Vickie King, author of the fantastic new series The Braddocks has stopped by this morning to share some interesting tidbits about the unique little town of Corrigan that you won’t find in Carly’s Rule or Dusty’s Fate, and perhaps something about herself as well.
Welcome Vickie, it’s nice to have you visiting my virtual beach bungalow this morning. You must be pretty excited about the release of book #2 in the Braddocks series. I got to wondering about this town called Corrigan. I know there’s a lake there and a delightful pastry shop along with beautiful old homes. Tell us a little more about Corrigan and the people we might meet there.
Thank you, Skye. I’m happy to be here. Yes, I was extremely excited to see the release of Dusty’s Fate.
Corrigan is bits and pieces of different towns where I’ve visited and even lived. It’s a place where I would want to live. The older sections of Corrigan are truly neighborhoods. It’s where families have known their neighbors for years. Their children have gone to school together from kindergarten to graduation. Families get together to have cook outs. But the lake has been a draw, so Corrigan is growing. There are also a few newer housing developments and more businesses.
Luke Donovan returned in Carly’s Rule, hired by the historical society to restore an old building in town as well as work the old Thaxton House for his friend. What’s the history of Corrigan? Are there any historical sites I might want to visit - in my imagination of course?
Yes, there is a small castle built in the late 1800’s. There’s a story behind this, but you’ll have to wait until Landon’s story comes out to find out the history.
Are the Thaxton House and Brian Thaxton going to be featured in a future book? Carly and Luke bought the Thaxton house and renovated it. At this point, Brian doesn’t come back into the story, but you never know.
We all met Dusty in Carly’s Rule and I am so glad to finally have a chance to read his story. Tell us a little about Dusty (and the lady he’s going to fall in love with.)
Since his wife died, Dusty has lost his way. He took too many risks. He’s tired of his family hovering over him, as if they feared his grief would propel him off the deep end at any moment.
Julianna “Jules” Donovan is definitely a loner and fiercely independent. As a foster kid, she used to want a family, but she’s had enough families to last a lifetime. So she is not waiting on some Prince Charming to come along. Unlike her mother, Jules will do anything to protect her child.
Anything else you’d like to share either about yourself, Carly’s Rule, Dusty’s Fate or book number 3 – is there a title yet?
Book #3 is about Landon and Roxie. The working title is Landon’s Hope. Of course, that could always change.
For everyone who’s read Carly’s Rule – is Carly ever going to recreate that cookie recipe?
She will if I can ever find the recipe. LOL. You see, that recipe truly exists. My mom used to make it when I was a little girl. If we find the recipe, I’ll definitely post it.
Perhaps you’d like to share a teaser with us here and a link so we can hop right on over and buy the whole book once our interest has been piqued.
Skye, thank so much for having me. Your blog is sensational, and I think that being able to write in front of a window that overlooks the beach is amazing. Although I’d probably be one of those people who does more gazing out the window at that beautiful scenery than writing.
Actually, Vickie, I do a fair amount of daydreaming looking out that window, but some of that can be productive if I'm plotting things in my head. The bigger distraction is that I live on the corner where everyone in my nieghborhood goes by to get to the beach. And they always wave and if the window is open, say Hi. My dog, sociable being that he is, insists on not only himself going out to greet them, but I have to go out to greet them with him. He keeps nudging my wrist until I give up trying to type and get up to go out with him and be sociable.
If anyone would like to read a teaser, here is a bit of the first chapter. I’m also including the link to the book on Amazon. It’s available in print or e-book. Thanks for allowing me to share this. Below are also links to my facebook page and blog.
Link to Dusty’s Fate on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ofubxbn
Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/jvkn37b
West Virginia Private Investigator, Dusty Braddock, takes a job to put some distance between him and his hovering family, who believe he’s on a downhill path to disaster. Three years ago, Dusty's wife and unborn child were killed in car accident. He hadn’t been behind the wheel, but he believed he'd killed his wife and the baby growing inside her as surely as if he had been. The guilt consumes him and festers in his heart.
Foster system survivor Jules Donovan wants to find a guardian for her son, to assure a stable family life for him should anything happen to her. The likeliest candidate is a man who may be her brother. Getting to know this man and his family is Jules' priority, but could leave her vulnerable if a DNA test proves they are not, after all, related.
Dusty's family is connected to Jules' efforts, and the case puts him in the middle of her problematic life. Yet, he can’t seem to walk away from her or her son.
Jules wants to belong to someone. No one has ever truly cared about her, or said I love you. Now, the only man who ever made her feel like she belongs wants more than she can give. But can she ever go back to her normal life if trusting him proves to be a mistake?
When looking for a missing person, experience had taught Dusty Braddock to be prepared for anything, but nothing could have prepared him for the woman standing in the doorway of the garage apartment.
Something about those vivid blue eyes windowed an old soul, or maybe she could actually see into his soul, into the blackness of the guilt that would be forever anchored there. Nauseated that his own blame never strayed far from his mind, he scrambled internally to put his thoughts together.
“Julianna Donovan?” Between two fingers, he held up the beige business card he’d picked up at The Artist’s Mall in Scottsdale where she sold her pottery.
He saw the moment the young woman in the loose-fitting khaki shorts and clay-smudged tee shirt recognized it as hers. She had to be asking herself how he’d gotten her home address, when only her name, web address, and phone number were listed on the card. As a private investigator, her physical address had been the easy part for him.
She stared at him as if she were memorizing his features in case she had to identify him in a lineup or describe him to a sketch artist. “That’s me. But customers aren’t allowed at my workshop, and I don’t sell any pottery out of here . . . ever.”
Yeah, well, he wasn’t all that friggin’ excited to be here either, but he had a job to do.
“If you need something special made, place your order through the website, through the Artist’s Mall, or call the number on the card.” The woman took a single step back from the doorway.
The motion released a waft of blessed coolness from inside that teased his skin, which had been heated by the blazing Arizona sun. He glimpsed the potter’s wheel behind her, evidence that the ground floor of the two-story garage unit served as a workroom.
“About that,” he blurted out quickly for fear she might close the door in his face and secretly wishing she would so he could get on with his life. “This is too important for a phone call.” He pulled one of his own business cards from his shirt pocket and then handed it to her.
She took it, regarded it warily and frowned. “A private investigator?”
“I’ve been hired to find Betsy Donovan. You’re her daughter, right?”
Her eyes widened, big and round like the deer back home in West Virginia, when headlights spellbound them in the dark. Within seconds, the initial surprise drained from her eyes, leaving a guardedness that bordered on defiance.
“Betsy Donovan gave birth to me, but she’s been dead for years. Why are you looking for her? If she had old debts—”
“I know she passed away. I’m sorry about that.” He had a copy of the death certificate in his messenger bag. “This isn’t about money, though.”
“My client hired me to find his mother, Betsy Donovan.”
On a sigh that appeared to be born more of relief than frustration, some of the tension drained from her face, putting a little more natural color into her high cheeks, enhancing that earthy, scrubbed clean look about her. Her lips curved in a slightly crooked tilt, and for the first time, he noticed the resemblance to his brother-in-law, Luke. Dusty’s stomach twitched. Not just any twitch, but that old, familiar, sit-up-and-pay-attention hitch he’d always gotten when he was on the right track. He hadn’t experienced it in a long time.
“Has to be a different Donovan. I don’t have any siblings, Mister . . . .” She looked at his card again. “Mr. Braddock.”
“Dusty will do.” Sensing more than seeing her withdrawing from the conversation, he glanced behind him at the old-fashioned glider on the open breezeway that connected the garage apartment to the house next door. He motioned toward the seat. “Maybe we could sit for a minute.” He hated to do business under the unspoken threat of a door about to be shut in his face.
“Why? Your Betsy Donovan wasn’t my mother. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
How he wished he could excuse her and be on his way, but since he’d accepted this case mainly to get away from his family’s hovering, he only had himself to blame. “Give me two minutes, and then I’ll go.”
She sighed, looked over her shoulder. He got a glimpse of the dark braid that fell down her back to her waist. Then she stepped out pulling the door nearly closed, yet never taking her hand from the doorknob. Guess he had his two minutes.
“Years ago, my client’s mother left a six-year-marriage and a five-year-old son behind in Texas. The son hired me to find out what happened to his mother.” Dusty couldn’t fault his brother-in-law, Luke, for wanting that closure. At least someone in the family would be able to put their past to rest.
“Well, there you go. The woman who gave birth to me wouldn’t have stayed with the same man for six months, much less six years. Now, please—”
“I’ve followed the trail of my client’s mother from Texas to Arizona. Was your mother born in Texas? If she had lived, would she have been forty-eight years old this year?”
Her eyes widened, but only for a few seconds.
With the exception of the rattle and hum from the ancient air conditioner poking out of the window only a few feet from him and releasing a constant drip, the seconds rode out in silence.
Her shoulders sagged a little. “Let me make this easy for you. My mother was an alcoholic. She stole, turned tricks, and did whatever she could to get booze. She never had a normal life with a husband and a son. You have the wrong person."
No love lost between this mother and daughter. “I don’t think so. I think you’re the right Julianna Donovan. It’s possible you and my client, Luke Donovan, share the same mother.” Without an actual DNA test, Dusty had only his research and gut instincts to go on.
“Think about it,” Dusty continued. “How many Betsy Donovans born in Texas nearly forty-eight years ago had a daughter named Julianna?” No coincidences. “I’ve done my research, and all the pieces fit. I have a copy of your mother’s death certificate, and it lists she had two live births. I also know that after Betsy’s death, her daughter, Julianna, grew up in foster care. Were you in foster care?”
“Yes, but . . . .” As her voice trailed off, he could practically see the woman mentally sorting through the bits of information, taking in the news that she might have a sibling.
Luke had given Dusty enough history that offered the possibility Betsy had been pregnant when she left her marriage. Julianna could very well be, not just a half-sister to Luke, but a full sister.
When Julianna didn’t comment further, Dusty knew he’d have to carry the conversation. “Does this change your mind at all about the possibility that we’re talking about the same Betsy Donovan?”
She lifted her chin a notch. “I think we’re done here.”
Searching his mind to find something she could relate to, he latched onto her stint in foster care, because it meant she’d had no one else. “I would think you’d like to know if you have relatives.”
“You’d be wrong.” Her gaze hardened, until her eyes reminded him of the icy blue, prize marbles he’d had as a boy, yet something shadowed there in those eyes, something that tugged at him.
He could kick himself for not getting the name of her foster family, if nothing else than to help with her acceptance of the situation, but he hadn’t been at all sure how far he’d be taking this for Luke. No matter what she said, his gut told him that since she’d been a foster kid, she’d be hungry for family, regardless of whether her foster years had been a good or a bad experience.
He opened the well-worn leather messenger bag, preferring it to the fussy new briefcase his parents had gotten him last Christmas, and pulled out a manila envelope. “I’d like to show you some photos of my client and his family. They were meant for your mother, in the event I had found her. I won’t take up a lot of your time, but I think it would be a shame not to at least look at them.”
Dusty had asked Luke to gather a few photos. There weren’t any pictures of Luke’s mother. He believed his father had destroyed them all. They’d been gone since Luke was a kid, so Dusty had selected a few of Luke as a boy and several more recent ones.
The woman stared at the envelope. After some hesitation, she looked up. “Mr. Braddock, I’m sorry. I can’t help you or your client.”
“Can’t or won’t?” What would make her not want to find out for certain if she had relatives?
“It doesn’t really matter, since the result will be the same. I’m sorry.” She slipped into the coolness of the workroom and closed the door. Something intrigued him about that whispery lilt to her voice, and he knew it would stick in his head for a while.
With trembling hands, Jules Donovan flipped the lock on the workroom door, and then hurried to the window to look out. The private investigator crossed the street and got into a dark sedan.
Unsettled, she lifted her hand to cover her mouth. A brother? Was it really possible? If it were true, how could she have gone her whole life without knowing, without her mother mentioning him even once? It didn’t make sense.
In her early years, she’d wanted a family more than she’d wanted her next meal. She’d wanted a mother who cared, who gave warm hugs, and who whispered words of comfort at night to keep the boogieman at bay, which usually came in the form of one of her mother’s drunken boyfriends. It hadn’t taken Jules long to have that dream squashed by reality, and it still made her quake to realize how close she’d come to being violated as a youth.
She kept a microwave in her workroom and went to it now to heat water for a cup of chamomile tea to take away the jitters. She punched the button for ninety seconds and then leaned against the worktable.
No way could anyone convince Jules that her mother had ever led a normal life with a husband and a child. Not the woman she knew, the woman who lived out of a bottle and rarely acknowledged her own daughter. At the absurd idea, Jules nearly laughed. Nearly.
She made the tea, sipped at it and willed it to calm her, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the visit from the private investigator
Like coarse sandpaper, painful memories of her childhood scratched the surface of her mind. She didn’t need anyone else in her life. She had a few good friends, and she had her son. At the moment, he jabbered in the playpen she kept set up so she could watch him while she worked. Long ago, she’d put to rest the need for someone to love and comfort her.
Now, that same need, which had lain dormant for years, began to pulse inside her once again, growing with intensity. She huddled in a corner of the workbench, drew her knees to her chest and prayed for the feeling to go away, just as she’d done so many times as a child.
Her only solace—the safety of her workroom below her cheerful garage apartment sheltered her, instead of her taking refuge in the closet of that tiny, dirty apartment she’d shared with Betsy.
Dusty sat in a corner booth of a steakhouse near his hotel and took a pull on the bottle of cold beer. Even if he couldn’t forget her eyes, the woman he’d met today wasn’t very approachable and not at all receptive to the idea she had a brother. He could call Luke, give him the news that his mother had died years ago, but that he might have a sister. No might about it. He did have a sister. Dusty saw too much likeness and too many similarities for it to be coincidence. Then he could turn it all over to Luke and let him take it from there. Case closed.
The right thing to do would be to see this through to the end. At one time, Dusty would have done exactly that without a second thought. But that man didn’t exist anymore. He didn’t want to make the effort to try to convince this woman she had a brother. If he couldn’t fix his own life, what made him think he could fix anyone else’s?
The old Dusty was dead and buried along with his wife, and it had nothing to do with the grief he should feel for her—the grief that his own family thought rooted his demise over the past three years. Fearing he might plunge off the deep end at any moment, they watched him too closely. They thought he was simply going through the grieving process, still mourning the loss of his wife and child. If only they knew the truth. Guilt outweighed his grief by far.
How could he properly grieve for a woman whose blood covered his hands?
Vickie King is from a small town in West Virginia. She transplanted to Florida in 1994, and while she loves living in the sunshine state, now and then she misses watching the seasons go through their changes. If she closes her eyes, she can still imagine herself standing on the deck of their family home, staring out over the hills and valleys that will always be a part of her.
Vickie is previously published in short fiction with both romance and mystery for Woman’s World Magazine. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and is active in her local chapter, Ancient City Romance Authors (ACRA), where she is a past president.
Presently, Vickie is working on a third contemporary romance in The Braddocks series. Book One, Carly’s Rule, was released in September 2013. Book Two, Dusty’s Fate was released in May 2014.
On a personal note, Vickie has four grown children, five grandchildren, and a Chihuahua named Bentley. She has the best family and friends anyone could have.
It's been great fun having Vickie over to visit my virtual beach bunaglow with the ocean at our feet. I hope you've enjoyed meeting her and a few of the characters in her books. If you haven't read Carly's Rule - you've missed a really good story.
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