Much Ado About Madams
A suffragist schoolteacher with a hidden past,
Six shopworn whores cooking up plans for a better future,
And a hunky cowhand who isn't quite sure what to do with all these women...
Life isn't always comfortable at The Comfort Palace!
There’s nothing quite like growing up in Owyhee County, Idaho, to fuel a young girl’s imagination. I lived on a dairy farm six miles southwest of Homedale. Stories popped into my head while I was feeding calves, or hoeing beets, or shucking corn. These stories placed me in another time, wild and exciting, full of adventure, handsome heroes, and heinous villains.
At no point did I ever want to be a writer, though. Instead, my fondest dream was to be a baseball announcer in TV. Obviously, that didn't work out, nor did my second dream of becoming an interpreter at the United Nations. Instead, I've milked cows, ran a deli, managed political campaigns, managed offices, and owned a software consulting company, among other things. Nothing holds my interest for long.
Writing came as a fluke after I'd been sick and did nothing but read for a couple months. I dreamed a book, so I wrote it. Now I have several published novels in a couple sub-genres. Who knew?
Excerpt from Much Ado About Madams
by Jacquie Rogers
Dere Miss Sharpe,
The skool bord of Dickshooter, Idaho, dooly invits you . . .
Fannie clenched the pen with a death grip and pursed her lips as she drew her letters. The five scantily clad women standing around her watching every mark she made, didn’t help matters a bit.
“Fer hell’s sake, woman, quit thinking so hard and write the damn letter,” grumbled Trinket. But then, Trinket always grumbled about something.
The frustrated madam blew a stray lock of dye-pot red hair out of her eyes. “You girls don’t have to stand there like chickens ready to pounce on a snake. You’re making me nervous.”
“You said you knew your letters,” accused Chrissy.
“Leave me alone. I went all the way to third grade, and I writ the ad fer the newspaper, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but the newspaper man probably fixed it up some.”
“Can I make the letters on the envelope?” whispered Holly, who’d nearly been strangled by a no-good drifter the week before. She still couldn’t talk right. The bouncer had run the worm out at gunpoint and told him never to come back. Fannie had taken a liking to Holly, a young girl who, even though she served drinks in a whorehouse, was ignorant about the ways of the world—a lot like Fannie had been when her old man threw her out of his house so many years ago.
Fannie tapped the spare piece of precious paper lying on the desk. “You can practice on this once I’ve finished here.” That is, if she didn’t mess up this paper, she thought, and she probably would if she didn’t get some peace and quiet.
“This ain’t gonna work, anyway,” Trinket walked across the room, swaying her hips seductively out of years of habit. “What decent schoolmarm would teach a bunch of whores their letters? And how do you know she’ll marry Reese? Hell, he owns a whorehouse!”
Fannie couldn’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t want him. “Reese is a fine, upstanding man, and handsome as sin. She won’t be able to resist, and she’ll force him to close up shop so we can be on our way to new lives.”
“What if she’s some pinch-nosed Bible-thumper?” argued Trinket.
“If she’s ugly, Reese might not want her, but even if she tries to save our souls, at least we’ll all learn reading and writing to help get ourselves a respectable living. We can’t lose.”
Felicia sniffed. “Ha! We’re already losers, or we wouldn’t be stuck in this hellhole.” She’d whored in the best brothels in New Orleans until a crazy man had cut her face up.
Fannie tried to sympathize, but damn, why’d Felicia have to be so uppity? Fannie ignored her remark, like she always did. She’d have thrown Felicia out on her nose a long time ago, but knew no place else would take her.
“Once the mines up in Silver City bring in more customers, no decent businessman would shut this place down,” Felicia added.
Fannie thunked the pen down on the desk, ink splattering clear to the wall. She had to get these women out of the office or she’d never get this letter written. They had a plan, and it was up to her to make it work, but she sure as hell couldn’t do it with all these women pecking at her like a bunch of vultures. “Fer gawd’s sake, Petunia, take a bath! You stink like a bucket of last week’s slop.”
“Aw, Fannie, I just had a bath last Sunday.”
“Like I said, last week’s slop. Now, go!” Petunia left the office, mumbling all the way out the door.
Fannie turned to Felicia. “Go get your room ready before the gents come a calling. It always looks like a pigsty. I want the sheets changed and your butter dish cleaned.”
“Humph! Sadie should do that.”
“Honey, you’re not in some fancy New Orleans whorehouse any more. You have to do fer yourself.”
Two gone, three to go. “Chrissy, help Sadie with dinner.”
Chrissy jammed one hand on her hip and patted her tousled auburn hair with the other. “I ain’t no cook.”
“You are today.”
“It ain’t my turn. Besides, it’ll roughen my hands.”
“Your hands have been through worse.” Fannie waved toward the door. “Go on, now.”
She pulled a bottle of black dye from her desk drawer. “Trinket, your blonde roots are showing something fierce. Take care of it.”
“But the men will be coming in a few hours, and my hair won’t be dry.”
“Go stand in the sun. If you ever went outside, you’d know the sun’s shining today.” She handed Trinket the bottle. “If any of your callers come early, I’ll hold ‘em off for an hour.”
Holly whispered, “Do you want to get rid of me, too?”
Fannie didn’t, but the other girls would throw a fit if she let Holly stay. “Do some mending or something. Come back here in half an hour and I’ll let you make some letters.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She paused at the door. “Will I be serving drinks tonight?”
“It’s time. You’ve had a week off.” Fannie didn’t have the heart to make Holly take gents to her bed. The other girls grew more resentful all the time, but she doubted that Holly had ever had a man—and once she did, there was no going back.
The last of the girls finally gone, Fannie finished the letter.
Dere Miss Sharpe,
The skool bord of Dikshooter, Idaho Terr., dooly invits you as to be our noo skoolmarm, startin Septimbr 1, 1882.
Mr. Reese McAdams
♥ ♥ ♥
Much Ado About Madams
Visit these sites for more great excerpts!
1. Charlene Raddon's Chatterblog
2. Keta's Keep Romance
3. Fried Oreos
4. Taryn Raye
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6. roseanne dowell author
7. Romancing The West with Jacquie Rogers
8. Double the Mystery - Meg Mims