To one man she gave her virginity; to another, she gave her heart. One, she would mourn. With the other, she would share life’s triumph and turmoil. With both, she would endure times of love, and passion and complete happiness as well as times of despair, confusion, and sorrow. One day at a time—each day, building unforgettable memories.
Sweet Pea I: The Demise of Innocence (1968-70): At seventeen Johnie is no longer a child but still full of virgin innocence—and defiance. She quickly learns growing up involves a lot more than physical loss of her virginity.
Sweet Pea II: Time to Deceive (1973-74) Johnie’s dream of happiness becomes a nightmare where Brenda cackles while Johnie boils naked in a cauldron of pea green soup.
Sweet Pea III: The Price of Passion (1984-1990) A secret part of Johnie’s soul survives nurturing the memory of Jake. Fate strikes several more dramatic blows and once again, everything changes.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Sweet Pea spans from the late 1960's into 2009. Set in rural Missouri, it is a story for those who remember the profound cultural changes and historical events that took place in the later part of the 20th Century. It is is a nostalgic story of growing up; of forging lifelong friendships and loyalty within family that supports every life event, good or bad. It is a story of love that binds a man and a woman despite all odds. It is also a story of obsessive hatred and how such hatred destroys not only the innocent, but those who hate.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I have lived my entire life in rural Missouri. Sweet Pea is fiction but the primary character is my age, so many of her life perceptions, memories, etc. liken to mine. The characters are figments of my imagination, however, they also reflect how people were 'back then' how they thought, acted, spoke, dressed, all things that reflect life in rural Missouri in the 1960's, 70's and 80's
He ignored me. “What caused Phil to grab you like that? What were you doing in that bar tonight? You don’t belong in a place like that!”
“I suppose you do!” Both the jar and glass thunked when I set them on the table and began to pace the floor away from him.
“I went in there for a six-pack of beer. It’s a good thing I did, or you’d had more trouble than you bargained for.”
“Well, thank you for rescuing me…again.” I continued to pace.
Jake continued to stare at me. I knew I looked good. I also knew he was seeing much more than my outward appearance. He knew my going into that lounge alone was an act of defiance, not something I would normally do, especially not alone. The bruises on my arms told him Phil and I had a major disagreement.
I knew he intended to interrogate me until I told him the truth. His green eyes bore right through me until, commanding irritably, “Don’t stare at me,” I whirled and made for the bathroom. “I need to use the john.”
I took my good ole sweet time. When I emerged from the bathroom, Jake had finished one can of beer and was working on a second.
I’m sure he was testing me when he took his turn in the bathroom. Several minutes later, he emerged seeming genuinely surprised that I waited for him.
Where would I have gone…walked, that is? He carried the keys to his pickup in the pocket of his jeans. I made an exasperated face; and then, gave up the battle altogether.
“What are we going to do, Jake? You say we have to talk, but we don’t have any answers!”
“Sweet Pea…” he sighed and crossed the room to wrap his long arms around me. “I’d make all your problems go away if I could. I don’t know how. Every time I try to help, it seems I only make matters worse.”
“It’s not your fault, Jake.” I wound my arms tightly around his waist. “My whole world has gone haywire. Nothing is right. I'm so tired of ducking my head and taking everyone else’s crap. I just can’t do it anymore.”
“Who is ‘everyone’?”
“Brenda has convinced Amie I am the most conniving, evil bitch on earth.”
“Gary told me Brenda insists you broke up their marriage but…”
“You’d think she’d have given up on that by now, wouldn’t you?” I let go of Jake and reached for my drink. “You got any ice for this?” I swirled the liquid in the glass with my finger.
“In the refrigerator,” Jake answered as he sat down on the bed and began to remove his boots and socks. “Maybe I could talk to Amie.”
Retrieving the ice tray from the freezer portion of the refrigerator, I placed a few ice cubes in my glass. I refilled the tray with water from the tap and replaced it in the freezer before I spoke again.
“No. Amie has also decided I was the reason you left so suddenly after the two of us gave Pam a nervous breakdown.”
Jake, in the process of making himself comfortable propped against the headboard, padded by all the available pillows, rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, displaying his disgust. “Wanna bring me another beer?”
“Got any munchies in here? Chips or something?”
“In the cabinet.”
I opened a couple doors, letting out an exaggerated sigh of relief before I sent a mischievous glance over one shoulder. “Gee, I expected you to keep all your canned food in alphabetical order.”
“Wouldn’t be a bad idea if it wasn’t so time-consuming," Jake replied.
Actually, contents in the cabinet were sparse. A few cans of soup, some boxes of macaroni and several bags of cookies. I found an unopened bag of Pretzel Stix. Retrieving that along with another can of beer from the refrigerator, I crossed the room to hand the can to Jake before I tried to open the bag of Pretzel Stix.
“You shouldn’t take that kind of shit from anyone,” Jake commented as he opened his third beer.
“That’s what Phil tells me.” I frowned and shook the stubborn bag. “But, I still have to take his shit. Even when he dares to tell me he really did screw Rose, but he’s stopped now because she’s pregnant. Since he refuses to claim her bastard, Rose and Brenda have concocted a scheme to cause Child Welfare to put B.J. in foster care.”
Jake took the bag from me before I ripped it to pieces. “Is that what you two got into it about?” he asked as he opened the bag with no trouble.
I snatched my drink off the table and took a long swallow to keep from bursting into tears.
I concentrated on slipping my shoes from my feet.
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
I lifted one leg to straddle him, settling comfortably across his thighs.
After another sip of my drink, I sat the glass on the table between the bed and the sofa and reached into the bag of Pretzel Stix. Withdrawing several, I began to munch deliberately.
“What were you doing in that bar tonight?”
“Trying to get drunk.”
“You could do that at home.”
“With Amie watching every move I make and B.J. under foot? Brenda was there too. She loved it when I walked out.”
“Okay. Drinking at home is a bad idea.” Jake reached for a handful of Stix.
I leaned forward offering him the opposite end of one pretzel held between my teeth. He nibbled almost to where our lips met before he deliberately bit off the pretzel.
“You’re flirting with me,” he said.
“Can’t I do that?” My eyes filled with tears. I bit my lower lip to stop its trembling.
“Depends on how far you plan to take it.”
“I’m tired of everyone walking all over me. I have feelings too.”
“So do I.”
The tears spilled over. “I never wanted to hurt you, Jake, but fate keeps interfering, and everything gets all botched up.”
“I noticed that.”
His hands moved beneath my blouse.
I became preoccupied with unbuttoning his shirt. The bag of Pretzel Stix fell to the floor.
“We were going to use our heads the next time we met,” he offered half-heartedly.
“We are. We’re alone. No one saw us come here.” I slid my fingers along his ribs beneath his shirt. “And we’re talking…”
“It isn’t the head on my shoulders that’s reacting.”
“Oh.” I feigned startled innocence. “I don’t have one of those.”
“You have other parts that are just as exciting.”
“Excited,” I corrected, guiding his hand against one breast where an erect nipple eagerly begged his attention through my silk blouse and lacy bra. “I want to make love with you again, Jake. I know I shouldn’t. I’ve relived that night three years ago hundreds of times in my mind. The only thing I would change is the way it ended. I wish I’d gone after you instead of waiting for you to come back to me. I didn’t realize you misunderstood me and I will never forgive myself for hurting you that way. I don’t regret being with you the other day, and I won’t regret being with you tonight, even if I burn in hell for it…”
“If you burn in hell for this, I’ll burn right along beside you." His lips finally took full possession of mine.
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