Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author

READ IT AND WEEP debuted at #10 on the New York Times Mass Market Best Seller's list.

READ IT AND WEEP

Chapter One

“Of course, you’re all going to audition for the play,”
Violet La Rue said. “It’s the kick off to our community
theater season.”
Lindsey Norris put down her scissors and glanced across the table at Violet. Violet’s warm brown eyes sparkled and her brown skin glowed. She was flushed with excitement for the upcoming production that would be her directorial debut.
Lindsey knew it was going to dampen Violet’s enthusiasm
to learn that the rest of the crafternooners, with the exception of her daughter, Charlene La Rue, and the children’s librarian, Beth Stanley, were not as enamored with being on stage as she was. Violet was a former Broadway actress, and her daughter was a local news anchor. They lived for being in front of an audience. As for Beth, she had been instilling the love of reading in children for ten years with her dynamic story times. She lit up in front of an audience. The rest of the crafternooners, well, it wasn’t really their thing.
This theory was confirmed when Lindsey glanced around the table and noted that both Mary Murphy and Nancy Peyton had their heads down, completely engrossed with their card making project.
The group had decided to get a jump on the holidays by making greeting cards. It was only September but judging by the mess Lindsey was making, she was going to need the next three months just to crank out a few decent cards.
The crafternooners met every Thursday at the Briar
Creek Public Library, of which Lindsey was the director, to work on a craft while they discussed the latest book that they had read.
This week they were discussing A Midsummer Night’s
Dream by William Shakespeare. It wasn’t their standard fare but since Violet was directing the play in the Briar Creek Community Theater, they had all agreed to read it and give her their input as she was gearing up for auditions in the coming week.
“I think I have a crush on Puck. He’s so charming. He carries the whole play,” Beth Stanley said. Story time had just gotten out and she entered the room with a monkey puppet on one hand and wearing a banana suit.
It was no surprise that she liked Puck, with her diminutive stature and her black hair styled in a pixie cut, Beth reminded Lindsey of a sprite herself.
“Who in town would make a good Puck?” Nancy Peyton asked. Her blue eyes twinkled when her gaze met Lindsey’s. “I’d offer up my nephew, Charlie, but he’s too busy with the latest incarnation of his rock band.”
Lindsey winced. Nancy wasn’t kidding. Lindsey rented
the third floor apartment of Nancy’s three story captain’s
house and her nephew, Charlie, lived on the floor between
them. Usually, he only practiced once a week, but with the
new band learning his material, practices had been more
frequent and both Lindsey and Nancy had taken to wearing
earplugs while at home. The only one who didn’t seem to
mind the noise was Lindsey’s dog, Heathcliff. As soon as
he heard the bass beat of the drums, he began to wag and
howl as if he were the lead singer.
“How about my brother, Sully?” Mary Murphy asked.
She’d brought the food for today’s crafternoon from her
restaurant the Blue Anchor, so it was a feast of crab salad
sandwiches and sweet tea.
Lindsey turned and scowled at her. She knew Mary had
been just looking for an opportunity to bring Sully up into
the conversation. Lindsey had been dating Sully up until a
few months ago when he decided to give her some space.
Space she had not requested and so they had spent the summer
apart.
“Did you know the earliest reference to A Midsummer
Night’s Dream is from 1598?” she asked. “No one knows
exactly when it was written.”
“Nice segue . . . not,” Charlene La Rue said. “Are you
telling us you don’t even want to picture Sully in tights?”
As soon as she said it, Lindsey’s brain flashed on a mental
picture of Sully in tights and tunic with a wreath of flowers
on his mahogany curls. It did not help that the man had a
sailor’s muscular build and tights on him would not be a
hardship on the eyes.
“I am so not answering that question,” she said at which
the others all laughed. When they quieted down, she
couldn’t help but ask, “How is he anyway?”
“Pitiful,” Mary said. “He worked like a dog all summer,
almost as if he was trying to keep his mind off something
or someone.”
“Humph,” Lindsey snorted. “Well, he wouldn’t have
had to if he hadn’t dumped me.”
“Lindsey, I know I shouldn’t butt in,” Mary said. Her blue eyes so like her brother Sully’s were full of anxiety. “But if you knew the things in Sully’s past that make him—“
“No,” Lindsey interrupted. “Don’t tell me. If there is something Sully needs to share with me, he has to do it himself.”
The group all made noises of agreement, but Mary looked as if she desperately wanted to say more. Lindsey shook her head.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.”
“Fine? My experience with the fair sex has proven that
when a woman says she’s fine, she is anything but,” a voice,
a male voice with a charming British accent, said from the door.
The crafternooners all turned as one. Standing in the
doorway was a man with reddish-blonde hair, twinkling
green eyes, a square jaw, and a build that could easily carry
off a pair of tights or anything else he wanted to dress it in.
“Robbie!” Violet leapt up from her seat and crossed the
room to enfold the man in a warm embrace.
“Violet, my love,” he said. “You’re more beautiful than
ever.”
Charlene followed her mother and hugged the man, too.
Obviously he was a friend of the La Rue family. Beth, who
was sitting beside Lindsey, nudged her arm repeatedly until Lindsey turned toward her.
“Do you know who that is?” she hissed.
“No, no idea.”
“It’s Robbie Vine,” Nancy whispered from across the
table. “The famous British actor.”
“Oh, my,” Mary breathed.
Lindsey glanced at her friends. All three of them looked
utterly star struck. She glanced back at the man. He was incredibly handsome and when he smiled at her his mouth was bracketed by dimples that seemed to appear just for her, making it a very personal sort of smile.
He looked familiar and then she remembered the movie she had just seen him in. There had been a shirtless scene that had been, for lack of a better word, revealing.
“Let me introduce you to my friends,” Violet said and
she tucked her hand around Robbie’s elbow and brought him to
the table. “Ladies, I’d like for you to meet—”
“Hello, Violet!” a voice interrupted her and they all
turned to the door. “Oh, and Robbie’s here, too. How perfect.”
“Harvey?” Violet asked as if she couldn’t believe what
she was seeing. “Harvey Wargus?”
She looked down her elegant nose at the stubby little
man who entered the room. His dark brown hair was parted
in the middle and flopped down over the sides of his head
in a sag that was repeated by the brown mustache over his
upper lip. He had a long body and short legs and a large bottom
that added to his overall droopy appearance.
“Well, if I didn’t know better, I’d think we were having
a reunion,” Robbie said. Then he turned and glared at the
little man. “But of course I do know better because there is
no way in hell you’d ever be invited to any reunion of ours.”
“What are you doing here, Harvey?” Violet asked.
Lindsey glanced at the man. Now she remembered him.
He had been a theater critic in New York City at one time. He’d
been on staff at one of the larger entertainment papers
when word got out that he was bribable, particularly by up
and coming young actresses looking for some positive ink.
His career was ruined when the boyfriend of a fourteen year old actress, who had been set up with Wargus by her very own mother, turned him in to the police.
Harvey pushed up his glasses with the ring finger of his right hand and fixed a perturbed gaze on Violet and Robbie.
“When I heard through the grapevine that Violet La Rue and Robbie Vine were teaming up again, I got myself assigned to review the show. I must say I am really looking forward to it.”
“Who on earth would hire a pervert like you?” Violet
demanded.
“Oh, haven’t you heard?” he asked. “I’m working for
Sterling Buchannan, you know, the multimedia mogul. I
believe you know him quite well Violet.”
Violet reared back as if he’d slapped her and Charlene
gasped. She took her mother’s hand in hers and squeezed it
tight.
Beth looked confused and asked, “Who is Sterling
Buchanan?”
Violet closed her eyes and Charlene and Robbie
exchanged a glance over her head. He glared at Harvey but
then gave Charlene a small nod.
“He’s my father,” Charlene said.