Time to Deceive (Sweet Pea II: 1973-74)
Getting married means you’re going to live happily ever after with your true love. Right? Unfortunately, for Johnie, the first thing she learns after marrying Phil is the necessity of deception as she conceals her love for Jake. Fate continues its cruel intervention when members of Johnie’s family meet untimely deaths and Jake returns to mourn the loss of his sister. Jake and Johnie reunite briefly, painfully, in determination to adopt their four-year-old nephew, B.J. Together, they tackle the on-going vengeance of Phil’s sister, Brenda. Johnie’s dream of happiness becomes a nightmare where Brenda cackles while Johnie boils naked in a cauldron of pea green soup. Because of Marsha’s return and steadfast loyalty, Johnie is able to endure even the most unthinkable.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The entire Sweet Pea Trilogy began back in the 1970's. I cannot tell you how many times it's been rewritten. But, I have sent it to many places/people just asking for advice on how to publish it. Finally, last year, an editor acquaintance read the first chapters of the book and told me to rewrite it in 1st person. The idea was to shorten the story. However, in rewriting, the story became so long I felt compelled to divide it into a trilogy. The first book (published Sept. 3, 2017) The Demise of Innocence (Sweet Pea I)is the primary characters final steps into adulthood. The second story (to be officially released Oct. 7, 2017) Time to Deceive (Sweet Pea II) are the years 1970 thru 1974 when marriage and a major personal upheaval occurs that will make or break the primary character as a person. The third story (to be released in Nov. 2017) The Price of Passion (Sweet Pea III) is set through the 1980's when all those problems from the past come together to be resolved, solved or left in the dust.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I first wrote this book at a time when the described fashions, trends, etc, were current. I deliberately have not changed them over the years in order to retain the authenticity of that time. The entire Sweet Pea Trilogy is set during the time I grew up, married and gave birth to my sons. The setting is in rural Missouri where I have lived all my life. While all of the characters are fiction they do reflect a number of people (personalities of people) I knew then and now. The primary character's general viewpoint and world outlook is much like my own. So, in short, I created a story about a people and a world I know well.
Description of the Sweet Pea Trilogy: 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.
I approached the antique cabinet containing Mom’s best china with zealous vigor. The lower drawers held nothing but old linens and boxes of long forgotten photographs. The linens I set aside to sort later. I placed the photos on the table beside an assortment of items I’d taken from the mobile home.
I lifted Mom’s favorite glass salad bowl from an upper shelf, fingering it lovingly as I remembered. Mom bought it at a rummage sale for fifty cents. Everyone teased her so, she had the bowl appraised by an antique dealer who told her it was worth at least seventy-five dollars.
“No one ever questioned my Momma’s sense of value again,” I laughed softly to myself.
“Here’s those boxes I promised you,” boomed a voice from the kitchen.
I screamed. The bowl fell from my hands, shattering into a thousand pieces on the floor.
Jake dropped a half-dozen large boxes, flattened and tied together with twine, against the wall and charged across the dining room.
“For God’s sake woman, get hold of yourself!” he bellowed. “I told you I was coming back!”
“I forgot!” I gasped, fighting to regain self-control. I fell to my knees, sobbing, “Momma will never forgive me!”
“Oh yeah? She’s gonna get you from her grave, is she?”
“Don’t you ever work?”
“Only when I feel like it,” he muttered crossly. “If you’re so damned spooky, you have no business bein’ here alone.”
“You scared me!” I cried defensively. “I don’t want any help. Can’t you understand that?”
He stepped over to examine the items spread across the large oak table dominating the center of the room. The photos I had just placed there were of no interest to him. However, he thumbed through several photos of Pam during her school days. Then, he studied a family portrait from his early childhood and a color portrait of his mother.
I busied myself cleaning up the remains of the glass salad bowl, trying my best to ignore him, until he inquired, “Where did you get these?”
“They were Pam’s. I don’t know what to do with them…or her wedding album.” I indicated that, too, lay on the table. “I guess I should put them away for B.J.”
Jake paged through the wedding album. Several photographs were scratched over by obscene words written with a red marker. When he reached the picture of Phil and me (after I caught the bouquet and Phil the garter) he muttered disgustedly, “Cozy.”
I peeked curiously at the album. My face flamed bright crimson. I hastily retreated to the hall closet in search of the vacuum cleaner.
Jake stared at me the whole time I vacuumed the floor. He enraged me so, I clicked the vacuum off with a rapid jerk, and demanded, “What are you waiting for?”
One corner of Jake’s mouth curled. His voice mocked, “You plan to keep that picture for my nephew?”
“I have a copy of it sitting on my dresser,” I informed him tersely.
Jake’s lip curled further.
“Stop sneering!” I snapped. “I’m not the least bit ashamed of that picture!”
“Why did you blush?”
“Because it reminded me of how innocent I was back then. Life has not turned out the way I expected it to.”
“Aha! So the little lady is finally emerging from her cocoon!”
“Oh, shut-up!” I stormed. I jerked the vacuum cord so hard it wound into the body of the cleaner with a snap. To my utter exasperation, Jake followed me into the hall, demanding to know what I did with Pam’s diary.
“I burned it.”
“Without reading a single word.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“So you can lie to my nephew about how sick his mother was? I suppose you’re even planning to scold him for scribbling up those pictures!”
I spun around intent on giving Jake a good piece of my mind, but I didn’t anticipate how close he stood. I was the one forced to retreat a few steps.
“I read every page of that diary and I know who scribbled up those pictures as well as you do. B.J. is not going to see them before I have them repaired. He is much more aware of just how sick Pam was than you can imagine. I couldn’t lie to him if I tried!”
“You and the college man haven’t helped matters any, have you?”
“I am not going to discuss my marriage with you, Jake."
I attempted to push past him, but he caught hold of my arm.
“I don’t want my nephew livin’ with a woman who can’t tell reality from her childish fantasies and a man who can’t stay away from whores!”
“What?” I gasped.
“Don’t pretend your marriage is all that great. Everyone in Lennon has seen that Plymouth parked outside Schuller’s house.”
Rose Schuller! Rose had been hovering in Brenda’s shadow for three years, making it clear she was available.
“By God, you didn’t know, did you?”
“I s…s…should have.”
As if suddenly realizing how unfair his hateful accusations were, Jake heaved a remorseful sigh. “I’m sorry I was the one to tell you, Sweet Pea.”
His gaze was sincere. His tone of voice held that familiar pleasant drawl; but, I didn’t want to hear that—or his pet name for me. I didn’t want to admit that disposing of Pam’s belongings could be as difficult for him to watch as it was for me to do. I didn’t want to believe he cared.
“The hell you’re sorry! Haven’t you hurt me enough, Jake? Do you get your kicks coming back to hurt me more?”
“Hurt you?” His gaze returned to accusing. “Do you believe you didn’t hurt me? We made it how many times that night? Five? Six? And then, you told me you wanted Landenshift!”
“I did not!” I cried, stricken that he would choose to confront me about this now. “I said I couldn’t have a relationship with you before I settled things with Phil! I wasn’t rejecting you! I was pleading with you to wait!”
Jake was visibly stunned. “Don’t try to tell me you wanted me.”
“Yes, I wanted you! I would have told you so if you’d just cooled off and given me a chance to explain!”
I shoved the vacuum cleaner into the closet and slammed the door, hastily whirling away determined to get as far from him as possible, but he grabbed my arm and made me face him again.
“Why did you marry Phil?”
“Because I loved him."
Jake grumbled beneath his breath.
“Dammit, Jake!” I shook my arm in effort to free myself. “I loved both of you! After that night with you, I felt guilty just dumping Phil. You never gave me a chance to deal with that. You just drew your own wrong conclusions and left!”
I didn’t succeed in releasing my arm. In fact, Jake drew me closer, grasping the other arm as well. His expression revealed in his confusion.
“It never occurred to me that I misunderstood you. I thought you decided you wanted him and the wisest thing I could do was to get the hell out before that backfired on you, too.”
“Well, that’s exactly what you did,” I agreed sarcastically. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”
“Yes, it does. Especially now.”
“My nephew. We have to make some decisions where he’s concerned.”
“His name is B.J. and he is as much my nephew as he is yours.” A fleeting thought raced through my mind, causing me to struggle harder than ever. “It was you, wasn’t it? You turned me into Child Welfare!”
“No,” Jake whispered, closing his eyes as he shook his head in denial.
I flayed my arms in determination to be free. “How could you? You know how much I love B.J!”
“Johnie…Sweet Pea. Listen to me.” Jake finally succeeded in wrapping both of my arms behind my back, holding them while he explained, “I went to the Agency to ask how custody is determined in cases like B.J.’s. They assured me—not too nicely—that someone is investigating both of us. They're after me too, Sweet Pea. They don't want B.J. to live with either of us.”
My shock was so great I ceased to struggle. “Who? Why?”
Jake sadly shook his head. “I don’t know. I do know that we better get our shit together if we want B.J. to live with any member of his real family.”
“Do you want him to live with me?”
“What I want isn’t the issue. I’m not going to get it, and your college man is doing his best to screw up what little positive you have going for you.”
I slumped against Jake, no longer able to control my tears—or to deny how much I needed him.
His lips brushed my forehead, my temple and, as I raised my face, closed over my mouth in a searing caress that erased all of my anger as well.
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