Time to Remember Prologue…




I got out of my car and closed the door, staring at my parents’ home for a few moments. It had been a long drive to Denver, and my mind was filled with thoughts of this moment.

I gazed at the meticulous landscaping, the beautiful stone siding, and the elegant front door. It was a nice house. My father had spent a lot of money on it, as he did with many things. But it really wasn’t a home. It gave off a cold, distant feel, like a place that was set up just to shoot a movie or a commercial but wasn’t full of true love.

I knew what true love was now, and I couldn’t wait to get started on my future with Bethany in Holly Well Springs. It amazed me that she had been there in town even when I was little and lived there myself, before our father dragged me and my two brothers away for what Dad claimed was a better life. The better life was right there where he should have left us, in the happy little Christmas town with our Pops and Gran.

Bethany was Ben’s little sister. Ben worked with Brodie on his tree farm, Fisher Greenhouses & Christmas Tree Farm. Bethany had many gifts, one of which was her way with animals. She was training to become a veterinarian, and we’d recently figured out a way that she could intern at Pops’s reindeer farm, the Triple J Ranch, and take most of her classes online.

For me, my talents were painting and drawing. I loved to capture a scene on canvas in a way that people could imagine themselves in that scene. I’d been working far too long as an attorney for my dad’s firm when I should have been using my talent.

That was officially coming to an end.

I straightened my shoulders and started to take a step toward the battlefield. That was the best thing to call it. I knew how my father was, and that he was already filled with anger over James and Jesse settling down in the town he hated the most. Knowing that I, too, had chosen to do the same was surely going to bring the house down. My breath caught in my throat and all the words I planned to say to Dad ran through my mind.

As I took another step, hands hit both of my shoulders.

I looked to my left and saw James smiling at me.

I turned to my right and saw Jesse doing the same.

“Ready, brother?” James asked.

“Let’s go, Triple J,” Jesse said.

It took a moment, but I recovered from my surprise. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Jackson, we have both been through this before,” Jesse said. “We know what’s on the other side of that door. I wish I had stood up for James, but I didn’t. You are Dad’s golden child, so it’s going to be tough for you. James and I didn’t want you to be alone. We’re here for you.”

I looked at both of my brothers and felt so much love and respect for them. Jesse was also an attorney, but he had broken free from Dad and had opened his own successful practice in Holly Well Springs. James had trained as a doctor, but his true calling was to run the Triple J Ranch like Pops before him. They were both realizing their dreams, and I was on the brink of living mine.

Our future was together in Holly Well Springs. But first, we had to face the present—and the man who stood on the other side of that door. I wasn’t sure I could have held up under the immense pressure of my father if they hadn’t shown up to support me.

My parents were surprised to see all three of their children walk into the dining room. They were just finishing dinner, which was how I’d planned it. Neither of them moved or spoke a word as we walked in.

Jesse broke the silence. “Hello, parents.”

I could see the smile form on James’s face.

My mother started to get up, but my father placed his hand over hers, a clear sign that she was to sit still. As always, my mother complied. She always said it was just easier that way. My mother loved her life of parties, charity events, and pictures on the cover of magazines. She was the epitome of high society. She paid a high cost for her extravagant lifestyle, though, as was evident by the fact that not one of her three sons moved toward her.

“What brings this unwelcome surprise?” my father asked, his voice angry.

Jesse smirked slightly. “We just thought we would drop in and pay the parentals a visit. Is that so hard to believe?”

He reached over and grabbed a grape off the table. I knew it would upset Dad even more. If there was one thing he hated, it was interfering with his dinner. I had to take a breath to keep my nervous heart from pounding. It felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. 

“Why don’t we go into the living room?” my mom asked.

She moved her hand away from Dad’s and got up from the table. We all followed her into the living room, and James and Jesse sat down after Mother was seated.

Father and I remained standing. He sensed this was a battle between the two of us, and so did I. I wasn’t going to be in a position where I had to look up at him. It was a technique that I’d learned from him, after all.

“What is this about?” asked Dad.

James started to speak. “Well—”

But Dad interrupted him as if he didn’t exist. “I would like to speak to Jackson alone,” Dad said coldly.

It was basically how Dad felt after James chose to go into the medical field instead of joining the prestigious family law firm. He’d treated James even worse when my brother had chosen to move back to Holly Well Springs.

It was always strange to me that a man wouldn’t want his son to be a doctor. But as I got older, I realized that any profession James had chosen that wasn’t law would have been shunned by Dad. Since the day he’d told Dad about his decision, I’d always looked up to him for having the courage to be an individual. Now, it was my turn.

“Everyone, get out,” Dad said.

“Not a chance.” Both James and Jesse said it at the same time.

I suppressed a smile. I was so grateful that my brothers were supporting me, but I knew I had to be serious, or Dad wouldn’t believe me about the choices I’d made. I was about to take control of my own life.

“Let’s not drag this out any longer than we have to,” I said. 

I pulled the letter out of my coat pocket and tried to hand it to Dad, but he refused to even acknowledge it.

“This is my letter of resignation,” I said. “I won’t be working at the firm any longer.”

My mother gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. Dad’s face turned a very ugly shade of red. Things were going about as well as I’d expected.

“I have decided to stay in Holly Well Springs,” I continued. “I will be opening an art gallery and getting back to doing what I have always loved to do.”

I looked around the room at all the expensive art collections my parents had. It was so different from looking around the rooms at the inn at the Triple J Ranch. My grandparents had so much of my own art displayed in every room of the sprawling house. My own parents couldn’t be bothered with their son’s petty hobby, as my dad called it. Instead, their house was filled with expensive pieces that they didn’t even care about. They were only displayed to show off their wealth and impress the socialites who came to visit.

Looking at one painting, I could almost see the heart of the artist as he brought what had to be his favorite subject to life. Mother and Father could never see that when they looked at it. It felt sad to have such a stunning work of art in a place where no one had the heart to care about it.

James and Jesse stood up and walked behind me. It only made Dad angrier, if that was possible.

Dad stared at me. “I will give you one last chance to change your mind.”

“Wow, you must be the golden child for real,” James said, laughing. “I never got one last chance.”

Jesse followed with laughter of his own. “Me neither, brother. It was my way or the highway when Dad talked to me. I’m still grateful I chose the highway.”

The laughter slowly died away, and Dad’s eyes never left mine. It was like there was no one else in the room but the two of us. It was how he wanted me to feel. I had to admit that if it weren’t for Bethany’s support back in Holly Well Springs and my two brothers standing beside me to back me up, I might have caved at that point.

“I don’t need a last chance, Dad,” I said firmly. “I have made my decision, and I want to see where this road leads for me. My art has always been a huge part of me, and until I went back to Holly Well Springs, I had pushed that far away. Gran helped me remember how much I loved it.”

“She never could stop meddling,” Dad said in disgust. 

Both Jesse and James took a step toward Dad. I didn’t like him putting down Gran, his own mother, either, but it was one of the tactics Dad always used, so I was accustomed to it, and I didn’t show any emotion. He had no standing to speak in any negative way about one of the most wonderful women in the world. Nothing he said mattered as far as Gran was concerned. She was far above him in kindness of spirit.

Dad turned to look at the three of us. “What a huge disappointment all three of you have turned out to be. Turning your back on everything I have done for you and betraying me for that town is the last straw.”

Dad went completely silent. He looked at each of us in turn, his other tactic of control, and turned to my mother.

“From this day forward, we have no sons,” he said. Then he turned back to us. “Every dime I have will be willed to a zoo before any of you will touch it.”

It was Dad’s third tactic, to threaten our inheritance. He had no idea that money had no value compared to following our dreams and being with the women we loved in the town we adored.

We just continued to look at him without saying anything.

“I will assure the three of you that you will regret challenging me,” Dad said. “I will make sure the dreams you think you have will turn into nightmares for each one of you for crossing me.”

James shook his head. “Dad, we’re not crossing you. We’ve all chosen to walk a different path. Why can’t you just be happy for us?”

I thought Dad couldn’t get any scarier. I was wrong. He went completely silent and his face turned from red to pale and stone-like.

“Get out,” Dad said quietly.

It was more deadly than any of his shouting.

We turned and walked past Dad and out the door.

“Well, I think that went well,” Jesse said loudly.

The last thing we heard was something crashing against the door. I hoped it wasn’t one of Mother’s favorite vases.

1 thought on “Time to Remember Prologue…”

  1. I was holding my breath, then the escape. They were out of there, having the courage to stand up and make their choice to choose their own individual paths to follow. Love it, absolutely amazing.

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