Family of Lies by Mary Monroe
New York Times and #1 Essence bestselling author Mary Monroe has been described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “remarkable talent,” known for insightful, entertaining and poignant stories spun around the complicated dynamics between friends, lovers and family.
Publishers Weekly praised her most recent title Lost Daughters calling it; “a spicy mixture of family scandal, mother-daughter betrayal, and good-for-nothing men… you can never accuse Monroe of a dull moment.” Monroe returns this June with a tale sure to have readers on the edge of their seats; FAMILY OF LIES is being published by Dafina Books in Hardcover Original.
In Family of Lies, Mary Monroe weaves a stunning portrait of a family immersed in deceit ... and the women whose happiness depend on the secrets they keep...
After growing up poor in Texas, Vera Lomax used every gold-digging trick in the book to land a rich husband. Now living in the lap of luxury in San Francisco, her only job is to fawn over her much-older husband, so it’s been easy for her to balance a life of shopping and affairs with younger men with a major secret: the sixteen-year bribery of one of her husband’s mistresses to keep her pregnancy under wraps. Vera figures that a little hush money every month will ensure her husband’s fortune is hers alone. . .
Unfortunately for Vera, Sarah Cooper is the child Kenneth Lomax always wanted. When the father she never knew shows up at her mother’s funeral to claim her, it’s a fairy tale journey from the ghetto to a mansion on a hill. But Sarah’s life is not as carefree as her father wants it to be … because Sarah knows from the start that her step-mother is as two-faced as they come. And after losing all the family she’s ever known, she wants a life that’s richer than what Vera’s got planned for her.
Neither woman can be sure who will win Kenneth’s heart and fortune. But as Vera and Sarah scheme to get what they want, everyone they know will be choosing sides, taking chances, and gambling it all to come out on top
Praise for the novels of Mary Monroe
"Once again, Monroe displays her gift as a marvel with this sensational novel."
-- RT Book Reviews on Lost Daughters
"Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, but the story has a bizarre, violent edge a la Stephen King. . .a candid portrayal of the cold-blooded yet fascinating Mama Ruby."
-- Publishers Weekly on The Upper Room
"Monroe's style, like her characters, is no-holds-barred earthy. . .. Monroe's characters deal with their situations with a weary worldliness and fatalism that reveal their vulnerability as well as their flaws."
-- Booklist on Mama Ruby
Sixteen years later
I couldn't believe how many years had passed since I'd met with Lois Cooper that Saturday morning in a Denny's. I can still see her face in my mind and how frightened she looked by the end of our meeting.
We had both kept our end of the bargain. I made sure she got paid on time every month. And just to prove that I had a heart, each year I gave her a ten percent "cost of living" increase. Just like she was getting paid to do a job. As far as I was concerned, her staying the hell out of my husband's life and not letting him know about that baby was her job and I was her employer. She never returned to work for my husband after our meeting. And since she had not communicated with him, he had no idea why she had up and quit, leaving him in a lurch. I will never forget how baffled he had looked that evening when he came home all those years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't replay that conversation in my head.
"Uh, one of the secretaries called up personnel this morning and told them she was not coming back to work," Kenneth announced. He had come home later than usual this particular day. But I was used to that. He had been spending up to twelve hours a day at the store, several times a week for years. I wondered how much of that time was spent with other women. Even though he had a great team of loyal and competent employees who could run the place without him, his office at his main store had become his second home. He even kept a couple of suits, fresh underwear, and some toiletries in the closet behind his desk.
"Which secretary was it?" I'd asked dumbly. "That white girl with the red cornrows, I hope."
"No, it was not Amber. She's a single mom who is taking care of two toddlers and her disabled older brother. She's not going anywhere anytime soon. And she loves her job." Kenneth hesitated for a few seconds. There was a strange look on his face when he continued. "It was Lois in the main office."
"Hmmm. Isn't she the one you hired because her mother needed help paying her bills? She just up and quit? No explanation?"
Kenneth scratched the side of his face and shook his head. "No explanation whatsoever. I had a feeling something like this might happen."
"Why do you say that?"
"The girl was not that sophisticated and she couldn't get along with too many folks, especially the women. Every time I looked up, somebody was in my office with complaints about her doing or saying one offensive thing or another. She was always late for work and she made a lot of personal telephone calls. None of my immediate staff liked her."
You liked her enough to screw her, I wanted to point out.
I didn't want to remind Kenneth that he had fired his previous secretary because she had always come to work late—if she showed up at all—and she argued with him and everybody else. He had put up with Lois's behavior and probably would have continued to do so if I hadn't stepped in. So in a way, by me getting rid of her, I had also done him a favor—in more ways than one. Had he known she was pregnant with his baby, we would be having a totally different conversation.
"I feel sorry for the girl. The poor little thing. She's had a hard life and I really wanted to help her."
"You sure did help her." I couldn't help myself. Those words just slipped out of my mouth on their own.
"I'm sorry?" Kenneth sucked on his teeth for a few moments and gave me a curious look.
"You did help her. You gave her a job," I said quickly. Honey, you've helped a lot of people over the years. Everybody loves you for giving so much back to the community. But you're not the Wizard of Oz or a witch doctor, sweetie. You cant solve everybody's problems. Lois is a grown woman and she's going to do what she wants to do. I think it was pretty tacky for her to quit without giving proper notice, though. Some people are so inconsiderate! Tsk, tsk, tsk. I don't know what this world is coming to."
"Yeah. I wont argue with you about that. She resigned over the phone and that's about as tacky as a person can be—especially in this case. She told the bookkeeper to mail her last paycheck to a post office box," Kenneth croaked.
"And she's such a pretty young thing," I allowed. "But she's also as ghetto as oxtail stew and fried chicken on the same plate. You know how those girls like her are. Most of them have one man coming in the front door and one going out the back door at the same time. I'm sure she attracted a lot of admirers, so maybe she met somebody ..."
"Maybe she did meet somebody," Kenneth grunted. "Oh well. I hope everything is all right with her regardless of why she quit." A sad look appeared on his face and he shook his head, blinking hard as if to hold back a tear or two. Apparently he had loved that heifer, and her mysterious disappearance had really upset him. But I had no sympathy for her or him. "I'll miss her," he admitted, his voice cracking.
"I'm sure you will miss her,", I said, too low for him to hear. And then I gave him a hug. "Now come to bed so I can give you something that'll take your mind off your troubles."
We had made love that night and I forgot all about Lois Cooper and her baby.
* * *
Now, sixteen years later, my marriage was stronger than ever. Not only was I looking forward to the new millennium coming up in a few days, but I was also looking forward to the day Lois's child turned eighteen. I had no idea what the child's name was or if it was a girl or a boy. But none of that mattered to me anyway. All I cared about was that in three more years Id be off the hook.
And that child would no longer be part of my life!
I was in such a good mood I practically raped Kenneth that night.
Excerpted from FAMILY OF LIES by Mary Monroe. Copyright © 2014 Mary Monroe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Monroe is the New York Times and Essence® bestselling author of God Don’t Like Ugly, which earned the author the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award and a nomination for the Black Writers Alliance’s Golden Pen Award.
Her other novels include Lost Daughters, God Don’t Make no Mistakes, Mama Ruby, God Ain’t Through Yet, God Aint Blind, The Company We Keep, She Had It Coming, God Still Don’t Like Ugly, The Upper Room, Red Light Wives, Gonna Lay Down My Burdens, which is named among the BET.com Best Books of 2002, and the #1 Essence bestseller, In Sheep’s Clothing.
The third child of Alabama sharecroppers, and the first and only member of her family to finish high school, Monroe, who says “I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth,” never attended college or any writing classes.
A storyteller since childhood, writing at first came somewhat easily to Monroe. Later, advice from Alice Walker, Ann Rice, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison encouraged her to continue to pursue her writing. Monroe is also included in the reference book, The 100 Most Popular African American Writers.