One thing I always hear from readers of my Southern Secrets Saga is, “I hate John Martin!”
If you’ve not yet started on the series, don’t worry. I won’t post any spoilers here. What I will tell you is how John became the man everyone despises.
First, I want you to envision the most attractive man you’ve ever seen. The one with perfect features and a flawless well-kept body. He never has one hair out of place, and it’s the thick kind every woman wants to run her fingers through. His deep blue, bedroom eyes easily captivate their victims. His good looks embolden him. But his devilish behavior started when he was much younger than he was the first time he’s introduced in Consequences, Southern Secrets Saga Book 2.
John was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His parents died when he was only three, and he was raised by his uncle, Theodore. The man was a well-respected businessman, who traveled a great deal.
Until John reached his teens, he was reared by a nanny and rarely saw his uncle. But when Theodore realized his nephew was himself becoming a man, he decided to begin teaching him the ways of the world. He took John with him on every business trip.
Theodore never married, nor had children. No longer a fussy, childish brat, John became the son he’d longed for. He looked to Theodore for guidance and showed him the utmost respect.
Theodore taught him the joy of having wealth and ways to attain it in business by bending the law. His deviousness excited John, and led him to study the law further, eventually pursuing a career as an attorney.
By the time John turned sixteen, Theodore decided he needed another lesson in life. One that brought even more gratification. On his birthday, he treated him to a fine dinner, including champagne. When they returned to their hotel room that night, John was surprised to be met by an attractive woman. Theodore excused himself for a ‘much-needed walk’ and left John alone with her. She took away all of his innocence and taught him what his body had been made for. The woman was skilled, able, and of course, very well-paid.
She boosted John’s ego by telling him what a handsome and desirable young man he was. The flattery stayed with him. From then on, he stood taller and walked with his shoulders back. Her compliments were affirmed when every woman he passed took a second look. After tasting one woman, he always wanted more. Desire never left him.
His uncle noticed the change and praised him for it. They frequented out-of-the-way bordellos, but Theodore cautioned him to be discreet. Eventually, they knew enough women at every business stop, so they were able to enlist bed partners without having to pay. Women willingly gave themselves, especially when the men insisted they were the only one.
At eighteen, John was a legal student working as an attorney’s aide in Mobile, Alabama. When the opportunity presented itself, Theodore left him there at a boarding house and went on his way doing his own business.
On a one-day excursion to the bay for some relaxation, John met Ruth Montgomery. Her southern charm captivated him, and she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She, too, was eighteen, but unlike him, unspoiled. Their youthful passion took hold and he bedded her. It took little on his part to entice her, but when she told her parents what they’d done, her father came after him with a shotgun and insisted he marry her.
John wasn’t ignorant. He’d learned that backwoods country folk would pull the trigger without a moment’s hesitation.
He moved with Ruth into a small house she’d inherited from the family, not far from Mobile Bay. Nine months later, their daughter, Claire, came into the world. Ruth was elated, but John was anything but that. He felt trapped. Not to mention, his studies had virtually gone by the wayside. He resented Ruth and eventually shunned her. She noticed the change and tried to make things better by showing overly affectionate behavior. It only angered him. The last thing he wanted was for her to conceive again.
He went to Mobile to take his law exams, in hopes of some kind of escape. While there, he met Elizabeth. A raven-haired beauty from the North, with the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. They shared political views and interest in the law. No trace of a southern drawl passed her ruby red lips. She was not only intelligent, but well-spoken. Everything about her made him realize what was lacking with Ruth.
When he discovered that Elizabeth came from a wealthy family in Connecticut, nothing kept him from pursuing her. She was his way north again. She had the money to fund his career, and the intelligence to keep his mind satisfied. Her beautiful body would satiate his other needs.
John led her to believe that there was nothing tying him to Alabama. He discreetly sent Ruth a certificate of divorce. Her family urged her to sign it. They despised him and knew she’d be better off without him.
For the ten years he and Elizabeth were married, he remained faithful to her. But when she died, he returned to his old ways, and never looked back. He took satisfaction from any woman he wanted. Of course, he still told each one that they were special. The only one for him.
His uncle had taught him well.
John has a tendency to pop up in some of my other books. He’s in my contemporary novel, A Golden Life, and he also has a brief cameo in, From the Ashes of Atlanta. I thought you might enjoy reading it. No matter where John goes, his devilish character is unmistakable.
The man approaching him was finely dressed, fitting in perfectly with the extravagant fixtures. Business suit, top hat, and looks that caused every woman he passed to turn her head. And, it was obvious he liked the attention. He smiled at each one in turn, regardless of whether or not they had a man accompanying them. But oddly enough, he appeared to be heading to the seat beside Jeb.
“May I?” the man asked, pointing to the empty seat.
Why not? Jeb wouldn’t be carrying on a conversation with the man, and he seemed harmless enough. So, he nodded, and the man sat.
“Thank you.” He leaned in and Jeb got a whiff of cologne. He smiled inwardly, thinking of Katherine’s ‘skunk.’ But it was nothing to smile about. Gwen would be marrying the skunk in less than six hours.
“I heard the conductor,” the man said. “I know you can’t speak, but it’s to my benefit. I tend to find myself sitting beside a woman who can’t keep her mouth shut. For the most part, I listen, and often times I’m rewarded for my attentions.” He wiggled his brows. “I’m certain you understand my meaning. But today, I need to watch myself. Not get carried away.” A sly grin curled the man’s lips. He removed his hat and placed it in his lap, then primped his hair. Never before had Jeb seen a man so concerned over his appearance.
He should have told him ‘no.’
Are all men from the north arrogant and rude in regards to women?
“My name’s Martin. John Martin. I’m an attorney.” He puffed out his chest and sat more upright.
An attorney. That explained the expensive suit. Jeb sighed. It wasn’t long ago that he answered to the name, ‘John.’
“My practice is in Bridgeport. So, if you’re ever there, or in need of legal help, look me up.”
The man’s arrogance oozed from every part of his body. One of the ladies, who had watched him pass by, turned to look at him. He acknowledged her with a slight lift of his head and one raised eyebrow. She covered her mouth, tittered, and then faced forward.
“That one shows promise,” he said through the side of his mouth, “but I dare not. I’m meeting a woman in Buffalo.” He cupped his hand over the side of his mouth. “For a tryst.”
Was this man always so bold? Talking to a complete stranger about his personal life? Maybe he thought he would be impressed, or did he simply find Jeb to be nonthreatening?
“You’re a handsome young man,” Mr. Martin said, rubbing his chin. “Even with your impairment. May I give you some advice?”
This could be interestin’….
Jeb’s face must have shown his confusion, because Mr. Martin laughed aloud. An arrogant, sophisticated sort of laugh.
“I’m personal friends with Mr. P.T. Barnum. Phineas Taylor Barnum. I’m certain you’ve heard of him. Well…he knows all sorts of interesting people, and women with unique talents. Of course that mermaid was a hoax, but she brought him incredible wealth.”
Jeb nodded, intrigued by the man’s story. Not to mention that it took his mind off of Gwen and helped the time to pass.
Mr. Martin leaned in again. “He introduced me to a contortionist. I highly recommend that every man should give one a try. At least once. They can move their bodies in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.”
Intriguing or not, Jeb couldn’t take another minute. He grabbed his cane and rose to his feet.
“Oh.” Mr. Martin looked up at him. “Do you need to use the facilities?”
Jeb scowled at the man, and stepped by him and into the aisle. Glancing toward the rear of the car, he spotted an empty seat, and made his way toward it. He pitied the woman in Buffalo and hoped she knew what kind of a man he was.