Guestpost: A real life HEA by Julia Rachel Barrett

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When we first started thinking about Secret HEA Society we already knew that  we would love to see what others think about about HEAs in general. Every person seems to see it as something else so we started asking friends around the blogosphere about their two cents. Today we are happy to welcome our first guestposter here at Secret HEA Society. Julia Rachel Barrett is a wonderful author and a really good friend. Julia will actually tell us about her own personal HEA. 
Please give her a warm welcome and be sure to tell us what your thoughts are.

Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But either it was different in blood—


O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
Or else misgraffèd in respect of years—
O spite! too old to be engag'd to young.
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends—
O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act One, Scene One, William Shakespeare.

I agree. The course of true love never did run smooth, at least not in my case. When Susi asked me to blog about an HEA, or my idea of an HEA, I figured I should simply tell a story…an interesting story about true love.
Any of my readers familiar with my romantic suspense, Come Back to Me, know parts of my story. James, my hero, is actually based upon my husband. Many of the events in the book are true – some have been changed to protect people I love.

My husband and I met at a tough time in my life. I think I fell in love with him the very moment I saw him, but I was fourteen years old, screwed up as hell, and certainly not prepared to have a relationship with anyone, let alone someone who was older, wiser, and in a position of authority. Despite the fact that we lived nearly four hundred miles apart, we became friends. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about him.

Over the next three years, until I graduated from high school, we kept in touch, writing letters, talking on the phone and spending a few days together each year. After that, when it was possible to actually become a couple, we seemed to be at cross purposes. We’d get together, but something would happen and I’d push him away. I was very wary of getting close to people in those days.

When I was twenty (yeah, I know, I was way too young), I finally got together with my James. It was the most amazing time of my life. The stars were aligned and I was in a good place at last. But then tragedy struck. What happened to Cara in Come Back to Me, happened to me. I barely survived. Once again I pushed everyone I loved, everyone who cared about me, away. Like Cara, I ran off, straight into the arms of a man who was just like my James, except he was his evil doppelganger.

Took me three years to extricate myself from that hell, but I had to in order to save the lives of my mother and my infant son, in addition to my own.

So where’s my HEA?
Fast forward two years. I was on my own, a single parent, working nights, foregoing sleep to support my son, and trying to stay under the radar of anyone who might be interested in me in the wrong way. I hadn’t heard a word from my James in five years. I thought it was time to find out if there was any chance for us.
What does a woman do when she wonders if the love of her life is married to someone else? Why, she telephones his mother, of course.
“Hi, Stella, this is Julia.”
“Julia, it’s so good to hear from you. He’s not married. Let me give you his number. You should call him.” (She always did love me. Despite everything I’d put him through, she still believed I was right for her son.)
I called. He didn’t answer. I called him off and on for two weeks, but he didn’t answer. I think his mother must have told him to answer because at last, he answered. We talked, caught up; exchanged information. We agreed to meet in one month.

A month went by and on the appointed day of our meeting, he didn’t show; he didn’t call, nor did I call him to ask why he didn’t show. I knew the reason for his absence. I’d hurt him terribly five years before and he was afraid. A week after our planned meeting, I received a letter. I read the following words: “I’ve met someone else and I want to see where this might lead. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be with you.”

Calm, I set the letter on my bed and reached beneath my mattress. I pulled out a box I’d kept safe for many years. In the box was everything he’d ever given me, every letter he’d ever written. Still calm, I carried the box into the backyard. It was the middle of February and there was three feet of snow on the ground. I opened my barbecue grill, set the box on the grate, along with the letter I’d just read. I squeezed an entire bottle of lighter fluid over the box and lit it on fire. As I watched our history go up in flames, I ordered myself to get on with my life, without him.

Over the next eight months, I tentatively entered the dating pool, with mixed success, I must admit. I dated the occasional doctor, spent some time with an old classmate, and at last, out of the blue, met a great guy. He was smart, funny, sexy, rich, had a smokin’ hot future ahead of him. His family owned an entire island, not to mention a private jet. Most important, he liked my son. He and I really hit it off. When he left town to spend time with his family on the East Coast, I felt confident we’d pick up where we left off as soon as he returned.
Here’s where the story gets weird. Picture this – early October. All the leaves have turned color and they’ve begun to drop; they’re scattered all over my yard. The afternoon is pleasant. I take my toddler outside with me and we rake leaves into big piles –jump into them, scattering leaves far and wide, rake them again so we can jump into the piles. At last, my son grows tired and the two of us lay down in the leaves. He falls asleep in my arms. I stare up at the sunlight filtering through the branches of a big oak tree, more at peace than I’ve been in many years.

As lay quiet, a disembodied voice speaks from the branches of the oak tree. The voice rings out like a bell and it’s as true a voice as I’ve ever heard. The voice says, “Your life is in good hands.” That’s all it says. I don’t run; I’m not frightened. It’s the clearest voice I’ve ever heard.
I get up, lift my sleeping son into my arms, and carry him to his crib. An hour later, the man I’m currently dating calls. He tells me he’s sending his private jet to pick us up – tomorrow – my son and me. The pilot will fly us to his family’s island. He wants his family to meet us. How do I respond? I say the following, “No, I’m so sorry, but no. And I don’t want to continue the relationship.” I don’t know why I say this. I can’t believe the words coming out of my mouth, but these are the words I hear coming out of my mouth. Why am I saying this? What’s wrong with me?
I didn’t have to work that night so I was able to get a decent night’s sleep. I went to bed around eleven p.m. At two a.m., my phone rang.
Groggy me…”Hello?”
“Julia, it’s James.”
“James? Why are you calling me?”
“I can’t stop thinking about you.”
“Where are you?”
“Superior, Wisconsin.”
“What are you doing there?”
“I was supposed to go on a kayak trip, but I want to see you.”
“Yes. Now.”
“But you’re six hundred miles away.”
“I know. I’ll be there around noon.”
I turned over and went back to sleep.

He showed up just after noon the next day, the kayak secured to the roof of his car. I stood in the drive. Without a word, he lifted me into his arms, whisked me off to bed like a good romance hero should, and then, once we’d paid our long overdue dues, asked me to marry him. HEA…it does exist.

So this is Julia's take on HEA. Tell us about yours? What do you think make a HEA perfect?


Blodeuedd said...

Wonderful story :)
Now how am I ever gonna write a good guestpost after this one

pattepoilue said...

@Julia Thank you again for sharing with us this beautiful and emotional HEA. It looked like it was far from easy but you got the good ending.
I can only hope to get there one day too ;)(if possible with a shortcut to the good HEA *g*)

@Blodeuedd I'm sure you'll find something *g*

SusiSunshine said...

@Julia You are my hero. ;)

@Blodeuedd So curious! *g*

Barbara said...

Geez Julia, like I needed to cry with my migraine coming this morning. I loved Come Back to Me, but your real story is even more incredible. I'm not sure that's even the right word.

I don't know what makes an HEA, but I suppose it's when you find a place/person where you're at peace, feel loved, safe and happy. And the sex is smokin'. ;)

pattepoilue said...

@Barbara Awww *sending good anti-migraine vibes* I keep hearing great stuff(ahem Susi told me) about Come Back to Me. I think I'm too chicken to read it. I'd probably cry my eyes out. lol

Oh I love your description of a great HEA (the last part in particular *g*)

SusiSunshine said...

@Barbara I can't say often enough how glad I am everything worked out for Julia. She deserves it. And some *anti-migraine hugs* from me too!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

You ALL make me cry! Barbara - feel better! I'm sorry to make your migraine worse! I had my migraines cured in February.
Actually, I am lucky, very very lucky.
Thanks, Susi!

SusiSunshine said...

@Julia No crying! ((hugs))

Katalina Leon said...

Julia Rachel Barrett's "Come Back to Me" is one those unforgettable books that made me cry in a good way. There's was a lot to learn and feel from this book. I'm so glad I read it.

Renee said...

What a wonderful, true HEA! Thank you for sharing it, Julia. Now, off to check out Come Back to Me. :-)

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