TALLY

A Polyamorous Romance

 

Starved for love and fearing time is running out, attorney Tally Abram seeks the aid of her gay best friends, Lex and Ishkode Ackerman, in fathering the children she desperately wants. Will they comply? Will Tally find the family she craves? Or will her need for completion destroy the most important relationships in her life?
———
This book explores the ideas of family structure, tri-parenting, and polyamorous relationships. It contains mature material and is not suitable for those under 18 years of age.

$2.99 ebook edition
$7.99 paperback edition

What’s inside

From J.M. Northup

This emotional tale is more than a MMF romance.
It isn’t a story about sexuality, but rather, it’s about family.  It’s about love and relationships.
Different types of modern families are depicted.  These include gender role reversals, polygamous relationships, and traditional step families (which is what inspired this story).  This tale explores the laws currently in place regarding non-traditional families and the concepts of tri-parenting through an unconventional love story.
If you enjoy books that make you think as well as feel, then please, grab your copy today!

Chapter 1

There was a time when I thought I loved him.  She couldn’t deny the truth, not even to herself.  But so much has changed.  We’ve changed.  Tally Abram lifted her hazel eyes to meet his intense gaze.  “You shouldn’t have come.”

His expression turned pleading.  “I – I had to.  I didn’t have a choice.”

She gave him a sardonic look.  “What didn’t you have a choice in; coming here even after I’ve told you countless times not to, or staying with your wife?”

“Both,” he replied, throwing his hands in the air to emphasize his frustration.

“Bullshit!  We all have choices,” she corrected him sourly, “even when we don’t want to admit it.”  Lord knows I hate confessing that I chose to allow this weasel into my life, but I did.  Of course, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for believing his lies considering he’s even convinced himself they’re true.

“I couldn’t.”  He dragged a large, calloused hand over his pained face with a groan, and reached toward her.  “Can’t you see that?”

The woman sighed.  I’m tired of this conversation, especially since I know it’s the one thing that’ll never changeHow could I have been so stupid?  Crossing her arms over her ample chest, she said, “Not making a choice is a choice.”  No matter what excuses he gives, in the end, he chose to remain in his marriage.  She was his choice.

“Tally, please…”

Shaking her head, she exhaled loudly.  This is ridiculous.  I don’t even remember what I saw in him.  What was I thinking?  She groaned softly in agitation.  I’m so done with his games.  The light danced across the clear gloss adorning her plump lips as she spoke.  “Good-bye, George,” Tally said with finality.

He gaped at her in disbelief.  “You don’t want to do this, Tally.”

Tally remained firm.  “Oh, but I do – and have.  I’ve wasted enough time on you, and I refuse to waste any more.”  When he just stood there, opening his mouth a few times like a distressed fish gasping for air, she added, “I can see you want to say more, but there’s nothing left to discuss.” She gestured toward the door.  “I trust you know your way out?”

“Please…”

“No, this has to stop,” she demanded.  “This is my place of business, and I have a reputation to uphold.  If you continue to show up here, I will press harassment charges and acquire a restraining order.  I can’t make it clearer than I already have; we’re over.  We’ve been over.”  It ended the moment he confessed to impregnating his wife.  “Go home to your family, and leave me alone.”

George slumped into a defeated posture, and a rejected expression overtook his face.  It seemed he had finally accepted the inevitable conclusion, or so she hoped.  She glared at him until he silently turned from her and shuffled toward the exit.  When she tilted her head back slightly, a wealth of chestnut-colored hair cascaded down her back, and Tally experienced a wave of gratitude.  As it washed over her tiny frame, she thought, At last, he’s walking away.  Thank God!

Lex Ackerman nervously paced outside the office door.  Skittering around, his hands fidgeted as he waited.  She’s going to kill me.  He paused long enough to peer through the glass wall where Tally Abram faced her ex-lover.  She looks disappointed, he realized with a pang of regret.  Hopefully, I’m not the reason she’s perturbed.  Damn it!  I was only away from my desk for maybe a minute. 

Inhaling deeply as he began to pace again, Lex was unaware he was gesturing with his internal monologue.  What am I thinking?  Of course, she’s not mad at me.  Tally’s upset because of George.  He stopped and glanced at the hallway leading to the elevators.  He must have been hiding around the corner, watching for a chance to slide in unseen.  Ugh!  He’s such an asshole.

When George walked into the cubical-filled bay surrounded by offices and meeting rooms, he drew more than one scornful eye.  He cowered and averted his eyes, clearly desperate to avoid attention.

Spineless wretch never could stomach confrontation, Lex thought as the man moved swiftly toward the closest exit; a stairway positioned between Tally’s office and the elevator bay.  Why couldn’t he have been that eager to leave in the past?  He could’ve saved us all a lot of trouble. 

That guy just makes me sick.  Lex huffed indignantly with arms akimbo as he tracked the scoundrel’s progress.  It wasn’t hard for me to see he’s a narcissist, who only cares about his own gains.  He pursed his lips in anger.  His words are as hollow as his soul. 

Exhaling loudly, he thought, I’m just thankful Tally came to her senses and realized it herself before it was too late.  He cringed at the possible outcomes this relationship could have yielded.  Thank God she didn’t get pregnant.

“Skulking bastard,” said the angry voice of a fierce woman.  She raised her volume and barked after the rejected man, “Yeah, you better scurry faster, George, before someone bashes you with the rock you hide under.”

Though he hadn’t seen her approach, Lex wasn’t surprised by the presence behind him.  Oh, great, it’s Jazz.  This is only getting better.  Lex felt the itch of irritation, like sandpaper against his skin.  I need to get to Tally before she does.  Wasting no time, he darted through the open door toward the slender woman inside the office.

“Oh, no, you don’t, Lexi Love,” Jazz said with a guffaw, close on his heels.

Ignoring the boisterous Texan, the anxious man pleaded his case.  “I’m so sorry, Tally.  I –”

The graceful lady raised a dainty hand, halting his apology.  “It’s okay, Lexi.  You’re my assistant, not my bodyguard.”

“Don’t let him off the hook that easy,” Jazz said, turning a sharp eye toward the Adrien Brody look-alike in front of her.  “How’d that prick get past you?  The only way he could’ve – wait, you weren’t at your desk,” she accused.  “Where were you?”

“What’s it to you, Jazz?  Why are you even here?  There’s a whole floor full of employees.  Surely, you can bother some else.”

Jazz straightened with delight, ardently meeting his challenge.  “I’m Tally’s best friend, here to comfort her as an equal, while you – you’re just her peon.  At least, inside these walls you are.”

“Jazz, stop,” Tally implored, lifting her coppery eyes toward the ceiling with a huff.  She threw her hands into the air, exasperated with the ritual peacocking of her closest friends.

“Oh, and let’s not forget, Lexi Love, that at work, I’m Mrs. Shallot.”

Lex met her defiant glare with one of his own.  “And don’t you forget about the presence of HR in the workplace, Mrs. Shallot.”

As Tally dropped into her cushy desk chair with a heavy sigh, Jazz snickered happily, and said, “Nice deflection, but let’s get back to the real issue here – where were you, princess?”

“I had to pee if you must know.”

“Can’t you hold your liquids?”  Jazz tipped her head to the side, her azure eyes sparkling with excitement.

Before Lex could get too ruffled, Tally ended the game of dominance.  “Enough!  I neither have the time nor the interest in your petty rivalry today.  When are you going to stop trying to compete with one another?  Geez, grow up already; there’s nothing to be jealous about.  I love you both… just not at this exact moment.”

Jazz and Lex looked askance at one another, surprised by their friend’s level of annoyance.  Tally rubbed her temples to ease the strain.

Wow, she’s really flustered.  I wish I’d been able to shelter her from that jackass.  Stabbing guilt penetrated Lex’s emotional armor.  “Again, I’m sorry, Tally.”

“Yeah,” Jazz added, “I’m sorry, too.”  Though Lex knew she was sincere, he also knew her restraint would not hold.  “Do you want me to fire Lexi and hire a new assistant for you?  I bet I could find a better candidate for the job by lunch.”

Well, that didn’t take long, he thought, sticking his tongue out at a grinning Jazz.  Though he was angry at the woman’s insensitivity, he easily forgave her when he saw the corners of Tally’s mouth pull slightly upward.

“What am I to do with you?  You’re both ridiculous.  You know that, right?”

Chuckling, Jazz flopped into the chair across the desk from her friend, nonplussed.  “That’s why you love us, dear one.”

“Must be,” Tally replied, looking more at ease.  “Say, neither of you R.S.V.P.’d for my Christmas party this Saturday.  You’re coming, aren’t you?”

“Of course,” Jazz said, bobbing her head a bit, an incredulous look upon her face.  “Did you seriously have to ask?”

“Yes, she did,” Lex interjected.  “Stop being so exasperating, Mrs. Shallot.  As her self-proclaimed best friend” – he used his fingers to mime quotation marks in the air – “you should know she’d never assume anything.  Furthermore, our Tally likes precision and order.”  Puckering, he smooched in her direction, winning an air kiss in return.

“Ms. Abram,” Jazz replied easily, inspecting her nails as though she were bored.

“What?”  Lex questioned.  Now, what’s she going on about?  She is so exhausting.

“Jazz, don’t,” Tally protested.  She raked her fingers through her luxurious hair, pulling it into a bunch at the back of her head.  “I’m begging you to just stop.”

Jazz winked in response, and then regarded Lex.  “At work, it’s Ms. Abram.  My, how easily you seem to forget, flunky.  Perhaps switch to tea with ginseng instead of coffee, hmm? I hear it helps with memory.”

“You’re bi-polar, you know that?  You really should get some help.”  Ugh, I hate when she gets all stupid and arrogant like this.  Vexed, he closed his eyes momentarily and pinched the bridge of his nose.  Haughty, yeah, that’s what she is – haughty.  Why are we friends?  I mean, I’m not sure I even like her.

Lex harrumphed as he redirected his attention toward Tally.  “I received the call I was waiting for just before heading to the washroom.  Thankfully, Kode doesn’t have to go out of town this weekend, so to answer your question, yes, we’ll be there.  I’m sorry for the delay, but –”

“Oh, goodie,” Jazz exclaimed sarcastically, “Kode’s coming to the party.  How exciting.  I just love him.”

“What’s wrong with Kode?” Tally asked, eyeing the burly woman with flaming hair.

“Nothing’s wrong with Kode,” Lex answered as he crossed his arms over his chest defensively. “Though, I can’t say the same about her.”

The large woman made a face at the slender man.  “Oh, ha-ha, you’re so funny,” she replied in a goofy voice.

“Yep, that’s right, Mrs. Shallot, just keep on laughing because I know the truth,” he said with a sneer before telling Tally, “She’s just pissed she can’t have him.”

With that, Lex stormed out of his boss’s office, escorted by the hiss Jazz expelled in his wake.  Sometimes I could just – he shook the folders in his hands violently as his phone began to ring.  Slamming his burden on top of his desk, he sank into his seat with a sigh before lifting the receiver.  “Good morning.  You’ve reached the law firm of Abram, Smith, Shallot, and Gold.  How can I help you?”

 “Why do you have to torment him like that, Jazz?”  Tally demanded to know.  Even though she provided a welcome distraction from the feeling of contamination George had left behind, the younger woman was frustrated with her friend.  It’s simply uncalled for.

“Who – Lexi?”  Jazz threw a thumb over her shoulder in the direction the 27-year-old had gone.

“No, the neighbor’s cat; yes, Lexi, you dunce.”  Geez Louise.  I haven’t had enough coffee for this today.  I guess that’s what I get for hiring two of my closest friends to work for me, especially considering they’re like oil and water most of the time.

“Wow, George really got your panties in a bunch, didn’t he?”  Jazz lifted one thick leg, clad in a navy pants suit, over the other.  The color flattered her; attractively contrasting against the vibrant colors of her pixie-cut, copper hair and bright blue eyes. Her white blouse emphasized her straight, pearly teeth, displayed in a grin.  “All the more reason for you to take my advice and stop wearing them, don’t you think?”

Ew!  Why does she have to say things like that?  Has she no shame?  Certainly, no filter.  Tally shook her head with dismay.  “You need to stop.”

“Oh, please!  You know as well as he does that I’m just messing around.  I adore Lexi.”

“You could’ve fooled me, and him.”

Jazz appeared unaffected by the criticism.  “Well, that’s your problem.  I can’t help how you two drama queens interpret things, now can I?”

Did she seriously say that?  Tally was flabbergasted.  “Drama queens?  Really?”

“Oh, relax,” Jazz ordered, gesturing dismissively.  “You’re not as bad as Lexi, who’s right, by the way.”

Tally raised a sculpted eyebrow in question.  “Right about what exactly?”

“Kode,” the woman replied.  “His only flaw is that I can’t possess him.”

Oh, good Lord.  Tally raised her hand to her forehead with a groan.  She shook her head before dropping her hand over her mouth, cradling her chin with her palm.  “You’re married,” she grumbled through her fingers.

“So?  What’s that got to do with anything?” Jazz retorted.  “Mack and I have healthy sexual appetites, which include appreciating a fine specimen when we see one.”

“Whatever.  You’re all talk and no action, Mrs. Shallot, and I know it,” Tally remarked.  She’d never cheat on her husband; not in a million years.  “And for the record, no one wants to hear about your sex life – bleh!”

“That’s only because you don’t currently have one.  Still, it doesn’t matter anyway.  I mean, that’s really not the point, especially considering he’s gay.”

“What is your point then?”

“That he’s just so yummy.”  Lust visibly twisted her expression.  “I’d love to have a taste of him.  So much so that I’m actually pissed off I’m not his flavor.  Honestly, gay or not, if he asked for a lick, I’d give him one.”

“You’re disgusting, not to mention inappropriate.”  And full of shit.

“Oh, I haven’t even reached inappropriate yet,” Jazz said with an evil smirk.

Tally rolled her hazel eyes and gestured toward the door.  “Don’t you have some work to do?”  I certainly do, she noted, taking in the multitude of folders, sheaves of papers, and general clutter in front of her.  Glancing at the court docket beneath the heavy glass covering her desktop, she thought, and I’m due in court in an hour.

The large red-head howled in merriment.  “Of course I do, but what good is it to be a partner if I can’t slack off now and again?”

Yeah, that’s never stopped her from goofing around.  I think it’s safe to say she’s probably the most flippant and unconcerned person I’ve ever met.  “Partner of not, I’m still your boss, so can you at least try to act like you’re working.”

Jazz shrugged nonchalantly.  “So, what’s up with the Christmas party?  Kids – No kids?  Is there anything you want me to bring?”

“Bring your Christmas cheer because I might miss the turkey and stab you with the carving knife if I have to listen to you and Lexi bickering,” Tally teased with an air of solemnity.

“You better sharpen that thing up then,” Jazz ordered with a smile, “because, as you know, I have rather thick skin.”

Tally couldn’t help chuckling.  Jazz and Lexi couldn’t be more different, and yet, I love both of them beyond measure.  Relationships are weird that way, I guess.

“So, what’s the verdict?  Should I bring a side dish or something?”

Like she’d cook, the tiny woman thought to herself.  Who does she think she’s kidding?  Either she’d have Mack make it, or she’d buy something premade at the grocery store.  There’s nothing domestic about Jazz Shallot, except her husband.  “Whatever; doesn’t really matter.  I think there’s plenty of food, but it’s not like I’ll turn more away.  It’s going to be a rather informal gathering this year.  I mean, it’s not a business party; just close, personal friends – who just happen to be co-workers – getting together to celebrate the holiday.”

“Right,” Jazz acknowledged.  “It was a ‘business dinner’ last year so George could justify his attendance to his wife.  I forgot.”

Tally cocked an eyebrow and sneered at her friend.  “No, you didn’t.”

“No, I really didn’t.” The stoic woman wrinkled her nose before smiling.  Her expression showed no signs of remorse or concern, just enjoyment.

“Geez, Jazz,” Tally mildly complained.  “Why do you have to be such a bitch all the time?”

Pulling herself out of the chair she had been nestled in and stretching to her full height of six feet two inches, she replied, “You wouldn’t know what to do with me if I weren’t.  Besides, that’s what makes me such a great lawyer.”

That’s accurate, Tally nodded in agreement.  If her imposing presence isn’t enough to intimate someone, her outspoken personality will.  “Are we on for lunch today?  I expect to get out of court around one o’clock.”

“Nah, I can’t.  Unfortunately, it’s going to be just you and Lexi because I promised Mack I’d head home for a nooner.”

“I know I just said I didn’t want to discuss this, but I have to ask – don’t you guys ever have sex when the kids are home, like normal people?  After all, they do sleep, and you have doors.”

“Perhaps, but Mack’s paranoid.  He walked in on his mom giving his dad a blowjob as a kid, and now, he’s terrified our children will walk in on us.”

“There’s this invention you could use; it’s called – get this – a lock.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it?”

“Yeah, yeah, tone down your sarcasm, you cheeky little mink.  We both know it doesn’t matter.  You know my husband; if he didn’t have this to worry about, then he’d find something else to ruminate over.  I honestly think he’s just afraid of damaging our kids.”

“If either of you were going to do that, it’d be you.”

“Hmm,” Jazz sounded in affirmation, bobbing her head in agreement.  “Yeah, I’m not very maternal.  That’s probably why I picked a man who is.  He can stay home while I make the money.  Cha-ching!”

“Seriously though, aren’t we all damaged regardless of how we’re raised?  Besides, is it really that devastating, knowing your parents have sex?”

“For a man like Mack, yes,” Jazz answered as she headed toward the door.

Mack’s a weird dude.  Tally shook her head in contemplation.  “But he doesn’t see a problem with his lack of apparel?”  If it were up to him, the Shallots would live in a nudist colony.  She shuddered at the thought.  Those poor kids – maybe it is best they aren’t around when their parents make love.

Jazz shrugged.  “I don’t understand your question.  What’s wrong with the human form?”  She continued without waiting for a response.  “You know, I really don’t mind because I actually enjoy nooners.  They’re a great stress-reliever, allowing me a reprieve from a hectic day at the office.”

“Well,” Tally pointed out, “you actually have to do work to have work-related stress.  You get that, right?  I mean, the only thing hectic about your day is what you impose on me by distracting me from my responsibilities.”  If she wasn’t so good at her job, I’d fire her in a heartbeat; partner or not.

Jazz giggled, dismissing her boss’s seriousness and relegating it to a humorous joke.  “Anyway, as I was saying, his oddity benefits me.  For example, if he asks me to go down on him and I’m not in the mood, I just bring up the incident with his parents.  It effectively shuts him down for at least a couple of days.”

“Wow.”  I don’t know if that’s cruel or ingenious.  Perhaps it’s both.

Jazz made a gesture of indifference.  “It isn’t all that glamorous when you’re married, Tally.  You use what you can.”

“It isn’t all that glamorous when you’re not married either.”

“Hmm,” Jazz muttered noncommittally, “but there’s something to be said for having a bathroom all to one’s self.”

With that, her abrasive friend left, leaving Tally to wonder what the correlation was between sex and the bathroom.  Considering my source, it could be anything; even something completely unrelated.  Huh, maybe that’s it.  Maybe she meant being single has its perks because you don’t share your private spaces?  She decided that was the most logical explanation, so she went with it.

Tally pictured the mismatched couple in her mind.  Mack and Jazz Shallot must be the strangest couple in history, and they’re supposed to be society’s norm?  I really don’t get itShit, compared to them, Lex and Kode seem conventional, almost boring – and they’re gay. 

The idea of one’s sexual preferences being the deciding factor for qualifying them as a parent or determining their ability to function appropriately baffled her.  Heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual is no different than asking if you want chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream, she thought.   Same-sex couples are more than capable of raising a healthy, well-adjusted child.  There are many species that do that very thing. 

She shuffled a few folders around on her desk, searching for the case she wanted to address.  Nowadays, most families look unconventional, and it isn’t related to anything sexual.  By definition, ‘broken families’ are more of a threat than anything else.  Whatever happened to the notion that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’?

Tally shook her head.  I guess I just don’t understand the cultural standards set to determine what’s considered acceptable for marriage and family, or the expected behavior within those institutions.  She scratched the back of her head before returning to her work.  At least, I’m glad Mack and Jazz have each other.  If nothing else, it saves two sane people from their madness, she thought with a mischievous grin.

A wonderful short, entertaining and well done read.

Berk Rourke

“…Suffice it to say this is fast paced reading at the best. The story is modern, it is set in a locale which enhances its modernity, it is developed in a way which speaks of much research into its topic…”

What is family, What is acceptance

Theresa Hulongbayan

“…This book in one of those first steps in understanding the change in america and how looking at love with an open mind may change your acceptance of life…”

A Story for Our Times

Reader Editor (Verified Amazon  Purchase)

“…In our changing times, I had not heard of this terminology nor knew what it implied. I was somewhat surprised that this author addresses a situation becoming quite common in today’s world. And she does it with finesse. Again, no spoiler here but this was an eye-opener of a story. I highly recommend any books by this author…”

There has been such a shift in our culture and society about what constitutes a family unit

Sahara Foley

“…Reading Tally has helped open my eyes to some of the dilemmas same-sex relationships face, the restrictions regarding marriage and children. It’s incredible the archaic laws that are still on the books. Society changes but our laws don’t. Doesn’t make much sense…”

Chapters

Pages

In Tally: A Polyamorous Romance by J.M. Northup, Tally Abram is a successful lawyer but when it comes to finding love, the cards seem stacked against her. She longs for a family of her own, but time is fast running out. She has just broken off with her married lover and decides to ask the closest people in her life, her married friends Lex and Ishkode Ackerman, to help father her child. Her proposal and the events that follow uncover cracks in a seemingly solid marriage between the two men, and also unresolved issues of jealousy and confused emotions. The three friends discover that love is sometimes not enough to become parents. The law is also against them. There is only one solution but it means heartbreaking sacrifices must be made, ones that threaten to tear the friendship apart.

This is a story that will touch every emotion inside you. Tally is a wonderfully strong protagonist; she is willing to put her own needs to one side for the sake of others. Lex is a charming, witty and loving character too and the relationship between Ishkode (Kode) is beautifully relayed to the reader. The dialogue is realistic to the personality of each character. I thought the story was going to be about surrogacy and the emotional complications attached to it, but the author has cleverly woven a subplot into the story, dealing with the legalities of the trio’s situation and how it does not align with the changing dynamics of the modern family structure. There are many great conflicts throughout, making the story incredibly engaging. The rights of the LGBT community to raise a family, the misconceptions around polyamory, and the confusing emotions of jealousy are all covered with sensitivity. There are some adult scenes but I feel they were appropriate and necessary to drive the story forward.”

— Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers’ Favorite

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