Yes, I’m well aware that it’s only been a few months since the release of Cleaning House – An Appalachian Contemporary Fantasy, but I’m spending the month of November featuring it in my #TBT series because of the impending release of the second title in the series, the novella Mama, Me, & the Holiday Tree. It’s always good to relive the past, even the recent past, so I’ll be sharing Chapter One from Cleaning House throughout the month.
The section in yellow comes from last week’s post.
“Who is it?” She peered through the peephole.
“Delivery for Centenary Rhodes.” The messenger held up the envelope that’d been tucked under their arm. Ruddy-brown, almost earth-toned skin, hair that went everywhere but was short enough to go nowhere— this messenger was, well, different on so many levels. And, their, yes, their. She’d learned long ago not to make assumptions about anyone, especially those she found herself attracted to.
Interesting. “Lemme see your ID.”
“Sure.” The messenger held up the card tethered to their waist. “I need your signature.”
“Gimme a moment.” Cent opened the locks and chains slower than she’d closed them. Another summons. It has to be. She’d been sued three times in the last two months for debts she accrued during her good job. A ten-thousand-dollar judgment for the car. Another thousand for breaking her lease before she was evicted. She’d been forced to adopt the blood-from-a-turnip method of dealing with her debt spiral. You can’t get what I don’t have to begin with.
“Sign here.” The messenger held out an old-fashioned, lined-paper signature board. “Nice neighborhood.” Their voice held a muddled accent. Maybe European, but Cent couldn’t be certain. “I would not want to be here after dark.”
“You and me both.” Cent took the envelope when the messenger held it out. “Thanks.” Her heart fluttered when she peered up into their face to see piercing dark brown eyes that were inquisitive, seeking but easily humored by the way one brow over those eyes cocked.
“Make certain you lock up tight.” The messenger lingered at the door to stare back at her. “Can I do anything else for you?”
I’ll have more for you next week.
A dozen handmade holiday ornaments, that’s all, but it might be an impossible task.
Centenary Rhodes and her mother are at constant odds. It’s one of the many reasons Cent left home when she was eighteen. Mama’s difficult for anyone to manage, but now that Cent’s back home, she has to try. Mama, however, won’t acknowledge who Cent’s become, even though she’s repeatedly been shown the truth.
It’ll take more than popcorn strings and paper snowflakes to heal the rift that’s formed between Cent and Mama. It’s going to take bushels of patience, heaps of magic, and assistance from everyone on both sides of Embreeville Mountain to reset the Balance between them.
But with Yule and Christmas just around the corner, it might already be too late.
Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree is available in both print and ebook formats.