Excerpt CHAPTER ONE
When all the good choices have disappeared faster than kids at chore time
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 anyway.
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 serious OT.
“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 temptation.
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.