About the Book
Marissa Kristofferson can taste freedom. Her long years of suffering at the hands of her sadistic husband, Lance, are coming to an end as he lies dying. But she is stunned when he reveals the contents of his will and what she must do to keep Kristofferson Plantation, and how he plans to keep her bound to him even beyond the grave.
The beautiful slave Lolley has always envied Marissa’s life, and after learning that the master has also ordered her freed after his death, she is determined to reach for the life she wants by becoming the mistress of Marissa’s son, Shane, though she does not realize the lengths Marissa will go to to prevent the match, or the far-reaching consequences that will follow.
And Shelby, the plain and dutiful slave of free blacks, is unwittingly caught in the shocking drama that unfolds as a family is torn apart. Used as a pawn in a game of rivalry, deception, and betrayal, hers is a fight for survival while attempting to remain true to herself.
Three women—so very different but each carrying dark secrets that are closely intertwined, caught in a world between slave and free, a world which is becoming more fragile and precarious as war threatens and alliances shift, and each harboring seemingly impossible dreams of a better future.
In this first book of a dark historical saga, K. Willow paints a lush, emotional portrait of scandal, murder, injustice, and the ties that bind in the antebellum South.
About the Author
Exerpt from the Book
Sometime in November, 1858
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina
Aggie stood hidden behind the door, listening and feeling the aged and winded voice of Master Lance Kristofferson whisper through the crevice and hover over the tiny hairs of her skin. His most powerful voice had always hushed the spirit, rebellious as it was, inside of her. And today’s morning, even more so, the spirit was stuck in her chest.
Not a person ever dared to speak whenever Master Lance Kristofferson was talking. Nor did they ever attempt to question his judgments, his authority over the multitude living there on Kristofferson Plantation, both slave and free. Unwise souls who did so always regretted it after enduring the merciless consequences from such a vengeful man. From warnings, most had acquired this lesson, but some had learned it through a most difficult way.
And so people in Hidden Hills, especially those on Kristofferson Plantation, knew to listen to Master Lance. They should preserve their truest feelings inside themselves and simply obey, for it was the best way to safeguard their lives. There hadn’t been a time that anyone, even the most elderly of slaves or the most gossip-driven society woman, could recall when Lance Kristofferson had not achieved what he wanted. He had always found a way.
He crowed, “I want you all to be aware of what exactly is going to become of each and every one of you.”
His audience of three, all dressed in their fine and elegant morning dress for the day, was assembled before him at the foot of his grand old metal bed, where he had slept alone for probably over two years now. Aggie’s mistress, Marissa Kristofferson, his younger wife, who was now more handsome than Master Lance had ever been at her age, sat ready between the other two. Mister Alexander Pratt, the faithful employee who oversaw the runnings of Kristofferson Plantation, and then Shane, Marissa’s dark-haired, sullen son of eighteen, whom Aggie had raised alongside her own daughter, Lolley.
Aggie could hear them, see them, even though, as it had often been over the years, she was veiled from them. Unassuming, but witnessing everything. She knew that not one of them wanted to be there in that cold, drab room with Master Lance. Even Aggie could smell the disease that was devouring him, seeping through his pores and rubbing up against the bodies of all close to him, from their fingertips to their little toes. She could hear things, and she could hear it laughing. And she wanted to shut it up, that sickness that had thieved the beauty of this once overly superior man. Now he was as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside.
The other cups sitting on the tray held out in front of Master Lance jiggled together as he struggled to place his own teacup on it. But Lucas, the darkest skinned one in the room, was holding that tray, and he wouldn’t let it fall for fear of the wrath to come to anyone who embarrassed the master.
From the doorway, Aggie watched as Lucas held the tray with the large pot and all of the teacups secure in place, unaffected. She knew that he had become accustomed to Master Lance’s growing physical frailness, even though Master Lance had not been able to admit it was so. The master’s mind was still as strong and devilish as it ever had been. Aggie felt her spirit rising up against her, becoming anxious as she heard the scrambling of the soles of old shoes downstairs on the main floor, tirelessly working to fulfill their morning chores, calling her to help, to see to it that the teams of slaves in the Kristofferson household were doing as they had been told.
Rivulets of sweat dripped down from her tight, curly hairline over her dark, chiseled skin, but she steeled herself to maintain her statuesque position, waiting for Lance to continue making his great announcement. But knowing Master Lance, his sudden quietness signaled that he was also waiting—for Lucas to leave.
Lucas turned and trailed toward the door. It was obvious to Aggie that Master Lance didn’t want Lucas spreading word of what was going to happen to Kristofferson Plantation—and to all of them—just yet. He would rather torment them all by allowing the gossip and the hearsay to just keep running amok in every circle of the plantation.
Lucas finally lifted his sharp hazel eyes to the probing deep and dark ones of Aggie. He mouthed, “No.”
No, Aggie thought, though he had been there a good fifteen minutes before she had arrived in the shadows of the doorway. Lucas had not heard any new information. As soon as he stepped both feet in the hallway and was out of sight of the white folks inside, she wrapped her long fingers around the tingling knob and dragged the door closed.
“Bring that tray on out to the kitchen,” she whispered. “Miss Marissa, Mister Pratt, and Master Shane will want to be eating shortly after their talk.”
He nodded and strode on skinny legs beneath dark, perfectly creased trousers down the hallway. She watched until he had disappeared around the worn corner leading down the back stairwell.
Trying one more time, hoping for good fortune, she positioned her body with her head tilted toward the door to see if she could hear anything. But all was still in there except for a throaty hum of a voice, which she knew must be Master Lance’s. She could not make the words out.
Aggie sighed as the spirit inside of her relaxed back down into the center of her belly, and she started to stroll down the hallway, knowing there was always the possibility that the mistress might just let slip out later what had happened in that room.
Note: There are also a few sex scenes, specifically in chapters 12 and 22, which readers may choose to skip.
Series: The Hidden Hills Saga
Genre: historical fiction
Literary Awards: Readers’ Favorite
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication date: November 21, 2014
Number of pages: 274
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Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
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