The day was partly cloudy, sunshine trying to beam through the clouds but not quite succeeding. In the city of Seattle, Washington, Addison James Whitworth tapped his fingers on a large, brown desk. Addison was the oldest in the Whitworth family. He knew he was going to get the wealthy inheritance once he and siblings’ father had passed. But that would be a while, of course. He still had time to help in the family’s “career.”
Addison had sharply cut, rich black hair that always looked slick and greasy, cool. He was twenty-eight years old, even though he looked thirty-five, and always wore a suit. He was sitting in a large room with white walls and darkly painted paintings. There was a small window behind him, creamy white lace curtains blowing in the breeze. He again tapped his fingers on the desk, a grave sign of impatience.
He slammed a button on a machine in front of him, beeping the company secretary. “Sally, have you heard from my father yet?” he demanded gruffly.
Sally Berg, the constant scared-stiff secretary, answered in a strained yet calm voice, “He said that he was going to be a little late, and that your siblings are on their way.”
“It’s about time,” Addison grumbled, and thanked the secretary sharply before leaning back in his leather armchair.
Still restless and impatient, he got up off his seat to the window, and gazed outside. The Seattle skyscrapers and other tall buildings could be seen in the distance, along with many other mansions and highly expensive complexes around the area. But the only reason that he could, however, was because Seattle was beyond the Whitworth gardens. The mansion he was standing inside was four stories tall, with many rooms not needed and not used. There was a huge garden surrounding the entire mansion, along with a big, wide, and tall front, metal gate that could only be opened if the arriver knew the password. Every one of his family members, along with every staff member in the mansion, who were also starkly hooked to the entire Whitworth company, a very wealthy business, knew that if they went outside the entire business’s resources, they would get fired. Being fired was the best thing that could happen to them, if they were lucky.
He just happened to be gazing out a third story window of his office, and wished that his father didn’t work as a lawyer on the side of the family business. It would make things a lot easier and safer, but then some people might still be curious, so for the umpteenth time, Addison Whitworth noted that perhaps his father was continuously doing what was best for the family, and for every one of his five children.
He cleared his throat, and then fisted out a cigar from his pocket. He lighted it, and then tossed the closed lighter on his large expanse of desk. He gazed briefly around the room, at the several lounge chairs and many bookshelves of dictionaries, various encyclopedias, and any other book his father or him had ever bought or owned. Most of them had to either do with history or politics, yet some of them were great novels, like “The Grapes of Wrath” or “To Kill A Mockingbird.” But those time periods was as far as it went for purchasing books.
Suddenly, the white, wooden door of the office flew open. Addison looked up just as a tall lady with shoulder-length, curly light brown hair and terrified, wide blue eyes entered the room. Wrinkles ordained her soft cheeks, and she had three different rings on various fingers of her left hand: a wedding ring, engagement ring, and a mother’s ring, doting five different birthstones. In Addison’s opinion, the ridiculous thing was a symbol of a mother’s great, adoring love for her five children. Yet all Addison had for his mother was resentment.
“Addison!” the woman exclaimed, her voice squeaky, and she hurried over to him in her formal wear of a tight, short-sleeved, blue blouse, and long, black skirt with matching heels. A diamond necklace glittered around her neck, along with diamond earrings. “You cannot do this, my son! You just cannot.”
“It has to be done, Mother.” He shook his head, talking around the cigar at the corner of his mouth. “If it’s not done, it’ll be an entire disgrace to the company’s business livelihood, not to mention this family.”
“This family has become a too-strict, no-good place that will just deteriorate as the years go by!” Amelia Whitworth reached forward and clutched both hands against her son’s suit coat. Her eyes were pleading with him madly as she looked up into her son, six inches taller than her. “I am your mother, my sweet boy. Your mother! How can you even dare to do this to your mother? All because of that man?”
Addison’s green eyes turned into disgust as he gazed down at his mother, and then clasped a hand around hers. He pushed her off him, and then stepped back. “That man happens to be my father, Mother.”
“Yeah, a father who uses his children for money, wealth, and dishonesty.” She shuddered, hugging herself. “I don’t understand why you have to do this. I just don’t. I raised you, your brothers, and sisters better than this, Addison! It even says so in the Bible—”
“You know we don’t read the Bible unless we are curious about a piece of history,” Addison snapped, and then scowled at her. “You are anything but a mother anymore…Amelia.”
Amelia’s gaze snapped up, and she threw a glare at her son. “How dare you call me by my first name! You’re my son! You’re supposed to call me Mother, or Mom!”
“Ha!” Addison shook his head, and then looked up to see two young women enter the room. “Ah, you’re finally here.”
“We would’ve been here earlier,” the youngest girl, nineteen-year old Emily Ladonna Whitworth remarked with an innocent toss of her long, dark brown wavy hair. She crossed her arms, and leaned against the wall. “But we couldn’t find Cole.”
“What!” Addison exclaimed, and stomped his foot. “This is a family meeting!” He ignored his mother’s scoff from behind him. “He’s every bit of family as the rest of us.”
Emily’s hazel-green eyes narrowed, daring Addison to say that she didn’t tell him so. Cole was being a disgrace to the family legacy as their brother. “Well, what do you know. So what are we supposed to do about it, huh?”
Addison quirked an eyebrow.
“Addison!” the second, twenty-one year old sister, Lorraine Jeanne Whitworth exclaimed at her oldest brother, disappointment lacing her beautiful blue eyes. She shook her head at him, her shoulder-length, light blond curls shifting. “How many times have I told you to stop smoking cigars?” She gave a face of disgust. “No wonder it smells horrible in here all the time.”
“They’re stress relievers, Lor.” He shook his head back at her. “And when it comes to Cole, why shouldn’t I have this right?”
“Ah, don’t worry,” twenty-five year old, short brother Jack Walton Whitworth proclaimed lazily as he stepped into the room behind his sisters. His green eyes looked darker against his wavy and short, dark brown hair. “The thugs will find him eventually. They always do.”
Addison rolled his eyes. “Oh, for the last time, Jack! Will you quit calling them thugs?”
“Okay, fine.” Jack shook his head, coming to stand beside Emily. “I guess I can’t wait until Karl, Slade, Linus, and Russ get here, then,” he added sarcastically, with a lace of bitterness.
Almost all at the same time, the four siblings turned to gaze hateful glances at their mother, standing beside the window.
Amelia glared right back. “How dare you,” she snarled, clenching her hands around her crossed arms until her knuckles were white. “You’re my children!” Her voice broke on the last word, and she bit her lip. “How dare you.” She shook her head, and then looked away.
“Anyway,” Jack added as if neither one of them had even heard their mother speak. “When are we going to get this show on the road?”
“Yeah,” Lorraine chimed in, “are we having the meeting afterward?”
“Quite so.” Addison momentarily slipped his cigar from his mouth to blow smoke into the air. He ignored Lorraine’s roll of the eyes. “There are quite a few things Father and I need to discuss with you guys.”
“I wish it could’ve waited for another day,” Emily pronounced. “I have an accounting job to get back to.”
“Don’t we all,” Jack added wryly, and then a lopsided smirk braced across his mouth.
“Well. Let the show begin,” came another voice, and they all turned, even Amelia, to see a tall man with graying, dark brown, wavy hair, and piercing green eyes. Byron Gonzalo Whitworth looked strict and angry and determined, as always, and he leaned a bit on a cane, though he mostly used it to just look nice. He wore no wedding ring on his finger, however, despite him still being married to Amelia. Reading glasses were clipped to his single breast pocket, and he cleared his throat.
“Father,” Addison greeted the man, but he didn’t show as much respect on his face as the rest of his siblings did.
Jack, Lorraine, and Emily even showed more respect for their father by looking more formal and polite. Emily leaned away from the wall, Jack straightened his tie, and Emily cleared her throat and raised her chin.
But Byron looked around. “Where’s Cole?” he demanded gruffly.
Even though Emily winced, Addison remained in control. “The guys are probably looking for him, sir.”
“We couldn’t find him or contact him for the meeting,” Lorraine said to her father softly.
Byron huffed. “Boy! Can’t get him to do anything around here.” He shook his head with more anger than disappointment. “If this keeps up, he’s going to have to go, too.”
That statement brought Amelia looking up with surprised fright. “Not Cole,” she whispered, and then braced forward toward her husband. Addison tried to reach out to grab her arm, but she was too fast. She hurried up to clutch her husband’s jacket like she had with Addison’s before. “Not my youngest boy! Oh, dear, Byron, you wouldn’t!”
“It might have to be done,” Byron stated quietly, and then barely looked at her. “You…You are no wife of mine.”
Stark hurt blazed through Amelia’s blue eyes, and then she glared at him, finally letting go. “Nor are you a good husband,” she snarled, and then stepped back. “You’re nothing but an idiotic, pompous windbag.” She turned away toward the window.
Byron scoffed, untouched, yet showed no smile on his face. He rarely smiled. “Call me what you want, Amelia. But in the end…” He shook his head. “It won’t matter.”
Addison reached into his other pocket, and pulled out a small device. Pressing a button with his thumb, he talked into it. “Linus, where are you guys?”
“Headed upstairs,” came Linus’s faint reply.
“Good,” Byron huffed again as Addison tossed the device onto his organized desk. “We need to get this over with, the sooner, the better.”
Amelia shuddered, her eyes filled with tears as she kept her gaze at her feet.
They all turned to see three big, muscular thugs stomp into the room, all dressed in black and wearing hefty belts with guns.
Linus Townsend, the biggest one, was clutching the collar of Cole Douglas Whitworth, the literal disgrace of the family. “I found him in the trees. I don’t know what he was doing.”
“Get off me,” Cole snarled, and then jerked away. His short, light brown, blond-streaked hair was messy, as if he’d been running his hands through it a few times. He wasn’t dressed formally, either. He had a nice white shirt that was not tucked in, and he wore a black tie very loose around his neck, along with black slacks and matching dress shoes.
Cole’s hazel-green eyes filled with unmistakable pain as he gazed at his mother in the corner.
“It’s about time, you idiot,” Addison snapped, momentarily taking out his cigar and clutching his mother’s forearm tightly at the same time. “What were you doing? In the trees, of all places?”
“Trying to hide, to figure out a way to stop all this nonsense,” Cole exclaimed in a high-pitched voice, and his eyes filled with tears. “Come on, Addison. She’s our mother.”
“More your mother than ours these days.” Addison shook his head, and a playful grin stood at the corners of his mouth. “Since you’re such a mama’s boy.”
Cole glared at him furiously.
“That’s enough, boys,” Byron said, and then looked at his thugs. He nodded his head toward Amelia. “Guys, go on.”
Three of the thugs went over and grabbed Amelia tightly just as her arms dropped to her sides helplessly, and tears began streaming down her cheeks. Russ, the smallest thug, fisted out a gun and held it at the woman.
“No!” Cole screamed, and he lurched forward, but Slade, the thug standing at the door, grabbed his arm. Jack grabbed the other arm, both determined to keep Cole back. He was supposed to be a good use to the company. “Please.”
His face very emotionless, Byron glanced at a piece of rumpled paper. “Amelia Whitworth, you are charged with being a conspiracy against this family…” He re-folded the piece of paper, and placed it back into the inside pocket of his white-striped, gray suit coat. “…And are ordered to die immediately.”
“So long,” Addison quipped, and then grinned.
“Mom!” Cole exclaimed, tears pooling in his eyes. His shoulders started shaking as he tried to struggle free, glaring at his oldest brother. “You cannot do this! She didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Of course she did,” Addison remarked.
“I suggest you shut up now, Cole,” Jack said angrily from behind Cole.
“Mom,” Cole whimpered, staring at his mother tenderly, yet very sadly as she choked on a sob, and gazed lovingly back at her son. “I love you.”
Amelia nodded, mouthing, “I love you” back, just as Russ cocked the pistol.
“No!” Cole yelled, and then squeezed his eyes shut.
A piercing gunshot hit the room, followed by a soft thump.
Emily gazed with interest at her nails, and then raised her eyebrows. “Can I go back to work now?”
“No,” Byron stated. “That’s enough, Emily.” He frowned at her. “There’s still business to discuss.” He glanced at Cole. “As for you, Cole…”
Cole glanced at his father angrily, being let go by Slade.
“You will not dishonor this family.” Byron pointed at his son with his rich black cane. “You will continue with your college studies, but I suggest you obey whatever we say. The next meeting is next month. You stay quiet throughout the entire meeting this morning, and continue doing so for the rest of the meetings unless you have something to say that you know will particularly interest us.” He shook his head. “You will do exactly as Addison or myself say, and that goes for the rest of your siblings. Otherwise, we’re through!” he added sharply. “Is that understood?”
Cole swallowed hard, and then gazed momentarily at his mother’s body. He swallowed again, and a single tear rolled down his cheek.
“Yes, Father,” he said softly.
Jack patted his shoulder, as if he was glad he’d finally agreed, and let go of him, too.
“Good.” Byron nodded, and then cleared his throat. “We need to discuss other business matters now, then.”
His face contorted, Cole gazed at Addison.
From around his cigar, Addison grinned at him, but it did nothing to soothe Cole’s pain.
After reading this, what are your first thoughts? You’re probably thinking, “Wow, Jenna, this is quite terrible.” Or “Why on earth would you want to write a story like this?”
The only answer I can give you is: “I needed to get the story plot out of my head.”
Here Cole Whitworth is, part of a family he does not love, part of a life he does not want to be a part of. And then he meets a girl who doesn’t know about this life, who longs to know the reason why he fights with such terrible pain. Her name is Madison Brooks. She is sweet, adorable, beautiful, and kind. She is what I would call “Cole’s angel.” She saves Cole from a bitter and terrible life, she helps him find God and see the real reason for living in this short life.
So in this suspenseful romance novella called “Time and Tide” that I wrote here, everything changes once Cole meets Madison. He changes into a much more wonderful and happier man.
If you haven’t noticed already when reading my blog posts, I enjoy incorporating life lessons into each novel or novella that I write. In my current novel “Father’s Secret Suitcase,” I incorporate much more life lessons and stories that I’ve ever had the privilege of doing so before!
By the way, I’d just like to add on a side note that my query letter is going really, really well. I’ve had several people I know well critique it by now, and one of them recently told me that I only need to change two whole things in my query letter – which means I’ll be able to send it off to literary agents sooner than I thought! So please keep me in your prayers or thoughts, because I know I’m that much closer to getting my dream to come true 🙂
Have a warm and happy week, everyone 🙂