Hot Georgia Rein by Martha Sweeney by Martha Sweeney - Read Online

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Summary

First loves don’t last, not like you think they will when you’re in the beginning or middle of them. First loves are fun and painful, giving you the beauty and darkness of life in a single relationship, breaking your fantasies like a twig and making you realize that life is not all sunshine, sparkling fireflies, and rainbows. No, it’s not pretty at all. First loves build you up, and just when you think that life can’t get any better, they shatter into a million raindrops, making you see how life really works. First loves crush you, ruining you for anyone else.

That’s what Ivy Lynn Abney and Henry Lee Rein have battled with since things ended between them about three years ago. Neither of them have spoken and are still hung up on what occurred. They both have regrets and the love they once had for each other never really went away. They were young and wanted different things. Have their wants changed enough to allow their love to reignite? Can first loves become second loves even with secrets?

Published: WWN Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780997463750
List price: $3.99
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Hot Georgia Rein - Martha Sweeney

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1 Ivy

Hi, Momma, I greet, answering the phone as I walk into my apartment.

Hi, Sweetpea, Momma returns. How are my two favorite people in New York City doing?

Great, I return, positioning the phone between my ear and shoulder as I take my son out of his stroller. How’s the family?

Good, Mom sighs. The typical happenings in Georgia as always, you know.

I laugh. That’s why I left, I comment.

You and I know that that wasn’t the only reason, Mom corrects sarcastically.

Well, one of them, I say, pushing the stroller to the side. Is Papa still driving you crazy?

Yes, she admits with a giggle. I worry when the bank pushes for his retirement. He’ll fight it, so will they, and when they win, he’ll drive me even more bonkers.

I heard that, my father says in the background.

I said it loud enough for you to hear it, Momma teases.

I head into the kitchen to start making dinner.

Is that Ivy? Papa checks.

Sure is, Momma confirms.

"Tell her I said hey and…" Papa’s voice gets cut off completely, but I know that I didn’t lose the signal, so that can only mean that Momma covered the receiver with her hand.

Momma? I call, knowing that she and dad can go back and forth with their playful banter for hours, forgetting that I’m on the phone. Momma? I repeat, grabbing a few items from the refrigerator. Momma? I pause and check my phone, noticing that we didn’t get disconnected. Momma, I say a little louder this time.

Yes, Sweetpea, Momma answers. I’m here. Your father and I….

I know, I giggle. It’s your thing.

What is? Momma checks.

Nevermind, I say, brushing it off.

My parents love each other—there’s no doubt about that. They bicker, in a playful way, like a couple who’s been married for over eighty years.

Momma and Papa are a quarter of the married couples in Blackburn who still actually and genuinely love each other. The majority of people who are married in small towns, especially our small town, tolerate each other. They’ll smile and be kind to each other’s faces, but will incessantly complain to everyone else about their spouse. Actually, that’s how practically everyone is in my hometown. If they have an issue with someone, they talk to everyone but that person. So much drama wouldn’t exist if they just learned to speak to each other better.

To outsiders, Blackburn is a beautiful place to visit and get away from their daily lives. To the locals, it’s as if you’re stuck in time. No one believes in divorce, most people are intensely religious, and the town loves to gossip about anyone who lives in it and those who visit. The older folks don’t like the technology the younger generations are using and the younger generations don’t like how the older, white folks insist on using all of their racial slurs when almost half of the town is no longer Caucasian.

My family and I are one of the families who are constantly talked about behind our backs. We’re one-fourth Cherokee and in the summer the town’s folk remind us, and anyone else who isn’t pure breed white, that we aren’t like them by how they treat us.

How’s business? Momma inquires.

Good, I return, turning to make sure my son hasn’t gotten into something he shouldn’t. Busy, but good as always. We’ve got more clients using the app software which makes it easier for the team to get stuff approved more quickly.

Good, Momma hums. Good.

What’s up? I ask, tossing some spaghetti into a pot.

What do you mean? Momma returns with her voice going up slightly.

Momma, I huff. I know something’s up…what is it?

Umm… Momma says, pausing as if she’s searching for the right words.

My throat tightens. Momma? I inquire nervously. Is…is Papa okay?

Oh, he’s fine, she confirms quickly.

Grady? I inspect.

Your brother’s fine too, she returns.

What about Nana or Pops? I search.

They’re okay too, Momma says with a nervous voice.

Momma, you’re kind of starting to freak me out, I inform, grabbing some sauce from the refrigerator.

There’s a little bit of a pause before she asks, Are you sitting down?

Dada, my son says in the background.

I look up and find him pointing at a picture of his father.

Hi, Dada, he adds with a wave as if the picture will wave back. He leans forward and tries to kiss it.

Should I be? I inquire nervously, stirring the pot.

Umm…yes, Momma affirms.

I turn down the temperature for the noodles and pull out my kitchen chair. Okay, I say, hoping she’ll start explaining.

I’m not quite sure how to tell you this, Momma begins.

Just tell me, I request anxiously. I’m sure that’ll be best for both of us.

Okay…well….Julianna…she’s….she’s sick, Momma shares.

Sick? I question.

Momma never mentions people outside of our family being ill, so her news has me concerned.

Yes, Sweetpea, Mom confirms. She’s….very sick.

I remain silent, unsure of what to say or what to make out of what she’s telling me.

It was sudden from what we know, Momma continues. She’s in the hospital.

Did she have a fall or something? I question.

No, Momma replies. She’s…it was sudden.

You said that already, I remind. You need to give me more than that.

Henry…I’m not sure how he’s handling it, Momma adds. He won’t really talk to anyone, but from what his mother said, Julianna might not last long.

What do you mean, Momma? I inquire, feeling a myriad of emotions flurrying through my body at the mention of Henry’s name.

Julianna didn’t know she was sick…not until she went in to get tested for something, Momma explains.

Tested for what? I ask.

Initially, from what Henry’s mother said, she was trying to figure out why she couldn’t conceive, Momma shares with a shaky tone.

My heart drops to the floor at the thought of Henry, my Henry, and her trying to have children. I guess he wasn’t my Henry after all if they were trying. I guess he really did make his choice, but I did too.

Henry’s Momma said that Julianna seemed fine until the doctors told her she had ovarian cancer, Momma explains. They went in to operate, but found out that it was further along than the test result had indicated.

Which means? I pry.

Which means…. Momma says, pausing as she tries to collect herself. Julianna is dying.

My head shakes, wishing I have never heard her last three words. Despite the fact that Julianna and I haven’t been friends, not since my Henry became her Henry, I don’t wish that fate on anyone. My heart goes out to her and her parents, knowing that Julianna is their only child, and to Henry who’s having to handle all of this. I know that he is strong, but I’m not sure how strong.

A single tear falls down my right cheek. I tell myself that that tear is for Julianna, but my heart knows that I’m lying. Another tear slips past, and as they continue to fall, I know that they’re selfish tears, falling for the man I’ve never stopped loving, wondering if this could be our chance to finally be together rather than for him and his soon-to-be loss.

I…I got to go, Momma, I say weakly.

You okay, Sweetpea? Momma asks.

Mm-hm, I lie. I hang up the phone, not bothering to say goodbye because I don’t want my mother to hear me cry. She’ll know the truth behind my tears and would only encourage me that much more to come home.

Is it wrong to cry for the one you love when you’re hoping for another chance instead of weeping for him and the wife whom he’s about to lose? I can’t blame Julianna for taking Henry away from me. He made his choice and I made mine.

Can we go back to the way things used to be? With everything that has happened, I doubt it, but I still have hope that we just might able to fix it this time.

2 Henry

One would think that a man who just lost his wife would be grief stricken and unable to think clearly or do anything regarding the planning of her funeral. We had our ups and downs, more downs than ups, but I never wished this to happen to her. She was a good person, just trying to be a good wife to a husband who was miserable.

One wouldn’t expect him to feel as if he can actually breathe for once and feel like he’s finally free from all of the bullshit and unhappiness that he caused upon her and himself. It wasn’t her fault that I never really loved her—not like she loved me. It wasn’t her fault that I was unhappy. I prayed she’d get better so we could move forward with the lives we each wanted.

One would think that he’s selfish for immediately thinking about the woman he loves, the woman he let get away instead of the woman he had married and now has to bury in one week. They’d call him heartless, unkind, and so many other ungodly words. I know because I would have been that guy judging someone else without bothering to know the whole story.

Is it wrong that my tears are more of joy rather than pain? When we got along, we were good friends. I’ll miss the good times with Julianna. Though my eyes tell the world I’m grieving, my heart is longing for another like it always has. It’s longing for a second chance—if there still is the possibility of one.

Henry? my mother calls from somewhere out in the yard.

I don’t bother to answer as I continue to cover up some of my carvings that I don’t want to be seen by anyone, especially my or Julianna’s parents. No one ever really bothers to come into the barn other than me, but I’m not willing to risk people seeing them.

Henry? she calls again with her voice getting louder.

In here, I say after getting two more covered.

What are you doing? Mom asks, standing in the barn doorway with her hands on her hips.

Just taking care of some stuff, I say.

"That stuff can be dealt with after the funeral, she chides lovingly. Mr. and Mrs. Summerlin have been looking for you."

For what? I inquire, putting away some of my tools.

For what? my mother repeats. For what? Honestly, Henry?

I told you and them, I’ve already made all of the arrangements, I remind.

You what? Mom asks, stunned as if she doesn’t remember me confirming that I said it earlier.

I’ve taken care of everything, I repeat.

You’ve called the morgue? And, the Wadsworths? And, the….

Yes, I interrupt.

When? she pries.

I took care of all of it the two days after she died, I inform. And everything else since then.

Henry Lee Rein, mother says, making the sign of the cross.

What? I return. That’s what happened. There’s no easy or nice way of saying what happened.

You could be nicer with your word choice, Mom chides.

Sorry you don’t like it, I say sarcastically. But, I’ll say it however I’d like.

Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean you get to be a….

Drop it, I direct. I’m not in the mood. Everything has been taken care of. If you and the Summerlins don’t believe me, then you can check the folder I left on the kitchen table. Everything has been handled and paid for. Now please, let me be to do what I need to do.

I understand that some people become angry when they’re in the grieving process, but that doesn’t give you the right to take it out on me of all people, Henry, Mom asserts.

I let out a heavy sigh. I’m sorry, ma.

She moves closer, just a few inches away from me and takes my face in her hands. I know that you and Julianna didn’t have the best of relationships, Mom states. And, I know that this changes a lot of things for you…but, be mindful of everyone else who is grieving…especially those who are missing her more than you are right now.

Is it that obvious? I inquire shamefully.

Just to me and your father, Mom returns. I know you two reconciled and that you don’t like that she passed. But, I also know that this opens a lot of…opportunities for you. Just, keep your head while you’re here.

I nod, knowing she’s right. I need to let people grieve before I can really move on.

She wasn’t a bad person, remember, Mom reminds.

I know, I sigh. We moved passed that the last few months. We just wanted different things and came to terms with it.

No, Mom corrects. You both wanted the same things…you just wanted them with someone else…someone you let go of and someone she didn’t want to put through all of this.

No, I lie.

You can’t fool your mother, she says with a smug grin. I know that you’ve regretted letting Ivy go since the first time she went to New York for school. I saw it again on your face the day you married Julianna.

Mom, I sigh. Please…don’t.

I won’t say anything else, she confirms. Not right now and especially not in front of the Summerlins. But, you need to help them grieve for their daughter…their only child…for the next few weeks. Then, after that, you can be as selfish as you want.

Okay, I agree.

Do you think she’ll come back to pay her respects? Mom suddenly asks.

Who? Ivy? I check.

Mom smiles. Yes, Ivy.

I doubt it, I reply. I haven’t seen her since before the wedding.

I know her parents raised her right, Mom says. Despite what some of the town folk say about anyone who isn’t a pure breed.

We’re not pure breeds either, I remind.

I know, Mom returns. But regardless, she loved you once…perhaps she still does in one fashion or another. I’m sure she’ll come.

I don’t comment, not sure of what to say to my mother who’s practically giving me permission, not that I need it, to try and salvage things with the woman I’ve loved since high school. It’s weird to hear my mother say all of this. We’ve never really openly talked about much, especially love. Actually, she talked while dad, my brother, and I just hummed and nodded as if we were listening. The men in my family don’t talk. We never really have which is why Ivy and I didn’t work out and why Julianna and I had so many problems as a couple.

Just remember, Mom says, bringing me back to reality. Grieving for a few months…after that, you can do as you please.

Why a few months? I ask.

The Bible only gives people three days, most do more, and most will expect more, even from a man who never really loved his wife, she explains. A few months is the perfect amount of time for things to naturally occur between you and Ivy…that is, if you still have a chance.

I doubt there’s a chance, I sigh.

You never know, Mom returns with an encouraging smile.

I don’t know how I’ll react if I see her, I admit.

‘I’m sure I can guess a few options, Mom shares with a smile. And, I know that none of them will be anger. Mom looks to her right and notices the cot in the corner. How long has that been out here?"

For a while, I reveal.

Mom nods but doesn’t comment. She looks around the barn a little more, inspecting it as she always does whenever she’s over. Do you need anything? she inquires.

Just for a few months to pass quickly, I joke lightly.

Will you go after her? Mom asks. You know…try to find her regardless if she comes back or not for the funeral.

I shrug, not wanting to admit the truth to my mother or out loud for anyone, even myself, to hear. I need to be smart these next couple of months. I need to also grow a set of fucking balls and do the things that I was once too chicken shit to do.

Well, I’ll let you be, Mom states. I’ll go over what you have with the Summerlins to make them feel better and once they head home, your father and I will take you out to eat.

I’m fine eating here, I say, brushing off her offer.

A small mini refrigerator chocked full of beer is not a hearty dinner for my boy to have, Mom directs. We’ll be back around six with your brother to pick you and take you to get something to eat. I expect you to be dressed.

Mom, I huff.

Don’t argue with me, Mom corrects.

Yes, ma’am, I return, knowing that arguing with my mother is pointless.

She nods and leaves the barn without another word.

3 Ivy

Yes, Momma. I’m on the plane, I confirm as I try to carry my bag through the aisle while also holding onto my phone between my shoulder and ear. My other hand has my purse and jacket which makes it challenging to talk at the moment.

You sure? she checks.

Ouch, the stranger in front of me says when I collide into her.

Sorry, I apologize while trying to back up a little. Momma, hold on.

A man about my age offers to assist me with my bag to get it in the compartment above my seat. He flashes a sexy, flirtatious smile, but I don’t bother to flirt back.

Thank you, I say, offering some bit of attention for his attempts. Once I get into the window seat in first class, I return my phone to my ear. Momma, you still there? I check.

Still here, she confirms. What was all of that commotion?

Me, getting on the plane like I said I am, I remind, placing my purse under the seat in front of me.

Tell me again why you aren’t bringing my grandbaby with you? she pushes.

Momma, I don’t have time to go over this with you again. Besides, I need to call Cece to make sure they’re good. I’ve never been away from him like this before, I state, feeling myself starting to panic at the realization that I’ve never been more than twenty-four hours away from my son.

Go call Cece, Momma directs. Your father and I will be at the airport waiting for you.

Please don’t make a spectacle, I beg, lowering my head to my hand.

Why would we make a spectacle? Since when have we ever made a spectacle? Momma goads.

Every single time you come up to visit, I recollect.

That’s only because you haven’t come back to see us for just over three years, Momma recounts. Forcing your elderly parents to have to be patted down by the evil TSA and fly possibly to our deaths.

You’re safer in a plane than a car, I state, unamused by her melodramatic performance.

Oh, yeah…right, Momma giggles. Okay, go call your boy and we’ll see you soon.

Thanks, Momma, I say. Love you.

Love you too, she returns before hanging up.

I text Cece, knowing that if I get her on the phone we won’t stop talking and that there’s a really good chance that I will get off the plane willingly to keep talking and never make it down to Georgia. It takes Cece only about a minute to reply back that they’re doing fine and that my son has already forgotten all about me. Before I get a chance to complain, she says she’s just kidding, followed by a kissy-face emoji and then sends a picture of her and my little man smiling. I write that I’ll call as soon as I land and that I’ll talk to him tonight before bed.

Despite the fact that I’ve flown in the past, this time is the hardest since I have to leave my two and a half-year-old son behind. It’s for the best in many ways to protect him from all of the drama in my tiny hometown. It’s not the best for me since he’s my rock out of everything that is my life, even more so than my supportive family. He’s what’s kept me sane since leaving Blackburn.

I’m able to take a small nap on the plane which makes the just over two-hour trip more bearable. I check some work emails, and then while I have a small snack, I look at photos of my son on my phone. He’s the best thing that has happened to me out of all of the craziness that is my life.

Getting out of Georgia with a full scholarship for business and marketing is on the list of great things that have happened to me, but deciding to go also lead to many interesting life decisions to get me where I am today. There are a few decisions I regret, but having my son is not one of them.

I always felt stifled in our little hometown and desperately wanted to get out and travel the world, wanting a job that allowed me to do so. I jumped at the first chance that gave me the opportunity—a full ride to a New York State college. I think it was the start to how I lost Henry. In fact, I know it.

Henry and I were two peas in a pod since kindergarten. Our schools have always been small, with a town population of just barely eight hundred, and with us being only two of a class of twenty all through our primary and secondary schooling in Georgia, I guess it was only natural for us to be drawn together. As we got older, we knew why most of the other kids treated us differently. We weren’t pure breed like the rest of them. Henry and I were different enough with our Cherokee side and it was always more prominent in the summers with how we tanned.

There were a few other kids in our town who weren’t pure breeds either. Henry’s older brother Davis and my younger brother Grady were two of them. Tyrell and his brother Vernon, who were predominantly darker skinned, were the other two until we hit high school. By then, more non-pure breeds had been moving into the neighborhood which excited us minorities and did the exact opposite for the rest. The town quickly became a melting pot of races; whites, blacks, Hispanics, as well as those of us with Cherokee blood running through our veins.

I remember how Henry and I were inseparable when we were little. His brother, Davis, was responsible for watching us when we left the houses while my little brother, Grady, always tagged along. I loved my little brother, but he did have a tendency to be bratty from time to time. I especially remember one day because that was when we were ten and playing tag late at night.

When Henry was coming after me, I shouted, Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kiss me.

That’s exactly what he did. He kissed me.

It wasn’t the response I expected. I don’t think it was a response any ten-year-old girl would expect from her best friend.

We never spoke of it and I didn’t think anything of it.

It wasn’t until when we were older when I remembered the first time our lips connected because it felt completely different when Henry kissed me the second time when we were