Excerpt CHAPTER ONE
When all the good choices have disappeared faster than kids at chore
If eighteen was the age of exciting self-discovery, then forty-five was the
weary age of having zero shits left to give.
What did it matter if my husband of twenty years was rotting in federal
jail? And that our chiropractic clinic had gone belly up, leaving me jobless?
Or that my friends had turned from “we’ll help hide a body” to “we’ve got your
back until the reporters hit our lawn?” I also didn’t care that the DEA had
frozen our joint bank accounts and seized our assets. I never liked that house
Homeless. Jobless. Friendless.
Add in a pickup truck, beer, and an old dog and it would be the most
pathetic country song played on the tiniest fiddle ever. I gritted my teeth as
the wipers shrieked across the windshield. Nothing like driving through a
late-October downpour to add to your misery, and the constantly patched roads
in this part of Central Texas didn’t handle rain well.
My phone rang with its cheerful tone that I kept forgetting to change.
Sadie’s name lit up on the display, and I almost knocked it off the dashboard
holder while hitting the speaker button.
“Sadie? Is everything okay? How’s Laney?” I really hoped the trembling
in my voice wasn’t audible. My daughter hadn’t spoken to me in two months,
refusing to answer my calls or respond to my texts. Her girlfriend had even
gone so far as to block me on her social media.
“Mom? Where are you? God, this connection sucks.” Her voice had a
recognizable anxious edge to it. I wanted to ask if she was taking her meds,
but at twenty-one Sadie hated coddling. “Someone needs to talk to you.”
“What?” I eased onto the shoulder of the road, then placed the truck
into park. “Who?”
“Mrs. Collins? Uh, Everly Collins? This is Sam Duncan, your husband’s
attorney? We really must discuss your husband’s case.”
I glanced at the clock on my dash: 10:33 p.m. Duncan was raking in some
“What the hell are you doing with my daughter?”
“Mrs. Collins?” He lowered his voice. “I know you’ve been advised not
to speak with me. But you really need to before certain other people do. We can
meet anywhere you want.”
“Listen to me, you scum licker. Tell my husband and his thug buddies to
leave my kid out of their mess. I’m not afraid of their flaccid threats and
won’t be intimidated.” I slapped at the phone to turn it off, sending it
careening to the passenger floorboard, out of reach and therefore away from
I didn’t have the money to replace the stupid thing, but the desire to
take out my frustration on the helpless and innocent electronic device was strong.
Part of me wanted to turn the vehicle around, race to Sadie’s apartment
in Austin, and kick the crap out of that attorney. But I knew the truth. Sadie
had taken her dad’s side and was angry I’d snitched on him. She would do
whatever she could to get him out of trouble. What was a little money
laundering for drug dealers, after all? She might have my dark hair and eyes,
but unfortunately, she inherited her father’s defective moral compass.
A lesson for all the kiddies: choose the sperm donor
for your progeny well.