Loving Josie is the 4th book in the Torey Hope series. This award-winning title is available on ALL platforms (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, ARe, Nook.) Find it on Amazon at getbook.at/JosieAmzn
Enjoy this FREE chapter 1!
“Hey man, you coming over tonight? I feel like beatin’ your ass in some basketball.” Jeremiah Jordan laughed and clapped his best friend, Kyle Martin, on the back as they headed out the doors of their high school.
“Hiya, Izzy. You ever gonna leave this loser and come see what it’s like to love a real man?” Jeremiah laughed as Kyle put him in a headlock and Izzy elbowed him in the gut. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Jeremiah broke free of his friend’s hold and grinned at the two of them, thinking of how perfectly matched they were; like bookends, they complemented each other so well.
“I know, I know, you two are perfect for each other. I’d never try to break that up. Plus, if you were with me, Izzy, you’d have to pine away for me when I leave for the military in a couple months. This way you can comfort Kyle when he cries over me abandoning him.” He jumped out of the way as Kyle grabbed for him again and Izzy giggled over their antics. “Now, now boys. Jordan, you know I’m too much woman for you to handle.” She grinned at Jeremiah as she teased him and tucked herself under Kyle’s arm.
The two young men had been friends for quite a while. You couldn’t get much different than Jeremiah Jordan and Kyle Martin. The only thing they had in common was that they were both good guys at heart.
“Seriously, both of you, I want to spend as much time together as possible. We should just enjoy our time being stupid teenagers and having fun before everything changes.” Jeremiah spoke in a more somber tone to his friends.
Kyle and Izzy, recognizing their friend’s apprehension over leaving soon, hugged him close between them as they walked down the sidewalk away from school and toward the freedom of their weekend. The three of them knew that changes were coming; life was all about changes. But, like most, they just didn’t realize how life-altering some of those changes would be.
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve never felt loved, not one single moment in my life, until I arrived in Torey Hope. Every memory I have, from the beginning of my existence, is one of being a bother, an afterthought, and a hassle, disposable. I was only good for the positive gain in social status for others, and when I disappointed again and again, I was pushed aside time after time. Then I knocked on my Uncle Robert’s door and I knew love and acceptance for the first time in my life.
My name is Josie Decker. I’m the unwanted child of Richard Joseph and Corinne Ruth Decker. My father, a business mogul, married my mother for two reasons. First, she was already a highly successful business woman in her own right. Her connections would be good for him; his connections would propel her much higher in the business world. The second reason was that, in addition to the business world, they were both very high up on the social ladder. The wedding of Richard and Corinne Decker was the event of the year in New York; everyone who was anyone clambered to be invited or at least involved in some way. My parents weren’t just high society in New York; they rubbed elbows with billionaires and movie stars out in Los Angeles as well. Even in Tokyo and London the name Decker was associated with wealth and success.
Getting pregnant with me was a tragedy in the eyes of both of my parents. Richard and Corinne did not love each other; they didn’t dislike each other, but they were in the marriage only for mutual status climbing and gratification. I’m not sure how they got pregnant with me; in my entire life I never saw a loving touch between the two of them.
The story that was told to me several times over the years was that Corinne had an IUD so she never suspected her early pregnancy symptoms could have been what they were. She was six months along when she finally had to admit that the IUD had failed and she was expecting. Richard was furious with her; how could she let this happen? They couldn’t be saddled with a child if they were going to continue their climb up the business and social ladders. Corinne lashed back that he was just as much at fault; she was devastated at what this would do to her body, her career, and her social standing.
They attended a secret appointment with a doctor they knew from their social circles. Their hopeful idea to terminate the pregnancy was dashed when it was confirmed how far along Corinne was in the pregnancy. My mother told me numerous times over the years that she should have just admitted her symptoms to herself earlier so she could have terminated me. Yeah, love you too, Mother. Seriously, what type of person says that to their child?
So, she hid the pregnancy as best she could for the next few months; she didn’t want her business associates thinking of her as a weak female who didn’t know how to not get knocked-up. I was born 3 weeks early; not because I was ready to be born, they paid the doctor a hefty fee to induce delivery because there was a trip to Tokyo they both needed to be on. I was born on a Wednesday. Having not cared enough to find out the sex of their baby before delivery, disappointment reigned when it was announced that I was a girl; at least a boy would have been a more rightful heir to their business fortune. As a punishment for not being the boy they would have been more satisfied with, they named me Josephine combining my father’s middle name and my mother’s first name.
My parents left for Tokyo on Saturday; I was left with the first of many nursemaids and nannies. Richard and Corinne were gone on their business trip for thirty days. Upon their return, they walked to the nursery to look at me and inquire of the nursemaid about me. They did not pick me up or kiss me; they did not speak to me or make over me the way most new parents would have. They left the next morning for a 3 month trip to London; never once did I come before their business ventures. These stories were told to me by various nannies over the years, passed down from one to the other before one was let go for various infractions; most were for showing me any physical affection. My mother told me that the idea of hugging or kissing me made her shudder; Corrine Decker did not show affection.
My parents hired only strict and unloving nannies and help. They did not want me babied or coddled. If I had to come along and put such a kink in their plans, I may as well serve a purpose. They decided they would groom me to be a business guru right along-side of them. I was to be schooled and trained so that I could one day step right into their world. Josephine Decker would become a business force to reckon with.
The joke was on them though. I was a girly-girl. I was creative; constantly singing and dancing and drawing and painting. This was frowned upon by my parents and discouraged and ridiculed at every turn. Josephine Marie Decker would not have an artistic flair; business women were not successful for creativeness or uniqueness. A strong business woman should be disciplined, brilliant, and proper. I learned to celebrate my parents’ months-long trips; I could let loose and be me when they were gone. Well, as much as someone can be free with staunch rules and nannies around every corner.
I had one nanny who nicknamed me Josie; she was later fired for hugging me when I fell and scraped my knee. But, the name of Josie stuck for me; I called myself Josie to anyone who would listen. This infuriated my parents; they insisted that I be called Josephine and severely reprimanded me if they heard me use the nickname.
Imagine their disdain and embarrassment when the school I was attending suggested that I enroll in the Creative Arts program; they had noticed my flair for the arts. A generous donation was given to this school in hopes of keeping my artistic talents a secret and I was enrolled in a boarding school overseas. The school was for future business men and women; I did not fit there.
I attended my classes, sitting quietly, trying to understand the numbers and facts and figures all while my brain painted pictures and created paper designs. My classmates were geniuses, acing every test and competing to be the best in each class. My struggles got me Cs on most assignments. A grade of C was average; Richard and Corinne Decker did not accept average. Every phone call brought ridicule and reminders of what an embarrassment I was to my parents. These phone calls were few and far between which was actually a blessing; saving me from slipping further into the shell I’d put around myself. I cherished my shell; inside of it I was able to be me while I showed nothing to the world. My shell showed a stoic and docile and obedient daughter to my parents; inside of that shell I was my own unique person, creative, a wild spirit, longing for love. Just wanting to be loved.
I survived boarding school; I did my best to pull Cs on topics that I didn’t like or understand. I had a private room; only the best for a Decker. My room was what I lived for; it was my refuge. I set up a small area to paint and lost myself in my creations. I experimented with water colors and oils; I played around with mixing colors; I fell in love with painting. This was a form of therapy for me. When I painted, I traveled to a different world; I wasn’t unloved or unwanted or a disappointment. In this world I was free; like a wild horse breaking free of restraints thrown onto it. My parents couldn’t enter this world; no one could bring me down in this world.
I also enjoyed playing around with paper designs. Cards and scrapbook pages were my favorite. My parents would have died of embarrassment to see me covered in paint or cutting, snipping, and gluing paper bits. But these two things saved me; they saved me from the nothingness that was my life. I faced uncertainty when I left school, but if I had my art, I would survive. I may not be happy, but I would make it.