This is the first time I’ve ever added an anthology for my backlist.
At the beginning of 2020 ( before Covid ruled the world) Australia was engulfed in flames. One of the Wild Rose Press authors is an Australian and asked if there was some way we, as authors, could come together to raise money for the RedCross to aid the firefighters and the people devastated by the fires.
A three part anthology titled AUSTRALIA BURNS came from that one question. Multiple WRP authors contributed stories to the collection and took no royalties from sales – their money was donated instead.
My addition was a little story I’d written when I was concetrating on writing murder mysteries and not romance. The story, THE TUESDAY NIGHT MEETING, is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.
Here’s a quick excerpt, and if you want to purchase the anthology, here’s the link: AUSTRALIA BURNS. I’m in volume 1
“Cora,” Mavis aid, capturing the entire attention of the room, “do you know anything about our group?”
She shook her head and swiped at her still running nose. “Not much, Ma-am. I know you give out scholarships to worthy high school girls for college. And you support the poor, especially at the holidays. I’ve seen write-ups in the paper about the good things y’all have done. But aside from those, I don’t know much else. Excepting,” she said, “ that you’re all widows.”
The members of the club collectively smiled at her.
“That’s why I thought it strange to be asked here tonight. I’m not a widow.”
“No, darlin’ you’re not,” Wisteria said, smiling. “Not yet.”
Cora gaped, openmouthed, at the old woman.
“Let me start at the beginning, dear, so you’ll understand how our little club came to be.”
Settling back in the chair, Wisteria took a breath then began her tale.
“You probably don’t remember my late husband, Major Plowright. I believe he passed when you were just a baby. Well, my dear, if there was ever a tougher man in the world to live with, I’d be sore pressed to believe it. I truly feel the moment he was brought into the world a military angel crossed his path and predestined him for a soldiers’ life. His mother told me after we’d been married for about a year that even as a child, everything had to be precision perfect in his world. He tolerated no fools, silliness or any kind of good-natured fun. I didn’t realize this when I married him, mind you. I know now I fell in love with his spit and polish exterior and superior manner. I never could resist a good lookin’ man in a uniform.”
A few well-knowing chuckles escaped throughout the room.
“Well, married life was kind of sweet for a while. I got used to his ranting and raving about precision and cleanliness and order. But when the Major was forced to retire at a very early age, well, it all changed. He changed. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was plum worn out with three babies and a big house to care for, and he never helped a lick with anything. One day he came home from his club and my youngest had spilled his juice all over the kitchen floor. I was just about to clean it up, but the Major didn’t let me. He stormed into the room, saw the mess and started screaming and hollering so loud I thought my little Jimmy’s diapers were gonna fall off. When I tired to explain about the mess, he smacked me across the face. Knocked me clear across the kitchen with one felled swoop of the back of his hand. I was so stunned I didn’t see the next one coming. He was raving about me being an inadequate wife and mother and that he was going to teach me a lesson I’d never forget. He was right about it, too. I never forgot that first beating or all the others he gave me after. I do believe he came to enjoy it when he struck me down. I’d see a gleam in his eyes, kind of like the one I’d seen when he was in the throes of passion, whenever he hit me.”
Wisteria stopped and refreshed herself with a sip of tea.
“Miz Plowright, ma-am. I had no idea,” Cora said.
“Of course not, darlin’. In those days, why, a woman was barely a step above chattel. Men’s property; bought and sold.”
“What did you do? I mean, did you stay with the Major?”
“For a while. I ran away with the children once, to my mother. But the Major followed me and dragged us all back. The beating I endured that night broke my left arm and two of my ribs.”
“I remember he went around town the next day telling everyone who’d listen that you fell down the front steps because you were rushing off somewhere in a dither,” Molly Kane said.
When Cora gasped, Wisteria patted her hand sand said, “You see, Cora. We’ve all lied at one time or another about our bruises.”
“Finish your story, Wisteria,” Mavis commanded.
After taking another sip of tea, she did. ”I knew I had to do something about the situation, but what? I couldn’t leave him. He’d shown me how he’d hunt me down and bring me back. Divorce was out of the question in those days. No self respectin’ woman of the South would ever be seen in divorce court, airing all her dirty personal laundry. I finally figured out I had two options. I could stay and put up with this man I’d grown to fear and hate until he finally succeeded in killing me, or…”
“Or?” Cora prompted.
“Or I could rid myself and the children of him right then and there.”
Cora’s loud intake of air was the one sound in the room. To the question in her eyes, Wisteria merely inclined her head.
“Yes, my dear. I killed my husband. It was the only way I could survive.”
Intrigued? hee hee. I hope so!