For your holiday reading pleasure, I’m sharing a sample from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.
Emily thought she had a good marriage until she caught her husband, Jesse, with another woman. Jesse however, has fought hard to win her back, and his efforts appear to have been successful. To celebrate their reconciliation, he’s taken Emily to San Diego for Christmas, but an unexpected phone call from Emily’s grandmother is about to set the stage for an even bigger tragedy.
A Christmas Scene from The Betrayal
Emily heard a knock at her door as she put on her earrings. Jesse waited on the other side. Once again, he greeted her with a kiss.
“You brought your little black dress.”
She smiled in return. “Indeed I did. As I recall, it was your favorite.”
“And it still is.”
As he stepped into the room her phone started ringing. She reached into her purse and frowned as she checked the caller ID.
“Who is it?” asked Jesse.
“My grandmother.” Emily let out a frustrated sigh. “Somehow it figures. I haven’t heard from her in weeks, and now, here she is. Her sense of timing is impeccable. She’s always had a knack for raining on people’s parades, and I’m really tempted to let it go to voicemail.”
“Don’t.” Jesse’s voice sounded firm. “Otherwise she’ll keep calling back, every half hour, until you answer. Besides, it’s Christmas Eve, and you and I are on our way back to where we belong. It’s time to let it go and wish her a Merry Christmas.”
Emily shook her head and shrugged her shoulders before she accepted the call. “Hi Grandma. Merry Christmas.”
“I just got off the phone with your brother.” Her grandmother’s voice had its usual demanding undertone. “So I know your father is in Minneapolis and you’re at home alone. So why don’t you come over here?”
“Where are you, Grandma?”
“I’m at your Aunt Heather’s house. I’m with her, and your cousin.”
“Tonya. Gary and Annette have other plans tonight, but I’ll be seeing them tomorrow. Meantime, I’m very concerned about the fact that it’s Christmas Eve, and you’d rather be home by yourself instead of reaching out to your family.”
“Actually, Grandma, I already had an invite from Eddie and Gwen. You know, my other cousins. On Dad’s side of the family.”
Emily heard the distinct sound of disapproval in her grandmother’s voice. “Besides, this year none of you invited me to any of your holiday celebrations.”
“So I’m inviting you. Now.” As usual, her grandmother’s invitation sounded more like a command.
“Sorry, Grandma, but I won’t be able to make it. At the moment I’m in California, with Jesse.”
“With Jesse?” Barbara sounded stunned.
“Yes, Grandma, I’m with Jesse. He’s still my husband, and we’re trying to work things out.”
“Well, hallelujah. It’s about time you came to your senses. I’ve been telling you for months now that this was nothing more than a misunderstanding that’s been blown way out of proportion. It’s about time you stopped telling all your vicious lies about your cousin. You know, he fired her because of you, and she’s–“
Jesse could hear Barbara’s end of the conversation through Emily’s phone. “May I?” he whispered. Emily gladly handed him her phone.
“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Leary.” Jesse tried to sound upbeat.
“Well, Jesse. Merry Christmas to you too.” There was a phony sweetness in Barbara’s voice.
“Thank you.” His voice took on a serious tone. “I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight, if I may, once and for all. There was never any misunderstanding about anything on Emily’s part, and everything she’s told you is the truth. I fully admit that last summer I had an inappropriate relationship with your other granddaughter, and Annette was a willing participant in that relationship. It was a huge mistake on my part, and Emily did indeed catch us in the act. It damn near cost me my marriage, and I’ve taken full responsibility for my wrongdoings. I don’t know what Annette may have told you, but my decision to fire her was mine and mine alone, and I’d think by now my reason should be pretty clear. At the time I let her go, Emily and I weren’t speaking to one another, so please, quit blaming her for something she didn’t do. And by the way, I also referred Annette to another job, with better pay I might add, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t hired.”
For the moment Barbara was speechless. Jesse went on.
“I want Annette out of my life, Mrs. Leary. Emily wants her out of her life as well, and I’m sure you can understand the reason why. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I’ll always regret my part in creating a permanent rift in your family, but I’m afraid it’s the way things will have to be from now on. Emily and I will be here in California for the holidays, and then she and Megan will be leaving for their cruise right after the first of the year. We’re hoping she’ll be ready to move back home once she returns, and then maybe we can have you over for dinner. In the meantime, we’d like to wish you, and your daughter, and Tonya, a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you sometime in the New Year.”
He disconnected the call before Barbara could respond. “Hopefully that’ll shut the old battleax up for a while,” he said as he handed the phone back to Emily. “So are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said, “and I hope you finally got through to her, because she sure wouldn’t listen to me.”
“I think she may have gotten the message. At least for now.” He smiled and gave her a reassuring hug. “But even if she didn’t, it’s not your fault. I know she’s your grandmother, but it’s a toxic relationship. You have every right to live your life in peace and to not have to put up with her abuse. In the meantime, you’re sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Jesse.”
He looked into her eyes and kissed her. “In that case, I guess we’d better get going. I made dinner reservations for seven o’clock, but hold that thought, okay?”