Garden Reach

Garden Reach GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9781611529661

    Are second chances possible? Evelyn Richards thinks so. After the death of her husband, she travels to a remote spot on the Pacific coast. There, on a windswept bluff above a rugged, rocky shore, she moves into a luxurious suite in a renovated Victorian home. Evelyn immediately falls in love with the remote and wild setting, as well as with the renovated home, Garden Reach, which she shares with three other women in circumstances similar to hers.

    Evelyn is especially drawn to the owner, Lilah Sarkees, an exotic and attractive woman who owns the mansion and acts as hostess for the residents. But two months after settling in, Evelyn is beginning to have doubts about her ability to adjust to these new surroundings.

    What is it that makes her so uneasy? Why is Garden Reach -- initially so full of hope and promise -- now a place of danger that could threaten her very existence? Will she survive, or will Garden Reach claim another victim

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    “Is this a ghost story, ladies, or what?”

    “No ghosts, I'm afraid,” said Lilah. “Quite ill and alone, the owner committed suicide in his study. When the realtor first took me through there, I’d had the strangest feeling --”

    “Go on,” prompted Mildred.

    “There was a ledger left open on the desk,” Lilah said. “And a mug with dried coffee stains at the bottom. It looked…well, as though he’d just stepped out.”

    Mildred said the story was downright creepy. Angela unwound her rosary beads and blessed herself with the tarnished cross. Evelyn's thoughts drifted back to Don’s final days, and then to the Garden’s last owner. First, his business going under, and then the illness. She felt empathy for the poor man and certainly understood. When Evelyn mentally rejoined the conversation, Lilah was telling them she kept the door to the wing locked, the key on a nail in the kitchen pantry. “It's really a shame,” she said.

    “Why?” Mildred asked.

    “Because it’s a shortcut to the garden, certainly more convenient than the roundabout way --”

    “Well, we’re not in the least concerned, are we, girls?” Mildred said. “People live near graveyards all the time, and it never seems to bother them.” She paused then winked at Evelyn. “Isn’t that right?” Evelyn thought Mildred's choice of words odd but she knew what she meant. Don’s final resting place was near a shopping center in Colma, a small suburb of San Francisco known by locals as the cemetery capital of the world. And when she’d visited her cousin in New Hampshire, there was an old but historical cemetery right across the street from their farmhouse. If New Englanders didn’t mind, why should we?

    Mildred glanced at her watch and excused herself to write letters, “While there’s still some natural light.” Angela said she could use an extra arm up those dreadful stairs and went with her.

    Lilah and Evelyn remained on the patio, now bathed in an orange glow as the sun set over the Pacific. Lilah spoke of her early years in India. Her husband worked for the British Council in Calcutta, and when he was assigned to an embassy in Nairobi, Lilah traveled with him to East Africa. After his death, she stayed on and eventually bought a hotel in Mombasa, which she managed for several years before coming to the States.

    Later, while Lilah was occupied clearing the table and washing up in the kitchen, Evelyn went into the adjacent sitting room and stood by the window. Outside it was almost dusk, yet she thought she saw a dark, shadowy figure moving through the garden. The wind was strong, and she could barely make out a swaying outline of trees, but for a moment she was sure…no, it couldn’t be. A hand on her shoulder suddenly startled Evelyn, but then she relaxed when Lilah’s reflection appeared next to hers in the glass.

    “I didn't mean to upset you, dear,” Lilah said.

    Evelyn apologized for so being jumpy, and then made a mental note to renew her prescription in the morning. Later, climbing the stairs to her apartment, she thought again about what she’d seen. Preoccupied in thought, she opened the door and switched on the living room lamps. By the time she settled herself in bed, she was certain the shadowy figure she’d seen moving about the garden was Angela. What in hell was the old girl up to?



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