We are fortunate to have our first novel in a two part series published this week.
We welcome your feedback, as we embark on this new chapter in our life.
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Purchase Ride to Redemption Here
Monday, October 14, 2013
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No parts of this book may be recreated in any format without the expressed written consent of Fideli Publishing and the author.
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Martinsville, IN 46151
Experiencing and surviving both prosperity and adversity, defines the essence of what we’re made of. Over the course of our lives, we learn to appreciate the true meaning of prosperity, only after suffering through the throes of adversity. Like most of my gut wrenching life-lessons, I’ve learned these attributes the hard way. During an aggressive life-altering maneuver to right some grievous wrongs, decisions I made in earnest, ultimately affected thousands and me.
Everyone deserves second chances, some even third, and fourth, and fifth ones. So when fate knocks, you answer. Throwing caution to the wind, you risk it all to play the hand you’re dealt, which in my case was aces and eights, most commonly referred to in western lore, as the dead man’s hand.
… and then I met the girl of my dreams…
It’s a long story—one that’s worth sharing, but I must warn you before hand, it’s filled with broken promises, shattered dreams, unrequited love, unbridled lust, and finally, redemption. In the end, as one of Facebook’s relationship status identifiers states, it’s complicated.
I am a designer, dreamer, and as of late, a freelance personal financial crisis manager for my own mess. I live in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in the heart of Tennessee beside the shores of a lake that I have truly come to love as much or more than any other destination I’ve found on this precious Earth.
Dale Hollow is a breathtaking, 52,000-acre man-made reservoir ranked in the top ten nationally for its natural beauty, deep, clear waters, and abundant wildlife. Up until five years ago, I had never heard of this body of water. And by its lack of development and buffered, unspoiled shoreline privacy, not too many other people outside this region knew of it either.
According to the relocating powers that be, this area was deemed ideal to re-invent me. For one, it was an out-of-the-way location, offering me a fresh start to create retreats and escapes for a privileged few investors wanting a home-away-from-home near nature and water. And two, the remoteness of these acres reduced my exposure to the outside world and my previous past. Until now, most of my dealings in the real-estate world were far from this area of the US or Canada.
In a nutshell, in my self-chosen career, I designed and built multi-million dollar homes for the rich and famous throughout the western U.S. and Canada, concentrating mostly in Texas. Lone Star Governor, Rick Perry, had done a good job of generating wealth all across Texas. So, if real-estate is your market, it’s best to go where the money is flowing. But with wealth and abundance comes those scheming to take it all away. That is where the root of this story begins.
My last and currently most infamous project brought down a mismanaged financial empire as well as the greedy S.O.B., A.J. Standford, who ran it. This “financial whiz,” all by himself, managed to lose upwards of eight billion dollars in shady offshore investments, promising too good to be true returns to his multitudes of investors. Most of his clients were upper middle class American families—doctors and lawyers and such, including one prominent New York City Italian family, the Gambino’s.
However, quite a few investors were normal, hard-working everyday Americans who entrusted the essence of their lives with him. These are the people who have suffered the most because they have neither the time nor a thriving economy to pick up the pieces of their life’s savings.
Upon Standford’s collapse and the impending doom on Wall Street, there was an initial rash of suicides in this latter group, prompting quick and immediate action of restoration and hope on behalf of someone, somewhere. Unfortunately, little of this much-needed action did not trickle down from our illustrious government.
Now, here’s where it gets strange.
Quietly and secretly, small bags of large-caret diamonds started arriving by mail to some of Stanford’s former clients—those desperately in need of redemption. Once a month, a select few of these all-but-forgotten investors began receiving nondescript packages filled with 120 to 180 two-to-three caret diamonds worth upwards of 1.5 to 2 million dollars per package. Enclosed in each parcel was a simple handwritten note that said, please use all that you need and pay it forward with the rest. Thankfully, as word got out, the suicides declined; and little by little, these remaining mom-and-pops had renewed hope that they, too, will receive a non-descript and unmarked treasure in the mail.
But back to me.
My newly-formed fresh identity and location helped me conceal those aforementioned two hundred pounds of polished, large-caret diamonds, as well as miscellaneous South African trinkets and a treasure trove of mega-buck financial records and ledgers from the shadiest of shady business foes across the globe. Basically, my new temporary home gave me some breathing room to ponder on just how I elected to deliver some of my ill-gotten and illegal gains to deserving folk without a paper trail or legal percussions to myself or those I intended to help. And, as a personal special benefit, it also helped keep me alive while I tried to put together my whimsical, elusive plan.
After all, some of the worst decisions make the greatest stories…
Trying to do the right thing in the beginning, within reason, cost me my business, my family, my friends, and my life as I knew it. Some things, such as a much-maligned marriage, are better off forgotten—out of sight and hopefully out of mind. Whereas the damage my ex and I inflicted on our sons through the slow and painful death of their mom’s and my relationship will take the rest of our lives to repair. Not to be forgotten are the friendships and business relationships I’d developed over the years, which I can never replicate.
But I’m trying. I’ve rebuilt before, and I can do it again.
Concentrating on me first, I’ve started a daily exercise regiment, walking 5 miles a day in an effort to eventually wear my Air Force blues again, if and when the need arises. My hair is thinner and longer with shades of gray to match my beard. The crow’s feet around my infamous bedroom-brown eyes are significantly more pronounced. Thankfully, my heart and mind are still the intact. My heart is a little more broken, while my mind is now much wiser—two things I’ve gained in my life-lessons through the throes of adversity and prosperity.
Via these lessons, life has now become all too fleeting. I remember thinking when I was about 15 that 40 was older than dirt. Now that I’ve surpassed that milestone, I believe 80 is old. I’m doing my best now to reach this next one in reasonably good shape, where I can determine on my terms the next milestone.
But since we’re never promised tomorrow, I’ve learned it’s best we cherish each moment, living just for today. We should do all the good we can and try not to repeat the past. We should let tomorrow, if there should be a tomorrow, take care of itself. And it doesn’t hurt to continue to dream dreams in brilliant vivid colors …
… for when the dreams stop, so will the breathing.
… for when the dreams stop, so will the breathing.
Chapter 1 of 58
Friday morning broke with penetrating colors of orange, red and blue painted across the sky. As I gazed out the window and into this gorgeous day, I hoped this artistic canvas in my windowpane was signaling possibly something more than the norm may lie in store for me today. This day, unlike the others of late, does not envelope me in the silence of solitude, but of hope. Having escaped from a once enduring relationship with my ex-wife, I resigned myself to the fact that living alone is a far better state for me. Being in the presence of someone I loved, who after twenty-five years of togetherness, no longer had the time, space, or desire for me had become draining for me. Alone was better than disgruntled in that marriage—by a long shot.
I scrambled out the door for my 5-mile wake-up walk with Major, my constant four-legged companion leading the way. This daily morning ritual is healing for me, mostly because it clears the cobwebs from my head brought on by too many restless nights.
For me, however, the day is just starting and after dropping Major by the house, I began my daily 40-minute trek to Starbucks, for my morning jolt of reality. On this particular day, I ordered a Venti Breve Latte from my ever perky, young, blue-eyed barista named Lauren. After her cordial smile, I headed out the door.
As I stepped from the curb, an attractive brunette in a Range Rover raced through the drive-through lane and almost took out my Latte—narrowly missing me. Slamming on the brakes, the driver proceeded to mouth some words much better left to my imagination. Watching my life quickly flash before my eyes, I decided if it was finally time for me to exit this world that there was no better way that I could choose to hasten me through the eternal, everlasting door. I could imagine the headlines of tomorrow’s paper: Crazed Woman Takes Out Man in Starbucks Drive Thru.
She, too, must have seen my potential life-altering exit averted because she slid sideways into a parking space and immediately jumped out screaming, “Are you ok?”
“Uh, No!” I chided. “Just what were you thinking? Where was your head, Ms. NASCAR? You could have spilled my latte! My smirk eased her fears to some extent.
Tears cascaded down her cheeks, testing the best Sephora had to offer. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered. “I wasn't thinking. All I could think was I need caffeine! I’ve been on the road for two hours and I can barely keep my eyes open. Today was supposed to be special. It’s my birthday.
“Are most of your birthdays special?” I chuckled.
“Well, this one is my first birthday being single in a long time.” Her demeanor showed on her sleeve. This spectacular specimen of a woman seemed to be wrapped up and consumed by the moment. She had been daydreaming about what I would soon learn was her upcoming trip with a girlfriend. She’d planned an escape, if you will, from the role she now played in her own daily soap opera. Seems she, too, came to the Starbucks alone, as well as lonely—resigned to the fact that what once was a vibrant and promising relationship had unraveled quite similarly to my own.
Standing before me was a beautiful young lady not much over thirty and dressed to impress. She had on high glossed-brown, mid-calf riding boots, skinny cords, a white v-cut silk blouse that accentuated her attributes. She sported a bright red flowing cardigan sweater that angled almost to her knees. Stunning is a word that comes to mind. Delicious may be even a better one; this coming from one who has been starving for the scent, touch, and feel of a woman against my skin for quite a while.
I spoke softly, yet firmly. “You need to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and think of something wonderful for just a moment.”
She did as I instructed as I watched her trembling ease and the ashen color of her face return to normal.
“There, that wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Everything has a way of working out. Are we good?”
“Yes,” she replied, still a bit shaken.