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Bouncing BettyThe Scarlet Chronicles

Liliana Hart




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8


Hand Grenade Helen

Also by Liliana Hart

About the Author

Also by Liliana Hart

Copyright © 2021 by Liliana Hart

All rights reserved.

Published by 7th Press

Dallas, TX 75115

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

To Ava - I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become. When I write strong women characters I think of you. I love being your mom.


Getting a book out is a huge task that takes an amazing team. Thanks to my cover designer, Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs for knocking it out of the park with these gorgeous covers. Thanks to my editors, Imogen Howson and Ava Hodge, for always making my books better. And last, but not least, thanks to Scott Silverii for being the best partner, husband, sounding board, and all-around “get stuff done” guy. I love you like crazy.


Genetics were a heck of a thing to Scarlet Holmes’s way of thinking.

The little girl hopped out of the black sedan, wobbling slightly with the weight of her backpack on her shoulders. More than ninety years spanned between their ages, but it was like looking in a mirror. At least, the mirror of her childhood.

The driver closed the door behind the small child and then gave Scarlet a staunchly disapproving look before rounding the car and getting back behind the wheel. Charles was an old busybody, and she knew he’d report his findings to his employer. Not that she was doing anything wrong. An old lady couldn’t even sit on her front porch swing and drink lemonade anymore without someone running off to tattle.

Scarlet narrowed her eyes as the little girl kept her head down and took in a heaving sigh before starting what looked like a death march down the long drive.

“Ada Mae Dempsey,” Scarlet called out, her voice echoing like a drill sergeant. “Light a fire under those feet. I could die before you get here.”

Ada picked up the pace, but she didn’t lift her head. She kicked at invisible rocks and looked so pitiful Scarlet had to stifle a laugh. And then the girl finally made her way up the steps of the big white house that had been in her family for generations.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” Scarlet said, trying not to let her worry show.

She scooted her way to the edge of the swing so her thick-soled white sneakers touched the wooden slats of the porch, and she waited until the swing was moving forward before hopping off. The skirt of her bright yellow sundress clung to the back of her legs. Whiskey Bayou in August was like sitting in a bowl of hot soup. As old as she was, if she wasn’t careful, her skin would fall off the bone like a soup chicken.

“As much as I like looking at the top of your head,” Scarlet said, “a Holmes always faces the music. We hold our chins up high, even if you’ve got five or six of them like my great-aunt Gertie.”

Ada let her backpack slip off her shoulders and it hit the porch with a thud, and then she tightened her little fists and lifted her chin defiantly. Scarlet’s lips twitched. Ada Mae was a chip off the old block all right.

Lordy, she was a mess. Her dark pigtails were whompyjawed, her white uniform shirt was missing a button, her knees were skinned, and one of her argyle socks drooped to her ankle. She looked pitiful.

“Hmmph,” Scarlet said. “It looks like school hasn’t changed much since I was there.”

“They had school when you were a kid?” Ada asked, wide eyed.

“They sure did,” she said. “But I looked way worse than you. I went to an all-girls school. Girls really know how to pull hair.”

Ada might have had her father’s piercing blue eyes, but she was a Holmes through and through. Ada rubbed at her scalp and grinned, the single dimple in her cheek identical to the one in Scarlet’s.

“Yeah, but that stuff you taught me came in real handy. Paris Wheeler’s thumb bent back really far, and she screamed really loud.”

“Paris Wheeler is a second grader,” Scarlet said, surprised. “Since when did they start putting kindergarten and second grade on the playground together?”

Ada’s grin disappeared and she got that stubborn set to her chin that said she’d already shared too much. “I smell cookies.”

“Verna made them fresh to celebrate your first day of school. Better go get one before I eat them all. Girls that fight with second graders maybe don’t deserve a lot of cookies.”

Ada took a minute to measure her mark, and her lip quivered as her eyes started to fill.

“You know that’s wasted on me,” Scarlet said. “If you’re going to sell it you’ve got to get rid of the mad in your eyes.”

“Works on everybody else,” Ada grumbled under her breath and headed toward the little table next to the swing. She daintily selected a chocolate-chip cookie, and Scarlet poured her a cup of lemonade from the glass pitcher. She waited until Ada climbed up into the swing and spread a napkin across her lap before Scarlet handed her the cup. Then she took the seat next to her and started the swing rocking.

“How come tears work on everyone but you?” Ada asked.

“Because everyone else is a bunch of suckers. I got tortured by Nazis. Takes a lot more than a quivering lip to break

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