Historical Fiction, Western
In a moment of loss and crushing despair, she struck a deceptive bargain with her husband to protect his name as he built his Texas empire. Years later, when he was gone in a hail of bullets, it came back to haunt her in ways she never imagined. Now she must strip away the hatred which has festered over a lifetime before it destroys her. But will the truth, reborn like the Phoenix, sever the carefully forged bonds between herself and her children? Susanna feels fenced in and ripe for slaughter like the longhorns beyond her window. Damn you, Nathan Kingsley! Damn you for what you did! Damn you for dying and leaving me with the mess you made!
Excerpt from Susanna’s Secret
“That’s a nasty burn, Susanna. Just this side of being infected. Why didn’t you come in sooner?” Dr. Howard Mayes peered at the blistered fingers resting on his examining table.
“You know I’ve had things to attend to,” Susanna Kingsley said sharply.
“How are you sleeping at night?”
“I can give you something. . .”
“No!” She clinched her teeth against the stabbing pain as the doctor probed her damaged flesh. “No, thank you, Howard, I’ll manage.”
He shook his head. “There’s not much I can do about this now, Susanna. You may lose the use of at least one of those fingers, but I can stave off gangrene at any rate. I’ll give you something for the pain, too.”
She swayed a little as nausea swept her. “That I’ll take.”
He poured something in a glass and handed it to her. “Here—lie down while I finish up.” He helped her onto the table and covered her with a blanket when she began to shiver.
The medicine made her sleepy. When she woke, he was still sitting beside her. “Feeling better?”
“A little.” Her tongue felt thick.
“Lie still a little longer. I sent someone to the law office to tell Cole he could pick you up here before he went home tonight.”
She closed her eyes. “Howard, did you ever know anyone with a head injury—a really bad one that caused them to be—well, helpless?”
“Sure, I saw a lot of that during the war.”
“What happened to them?”
“Most of them died.” He put his hand briefly over his eyes. “They were the lucky ones. The others, well, they went home. You couldn’t say they were really alive though.”
“Their families had to take care of them, you mean.”
“Or find some place to put them.”
He shook his head. “Nothing so fancy. Asylums, they’re called.”
“But people are cared for there.”
“I’ve seen a few of those places, and no, I can’t honestly say people are taken care of in them.”
“No money for one thing. No decent help either. I’d beggar myself before I’d put a member of my family in one.”
“They’re that bad?”
“Do you believe in hell, Susanna?”
“I think so—yes.”
“Well, that’s what they’re like.”
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About the Author
Judy Nickles, also writing as Gwyneth Greer, has been spinning tales since she could hold a #2 pencil. When bad weather threatened, her elementary teachers called on her to tell stories to keep the other students from focusing on the storm clouds outside. For better or worse, she still hangs on to the faded copies of her own 1950’s era parodies of the popular television show Dragnet: Fishnet, Hairnet, and Butteryfly Net, and most of the essays, stories, and poems she wrote in junior high and high school. Later, she wrote The Big Valley ‘fan fiction’ for an online site.
Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?, Finding Papa’s Shining Star, The Showboat Affair, and Dancing with Velvet were published in print and also as ebooks by The Wild Rose Press. The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall, inspired by a visit to the Ft. Smith Visitor’s Center, a restored ‘social club’, was contracted as an ebook by Champagne Books and nominated for the 2012 Novel of the Year.
In addition, she’s been published in History Magazine, My First Year in the Classroom (Adams Media), The Harsh and The Heart: Celebrating the Military (Silver Boomers Books), The Storyteller Magazine, and Christmas Bells, Christmas Tales (Dancing with Bear Publishing).
A genealogist for over 30 years, Judy believes that stories are everywhere and wishes she had time to write all of them. Her writing philosophy is “Shred the rejection, take a second look, rewrite, and resubmit.”
Her favorite possession is her Kindle Fire. She is having her adolescent rebellion 50+ years late and recently took a ride in a vintage B-24 bomber built the year she was born during the war (that’s WW II for all you youngsters out there).