a family, she had to find a way to take care of that little problem first.

She was drawn out of her thoughts when her mother asked her brothers. “What about Ryan? Any signs of him settling down? I know Michele would love nothing more than a houseful of grandchildren, just like me,” she added, then watched as all her boys looked at another wall.

Kaitlin laughed, and her mother couldn’t help but sigh and roll her eyes. 

BOOK: Road to Reason
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