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Mary Logan believes in the goodness of people. She believes in grace under pressure. But when the ugliness of human nature touches her family, and a series of seismic events shake up her world, she’s put to the test again and again.
She and her husband are supposed to be enjoying the benefits of early retirement. Their nest is empty. It’s time to travel and re-focus. It’s their time. Then an alarming diagnosis and an unexpected announcement from their daughter change everything. Facing the possibility of heart-wrenching loss, Mary finds herself breaking commitments, forcing smiles, and keeping secrets.
Until now, her cup has always been half full. Will a positive outlook be enough to withstand the challenges ahead?
Genre: Women’s fiction. It’s the third book in a trilogy about a group of friends in a small Kansas town.
Women of Whitfield Book 3
BY DARLENE DELUCA
Evening meetings were always harder to get motivated for. The days were getting shorter and colder, and curling up at home in front of the television sounded better and better. At least people were usually in a good mood for this one. Even if they’d had a rough week, everyone would be looking forward to Friday – a sure-fire mood-lifter. Mary shrugged into her denim jacket, said goodbye to Grant, and backed the Acura out of the garage. She considered switching on the seat heater, but figured the warmth could easily lull her to sleep.
Climbing out of the car, Mary took a moment to let the cool night air blow against her face. Then, heels tapping against the tiled floors, she walked into the meeting at the Legion Hall – and looked straight into the icy stare of Regina Daniels. Caught off guard, Mary froze in the doorway. Was it her imagination, or had the room gone silent? Mary sucked in a deep breath. This had to end. She’d speak to Regina tonight and settle this if it killed her. The chairs on either side of Regina were already taken, so Mary smiled and took a seat across the table. But when Regina got up to refill her coffee, Mary made a beeline for the coffee station.
“Regina,” she said, her voice low. “Listen, I want to tell you how sorry I am, Grant and I both are, about Bobby losing his job.
Regina turned, eyebrows raised. “Why are you sorry? Was it your fault?”
Taken aback, Mary faltered. “Well, no. Of course not. We had no idea this was coming. Still, we feel bad about–”
“I hear you’re planning some kind of pity session for everyone. Helping people write resumes or something.”
Mary’s face flushed hot, and it took a moment to find her voice. “Excuse me? A pity session? What are you talking about? I– I’m helping the community center organize a job search event. It’s for the whole community. We hope people laid off from Essex will take advantage of it, but–”
“Feeling guilty? Is that it?”
“Since when does someone have to be guilty to want to do something good, Regina? I don’t understand. What’s bad about trying to help out?” And how the hell had she found out about the workshop?
“Right. This is so typical. You sit up there in your fancy house – like kings in your castle, and you want everyone to love you for tossing out a bone to the rest of us. Well, get over yourself. No one wants your help.”
Someone cleared her throat, and they both turned toward the conference table. “Ladies, I think it’s about time to get started.” A wide-eyed Gloria Swanson, president of the auxiliary, stared at them.
With a shaking hand, Mary lifted her cup and returned to her chair. She picked up the papers in front of her and looked at them without seeing a thing. She heard almost nothing of the meeting, and contributed the same. They sometimes got into debates about programs and procedures or something as trivial as a menu item, but never had Mary been publicly attacked like this. She didn’t move her head until Kelly Jessup, also a member of her book club, nudged her arm and pushed a tablet toward her.
Don’t worry about her, the note read. Mary almost smiled. Passing notes at their age. She drew in a calming breath and turned her attention to their VP of finance. When Gloria declared the meeting adjourned what seemed like hours later, Mary gave Kelly’s arm a squeeze. “Thanks,” she whispered. She hurried around the table, determined to have a last word with her adversary.
Regina stopped and sent Mary a long-suffering look.
“Listen, I just want to clear the air,” Mary said. “I understand you’re upset. I– we don’t want to make things worse. We want to help however we can.”
“Haven’t you done enough, already? You can’t just butt out, can you? Good God, you want to run the whole damn town. The City Council. Every committee. Every event. What’s next, running for mayor?”
Not a bad idea, was the first thing that popped into Mary’s head. Thankfully, it didn’t come out her mouth as well. Grant had, in fact, been approached about running for mayor a few years back. He’d considered it, and had tucked the notion in his back pocket for possible retirement. And Mary had been appointed to the council when Simon Pritchett and his family had moved after the tornado. She was simply finishing his term. It certainly wasn’t a control thing. They loved Whitfield, wanted to be involved. Wanted to see it thrive, and be a part of that. That was the fun of living in a small town.
With all the poise she could muster, Mary spoke quietly. “Losing a job is never an easy thing to deal with,” she said, doing her best to keep her voice from quivering. “I hope Bobby finds an even better job and discovers some new opportunities that–”
Regina gave a harsh scoff, and turned away. “Oh, he will.”
Mary headed for her car with much less pep in her step than when she’d arrived. Inside, she rolled her neck, and ignored the buzzing of her phone. In the short distance back home, she mulled Regina’s words. Of course the woman was angry. Mary could understand that. What she didn’t understand was the need some people had to cast blame when something bad happened. For whatever reason, they couldn’t accept that bad things just . . . happened.
Anyway, she refused to take it personally. She’d do what she could to help, and she and Grant would go on with their lives, participating and being contributing members of the community.
Still, the idea of having an enemy didn’t set well
Meet Author Darlene Deluca...
Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart. Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama, and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave you either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as you turn the final page.
Darlene has been a reader and writer since childhood, and began her career as a newspaper reporter. She writes day or night, whenever the words/mood/deadlines strike, and almost always has a cup of tea and a bit of dark chocolate nearby!
Links to Darlene’s website, blog, books, etc.
Buy in the Apple store:
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Darlene will give away a digital copy of BAREFOOT DAYS, the final book in her Women of Whitfield trilogy, to one reader who comments on her **Author Peek** Interview or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs. Thanks, Darlene, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!