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Family dinners at the Big House were usually entertaining. Tonight, however, Dion Donovan knew this one would be even more so. He knew the announcement that his mother, Janean, was going to make would be delivered with all the formality and fanfare she possessed. He hadn't liked it when he'd heard the news earlier in the week and he disliked it even more now.
Entering through the large white double doors, Dion inhaled deeply and immediately felt at home. It made perfect sense, considering he'd grown up in the lavish Key Biscayne estate with his family.
Dinner at his parents' house was a monthly affair, a usually uneventful evening with his younger brother and sister that kept his parents, Janean and Bruce Donovan, from focusing on the fact that he was still happily single. This afternoon would be different. It wasn't just a normal family dinner. All the Miami Donovans were invited, including his uncle Reginald and aunt Carolyn and their three children. It always took place once a month on a Sunday afternoon, after everyone had returned from church. There was plenty of food and laughter and just plain family fun. Any other Sunday afternoon, Dion might have looked forward to the gathering. Today, he simply hoped the familial conversation would hide what was truly on his mind.
"Hey, man, expected to see you earlier," said Sean Donovan. Dion's younger brother by three years greeted him in the foyer, no doubt having been booted out of the kitchen by their mother for sneaking a taste of the food.
Dion shook his brother's hand. "I had a few things to go over for tomorrow's meeting," he said. "I'll be tied up in the morning, so I wanted to make sure I had time to review everything I want to discuss."
Sean nodded. "We're meeting at one o'clock in your office, correct?"
Dion was the editor in chief of Infinity Magazine, a quickly growing publication that focused on up-and-coming African-American businesses, entertainers and the movers and shakers in the black community. Bruce Donovan, along with his brother Reginald owned the DNT Network, a cable television company, which in addition to launching Infinity Magazine also owned Donovan Management Company, a literary, sports and talent agency that handled more than a hundred clients.
The Donovans in Las VegasEverette and Henrywere in the oil business and had also founded an international charity. Thus far, Dion Donovan's family in Miami had focused their efforts on the media and entertainment fields, and it was proving to be quite profitable.
Sean was one of the managing editors at Infinity and reported directly to Dion. They'd experienced the usual sibling rivalry growing up, and Sean and Dion's working relationship was often as intense as their family dynamic. Still, they kept their eyes on the prizeInfinity was in their blood and no matter what their disagreements were they always managed to pull together to make the best decisions for the magazine and the family.
"I've been working on that new distribution deal, so we should discuss that," Sean said as both men walked toward the living room.
The living room was one of the largest spaces on the first floor of the house. Although it was a place for family gatherings that was furnished in a modern European stylewith beige, deep-cushioned Italian leather sofas, lush dark-brown rugs, light oak coffee and end tables and a massive bar along the far wallit still had a comfortable feel. The space was dubbed the centerpiece of the Big House by the Donovan children when they were young. The fact that the house was situated directly on the water with its own private dock and a breathtaking view made them think they were some kind of royaltyblack royalty, as Janean would often say.
"Good." Dion nodded. "That's exactly what I want to talk about, moving the magazine forward for all of us."
Dion fixed himself a drink as he talked.
Sean took a seat on the recliner. "You okay?" he asked.
"What kind of question is that?" Dion responded with a frown. "Of course I'm okay."
Sean observed his brother in the calm, careful way he always had. "Then why are you fixing yourself a glass of rum? You hate rum."
Dion looked down at his glass and was about to say something, but put the glass down instead. "Preoccupied, I guess."
With a knowing nod Sean kept staring, a look that Dion knew meant he didn't believe a word he'd just said. It was that way with him and Sean. The three-year age difference didn't really matter; sometimes they seemed as close as twins. He could complete Sean's sentences and pick up on his moods, just as Sean could read him. The two Donovan boys were known for their good looks and wealth. They were also smart, both having graduated from Columbia, their father's alma mater. Janean loved and spoiled her boys as much as Bruce would let her, but she'd always wanted a daughter. The day she brought home Lyra Anderson, she found just what she'd been looking for.
Sean and Dion weren't thrilled about having a sister, but over the years they had grown to love her like a sister and keep a protective eye on her. They treated her just like she was related by blood, and in return she treated them and their parents like family.
Still, the fact remained that Lyra wasn't their sister. And that, Dion had realized years ago, was a big problem.
"I'm cool," he said trying to assure Sean. When his father walked in, Dion welcomed the distraction. "Hey, Dad," he said, turning away from Sean toward his father.
"Dion! Sean!" the elder Donovan said in his booming voice as he made a beeline straight for the sofa. "Your mother has had me working all day, like some kind of hired help." He rubbed his hand down the back of his neck and plopped down like he'd been dying to sit and relax all day.
Bruce Donovan was a tall, broad man, who had just a sprinkling of gray hair peppering his otherwise short dark brown curls. The gray gave him a distinguished look that only added to the impeccable reputation that Bruce was known for. More often than not he wore dress pants and a dress shirtwith or without a tie, depending on his schedule for the daybut he had a laid-back attitude that often disarmed his colleagues and made them think he was a pushover, which he definitely was not.
"You know how she is when it's the family dinner night," Sean said, chuckling.
Bruce shook his head. "I don't know why. It's just the family. Everybody knows what the house looks like on good and bad days. You'd think she was entertaining the king and queen or some other foolishness."
"Why doesn't she hire a maid?" Dion askeda question he already knew the answer to. Still, it bothered him that his mother, at sixty-one, was working like a woman half her age.
"Now you know that's not going to happen," Sean replied.
"And don't you let her hear you asking about it, either," Bruce chimed in with a warning glare that belied his amusement. "She'll bust your butt for even uttering the idea that she needs help with this house."
Dion laughed along with his father and his brother, enjoying the family joke. It had always been that way with his family. They could laugh and cry together and talk about anything. Bruce and Janean had long ago taught them to be open and honest in the Donovan household. The thought made Dion's stomach knot with regret. He hadn't been honest with himself years ago, and because of that he'd ruined what might have been the best friendship he'd ever had. Now she was coming home, and Dion didn't know how he was going to handle that.