Truths Of The Heart

Truths Of The Heart cover

GL Rockey's Truth's of the Heart, a contemporary romance, published by Books We Love.

A university professor newly married to an ex-football star turned sportscaster finds herself drawn towards a young art student who shares her intellectual .... and ultimately her physical passions.

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"...hard to put for the romance lover in all of us" 4 Lighthouses - Lighthouse Literary Reviews

"G.L. Rockey is a gifted story teller who leads the reader through the ruins of human lives so often portrayed as perfect and ideal but upon further examination, reveals a collage of failures, disappointments, phobias, love, hopes, and dreams. It is a colorful tapestry of the human condition, reminding us that nothing is as it seems and everyone has many many sides."- Sally Painter, author and Word Museum Reviewer Sally Painter, Paranormal Romance Author

"Author G.L. Rockey's style of writing makes everything fast will find this story to be moving and, at times, even inspirational." - 4 Stars - Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews

"Rockey tells a passionate story in a down-to-earth manner that engulfs the reader to continue on the journey, hungry for more with the turning of every page. His book may contain deep universal human themes, but his characters are very real people, their conversations and actions akin to people readers may know, and the story one, that although it may be read quickly, readers will not quickly forget." - 5 Stars - Angie Mangino, Freelance Writer Angie Mangino

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Michigan State University

Nearing the end of an hour presentation, Dr. Rachelle Zannes detected negative energy in the room. Aware from whence the force came, she would rather eat razor blades than show signs of discomfort. Standing at a wooden lectern, she scanned, seated around a modest oak table, the four members of the Communication Department curriculum committee: In brown wool suit, white shirt, and yellow tie, Department Chair, Sidney Rait; Next to him, wearing a ratty green M.S.U. sweater, lounged associate professor Tim Hackworth. Beside Tim, Dr. Kim Lee picked at the sleeve of her maroon corduroy jacket. And, leaning over the table, Professor Elisabeth Sweetwater looked like she had just stepped from the Men in Black sound stage--black leather jacket, black jeans, black engineer boots.

Rachelle--white turtleneck sweater, blue blazer, gray slacks, tan snow boots, five-feet eight inches--had, with one whish, at her last birthday party, flattened thirty-nine candles. She looked twenty-nine. Her honey-colored hair, the front sweeping casually across her forehead, flowing to the tips of her slender shoulders, she smiled concluding remarks: "To sum up, Alexandra York seems to say it best: 'New questions arise: Is this idea true? How is truth determined? Is it relevant to all human beings or just a few? Or only me?'"

Elisabeth squirmed.

Rachelle continued: "York concludes, 'Because the written arts are conceptual in form, those who create them have an opportunity to explore the moral imagination. Literature seeks a conceptual transmission from the mind of a writer to the mind of a reader, a passage to the imagination, a journey of ideas, not to what is, but to what might be. For it is art that best inspires the moral imagination.'"

Elisabeth could stay silent no longer, "Moral imagination!" Her facial muscles contorting like she had just sucked a lemon, "Once you get started down that crucifixion path you never get out. We have other departments for that frappe. Why for god's sake would the Communication Department want a graduate course in moral imagination. This is for the Philosophy Departments, not communication science." She spread her arms in supplication to Chairman Rait, "Why are we here?"

He smiled benevolently.

Elisabeth looked back to Rachelle, "You're talking gibberish, Z, for gods' sake, get real. Science prizes things it can put a finger on. There is no room for warm and fuzzy iffy ism. It is or it isn't. If A then B. If not A then not B. Period!"

"Yes, and look where we are in the name of putting a finger on A then B.

"This is impossible. What you are doing is looking for God, and she ain't there baby cakes!"

"What I am doing is proposing a graduate course in creative writing that will pursue, among other things, the communication of universal truths."

"Dearie, there are no," Elisabeth etched quotation marks in the air with her index fingers, "universal truths. She rolled her eyes at the group, "Pretty basic stuff, huh guys?"

Silence no longer in him, Tim Hackworth said to Elisabeth, "And, your point is, Dr. Sweetwater?"

Under her breath, "Jesus," then "there are only individual truths, in each human experience, how one reacts to his/her environment, social setting."

Amber topaz eyes intense, Rachelle said calmly, "Truth molded to the moment is not truth. Then, ignoring Elisabeth, she closed her notes and said to the group, "I trust you will give my course proposal your every consideration. Any questions?"

Elisabeth, shot back, "What is truth?"

"Truth searching goes way back, people etching on cave walls. Some are still etching, win-at-any-cost, pushing aside the arts, the creative, the truth, crushing anything that suggests a moving toward a more enlightened humanity. So the aggressive win. Darkness prevails. Beware the darkness, beware the slick fast-talking lie, beware the apology for truth in the rush to global insanity."

Elisabeth, "This is unbelievable! Back to square one, what is truth?"

"Keats wrote, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"

"So what is beauty?"

"Why you, Lizzy, of course."

Elisabeth's jaw dropped a mile.

Rachelle, confident, said, "Some believe Keats was referring to something unique to human imagination--creating something from nothing."

Elisabeth raised an eyebrow: "Does all this truth talk have anything to do with our Jewish American princess being engaged to a former football star?"

The others knew of what Elisabeth spoke: Rachelle's upcoming marriage to Carl Bostich.

Chairman Rait said, "That is out of line, Dr. Sweetwater."

Rachelle, ignoring Elisabeth, spoke to the others, "Perhaps, in this new curriculum I am proposing, we will find a pristine voice that will take us beyond T-Rex mentality." She looked Elisabeth squarely in the eyes, "and bottom feeders like you."

"TRAITOR!" Elisabeth screeched, "Science! What happened to science!"

Rachelle, "It's got us to where we are today."

Elisabeth, sucking on that lemon again: "Next time you get a cold take some truth."

"You are such a dear person, Lizzy."

Elisabeth glared at Rait, "This is an insult, Rait. Pie-in-the-sky hocus-pocus, belongs in religious studies, not communication science."

Rait: "When do you propose to start this class, Dr. Zannes?"

"Next Fall Semester."

Elisabeth: "Hah, she'll never have time to get it in the Fall catalogue let alone get it past the full curriculum committee."

Raising his right hand, Rait said: "No time to dawdle, I vote yes, anyone else?"

Tim reached his right arm high. So did, smiling politely, Kim.

Rait said, "I guess that says it."

Elisabeth, looking like vomit, stood, dusted her black leather, and exited the room thumpingly.



(Eight Months Later, Sunday, August 4)

Another summer semester completed, the Michigan State campus deserted, Dr. Zannes sat behind her Bessy Hall office desk. Having given a final exam for Com. 201 (she had only one class this summer), she assigned the last of her student's grades, saved the data to a disk, and stuffed everything into an 8X12 manila envelope.

Her left-brain basking in closure; her right-brain wallowed, as it had been for the past few months, in a nightmare.

To soothe the nightmare, before leaving her Lake Lansing home for campus, her plan was to finish the required paper work then take a long jog.

Dressed in her standard running gear--tan shorts, sports' bra, white T-shirt with a CATS logo on the front, white sweat socks, Adidas white running shoes--she stood and stretched in a thirty-second warm up. Finished, she strapped on her nylon belt-pack, picked up the grade-containing manila envelope, stepped to the reception area, dropped it in assistant Kay Jackson's inbox, locked up and headed outside.

Her run would take her along, meandering thru campus, the placid stream officially designated The Red Cedar River.

Jogging at a good clip, the Sunday afternoon pleasant, campus deserted, images from a PBS documentary, she had seen a month ago, came to mind: Chernobyl: Russia's Nuclear Disaster.

She slowed to a trot, Why that now, Zannes? You should be enjoying this about-to-happen milestone in your life. She rolled her eyes. Milestone or disaster. Stop that, stop it right now!

Always-in-control-Zannes, shooing the Chernobyl images away, picked her jog up to a nice run and, savoring the lush sights and thick smells of August, a light wind caressed her glistening face.

Ten minutes into her escape, sheen of sweat forming on her forehead, she stopped, a little over a mile east of campus, at her favorite spot--a secluded tree-shrouded nook at a bend in the Red Cedar. A mirror of calm, the deep-green water lolled more than flowed. She had claimed the spot years ago and christened it (with the famous sculptor's THINKER in mind) her Rodin spot. She often came here to reflect, gather ideas, tie-up loose ends, moods, jot impression in her journal.

She sat on the grassy slope, pushed off her Adidas, slipped her white sweat socks from her elegant feet, and dangled her hot picture-perfect toes in the cool water. Her eyes closed, she felt something move beneath her right foot. She jerked her feet from the water and looked at what appeared to be, floating an inch below the surface, a human thumb. She looked closer. A brown water logged leaf rose to the surface.

Relieved, the leaf sinking, she put her toes back in the water and absorbed the distilled essence of summer coming to an end.

After a few minutes, she took her journal from her belt-pack, opened the maroon cover, turned to a blank page, and wrote:

"Michigan in August is a holding on. Holding on to the sweet spring and short summer, and the land absorbing the waning sunlight and pressing it down and hoping the moment will hold the warmth into winter and dreaming of spring and the warm summer sun and an ocean full of flowers."

She laid the journal on the grass. A gust of cool wind (where did you come from, she thought) caught her honey-colored hair. Usually falling to her shoulders, bangs brushed to the left over her forehead, today her silky tresses were pulled back tightly in a pony tail. She never wore makeup (what you see is what you get, she often said). No jewelry except for a simple gold Timex wristwatch with black band. No polish on her modestly cut fingernails. She did allow, on her perfectly pedicured, manikin-like toe nails (a personal thing for fiance Carl's edification) an off-white polish more at pearl.

From her belt pack, Rachelle took a bottle of Crystal Stream water, uncapped it, and sipped. Studying the slow-moving Red Cedar, her eyes reflected a hint of sorrow, just enough to draw you in, wondering where the sorrow originated and why the pain in this wealth of subtle attractiveness--the amber topaz eyes; the slightly-thick-in-the-middle nose; the dimpled chin; the sensuous lips most often in a playful smile.

Z, as she was called by colleagues, the often heard quote among males around the Communication Department went something like, "If one didn't know better you'd swear Z was a TV infomercial star for some TV fitness guru's exercise machine."

Rachelle had been an associate professor for six years, advanced to full professor three years ago. Her B.A. in Communication, followed by a MA, then a PhD, all earned from Michigan State University. She had written several articles published in communication journals, and had published a coffee-table book, "Chicken, Fat, and Old Age." In ten chapters, the book pointed out, in her words, "The things people spend most of their lives worrying about: pimples, wrinkles, suntan, haircuts, cars, different ways to cook chicken, body fat, and old age; all this while seemingly oblivious to the larger context of the world going to hell in a hand basket."

Witty, healthy, a confirmed open-to-evidence, seeker-of-truth junkie, not a false bone in her body, Rachelle loved three things: books, sailing, and her Persian cat, T.S. Eliot. On the other hand, she hated two things: irrespective of right, left, or middle perspective--narrow-minded causes; and flying in anything that got more than an inch off terra firma.

As to her loves, first things first: T.S. Eliot was a caramel colored Persian with immense blue eyes. Rachelle got him when, watching the local PBS station's annual auction, they took a close up of his face. She fell in love instantly, bid $250 and got him. T.S., then four weeks old, had from the start such an intellectual air about him that she named him after the famous poet she venerated.

As to the book thing, she got that from her mother, Esther. A librarian for twenty years in Lansing's public library system, a lover of literature, books, words, ideas, Esther often remarked, when in libraries, she felt like the keeper of humanity. She insisted that she, when in the 'stacks', heard voices.

Esther, Jewish, nurtured young Rachelle in the Old Testament teachings. But Rachelle, in her twenties, had ditched the formalized intolerance she felt all religions offered. Still, she couldn't bring herself to believe that all this was accidental.

As to the sailing thing, Rachelle got that from her father, Eric Zannes.

Eric, raised in the Catholic faith, had, in his mid twenties, dumped the Church. Rachelle remembered him saying, "Apostatizing the fear of hell's damnation, bloodletting in the name of love."

The Church had refused to marry him and Esther. She was a Jew. He married her anyway and told the Bishop to "stick it."

Eric, a passionate artist, painted mostly in oils. His work won awards at a few local art shows and he sold an occasional piece. His landscapes, still lifes, portraits were admired, but he was hounded by critics: "Eric is old school', mimics skills perfected long ago; The ol boy's fait; non nouveau; moyenne."

To escape it all, Eric coveted the good-weather weekends when he drove the family to their cottage on Houghton Lake. There, on a twenty-six-foot sloop he had christened, Esther II, Eric sailed Rachelle and Esther over the shimmering miles of Houghton Lake's miles of silvery water.

Then it happened: Rachelle, eighteen, everything in her life proceeding along like a Dick and Jane primer, felt what her father often called, 'the hammer of life.'

Eric, a month past his forty-fifth birthday, frustrated with the sick frowns and wise cracks from art critics, fearing his work was pedestrian (He often quoted W. Somerset Maugham's Philip Carey in Of Human Bondage: "In other things, if you're a doctor or you're in business, it doesn't matter so much if you're mediocre. You make a living and you get along. But what is the good of turning out second-rate pictures?"), took his life.

After Eric's death, Esther resigned her library position, sold the family bungalow in Grand Ledge (10 miles west of Lansing), and moved to the cottage on Houghton Lake. Rachelle, just graduated from High School entered Michigan State. She loved East Lansing and determined to teach at M.S.U., excepting for a year sabbatical to lecture at the University of Auckland, she had been and was now doing.

Proud of her humble heritage, Rachelle had buried the aluminum foil-tasting-past long ago (Her mother died one year after she received her PhD, Rachelle inherited the cottage on Houghton Lake) and, when there was time, there was so little anymore, she dashed the two-hour drive north to Houghton Lake to escape, sail Esther II.

Wiping sweat from her elegant brow, another gust of cool wind reared up that right-brain wallowing nightmare. She knew full well the origin of the unrest: her upcoming marriage to Carl Bostich.

The wedding day, set for next Saturday, August 10, was to be performed during half-time of ESPN's preseason Detroit Lions/Chicago Bears football game. The game would be played at Detroit's Ford Field in front of 65,000 fans and a TV audience of millions. The nuptial event was the brain child of the Lions' PR department. They had two objectives in mind: Promote newly hired Carl Bostich, (He would be teaming up to do color commentary with the "Voice of the Lions," WJJ radio announcer, Corky Dixson.) and to hype sagging ticket sales.

When first broached to Rachelle, she laughed herself silly: "You have to be kidding, start of fall classes August 26, too tight a turn around, forget it." Pressed by what seemed the entire Lion's staff, she dismissed it with a flat and final, "Not on your best day!"

But the Lion's front office pleading, Carl pouting incessantly--it was the only game they could fit the wedding in, alternate event scheduling, etc., Carl's new career needing a grand kickoff--Rachelle had relented.

And now, in six days, always there, looming like Godzilla over Tokyo, the monster wouldn't go away except for times when she took control, like now.

She focused her thought to, just three weeks away, the launch of her new Com. 501 class. The course would consist of sixteen credit hours over two semesters, emphasizing creative expression in the written word. She recited the syllabus: "A passage to the imagination, a journey of ideas, not to what is, but to what might be. Art that inspires the moral imagination."

If successful, the curriculum would become a permanent offering of the Department.

Just then, from her belt pack, her cell phone rang. She looked, caller ID--Carl. She answered, "Hi, Carl."

"Hey babe, what's going on?"

"Just taking a jog, how about you?"

"I tried to call the house, phone just kept ringy dingy, what does that tell you, dear?"

Rats, "I must have forgotten to turn on the answering machine."

"RIIIGHT. Babe, we can't be forgetting things like that now can we?"

"Sorry. What are you doing?"

"Brushing up on player stats, then going over to Candlestick Park with Cork for the game. What time is it there?"

She looked at her Timex: "Three."

"Noon here."

Rachelle said, "Nervous?"

"Bout what?"

"The game."

"Nah, piece a cake, playing for keeps."

She knew better, "How do you think the Lions will do?"

"The Lions suck this year."

"How's the weather in little cable-car land?"


"Tony Bennet . . ."

"Christ, that fag."

"How's it otherwise?"

"Rain, fog, cold, my nose is plugged up ever since we landed and my arm is killing me, back too."


With a touch of sarcasm, "How's the weather in beautiful downtown Lansing?"


"You going to listen to the game aren't you?"

"Where is that again?"

"Babe, where have you been? Lansing it'll be on WTIM-AM."

"Oh, good, I'll listen."

"And don't forget, flight gets in tomorrow afternoon, 5:30, meet me at the baggage claim, curb side."


"And I'll want to get something to eat, then hit the rack, don't forget to paint your toe nails, know what I mean?"

"Hope you're not too tired."

"Never. All ready for next weekend?"

"I'm psyching myself up."

Pause, "What's that mean?"

"Nothing, be good, have a wonderful game and a safe flight, see you tomorrow."

Pause, "Did you forget something?"

"Like what?"

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"Love you babe, bye."