It’s been three years since the tragic death of his grandparents. Rusty has been called home to Texas for the final reading of the will. This face to face showdown with his verbally abusive father isn’t something that is high on his list of things to do.
Ultimately he wouldn’t dream of stepping back in this town, but the words from his grandmother Gege keep coming to him and compelling him to face these fears and past abuse. He hears her voice, but how is this possible? Being awarded the home in Florida and put in charge of the financial fortune leaves Rusty’s Dad and sister angry. How angry? Rusty will soon find out.
Arriving in Florida at his grandparent home is almost like stepping back to his childhood. However many things have changed. The more questions he has, the deeper the secrets go. Mysterious things begin to happen the closer Rusty gets to the truth. He ultimately learns how deeply the love of his grandparents went as he uncovers the truth behind the accident. Voices from the water come flooding in and the secrets of his past prove to guide his footsteps. Rusty must come to terms with his own secrets and how it affects friendships, loves, and family acceptance.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book was inspired by my wife. After years of short stories and poetry writing, she nudged me to write a book. With the love of family and acceptance being the center of the story, the mysteries and struggles of the main character are depicted. I wanted to write a story with twists and turns that ultimately shows how a person can overcome many negative things in life.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters evolved over years of observing people and life events. Many of them seem to be creations of the mind that just came to me as the story evolved.
Fall and winter have always been a hard-depressing time of year for me. Summer is my favorite time of year and all the things it brings with it. My fondest memories are summer vacations, as a kid growing up most of my summers were with my grandparents in a little beach town in Florida. I longed for the easy-going times with sun, sand, and ocean breezes. Nothing fills me full of peace more than those summers. Closing my eyes, I'm instantly flooded with memories of the beach bonfires, fishing on the water with Skipper, and GeGe always reminding me to wear sunscreen before leaving the house.
We called grandad Skipper because he was a retired Navy man, and he loved boats. Skipper was a tall, stern man with wavy grey hair, deep-set ocean blue eyes, and skin tanned from the sun. He always wore a light blue pressed button-down shirt. Which he neatly rolled up to the elbow exposing his Navy anchor tattoo on his right forearm. He wouldn't be caught dead anywhere without his infamous white sailor's hat cocked sideways on his head. He was a gentle giant, and he loved the ocean.
Grandma was his polar opposite; we called her GeGe. Gege had medium-length silver hair, porcelain white skin that she kept covered from the sun, and a smile and laugh that made you feel at home. She was a sweet, caring woman that without fail, made time for a friend. You always saw her early mornings with her classic straw hat and wicker handheld basket combing the beaches for tidal treasures. She had a fondness and talent for making jewelry out of sea glass. Many of her pieces were exquisite works of art.
Closed up in my one-bedroom apartment overlooking a small courtyard filled with snow seems harder and harder these days. Snow is unusual for this time of year in New York, but an unexpected weather pattern has yielded two inches. My apartment has the bare necessities for living. The kitchen has a single refrigerator, a hot plate, and a mismatched set of grey dishes. In the living room is a tattered blue couch that GeGe had given me, it has seen better days. The bedroom is a mattress lying on the floor with plaid sheets that lay unmade most days.
I'm flat broke, have a job in a law firm that I hate, and this fast-paced city life is not for me. What am I doing here in New York in the wintertime? After college graduation, I swore to my parents that I would get a job and make it on my own. Life with them was never easy, and life at home was hard and difficult. They didn't see me, not my true self anyway. They always questioned my choices and never really showed any interest in my life. The only one in my family that genuinely got me was GeGe. She always understood me, and to be honest, she didn't care disappointing others in the family for all she did for me. GeGe and Skipper have been gone for three years now from a freak boating accident. The loss of them and their unwavering love still haunts me. The only solace I feel is they were together till the end as they always wanted.
Pleasantly enjoying the fond memories, the loud ringing of my cell phone startles me. Great, it is my sister Annie, do I answer it or let it go to voice mail. Already avoiding two calls from her, I answer. "Hello." Annie sighs, on the other end of the phone, "Hi Rusty, how are you, and why are you avoiding my calls?” Immediately I'm filled with dread for answering the call. Mustering out, "Hi Annie, everything is fine, and I'm not avoiding your calls. Work has just been busy. How are the kids?” Sensing a heightened tone to her voice and before I can get much else out, she quickly blurts out, "Mom and Dad need you to come home, there is an outcome to Skipper and GeGe's will." I had forgotten that they had a will, much less why Mom wanted me there at the reading.
To say my grandparents had money was an understatement; Skipper came from old money. His Dad was a Texas oilman that hit it big during the oil boom days and then sold all his assets. He was a smart man because not long after the oil boom was over, many of his friends lost money. When Skipper and GeGe died, it is unknown by many what their fortune was worth. Aside from a beautiful home on the beach and a love for boating, they spent frugally. It's funny what money does to people. My Father had always been envious of their wealth and felt they should have lavishly spent on things he wanted. Gege and Skipper's estate was frozen when they passed, for some reason. I never knew why, but my Dad was obsessed with fighting to get the estate opened. He was a man that loved money, but never what you had to do to earn it. My Father held up the estate reading for almost three years due to his actions. I always hated how Mom let Dad complain about her parents.
Annie is still talking, and me not being able to get a word in, I cut in "Annie, work at the law firm is busy, and I just can't get away." Knowing full well that as an entry-level Lawyer, I don't have dedicated cases. Most of my days are spent filing papers for the partners and shuffling clients to and from the courthouse. Before I can say another word, she blurts out, "Mom has already purchased you a plane ticket, and it's for Friday, so don't miss it. You know how to travel Rusty, just check-in at the airport". Then as quickly as she called, she hangs up.
I finish my morning coffee and walk the block in the cold snow to catch a cab downtown for work. My boss is a rigid man that has worked in this law firm for years. He expects all employees to put in the sixty hours a week he does. Except we don't get paid for working over forty hours. Today I have to get a corporate client to the courthouse for a plea. He has our firm on retainer because he isn't always on the up and up.
When I arrive at our client's penthouse to make sure he is downtown on time, he welcomes me in. "Hi, Rusty, nice to see you again this week." Smiling at him, "it's good to see you again, sir, are you ready to leave for the courthouse"? He darts to his closet, "Yes, let me just get my coat." Halfway into the drive, he leans up from the backseat, "Rusty, why are you in this job?” Pondering his question for a moment before answering, "well, sir, because I want to make a difference in society." "No, Rusty, why are you in this particular job?” Not sure what answer he wants to hear, "honestly, sir, some days, I just don't know." He pats me on the shoulder, "You should come work for me; I could use a nice guy like you in my line of work." He owns a pawn shop, and his business is shady with a hint of brutal if he doesn't get what he wants. I'm unsure how I could fit into his world.
Smiling to him in the rearview mirror, "Thank you, Mr. Jones, I am doing ok." Thinking to myself," I just told Mr. Jones a lie." Truthfully, I'm broke, and one mess up on this job could leave me jobless. As we arrive at the courthouse, I open the door for him. He slips his business card and a hundred-dollar bill in my jacket pocket. "Rusty, if you ever need anything, just let me know, there is nowhere you can't reach me or things I can't get done." Smiling at him, "Thank you, Mr. Jones, and good luck in there. If I ever need anything, I’ll call you". Getting back in the car, I'm confused about why Mr. Jones wants to hire me or even give me his card. What could I ever need from a man such as him?
Once Mr. Jones is clearly in the courthouse, I drive the corporate car back to the office. Going in to talk to my boss Mr. Abernathy, "Sir, do you have a moment?” He peers over his glasses and motions me in his office. "Did you get Mr. Jones to the courthouse?” Shaking my head, "Yes, sir, he is there." He leans back in his chair, "Did you walk him into the court preceding?” Shaking my head, "No sir, the parking lots were full. He didn't want me to walk him in.” Frustrated, he throws his pen on the desk. "Rusty, my order was for you to pick up Mr. Jones, drive him to the courthouse, and walk him into the court. Why did you not follow those orders?” Trying to explain, he gets more agitated. Once he finishes yelling at me for not following his orders, he waves his hand for me to leave. Before walking out the door, "it won't happen again, sir." As he looks back to his file, "Sir, I hate to bring this up now, but something has come up. My parents informed me of a legal matter back in Texas, that requires my presence." With a deep sigh, he looks at me, "what kind of legal matter." Briefing him on the details and listening as he has a few more directions for me. They are not kind directions, and his last words to me are, "I can find anyone to do this job."
I don't know which is worse, going back home to Texas or losing my job. That job wasn't my dream job anyway, but it has been my only means for support. Finding myself seated in an aisle seat on the plane dreading the four-hour flight back to Dallas is odd. I've not seen my family in over three years since my grandparent's memorial and it has me lost in thought. Lots of changes have happened these last few years. My appearance has become one I am fond of seeing. My brownish blonde hair is a little longer these days. My blue-green eyes are the same, of course, but my mustache and beard will be hard for my family to get used to seeing. My body shape has drastically changed now. I have developed a masculine physic with broad shoulders and muscles in my arms that, for sure, Dad will try to ignore. The various tattoos that adorn both arms and across my chest are what Mom will detest most.
Last time I was home, my parents called me Regina. I loathed that name growing up. I was born a girl to my parents and never lived up to the girl part. Mentally my actions were all boy, it was in my actions, in my clothing selection, and the name I desired. It was a contentious battle all my years with my parents. Every summer spent with GeGe and Skipper; I was able to be myself free of the harsh comments from my Father. Mom was scared of him, so she never tried to take my side or even understand me.
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