Happiness and Other Chores #1
Three friends, one secret.
To escape their everyday routines, Valerie, Laura and Hannah lead secret lives as high-rolling gamblers. With all the lies they tell their families, their friendship is the only honest thing remaining.
When a casino manager from Las Vegas appears in their tiny village, their public and secret worlds collide. As the three housewives set out on their most extravagant hustle to date, they face blackmail and murder, challenging their way of life and their friendship.
Has any of them added a murder to her list of secrets?
Deceit, lies and alibis.
“HOW COULD YOU?” Laura asked icily. It wasn’t the words but the judgment that squeezed
Val’s stomach. Laura was her best friend. She should have understood. But then Laura, of all people, couldn’t and wouldn’t approve.
“How could she what?” Hannah’s voice surprised Val. “Sorry I’m late. What have I missed?” the petite blonde asked cheerfully as she sat down and reached for the coffee pot.
“Val cheated on Alex,” said Laura, each word cold and sharp, hurting Val like a chainsaw.
Hannah raised her brows and put down the pot slowly, as if it could break under the weight of the admission. She looked from Valerie to Laura and then down.
I wish I could turn invisible like Hannah does all the time, thought Valerie. She forced herself to look at Laura and face the critique. Laura’s eyes didn’t meet hers. Her friend was staring at a white wall in front of her. Her blue eyes were a shade darker. It was always Laura’s eyes that would give her away. They were light blue when she was happy, but they would usually grow a bit darker with a change of mood.
The familiar kitchen had never felt so strange to her. Maybe Val was a stranger now. The morning sun shined through the window into a dark, somewhat neglected kitchen that might have easily been the set of That ’70s Show.
Playful rays of sun danced on the old cupboards. Too many shadows loomed around, Val thought. Laura didn’t care about the kitchen. In fact, she didn’t care about the house. A place she used to call home. No longer.
Val took a sip of her coffee. The three used to meet at Laura’s almost every day for a pick-me-up. While good coffee was essential, it was the company, the friendship, and their secret that brought them together. Not today.
Not cozy by any stretch of the imagination, Laura’s kitchen provided privacy they cherished. Valerie’s eyes rested on the fridge, where there was a photo of them taped to the door. Attractive mothers, whose lives were simple at first glance, they looked almost like the Witches of Eastwick. Dark Laura, ginger Valerie, and blond Hannah hadn’t planned a murder, but their lives in a small village were definitely not simple or ordi- nary.
Val knew very well that an affair was a topic too close to Laura’s heart, but she’d still expected to feel relieved after sharing her news. Relief was far from what she was currently feeling. Her heart was pound- ing with anger, her stomach knotted with guilt.
Laura walked to the kitchen sink and started wash- ing.
“How could I?” Val said to Laura’s back. “Who are you to judge me?” As soon as the words came out, she regretted them. Her features she kept under control, a poker face, but inside Val fought a tug-of-war between remorse and anger.
“Who am I to judge you?” Laura turned slowly, the water still running behind her. “Who am I to judge you? You know very well what my affair did to me, to my fam—” The words stopped somewhere in her throat. She turned, shut off the water, but kept her back to them.
“Girls, let’s just focus on tonight. We’re leaving this evening. Have you packed already?” Hannah said in her usual soft voice, trying to sound cheerful. Val turned, surprised. She had forgotten that Hannah was there. What a talent!
Hannah slowly tucked an unruly short blond curl behind her ear and kept looking down, her finger circling the edge of her mug, her face as pale as the white wall behind them.
Thank you, Katarina Mayer and Random Things Tours
About the author
Katarina Mayer currently lives in Nickelsdorf, Austria. The life in a small village inspired her first novel, Gambling Wives. She believes that stories matter because they facilitate emotional journeys, inspire, and entertain. She writes because stories are a great escape, and probably the most beneficial addiction on this planet.
Katarina is mildly dependent on black tea, and loves traveling and fresh air (not just to breathe, but to feel really alive). She believes that life is about experiences, not the outcomes; about the journey, not the destination.
She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat, and daily deals with millions of small or larger issues and joys, just like any other wife and mother. That’s why female characters are at the center of her stories.