Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so today I’m giving you a little peek inside my women’s fiction trilogy, The Women of Whitfield–because it’s the perfect gift for moms who read! Claire, Dana and Mary are longtime, I’ve-Got-Your-Back friends who live in a small Kansas town. Their lives intersect and intertwine, and they are there to support each other through the journey. To laugh, cry, and love through it all.
Book One: The Storm Within:
Elise caught a whiff of mint as her mother spoke. She’d obviously put a mint in her mouth as soon as she arrived to help clear her breath. From what? Cigarette smoke? Alcohol? Elise groaned inside. How could she take her mother to her in-laws’ house in this condition? In her entire life, she’d never seen her mother so unkempt and weak. Instead of her usual stylish pumps or boots, she wore a pair of basic loafers, and her normal confident gait had been replaced by an unsteady shuffle.
Elise helped her up the stairs and into the house. “Do you need to freshen up before we go?”
Elise let go of her. “Okay, you do that, and I’ll gather everyone up.”
Oh, shit. Oh, shit. As Brian came down the stairs, Elise grabbed his arm and pulled him aside. “Mom looks like hell, and she’s acting like she can hardly move. This is not going to be good.”
He peered down the hall. “You think she should stay here?”
“I can’t leave her by herself.”
“Look, we gotta go. It’ll be fine. All she has to do is sit around and eat.”
“Why don’t you go ahead and get the kids in the car, and pull into the driveway so she doesn’t have to maneuver through the garage.”
Five minutes later, when her mother still hadn’t emerged from the bathroom, Elise knocked on the door. “Mom, you doing all right?”
“I’ll be right out,” came the raspy response.
She leaned against the wall, and rubbed her temples. This was so much worse than she expected.
An eternity later, the door opened, and her mother stepped out. She’d tried to fluff her hair up a bit, and was standing a little taller. A slight improvement. Elise put on a smile. “Okay, you ready? Where’s your jacket?”
“Oh, let me get that.”
She retrieved the leather jacket from the bathroom, then Elise helped her put it back on. It was like having another child.
Book Two: Second Wind
By Friday evening, Dana wanted nothing more than a quiet night at home, and an early date with her pillow. She gave Chase a smile as he pushed back from the table and carried his plate to the kitchen sink. He was doing a pretty decent job of picking up after himself and keeping Claire’s place clean. But when he walked back past her and said, “See you later,” she whipped around.
“What do you mean? Where are you going?”
Chase shrugged and scooped his keys up from the coffee table. “Going out. Can’t hang around here all night.”
“Why not?” He hadn’t been ‘around here’ for more than an hour or so every day as far as Dana could tell. Except to sleep. “Chase, come on. You barely told me anything about your day. I know you saw Poppa, and that’s it.” She’d resisted the urge to question him over dinner, hoping he’d offer some information on his own. No such luck. She hated playing twenty questions. Hated being the bad guy even more.
Chase’s jaw hardened. “There’s nothing to tell, Mom. If there was, I would tell you. Quit bugging me, okay?”
Dana scooted the chair back, fighting to keep her cool. “You know, if you’d talk to me and tell me what’s going on, I wouldn’t have to keep asking you.”
He spread his hands in front of him. “Nobody was around today. I turned in some applications.”
“I think we ought to contact a head hunter.”
Chase rolled his eyes, his head shaking back and forth. “God, Mom. Those are for professionals. They’d laugh me out of the office.”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “Listen, I’m trying to help you.”
“What do you want me to do? It’s Friday night. I can’t make business calls now. I can’t get online. There’s no internet. I mean–”
Dana held up a hand to stop him. He was right about all that. And she’d broken her resolve to let the job thing go until next week. “Fine. Where are you going?”
“Why can’t they ever come here? I’d like to meet them. Besides, I hate you doing all that highway driving at night.” Her mother’s accident had been the result of an aneurism and had nothing to do with the traffic or road conditions, but the road from Whitfield to Paxton was a two-lane highway with a narrow bridge and railroad tracks, and there was always truck traffic. It still made Dana nervous.
“Luke’s got the big screen and game system, Mom. What would we do here?”
“Claire’s got a pool table downstairs, and there’s a TV. Heck, you could go to Bailey’s and hang out. Watch a game. You could take turns, at least.”
“Or you could contact some of your high school friends. I’m sure some people are around.”
“I told you, I don’t know anybody here anymore.”
“Have you even tried?” she asked softly.
Chase’s grunt was muffled by the closing of the door.
Dana watched her son’s car pull away from the curb and wondered where was that adorable kid who never left the house without saying “I love you.” What happened to the kid who would still allow her to grab his hand for a few moments even in high school? She missed him.
Book Three: Barefoot Days
“Listen, sweetie, I’ve been pregnant before. You might start getting morning sickness. You’ll get tired more easily. You won’t be able to do lifting and moving after a few more months. You might need some help.”
“I’ll let you know. Just don’t try to manage me, okay? That doesn’t help.”
Neither would any retort that came to mind, Mary reminded herself. Instead of responding, she busied herself in the kitchen while Sara sipped her coffee. With a little luck it would improve her mood.
“Mom, you do realize that until two days ago I thought I was in love with someone else, right?” She pulled a top over her head and reached for her jeans.
Mary moved forward and ran a hand down Sara’s shoulder-length hair. “I do. I’m sorry. I’m not making light of that. But…well, maybe the best thing for getting over him is finding the real Mr. Right, hmm?”
“I have no idea what Evan is doing now, Mom. Heck, he could be married. I told you, we don’t talk anymore.”
“You would know, because I would know.”
“Whatever. Give it a rest, okay?”
“Fine, but for the record, I don’t think he’s dating anyone.” She leaned in, meeting Sara’s eyes in the mirror. “And I know he isn’t bringing anyone with him to the wedding.”
The Women of Whitfield series is available in paperback or digital formats from your favorite online retailer. Here’s what a few readers have to say:
The Storm Within:
— It was hard to read this book, and yet I could hardly put it down. My heart ached for Claire & all she experienced. I pulled for her cheered on her friends & family. Her friends were the absolute best. Everyone should be so blessed in their friends. You don’t want to miss this one.
— This was a hard book to put down. I got so involved with the characters that I shed tears for dark moments and tears for joy when things worked out. Ms Deluca is a powerful story teller and has deep insight into human frailties and strengths.
— I loved Dana and her friends, found her family by turns endearing and completely annoying (and always interesting!), and was eager to find out how this strong woman, stressed past what she thinks she can handle, finds strength in herself, with the help of friends, family, and her own good sense.
‘Second Wind’ is riveting as she moves through enough new challenges to take anyone’s breath away. Ms. Deluca understands friendship and being a mom, and Dana’s story speaks to me about inner strength, and about finding our way through life’s transitions.
— This author once again struck a chord with me. Compelling story line with characters I could relate to. All set in a town that felt like I could live there. The third in her Women of Whitfield series, but it stood alone. You won’t have to read the others in the series to enjoy this book, but you’ll want to!
— I‘ve now read all three books in Darlene’s Women of Whitfield series, and I’m so sorry the series is ending. I absolutely love these books! The characters are so well developed that I feel like I actually KNOW them and that they are my friends. Mary, Claire and Dana are the kinds of friends every woman hopes she has. And I think Darlene saved the best story for last. I found myself laughing with them, crying with them and rooting for them.