Sneak Peak: The Sequel!
Happy New Year! Since the story opens on New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of my next novel (as yet untitled). Enjoy!
At exactly three hours and fifty-seven minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Dot Rodgers slid the lacy forest-green dress over her head, smoothed it into place, tied the wide satin sash around her hips, took one look at herself in the narrow bedroom mirror, and ripped the horrid thing off again.
“Ugh!” she muttered, nose twitching as green lace brushed against her face. The dress would have been the ideal choice if she were traveling back in time to her Indiana high school’s Holiday Hop, instead of heading off to a sophisticated soiree at her friend Veronica’s Chicago apartment.
She flung the offending garment onto the pile of discarded clothing strewn across her bed, a mishmash of demure frocks festooned with bits of ribbon, lace, and tatting, as if somebody’s Grandma Lou had been set to work fashioning collars and cuffs. Remarkably, she had only herself to blame, Each garment had been deliberately acquired in recent weeks by Dot herself, part of a sincere campaign to transform herself into someone she was not.
But now, under the rosy glow of her scarlet-shaded lamp, each and every dress looked like it belonged in someone else’s closet. Perhaps Marjorie’s closet. Yes, these clothes would suit Dot’s best friend and roommate, Marjorie Corrigan, to a T. But on Dot they felt like costumes borrowed from a theater, as if she were a character in a play. And a supporting cast member at that, she thought darkly. Not even the star of the show, which was tough on a woman who enjoyed the spotlight.
In fact, if Marjorie had been present, Dot would have handed her the dress without hesitation, and been delighted to watch her eyes light up. Lace! Ribbons! But her friend was visiting her hometown of Kerryville, ringing in the New Year with her family and neck-deep in preparations for her wedding to Peter Bachmann, set to take place on Valentine’s Day. Trust a romantic soul like Marjorie to choose a wedding day already overburdened with hearts and flowers and sentimental cherubs aiming poison arrows at unsuspecting people.
Not that love was poison, exactly. But it did complicate a girl’s life to no end.
Hands on hips, Dot surveyed the wreckage heaped the bed. Hopeless. Not one outfit qualified to be worn out on the town. She wanted something dazzling and eye-catching and fun, but also the sort of dress Charlie would approve of. Not that he ever complained about what she wore. He never complained about anything which, to be frank, was part of the problem. He treated Dot as if she were an ideal specimen of womanhood, which embarrassed her, knowing how very wrong he was about that. But she also knew, without his saying so, that he appreciated the kind of lady who dressed modestly, who would fit easily into the social life of Kerryville, such as it was, and wouldn’t attract undue attention. Over the few months that they’d been seeing each other, she’d tried to reform herself into that kind of girl. But old habits died hard. And now it was New Year’s Eve, a night to shine if there ever was one, and they were going to a party with all her old friends from the cabaret. What would they think if she showed up dressed like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, that sugar-sweet novel from her youth?
Dot shivered in her thin satin slip. Frankly, she deserved to have a good time, after the disastrous Christmas she’d had. She should have known better than to go to show up unannounced on her family’s Indiana doorstep on Christmas Day. Her father’s angry voice still rang in her head.
It was all Charlie’s fault. She never would have gone, if he hadn’t encouraged her. Make peace with your mother and sisters, he’d said. Don’t let your father bully you. Well, that had gone well, hadn’t it? Maybe all that forgiveness and reconciliation stuff worked well in a perfect family like the Corrigans, but not in the household of Reverend Oliver Barker. Yes, she was crazy about Charlie, but he ought not to have interfered.And she should have known better than to take his advice.
The chime of the small clock on the dresser jolted her back to reality. Charlie would be pressing the door buzzer any minute. With fresh defiance, she marched to the jam-packed closet, shoved aside skirts and sweaters, and reached to the back for a sparkly silver dress last worn to a shindig at Louie’s Villa Italiana. Here was a real party dress, and she’d wear it whether Charlie approved or not.
Eagerly she slipped the dress over her head, adjusted the hem, and cast an admiring glance in the mirror. That was more like it! Covered in metallic beads and silky fringe, it caught the light with every move she made. From the top drawer of the dresser she selected a headband encrusted with jet beads and rhinestones and slid it onto her brow, resting it over her smooth dark bangs. She clipped on a pair of ornate chandelier earbobs, enjoying the feel of the cool metal grazing her jawline. She added a long rope of beads, knotting them at the breastbone. A final flick of the comb to her straight, chin-length bob, a quick swipe of red lipstick and a sweep of kohl around her eyes, and she was ready, just as the buzzer sounded.