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Up-Hill Battle

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Book: Up-Hill Battle


Chapter 1

Squeals of joy echoed through the corridor of the mansion. Mark Antonious Richfield, the Nation’s Top Male Model, held his youngest, six-month-old son, Jacob Bentley Hill in his arms. He was sitting in a ‘nook’ area of the kitchen. Its bench seats had a grand view of the back of his estate in Paradise, California.

On the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Mark resided in the home he grew up as a child after living most of his adult life in Los Angeles.

His second husband, a young man of twenty-seven, Stan Charles Richfield chased their sixteen-month old son, Isaac or ‘Zak’ Milton Richfield, around the house. Ever since Isaac had learned how to walk, he loved running around the home, his little lighted shoes flickering as he went.

Mark held a bottle to Jacob’s mouth contentedly.

“Dadaaa!” Isaac ran right up to where he was seated and held Mark’s arm for balance. “Ayyycup!” Isaac appeared delighted to be with his little brother again.

Stan caught his breath and gazed outside at their outdoor pool, the basketball and tennis courts and stable and paddock beyond it. They had four horses at the moment, and they were outside grazing in the paddock while their groom, Andrew Wilson, mucked stalls.

Their chef, Sierra, was whipping up breakfast for them and the scents of bacon frying, butter browning, and her amazing homemade bread toasting, filled the working kitchen.

Stan picked Isaac up and put him into his highchair. Isaac peddled his feet anxiously and pointed to Sierra. “Appull?”

Mark grinned at Isaac. “Yes, pet, you’re getting fed.” He set Jacob’s bottle down and rested the tiny one on his shoulder over a burping cloth.

Mark’s ex-husband and business partner, Steven Jay Miller entered the kitchen. He was wearing his business suit for work. He and his ex owned Mark’s deceased father’s garment manufacturing firm, Richfield-Miller International. The company had offices in Sacramento, Paris, New York, and London.

Steve slid into the bench seat opposite Mark. “You are coming to work, right?”

Before Mark answered him, the two firemen who lived with them entered the room.

Isaac reached for Blake Hughes, the fifty-year old man who was his nanny now that he had retired from the Los Angeles Fire Department. Blake’s husband, Hunter Rasmussen, had transferred to the Butte County fire service and entered as a captain. Hunter slid into the bench next to Steve, and was wearing his white shirt and dark blue pants, his uniform.

Blake caressed Isaac’s hair as he said, “Uckbluk!” which was Uncle Blake.

“Mark?” Steve appeared impatient as their manservant, Warren, poured them all coffee.

“Yes. All right?” Mark sighed and scooted out of the bench, handing Jacob to Stan. Stan took the six-month old boy into his arms lovingly.

“Let me change.” Mark ran his hand through his shoulder-length brown hair and took a peek at the weather outside their window. It was gorgeous out, and maybe time to open up their outdoor pool.

Mark kissed Stan on the lips and jogged to the foyer, then up the grand mahogany staircase to his room to change into a suit.

As he went, he thought about his son Jacob’s mother, Sharon Tice-Hill and wondered how she was dealing with him winning custody of Jacob.

They had been to court for a custody hearing, and the judge had not only given Mark what he wanted, she gave him more, much more. Instead of two weekends a month, Jacob was going to live here at the estate permanently.

Now, Mark had to escort Jacob to LA for the weekends, so Sharon could see him. But, Mark hadn’t heard from her since the ruling. He dreaded seeing her again.

He entered his walk-in closet and removed his jeans and polo shirt, getting dressed in his best Versace blue suit.