Authors: Sydney Arrison
Lilactyme Productions (LP)
Copyright © June 2015
Edited by LP
Cover Design: LP
First Copyright e-Publication June 2015
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This book is dedicated to Michael John DeMarco; you have given me more than you’ll ever know. Also for my GPS, Allison Van Eps; I love and miss you greatly.
Thanks to author Vivienne Diane Neal.
Thanks to Tina Van Eps.
Thanks to Nancy Muniz.
Thanks to my mother for giving me my first typewriter and also to my sisters and brother.
I would especially like to thank all of the readers and bloggers who have shared and purchased my work.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.”
Brooklyn Peirce, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher, worked at the Coretta Scott King elementary school in New York. She graduated from Princeton University at the top of her class. Many of her fellow graduates went on to teach in very prestigious and expensive private schools. Brooklyn, however, decided long ago that wasn’t the path she would take. Most of her pupils came from single parent families and lived slightly above the poverty line. It was grueling, but she loved her job. Every evening she could be found at the Apex Fitness Center; it was her time to unwind; a way to relax from a hard day's work.
Early on, Brooklyn realized there was more to being a good teacher than correcting papers and teaching children to read. It wasn't uncommon for her to purchase school supplies, food and even clothing for some of the students. Every year there was always at least one child whose living conditions were so deplorable, Brooklyn had to contact the Department of Children and Family Services.
She was just leaving the gym after a vigorous workout when her ringtone, Michael Jackson’s “Don’t stop till you get enough”, played on her cell phone. She sat her gym bag on the bench and answered the call.
“Hey Jules, what’s up?”
“Brook, where are you? You know Dad’s fundraiser is tonight and he wants all of us here no later than seven,” Jules said, sharply.
“Jules, how are you and my little nephew doing?” Brooklyn replied, jokingly.
Jules was Brooklyn’s older sister; she was married to Dan Price an invest banker. They lived in Florida and were expecting their first child in a few months. Although the sex wasn’t known, Jules was hoping for a girl while Dan and Brooklyn have their hearts set on a boy.
“Brook,” Jules said, with a chuckle, “I’m having a girl...And hopefully she won’t be a smart-ass like you. Now hurry up and get here; Terry is going nuts.”
“I’m just leaving the gym. I have to go home, shower and change. I should be there before seven.”
“Leave the dowdy teacher's clothes at home and wear something extra sexy.”
“Jules!” Brooklyn shouted.
“There’s no point in working out, if no one but you will see the results. By the way, how long has it been since you and Jason split up?”
Jason Diaz was Brooklyn’s ex-boyfriend. They started dating in college and even moved in together after they graduated. Things seemed to be going well until Brooklyn discovered that Jason had developed a very expensive cocaine habit. Once she and Jason’s family intervened, he ended up doing four stints in rehab, always promising her that “this time it would work”, but it never did. After he came home high one night, she confronted him about a large sum of money he withdrew from her bank account without permission. As he tried to lie his way out, he quickly
became nervous and irate; eventually threatening her with a knife. Needless to say, she ended the relationship for good. Embarrassed by the whole ordeal, she never told anyone about what happened. Brooklyn’s family just thought: for whatever reasons, it didn’t work out.
“Look, you can’t keep me on the phone if you want me to arrive there on time,” Brooklyn said, sidestepping Jules' question.
“Brooklyn, be careful; I heard about the chloroform rapist on the news.”
In the last six months, ten women had come forward saying they were abducted and raped. The rapist used chloroform to subdue his victims. All the rapes had taken place in and around the Manhattan area.
“Jules, don’t worry, I never leave home without my pepper spray. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay, see you around seven.” Jules said.
Brooklyn lived in an open loft apartment located in Tribeca. After Jason moved out, she considered getting a roommate to help with the rent, then decided she would take on a second job instead. Her father, the first African American governor of New York State, was a self- made billionaire making most of his money from stocks and real-estate. After he found out that she was considering a second job, he purchased the apartment for her. Brooklyn never wanted to use her father’s fame or fortune to get ahead, so she threatened to move and find another place, if he didn’t accept the plan she proposed to pay him back.
Brooklyn rode the elevator up to her loft. As soon as the doors slid open, she hurried down the narrow hallway. Once inside her apartment, she quickly undressed and hopped in the shower. The warm water felt good against her tired, sore muscles. She basked in the soothing spray and thought about what Jules asked her:
“How long has it been since you and Jason broke up?”
It was exactly one year, she thought.
Brooklyn had been out on a few dates since then, but after Jason she wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. Every now and then her friends would set her up, but it was always casual. Brooklyn stepped out of the shower and draped herself in an oversized lavender robe. She grabbed a bottle of water and walked to a span of high arch windows. She stood silently pondering as she looked out at the cityscape. Right now, in this city, someone is announcing a pregnancy...an engagement...someone is walking away with a broken heart...And someone is meeting the one that will change them forever, she thought.
Brooklyn looked at the clock and realized she had forty minutes to get dressed. She ran into the bedroom and went through her walk-in closet like a hurricane. She settled on a canary yellow gown. Looking at herself in the mirror, Brooklyn thought the older she got, the more she resembled her late mother. Brooklyn was a little over 5ft 6 inches tall with a slender figure. She had full lips, and dark brown eyes. She wore her hair parted in the center and cut into a shoulder-length wavy bob. Tonight, due to time constraints, Brooklyn decided to brush it back into a sleek ponytail. While putting the finishing touches on her hair and makeup, the intercom buzzed. She pressed the button mounted on the wall.
“Miss. Pierce, your car has arrived,” Ernie the doorman said.
“Thanks Ernie, I’ll be right there.”
Brooklyn stared out of the tinted glass window of the Town Car as it rounded a corner in the parking lot of the Biltmore Hotel. Reporters were pushing and shoving, trying to get closer to the entrance that was blocked by a police barricade. Finally, the car came to a stop at the rear entrance. The driver got out and opened the back passenger door for Brooklyn to exit. Terry Vega, the governor’s most trusted aide, stood waiting for Brooklyn to arrive. Terry was a curvaceous fifty something Latina. She was dressed in a form fitting white pantsuit and her hair was cut into a short pixie style.
“Brook, you look spectacular!”
“Thanks Terry, you look great too!”
Terry smiled. “Thanks Brook.” She looped her arm through Brooklyn’s and escorted her inside. “I have some last minute details to address; I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Alright, Terry, see you.”
Brooklyn looked around the grand ballroom and it was a sight to behold. There was a long winding, dramatic staircase leading to a polished Brazilian Rosewood floor. Six antique crystal chandeliers hung from the cathedral ceilings adorned with rich mahogany borders. The wait staff dutifully carried trays of gourmet appetizers and glasses of champagne while an orchestra played and guests chatted and networked.
A voluptuous woman dressed in a fire engine red, skintight dress squealed, “Brooklyn, how are you?
Before she could answer, the woman wrapped her arms around Brooklyn and gave her a big kiss on the cheek.
“Paige, it’s so nice to see you,” Brooklyn said, wiggling out of her embrace.
Paige Adair was the governor’s press secretary. She had a mane of unruly auburn hair and, regardless of the season, was always tanned. She was known for being snarky and frank during press conferences. Even a dashiki couldn’t hide Paige’s curves.
“It’s been ages since we’ve talked, but even though I’ve been on maternity leave, I try to keep up with everything that’s going on. Here’s a picture of little Ashley.” Paige handed her phone to Brooklyn. On the screen dressed in pink from head to toe was a chubby cheeked baby girl looking like she was trying to fit her entire pudgy fist into her mouth.
“Oh, she’s adorable!” Brooklyn said.
Yeah, my lumpkins has a wittle cold,” Paige said in a cooing voice, “So daddy stayed home to take care of her.” She laughed. “Excuse the baby talk. I spend most of the day talking to a three week old; I forgot how to communicate with adults. “
Brooklyn smiled. “I understand. You know, Jules is due in a few months. “
“I heard; how exciting for you guys. I have to go find her now; she needs to know about using yoga postures for labor and pain management. Will you excuse me?”
“Of course, enjoy the rest of the evening,” Brooklyn said.
Brooklyn smiled to herself thinking about the look on Jules face when Paige goes into her dissertation about yoga, labor and pain management. Brooklyn grabbed a glass of champagne off of one of the silver trays and spotted her father from across the room. He was surrounded by a number of men dressed in tuxedos. They were having a very animated and humorous conversation when he noticed Brooklyn and quickly rushed over to greet her.
“There’s my girl!” the governor said, as he stretched out his arms, drawing Brooklyn in for a big hug. Although Governor Sage Pierce was in his 60’s, he made a point to work out once a week. He was a handsome man with silver hair, a movie star smile and an ebony complexion. Tonight he looked particularly dashing; he was dressed in a custom made Armani pinstripe suit.
“Hey Dad, are you ready for the big announcement?” she asked
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” he said, as he kissed Brooklyn on the cheek, “You look so beautiful tonight. Jules and Dan are around here somewhere.” He smiled at Brooklyn. “Just locate the dessert cart and I’m sure you’ll find your sister.”
“Poor Dan, he told me last week he had to drive around in the wee hours of the morning to find popcorn flavored jelly beans. Jules just had to have them,” Brooklyn said, laughingly.
“There you are, Sage!” said a dark skinned woman with hair cut into a short afro. She was dressed in a pink halter style gown with large pearl drop earrings and matching necklace.
“Hello Lydia,” Brooklyn said, “I love the dress.”
Lydia Carmen was the governor’s longtime girlfriend. Her boutique, “Lydia’s”, was frequented by a who’s who in the political and entertainment business. Lydia was a former model and, after retiring from the “catwalk”, she decided to launch her own clothing line.
“Thank you sweetheart; it’s from my collection. “
“You certainly are breathtaking!” the governor said, giving Lydia an adoring look as he held her hands in his.
Lydia gave the governor a quick peck on the lips and then said, “Brook, do you mind if I steal your dad for a moment? Terry would like him to run through his speech one more time.”
“No, by all means, go ahead. Good luck Dad.” She watched as her father and Lydia walked away.
After Brooklyn’s mother passed away her father pretty much put his career on hiatus to raise his daughters. He was financially set, so there really wasn’t a need to work 60 hours a week. Then he met Lydia and everything changed. His smile returned and Brooklyn no longer saw a sad broken man when she looked in her father’s eyes. She could now enter college without longing to go back home to make sure her father was okay.
Terry hastily rushed over. “Brook,” she said, with concern in her voice, “Your sister and Dan are waiting in the wings. The governor would like everyone on the stage when he announces.”
Brooklyn turned and set her glass down. “Sure Terry; is everything okay?”
She let out a loud sigh as they walked to the rear entrance of the stage. “Yes, everything’s fine. Dan just informed me that Jules is finally out of the restroom. I need you guys to join your dad onstage in about two minutes.”
Backstage Brooklyn greeted her sister and her brother in-law with a kiss on the cheek. Although Jules was pregnant, she was still quite fashionable. She wore a long black skirt with a beaded maternity top. Her hair was in a French twist with ringlets framing her face.
“Well, that’s a first…You are actually on time,” Jules said, playfully pushing Brooklyn’s shoulder.
“I knew if I wasn’t on time, I’d never hear the end of it.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t hear the end of it either,” Dan said, smirking.
“Lydia, are you going to let them gang up on me?”
“Now, Brook, Danny…You know you must be nice to the mommy to be.”
Dan laughed heartily and then gave Jules a kiss. Brooklyn always thought Jules and Dan were the prefect couple. The two of them met at a fundraiser for her father when he was running for governor two years ago. Dan once told Brooklyn that Jules was “brutally honest.” Dan said he knew Jules was the one when she told him there was spinach between his teeth during one of their first dates. Dan had a medium build and was ruggedly handsome, with sandy blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes.
“Excuse me; we need everyone on the stage ASAP!” Terry said. She spoke into her wireless headset, “The family is coming out now.”