Hi, everyone! I just wanted to give you all an update on The Sinner in Mississippi. This manuscript which is a historical, inspirational romance has been completed. Yes, those two little words, "The End" have been typed, so while that celebration happens, the beta reading and editing process begins, and I'm one step closer to publication!
In the meantime, I thought I'd share a couple of inspiration pics for my hero, Thayer Drayton King, and my heroine, Mississippi Singleton. Oh, and an unedited sneak peek for you to enjoy, too.
Enjoy and unedited snippet of The Sinner in Mississippi
I know Mr. King said he knew my family, but when the Duesenberg curved up my drive without any ‘turn here’ instruction on my part, I had no doubt he’d been tellin’ the gospel truth. He knew right where we lived. Although, there wasn’t any time to dwell on the subject since two boys stood, toe-to-toe, engaged in a fistfight—front and center—taking my gaze in their direction. And, of course, there was Daddy, Danny Joe, and the others, clapping and cheering from the porch—their hoots and hollers seeping through the metal and glass of the car we were in.
Alistair Blevins and Gator were trading punches.
When the kicking started, Alistair threw a fancy uppercut—connecting with Gator’s jaw—the boy falling like fresh-chopped timber. One would suspect—him being sprawled out on the ground—that was the end of it, but mean ol’ Alistair jumped on Gator like a duck on a junebug and started beating the stuffing out of him.
Mr. King couldn’t believe the goings-on since he muttered, “What in the world?”
Seeing such events at my home didn’t surprise me—I’d been witness to it all before, but I imagined such a brutal sight was a shock to him.
My heart sank.
Even though none of what was happening in the yard was my fault, I still felt the need to say, “I’m sorry.” And I meant it.
My kind rescuer and escort looked at me, grim lines taking up space on his forehead. “Stay here.”
The man, bless him, thought he was somehow protecting me, though he needn’t bother. I was ready to tell him so when he scrambled out of the car.
An instant later, I tossed my change purse and empty bottle and started to open my door when Charles said, “Mr. King will be upset if you step foot out of this vehicle,” halting my progress.
Door half open and ready to hurry out, I glanced at the man twisted in his seat, staring at me—mouth turned down.
“Mr. King shouldn’t get involved,” I said with certainty.
He shook his dark-haired head. “I’m afraid it’s way too late.”
That’s when my daddy’s voice floated to me. “If ya come to collect, I’m gonna need a little more time.”
Not caring who got upset, I scurried out of the car—intent on getting Mr. King out of there and hopefully in one piece.
“Daddy,” I called, keeping my attention fixed on him, only heading toward the man I assumed was ready to break up the fight.
Gray eyes shifted, tracking me, and then Daddy smiled. “Sippi!”
I stutter-stepped to a stop—puzzled. In all my days, not once had I seen my daddy crack so much as a grin, let alone glad to see me.
“Mississippi,” Mr. King said, stepping to where I stood—baffled—wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me, but no, Daddy Bruce did know how to smile. “I told you to stay put.”
Glancing up at him, I blinked, my thoughts returning to the issue at hand—his foolish belief he could shelter me from reality would get him hurt.
I couldn’t allow it.
“You should leave,” I said under my breath, eyes narrowing, but Daddy heard me.
“Aw…come now, Sippi.” He stepped off the porch, ambling over. “Mr. King has only just arrived. Might as well be hospitable.”
Everything came to a stop—the one-sided-fight, the commotion my brother and the boys had been making. Even the breeze ceased to exist. It was so quiet, I swear the tha-thump, tha-thump of my racing heart could be heard by one-and-all as Mr. King and my daddy eyed each other.
When the echo of a car door closing came from behind us, Daddy Bruce snapped his fingers. “Boys, help Gator get cleaned up and get him home!”
Without a grumble, they gathered him—the clacking screen door of the house indicating their exit. Though I was under no illusion—they’d be back, sticking their noses into things where they didn’t belong.
With a quick peek over my shoulder, Charles stood a few steps from the shiny black car, making his presence known, but he didn’t move. Though a hefty man, I suspected if need be, he’d waste no time getting to Mr. King’s side.
While having a backup should have been one less fear, it wasn’t. I had firsthand knowledge when it came to the cruelty of my daddy, Danny Joe, and his awful friends, knowing the cultured man by me, and his driver was outnumbered.
Hand lifted, ready to tug Mr. King’s arm—dragging him off if I had to—I froze, hearing, “I heard you had an unexpected visitor, Bruce.” Dudley McCoy came out of the house, coming to the top step.
All the blood left my face, and I swayed. He was meaner than a rabid dog—I had a scar on the side of my forearm, courtesy of the blazing orange tip of his cigarette, to prove it.
“Tell me,” Dudley said. “What would bring such an esteemed gentleman such as yourself out this way, Mr. King?”
That wasn’t good, especially when my daddy smirked like the weathered gargoyle perched on top of the jailhouse and crossed his arms.
“Mr. King,” I said, “you really should—”
“Hush,” Daddy hissed at me, heartlessness sparking in his eyes. “Let the men-folk talk.”
My misguided protector placed his hand on my shoulder, squeezing me. “It’s all right, Mississippi.”
Glancing up, I pleaded with my eyes. No, it’s not. You need to go before things get out of hand.
“Funny thing,” Daddy said, pulling my gaze to him. “Who knew ya were acquainted with my daughter, Mr. King?”
“The two of them seem quite cozy.” Dudley stepped off the porch and over to the three of us as if he was on a Sunday stroll.
“Sure looks like it,” my daddy agreed. “Too cozy I’m-a thinkin’.”
“He gave me a ride,” I said. “We only just met.”
Daddy’s glare came at me, lip snarling. “Was I talkin’ to ya?”
I swallowed. “No, but I—”
“Then shut up!”
“Mr. Singleton,” Mr. King said, sternly. “There is no need to speak to your daughter that way.”
“She’s mine. I’ll speak to her any way I wish.”
“I would think,” Mr. King said, “as your flesh and blood, you would show some respect, not only how you speak to her, but also refraining from taking part in unfounded implications. Mississippi is simply correct in telling you; I gave her a ride. There’s nothing untoward here. It’s much too hot for man or beast to be walking such a distance.”
“So that’s the way of it, huh?”
Daddy had been smartin’ off, but Mr. King took it in stride. “It is, Mr. Singleton.”
“I figure,” Dudley tossed in, “you protest too much, especially over someone you just met. Why should it matter to you how a man speaks to his kin?”
“I’m simply pointing out, Mr. McCoy, such behavior toward Mississippi isn’t necessary or warranted.”
So he also knows Dudley.
Daddy held up a hand to stop the conversation, then pointed to Mr. King. “When it comes to me and my own, I’ll thank ya to mind your own dadgum business!”
Thayer Drayton King smiled wide as if he held the winning hand in one of those back-room games of poker my daddy loved. “It would seem you are my business, sir.”
“Ah…now we get to the heart of the matter.” Daddy scratched his cheek. “Money, money, money.”
“It’s the root of all evil.” Dudley shared a knowing look with my daddy before he stared back at Mr. King.
“I already told ya I need more time.” Daddy shook his head. “I can’t give ya what I don’t have.”
“Seems to me,” Dudley chimed in once again, “you have a golden opportunity here, Bruce.”
“Simple. Mr. King appears to be smitten by your daughter.” His bushy eyebrows wiggled like a caterpillar on the move. “Let him take her. A daughter for a debt.”
Everything in my body iced over—my ears the only thing working as “E-s-c-u-s-e m-e?” came from beside me.
“Yes,” my daddy said, rubbing his hands together, “a daughter for a debt. She’s no use ’round here anyway.” He glanced my way, empty of all emotion. “Take her, and we’ll call it even.”
“Have you two lost your wits suggesting such a thing?”
Mr. King’s question was the last I paid any mind ’cause something in me thawed, and I took off like a frightened jackrabbit—running for the trees—not knowing where I’d go or what I’d do when I got there.
Maybe Fawna-Leigh will take me in?
“Mississippi!” my daddy yelled, “I’m-a gonna tan your worthless hide!”
I didn’t dare look back; I could lose him in the thicket. So the tangle of bushes in the distance became my goal.
“You can run, little mouse, but you can’t hide!” Dudley taunted.
Not too far behind me, a commotion took place, and I pushed myself harder—heaving breaths, arms pumping, those church shoes I wore smack, smack, smacking the ground.
You’re almost there, Sippi!
Perhaps it was the crushing heat, the sugary drink I’d downed running out, and my food-deprived body kicking in that caused my head to spin. Or maybe, I just tripped over my own feet, but whatever it was, I went airborne—pretty sure the scream surrounding me was my own ’til I landed on my stomach with an oomph—my side burning like fire and the bottom of my chin hitting something with a head-rattling thwack before the world went away.
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