On Secrets and Personal Domestic Suspense

Everyone keeps secrets. In each family, a few closeted skeletons lurk in a sordid past that would sooner be forgotten. Whether we hold secrets close to protect ourselves or others, hiding something from loved ones can cause stress, miscommunication, and a list of golden opportunities ripe for a domestic suspense novel.

My own domestic suspense story starts here:

My sister, Patty, and my daughter, Courtney, planned to fly to Wisconsin, visit my mom and drive my late brother’s Subaru back to Colorado. But I worried about the fifteen-hour drive and offered to help. It would be fun to travel with them and see my mom.

I am a beast at driving long distances and could have been a Mack truck driver — I’ve heard they have a shortage right now. After a few miles, my brain hits the zone and monkey-jumps from plot points to increasing stakes with new ways to wreak havoc on unsuspecting characters. While revising the draft of my latest novel, I search for the next fast-food chain along the endless highway. I looked forward to the adventure.

We flew out that Friday with my secret simmering inside.

Susie and Mom check on treasures

When we arrived, my mom fished with a few pertinent questions. I skirted around the answers like a skater on thin ice at Lake Wingra.

Patty and Courtney have a glass of wine
Patty and Courtney celebrate with happy hour.

We spent Saturday morning relaxing in the kitchen with coffee and Wisconsin’s sweet manna from heaven — Almond Kringle. Again, she asked questions, and I distracted her by diving into the second purpose of the trip — unpacking boxes of antiques procured throughout the years to amass our own collections of family heirlooms. If everything went as planned, my secret would be revealed Sunday evening.   

Mom in the kitchen with unpacked treasures

My mom lives in a massive Victorian. With the light from stained glass windows to guide me, I uncovered treasures tucked in the corners of the high-ceilinged attic. Then Patty, Courtney, and I worked our way down to racks of plastic containers in the musty unfinished basement of the one hundred and twenty-year-old house. We brought box after box to the kitchen, where we unpacked precious items, considered them, and then reorganized and repacked them again.

Whew! I found all kinds of fantastic finds.

Susie goofing around with sombrero

I don’t know of any skeletons in her closets, but ghosts thrive in the rambling Victorian. Memories of my brother, Joe, and my dad surrounded me in photographs, my dad’s paintings, and the treasures we discovered. When I was young, I focused on the future. Now that I’m older, I try not to dwell on the past. I breathed through the loss of family to gain footing in the present, and it worked. Back at you, time!

ed mccartan paintings
ed mccartan painting

We continued our quest on Sunday, and the packed boxes grew in numbers. By late afternoon, my eyes darted from the clock in the kitchen to my fitness watch. Time slowed.

Courtney and grandma have a moment

That night at dinner, I wondered if something had gone wrong. I fidgeted. Pulled out my cell phone. Checked to make sure the sound was turned on. What was taking so long?

As it crept closer to 9:00, my hands perspired. My knee jumped up and down. I picked up my cell. Was it working? When we first arrived, we had trouble making calls and had to move the router. Maybe there was something wrong with it again.

I set down my phone again.

The phone rang, loud and clear. I snapped it up and answered.

It was my son, Kelly.

I thumbed the speaker:

“I proposed to Leksy!” he said from a studio in Los Angeles. “We’re getting married!”

We all screamed and then talked at once.

Leksy shows off her ring with Kelly
Kelly Lindau and Leksy Wolk are engaged!

Now that the secret was out, I could breathe again.

Kelly’s plan to surprise Leksy at a photoshoot in Los Angeles worked!

I looked around my mom’s Victorian, still filled with memories of loved ones, and thought, Finally. Our family is growing.

I’m a kid again, looking forward to what the future might bring. — I’m sure it will be filled with all kinds of domestic suspense.

47 thoughts on “On Secrets and Personal Domestic Suspense

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  1. You had me on the edge of my seat waiting for the plot twists and turns – ha! OMG – that house is gorgeous from what I can see in the photos. You always seem to rock a hat too. Nothing better than family time and how exciting to have an addition to the family too – CONGRATS to the two of them – CELEBRATION TIME!!! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂


    1. Thank you, Renee!

      Mom’s house is filled with unique features. She wants stay as long as she can.

      There’s nothing better than a growing family. COVID put a dent in many engagements and most venues are booked out to 2023. You know me. We’re still celebrating!

      I hope you have a fabulous week! 😎


      1. It’s complicated, Susie. The ginormous, exploding population is taking its toll on resources in every imaginable manner, the current pandemic situation being no exception. The best part however is that we are still free, and that is saying a lot what with Afghanistan being not too distant a neighbour.


  2. Congrats, Susie! Once that family starts growing, it grows exponentially. Love your dad’s paintings. My mother was a portrait artist. Having those family portraits for posterity is incomparable.

    Now that I know you can keep can keep a secret so well, I’ve been dying to tell you about my work with the CIA. Can you meet me tonight under the lamppost at Main and 3rd?


  3. What a wonderful story, you did amazingly well to keep that secret. Your Mums old house must be fascinating with all those heirlooms and nooks and crannies to explore. What fabulous memories at every turn.


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