Title: A Good Man’s Life (The Real World Series, #2)
Author: Barbara Cutrera
Genre: Fiction Romance
Published: Scheduled for February 1, 2014
Daniel Nash struggles to reconcile his feelings of betrayal with his desire to understand his life. His hopes of uncovering the secrets revealed in his father’s journals are quickly dashed, and he works with a private investigator to discover the truth. Worry about his wife, Sarah, combines with his efforts to cope with his childhood trauma, an unexpected death, and the recent revelations. His obsession with the past threatens to destroy his stable life. Meanwhile, Sarah and her father, Tristan, continue to combat the lingering discord that developed between them years before but refuse to take their main focus from Daniel. As he reviews his biological father’s efforts to be a good man, Daniel searches for a way to comprehend shocking disclosures. He questions his own goodness as he fights not to emotionally withdraw from those around him, especially the two people he knows will always love him, Sarah and Tristan.
“Grandma Lillian and I were talking about swimming, ‘cause Amanda goes to a pool in her own backyard. Amanda says her daddy doesn’t wear a shirt in the water. I asked Grandma how come you never take your shirt off, and she said that you had another daddy before Grandpa Max and that he hurt you a lot. Will he come and hurt me, too?”
Lowering himself onto the edge of the bed, Daniel said soothingly, “Never, Kris. He wasn’t my real daddy, and I haven’t talked to him in over twenty years.”
“Why did he hurt you?”
“Because he was a very bad man.”
“You would never hurt me, would you?”
Daniel swallowed the lump in his throat that threatened to choke him. He was trying rather unsuccessfully to swallow the anger that was about to render him speechless.
“Is it really terrible on your tummy? Is that why you don’t want people to see?” Kris persisted. “Does it still have pain?”
“If I don’t exercise, then my body hurts. I have scars, like when you cut your lip and it made a scar. Understand?”
“Can I see your scars?”
“Maybe when you’re older.”
“Did you cry when you got hurt?”
“Yes, I did.”
Kris pulled the covers up around his neck and asked, “Will you and Mommy stay with me until I go to sleep?”
“Are the windows and the doors locked?”
“Yes,” Daniel said firmly. “You’re perfectly safe.”
The combination of the decongestant and the Tylenol took affect within minutes. The moment Daniel was certain Kris was sleeping, he leapt from the bed and stalked towards the front of the house. Sarah darted out after him, moving quickly but quietly in an attempt to keep up with her husband.
“I’ll be at Lillian’s.”
He hadn’t been this enraged about anything since he’d been a child. He drove too quickly and too recklessly all the way to the house. Screeching to a halt in the driveway, Daniel parked and wrenched the key from the ignition. Jumping out, he slammed the car door behind him and stormed to the back door.
In his anger, it took him three tries to insert the key into the keyhole. Finally, he unlocked the door and charged into the kitchen, just as Lillian flicked on the lights.
“Daniel! What on earth?”
“Why did you do it?” he cried, as tears of frustration and rage welled up in his eyes. “You had no right to tell Kris about my scars!”
Lillian asked calmly, “What was I supposed to do? Lie? I thought you were upset that we lied to you before.”
“He’s five years old! He’s too young to even comprehend what happened and why!”
“You tell me what I could have said,” she retorted belligerently.
Daniel was dumbfounded. This was not his mother talking. This was insanity.
“You could have told him I get sunburned easily on my shoulders,” he replied evenly. “You could have told him everybody has a different way of doing things.”
“That wouldn’t be the truth.”
“Goddamn motherfucking son of a bitch! Do you remember what the truth is, Lillian?” His fingers tore at the buttons of his shirt. “Do you?”
“Daniel! Don’t you use language like that! Don’t you take the Lord’s name in vain!”
Flinging his shirtfront wide, Daniel yelled, “Do you remember this, Mom? You think Kris needs to know about this kind of horror and fear at his age? Damn you for taking his sense of security away!”
He ran from the house, his shirt unbuttoned, his feet thudding on the concrete steps. When he got to the Mazda, he roughly twisted the key in the ignition then sped back down the long drive that extended to Highland Road. A half a mile away, he pulled into the empty parking lot of the Victorian Doll Mansion and shut off the engine. Then, he pounded the steering wheel until the side of his hand throbbed. Raw and shaken, Daniel drove home.
Although he felt Tristan’s arm go around his shoulders, Daniel kept studying the stars for several minutes. Finally, he allowed himself to be pulled against Tristan’s chest. Neither man spoke. Neither man moved.
“I’m a poor substitute for Max,” Tristan offered. “I wish there was more I could say or do for you.”
“You do fine,” Daniel insisted, as he shifted slightly and listened to the leather on his jacket move in tandem. “You do better than Max if you want to know the truth. You may not be a therapist, but you’re more of a father than he ever was.”
“He loved you, Dan.”
“I know. He was an okay father, but he can’t compare to you, Tris. It’s not the same.”
“Don’t die on me any time soon, Tris. Mom and Lillian are gone. Max is gone. I don’t want to lose any more parents for at least another five decades or so.”
“I’ll do my best,” he vowed, wrapping a hand around the side of Daniel’s head in a paternal gesture.
“Well, I’ll be damned. It’s Danny Boy, is it? I’m surprised you’ve got the balls to come back here. Still like to hide in the closet, I see.”
Daniel pulled back his fist and punched Samuels hard in the face. Completely unprepared for the assault, the man tripped over his own feet and crashed to the ground.
Nobody moved. Then, Daniel turned towards his wife and motioned for her to walk around him.
Carson saw the attack coming but was unable to push Daniel out of the way in time. He yelled at the man to look out as Samuels came up surprisingly fast from the floor and punched his stepson full force in the abdomen. Sarah cried out her husband’s name as he toppled over.
Natalie was on top of Samuels before Daniel hit the ground. Carson pulled his client to his feet and shoved him towards the stairs.
“Move! We’ll be right behind you!”
Sarah and Daniel dashed down the hall, down the steps, past a confused Hamp, and out of the store. Carson and Natalie were only steps behind. It was sleeting outside, and they ran, slipping and sliding occasionally until Daniel suddenly veered off the main street between two deserted office buildings. Lurching to one side, he put a hand out to steady himself and vomited.
When there was nothing left in his stomach, Daniel stood, the weakened muscles of his legs threatening to give way. Sarah, who had been rubbing his back, edged closer in an attempt to support him. She was too petite to have truly carried him, but her small body did give him the anchor he needed to stay upright.
“Can you make it to Natalie’s van?” Carson asked skeptically.
“We’re pretty close, aren’t we?”
“It’s over there,” Natalie said, pointing to the tan minivan not far down the street.
Daniel nodded and tried to ignore the sweet and sour taste in his mouth. His throat burned, and his knees wobbled. Twenty feet from the van, he felt the uncontrollable urge to vomit again.
“I’ll take a fever over dry heaves any day,” he groaned. “Jesus H. Christ, now I’m dizzy.”
“Delayed shock,” Carson remarked. “We need to get in the van and get out of here in case anyone comes after us.”
Natalie rolled her eyes at Carson and said, “Get real. Nobody’s going to come after us, and Sammy won’t call the police.” She looked at Daniel and added, “But you’re right about the shock. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better.”
The shaking began as they approached the van. Daniel’s knees buckled, and he found himself kneeling on the cold, wet ground. He vomited again.
“I thought you didn’t have anything left to throw up,” Sarah said worriedly, as he sat back on his heels and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
When Daniel remained silent and immobile, Sarah squatted beside him and tried unsuccessfully to make out what he was looking at in the dim light.
Carson trotted back to where they were and said, “Lemme have a look-see.”
Daniel held out his arm so that the private investigator could see the shirt cuff more clearly. It was smeared with blood.
As they unpacked the silverware and laid it out on the kitchen counter, Max blithely asked, “Why can’t you be alone with a white woman?”
The large black man stared down at the child. He grinned and asked, “You really don’ know?”
“Most white folks, dey fear black men. Dey say we gon’ steal dere tings and rape dere women.”
Moses reached up a burly hand and scratched his bald head. Max watched the huge muscles in his arm ripple with the movement.
“You know ‘bout men and women, yet? ‘Bout what dey do wit’ each other?”
“You mean about babies?”
“Yessa. Rape is when a man force hisself on a woman, when he do dat to her witout her sayin’ s’all right.”
“Why would anyone want to do…that with someone who didn’t want to do it back?”
“Some, dey crazy. Some, dey cain’t get it no other way. Some, dey like to bring white folk down.” He hoisted a large roll of felt from a trunk and continued, “Now, I ain’t jus’ sayin’ it’s black folk who rape. Dere’s white ones, too. Lots of white folks raped black women when dere was slaves. Slaves didn’t have no rights.” He unrolled the felt and added, “And it don’ happen all de time now, neither. But it do happen. Somethin’ men been doin’ from de beginnin’, I imagine. Don’ know what makes a man do it, though. Don’ see how forcin’ a woman could make a man feel good.”
Max silently removed the knives from the felt and laid them near the sink. Eventually, he said, “Even if you wanted to rape someone, I wouldn’t think you would choose Mum. You’re too nice, and her belly would get in the way.”
Moses laughed uproariously at this in a deep baritone so thunderous that Edith came in from the front porch where she’d been surveying the yard.
“What on Earth is so amusing?” she asked.
“Oh, Missus Nash, you got yerself one smart boy dere. Thinks things through, yeah.” He wiped at his eyes and declared, “He’s one good boy.”
Barbara Cutrera has been a writer since childhood but didn’t begin writing novels until 1999. Her first novel to be completed was Over, Under, Across & Through, which is the initial book in her Real World fiction series. Not satisfied to be limited by writing in only one genre, she next penned a mystery called In a Manner of Speaking. Cutrera took a dare from friends who suggested she write a romance and wrote The Healer’s Gift, a fantasy romance. Her fourth book to be released was True: 3 Short Stories. A Good Man’s Life, Book 2 in The Real World Series, has a release date of February 1, 2014. Novels in queue for publication include Mercy, Book 3 in The Real World Series, A Lovely Dream, a romantic thriller, A Lovely Reality, the sequel, Prim and Proper, a contemporary romance with a touch of mystery, and Lucky, a thriller set in the not-so-distant future in post-plague Earth. Cutrera has also completed another work of fiction entitled Compromising Positions and a new contemporary romance entitled Sight Unseen. She has begun work on a sequel to The Healer’s Gift, which she has decided to call Jordan’s Way.
Cutrera, a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Florida Writers’ Association, and the Tampa Area Romance Authors was born and raised in Louisiana and moved to Florida with her family in 2004. She works with the visually-impaired and is visually-impaired herself. She firmly believes that our minds are only limited by the restrictions we place upon them. Her literary credo? “Transcending reality by exploring it one story at a time….”
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