About the Book:
The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.
Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.
Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.
I FIRST DISCOVERED Margot on Facebook shortly after moving back. Via Erin. Even though Erin is an earth mama through and through and doesn’t care much for the socialite scene, because of her volunteer work, she sometimes runs in the same high society circles as Margot.
A few days before Christmas, Erin was tagged in a splashy post with twenty or so other women. A post about a Christmas party— specifically a “Mommy and Kiddos Dance”— benefiting the local children’s theater.
Almost instantly, my eyes found Margot in the lineup of all the women and kids in the group.
She was dressed in a black, one-shoulder evening gown with a slit up the leg so high it reached the top of her thigh. A diamond choker clasped her neck, and her dark hair was smoothed back, shiny as a new penny.
I found myself drawn to her, my eyes studying her sculpted thigh, her slender wrist. But more than anything, it was her expression that jolted me. Her fuckme eyes, but also, while everyone else was flashing giddy grins, Margot’s mouth was pressed into that same smirk she wears in nearly all the other photos I’ve seen of her. That smirk of irreverence that lets me know she is different from all the others in the photograph.
I took a sip of the chardonnay I’d been nursing all evening and swiped through the comments. The first was Erin’s:
That was SO fun! Mattie had a blast!
Followed by a stream of others that echoed Erin’s sentiment: Yasssss!
We should do this every year! SO fun!
Then one from Margot:
Ladies, paleez. There wasn’t enough booze in the joint to make the night bearable.
I grinned. I noticed her comment had racked up the most likes—nearly forty—and that people were still hitting the “like” button while I was looking at it.
I dragged the cursor and hovered over her name, which in and of itself sounded beguiling: Margot Banks.
I clicked on it. But her profile was set to private. A locked door. The standard Facebook message glared at me beneath her profile pic: To see what she shares with friends, send her a friend request.
But I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.
All I could gather from her profile were scant biographical details:
Age: Thirty-eight. Three years older than me.
Birthday: August 20.
Friends: 3,121. Jesus.
Her profile pic: Margot in oversize shades with the tease of a smile curling on her lips. Her arms wrapped around a dashing man. I clicked on the photo. The caption simply read: “Me and the hubs.” The person tagged in the photo was Jed Banks.
I knew of that name, not because I’d ever met Jed, but because the Bankses are Mapleton royalty. The local library, for one, bears their family name.
I clicked on it; his profile was public. But clearly untended, like those of most males his age. Just stale birthday wishes to him from last fall, none of which he ever replied to.
I scanned through a few of his photos. Dark, wavy hair, olive skin. Roman-god handsome. Every bit as much of a scorcher as Margot.
I headed back to Erin’s page, dug around, and found a handful more of mutually tagged posts with Margot.
One from last Easter at the Piney Woods Country Club. A ladies’ luncheon.
The sun-soaked dining room filled with women of all ages, sitting at long tables adorned with pink and yellow tulip bouquets. Margot sumptuously dressed in a white sundress dotted with red poppies, her expression exuding an air of boredom.
The comments section was ripe with the usual: Fun, fun, fun! Lovely day, Ladies!
And also sprinkled with some religious comments: We serve an awesome God! He is risen!
Yes, fun. But if one more person in this godforsaken town tells me to have a blessed day, I’m going to commit ritual suicide.
I nearly spit my wine out reading that, I laughed so hard.
This very thing had actually become an injoke between me and Graham. “And how many times were you blessed today?” he began to ask me shortly after we moved here.
“Was it this rabidly religious when you lived here before?” he asked me.
No, no it was not. It seemed that in the past twenty years, the town had gone full-tilt-boogie fanatical. Jesus signs in front yards. Perfect strangers inviting us to their Sunday church services under the guise of “being led by the Lord to ask” us.
So when I read Margot’s comment, she felt simpatico.
I found myself looking forward to checking Facebook to try and catch posts she was tagged in. And thinking about her more and more, wondering about her life, which seemed so much bigger than my own. And yes, digging her name out of the phone book and locating her house. It wasn’t envy, though; I didn’t want to be her.
It was so much more than that. I wanted to be near her. For her to notice me, too. The idea of it took my breath away. It became powerful and even consuming.
About the Author:
May Cobb is a freelance writer from Austin, TX who won the 2015 Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest. Her writing has appeared in Austin Monthly and the online edition of JazzTimes. Big Woods is her debut novel.