Ready for a sneak peek of Trapped in Deepwater? Here you are! I'm so excited to share it with you. Want to hear an embarrassing story along with it? It'd written the WHOLE book with a different town name, because I'd looked on a map and just fixated on one town. And then...while going over my proof copy of Mathilda...yep. I'd named it Midway. So, I changed it to Deepwater, both because Deepwater IS a place is Missouri, and also because of the pun. She's about to get herself into some deep water...
1872 Somewhere in Missouri
“Bad luck,” the driver of the stagecoach called. Laura looked up from where she’d just been contemplating a doze to make the journey pass by faster. Of course there was bad luck. It followed her everywhere she went. No matter she’d been traveling for nearly a week nonstop, it still caught up to her.
From the worm in her apple and the mold on her bread, to the hole in her shoe and now whatever this was. She’d never be able to escape the curse that wouldn’t leave her alone. Really, she shouldn’t be surprised. She’d had bad luck for as long as she could remember.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, finally finding her voice. As the only passenger on the stagecoach, it was obvious the driver was talking to her.
“Damaged axle,” he told her through the coach window. “And a lame horse. Never had this happen before.”
Laura pressed her lips together and gave a short nod. A traveling bad luck charm, that’s what she was. The poor horse. She hoped it wasn’t suffering too much. “Can we trade her out and fix the coach to keep going?” she asked.
The driver shook his head. “Don’t think so, miss. Not today, anyway. There’s a town ahead called Deepwater, and I think if we go real slow we’ll make it there before nightfall. But I’m not sure how long it will take to get you headed to your destination.”
Taking a deep breath filled with irritation, Laura nodded. It wasn’t the driver’s fault. She shouldn’t get upset. “Do I need to walk?” she asked.
“No, since it’s just you, sit, but don’t move a lot,” came the reply as the driver vanished. She felt the coach sway slightly as he climbed into the driver’s seat. With a shout to the horses, the coach jerked forward, then settled into a crawl.
If she walked, she’d get there faster. There wasn’t really a reason to hurry, though. What would be waiting for her? More bad luck, that’s likely what.
Laura looked through the small window as the landscape creeped by. It was almost Christmas. She was glad. Not for Christmas, because there wouldn’t be anyone to celebrate it with, but because that meant the end of the year. And perhaps the start of one that wasn’t filled with so many terrible things. One could hope, anyway.
Something seemed to press in Laura’s backside and she shifted, then shifted again. The thin cushion under her slid a little. As she moved to put it back in its place, it slid off. A long crack, revealing a compartment of some sort, stared at her.
Laura ran her finger over it. What is this? Extra access to the boot? Everyone knows that anything valuable is kept with the driver at his feet.
It wasn’t difficult to pry up the wood, and overcome with curiosity, Laura raised the lid of the compartment a crack, then a little more. This was the most interesting thing she’d done in days. What could be inside?
Peering into the hidden compartment, her breath caught. Silver bars shone in a fading ray of sunshine.
Swiftly, her heart pounding in fear, she replaced the lid, returned the cushion, and sat stock still. They were carrying silver. Worse than that, it was in her seat. No wonder the driver wanted to keep going. They were a target for highwaymen!
As the horses plodded forward, at a crawl any sturdy toddler could surpass, the thought of a short nap fled. Instead, tension filled Laura’s shoulders. No longer irritated at the idea of a stopover, she couldn’t wait to get out of the coach.
She’d heard of stagecoach hold-ups in the newspapers back east. It was not something she wanted to have on her list of experiences.
Impatiently, she stared out the window, willing the town to come sooner. She prayed they’d make it. Perhaps there would be a sheriff. Another coach. One without cargo that made them a target. It was Christmas…that was supposed to be a time of miracles, wasn’t it?
So far, this journey had been anything but.
Want to keep reading? Trapped in Deepwater releases July 14th! You can get your copy here:
In my new quick read, Frances, you’ll meet Cecil, the proud owner of a 1920s Ford Truck riddled with bullet holes and some extra gadgets, installed by the bootleggers he bought it from about twenty years after they modified it.
While Cecil himself isn’t a bootlegger, when I was learning a little more about this real-life vehicle he was driving, I was pretty surprised at all of the upgrades moonshiners put in their vehicles.
From kill switches and toggles to make the car’s brake lights and headlights completely dark, to adjusting the brakes to sit high and allow for hairpin turns, to secret compartments in everything from the seats to the floor, moonshine creators were prepared for anything to get their precious cargo through to the buyer.
But what happened to those vehicles after there was no longer a need to be running liquor? People like Cecil bought these cars, kept some of the modifications (or didn’t) and took their girls riding on the weekends.
Cecil is, and as a car enthusiast, he’s about to make Frances a little nervous! Read this excerpt, and tell me if you’d feel the same as she does!
Frances waited nervously in front of the boarding house. It was four in the afternoon, but Cecil wasn’t there yet. Suddenly, a truck riddled with bullet holes pulled up along the curb and honked the horn. Cecil’s grinning face was leaned over to look at her through the rolled down passenger window.
“Hey!” he shouted.
“Is this yours?” Frances asked, torn between amazement he owned a vehicle, and shock that it was covered in bullet holes.
“Sure is,” he said, coming around and holding her door. “Got a great deal on it. Used to belong to a bootlegger.”
“I…see. Is that why there are bullet holes in it?”
“Yep! He got them trying to get away.” Cecil shut her door and climbed into the driver’s seat proudly.
“Well, that’s an interesting story,” she said. Thelma might never believe this. “Did he…make it away?”
“I’m not sure,” Cecil admitted. “Maybe that’s why I have it now.”
Frances gulped and nodded. How in the world did you answer something like that?
“It’s not too bad a drive,” he told her. “About an hour. Just relax. Aren’t the seats terrific?”
“Yes, they are. And that sounds fine,” Frances answered.
“This thing is specially modified,” Cecil went on. “Did you know bootleggers have all kinds of special things on their vehicles? There are secret compartments in here. Handy to stash things. I fixed the brakes though,” he said, turning onto a twisty road.
“Yep. They were modified too. You know, one higher than the other. Makes for hairpin turns. I set em back to the normal way. Left the kill switch on, though. Might come in handy. You never know.”
Frances blinked. “I see,” she said.
“Don’t worry, I won’t use it,” he assured her. “But if there was ever a reason to, one hit of this switch and all the lights go out.”
She could tell how proud he was of the car. “It runs real nice,” she offered.
Cecil grinned. “Sure does,” he agreed. “Check out this speed!” He pressed down on the accelerator and sped up.
They approached a tight turn. Frances grabbed onto the door, sure her face was a little green. As they took the curve, a large truck came the opposite way and honked at them. Her heart was hammering in terror as they whizzed past the blaring horn, only inches to spare.
If you’d like to learn a little more about Frances and Cecil, and see if they fall in love despite a meddling mother and the wartime draft, stop by my Amazon page!