It’s the week of Valentine’s Day when Jade Benson visits a festive town, hoping to learn some answers about her father whose identity was a mystery until she was thirty. To make matters worse, Jade’s blindsided when she runs into the man she fell for eight years ago.
Levi Stone won’t fall in love again. His wife was the ultimate romantic until her love story ended as she passed away from breast cancer. Levi met Jade a month after Sky died and, while there was intense passion, it was too soon to risk opening his heart. Instead, he broke hers.
Jade can’t forgive Levi for how he treated her in the past, despite encountering red roses—Sky’s favorite flower and symbol she said she’d use to play matchmaker after she died. Jade distracts herself with what she’s learned about her father and discovering that she's more like her mother than she thought.
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Romance
A Pink Satin Romance
Chapter One: Jade
I’m your sister.
Jade Benson’s water glass fell from her hand and shattered onto the white, vinyl floor. The sound of cars whizzing by her apartment in Des Moines, Iowa, became deafening. She allowed herself to breathe and re-read the email.
My name is Hope. I was born and raised in Lovecreek, Iowa. I thought I was an only child until my father passed away last year. He told me he once had an affair and I have a sister. My parents stayed together until my mom died two years ago, but my dad told me he never forgot he had another daughter and always loved her. Jade, you’re that daughter. I’m your sister. I don’t know if you already know this or if it’s a shock, but I’d like to meet sometime or just chat online. I’ve also provided my phone number.
Sincerely, the other daughter of Jason Da Silva
Despite having worked many years in the unpredictable television news business as a reporter, Jade had never been this caught off guard. Her mom had gotten pregnant by a married man? Was this a scam? How could she learn such important news from a stranger over the internet?
Jade quickly typed Hope Da Silva onto the Iowa Courts website, but nothing came up. No record to show she was a con artist, not even a speeding ticket. Unless she’d given a false name. But why prank Jade Benson?
“Because you’re on TV and that makes you visible to all kinds of people,” Jade mumbled. She’d been born just a few years before the Iowa news anchor Jodi Huisentruit went missing, which meant her family pointed out the dangers of her profession more times than she could count. Fortunately, Iowa was fairly safe when it came to crime and Jade hadn’t experienced many scary moments during her time as a reporter.
Instead of fear, Jade was flooded with surprise, anger, hurt and interest. She picked up her cell phone, then face recognition opened the lock on her screen. Her hands shook as she scrolled through her contacts to find the number she called the most.
“You’ve reached Daisy Benson—” Jade pushed the red telephone button to end the call at the sound of her mom’s voicemail.
Daisy never spoke of the man who helped create her daughter. When Jade finally asked for details, when she was fourteen, her mother’s face turned red.
“Oh—uh, pretend he was a sperm donor. There’s nothing to tell. He never met you. Don’t waste your time thinking about him.”
Daisy had a bubbly personality and usually loved to talk and tell stories, so Jade had been surprised by her mom’s vague explanation. She assumed her mother had gotten pregnant from a one-night stand so might not know the man’s name. Or—worse—what if she was raped? Watching Daisy perspire and stutter once was enough. Even though she became even more curious as she got older, Jade had never asked her mother the question again. She didn’t want to give her mom nightmares if she’d been assaulted. Jade shuddered to think she came from a rapist—so she closed the subject in her mind. When her school assignments required her to research her family history, she had plenty of ancestry information from her mother’s side.
Over the past few years, those around her excitedly spoke of DNA tests they took for genealogy purposes, but Jade refrained from ordering a kit. She’d learned from a young age to compartmentalize her life, to not care about her father’s side of the family. Until minutes ago, when the compartments had merged.
Jade’s foot tapped on the floor just like it had since she first read the email. Although she’d felt tired earlier, now it was as if she’d had several cups of coffee. Jade hurried to the closet to grab a broom and dustpan to clean up the mess from when the cup had slipped from her hand while reading the email. She dumped the broken glass into the trashcan and put the cleaning supplies back into the closet, then pulled a towel from her kitchen drawer and padded the floor dry. Feeling calmer, she walked over to the large window in her apartment and stared outside. Streetlamps illuminated the snow falling softly from the sky. She caught sight of her reflection and wondered if the actress Blake Lively hadn’t been her only doppelganger for all these years. Did Hope look like the blonde too?
Maybe it was a coincidence—perhaps Hope really was looking for her long-lost sister and Jade just happened to be a person who the scenario could work for. It was a misunderstanding. She could never imagine her mom with a married man.
George, the rescue cat, walked by. Jade picked him up and snuggled him close, burying her cheeks in the soft black and white hair. George meowed, indicating he would tolerate snuggling so long as it only lasted five seconds. Jade let him jump from her arms and run off. Her cocker spaniel and golden retriever mix, Duchess, nudged Jade’s thigh with her nose, letting her know she would be more than happy to take the affection. Just a year ago, Duchess had been a feral puppy at the local no-kill shelter where Jade volunteered three days a week. Duchess was a healthy, friendly dog who always seemed to interrupt her thoughts when she was feeling down. How could Jade even think about crying when a dog was in front of her, pawing at her to be pet? Duchess’ favorite move was rolling over so her belly could be rubbed. It was as if the dog thought, this makes me feel good so this will make Mama feel better too!
The sound of Jade’s ringtone brought Duchess’ belly rub to an abrupt end. She was back to feeling wired as she picked up her iPhone off the table.
“Mom.” Jade’s heartbeat quickened and her breathing became shorter. She paced the floor.
“I saw I missed a call from you!” Her mother’s voice was cheerful. Daisy was a woman who Jade usually found entertaining. She was clumsy, awkward, often late, and somewhat of a mess—but always had a sense of humor and smile on her face.
“Yeah.” Jade paused, considering whether to ignore the email and go on with her life. If the accusation wasn’t true, would her mom be insulted? The last person Jade wanted to hurt was her mother. Daisy never offended anyone. Jade had heard from her mom’s neighbors, co-workers and friends over the years how they felt at ease because of Daisy’s sincerity toward others. No one wanted to dampen the sweet woman’s spirit. Even if Hope was correct, did Jade want to learn details that would most certainly put both her and her mother on an emotional rollercoaster?
She cringed at the thought of drama in her life (that was supposed to just be for the people she interviewed for news stories), but there would never be a time when Jade was ready, or else she would have already pursued this herself. She’d known her entire life the man who raised her wasn’t her birth dad and that someday she might find out who he was. Even though the situation was being forced upon her, she wanted the truth.
Jade took a deep breath. “I got an email from a woman who claims she’s my sister. That you had an affair with her father. A guy named Jason Da Silva.”
There was silence on the other end.
Jade’s heart dropped. She’d hoped her mother would laugh and tell her it was ridiculous. The story couldn’t possibly be true. The woman online had her confused with someone else. Instead, her mom’s hesitation said it all.
“Mom? Do you know what she’s talking about?”
“This isn’t how I wanted to tell you.” Daisy sounded panicked. Jade could imagine her trying to sit down, probably almost missing the chair.
“It’s true?” Jade found it difficult to breathe but told herself not to pass out. “I’m thirty years old, when were you planning to tell me?”
“You’re right.” For once, her mom’s voice wasn’t upbeat or accompanied with a giggle. She continued, “I’m sorry. Please, ask me anything.”
No words came. All of these years she’d viewed her mom with sympathy as a victim, when instead Daisy had been a mistress.
“I need to digest this first.”
Jade, who no longer was able to worry about offending her mom, hung up the phone without saying goodbye. She sat back down at the table and nudged her plate. The shrimp jambalaya she’d picked up from the carryout place down the street was cold but Jade didn’t care. She didn’t have an appetite anymore.
Jade opened the first piece of mail she’d brought in earlier. It was a thank you letter from an animal shelter. Even though she only volunteered at one shelter, Jade donated to other shelters in the area, even though she didn’t have any extra money at the moment. A dog had been rescued from abuse and needed major surgery; it was worth it. Whenever Jade was at the shelter, she felt at home. Rescuing animals had always been her true calling—but she hadn’t chosen it as a profession because the pay wasn’t enough to support herself. Being a reporter wasn’t a high-paying job by any means but it gave her enough so she could pursue her passion on the side through volunteer work.
The ringtone on Jade’s phone was usually uplifting, but this time the alert that her mom was calling back hurt her ears. Jade didn’t answer.
On the occasions when she hadn’t pushed her biological father from her mind, she’d considered the one-night-stand theory since it was easier to tolerate than rape. Jade pictured a man too busy to get married and have kids because he was trying to improve the world. Maybe he traveled to underdeveloped countries and helped those in need. Her mom must not have realized how virtuous he was, maybe he’d hid his identity from her because he was so humble. He’d swooped in and out of her life too fast to fall in love—a mystery like those her web sleuth group tried to solve.
Jade and three of her friends had given themselves the title a few months ago. She realized the group was an outlet to direct the built-up energy of not solving the mystery from her own life. Jade knew it was also what made her want a profession which centered around having a passionate curiosity that required answers from strangers. As someone on the shier side, television news had been a surprising career choice when she’d first announced it to her family and friends years ago, but when the camera turned on it was as if she was someone else. An actress. Not Jade Benson with the quiet, soothing voice and delicate presence she’d been described through the years by people who knew her. Her voice on camera was much more firm, direct, and in control. Still, she wasn’t a cut-throat reporter. She covered the heart of stories. Now it was time to stop avoiding her own story and start asking questions she should have asked years ago.
Jade’s legs were crossed but her feet still hadn’t stopped moving. She stood up and picked up her plate. She found a lid to go on top before placing her dinner in the fridge, then grabbed a new glass and filled it with water, guzzling nearly all of it down. Moments later, she ran to the toilet when all of the water she’d drank came back up. How could her mom do the very thing Jade had been most against her entire life? When she was a little girl, Stephanie Beck across the street had explained her parents were getting divorced.
“My dad cheated,” she’d said.
What did Stephanie mean? Cheated on a test? Cheated in a game? Jade had gone home and asked her mom. Daisy—out of all people—explained Mr. Beck had a girlfriend but wasn’t supposed to because he was married to Mrs. Beck. It rocked Jade’s world to realize that was even possible. She’d had a false assumption that a wedding put two people in a protective, invisible box that made them off limits to all around them. Their eyes closed to other people and they lived happily ever after. It made Jade less confident toward marriage after that, and it took a couple of years after her own mom’s wedding for her to believe that Daisy wouldn’t get divorced too. Did the “dad” really stay forever?
Paul had. He’d legally adopted Jade at the age of eight when she was the flower girl in their wedding.
“I’m sorry for throwing a stick at you,” she’d apologized at the reception. Back when her mom had first gotten serious with Paul, Jade felt a cold bubble in her chest. She’d never had the sensation before and knew it somehow had to do with the feeling that Daisy—her first best friend—was choosing someone else instead of her to talk about daily life with now.
As if each day someone lit a match to the cold bubbles she’d been holding in, the feeling grew hot until one day when the three of them took a walk at a park. Jade picked up a twig on the path and tossed it at Paul.
“Yeow!” he said, surprised but not physically hurt. The look in his eyes though, was one of sadness. He stopped walking and bent down to talk to her. Jade couldn’t remember what he said, but she realized then that she’d grown to love Paul and would rather have him in her life than out. She called him “Dad” after the adoption and never wanted to see sadness in his eyes again.
That day at the park was what she pictured every time her mind wandered to the direction of “where’s my birth dad’s side of the family?” Thinking of her biological father felt like a betrayal to the man who raised her, who was as light-hearted as her mom. It would have been hurtful to both if she pursued a search or even imagined she had siblings. A sister.
Jade flushed the toilet, wiped her mouth, and washed her hands. Patience wasn’t one of Jade’s strengths. She would need to meet Hope in person soon. Today was Monday and the first day of February. Should she drive over this weekend? Either way, Jade couldn’t go back to living her life the same. There was someone else out there who shared her genes. Only an hour-and-a-half away!
Lovecreek was a familiar name from an exit sign off the interstate, east of Des Moines, twenty minutes from where Jade worked at her first job out of college. In fact, during her six months living in Cedar Rapids, she dated a man who was raised in Lovecreek.
Jade’s stomach tightened and her mouth became dry at the memory of the one relationship in her life she regretted. She’d planned to avoid that area of Iowa forever. What if Hope knew Levi? Lovecreek only had twenty-five-hundred people.
Jade returned to the kitchen where she reopened her laptop. She typed Jason Da Silva in the search engine.