Sneak Peek: Betrayed by Patricia Haley
Dave Mitchell's family is shaken to its core when his illicit affair with his secretary, a woman twenty years his junior, results in a pregnancy. Dave has fervently sought redemption from God, but his troubles are far from over. His wife, Madeline, vows never to forgive him or his mistress for selfishly destroying her family. Constant images of betrayal shove Madeline into divorce court, where the division of property ignites a nasty battle over the controlling interest in the family business. She wants more than Dave can give and refuses to settle for less than thirteen years of marriage warrants. Madeline is determined not to lose again.
Once the dust settles and the divorce is finalized, Dave accepts the consequences of his decision as irrevocable. His family is gone, but he remains certain that God has a plan for him. He proposes to Sherry, prepared to move on with his life.
Madeline is enraged by Dave's persistent sense of peace and his upcoming union with the woman who ruined their lives. She becomes unhinged, obsessed with creating havoc for them.
In the midst of all this chaos, Dave and Madeline's children are suffering. When an unspeakable tragedy occurs, Madeline refuses to take any responsibility for her part in all the drama. Unless the Mitchell family learns the true meaning of unconditional love, the power of forgiveness, and God's amazing grace, they could be stuck on this tragic path for years to come.
"Good morning, Mr. Mitchell," the security guard called as Dave strolled through the lobby of DMI.
Dave replied with a pleasant greeting. Indeed it was a good morning. For the first time in over a year, he'd slept at home, in his own bed, instead of in the leased unit. Night after night of lying down and getting up in the leased penthouse suite had been agonizing, more than he'd realized until this morning. Waking up and setting his feet on the rug he and Madeline had purchased in Spain many years ago, had given him an extra charge. He was reminded of how happy they once were as a couple.
Rising at 5:00 a.m. to be in the office by 6:00 a.m. didn't feel as daunting, not today. He was alive. Now that he was at DMI, his place of refuge, he experienced a renewed sense of purpose, which strengthened with each step.
"You have a good day, sir," Dave told the guard as he approached the elevators. On second thought, he had enough energy to climb the stairs to the sixth floor. He could use the time to clear out any lingering thoughts of the fiasco that had happened with Madeline and the kids when they left the estate yesterday. His feelings wanted to be heavy, but his mind wouldn't take the guilt trip. He knew better. Fretting over areas that he couldn't control was dangerous. One thought would lead to regret, with the next stops sure to be guilt and resentment, ending at bitterness and unforgiveness. That wasn't a path he chose to travel. He'd repented for his infidelity, and as much as failure wanted to press him, there was no regressing. He'd keep stepping.
Dave took two stairs at a time, reaching the executive floor rather quickly. He didn't want to spend an extra second dwelling on the past if there was nothing to be gained. He went into his office, mentally preparing his agenda for the day. The photo with former President Jimmy Carter and current President Ronald Reagan was prominently displayed on his wall. It was taken a few years ago during the 1980 election campaign and served as the only greeting he got this morning.
Dave prayed for direction and strength as he shunned the negative thoughts. Separation from his kids and divorce from his wife could have killed his spirit, but he'd fought hard not to let despair take residency. He delved into the handful of contracts on his desk prepared to submerge his energy and loneliness into his work.
Time slipped by. By 8:30 a.m. his secretary, Sharon, was poking her head inside his office. The door was open. "Mr. Mitchell. I just wanted to let you know that I'm in."
"Good. Can you do me a favor and have Frank come up to my office? I need to see him."
Dave returned his attention to the Eastern Lutheran Group contract after she left. Something wasn't right. The numbers weren't adding up. He tapped at the calculator for a while, each time netting the same results.
The eldest Mitchell brother walked in. "You looking for me?" Frank asked.
"Have a seat," Dave said, pointing to one of the chairs at his conference table. He got up from the desk and went to the table too. "I can't figure out what's going on with the Eastern Lutheran Group (ELG) account," he said, sliding the stapled cluster of papers toward Frank. "This should be four hundred fifty thousand. Based on this quote, all I can come up with is two hundred seventy-five thousand. There's a mistake somewhere, but for the life of me, I don't see it."
Frank breathed a sigh and exhaled loudly. "There's no mistake," he said, leaning on the table. Dave looked perplexed. "The numbers don't lie."
"Well, somebody's lying if you're telling me this is correct. What changed?" Dave asked. "Did they decide to cut down on the number of people they had originally registered to take our leadership training program?"
"Nope. No changes with the assumptions."
"Then what's going on?" Dave said emphatically. Frank knew something. Dave could tell. He wasn't up for games. He needed his brother to start talking. "What is it?"
"We had to give ELG a sizable cut."
"Why? I'm okay with giving discounts to make a deal work for a client, but this is about forty percent off. That's steep, especially this early into the East Coast expansion project. At this rate, we'll burn through our surplus and have little to no funds left to subsidize other churches that need financial support."
"Had no choice."
"Of course we had a choice."
"Trust me, we didn't."
"What's so special about the Eastern Lutheran Group that they need this kind of a break? You know I've dealt with the group before. They're always looking for a ridiculous discount, which we don't give." Dave trusted his brother with managing the corporate finances and running the operation, but no deal was fully complete unless he had some level of involvement and gave his blessing. That was Dave's strength, being able to influence clients and get them to understand why they needed the same financial and leadership services that DMI provided to a long list of satisfied churches and religious organizations.
"It's different in this case. We have no option based on the situation you've put us in."
"Me?" Dave said raising his voice slightly.
Dave heard the tone in Frank's response but didn't comment.
"I told you last year that your indiscretion was going to affect all of us, including your beloved DMI. Now it has." Dave was silent. He let Frank continue. His tone became increasingly agitated. "I told you that the relationship with your former secretary was going to ruin your reputation along with the company," Frank said, slapping his hand on the tabletop.
"We can't blame Sherry for this."
"Maybe you can't, but I sure can. You better blame somebody, unless you're prepared to keep seeing the kind of numbers you have here," Frank said, poking his finger at the page.
"It's not that bad."
"Look at the numbers, man. We have to give the services away in order to keep the doors open. The pathetic part is that we had to twist their arms to keep the deal going, period."
"I don't know why. This is their second contract expansion. Obviously, they're pleased with our services," Dave said.
"They can read the newspaper like the rest of us. Face it. You left Madeline and your kids for a secretary young enough to be your daughter. Nobody, except a fool, is going to pay you to give them lessons on integrity and leadership. Who's giving you lessons?" Frank's fury appeared to ease slightly. "Take my advice. Go back to your wife if you want better numbers."
Dave's gaze slumped as he toyed with a pen. "I can't. It's over. Madeline and the children moved out of the estate yesterday. There's no chance of reconciling now. She's made it clear that we're history." The reality rolled off his tongue, refusing to be delayed by wishful thinking.
"Wow," Frank said, shaking his head. "You really blew it, little brother. How could you mess up in such a major way? And you're supposed to be the godly one in the bunch." Frank snickered.
"I'm not proud of what I did, but I honestly believe in my spirit that God's plan for my life hasn't vanished because of my big mistake."
"Oh, come on. Cut the crap, Dave. It's me, Frank, your brother, your chief financial officer," he said, poking his index finger in his chest. "I'm your chief operations manager, your right-hand man, the one who knows everything around here."
"What's done is done." Dave didn't bother telling his brother how hard he'd tried reconciling with Madeline, how much he yearned to be with his family. He didn't bother telling Frank, because it wouldn't make a difference. There were times when people didn't want to know the truth. Sitting in the seat of judgment was sometimes preferred. "I can choose to dwell on what I can't change, or I can opt to direct my energy toward the future." Dave had chosen to move on. Frank had to get over it too.
"You can lay that cavalier mumbo jumbo on someone who's willing to listen. That's not for me. Two years ago you were someone who seemed to practice what you preached, but this is a new day," Frank said, staring at Dave. "Now it sounds like a bunch of self-righteous hogwash. Brother, things have definitely changed."
"Not between us," Dave said.
Frank shrugged his shoulders. "Everything has changed. I've backed you all this time because you were different. You were for real. I honestly thought you were an honorable man who knew how to keep his eye on the prize. Now I see you're common like the rest of us who sit at home on Sundays instead of running up in the church."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, but I don't need to justify myself to you. I can apologize for how my actions have affected you, but what else can I do to make this right with you? I'm at a loss here."
"Then I guess there's nothing left to say," Frank said.
"I guess not."
The meeting ended abruptly with neither willing to continue with the conversation. Dave sat numb, fumbling with his pen, while guilt hovered. Frank wasn't budging on his position. Dave didn't plan to grovel for his brother's validation, but the undeniable fact was that they had to work together. They had to figure out how to get past their discord so that DMI didn't suffer a double dose of failure.
( Continued... )
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