Pages Navigation Menu

Route 66 Anthology

Members of my writers critique group, Wordsmith Six, are hard at work on the next installment of our Anthology series with fiction stories set on historic Route 66. We are reading each others stories now, and they are all so good. You are going to LOVE this next collection of stories. Book #2 in the series, HOLIDAY HIGHWAY ROUTE 66, will be out later this year.

In the meantime, you can still get your hands on a copy of Book #1, OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66, available in eBook or Print formats on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

You can read my story that appeared in Book #1, MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL on Amazon for only 99 cents now!

Read Chapter 1 of MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL below.


by Natalie Bright


Fort Worth, Texas, January 1936

Mama had cried, but not in front of me. I could see the tracks of tears on her cheek under red-rimmed eyes. Father told me it was time to leave. “Put on your best dress, Maggie.”

The deal was final. There would be no argument.

Momma followed me into the room I shared with my younger sisters to help me pack. If you could call my measly belongings worth taking anywhere.  Several blouses, undergarments, a thin nightgown, one pair of pants, and my loafers. They barely filled up half of a cloth flour sack. I left the brush and mirror for my sisters. Stuffing my feet into the black strap shoes that I had worn every Sunday since a neighbor had left them on our front porch, I pointed to a faded blue dress. Momma slipped the favorite of the only two I owned over my head and then she stuffed the beige one into the sack.

My feelings that day are difficult to describe. Hopeless. Angry. Heartbroken. The thought that my own father would do such a thing is something my mind could not, would not comprehend. I felt numb. Too mad and shocked to cry. Betrayal is a horrible thing to face at nineteen.

Father had told mama over breakfast that morning that a deal had been made. I did not realize it involved me until later that morning when Mama told me. “It’s really for the best, Maggie. Your father thinks you’re too old to be living at home anyway. You need to get away from here and find your own life.”

My protests went unheaded. With a weary voice my mother repeated the same answer she has for me anytime I express an opinion. “Just do as you’re told, Maggie.”

It was the best decision for all involved, except for me. How could this be the best thing for me?

 We drove to the Tarrant County courthouse in silence. Mother sat in the middle of the pickup truck seat with clinched jaw and pursed lips. I refused to think about what waited for me. Instead I gazed out of the window and watched grey clouds roll over a January sky. It was going to rain later in the evening. I wondered if anyone would remember to put food in the shed for the cats, and to close the chicken coop tonight before the storm. It was almost time to turn the beds and pull weeds for the spring garden. I already had seedlings started for potatoes and sugar beets. Someone better remember to refill our dog’s water bowl.

Judge Phillips looked as depressed as I felt. Pa took a seat on the bench that extended the length of one wall just inside the room. Mother and I slide in beside him. The judge’s wife peered at us from behind a piano that filled one corner. She suddenly disappeared into the next room and returned with a bouquet of dusty, plastic flowers which she placed in my hands.

Another gentleman arrived and my father rushed to close the distance and greeted him at the door. They shook hands. “Mr. Brown.” Pa extended his hand.

“Mr. Harrod.”

“This covers everything then. Are we agreed?” my father asked, and Mr. Brown nodded his head in agreement.

“All is cleared,” Mr. Brown said with a nod of his head. He didn’t offer a greeting to momma, but he walked over to me and took my hand. “Maggie, it’s a pleasure to see you again, my dear. Do you remember meeting me? You have grown into a beautiful young lady.” He towered over me. His hand was fat and clammy, and the smile on his face did not reach his cold eyes.

I do remember seeing him once at our house several years ago. I had been pulling weeds in the front flower bed. A fancy car came to a stop in what little front yard we had, and a man had got out and asked my name. Pa had come out of the house before I could answer. They had both got in the car and drove away.

Father gripped my arm and guided me to a spot facing the judge at Mr. Brown’s side. “Judge Philips, let’s get on with it,” Mr. Brown sais. Mother remained on the bench in stony silence, pale-faced, with hands clinched in her lap.

The judge’s wife begin to play the traditional bridal notes, and stopped when my almost  husband demanded she cease that head splitting nonsense. I couldn’t even begin to recall what was said after that. When Mr. Brown elbowed me in the ribs, none too gently, I mumbled, “I do.”

My heart beat inside my chest and I dared not look at the man’s face. A stranger was now my husband. At that very moment I hated my mother at that moment for not having a back bone to say something, anything in my behalf. I hated my father even more. There was no one on my side. No one that could see the madness in what was taking place.

This emotion was new to me. I’d never felt hate towards my family.

The judge pronounced us Mr. and Mrs.

Mother did manage an emotionless peck on my cheek, without looking me in the eyes. My father never looked in my direction. When he turned to leave, I stared daggers into his back. My new husband walked behind my parents and I followed. Just before I passed through the doorway into my new life, I turned to see the Judge wipe his cheek and his wife dab a tissue to her eyes.

It was official. I became Mrs. Clarence T. Brown and my father’s gambling debt was paid in full.

MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL selected for the anthology OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66, can be purchased as a stand alone Novella on Amazon.

Natalie Bright is author, blogger, speaker and aspiring photographer. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, and she is the author of the TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series, adventure books for kids set in the Texas frontier Ages 8-10. She also has a series of 3rd/4th level easy readers based on true stories about rescue horses. She is currently working on a book about the history of chuck wagon and cattle drives scheduled for publication in 2020.