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Read THE HOMECOMING, Chapter 2

Who wants another sneak peek of THE HOMECOMING?  The next installment in The Friessens family saga will be released at the end of the month, but you can read Chapter 2 now! 

Catch up with your favorite family, the Friessens, as four generations come together for what they anticipate to be a fun-filled weekend with babies and children, loads of love, and laughter. You can expect all the drama of young love, from the secrets to the hidden truths in a seemingly perfect marriage.
 
However, one fateful moment changes everything in this unforgettable story. When three lives are put in danger, the fallout could ultimately shatter the deep love and trust in this family, dividing them forever—and the cost could be something far greater than any of them could have imagined.

THE HOMECOMING (The Friessens, Book 22) is available for pre-sale at:

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All pre-ordered copies will include a special link to a free novella!

Did you miss your sneak peek of Chapter 1?  If so, click here.

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Chapter 2

“Neil, who are you texting now?” Candy said.

He could see the three dots that meant Xander was considering how to answer his last text: a long thinking pause, then no response. “Just making sure Cat has everything she needs for Nathan. I asked the manager to make sure there’s a crib, fresh cotton blankets, nothing synthetic, plenty of drinking water…”

He glanced up, taking in the shock on Emily and Candy’s faces. Brad raised his brows—mocking him, he was sure. Becky didn’t seem too interested from where she sat beside Candy in the limo, looking out the window, lost in thought. He was still staring at a blank screen, about to send a second text to Xander, when Candy took his phone from his hands and powered it off.

“You’re being ridiculous and overstepping again,” she said. “Leave them alone. Seriously, Neil, this over-the-top obsessive need of yours has got to stop. Xander can look after them. The baby is fine.”

Brad said nothing but appeared close to laughing at him, and he watched as his wife tucked his phone in her purse.

“Hey, he’s my grandson,” Neil said. “I just want to make sure he has everything he needs…” And he wanted to make sure Cat was comfortable, too, because the dogs weren’t there to help her. He just couldn’t shake the need to be close to his grandson and worry about anything and everything that could go wrong.

This time, Brad was laughing and shaking his head. “Just admit it, Neil. You won’t be happy until you have everyone living under your roof. Just get a bigger house so you can stick your nose into their business all the time. Oh, wait! You’re over at Cat’s almost every day now, and you even have Nathan stay over at your place how often…?”

“Well, at least Uncle Neil cares,” Becky spoke up.

The shock and surprise on everyone’s face mirrored his, he thought, as they took the turnoff to his parents’ estate, up the long driveway lined by trees that had grown back. He’d never heard her speak that way, and he took in Emily’s expression as she lifted her hand, at a loss.

“Becky, are you kidding me? What’s going on with you?” she said.

“Nothing, sorry. Shouldn’t have said anything.” Becky lifted her hand to wave it off, and he could feel how on edge she was. Even Candy tossed him an uneasy look. Brad was levelling that shrewd gaze on her, the tough-love one he’d seen a time or two when the kids were growing up.

“What is this about, Becky? You don’t get to play that game, saying we don’t care and then never mind. You’re a grown woman, a mother…” Brad didn’t pull his gaze away, but Becky was stubborn—just like Brad in so many ways. Neil wondered who’d blink first.

“Are you needing a break with the baby? Is that what this is?” Emily finally broke the standoff. He wanted to reach out and tell her to stop, especially the way she was looking imploringly at Becky, always trying to make it easier.

“Well, I kind of have one now because I didn’t give Tom a choice, right?” she said.

Even to Neil, that didn’t sound like Becky. He found himself leaning forward to see the stubborn set of her jaw, the way she glanced from Brad to Emily and then back to the estate.

They pulled up and parked, but he thought Brad might still have another thing or two to say. Instead, Becky had the door open and was stepping out. Brad just shook his head, and Neil raised a brow, wondering what that was all about. He’d missed something big going on between Becky and Tom. Trouble? Maybe.

“Care to share what the issue is?” Neil asked as the four of them remained in the back. The driver was now out of the vehicle, and Becky was heading across the circular driveway, nearly to the front door.

Brad just shook his head, “Mood swings?” he said. “I don’t know, but she’s really pushing with Tom, and you know I’m not a fan of his.”

Emily made a rude noise he’d never heard before and stepped out, and Candy followed.

“So is it work, or not working?” Neil said. “Is there trouble, she wants to leave him…what?”

Brad just shook his head and climbed out. Neil took his time, taking in his brother as he handed a cash tip to the driver. Candy and Emily were already walking to the house.

“It’s locked,” Becky called out, then rapped the brass knocker on the front door and pressed the bell. He could hear the chime from outside.

“Maybe Mom and Dad are at the resort?” Neil said. “But Maria and Carlos should still be here.”

“They don’t work here anymore,” Becky said.

Candy tried to open the door, but it was locked, and she tossed Neil an uneasy gaze. Brad was over at the huge window to the sunken living room.

“Drapes are pulled. Can’t see in,” he said, then tapped on the window, but they didn’t hear anything.

“Since when are Maria and Carlos not here?” Neil said. The look Candy gave him showed it was the first she was hearing of it, too.

Becky just shrugged. He took in how not put together she was, in her faded oversized shirt and baggy ultra-worn jeans, wearing flip flops. The glasses were new, too. He wondered if she’d bothered to brush her hair before pulling it up in a messy bun.

The limo was already pulling away when Brad shoved his fingers in his mouth and whistled. The driver should have stopped, but he kept going down the driveway and was gone around the bend, the trees blocking them from view.

“Let’s walk around back. Maybe they’re out at the pool,” Brad said.

“Or not here,” Candy suggested. “Neil, don’t you have a key still?”

Neil walked around the house, taking in the empty driveway that led to the garage in back. He jammed his hands in his pockets, but his keys weren’t there. They were tucked in his bags, on their way to the resort. “Not with me,” he tossed out over his shoulder.

Brad was close behind him, his cowboy boots scraping against the walkway. He wore blue jeans and a deep blue T-shirt, but at least it was short sleeved. His hair was now a mix of dark and white. He squinted in the bright sun and pulled his phone from his pocket, then texted something and shook his head. “Jed and Andy are at the pool,” he said. “Haven’t seen Mom and Dad.”

They took in the back of the house. The pool still had the vinyl cover over it, and the patio furniture was in the same place he remembered. The umbrella was down as if his mom and dad hadn’t been out that day.

“Mom, Dad!” Brad cupped his hands and called out. He was loud, and Neil expected to hear something. He reached for the back door that led into the kitchen to find that it was locked, and Brad walked over to the double doors off the dining room and tried the knob, both of them. Locked. He just shook his head.

“Well, this is really strange,” Neil said, taking in Candy, Emily, and Becky, who had her arms crossed over her breasts. She was far from the happy girl he’d known. When had she slipped into this?

“Well, maybe you should call the resort, get a car out here for us,” Brad said.

Neil held his hand out to Candy. “Can I have my phone?”

Just then, there was the click of a lock, and the door opened. Neil took in the dark eyes and dark hair of the man who had answered—in his early fifties, maybe. “Can I help you?” he said in a deep voice, a southern accent that was more a twang than a drawl.

Neil laughed, only it wasn’t a laugh, because this was ridiculous. “Yeah, who are you?” he said. “Where are my parents, Rodney and Becky Friessen?”

The man was tall, broad shouldered, in a ratty T-shirt and jeans, with a scar at his jawline. “I work here, manage the estate. Who are you?” The man looked at him and then dragged his gaze over to Brad, and it wasn’t lost on him that he was standing in the doorway, blocking it as if they were unwelcome guests.

“Are my mom and dad here, Becky and Rodney?” Brad said.

The man took in Brad as if he suspected he would cause trouble, then pulled his gaze back to Neil, who expected him to step back and let them in, but he didn’t. The unease he’d been feeling earlier now felt more like a vise, squeezing all the air out of his chest.

“Nope,” the man said and made a face, and Neil thought he was going to close the door on them.

“Look,” he said. “We’re family. I’m Neil, and that’s my brother Brad. Our wives are over there, and my niece. Surely my parents said to expect us?” He wondered if maybe Jed was behind this—a joke, maybe. He found himself trying to see past the man when he felt a hand slam into his chest to stop him.

“All I can say is they’re not here,” the man said, “and they said nothing about family coming. If you don’t mind, I’d rather not take chances. This is private property. You’re trespassing, and I’m tasked with looking after this property and all. There have been break-ins, a lot over the last while, men breaking in and living in empty homes, taking them over, so if it’s all the same to you…” He didn’t smile. He had a kind of hardness that let Neil know they weren’t getting past him.

The phone was ringing inside, and Neil glanced over to see Brad with his cell phone to his ear. The man only glanced once over his shoulder, and he was tempted to push past. This was crazy, ridiculous.

“Well, see here,” Brad said. “We’re not leaving, and you haven’t answered us about our parents. Where are they? That’s me calling.” He held his cell phone up and then ended the call as if proving a point, as the ringing stopped inside. “What is your name?”

Neil wondered when it was that Maria and Carlos had left and where his parents had found someone like this.

“Davis,” the man replied. “Now, as I said…”

“Davis, great,” Brad interrupted. “There seems to have been a miscommunication somewhere. I appreciate this vigilance and you taking your job seriously, protecting this estate, but I’m sure if you get my mom and dad on the phone, they’ll tell you…” A phone was ringing inside again, quieter this time, and Brad was holding up his cell. “That would be me calling my dad’s cell phone. So, again, where are my parents?”

It happened so fast.

Davis reached behind his back, and there was a gun. He flicked the safety and pointed it straight out to the women.

Neil stepped back, his hands up, hearing a gasp and shriek—Candy or maybe Emily. It was so precise, Davis’s stance, his familiarity with the gun. Neil could always tell when someone lived and breathed guns, knew how to hold and use them. The man appeared to be one with the weapon.

“Whoa, whoa! What is this? Let’s just keep it together, here,” Neil said.

Davis held the gun, aiming as if he knew what he was doing. He didn’t even glance his way as he jabbed his right hand to Neil. “Take a step back, both of you, because right now I have the babe in the glasses in my sights, and I never miss. So back the fuck up. There’s no second chance. I ask you to do something once, and the next time I pull the trigger.”

“Okay, just relax,” Brad said. “Here, put the gun on me, not my daughter.”

Neil couldn’t pull his eyes away from the threat to his family. He was the one standing between them, and Brad took a step away from the house, over to the women. He couldn’t believe this was happening. Where were his mom and dad?

He dared to glance only once behind him to Candy, Emily, and Becky knowing the shock on their faces did little to help this situation. Like, what the hell was going on here? His mom and dad, were they inside? Were they hurt? They weren’t answering. Candy, Emily, Becky, and Brad…they were all in deep shit.

He went to reach out to Candy when he heard the distinct sound of a gun being cocked, a sound that chilled him to the bone.

“You two don’t listen, do you?” Davis said. Then the gun fired with a pop.

He heard a scream, long and loud, and Brad roared.

Davis flicked the gun over to him. “Why is it that everyone has to make everything so damn hard? I told you I’d only say it once. If you just listened and did as you were told, I wouldn’t have shot her.”

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