Title: The Theatre
Author: Marsha R. West
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Forty-year-old, never been married stage and TV actress Kelly Lawson returns to her Texas home to choreograph and star in the Glenview Theatre summer season. Kelly’s mother has made a hobby of trailing out every new man in town for Kelly’s inspection, hoping she’ll fall in love and use Glenview as her home base, especially now that Kelly’s father has entered the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. Two years ago, Kelly broke off an engagement shortly before she discovered her former fiancé dead, a gun in his hand and a hole in his head. Reason enough to guard her heart.
When Kelly accuses a Glenview police officer of harassing two of their gay actors, Police Chief Josh Kincaid, her mother’s candidate for this trip, becomes involved in the investigation. Incidents pile up, making it clear someone has it in, not only for the theatre, but for Kelly as well. Josh searches for clues to the person behind the attacks and the reason for them, all the while trying to ignore his developing feelings for Kelly. How could he trust his heart to a New York actress?
Kelly. Kelly.” A voice she’d recognize in the middle of a bazaar in India. The low tones of the Texas twang said you’re loved. Kelly Lawson pivoted. A short, blonde woman made her way through the crowd. Her soft voice requested people step aside. Jane Lawson, the epitome of politeness. In good shape at sixty-five, wearing her signature navy blue, red and white, seemed unaware of the admiring glances a few of the male passengers cast her way while they waited for their bags. An effect her mother always had on men. Once as a teenager, Kelly had asked her father how he handled everyone staring at his wife, and with a smug smile on his face, he’d replied, “No big deal. She chose to spend her life with me, which must mean I’m something special.” Then he’d laughed.
Kelly had hoped to have someone care for her the way her father did her mom. However, she’d chosen a life filled with obstacles to a long-term relationship. Steven’s face flashed across her mind. Her hands clutched the handle of her carry-on bag as the horror of her discovery spiked through her system. He was supposed to be the one, but he’d taken his own life rather than deal with the insecurities her success caused him. Two years and yet the pain and guilt still bubbled to the surface. She shoved down the cold emptiness to focus on the approaching woman.
“Hey, lady. You look great.” Kelly wrapped arms around her mother.
“Ah, that famous smile is much better in person than on the TV screen.” Jane stepped away, casting a glance up and down before she gave Kelly an approving pat on the back. “I’m glad Phillip convinced you to come home.”
Kelly scooped her suitcases off the baggage carousel, stacking the smaller one on top of the larger. “I got the Nikki Stevenson part because of him. How could I tell him no?”
“Some people might’ve. I’m not surprised you didn’t. I have a cooler with cold water in the car for you, dear. Let’s go home.” Her mother looped her fingers around the extended handle of Kelly’s computer carry-on bag, turned, and strode toward the exit. “Thank you.” Jane’s soft voice carried as people stepped aside for her.
Kelly blinked moisture from her eyes, grabbed a handle for the two stacked bags, and followed. When she stepped through the exit doors, the heat took her breath and brought her up short. The Texas summer oven. She brushed at the prickles of perspiration, which popped out along her hairline and hurried to catch up with her mother. “How’s Dad?”
“He’s okay. Perhaps fuzzier than when you were here last, but he manages.” “I’m sorry, Mom.” Kelly took her mother’s free hand, squeezed. An ache filled her middle. After a while, Kelly continued, “Was the traffic bad?”
“The drive was a snap, because at the end I found you.”
The lump forced its way back into Kelly’s throat. She’d needed this after Steven’s death, but she hadn’t taken time to come home then. Losing the soap opera role might prove to be good after all. They got in the car, and Kelly took a swallow of the cool water.
The trip from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Glenview took right at an hour-and-a-half. “Let me see if I have this straight,” her mother glanced at Kelly. You play the leads in and choreograph Hello, Dolly! and Anything Goes, but you only direct and choreograph West Side Story and State Fair.”
“It’ll be a busy summer. I’m happy your father will get to watch you perform again.” Jane pulled off Highway 377 toward the old square. Kelly silently congratulated herself. Wow, her Mom hadn’t mentioned men at all. Apparently, Kelly had been wrong to suspect her of ulterior motives for telling Phillip about her schedule change, which made her available to work in Glenview during the summer. Maybe Kelly could come home more now without the fear of her Mom’s matchmaking schemes. Now, of course, she had time.
“You remember me talking about Cindy Kincaid in the Alzheimer’s support group?”
“Uh huh. Having someone to share your concerns with must help.”
“We’d been acquainted with each other for several years before we had the opportunity to compare notes and share tricks to help our husbands. Now we’ve grown close.” She braked for people jaywalking across the street. “Cindy’s son is named Josh.” Her mother paused to concentrate on making the turn. “Have I mentioned he’s the new police chief? Johnson retired, and the city council jumped at the opportunity to hire Josh when he moved from Houston where he’d been a homicide detective.”
Geez. Only moments before, Kelly had taken a guilt trip, believing she’d misjudged her. Jane Lawson hadn’t changed after all.
“He’s a big help with his father, and Cindy couldn’t be more pleased about Josh’s new job. She worried about him down in Houston. He’s divorced with a college age son.”
Kelly’s hands twisted in her lap. Here it comes. Wait for it….
“He’s a nice man, dear, very tall, a handsome blond, and if I do say so, built.”
“Mo-om.” The two-syllable word flew from Kelly’s mouth, and heat flowed up her face. Nobody could embarrass like her mother. Better derail this train. “Can we stop by Millie’s first? I’d like to check in before going home.”
“Sure.” She circled around the square toward the B & B. “I’ve had the Kincaids over to the house for supper several times. I’m sure you’ll like Josh.”
“Mother.” The name Kelly used only when she had to make a point. “I have no reason to meet their son. Thank you for thinking of me, and while I appreciate your good intentions, I’m not looking for anyone. Maybe I won’t ever be. But I’m not going to be interested in the Glenview Chief of Police.”
“We’ll see, dear.”
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
What’s better than a small town in Texas in the summer? And if you’re looking for a 4th of July celebration, you’ll find one here complete with a picnic in the park marked by food good enough to make your mouth water and interesting family dynamics. It’s the break before the storm of suspense threatens to ruin everything for the theater company and Kelly and Josh.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 24 books featured in the Canada/America Bookish Event:
Runs July 1 – 4, 2020.
Winner will be drawn on July 11, 2020.
Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and theatre arts teacher. She writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. Marsha lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren who live nearby. Charley, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix completes her family.
MuseItUp Publishing e-released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE, in July 2013, and her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. In the fall of 2014, Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide a print version of her first two books and then e format & print of the rest of her books, all of which are available in e-format and print from Amazon, and in e-format at Barnes & Nobel, KOBO, and iTunes.
SNIPPETS OF SUSPENSE, Anthology #1 by the Sisters of Suspense, published in November 2015, contains the first chapter of SECOND ACT as well as nine first chapters by other romantic suspense authors. It’s FREE on Amazon, a great way to find new authors. She’s a contributor to ROMANCE AND MYSTERY AUTHORS ON WRITING, compiled by JQ Rose. Marsha’s short story. “The Colonel and Her Major” is included in Lone Star Love, A FREE Anthology.
Besides The Second Chances Series, including, SECOND ACT, ACT OF TRUST, ACT OF BETRAYAL, this book, ACT OF SURVIVAL, and the books mentioned above, Marsha published THE THEATRE in 2016. All are about Texas women in their forties and fifties and are Seasoned Romances.
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