Love is the Answer
Family – any group of related things or beings.
Okay, so this isn’t the most common definition of family, but I like it better than any of the others. Perhaps that’s because some of my relatives fit under the ‘things’ category more than the ‘beings’ category. Shhhh! Don’t tell them I said that! I’m sure some of them think the same thing about me, so we’re even.
For the most part, we don’t get to pick our family – they’re given to us by birth, or they marry into the family – usually without asking the rest of us if we’re in agreement. I’ve sometimes wondered if it wouldn’t be more reasonable to vote on letting new people into the family. Say, your cousin wants to marry. Everyone would get a chance to meet the prospective bride, and then cast his or her vote. It’s a practical system, don’t you agree? That way, we’d have some say as to whom we’re related to.
If this had been the case in my family, I can think of a few who never would have made the cut. No one but the person they married liked them, and even that didn’t last. They should have just asked us, we could have told them they were wasting their time. We could have saved them a lot of heartache, and alimony too. But of course, that’s not the way it works. Larry McMurtry said it very well in Leaving Cheyenne - “…a woman’s love is like the morning dew, it’s just as apt to fall on a horse turd as it is on a rose.”
That’s a pretty cynical look at love, especially coming from a hopeless romantic, like me. But I’ve seen the truth in the statement, and I’m sure you have too. There isn’t any accounting for taste. So, when I was writing Four of Hearts, I kept coming back to one thing that bothered me the most. Why would anyone want more than one spouse? Marriage is hard enough when it only involves two people, so what would possess happily married people to enter into a committed relationship with someone else?
The answer is love. We have little choice in where our heart leads us. Yes, we can guide it with logic and common sense, sometimes. But just as often, our heart opens and lets someone in, against our better judgment. No amount of rational thinking will dissuade us from following a course of action that is sure to bring challenges. It’s how we handle those challenges that make the difference. We can choose to hide from them, or we can face them head-on.
My characters in Four of Hearts find themselves in uncharted waters, loving beyond their traditional marriages. Finding the right path for them is difficult – the road littered with challenges they couldn’t begin to conceive at the beginning of the relationship. There are no easy answers, and a wrong choice could destroy everything if they aren’t careful. In the end, believing in their love is the key.
Here’s a bit more about Four of Hearts. I hope you’ll enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Marriage hasn’t tamed Candace Callahan’s sexual curiosity, something her husband Ryan is grateful for, but when she asks him to tie her up for her anniversary present, he knows he’s going to need the help of their friends, Richard Wolfe and his wife, Fallon.
Dr. Fallon Enright is the resident sex therapist aboard the Lothario - the cruise ship co-owned by her husband and Ryan Callahan. When Ryan asks to participate in one of their couple’s rope bondage classes, Richard isn’t sure it’s a good idea, but Fallon assures him all will be well.
What begins as innocent curiosity, blossoms into a polyamorous relationship none of them could have expected, but they are powerless to ignore. When the tabloids expose their new lifestyle, the foursome must choose between the love they feel for each other, or accepting society’s moral constraints.
Candace was through trying to understand him. After their first sexual encounter with Richard and Fallon, Ryan had retreated into his shell, and it had taken her a week to coax him back out. This time was different. This time he wouldn’t leave her alone. On some level, she knew it was a good problem to have, an attentive husband, but on another level, she wanted some time alone.
For two weeks, Ryan had dogged her steps like he was attached to her by an invisible cord. She couldn’t shower without him in the shower with her, or standing guard in the bathroom. The one time he left the island to check on the resort construction project, he’d insisted she go along. He was beginning to remind her of gum on the bottom of her shoe.
“Ryan, go away.”
“I’m okay here. Don’t mind me.”
“How can I not mind you? You’re making me nervous.” She waved the knife she was using to cut up the fruit for their lunch. “Go to the beach. Come back in half an hour. Lunch will be ready then.”
“I like watching you.”
Candace slammed the knife down on the counter. “I love you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you get back. I promise.”
The man was beyond exasperating. He slumped in the kitchen chair and crossed his
ankles and his arms. “I don’t want to go to the beach. I want to stay here.”
Candace walked around the kitchen island, pulled out another chair and sat. “Ryan, tell me what’s going on. Richard is emailing every day wondering when you’re going to do the Employee Performance Reviews. You follow me around like you’re stuck to my shoe. I’m not complaining about you being an attentive husband, but really, Ryan, is it necessary to be with me every second? What’s going on?”
“Nothing. I just feel uneasy about being away from you.”
She gentled her voice and leaned in close. “I’m not going anywhere.” His eyes were hard, distant. “There’s something else going on. I can see it in your eyes. What are you afraid of?”
“I’m not afraid of anything. It’s…I don’t know. I can’t shake this feeling that our lives are changing and…I…I don’t want it to change.”
“Is this about the time we spent with Richard and Fallon? Are you afraid that changed things between you and me?”
“No. If anything, I love you even more than I did before, but yeah, this started then. I can’t explain it.”
“That was a special time, for all of us. Our relationship with them is different now because of it, but not in a bad way. I love you, Ryan. I love you more than I ever thought possible, but a part of me loves Richard and Fallon too. I wish we could all find a way to be together, but…”
“Don’t go there. We aren’t going there. I made promises to you, and I’m going to keep them.”
“Is that what this is about? Are you afraid your feelings for Richard and Fallon are the same as breaking your promises to me?” His silence confirmed her analysis. “Don’t you see? The promises we made to each other are still valid. Nothing in those promises prohibited us from loving beyond just you and me. I know you won’t act on your feelings without my consent, and you know in your heart, I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. That’s how strong our love is. I’ll do anything to keep you, even deny my love to expand to include Richard and Fallon.”
“I don’t want you to deny your feelings. I want you to have everything. I’m trying to wrap my head around this, but our lives are changing in a way I don’t understand. I can’t lose you. I can’t.”
Candace sank to her knees between his, and took his hands in her own. His hard eyes pleaded with her to understand. “You’ll never lose me. I would give up anything, but you. You are non-negotiable.” She flashed her wedding band at him. “I have a no-trade agreement. You’re stuck with me.”
He pulled her to his lap and held her tight. “Same goes. No-trade.”
Author Bio –
Roz Lee has been married to her best friend, and high school sweetheart, for over three decades. These days she splits her time between their home in rural New Jersey, and Southern California, where her husband works. Even though she’s lived on both coasts, her heart lies in between, in Texas. A Texan by birth, she can trace her family back to the Republic of Texas. With roots that deep, she says, “You can’t ever really leave.”
Roz and her husband have two grown daughters they couldn’t be more proud of, and are currently raising a eleven-year-old Labrador Retriever, Betty Boop, who isn’t aware of her canine heritage.
When Roz isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traipsing around the country on one adventure or another. No trip is too small, no tourist trap too cheesy, and no road unworthy of traveling.
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