Hello Nia Forrester readers! Hi Nia! Thanks for inviting me to hang out today to share what I’ve been up to… I’m so exhausted these days from writing, family stuff and more writing. I feel like my eyes are crossing and look forward to a little break during the holidays. Regardless, I am so happy to be in this place and can’t wait to tell you about my latest book – And Then.
Well a few weeks ago, I released my sixth story Playing for Love. As much as I love the Wilkersons and look forward to what is ahead in the rest of the series, I knew that particular novel would take readers on an emotional roller coaster. I decided I couldn’t close out 2013 that way… I wanted to make the ride a little bit smoother as we transition into another year. So I decided to release one more novel this month – And Then. It’s not quite a holiday tale, but it is… well… calmer. Kind of. Perhaps I’ll just leave it at smoother.
“Smoother?” Shelby asked. “Did you even read The Love Sessions? That was a little much if you ask me and now you want to soften it up?”
Veronica raised her glass and nodded. “Agreed.”
“Excuse me?” I turned around to look at these faces and shake my head. Then I realize the “voices” I hear came from some of my characters. I really think I need to catch up on sleep… I’m hearing and seeing things. Mya Sinclair, Shelby West, Veronica Brooks and Marie Sinclair are talking to me. And I see them.
“You think you need sleep, try working with a husband with an international roster of athletes calling all hours of the day and night. No concept of time zones whatsoever,” Mya chimed in.
I dart my eyes around the table. Wait, table? How did I end up at a table in the middle of a restaurant? I nervously glanced at Shelby who was eyeing me above her salt-rimmed margarita glass.
She murmured. “You’re the one always writing about us eating when we’re together. Why are you so surprised?”
“I do not!” I snap, feeling defensive. Okay, I am not arguing with a fictional character… Am I?
“Just roll with it. You have to pick and choose your battles with these three. I do,” Marie whispered before sliding a bowl of salsa my way. She winked and I politely smile before reaching for a tortilla chip. My hand collides with Mya’s and she laughs.
“Don’t mind her. She’s always stuffing her face,” Veronica joked. “So, what’s this about a new book? I thought you said all you planned to write about in the last one.”
“I did,” I replied. Damn, these are some good chips and salsa.
Mya looked across the table at me with a smile. “I told you.”
I couldn’t help my own grin. These women reminded me of old sister-friends, the kind of friends you want to know are in your corner through good times and bad.
As if reading my mind, Veronica chimed in, “You made sure we experienced our share of both. I wasn’t crazy about how you left things for me in The Love Sessions.”
“Did you read And Then?” I asked.
Veronica nodded and pointed to her e-reader on the table. “I was just telling the girls I might give the rest of your work another chance now. I stopped reading for awhile there.”
“I hope you have some juicy stuff between me and the hubby,” Shelby said as she reached for Veronica’s reader. “May I?”
Veronica handed it to her and Shelby started tapping the screen. Shelby added, “I already one-clicked it. I plan to read it this weekend when I get some free time. Now that I’m on winter break, I can finally catch up on all of my to be reads.”
“I finished it this morning. Pretty slick of you to drop another book like that without telling anyone. I happened to see it mentioned on Facebook that you had a new one out and it was about us,” Mya remarked. “By the way, we need to talk about Carlos.”
“Why does everyone bring up Carlos Ortiz? He was in another series altogether.” I asked.
The ladies exchanged glances with each other, but no one would say anything. The one I counted on to speak up was the most tight-lipped – Veronica.
“Don’t look at me,” she said. “You know that’s not who I am anymore.”
“You’re okay with that?” I asked.
Veronica shrugged. “Did I have a choice? Life happens and we learn from our mistakes. Things could have been a lot worse for me, but I guess with children present and it being the holidays you cut me some slack.”
Slowly a sly smile flashed across her face just as Shelby interjected. “There were little ones in the last one and Tia didn’t hold back.”
“True,” Mya said quietly.
“Wait, do you all think I was that harsh in The Love Sessions?” I ask.
They exchanged looks again until Veronica finally spoke up. “No you weren’t harsh. It was just very emotional. Actually, The Love Sessions was eye opening. At least it was for me. I wish I read it before Darius and I decided to divorce each other. Maybe things would have been different for us.”
Veronica sighed and looked away. Then something made her look back at me and I saw maturity in her eyes that I never noticed before. “I did love him. You never gave me a chance to say it to him, but Darius was my first and possibly only love. I always wondered if I could go back… if you could rewrite The Love Sessions, would you let me tell him? Would it have changed anything?”
The table got quiet. Several servers appeared and placed large platters in front of everyone and the ladies went about eating. I noticed the plate in front of me loaded with one of my favorite dishes… enchiladas verdes.
Marie giggled and pointed to the cheesy, gooey loveliness I was staring at. “Just like you think you know us so well, we know you, too. Thank Shelby for ordering for you. Somehow she knew you would show up.”
I dig in trying to ignore that nagging feeling reminding me that the food could not be real, just like these women are nothing but fonts on a page.
“Really? You want to go there?” Shelby asked, arching a brow high as she looked at me. “If we aren’t real, why bring us back for another book?”
I thought about her question. I wanted to answer her, but I also wanted to sanely respond in a way that would not attract attention if anyone happened to notice me having a conversation with myself in the corner of a restaurant (that was if I really happened to be in this incredible place with delicious Mexican food).
“My last novel, Playing for Love, was a little hard for me to write and release. It picked at some old scabs. I needed that comfort afterward; you know the feeling you get when surrounded by old friends. You all have been that constant this year and there when I experienced some really big moments like the USA Today review. Shelby, you were my first character that I introduced to the world. It feels like yesterday when I imagined you and Matthew walking into Cowboys Stadium.”
Shelby smiled at me and nodded. I looked over at Mya and knew she was still hesitant to open up with me now. She endured so much and I don’t think she understood how much it hurt me to write her going through it.
“I know,” Mya whispered. She reached for my hand and squeezed it. “It’s okay.”
“Mya, you were the one everyone wanted to strangle. Remember? You made it hard for Donovan,” I said. She nodded and I continued, “But I knew that there was more to you. The funny thing is, I believe Donovan always understood you better than I could as the writer. It was the love I felt between you and Donovan that made me want to explore unconditional love. That love I feel like is missing in the media. That’s why I needed to come back home to where it all started, to be around all of you when I closed out the year. I needed you.”
Veronica reached for a tissue and dabbed her eye. And then she cleared her throat and said quietly, “I am glad you came back to us. We needed you, too. Obviously, a lot has changed since The Love Sessions. Seeing where we all ended up in And Then was a great way to bring the series to a close.”
“Who said that was the end?” I suddenly asked. “A few of you are not attached and you know how I am in love with love. Anything is possible.”
Marie groaned and held up both hands. “Someone please take Tia’s pen away.”
A ringing phone was heard above the sudden bickering and I watched Mya reach for it. She answered it and nodded while she spoke. Then she passed me her cell and said, “It’s for you.”
I take the phone and look at it, musing that there I was with imaginary people, eating pretend enchiladas and now taking *insert air quotes* a phone call.
“Hey Tia! It’s Donovan Sinclair.”
Now this is getting out of hand. “Yes, Donovan?”
“The guys and I are at our favorite spot grabbing a bite and wanted to know if you’d mind swinging by. We have a few questions about this book you just put out about us.”
“Remind her we are lawyers.” I heard in the background.
I chewed on the corner of my lip and the ladies shook their heads amusingly. “Sure Donnie. I guess I should ask Mya for the directions?”
“Why? Now you want to ask for help doing something?”
I recognized the voice and realized that either Jackson took the phone or I was on speakerphone. Finally I sighed and gave in. “Give me half an hour to get there. I’m not leaving until I finish these enchiladas.”
Then I hung up the phone, passed it back to Mya and grabbed my fork.
“I heard Donnie’s not happy with this one,” she said, after putting the phone back in her bag. “He managed to get an advanced copy of it and read it the other night.”
Shelby added, “Eric’s not pleased either. You know how he hates our business being put out there.”
I looked at Veronica and she shrugged. “Why are you looking at me? You broke Darius and me up two years ago, remember?”
I rolled my eyes and sighed.
Figures while I was busy trying to finish up my Christmas shopping my characters had a bone to pick with me about my writing.
The server stopped by to place the check on the table and the ladies all looked my way. I shook my head and stood up. “You all looked pretty cozy before you pulled me into this hallucination. I’m sure you can cover the bill.”
Now to figure out how to handle the men…
About And Then
All’s well that ends well… Or is it? For Donovan, Mya, Eric, Shelby, Veronica and Darius, their guess is as good as anyone else’s. With the Love Sessions workshop behind them, life goes on for the group that reminded others the significance of marriage vows. Now, together they face another important lesson – rediscovering the meaning of love.
Donovan and Mya Sinclair’s marriage might appear intact, but something is amiss behind closed doors. Eric and Shelby West battled through their share of storms before, but Shelby refuses to let anything disturb their household again even if her husband invites it into their home. Veronica and Darius Brooks quietly divorced two years ago hoping to close a fifteen-year chapter in their lives, but it’s hard to bury the past when reminders of it pop up every day. While Mya is determined to figure out how to fix the issues in her own marriage, it just might help a few people along the way while bringing old friends back together once again.
And Then is the follow up to The Love Sessions, a novel in the Love Sessions series by Tia Kelly featuring: Love’s Rebound, Give Me You, Save Me From You and The Love Sessions.
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