“What have you been doing for the last two years?” the editor said from across his desk, looking out from over top his glasses.

“As I said,” Annie replied. “I’ve been at home with my boys. I’ve freelanced occasionally, tried to keep my fingers in the business.”

And I’ve managed more in this two years than you could ever imagine from behind your small-town newspaper desk, she wanted to say. But she didn’t.

“When you worked in DC you were given carte blanche?”

She smiled. “I was an investigative reporter. It took months to put those stories together and used time-consuming methods. So if you’re asking if I sat behind a desk or checked in every day, the answer is no.”

He raised his eyebrows; the look on his face was telling. She could almost hear his thoughts. Annie was hot shot investigative reporter slumming it at the small town paper. She’d likely come in and try to tell him how to run his paper. Then, like with all outsiders, she’d eventually go back to her home turf, leaving them in a lurch.

But he was wrong.

She lifted her eyebrow back at him and looked him squarely in the eye. “Mr. Smith, my career path has shifted. My main concern is my children, now. This job suits their schedule. I’m certain I have the skills to handle it.”

“Well, I’ll take that into consideration, thanks for coming in and talking with us. Ms. Cham-o-vitz.” He pronounced her last name as it were difficult to get his lips around.

She knew she wouldn’t get the job. She might have know it before she walked in the door. The local paper was hiring a features editor. She thought it might be a fun job and a great way to ease back into her career. No it wouldn’t mean the crazy hours of her older job—but at least she’d be in the business. It would be a perfect job that would suit her role as a mother.

She wondered if it worth energy she put into getting ready for this sham of an interview, let alone her husband taking an hour away from his work to stay with the boys. Getting ready to go anywhere was difficult—especially if she wanted to look decent—unruly dark hair pulled back, a little make-up on, nails clean and painted, clothes pressed and clean, it was a huge feat. One she had yet to accomplish gracefully. Case in point, she had thought her black jacket was clean and built her entire interview outfit around it. But as she slipped it on and looked at herself in the mirror, she saw that she was wrong.

“What the—“ she squealed at the huge white chalky-looking stain on her lapel.
“Are you talking to yourself, again, my beautiful wife?” Mike said walking into the room.

“Look!” She said. Gosh, when was the last time she work this jacket…it must have been when Sam was still a baby. It was probably baby spew all over it.

Just then, like a tornado, her boys ran through the room—Ben chasing Sam.

“Mommmy! He has my muffin!”

“Mike, can you please—“

“C’mon boys,” Mike said, ushering them out of the room, looking back and winking at Annie. “I always liked the blue suit better anyway.”

She pulled it out of the closet, checked it over for stains and was grateful it wasn’t a wrinkled mess. No, it hadn’t been pressed, but it would have to do. Annie took a deep breath. Who knew if this job would work out—or even if she wanted it to? It was good to try—at least she knew that. But she had a gut feeling about this—and her gut feelings were usually right. But this was Cumberland Creek and ever since they’d moved here a year ago, nothing felt quite right—not even her gut instincts.

Leaving her friends and family behind in urban Maryland was more difficult than she imagined.

They’d been here a year and she’d yet to make any good friends. She’d run into her neighbor Maggie Rae from time to time—but like all mothers of small children, it was almost impossible to have a conversation. Then there was Vera, who she met at the library. She invited her to something called “crop” where people get together and scrapbook.

At first, Annie thought she was joking. “What? A crop?”

Vera nodded and waved her hand. “I’m not sure why they use that term, but it’s a lot of fun. You ought to come.”

So Annie said yes. Her first “crop” was in two weeks—and she had no idea what to expect.

You can read more about Annie in SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS, the first book in the new “A Cumberland Creek” mystery series.

** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends February 16. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. **

Meet the author:
Mollie Cox Bryan is a food writer and cookbook author with a penchant for murder. Her stories have many forms: cookbooks, articles, essays, poetry and fiction. Mollie grew up near Pittsburgh, Pa., and attended Point Park University, where she received a B.A. in Journalism and Communications. Her first real job out of college was as a paste-up artist at a small newspaper, where she was allowed to write “on her own time” and she did.

Mollie moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she held a number of writing jobs, and has written about a diverse array of subjects, such as construction, mathematics education, and life insurance. While working in the editorial field, Mollie began taking poetry classes at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md. Soon, she was leading local poetry workshops and was selected to participate in the prestigious Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Workshop. Mollie still writes poetry—not as frequently—and believes that her study of poetry informs all of her writing.

In 1999, shortly after the birth of her first daughter, Emma, Mollie and her husband moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Va., where he took a job at the Frontier Culture Museum and she stayed at home to take care of Emma and start a freelancing career. Visit Mollie at www.molliecoxbryan.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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