Thursday, February 28, 2013

Secrets of Willow Shade by Jean Thompson Kinsey


Maddy Kennedy is divorcing her unfaithful husband when she learns he has a secret more devastating than adultery. Jenny, Maddy's mother has taken the identity of the biological father to the grave with her. With a madman stalking the family, attempting to uncover hidden bank robbery money dating back to the days of the infamous Jesse James, Maddy's only hope is to find the answers to these secrets--to find her biological father before she loses her sanity or possibly her life. Can she do this without endangering the "daddy" who has raised her as his own? Maddy goes back to Willow Shade, the family farm in Logan County, Kentucky in quest of the truth.

Even though this novel is totally fiction, you will laugh, cry, reminisce and recognize characters, rivers, bridges and caves of Logan County, Kentucky, especially "Daddy," patterned after the author's own dad

Excerpt

Chapter One 

     Her knees pressed into the cold earth, Maddy's nails splintered as her bare fingers dug in the hard cemetery dirt. It was buried with Momma, and she had to find it.
     Heart racing, Maddy bolted upright in bed, switched on the bedside lamp and picked up her water glass. After appeasing her Sahara thirst, she placed the tumbler back on the crochet coaster and once again reached to grasp the intimidating document. It read the same as it had a hundred times before.
 KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF VITAL STATISTICS 
CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH 
NAME: Madelyn Jennifer Beech 
MOTHER: Jennifer Marie Beech 
 FATHER: Unknown. 

     Father Unknown. Had Momma not known who Maddy's father was, or had she chosen to keep it her secret? For whatever reason, the skeleton in Momma's closet threatened Maddy's sanity. Nightmares promised to inhibit her sleep or put her in a mental institution if she didn't find a name to replace that unknown. There was only one thing left to do--go back to Willow Shade and find her biological father.
     Refolding along the blue creases, Maddy stuffed the birth certificate back into its crisp envelope and dropped it into her brocade Hobo Bag. What secrets lay buried back in Logan County? Surely, in such a small community, there was someone who had known Momma thirty-eight-years ago--someone who still remembered--someone who refused to let Momma take her secrets with her to the grave. Early the next morning she dialed Ashley's dorm number, scratching the last item off her to-do list before taking her bags out to the garage. Like always, no answer from her daughter before noon. As she laid the phone back on the receiver, the ringer startled her. "Hello," she answered. 
    "Mrs. Kennedy, I know where you live. You can't hide from me." Click. Maddy held the silent phone, staring at it for a second before placing it back in the cradle. What secret? She had nothing to hide. Just a prank call. I bet every Kennedy in the phone book got the same call. She continued packing, ignoring the eerie, gravelly voice of the caller. 
    Bumping her hip against the door, luggage in hand, Maddy caught her balance as her husky bound into the garage first. The chime from the front doorbell caught her ear. She had no time or patience for visitors or salespeople. She'd hide in the garage until whoever it was gave up and left. No way did that work. Kenneth scurried around the house and poked his curly, chestnut brown head in the garage entrance.
    "Hey, Maddy, glad I caught you. We need to talk." 
    "I believe we said all we had to say before I filed for divorce. I'm on my way to Logan County." Why did she go and tell him? Well, too late now. He'd find her at the farm anyway if he tried. Maddy turned her face away from the scrutiny of his gaze. She might choke on her heart when she heard his voice, but refused to let him see pain in her eyes.
     Lifting a large piece of luggage, Kenneth started toward her Pinto wagon. "I want you to know if there's ever anything I can do…" 
     She shoved his hands off her bag, heaved it into the hatch, and slammed it shut. "There's nothing. Come on Welby, quit sniffing at him and get in this car. You're my dog, remember?" 
     As soon as the station wagon cleared the garage, Kenneth turned and pulled the overhead door down. She hoped he the daggers shooting from her voice stabbed him where they hurt. At the end of the driveway, she stopped, stuck her head through the open window and yelled with a fake calmness, "If you want to talk, try chatting with your bimbo, because your wife is leaving." She drove away and headed down Kentucky Turnpike at seventy miles per hour. Windows rolled down, her long hair tangled by the warm wind, she let the tears flow. They would dry before she hit the county line. Heading south, I'm going home. 
    Recollections of the past year unfurled before her eyes. Maddy shook her head, slinging the niggling thoughts into outer space, turned the radio up and tapped the steering wheel to the beat of Mel Tillis and "Southern Rains." When had she last listened to country music? She didn't know, but driving past rolling green fields, inhaling the fresh country air floating across soy bean patches, it seemed appropriate. 
     After two hours driving, she was almost home to Willow Shade Farm. Knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel, she flexed her fingers. She hadn't been back since Momma's funeral. Not for almost a year. Was she ready to do this? Could she accept the truth if she found it? 
     She exited I-65 onto the gravel State road. White-faced Herefords dotted fields of sweet clover. Corn tassels nodded and tobacco stalks waved green arms in the wind. Maddy pulled the Pinto over, slid out of the car, and stepped onto the Jasper River Bridge. 
     "This is it, Welby." She shifted her eyes to the passenger seat, patted the dog's head and loosened his collar. "If I had a dime for each time I've played under this bridge, I'd be rich now." 
     Leaning on the paint-peeled guardrail, her teeth chewed on the tip of her left forefinger. Lacy white foam collected on the banks of the swollen stream below. It had rained yesterday. 
     Maddy sighed and summoned her courage. Willow Shade Farm spread across the sloping fields beyond. She swept her hand in the direction of the old plantation diminished to ordinary farm. "When I was a young girl, I made believe I was Scarlet O'Hara and the farm was Tara." She surveyed the scene before her. The red roof of the main house dwarfed the smaller buildings like the owners had once dominated the slaves who subsisted in them. She took a deep breath, got back into the car, and followed the winding drive up to the farmhouse. Yeah, I know. Now it's more like Tara, post bellum. That old verandah's going to collapse one of these days. She shielded her eyes from the morning sun with her hand. "Look, there's Daddy on the porch."
     Daddy leaned against a tall, white column, one thumb hitched into a strap of his bib-overalls, scrutinizing the car pulling into his drive. Howard Livingston would always be her real daddy even after she found the man who sired her. She wasn't looking to replace him; she only wanted to find her heritage. Daddy met her at the end of the walk. Weathered hands pulled a red handkerchief out of his hind pocket and blotted the tears from his eyes. "Maddy, you've come home. I been praying you'd show up. Been worried about you. Going through a divorce has to be hard. On Kenneth, too, I reckon."
     "I'm fine. Really I am. Wouldn't know about Kenneth." Daddy opened his arms and Maddy stepped into them. She hadn't meant to snap at him.
     "I'm sorry, Daddy." She should've come sooner. "Been busy at the shop." Her gaze dropped to her feet. Swallowed. "Rachel said she hasn't been able to sort through Momma's things in the attic. I can do that while I'm here. Plus, you and I need some time together."
     She hated telling Daddy half-truths. But couldn't tell him she came back to Logan County searching for something pointing her in the direction of finding her biological father. If he didn't know about Momma's past, the truth could destroy him, and the last thing Maddy wanted was to hurt her daddy.
     "Well, come on in, Junebug." His pet name brought her back to the present. Her birthday in June, she'd always be his little Junebug. "How's Ashley? She's not still in school is she?"
     "She decided to stay on campus for the summer and pick up a few extra classes. Sends her love to you and says she'll see you Christmas."
     "I'll be looking forward to that." 
     Maddy inhaled the country air. The smell of flowering alfalfa entwined with the sweet scent of fresh-cut hay wafted across the fields. "It's good to be home. Will Welby be okay out here?"
     "Nothing he can hurt. He's used to the outside, ain't he?"
     "Except when he's lying on the floor by my bed at night," Maddy's eyes smiled.
     Daddy had never kept dogs in the house, especially big ones like Welby.
     "What's his name? What kinda dog is he anyway? Looks like a friendly sort."
     "I call him Welby. He's a Siberian Husky. Thinks he's my guard dog but wouldn't bite a tick."
     "You can give me a good hound dog any day." Daddy winked at her. "You can bring him in at night if he don't bark."
     The warmth of Daddy's arm wrapped around her shoulder told her she was truly home again. They went inside, leaving the husky sniffing around the yard. Daddy led the way into Momma's kitchen where close friends and family congregated. Momma said the living room was for company. Daddy greased the iron skillet in the kitchen, letting Maddy escape to freshen up.
     The smell of fried corncakes and jowl bacon met her halfway down the hall on her way back into the kitchen. "Daddy, you remembered. My favorite since I was big enough to eat it."
     "Of course, I remembered." 
    They ate until Maddy felt guilt creeping up her esophagus. High cholesterol here we come.
     "That was good." She wiped the crumbs from the table while Daddy put the dishes in the sink. "But I can't eat like this every day."
     "Why not?"
     Laughing, she patted her tummy, "This is why."
     Daddy pumped his biceps. "Won't hurt if you work it off."
     "Well I don't intend to work that hard and neither should you."
     The grandfather clock standing proudly in the nook between living room and kitchen chimed one time. "Say, it's still early in the day. You don't have to milk for a long time yet. Let's take a drive through the back roads like we did after church when we kids were little. I'll do the dishes and you do whatever you need to do before we leave." Maddy looked forward to the camaraderie with her daddy, but also hoped he might point out where some of Momma's old acquaintances lived.
     "Now that's a good idea. Your car or mine?" Howard Livingston beamed at his daughter.
     Maddy had a quick recollection of Daddy swerving around the curves since he'd gotten older. Once, she'd told Kenneth to be careful because he might meet Daddy coming from the opposite direction. "I'll drive, but you'll have to show me where."
     Maddy, Daddy and Welby loaded into the Pinto and headed for an afternoon excursion. Daddy scrunched his neck to get into the compact car.
     "Seems like old times, doesn't it?" Maddy said.
     "Yep, we did have some good times back then. Didn't have the money for nothing else. Stopped at the store, bought baloney, bread and a few cold drinks. Then we headed out. Parked the car at the first good shady spot along the side of the road to picnic. Me, Jenny Marie, and you younguns." Daddy stared out the window. "Been a long time since them days."
     Welby, put his paws on the back of the seat and swiped his tongue on Daddy's neck. Ducking his head, Daddy pushed the dog off him. "What'd you say his name was?"
     "Welby. I got him the same day "Marcus Welby, MD" left the air. Couldn't stand doing without my weekly dose of my favorite doctor, so I named my dog after him."
     Daddy turned his head to the back seat. "Welby, ole boy, I'd appreciate it if you'd stop tickling my neck."
     "Welby!" Maddy reprimanded, trying not to giggle.
     As they traveled the vaguely familiar roads, Daddy talked. "I don't get back to these parts much. Especially since your momma died, but my buddies keep me informed." Soon Maddy knew what Daddy had heard via his friends gathered around the courthouse square--who had moved away, who'd died and who moved in.
     "Can we drive past where Momma lived when she was growing up?" She needed to get Daddy talking about the past.
     "Yep, it's not too far from here." Daddy pointed out directions and Maddy followed them.
     It didn't take much cajoling to get Daddy reliving the "good ole days." His leathery face dropped away the years. "Junebug, when I met your momma, she lived 'bout a mile down this road, just around the next two bends and on top of that hill." He extended his ruddy arm through the open window and pointed up the road. "We courted for four months, and then we married. Didn't bother her none at all, me being ten years older'n her. We just went down to the court house and got ourselves hitched. Of course her pap had to sign the papers, her being under twenty-one."
     How many times had he told this story? She loved it as much today as ever.
     A tear brimmed in Daddy's eye, but the smile remained on his lips. "Lord knows, I loved that woman. And I know she cared a right smart about me." He glanced at Maddy. "I thought you and Kenneth had that kind of marriage. Thought you'd be together forever."
     Her eyes remained on the road in front of her as she drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "Guess we never found the right stitch to sew our marriage together like you and Momma did. It just raveled away at the seams."
     "Junebug, Jenny Marie and me had our ups and downs like all married people. And Kenneth seemed genuinely sorry for what he did. He was by your side every minute of the funeral. I just thought…"
     "I know all of this, Daddy. He says he's sorry and I believe him, but a marriage needs more than sorry. It needs trust, and I'll never trust Kenneth again." Maddy blinked the water out of her eyes. "I don't want to talk about Kenneth. We're getting a divorce and that's it." A rabbit scampered through the ditch. "Let's just enjoy our day."
     They rounded the second curve and climbed to the top of the hill where vestiges of the little unpainted tenant house remained in the center of a bare dirt yard. "This is where Jenny Marie lived when I first met her."
     "I remember Grandma Beech. I loved to go there when I was little." Maddy smiled as she recalled all the cousins, aunts and uncles gathering at her grandparents' home, children playing kick the can, ante over, and all the kid games. "I wish I'd lived closer when my Ashley was growing up. She missed out on a lot of family time."
     Reliving old memories was good but this trip headed nowhere as far as new information about the past. She prodded a little deeper. "Do any of Mama's friend still live around here?"
     "As I said, some done moved away or died. It's been a long time. Don't know what happened to the most of 'em." Daddy put his fist under his chin. "Hmmm. Wait just a minute now. The Widow Hensley. I'd plum forgot about her. She still lives over yonder." He gestured toward a stately old two story house nestled under an umbrella of two huge oak trees. "Yep, like a second momma to Jenny Marie, she was. She must be more than ninety-years old by now. Probably more like a hundred. Still lives by herself 'ceptin' her youngest girl comes by twice a day to check on her."
     "I remember Mrs. Hensley. Momma took me there when I was a little girl." Goosebumps covered her skin. An old friend of her mother's. Someone who knew her when she was young. Plans gusted like a whirlwind around and through her brain. Tomorrow, bright and early, she'd be pecking on this lady's front door with a list of questions.
     Daddy's top dentures over-bit his bottom lip as he hesitated for a second. "People say she's crazy as a loon. Don't know daylight from dark." He shook his head. "Such a shame."
     Maddy hit her brakes as the words struck her. Crazy as a loon. Mrs. Hensley was senile?

 Chapter Two 

     Maddy snuggled under Momma's handmade quilts into the same bed she'd slept in as a child. Welby tapped his tail on the floor beside her. She snapped her fingers. "Boy you gotta be quiet or Daddy'll put you outside with the coon hounds. Old Riley and Jake might not appreciate your company, and I know you wouldn't like theirs."
     Thinking how hard life had been for Daddy and how hard he'd worked to overcome the hand life had dealt him made Maddy proud. He didn't have much education because a tree had fallen on Peepaw Livingston's back while working in the log woods. All seven of the children had to quit school and go to work alongside of Big Granny in the fields. They didn't have disability or welfare back then. They worked at any job they could find to survive.
     Lack of education didn't stop Daddy from providing for his family. He worked for local farmers from before sun-up to past dark and eventually bought his own farm. There were many things Maddy wanted as she grew up and didn't get, but never did she remember being in need of anything. Daddy saw to it.
     No sooner had she burrowed into the covers than her eyes popped open. She reached down to scratch Welby's ear and her thoughts went to Kenneth. Why, after eighteen years of marriage, did he decide to be unfaithful? And why did she still miss him? "Miss him or not, divorce is the only answer. There's no excuse for infidelity is there, Welby?" The dog banged his tail on the carpet. "I'm glad you agree, boy. But why does it hurt so much when I think about him?"
     She stroked Welby's head and traded thoughts of Kenneth to ones about Mrs. Hensley. "Just my luck. The only living soul who might know Mama's secret has to be ready for the insane asylum. Well mad or not, Mrs. Hensley's all we got. Come tomorrow, you and I are going to call on a certain old lady. According to what I've read, the elderly aren't as senile early in the morning." Maddy chewed on the tip of her finger. "And besides, Daddy has only heard about her instability through neighborhood hearsay. He doesn't really know. Tomorrow, we'll find out for ourselves."
     The full moon peeked through the window. Crickets chirped and tree frogs croaked. Occasionally, a whippoorwill sang. Familiar sounds of home lulled her eyes heavy. The echoes and restless dreams which kept her awake until late at night also responded to the calm summer night.

  ***** 

     Maddy parked Welby and the Pinto in the shade of a giant elm and knocked on the front door. No answer. She walked around to the back. Chickens cackled and fled to the other side of the yard, then continued pecking for grit and bugs. A dwarf-size lady in her starched paisley housedress stood at the screen door wrapping strands of curly, cotton ringlets around her finger. Pasty eyes looked past Maddy and stared into space as though remembering a vision of some faraway place in another time. Her hand raised, Maddy stood, ready to knock on the door, but hesitated to break into the lady's dream world.
     After a minute, a glint of recognition lit up Mrs. Hensley's face. "Why, it's Jenny Marie. Child, come on in here." The white haired lady opened the screen door. "It's so good to see you. It's been such a long time."
     Tempted to go along with the charade, Maddy stepped inside the kitchen. It might mean she wouldn't learn anything at all, but she couldn't do it. She wouldn't deceive the lady. "Mrs. Hensley. I'm not Jenny Marie. I'm her daughter, Maddy. Momma died from a heart attack several months ago."
     "Jenny Marie is dead?" Mrs. Hensley buried her face in her hands, walked to the window and pushed back the yellow, daisy print curtains, letting in sunbeams bright as the buttery fabric. "She's too young to die. She's only a child. Such a sweet little thing." Mrs. Hensley sniffed into a cotton handkerchief with embroidered flowers in the corners.
     Cupping the lady's frail, thin fingers in her trembling hands, Maddy forced a calm front. "Mrs. Hensley, please don't be upset. Jenny Marie wasn't a little girl when it happened. She was almost sixty-years-old, still too young to die, I agree, but she wasn't a child."
     "She was?" Like a light bulb switched on, Mrs. Hensley returned to reality. "Of course she was, it's 1977 isn't it dear?"
     Maddy breathed a sigh of relief and reached for the hand Mrs. Hensley had removed A once genteel hand, now wrinkled and with prominent blood veins, yet still a trace of proper refinement. The lady appeared lucid. "I need so badly to speak to someone who knew Momma back then. Would you talk to me about her? Please."
     Mrs. Hensley seized Maddy with a big hug. "My goodness, child, come on in the sitting room and let me see Jenny Marie's daughter. Well, I do declare, you're almost a spitting image of her. Dark hair and gray eyes, only Jenny Marie was skinny as a rail."
     Whiffs of Ben Gay tingled Maddy's nostrils as she followed the minute woman down the hall past an open bedroom door into a sitting room filled with early American furniture. Bona fide antiques. Mrs. Hensley nodded for her to sit in a Chippendale rocker, as the lady graciously lowered herself into an identical chair and eagerly carried the conversation. "I've known your mother since she was a little tyke. Your grandmother was an angel, but your grandfather wasn't a very good family man. Jenny Marie was scared of him."
     Maddy didn't respond to the accusation. Grandpa Beech wasn't much of any kind of man. But she wasn't here to discuss her drunkard grandpa. She eased back into the original conversation. Even though Mrs. Hensley no longer appeared senile, she hesitated to push the lady too hard. "Tell me about Momma." Maddy prodded. "She was so pretty, did she have many boyfriends?"
     "There is one man. Jenny Marie sure is lucky to find him. He was a nice man--good to her, too." Little goose bumps raised all over her skin. Maddy leaned forward until the Chippendale nearly tilted from under her. Grasping the old trunk covered with a crocheted spread to right herself, she said, "Please tell me about him."
     Her voice a whisper, the tip of her forefinger flew to her mouth. Mrs. Hensley pushed her chin into her fist. "I think his name is Harold, Howard, or something like that. I believe she married him."
     Maddy's heart submerged to the bottom of her chest, but she managed to continue without showing her disappointment. "Yes, she married Howard Livingston. But can you think back before him? Maybe a year or so? Did she have another boyfriend?"
     Mrs. Hensley's eyes wandered. She pulled at a stray curl and spun it around her finger. "Jenny Marie, I'm sure glad you came by, but I must lie down now. I'm getting tired. It's nap time, dear. Do you take afternoon naps?"
     It was still early morning. Daddy had warned her Mrs. Hensley was senile, but she wanted information so badly she'd dared to hope.
     "Why honey, don't you act so disappointed now. You can come back another day." The elderly lady swiped Maddy's eyes with the embroidered handkerchief. "It'll be all right. You be a good girl, Jenny Marie, and run along. Tell your ma I said hello."
     Time had run out today. Maybe Mrs. Hensley would be more coherent another time. Maybe not. She got up to leave, and instinctively kissed the lady on her cheek.
     "I won't tell anybody. I promise." Mrs. Hensley shook her head from side to side.
     "Tell them what, Mrs. Hensley?"
     "You know. The boy in the mirror. I promise. My lips are sealed." She ran two fingers across her lips.
     "Please tell me. What about the boy-the one in the mirror?"
     Her eyes became cloudy again and her head bobbled. "I got to go to bed now," she mumbled as she turned her back and walked into the Ben Gay fumed bedroom.
     The boy in the mirror. What did it mean? Momma had a boyfriend, but in a mirror? Was Mrs. Hensley so senile she was making this up in her head? There couldn't be a real boy in a real mirror. It sounded like a fairy tale. Alice in Wonderland?
     "Come on, Welby." She patted the dog's head as she let him in the front seat with her. "What do you think, boy? Should I hang onto this tidbit of information and accept Mrs. Hensley may never answer my questions? Probably. But I intend to come back another morning. Maybe she'll be more responsive in a few days." Maddy started the car. "Welby, you know, I still got the attic. I'm hoping to get in there later this afternoon. I have a feeling about that attic."
     She left the Hensley home and drove to Four Springs to look for a good location for a shop, then returned to Willow Shade, parking at the end of the long winding drive. Daddy put lunch on the table as she came through the back screen door into the country kitchen. "Thanks, Daddy. But I planned to make lunch. I'm here to help you, remember? She crumbled some cornbread in her bowl. But I can't make vegetable soup like this."
     "Don't know what anybody can do to help me. I'm just passing time till I go to meet your momma." Daddy put the pan in the sink and wiped the crumbs off the counter.
     This wasn't like the Daddy she knew. "What's wrong? Wanta talk?"
     "Naw, I'm okay. Just went to the bank. Jim says I need to come in one day and go over tax records and stuff. Jenny Marie always helped with things like that. I can't read much and ain't too wise when it comes to business. I'm a farmer. I only know about crops and cows. Barely know how to sign my own name, let alone banking matters."
     "Daddy, I'll be happy to help if you want me to. Just you say when."
     "That'd be good Junebug, but you don't have to."
     "Yes, I do. You saw I received an education. Now the least I can do is use it to help you."
     Maddy had planned to search the attic but that would have to wait. "Caught any fish lately? Get your gear and let's go to the river." Fishing would cheer him if anything would.
     "You really want to go fishing? We ain't been fishing in a coon's age."
     "Well, speaking of coons, can Riley and Jake still tree a coon? We can give it a try one night, too." She finished wiping down the white chrome table top. She'd go coon hunting if Daddy needed her to, but she sure hoped he wouldn't take her up on the offer.
     Daddy stood speechless in the center of the kitchen floor. A twitch moved the right side of his mouth. "Now I know you're just trying to make me feel good."
     "Well, maybe I am, but I need the pick me up, too." Maddy walked around the table and put her arms around the man who had been a father to her for as long as she could remember.
     "You convinced me. You go on up and get out of them city clothes while I dig around in the worm bed and get us some bait and poles."
     Like two children in identical straw hats, Maddy with her rod and reel and Daddy with his cane pole jumped into the farm pick-up and bumped across the field toward the back waters of the Jasper. Maddy held onto her hat with one hand and clenched the dashboard with the other.
     "Junebug, I hope you'll stay on awhile at Willow Shade." Daddy's hat tipped to the back of his head as they bounced over a rut in the field. "You know you can stay right here on the farm and you won't have to look for your own place. This house is big enough for the both of us. The dog'd be welcome too. He seems to be well behaved. Better than some of my grandkids." Daddy laughed through his nose, making a scratchy sound kin to a giggle. Maddy had always been amazed a macho man like her dad would actually giggle, but that was the only thing she could call it--a man-giggle.
     A smile crept across her face. "I'll probably stay here for a while anyway. I scouted around for a good location to open a store while I was out this morning. Think I found one. I wanted to ask your opinion on something. There's not too much around here to draw historical attention. I was thinking about not only opening an antique and quilt shop but have some kind of memorabilia. Something different. Something with a piece of Logan County history."
     "Sounds good but not much ever happens here. We're born, live and die. That's about the size of it. Kentucky didn't even join the North or the South in the War Between the States. However, people round here seemed to be partial to the South so all the saying goes." Daddy pulled the truck into a shady spot near the river. "What about here? Used to be our favorite fishing hole." They scampered down the bank. Over the years she and Daddy had spent hours under the shade of these two willow trees, Daddy telling tall tales and pulling out bluegills.
     "Gonna be good fishing today." He retrieved two buckets from a thicket and turned them upside down to sit on after walking around and staring into the river.
     They cast their lines into the stream where Daddy swore he could see little circles in the water telling him bluegills were close to the top looking for food. She didn't argue, because he always came home with a string full of them. Welby lay silent with his nose in Maddy's lap, as if trained to respect the fishing hole.
     She looked out over the river, tightened her line and turned back to her earlier conversation about the shop. "You know Jesse James' family lived here in Logan County before moving to Missouri. I'm not too fond of building up an outlaw gang but if they're part of our history…"
     "Lotta folks don't consider them outlaws. They think James was a hero. You know, like that Robin Hood fellar." Daddy scratched his head. "Think they lived somewhere around Adairville. The daddy was a preacher. Went to college up in Georgetown."
     There wasn't much about Logan County Daddy didn't know. Actually, he knew pretty much about every inch of Kentucky. She wondered if he knew who her father was. But she couldn't ask. Not now anyway.
     Daddy turned somber again. "Junebug, I been thinking. It's best if you don't go cleaning up the attic. I'd kinda like it to stay just the way it is. Jenny Marie kept all her stuff up there you know. I think I'll just leave it like she left it."
     Now what was she supposed to do?

 *****

     A disheveled man wearing a green John Deere hat, scuffed cowboy boots and baggy jeans barely covering the top of his under shorts, stood in the shadows. That's Jenny Marie Beech's daughter. Just talked to her this morning in Louisville. Wonder what she's doing down here and how much she knows. Hope I don't have to kill her to find out.

About the Author





Jean Thompson Kinsey resides near Louisville, Kentucky. Her short creative writing can be found in various periodicals, newspapers, and anthologies such as Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Jean began writing novels in 2005 after becoming a widow at the age of sixty-five. Her first novel was published in 2012 by Desert Breeze Publishing. She enjoys reading, writing, teaching Sunday school and traveling, but mostly she enjoys her three children and eight grandchildren.

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Jean Thompson Kinseyl is giving away a copy of Secrets of Willow ShadeTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.






10 comments:

cjajsmommy said...

Oh, this is good, real good! I MUST read this book (and I say that rarely). Please enter my name for the giveaway. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this story ;)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Patty said...

The first chapter has me hooked! Please enter me in the drawing.

Patty
pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

apple blossom said...

thanks for the chance to win

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Nancee said...

Secrets of Willow Shade sounds like a wonderful story. I haven't read anything by Jean yet, but this sounds like something I thoroughly enjoy. Thank you for featuring her and the contest for a copy of her book!
Nancee
quiltcat26[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

KayM said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of Secrets of Willow Shade.
may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

Marianne Barkman said...

This sounds totally intriguing. i would love to win!

mitziUNDERSCOREwanhamATyahooDOTcom

Library Lady said...

I would love to win the book, "Secrets of Willow Shade" to add to our church library collection.
Thanks for the opportunity to do so.
Janet E.
von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...


Nice to meet you Jean. You are new to me, but sounds like a very good book. Thanks Karen. I will try to win a copy! Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Teela said...

Thanks for the chance to win your book, Jean. I LOVE to read and this would be my first of yours to read, and I'm so grateful for the gals here at the BarnDoorLoft for showcasing you so that people like me can get a chance to read your stories! Teelayoung@hotmail.com

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