EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Lillies in Moonlight by Allison K. Pittman (WaterBrook Multnomah).


October 1925

Just ten o’clock in the morning, and already Lilly Margolis could feel the trickle of sweat sliding between her shoulder blades.

Head up. Big smile, chin out, she silently rehearsed.

Good morning, madam. Are you the lady of the house?

Pause, two, three, four.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lilly, Lilly Margolis. But Lilly’s not just my name. It’s also the name of the fabulous new body crème from Dalliance

Cosmetics. Lilies in Moonlight. I use it myself.

She held out her arm, focusing on the creamy silk of her skin against the dark wood of the door.

Makes my skin smooth as silk and irresistible to the touch. At least that’s what my boyfriend says.

Wink, wink. She didn’t really have a boyfriend, but every man who’d ever touched her said she felt like satin. Or cold milk. White and soft and pure. She, of course, didn’t use Lilies in Moonlight body crème. She couldn’t afford it. Nothing but Ivory soap from the five-and-dime and maybe a dab of Jergens lotion.

May I introduce you to the other irresistible offerings from Dalliance Cosmetics?

This little case right here is a regular treasure trove of beauty.

This is where she’d hold up the case. She wore three bright red bangles on her left wrist, including one that held the case, and they’d clank together as she lifted it. Right arm? Pure, soft, white, unadorned. Left arm?

Fashion and beauty in one grip.

Lilly Margolis was everything—blond, bobbed hair, perfectly plucked eyebrows, bright red lips—all wrapped up in the perfect porch-sized package. What would Mama say if she could be on the other side of that door? No great mystery there. She’d say Lilly looked like a tramp, that God would condemn her for cutting her hair. To her, Lilly’s smooth skin meant that she was lazy, pampered, indulged.

Lilly banished such ugliness behind what she knew to be a dazzling face. Her mother might not approve, but the rest of the world sure did.

Men most of all. And if she got lucky, the woman behind this door would too. Resolved, she touched her painted fingertips to her hair, doubled her smile, and rang the bell.

“What do you want?” The woman on the other side of the door wore a faded housedress. Her hair was mostly piled on top of her head, though tendrils floated around her face.

Smile. “Good morning, madam! Are you the lady of the house?”

“Oh, for the love of Pete.”

And Lilly faced the door again.

She relaxed her posture, letting her shoulder stoop with the weight of the tan leather case, getting no satisfaction from even the clank of her bangles. She turned and walked down the front steps. Those potted flowers looked a little less lovely than they did when she first walked past them just a minute ago.

“Should’ve opened with the flowers.” Next door, she’d know.

Back on the sidewalk, she assessed the next house. Trim lawn, roses in bloom at the corner.

Chin up, big smile, shoulders squared, she strode up the walkway, looking confident lest the lady be looking out the front window at that moment. At the door, she shifted the leather case from one hand to the other, bangles rattling as she raised her fist to knock.

The door opened and this woman looked much like the previous one, but her hair was a little neater, her dress less faded.

“Good morning, madam. Tell me, are you responsible for those beautiful roses in bloom?”