Three years ago, when Tri Destiny was in its planning stages, I read a book by Liz Crowe and I thought, “that’s the kind of work I want at Tri Destiny.” The story was different. The voice was unique. It wasn’t your typical genre-specific book. That’s what we wanted. Books that stood out and authors who had their own voice and weren’t afraid to use it. I remember contacting her about giving me something to help launch our fledgling house. Her reply was something along the lines of, “well, I have this one thing about these realtors…” Jack and Sara came out of a drawer and it was love at first read. (Actually, everyone who knows me knows I fell in love with Craig first, hands down.) I had to have them and more. From the “it’s only three books,” and born of reader demand, came the Stewart Realty series. Which, I’ll announce right here, will be getting three insanely gorgeous new covers!!
Thank you to the ever fabulous and wildly talented Mina Carter and Fiona Jade for their artistic vision and phenomenal skills on these. Conditional Offer’s cover is coming soon as well. That will complete this series’ re-cover project.
Seven books, a novella, and countless free shorts on her blog and fan group later in the Stewart Realty series, Liz came to what she’d decided was the final book – Good Faith. It was planned out meticulously and was, by far, the longest and most involved project we worked on together. The fans’ outcry from the time of the announcement was immediate.
And a definite sense of loss for the family from Ann Arbor they’d grown to love. All of those things (and so many more) were poured out in reviews and emails. The book became the most polarizing of the series and rivaled Essence of Time as the most talked about and the one readers said stayed with them the longest (“I’ve had a 3-week book hangover” was heard more than once.) Repeatedly, fans demanded to know “What Happened After.” They just weren’t going to stand by and accept those two little words “The. End.”
Anyone who has followed this year-long saga knows what happened next. Liz heard the fans. She heard them and she came to me with an idea. “Let’s set a sales goal. If I hit 1000 copies sold by my birthday, I’ll write a sequel. Give them the “what happens after” they’re demanding. What do you think?” I thought it was a brilliant idea! The fans were ecstatic. They had a promise of a sequel! They just had to get to 1000 copies by December 17, which happened to be…
(Hop over to Liz’s blog today to read her annual birthday post done, this year, in a Top 10 style.)
Monthly updates were given (I don’t think there was a month I got away without providing a Good Faith sales update). The members of the Liz Crowe Fans Facebook page went on mission. They were out to break that 1000 number. They were *going* to get that sequel! There are far too many of them to give shout-outs too individually for all of their hard work and dedication, but let me just say, you’re an amazing “street team!” I wish I could meet each and every one of you in person.
And here we are today, December 17. It’s a special day for us because it’s Liz’s birthday and we always want to celebrate that. There’s no way Tri Destiny could be where we are without her having the faith she did in us with those “first three books.” For that, we’ll be forever grateful. She’s been amazing to work with and we’ve learned a tremendous amount working with her over the last few years.
What better way to celebrate a birthday and exceptional hard work than with the best announcement I could be making. *drumroll* After careful calculations, Good Faith’s final totals for this year to date are 1327 – which means….
That’s right, you amazing readers, supportive fans, and everyone who spread the word about Liz, Stewart Realty, Jack Gordon, Jack and Sara, and the rest of the crazy Stewart Realty family in an effort to get us over the 1000-books-sold by 12/17 mark – you did it! You. Are. AWESOME! From the very bottom of our hearts, we thank you. This is the best birthday present you could give Liz – the demand from her fans for more of a “beloved series that never should’ve been.” Because that’s exactly what this series was when it started and with each book, with each reader, with each fan, it became so much more.
So, as a special thank-you to all of you who have been with us through it all. To you who have waited just over a year to find out “what happens after.” To everyone who read the last five words of Good Faith and screamed “NO! Liz, no” with tears streaming down your face. For the fans who came into the Good Faith support group and yelled at us or emailed us privately when you got to “that certain spot.” For every single one of you, we are releasing an extra special sneak peek today at the first chapter of “Net Worth” the Good Faith sequel.
Now wait… wait just a minute! You read that correctly. That said “Good Faith sequel.” This is NOT a standalone book. That means if you haven’t read Good Faith (a 220,000 word book which can be read as a standalone) pick it up today while it’s still $0.99 (this is the last day) and read that first. But, before you scurry off to do that, make sure you scroll all the way down to the bottom (but don’t cheat and read the excerpt) and enter the “It’s a Sequel” Rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two gift cards or one of two eBooks!
For all of you who have laughed, gasped, cried and loved your way through Good Faith (and hopefully the whole Stewart Realty series) – I present to you, the never-before-read first chapter of “Net Worth” – a Good Faith sequel! ~ Many thanks to our fans for getting us to 1000 and our sincerest thanks and happiest birthday wishes to Liz. May all your dreams come true.
Net Worth – A Good Faith Sequel
Stewart Realty – Book 9
by Liz Crowe
(copyright 2014 – All rights reserved)
Early spring fog hovered over the back yard, giving Brandis strange, surreal views of activity. Random arms, legs, shoulders peeked in and out like a bizarre, modern music video matching the pop noise pouring from the speakers way too early on a Saturday. He smiled, content for now to watch while his wife and her friends did some sort of yoga thing, complete with a way-too-good-looking teacher dude they’d corralled from the health club to give them a private group lesson twice a week.
He sipped his first cup of coffee, frowning when the fog lifted enough for him to catch sight of Mr. Perfect Body laughing and “helping” one of the women with her “form.” He leaned forward, eyes narrowed, studying how his sister tossed her ponytail over her shoulder and flirted with the guy who had his hands on her hips and stood way too close to her, at least in Brandis’ opinion.
He sighed and stepped away from the window, unwilling to contemplate any of that mess for now. The kitchen was redolent of bacon, sweet rolls and a little of last night’s burned cookie project—the one that had ended in tears and accusations that he’d had to quell with a impromptu backyard bonfire and s’mores. The little girl chatter behind him sounded happy for now, thank God. He wasn’t sure he could stand another tsunami of female emotion at this point.
“Go easy on her,” Blair had insisted the night before, holding onto their weeping and wailing and slightly-terrifying-at-that-moment niece, Lizzy. “She’s trying to process all the…you know.” She’d given him a significant eyebrow raise. He’d exhaled and focused on trying to get his two nephews to stop beating the crap out of each other for a half second by making them go outside to help him lay the bonfire. He’d picked one up under his arm realizing he’d not be able to do that in a few months the way the kid was growing, and snagged the other one’s collar, absorbing a few of his not-too-shabby twelve-year-old blows to his gut.
“Cool it, guys. Let’s go outside.”
As he’d shoved the boys out the back door onto the porch he’d glanced back and caught his wife’s gaze. She was crooning to the sobbing little girl in her lap but staring straight at him. Tears stood in her eyes. He took a breath, mouthed “I love you,” to her and turned away before the guilt could bowl him over and make him want to jump in his truck and drive to the nearest bar.
“Grampa!” A small female voice blipped, making him startle and turn. A tall, blond man stood in the door, grinning from ear to ear at the sight of the two girls at the kitchen table, coloring, eating cinnamon rolls, detente declared for the time being. The red-headed girl, Sara Grace, leapt off her seat and launched herself into the man’s arms giggling and squealing when he kissed her then flipped her upside down, declaring “Hey, has anyone seen my favorite grand baby?”
Brandis gulped, gripped the kitchen counter and focused on not internalizing that more than was necessary. There was enough drama to go around. No need to get wound up over an innocuous comment from his father-in-law.
“Morning.” Brandis reached for a clean mug. “Coffee?”
“Just half,” Rob said, flipping the girl around to his broad, still-strong shoulders. “Gotta get this one to her gymnastics class.
Lizzie kept her head down, pretending to color, ignoring her best friend/worst enemy get tickle-tortured by her loving grand dad. But he saw the tears welling in her eyes. “Hey, don’t forget,” he said, picking her up and relishing her warmth against him. “You have your horse riding lesson later.”
He’d risked all sorts of marital wrath by purchasing two horses a few months ago, from a farmer down the road who’d begged him lest the animals get sent away to the glue factory when he’d had to declare bankruptcy. They weren’t expensive. Their upkeep, including the trainer he’d had to hire to teach him, much less his nieces and nephews how to ride and care for them most definitely was.
“Don’t wanna,” the girl said, pushing away from him. He set her down and the men watched as she raced out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the second floor.
“I’m sorry Lizzie is so sad,” Sara Grace declared, her face serious. Her grandfather patted her leg, then put her down on the floor and crouched in front of her.
“Go tell her I’ll take her too, if she wants.”
“No, her…uh, father will be here soon. It’s his, um, weekend or whatever I guess. I don’t know,” Brands said, gripping his cup and planning how he would not be in the house when Hugh Lancaster, M.D. showed up, lest he bloody the guy’s nose, again and “scare the kids” as he’d been accused of by every female in his life. But he sensed his temper rising even as he gave his sister’s estranged husband a second thought.
Rob stood up slowly. Together the two men watched as Sara headed up the steps, calling for her friend.
“Jesus, what a mess,” Rob said.
“Yeah. That.” Brandis plunked his mug down on the counter—one he’d installed with his own hands a few years back—and took a breath. “Blair is pregnant.”
Rob’s brow furrowed but he stayed still otherwise, sipping, gaze fixed on the stairs still. “I thought it was too soon. She told me—she told her mother, actually—that you guys were gonna adopt…or something.” His shoulders slumped. “She was so…bad after that last one.”
Brandis’s long and carefully honed sense of defeat combined with defensiveness rose, nearly choking him. He reminded himself that Rob Frietag had less than no reason to actually trust that he, Brandis Gordon, would or could do anything right by his only daughter. But he did, despite himself and thanks in no small part to Blair’s mother, Lila’s efforts through the past few years. Rob was not criticizing. He was merely reacting to the rather shocking news that, after two early-term but brutal miscarriages, his daughter and her alcoholic husband were “still trying.”
“It is too early,” he admitted. “For a lot of things.”
Rob put a hand on Brandis’ shoulder. “Does Lila know?”
Brandis shook his head. “Only you. And she didn’t want me to tell you but…” He shrugged and forced himself to smile through the agonizing admission in his own head that he was sick of trying—sick of Blair’s single-minded mission to get and stay pregnant. He no longer wanted it because it was tearing them apart. But damn him if he would ever tell the woman that. He rubbed his shoulder where she’d nailed him with a book the other night at close range—when he had not shown the proper excitement over her “I’m pregnant again,” news.
But living through another miscarriage, watching the woman he loved beyond reason suffer and pine and fold in on herself, was not something Brandis believed himself equipped to handle without giving into the daily urge to drown his sense of uselessness in a bottle of bourbon.
“This one will be fine,” she’d insisted, smiling through her tears and clutching that damn early pregnancy test stick. “I know it will.”
He’d nodded, and held her close, arm throbbing, heart pounding and already planning to hit an extra AA meeting to help him widen the gap between himself and the gaping hole that yawned yet again at his feet. He glanced up when Rob cleared his throat, having forgotten the man was even still in the room with him.
“Well, so, am I supposed to say anything?” He looked so very miserable at that moment, Brandis hated his own guts all over again. And Blair’s—for putting their extended family and set of friends through all this utterly unnecessary drama. Why was it so fucking crucial that they reproduce after all? Could this be a sign from somewhere that their particular combination of DNA was not meant to exist?
“No, I don’t know. Shit.”
Rob put a hand on his shoulder and Brandis’ sudden urge to lash out at him came hard on the heels of a longing to see and talk to his own father so intense he sucked in a breath. “Pray,” he said. “Pray hard. We haven’t even bothered to notify her doctor yet. I think in her mind that jinxes it, or something.” He ran a hand down his face.
Rob nodded. They both turned at the sound of women’s voices at the back door.
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” his older sister Katie was saying as she stomped into the kitchen. “He’s doing whatever and whoever he wants, remember? I’m allowed to go out on a…” She stopped, blinking fast. The sight of tears slipping down her cheeks distracted Brandis from his own wallow in the pity pool, but the fury rising in his chest did not bode well for his mood.
She dropped into a chair and put her head on her arms. Brandis’ little sister Bethany sat next to her, anxiety in her face as she spoke under her breath. Blair and Lillian followed, carrying the yoga mats in silence. Lillian groaned and put her hands to her back. Rob pushed himself away from the counter where he’d been leaning with Brandis.
“You okay? Need me to call Gabe?”
She waved him away but her normally pale face was flushed redder that usual after their yoga thing, Brandis thought. Blair poured a glass of water and helped her very pregnant best friend into a seat opposite where Katie sat with her head still down.
“Jesus, ladies. I thought yoga was supposed to relax you, align your chakras or something.” He grabbed Blair’s hand, needing her touch at that moment. She smiled and tucked under his arm.
“Katie has a date, with Lorenzo the hot and bendy yoga man,” she said. Brandis frowned at her.
“Yeah.” His sister sat up, wiping her eyes and looking grim. Lillian pushed the half empty water glass across the table to her. “Lucky me.” She sipped, but Brandis noted she was trembling all over. He tightened his grip on his wife, by way of grounding himself. No one spoke for a few minutes. The silence filled Brandis’ chest making him want to yell and punch things.
Then the doorbell rang. He tensed, but Blair held onto him. “I’ll get it,” Rob said, patting his daughter-in-law Lil on the shoulder as he passed her.
“Daddy!” a small voice screeched from upstairs. Lizzie flew down the steps and launched herself into the arms of the tall, slim, handsome man standing in the doorway looking miserable.
“I’ll be … somewhere else,” Brandis muttered, stopping to kiss his Katie’s flushed cheek and give Bethany a fake punch to the arm. He turned before exiting and looked straight at Blair. “You’ve got this?”
She nodded, biting her lip, just as Lillian let out a loud yelp. Katie blinked and turned to her, then went into full doctor mode as she felt Lil’s huge belly with one hand while taking her pulse with the other.
“Call Gabe. And for the record, you two,” she said reserving her glare for her brother. “I know Blair’s pregnant again. You can’t hide that shit from me, you know. It’s too soon after the last miscarriage, so you’d better get your asses into see your doctor this week. C’mon,” she said to Lil who was starting to pant and make whimpering noises. “Let’s get you to the hospital. Bethany,” she barked to her younger sister who sat there looking stunned at the news flash. “Get the boys down and into their father’s car. Excuse us,” she said, shoving past Hugh, helping Lil out onto the front porch.
“Kate,” he said. “I wanted to…”
“Don’t call me that, you shithead. Don’t you ever call me that.” Her words were loud and clear as she got Lil down the steps and headed toward her car. “I’m busy, as you can plainly see. Or maybe all the fucking you’ve been doing with whats-her-name is affecting your vision.”
Rob pushed past Hugh and Lizzie who had her face pressed into his neck. “I’ll pick up Lila. Can Sara Grace stay here?”
“Of course,” Blair said.
Brandis cursed under his breath for having such a smarty-pants sister who happened to be one of the most sought after obstetricians in the U of M health system. But was grateful for the diversion so he wouldn’t give into his renewed urge to plow into Hugh Lancaster’s well-dressed, well-toned middle and beat the cheating asshole into a bloody pulp.
Blair snapped her fingers in front of his face, startling him out of the pleasant, remembered sensation of doing that very thing a few weeks ago, when he’d finally gotten the truth out of Katie—not “Kate.” That name had once only been used by their late father, but Hugh had adopted it and they had all accepted it. Until now, apparently.
“Call your friend,” Blair said. “Get him to the hospital. Bethy and I will handle the kids.”
He nodded, still in a slight daze from lack of sleep and family drama and took the phone Blair held out to him, hitting auto dial for his oldest friend Gabriel Frietag’s number while simultaneously glaring daggers at his soon-to-be-former brother-in-law.
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