I wanted to read a story like this for a long time as it involves a love that lasts over the years and perhaps it will last forever and which entangles so many social and moral themes.
Sydney and Rachel were in love 13 years ago as they were teenagers, yet Rachel left Sydney for her parents’ prejudices in the name of the Lord and the Catholic Church, as such a love was abominable.
In this lesbian novel, Trin Denise surfaces very deep moral, social and religious issues that still linger in our society, perhaps not in the US, but surely in Europe, especially in the South Eastern countries. Those issues are : lesbian love is denied by God and the Church, marital sexual abuse in a heterosexual marriage, embezzlement , employees are collateral victims of harsh business takeovers, employees treated as resources not humans, revenge and greed, perhaps misunderstood ideas of being wealthy (Maureen’s parents were fired by Sydney when she took over their company)
Sydney Welsh is the main character and she surely breathes power and self contempt through all of her pores as she is a self made millionaire as CEO and owner of a company that produces specialty office hardware and software products and all this confidence attracts Caytlin, Rachel Ashburn’s biggest daughter to her. Yet, Sydney is miserable inside as she still suffers Rachel’s abandon and wants revenge, that’s why she hires Jackie to elaborate a plan to get to Rachel, mainly to hire Caytlin as a software programmer and then promote her as VP of the IT Soft Programming department at Welsh, take over the design company Rachel works for and face her.
Rachel had a unhappy life after leaving Sydney and her second husband Edward was a drunk and an abuser, she suffered and her daughters knew, yet she’s got no way out. She know she took the wrong choice 13 years ago and now she had to face abuse for the sake of her daughters, which of course was in her head, as Caytlin was almost 18 and Alyssa 8 years old and were of a high intelligence and they just wanted their mother to be happy.
The story starts when Sydney gets home from a business trip and finds her lover, Meredith, in bed with one of her executives, she throws her out after ten years of relationship, yet gives her a paycheck and wants her to leave the company as soon as possible and Meredith leaves but doesn’t forget to threaten Sydney. In the meantime, Sydney and Caitlyn get along very well and the young woman discovers something wrong in the company’s accounts, mainly a steal technique known to programmers and code writers as the salami technique, as small amounts of money, barely reaching 90 cents, is taken constantly from each of the company’s customers’ accounts and put into a certain bank account through a software program that will also cover the tracks and show the bills payed with the whole amount in the Welsh bookeeping reports.
It was a good idea that they met at Sydney’s Christmas Party and Rachel was amazed and puzzled to see Sydney again, while old feelings had awoken in Rachel, the ones that never left Sydney’s heart and soul became stronger.
Sydney buys the company Rachel works for and she smoothly attracts Rachel to do the design of her home pretexting that she was her employee now, yet she only wanted the love of her life closer and to somehow cut her off her abusive husband.
Sydney seems to have an amazing life, she is confident and more beautiful than ever in Rachel’s thoughts and she is also surrounded by beautiful women like Meredith. Rachel somehow feels she has wasted her life and the life she could of have with Sydney.
Rachel’s character is somehow build in between religious beliefs inoculated by her parents, especially by her mother Roberta, and an abusive marriage in which she was captive and unhappy. She loved her daughters and her job, yet she was as miserable as Sydney, she still lacked self confidence, strength , freedom and the power to take the right decision once and for all. I think the author wanted to build her that way, to point out the imbalanced decision she took 13 years ago, when she left Sydney and remarried Edward while Caitlyn was already born.
The biggest surprise in the novel was the fact that Caitlyn remembers Sydney since she was a child, because she knew the moment when her mother’s light in her eyes had faded.
And another surprise is the fact that Caitlyn is a lesbian and she tells Sydney first and somehow she figures out that Sydney is in love with her mother, Rachel and she’s happy about it. And how Caitlyn’s coming out to her mother makes Rachel understand and realize her daughter is all grown up and has the courage to take her own decisions and she is smart and tough to prove her intelligence and live her life as she wants to. All the facts that Rachel has denied herself and Sydney years ago.
I enjoyed the other characters, like Karen, Sydney’s assistant, she is the salt and the pepper of fun at the office and an amazing piece of a woman, she was enchanting. Also, Sydney’s executives like Allen Carmichael and their wives form another social issue debated in the novel, hypocrisy and ignorance, as they would be nothing without their husbands, they don’t see beyond heterosexuality, while their husbands steal and hunt everything and anyone to keep their high standard lifestyle.
I liked the suspense in the plot, because the reader suspects more than one character as the embezzler : Allen Carmichael, other executives, even Edward, yet not Maureen or even more the unexpected killer which I am going to keep secret for the sake of the read.
The lead to the kidnapping that started from Sydney’s revenge plan, the pursue, Sydney’s courage and intelligence to understand the facts before they happened and Caytlin’s smartness to say exactly the right few words for Sydney to understand, have created the perfect climax for the novel and the most expected outcome of it.
The smoking hot romance part left me breathless, as Sydney’s self confidence and love for Rachel lead to beautiful seductive moments between them as Rachel wants her, needs her so much, realizes she has wanted Sydney this way all along, shyness and embarressment are dismantled by softness, beauty, care, love, tenderness, lust and so much passion between the adults they have become after all those years.
Rachel through Sydney’s eyes
„Sydney looked at the attractive blonde-haired woman in the photo. The bright blue eyes sparkled in spite of the large purple and green bruise covering the woman’s right cheek. Her eyes were still as beautiful as Sydney remembered yet she looked different. The thirty-seven-year old face staring back at her looked sad, haunted, not the bubbling, happy, “I’m grateful to be alive” woman she used to know.
Jackie pulled out several documents stapled together from the file folder and slid it across the coffee table to Sydney. “This is a little more detailed and gives the so-called reasons for her injuries.”
Sydney looked at the first entry on the paper. “This happened less than a month after they were married.”
“Yeah, says she slipped and fell while getting out of the car. She just so happened to break her arm in the process.”
Sydney used her finger to scan down the list of entries. “She was treated for a concussion four months later when she accidentally fell down the basement stairs.” Sydney shook her head. “She was pregnant when these things happened.”
„“Out of all the women I’ve known in my life, she’s the only one who ever left me breathless and … she broke my heart. Crushed it actually,” Sydney answered without hesitation. She intentionally left out the part that her actions were now fueled by revenge. Rachel Ashburn had ended their relationship without a second thought. It was bad enough that Rachel had decided she didn’t want to share the rest of her life with her. She could have dealt with that but it was the reasons behind Rachel’s decision that Sydney just couldn’t accept and no matter how hard she tried, she could not get the woman out of her head. People say that time heals all wounds but it doesn’t. Time may lessen the pain but it never goes away, not completely. She wanted Rachel to feel just one iota of the pain she had felt all those years ago. The physical abuse that Edward inflicted wouldn’t come close to the emotional havoc she was about to unleash on Rachel Ashburn
She herself knew that the wrath of a woman scorned didn’t compare to a lonely woman with a cold broken heart. ”
Ignorant opinions on lesbianism
„“I just cannot believe she flaunts her lesbian sexuality around in the open for all to see. What do two women do together anyway? For the life of me, I cannot understand how they have sex. Do you think she straps one on or what?”
Carmen and Danielle laughed.
“If you don’t know how two women can have sex with each other, Victoria, that tells me one thing. You’ve never had an orgasm in your entire miserable life and when Allen’s dry humping your ass like a dog, you become nothing more than a human waste disposal, you know, like a fuck dump for all of his deformed little swimmers,” Karen said from behind the women.
The three women whirled around, their faces registering shock as they stared at Karen. It was obvious that they could not believe anyone, let alone someone like Karen would speak to them in such a manner. Victoria’s eyes took in Karen’s red, green, and black Goth outfit. She made no attempt to hide the smirk on her face as she looked Karen up and down from head to toe.”
„The desk light inside Caitlyn’s office flicked on. A mysterious figure covered in black from head to toe and wearing a ski mask, used a gloved hand to turn on the computer. While the computer booted, the gloved hand pulled out a piece of paper and laid it on the desk. The arrow pointer zipped around the screen as the mouse slid over its pad. The fingers moved to the enter button and pressed it, instantly changing the display. Rows and rows of computer code appeared on the monitor. The mask covered head leaned forward to look at the paper. Both gloved hands reached for the keyboard and began typing.”
„Rachel slammed her purse down on the kitchen counter. “I have to find a new job. That’s all there is to it,” she said as she pulled out the basket in the coffee maker and put in a new filter. “I won’t work for a company she owns.” Why not, a little voice inside her head asked. “I just won’t,” she said, continuing to talk to herself as she scooped coffee into the filter. Can’t or won’t, the little voice asked. “Won’t, can’t, won’t, can’t. What makes the difference?” It does make a difference, the little voice said. “Okay, okay. I can’t work for her and I won’t because I can’t be that close to her,” she admitted as she filled the glass pot with water and poured it into the coffee maker.
Since the night of the Christmas party, thoughts of Sydney filled her head constantly. No matter what she did to get her mind off things, her thoughts returned to Sydney. She remembered how warm and gentle Sydney’s hands were when she had cleaned her cut. She remembered how her heart skipped a beat when Sydney’s legs touched hers when she slid the bar stool over. She remembered the smell of Sydney’s cologne and smiled. After all these years, she still wore Calvin Klein’s CK1. “You have to stop thinking like that,” she admonished herself. “I’m not going through this again. I just can’t.”
Her hands shook as she poured herself a cup of coffee and took it over to the kitchen table. She shook her head as several thoughts ran through her mind.I’m a married woman. Things are different. I’m different and she’s different. We are not the same people we used to be.”
„Caitlyn burst out laughing as she read it aloud. “The Remarkable and Luscious Dr. K. – Office of Supreme Intelligence. All problems welcome. Payment required at time of service. Will trade smart ass answers for sex.”
“You like that, huh?”
“You crack me up,” Caitlyn said as she looked at Karen’s clothing choice for the day, which consisted of a pink leather miniskirt and ‘come fuck me’ knee high pink boots with lace down the side. “By the way, the new studded pink dog collar is way cooler than the black one.”
“We’re on the clock here and time is sex. So what’s the problem?” ”
Am I making you uncomfortable…Rachel?
„“Am I making you uncomfortable?” Sydney asked, her voice sounding husky to her own ears as she moved closer. Her eyes fell to Rachel’s breast, traveling upward to her neck. She watched the pulse point in Rachel’s neck as it beat rapidly. Her eyes continued their path up Rachel’s neck, stopping on her mouth. She unconsciously licked her lips, her mouth suddenly dry. Right now, the only thing Sydney could think about was kissing Rachel and by the look in Rachel’s eyes, she knew she was thinking the same thing.
Rachel tried to move further back but there was nowhere to go. Sydney moved closer, their thighs and breasts touching. Sydney leaned in, her lips just below Rachel’s ear. “Mmm, you smell so good,” she whispered, her breath caressing Rachel’s skin like satin.
Rachel placed her trembling hands on Sydney’s chest. She knew that if she didn’t move away, she was about to do something she was going to regret. “You know darn well what you’re doing,” she said, her voice shaking as she pushed Sydney away.
Sydney threw her head back and laughed. The move only served to make Rachel angrier. Sydney had switched gears so fast, it made Rachel’s head spin. “I’m glad you think it’s so funny,” she said in a stern voice.
“Not at all. So let’s get down to business then, shall we?” Sydney asked as she moved away and pulled out the extra stool tucked under the drafting table and sat down.
Rachel looked down at the red t-shirt she was wearing and laughed. “I guess I should probably go change my shirt, huh?”
“Or … you could just take it off,” Sydney said in a nonchalant manner. She felt her skin tingle as she pictured what Rachel would look like sitting there,
wearing nothing but a pair of jeans.
Rachel leaned back in her chair. She tapped her index finger against her chin. “You know, I don’t remember you ever being this um … what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“I have no idea,” Sydney laughed.
“Brazen, arrogant, obnoxious, egotistical, maddening, and…”
Sydney needs answers from Rachel – the letter
„Rachel laughed. “I’m almost afraid to ask but here goes, what are you thinking about?”
“I was wondering if you’ve ever thought about me over the years,” Sydney answered honestly.
By the expression on Rachel’s face, Sydney’s answer is what she expected. “What do you think?” she asked, answering Sydney’s question with a question of her own.
“I don’t know, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked,” Sydney said, her eyes narrowing as she studied Rachel’s face for some indication of what was going through her mind.
Rachel looked down at her folded hands, which rested in her lap. “The answer is yes. I’ve thought about you a lot over the years,” she answered without looking at Sydney.
“But not enough to want to see me again,” Sydney said. The silence in the room was almost deafening and Sydney felt her anger rise to the surface.
“Why would I? You’ve been out of my life for over a decade,” Rachel said, her voice just above a whisper.
“I don’t know. How about to maybe apologize for the fucking Dear Jane letter you left me. Regardless of why you did what you did, I think … no … I know I deserved better than that.”
Rachel got up from her chair and grabbed her jacket off the back of the stool. With her back to Sydney she said, “I don’t want to get into this right now.” She turned and took a step toward the doorway.
“Oh no,” Sydney said and blocked Rachel’s exit with her body.
“You read my letter, Sydney. So you know why I left.”
“You’re right, I did.” Sydney laughed. “More times than I care to remember actually.”
“I need to get home,” Rachel said, her voice shaking.
“I just have a few questions for you first. Things I’ve wondered about for a long time now.”
“How long is this going to take? I have plans tonight,” Rachel said as she leaned back against the drafting table and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Still doing the midnight mass thingy?” Sydney asked with a smirk on her face.
“It’s none of your business what my plans are,” Rachel said through clenched teeth as she felt her own temper flare.
“You’re right, it’s not. So tell me this, Rache, how can you still support a church that hides and condones pedophile priests, yet has the audacity to declare that two women who are hopelessly in love with each other are a sin or abomination? You know what I think is a sin?” Sydney asked but continued without giving Rachel a chance to answer. “I think it’s a sin that the Pope tells people they shouldn’t be having sex and he’s talking about a subject when he’s the last person who should know a damn thing about the topic of sex.”
The shocked expression on Rachel’s face was a clear indication that she hadn’t expected to hear what Sydney just said.
Sydney held her hand up in the air. “Never mind but here’s a news flash for you, the church, and your whacked out ass parents. Priests who rape children are not homosexual, they are perverts who should have their balls cut off, then shot and then shot again for good measure.”
Rachel’s right eyebrow shot upward. “Why don’t you tell me how you really feel. Are you done now?”
Sydney’s eyes narrowed as she looked at Rachel. “Hell no, I’m just getting started and for the record,” Sydney said, looking up toward the ceiling as if she were talking to God. “If the church or anyone else wants to worry about the people who molest kids, they should look at good old heterosexual grandpa who likes bouncing little girls on his lap or that stepfather who seems to be so wonderful. It’s not us lesbians or gay men who rape their kids, it’s the so-called straight men that more than likely turn out to be a God damned relative. I suggest that you look no further than your own father or Uncle Henry.”
“I think someone in this room has some serious anger issues,” Rachel said. Her words served only to fuel Sydney’s anger.
“I would let a lesbian or gay man babysit my child any day of the week before I would trust them to the care of my so-called straight male relatives. Those are the ones the church should be warning people about.” She stopped and took a deep breath as she looked at Rachel. Several seconds past by without them saying a word. “Okay, I think I’m done now,” Sydney said finally.
“Are you sure, I think you may still have a little more church-anger lurking in there somewhere.”
“You’re damn straight and I’m not the only one. I have anger issues because I’m fed up with lesbians and gays getting the blame for everything that’s fucked up in the world. The difference is that I have the balls to tell it like it is.”
“The church doesn’t blame you personally.” Rachel said the words although she knew what she said was a lie but she was so angry right now with Sydney that she didn’t care.
“Give me a freaking break, Rache. You think your church is so great and that you will find all the answers within those four walls. I don’t care what you believe or think or anyone else for that matter, something is really fucked up when the church would rather see a woman with a man who beats her every single day of her life, then see her with someone of her own sex who loves her and would worship the ground she walked on.”
Sydney took another deep breath. “Tell me, Rache, how could any parent want that for their child? How could you prefer to see your daughters with an abusive boyfriend or husband instead of someone of their own sex who loves them? It’s insane!”
“You know what? I’ve heard enough,” Rachel yelled.
Sydney grinned. “You know what you are?”
“I’m sure you’re going to tell me,” Rachel sighed.
“You’re a hypocrite. You, like so many others, have what I call Doorstep Religion. You pick it up on the way into the church and drop it off on the step on your way out but you know what’s worse than that? You’re setting one helluva an example for your daughters.” As soon as the last words left Sydney’s mouth, she regretted it.
Rachel, with tears in her eyes grabbed her car keys and purse off of the drafting table and brushed past Sydney through the doorway.
Sydney followed her out into the hallway but made no move to stop her from leaving. She knew what she said was hurtful and wrong on so many levels but once she started, she couldn’t stop. All those years of hurting had come to the surface and she was unable to stop it. “Go ahead and run away. We both know how good you are at it,” she yelled.
She stood there for several minutes, unable to move. She heard the front door shut and then turned and went into her office. She slammed the door shut behind her so hard that several books fell off their shelves, landing on the floor with a thud.
“Damn it, Sydney, you sure know how to make matters worse,” she chastised herself as she dropped down into her desk chair. She pulled out her lap drawer. For several seconds she looked at the folded yellow paper lying next to a box of paperclips.
She picked it up and unfolded it. Her eyes filled with tears, the pain she had felt for all these years rushed to the surface. No matter how many times she read the words, the pain in her heart always felt the same.
The tears continued to stream down her cheeks as she read the words aloud.
“My dearest Sydney,
As I sit here, my heart feels as if it’s being ripped to shreds. I want you to know that the last few months have been the best months of my life. I love you, Sydney, and the love I feel for you and the love you have shown me is more than I ever hoped to have in my lifetime and I will always be grateful for that and to you.
Writing this letter to you is the hardest thing I have ever done. I wish things could be different. I wish we lived in a different time where the love we share for each other would be looked at as something to be honored and cherished instead of an abomination of Christ.
I’m sorry, Sydney, but I’m not at the same place you are. I know I shouldn’t care what people think or care what the Catholic Church thinks, but I do. I can’t raise my daughter in a lesbian relationship.
I will never forget you or the love we shared although it would be easier on me if I could. You are a wonderful woman with so much to give. My only wish for you is that you someday find that one woman who leaves you breathless. That one woman who can share her life with you, regardless of what anyone else thinks. I wish it could be me but it can’t.
I beg you not to come after me or try to find me because I won’t be here. Please remember that I do love you and probably always will.
„“I need to make love with you and if I have to wait much longer, I’m going to die,” Sydney whispered in Rachel’s ear.
“Oh no, sweetheart, I haven’t suffered all these years to have you up and die on me now,” Rachel said, sliding her hands beneath Sydney’s shirt.
Sydney shivered and groaned at the same time when Rachel’s fingers softly grazed the side of her breasts.
“Something wrong,” Rachel whispered against Sydney’s neck as she lightly kissed her way up to her ear.
Sydney tossed her head back as warm tingling sensations spread throughout her entire body, ending with wet and throbbing pulsations between her legs. “I’m going to pass out,” she moaned as Rachel’s hands cupped both of her breasts, her thumbs making light teasing circles over her nipples.
“I want to make love with you all night long and I guarantee you’re not going to pass out,” Rachel said, removing her hands from inside of Sydney’s shirt. She took Sydney’s hand in hers and pulled her toward the master bedroom.
Sydney stopped walking. The quick move caused Rachel to spin around so that she was facing Sydney, their breasts now firmly pressed against each other.
She looked into Rachel’s eyes and every ounce of love she felt for this woman poured out. When their lips met, all the years of pain and suffering and longing melted away. Sydney had never tasted such exquisiteness in her life and she wanted so, so much more. She was unable to stop the moan that escaped from her throat as Rachel’s lips parted, allowing her tongue to taste such divine sweetness.
Without realizing how it happened, they found themselves standing next to Sydney’s bed.”