By Liz Crowe
Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.
Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.
Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.
With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.
Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.
Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.
Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.
As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”
Blair dropped back on the bed and shut her eyes forcing herself to recall happier moments, better times. “You’re so laid back,” her father used to say to her when she still paid attention. “So relaxed.” He would smile as she worked alongside him in their kitchen. While the restaurant irritated her, she used to adore cooking with him, just to the two of them, and baking made her the happiest. “I wish I were more like you.” He’d flick flour from his fingers at her making her giggle and flush with happiness at his attention.
Later, he would accuse her of being “detached” and not willing to have any kind of confrontation even to defend herself. But who cared what he thought? She rolled to her side, picking up her phone as it buzzed with a text.
Hey loser, Brandis had sent. She frowned at the tingle that shot down her spine. She deleted it, determined to ignore him. About ten minutes later, he sent another one. You there?
She sighed and opened her laptop, thinking she’d do some English homework. Her cat jumped into her lap, its usual spot whenever she sat at the desk. The long Saturday stretched out in front of her, endless, boring, and useless. Typically she didn’t mind being alone, treasured her privacy and the time to read or take long walks. But the last few months had been different, frustrating beyond belief as she couldn’t seem to settle or relax, to enjoy herself like she used to.
Stupid adults. Stupid fathers and their stupid marriage-busting assistants. Stupid mothers and their mealy mouthed blindness to the whole thing. The phone kept buzzing with messages. And she kept ignoring it, something in her holding back, preserving herself from the sucking vortex of Brandis Gordon. She didn’t like texting him. It made her feel awkward, forcing conversation via a few tapped out words on the phone.
Finally, the phone rang. She sighed and answered it. “What?” she said, her hands shaking with the effort not to launch into a conversation with him. Flirting simply did not come naturally to her. She had no idea how to handle herself around boys, much less the huge, giant, hulking presence of Brandis—football quarterback, high school super stud, and one-time friend. Other than to settle herself with memories of him, of them, as kids, when things were simple.
His seeming addiction to their strange, late night conversations had confused and thrilled her in equal measure. And she missed them. A lot.
“You are one hard girl to get hold of,” he said, softly.
“What do you want, Brandis?”
“I thought we were gonna stay friends. I mean, we talked about it, after….”
She winced, wishing she had her brother’s willpower when it came to Brandis’ all-encompassing, some would say, suffocating, personality. “He’s a goddamned drain, an energy suck, a…shithead,” Gabe had said to her, a few days after their huge fight. He’d been sporting a black eye and a split lip from the altercation. A terrible, embarrassing moment for everyone concerned—one that signaled the end of her childhood, best she could tell.
“Why? What did he say to you?” Blair had begged her brother to tell her. They were close, and she had no qualms asking him. But he’d pressed his lips together, and threatened her with all sorts of dire, brother-inflicted consequences if she even talked to the guy again. So, she never knew.
Brandis had been on the phone to her within hours, pleading with her to intervene for him, to talk to Gabe, to get him on the phone. She’d enjoyed that moment—when Brandis needed something from her. But it faded, as did his efforts to try to make up with her brother. She’d heard a lot about him lately—drinking, smoking pot, hard partying on every level while still remaining quarterback, and in top, nearly model-perfect physical shape. And of course, all the girls, many of them older, who flocked to him.
“Blair?” he asked, interrupting her aggravation at the thought of all the females he must have screwed. She knew about the “college girls weekend.” Gabe and Brandis had laughed and joked about it enough in front of her. It made her nauseated with jealous fury and headache-y with embarrassment at her own virginal self.
“What?” she said again, getting up to pace. “Why do you keep trying to talk to me? We have…nothing in common anymore. You have plenty of girls to talk to. Leave me alone.” She slid down the wall next to her door, her knees weak, like they always got, at the sound of his deep, rumbly voice.
He’d been a fixture in her life, on vacations, at holidays, camping and fishing in the summer with their dads, going to baseball and football games, just…her friend. The kid with the funny laugh, shock of jet-black hair, and snapping blue eyes who attracted trouble and deflected it with equal equanimity. She had no idea when she’d become aware of him as a compelling member of the opposite sex.
He’d changed almost overnight, developing a sarcastic streak, a bit of meanness with his endless practical jokes one of which ended with his own sister’s broken wrist. During those strange years, she would catch him staring at her, his eyes dark, puzzled, confused. And when she’d smile and try to draw him out of it he’d blush, run or bike away, usually yelling something about “stupid girls.” And almost always with her brother Gabe in his wake. Anger lit her brain. “Seriously, Brandis, what do you want from me?”
“I want to be your friend still. That’s all. I…miss you guys.”
“Well then I guess you shouldn’t have said whatever you said that day.” She looked up at the ceiling, willing him not to give up, to stay on the line.
“I know,” he said, then got quiet. “How is he,” he asked after about thirty seconds.
“Fine. Busy, working at The Local, playing soccer, hanging with Lillian.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Blair stretched out on her soft rug, propped her feet on the wall, and settled into the conversation. “My mom’s been going out on dates. It’s stupid.”
“Well, your dad did….”
“I know, I know.”
She heard a shuffling sound as if Brandis were getting comfortable on his end. “And you? How many boyfriends for you now, Miss B?”
“Please.” She blushed. “Boys don’t notice me. I’m a sophomore. I don’t play sports or do anything cool really.”
“You play a mean game of Scrabble. I miss that. And I have yet to find a Euchre partner as good as you.”
She bit down on the urge to invite him over, to eat popcorn, watch a movie cuddled up on the couch like they used to do. But she knew things were altered. Now that “Brandis, the super stud,” had emerged he would never be “Brandis, Blair and Gabe’s friend” ever again.
“It’s a good thing you aren’t dating,” he declared out of the blue, making her blush again. “That way I don’t have to beat up any punks, you know, who think they can get anywhere with you.”
“And what makes you think my dating anyone means anything else is happening, hmm?”
“My sweet and innocent Blair, boys want one thing on a date. And it is not the concept of a good movie or a nice meal. Don’t ever forget that.” His voice lowered a bit, making her shiver.
“I guess you would know, eh stud?”
“I, um…I don’t know. Sometimes I wish….” He trailed off.
“What? That you could walk around town without bumping into some girl you’d ‘dated’? That you didn’t have so many pissed off ex-girlfriends floating around? That you would occasionally go a weekend without getting drunk and screwing your way through a party?”
The silence spilled into her ear like smoke. “Sorry,” she muttered, meaning it.
“No, it’s okay. I won’t deny it.” A bit of a swagger had snuck into his voice. “Popularity is my middle name.”
“I thought it was Robert. You know, after my dad? Same as Gabe’s?”
“Oh, right. Got me there. Listen, Blair, I gotta go. I just…wanted to hear your voice.”
Aggravation gripped her and held tight. “Why, Brandis? I don’t party. I don’t know how to kiss boys or…anything else. I’m a bookworm, a geek, a science nerd. I like to be by myself, and I don’t run in a pack of popular girls. Hardly worth your time I’d say.” Her face flushed, and she had to put her feet back on the floor to keep her knees from knocking together.
“Guess that’s why I love you,” he said with a voice so soft she thought he might be talking to himself.
“Spare me,” she scoffed, suddenly needing to be off the phone. Something about him felt suffocating and needy. While she figured herself for a caretaker, a conflict avoider, someone who liked keeping things simple but wanted the people around her to be happy, suddenly she sensed danger in letting Brandis worm his way any farther into her heart. “Bye.” She hung up, quickly and sat for nearly an hour clutching her phone and calming her racing pulse.
Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.
Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.
One randomly drawn winner will win an ebook or print copy of Good Faith, one randomly drawn winner gets an ebook or print copy (where available) of their choice of a Liz Crowe (Tri Destiny) backlist book and one grand prize winner will receive the ENTIRE Stewart Realty series in ebook OR print.