Troy and Aaron Mayer, identical twins separated at the age of two, lived wildly different lives. Aaron struggled to take care of their alcoholic, gambling-addicted mother, while Troy, raised by their father, experienced a life of luxury.
After years of silence, Troy asks to see Aaron. When Aaron arrives at his brother's boat, he finds a note instead and suspects suicide. In his farewell note, Troy offers Aaron his car, his money, and his life of riches.
On the run from loan sharks, Aaron slips easily into this mirrored life. But everywhere he turns he discovers somebody Troy devastated, including his handsome husband, Dave Alvarez. Pulled into his brother’s life of crime, Aaron is set up for a fall, but he’s too strong to shatter.
This book was previously published as Mirrors.
The boat rocked on the water as if it were made of paper. The wind swirled around him in a haze and whipped his fair hair around his face. Desperately, he tried to see through waves rising and falling around him. Troy? Troy? A mix of anxious anticipation and dread filled his rapidly beating heart as he scanned the water. The boat took on a life of its own and attempted to wrestle him over the side, propelling him into the unknown depths. Come. Come with me, Aaron. A face looked up at him in the swirling water. It was his.
* * * *
Fourteen months earlier
The voice on the other end of the phone couldn’t have sounded more estranged from him if it had been a person doing a marketing survey. It took him a few minutes to recognize who it was. And it shouldn’t have. It was light with an underlying lyrical baritone, so like his own voice.
“Aaron? Don’t you know who this is?”
Yes, I know.
“How are you?” He paused. “I was sorry to hear about Mom.”
Aaron perched on the side of the sofa. Make words, fool. “Yeah, well, you know.”
“So I’m thinking, maybe we should get together? When was the last time?”
Was there a last time?
He didn’t wait for an answer. “I really did want to make it to the funeral. Dad and I were both in Europe on a buyer’s trip at that time. Wow, the summer of two-thousand-ten was really a busy one.”
Mother died in the summer of two-thousand-nine. “How is Dad?”
“Good. He’s in Spain with his newest wife, number four. A fashion model, legs up to there. You know Dad.”
No, I don’t know Dad.
“So, we have a birthday coming up in a week, twenty-seven, can you believe it? How about you come down here to Bel Air and we go out for the day on Dad’s yacht? I mean, I don’t know if you’re working or what. We can do it when you’re off work. I pretty much make my own hours. It would good to see each other, right? Aaron?”
“Yeah, I…I guess.”
“Okay, so how about Saturday?”
“Ah, Saturday…I’d have to check and…”
“Aaron, you act like you don’t want to see me.”
“I just wonder why now?” There, it was out. All this time, Troy had never even bothered to pick up the phone, ask how he was doing, how Mother was doing. Troy was sitting pretty down there in Bel Air, living the good life, and he had been up here in the shit, struggling to survive. All the lost years trying to scrounge up enough cash to get Mom into yet another rehab clinic.
“Why not now?” Troy came back with.
They were twins, identical actually. They’d been separated since the age of two. Their parents were ill-suited from the onset. Aaron would never understand what attracted Darren Mayer, who’d come from generations of wealth, to the shy, little working-class girl from the Bronx. Sarah Stein was like a fish out of water in high society and her Jewish heritage didn’t sit well with Darren’s protestant family.
Talk about a parent trap.
After the twins were born, Sarah fell into a deep depression. Her young husband was given the import business to run. She was displaced from her beloved New York City and her family.
Sarah couldn’t seem to fit in with high society. Darren began to go out a lot, leaving her alone. She started drinking. Darren hired a nanny to look after the boys and disconnected from her. The long business trips and numerous affairs didn’t help and finally Sarah tried to take her own life. Darren waited until she got out of the hospital, then he left her.
Darren’s father insisted he take one of the boys when he filed for divorce. Darren was an only child, and his father was concerned about the family line. In exchange for taking one of the boys, Sarah accepted the big house in Beverly Hills, and one lump sum of money. Within five years, she had squandered the money and was forced to sell the house. Eventually they were destitute, relying on food stamps and the kindness of strangers. Sarah’s family begged her to come back home to New York, but she was too proud, and Aaron believed she couldn’t bear to let her family see what she’d become.
An assembly line of strangers went in and out of their three-room apartment in the mostly Hispanic neighborhood of Mar Vista. The strangers would bring booze, in exchange for sex. Sometimes they’d give her money, and Aaron would sit out on the fire escape until they left. Then, if he was lucky, he could grab the money before she came to, and he’d buy groceries before she could get to the liquor store.
He eventually grew up and left her. He moved as far away as his work as a landscaper would let him. His life in Los Osos, the ‘valley of the bears,’ on California’s central coast hadn’t been bad until Sarah started fleecing him. She’d forged his signature on loans, secured credit cards she’d diverted to her flop house down in East LA. It was still a nightmare untangling himself from the mess.
It didn’t help when he learned that many parents wrecked their kids’ credit through identity theft.
When her liver failed, and she was dying, it was almost a relief. Aaron left a message with the secretary of his father’s company, but he never came to visit. Not even Troy showed up for their mother’s funeral.
It still hurt remembering how she’d vanished from yet another expensive, futile trip to a lockdown facility called Promises.
Yeah. Lots of those. Piecrust promises. Easy to make; so easily broken.