A Message in the Roses
On a snowy day in Atlanta, Carrie Sue Justice revisits the past as a young and passionate newspaper reporter, covering a shooting death in her community:
It’s 1986. Her life is a mess. She catches her husband with another woman inside the antebellum home she inherited from her parents. Then she falls in love with an unavailable man plagued with guilt. The man is none other than the irresistible owner of the Southern Journal where Carrie Sue works.
They begin a steamy love affair. During this wild time, Carrie Sue must find out why three black teenagers were arrested for killing a white teen. One of the teens was wrongly accused.
She’s determined to help prove his innocence. Come hell or high water.
“A Message in the Roses is both lovely and exciting, a nail biter to the quick. It brings a delightful combination of journalistic craft and romantic prose that warms the heart and steams up the room.” Dave Straub, former CNN anchor, White House reporter / NBC, Presidential Adviser.
“A Message In The Roses is a story of social justice in the New South, brewed with generous portions of investigative and trial reporting and enough steamy romance to cook the petals off the roses.” Dirk Wyle, author of the Ben Candidi Mysteries.
Excerpt from A Message in the Roses
On a snowy morning in Atlanta, Carrie Sue rummaged through an old cedar chest, searching for a journal. The storm had knocked out her power, but she was grateful to have a fire in the hearth and a kerosene lamp to read by.
She shook her head in dismay at all the stuff she’d collected. Only a pack rat would keep a stack of reporters’ notebooks and a cassette recorder from the 1980s. That was so long ago. No cell-phones or social media then.
When she uncovered her wedding dress embroidered with roses, she buried her nose in the crinoline and inhaled the sweet musk, still lingering after all these years.
Beneath the dress, was a small safe. She fumbled with the combination lock and eventually opened it to reveal the lovely leather-bound book.
Her hands shook as she withdrew the diary. She sucked in a sharp breath and opened it.
But as she began to read, a painful nostalgia stung her. She barely recognized the passionate and reckless young woman she used to be.
Journal of Carrie Sue Justice
December 8, 1986
My stomach knotted when I saw the strange car in my driveway. Damn it, my key wouldn’t open my front door. Deadbolt was locked.
The door vibrated from the blaring stereo inside, as if my house were possessed. I couldn’t imagine my husband blasting music. He’d always complained about loud noise in the morning, and when I left an hour ago, he looked fast asleep.
As the Eagles belted out Heartache Tonight, I punched the doorbell nonstop. No response. By now snow clouds had buried the sun.
Dad used to say, “Always trust your gut.”
My gut screamed disaster, reminding me of the day I received the tragic news about Mom and Dad.