After growing up poor in Texas, Vera Lomax used every gold-digging trick in the book to land a rich husband. Now living in luxury in San Francisco, her only job is to fawn over her much-older husband. So when her husband’s mistress gets pregnant, Vera figures that a little hush money will ensure her husband’s fortune is hers alone. . .
Unfortunately for Vera, Sarah Cooper is the child Kenneth Lomax always wanted. When the father she never knew shows up at her mother’s funeral to claim her, it’s a fairy tale journey from the ghetto to a mansion on a hill. But Sarah knows that her step-mother is as two-faced as they come. And after losing all the family she’s ever known, she wants a life that’s richer than Vera has planned for her. As Vera and Sarah scheme to get what they want, everyone will be choosing sides, taking chances, and gambling it all to come out on top. . .“Family of Lies is gritty and raw, trademarks of Monroe’s novels. A riveting story . . . Monroe’s latest is another page-turner.” —RT Book Reviews
“Readers who enjoy watching characters’ fortunes rise and fall will relish this tumultuous family.” —Booklist
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.73(h) x 1.25(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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Family of Lies
By Mary Monroe
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Mary Monroe
All rights reserved.
Sixteen years later
I couldn't believe how many years had passed since I'd met with Lois Cooper that Saturday morning in a Denny's. I can still see her face in my mind and how frightened she looked by the end of our meeting.
We had both kept our end of the bargain. i made sure she got paid on time every month. And just to prove that I had a heart, each year I gave her a ten percent "cost of living" increase. Just like she was getting paid to do a job. As far as I was concerned, her staying the hell out of my husband's life and not letting him know about that baby was her job and I was her employer. She never returned to work for my husband after our meeting. And since she had not communicated with him, he had no idea why she had up and quit, leaving him in a lurch. I will never forget how baffled he had looked that evening when he came home all those years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't replay that conversation in my head.
"Uh, one of the secretaries called up personnel this morning and told them she was not coming back to work," Kenneth announced. He had come home later than usual this particular day. But I was used to that. He had been spending up to twelve hours a day at the store, several times a week for years. I wondered how much of that time was spent with other women. Even though he had a great team of loyal and competent employees who could run the place without him, his office at his main store had become his second home. He even kept a couple of suits, fresh underwear, and some toiletries in the closet behind his desk.
"Which secretary was it?" I'd asked dumbly. "That white girl with the red cornrows, I hope."
"No, it was not Amber. She's a single mom who is taking care of two toddlers and her disabled older brother. She's not going anywhere anytime soon. And she loves her job." Kenneth hesitated for a few seconds. There was a strange look on his face when he continued. "It was Lois in the main office."
"Hmmm. Isn't she the one you hired because her mother needed help paying her bills? She just up and quit? No explanation?"
Kenneth scratched the side of his face and shook his head. "No explanation whatsoever. I had a feeling something like this might happen."
"Why do you say that?"
"The girl was not that sophisticated and she couldn't get along with too many folks, especially the women. Every time I looked up, somebody was in my office with complaints about her doing or saying one offensive thing or another. She was always late for work and she made a lot of personal telephone calls. None of my immediate staff liked her."
You liked her enough to screw her, I wanted to point out.
I didn't want to remind Kenneth that he had fired his previous secretary because she had always come to work late—if she showed up at all—and she argued with him and everybody else.
He had put up with Lois's behavior and probably would have continued to do so if I hadn't stepped in. So in a way, by me getting rid of her, I had also done him a favor—in more ways than one. Had he known she was pregnant with his baby, we would be having a totally different conversation.
"I feel sorry for the girl. The poor little thing. She's had a hard life and I really wanted to help her."
"You sure did help her." I couldn't help myself. Those words just slipped out of my mouth on their own.
"I'm sorry?" Kenneth sucked on his teeth for a few moments and gave me a curious look.
"You did help her. You gave her a job," I said quickly. "Honey, you've helped a lot of people over the years. Everybody loves you for giving so much back to the community. But you're not the Wizard of Oz or a witch doctor, sweetie. You can't solve everybody's problems. Lois is a grown woman and she's going to do what she wants to do. I think it was pretty tacky for her to quit without giving proper notice, though. Some people are so inconsiderate! Tsk, tsk, tsk. I don't know what this world is coming to."
"Yeah. I won't argue with you about that. She resigned over the phone and that's about as tacky as a person can be—especially in this case. She told the bookkeeper to mail her last paycheck to a post office box," Kenneth croaked.
"And she's such a pretty young thing," I allowed. "But she's also as ghetto as oxtail stew and fried chicken on the same plate. You know how those girls like her are. Most of them have one man coming in the front door and one going out the back door at the same time. I'm sure she attracted a lot of admirers, so maybe she met somebody ..."
"Maybe she did meet somebody," Kenneth grunted. "Oh well. I hope everything is all right with her regardless of why she quit." A sad look appeared on his face and he shook his head, blinking hard as if to hold back a tear or two. Apparently he had loved that heifer, and her mysterious disappearance had really upset him. But I had no sympathy for her or him. "I'll miss her," he admitted, his voice cracking.
"I'm sure you will miss her, "I said, too low for him to hear. And then I gave him a hug. "Now come to bed so I can give you something that'll take your mind off your troubles."
We had made love that night and I forgot all about Lois Cooper and her baby.
* * *
Now, sixteen years later, my marriage was stronger than ever. Not only was I looking forward to the new millennium coming up in a few days, but I was also looking forward to the day Lois's child turned eighteen. I had no idea what the child's name was or if it was a girl or a boy. But none of that mattered to me anyway. All I cared about was that in three more years I'd be off the hook.
And that child would no longer be part of my life!
I was in such a good mood I practically raped Kenneth that night.CHAPTER 2
I had everything a man could want. I owned Lomax Electronics, which consisted of five of the most successful electronic equipment and supplies stores in the state of California. I owned a vacation cabin in the wine country; a spacious condo in downtown Frisco; and a beautiful mansion with a full-service bar in the living room, eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, and a six-car garage.
I had a beautiful wife, a loyal and dependable staff, lots of friends, and a prestigious position in my community. But that still was not enough. I loved pretty young women. I was a dirty old man and I would probably be one until I was a dead old man.
Of all the dozens of affairs I'd had since my marriage to Vera, Lois Cooper was the only one who had really meant something to me. She was the one I still thought about from time to time.
I was convinced that Vera didn't know I was a serial cheater because she had never given me a reason to think otherwise. One night during my affair with Lois, I had called out Lois's name while I was making love to Vera. And since she didn't respond to that, I didn't know what to think. Either I was married to a damn fool who didn't care what I did or said, or she was deaf and hadn't heard my slipup.
I had done it again a few minutes ago, called out another woman's name while I was making love to Vera. She had not responded to it this time either so I played it off. "Oh, baby, that was so good," I told her, rubbing the side of her hip. Being a businessman in what had become a hostile environment, I had to do a lot of damage control, so I was good at it. "If God made a better woman, he kept her for himself." I rolled over onto my back, which was aching like I had fallen off a horse. The rest of my body parts were giving me some discomfort as well. Vera was already on her back. I reached over and squeezed one of her recently surgically enhanced breasts, a prize that had cost me over seven thousand dollars this time. I was huffing and puffing and wheezing as if I'd just been injured.
"Now don't you get too excited and overexert yourself. You're seventy years old now and you can't be humping like a bull the way you used to," Vera scolded.
"A lot of men my age can no longer hump period," I quipped.
"I don't care about other men. You know what Dr. Cortez told you about too much strenuous activity after that heart attack last May. And don't forget to take your pills tonight."
Despite Vera's exasperation with me, there was a smile on her face. How a woman could smile after her husband had called her by another woman's name during a moment of intimacy was a mystery to me. I promised myself to be more careful in the future, but that was a promise I had originally made to myself years ago and I was still committing the same offense! Being a man was hard. There were so many ways for us to fuck up, and that's why it was important for a man like me to have such a patient and understanding woman like my Vera. Oh, she was vain and extravagant, among other things. But I ignored her flaws because she was a prize I would always treasure.
"Pffffft!" I squeezed her tittie even harder and laughed. "If I have to die before my time, I can't think of a better way to go."
"Well, I don't want to be a young widow. And you know how much I hate funerals and black clothing," she complained.
I gave her a loving look. "Vera, not only are you the most beautiful and considerate woman in the world, but you are also the most honest and I appreciate that. I always know where I stand with you." I sounded like a broken record because these were the things I told her on a regular basis. "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." She had a fragile ego, so she needed to be stroked often.
"I know that," she replied dryly. This was the way she usually responded to my worn-out compliments. Her statement would have sounded arrogant to most people. But to me it was amusing and endearing because my wife was one of a kind. Despite her few minor insecurities, Vera still had a lot of confidence in herself. She was not being arrogant, just honest. To me, honesty was an important virtue, especially in a woman. That was one of the reasons I had married her.
"Baby, if you're still with me when I die, I will die with a smile on my face," I whooped.
"I love you, Kenneth," she whispered as she rubbed the side of my face. "And believe me, I'm not going anywhere."
Without saying another word, I dived under the covers, grabbed her thighs, and spread them open, and then I licked her crotch like a child licking a lollipop for ten minutes nonstop. "Want some more?" I panted, hoping she'd say no. But I had to ask anyway. No matter how hard it was for me to perform in the bedroom these days, I wanted my woman to think that I was still at the top of my game.
"I'm fine. But please take a break," Vera told me in a raspy voice.
"Why? Baby, I'm just getting warmed up!"
"Didn't I just remind you of what Dr. Cortez said?"
"Fuck Dr. Cortez!" I hollered. "I'd like to see him resist a pussy this good!"
"Well, you need to stop because you're wearing me out," she accused.
Thank you, I said to myself. Vera gently pulled on my arm, but it was too difficult for a petite woman like her to lift my hefty two-hundred-eighty-five-pound frame. Somehow I managed to sit up on my own.
I was happy to see that Vera was still smiling. I was smiling too. I was so glad she had turned down my offer to continue our romp. My heart was still racing, my dick was numb, and my back was so stiff I felt like I'd been rinsed, starched, and hung out to dry. I may not have even been able to complete another session anyway.
I hadn't eaten dinner, so when Vera insisted on getting up and going downstairs to get me a plate of the roast that Delia, our cook, had prepared, I didn't protest. She rolled out of bed and was back in her gown and out of the room within five minutes. That was the last thing I remembered. When I opened my eyes again, it was the next morning.
"You went out like a light last night," Vera told me. She folded the morning newspaper and set it on the nightstand next to her monogrammed coffee cup. "I went downstairs to fix you a plate and ten minutes later when I got back up here, you were dead to the world. I'm telling you, you need to slow down," she added, gently lying down next to me.
I felt like hell from head to toe. "I will slow down," I said, rubbing my chest. What I really meant was that I would take a break from all that young pussy I was getting on the side. I had recently ended a monthlong relationship with a sweet young thing who lived in Oakland. That affair had almost cost me my life. Too Sweet (she refused to tell me her real name), an exotic dancer in a gentlemen's club that I'd gone to with some clients, had pulled a gun on me when I refused to give her money to bail her eighteen-year-old brother out of jail for carjacking some young woman with her two toddlers in tow. I ended up giving Too Sweet the money, but I knew then that I had to change my ways or choose my women more carefully.
In the meantime, Vera was going to have to be enough woman for me for a while, maybe for the rest of my life. I was tired of all the sneaking around, the lying, and the drama that went with cheating. Not to mention all the money cheating had cost me over the years.
Now my goal was to make sure my wife remained happy and that I remained somewhat faithful. "Honey, why don't we check into the Mark Hopkins for the weekend? Let's celebrate the new millennium in a quiet suite with just us and a bottle of champagne. People are going to be acting crazy at most parties and the clubs and I don't want to get caught up in all that madness." I stroked Vera's face.
"I've got a better idea. Why don't we spend the whole weekend in Clear Lake," she chirped, rising. She stood by her side of the bed with her hands on her hips. "They have a few new wineries that we can visit. You can do some fishing and I can shop in some of those cute little boutiques."
"You want to go to our cabin in Clear Lake? Uh, I don't want to go back up there so soon," I said quickly.
"Huh? What do you mean by 'so soon,' sugar? We haven't been up there in six months!"
I hated getting old. In addition to my most important body parts breaking down, my memory wasn't what it used to be. I had forgotten that I had recently been to our cabin in the wine country, but not with Vera. I had spent a couple of nights there just last week with that dancer from Oakland—that's where she'd pulled the gun on me. I had told Vera that I was attending a two-day sales meeting in Silicon Valley.
"Huh? Oh! That's right." I sat bolt upright in bed and blinked hard. "I forgot. I really must be getting old, huh?"
Vera gave me a blank look and shrugged. She strutted over to the full-length mirror on the wall facing the bed and started vigorously brushing her long hair, which was platinum blond. That made her look even more exotic and sexy than the black hair she'd had when I met her. "Well, do you want to go to the cabin or not?" she asked, talking with her back to me.
"Sure. Let's do that," I said, swinging my legs to the side of the bed with a groan. Almost every morning before I got up and about, I either passed a gallon of gas or something on my body ached. I experienced both this time. I was glad that Vera was too far away from the bed to smell or hear me. I was surprised that I was still able to get around without the aid of cane, a walker, or a wheelchair. I wondered if all older men with young wives felt and thought the way I did.
"Baby, I want you to know that I love you," I said. "I might not be as exciting as I used to be under the sheets, but I'll always do my best because I don't ever want to lose you."
Vera looked surprised. She gasped and walked back to the bed and sat down next to me, still brushing her hair.
"How many times do I have to tell you that I'm not going anywhere?" she said in mock anger, rubbing my tightening chest.
"You're stuck with me. And in case you haven't noticed, the years are creeping up on me too. I'm probably not as frisky under the sheets as I used to be either," she chuckled, glancing at her watch.
One of the few things I didn't like about my wife was her annoying habit of looking at her watch more frequently than most people. In just the past five minutes, she had checked the time twice. I knew she didn't like to be scolded or questioned about things as trivial as that, so whenever she felt the need to check the time in my presence, I never asked her why. But this time I couldn't help myself. "Is there somewhere you need to go this morning, Vera?"
She stopped brushing her hair and gave me a puzzled look. "Why do you ask?"
"Because you can't seem to keep your eyes off your watch."
Excerpted from Family of Lies by Mary Monroe. Copyright © 2014 Mary Monroe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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