Author: Dolores W. Maroney
Publisher: State of Mind Publishing
Length: 290 pages
Out of sight, out of mind. That’s what Melody Ravenswood was counting on when she invented a new life for herself as Mel Harper in the small farming community of Willowbrook, Texas. She could be herself, whoever that was. Having long since lost her identity to being the only child and sole beneficiary of a legendary rock and roller, she was finally going to live the normal life she craved – a job, a house, friends and no paparazzi.
Hank Travis is the last thing Mel needs in her new life. The local boy turned rock and roll star’s sexy, won’t take no for an answer pursuit makes her long for a life she has only dreamed of. Before Mel can have the future she wants with Hank, she must confront her past and find the Melody she lost along the way.
Mel pumped a nickel into the antique parking meter in front of The Donut Hole and went inside. She paused to savor the intoxicating medley of aromas that never failed to jump-start her system—even after a near-sleepless night. Fatigue rolled off her shoulders. She smiled and greeted a few familiar faces with a wave over the crowded shop.
She took her place in line and thanked goodness for the owner’s hot chocolate making skills. In the few months she had been in Willowbrook, a cup of Cathy’s concoction had become her morning addiction. It was rich and decadent enough to inspire her to give her new life another chance.
At last, her turn at the counter arrived. Cathy smiled warmly at her. Gratitude for her friendship filled Mel with contentment.
“Morning, sunshine,” Cathy said, taking in Mel’s appearance and coming to the correct conclusion. Nothing got by her. “Another bad night?”
“So so. I think I’m getting better,” she lied. She’d hoped moving to a new place, one far away in both distance and demeanor, would be the magic cure for her sleepless nights, but it hadn’t proven to be the case. It seemed her problems were destined to follow her wherever she went.
“I don’t get it, girlfriend. There’s nothing in Willowbrook to keep a person awake in daylight, much less at night.”
“I know. It’s not the town. It’s me. I just don’t sleep well. Maybe I’m part vampire,” she joked, knowing it wasn’t the undead keeping her awake.
“I read something about an herbal remedy…Melatonin, I think it was called. The name reminded me of you. Mel…Melatonin. Get it?”
She smiled at the well-meant help. At least her new friend cared enough to offer whatever she could. “Yeah, I get it. Thanks, but I’ve tried it. Didn’t work.”
“Oh well.” Cathy shrugged. “What will it be today, the usual?”
“I’ve got an interview, so two hot chocolates, and pick out half a dozen doughnuts for me. Anything will do, but make sure at least one has chocolate on it.”
Cathy filled the order and passed it over the counter. “I’ll put it on your tab.”
“Thanks. Remind me to settle up at the end of the week.”
“Oh, don’t you worry! Go on, I’ve got customers waiting.”
Mel held the door open for the group of silver-haired ladies who met at The Donut Hole every morning to gossip over pastries and coffee. She’d love to write an article about them one day. They probably had a million stories to tell about the town, and every one of them would be good. The last one through the door thanked her, and Mel headed to her Jeep. She tossed the doughnut bag onto the passenger seat, stowed the two steaming cups in the built-in cup holders, and went in search of her interviewee.
She pulled to the curb in front of 755 Pecan Street and cut the engine. The house looked like all its neighbors, except for the rioting scarlet azaleas in bloom along the base of the raised porch. She peered through the open front door behind the rusty screen. Seeing no one inside, she rapped her knuckles against the screen door sending it clattering against the jamb.
“Mr. Travis? Anyone home?”
She stepped back, taking a moment to admire the neat yard and well kept flowerbeds. The next-door neighbor tended her rose bushes, wearing a broad brimmed straw hat and rubber gardening clogs. The woman turned, revealing a sleeping infant in one of those backpack things hanging from her shoulders. Mel squashed the ping of envy that inevitably came when she saw a mother with her kids. Maybe one day….
No. It was a dream she’d let go of a long time ago, along with the one about finding a guy who didn’t mind her being a fugitive from her own life.
A bee buzzed around her head and zeroed in on the bright spring buds surrounding the porch. She closed her eyes and breathed in the morning air tinged with the intoxicating sweetness of roses and the fresh clean scent of wet earth. Aromatherapy at its best. If peace had a scent, this she thought, was it. As tempting as it was, she couldn’t stand on the porch all day. She had a job to do.
She knocked again, and getting no answer she turned to leave.
“Just go on in,” the woman next door spoke, halting Mel halfway down the steps. “Henry is in there somewhere. He won’t mind.”
“Thanks. I’ll do that. He is expecting me.”
She wiggled her fingers at the neighbor—the best she could do with her hands full—and backtracked up the steps. Life in Willowbrook, and in rural north Texas, was different than anything she had ever experienced. Few people locked their doors, and everyone knew everyone else’s business. In a few short months, she had grown to love the lifestyle. At first, the similarities between her busybody neighbors and the paparazzi had shaken her, but it hadn’t taken long to figure out the difference. Folks in Willowbrook took care of each other—like a family.
She juggled her offering of doughnuts and hot chocolate and tried the screen door. It was unlocked. No surprise.
She stepped cautiously into the living room. The furniture was dated but not worn out. Morning light through the front window illuminated a faded floral rug over a hardwood floor. Other than a novel resting on a small table next to an overstuffed recliner, the room appeared little used.
“Hello! Anyone home?”
She moved with caution, announcing her presence as she went. She could just see tomorrow’s headline—Reporter Frightens Elderly Resident to Death. Or another possibility—Elderly Resident Mistakes Reporter for Burglar and Opens Fire. Neither one held any appeal.
She passed the tiny dining room and kitchen. They were both empty, which left only the short hallway and the bedrooms to explore. She entered the passage on trembling legs. Her imagination conjured every terrifyingly possible scenario. Poor Mr. Travis might be incapacitated on the bathroom floor…or worse.
Only three doors opened off the hall. Two bedrooms and one bath, she surmised—much like her own house a few streets over. She peeked around the first door and breathed a sigh of relief. The tiny bathroom was empty.
She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. Her heart beat a wild rhythm in her throat and a pent-up breath rushed past her lips. She took a moment to gather her courage and checked the next room. A bedroom. It, too, was scrupulously clean and empty.
“Thank heavens,” she muttered.
A faint rustling of papers drew her attention to the final door. Adrenaline flowed and her heart raced even faster. Fearing the worst, she sucked in a steadying breath and stepped into the open doorway.
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About The Author:
Dolores has been married to the same wonderful guy for thirty-three years. They have two lovely daughters and a black lab. She makes her home in the wilds of New Jersey (yes, there are wilds in NJ). A Texan with familial roots that go all the way back to the Republic of Texas, Dolores says you can take the girl out of Texas, but…well, you know the rest.
She’s been a stay-at-home mom for most of her married life – a job she says is under-rated on the difficulty scale. Now that her girls are grown, she’s still available to them anytime, day or night, but she fills her days with writing romance novels and reading.
Dolores is a best-selling, multi-published author of erotic romance under the pseudonym, Roz Lee.
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