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Rani Baker’s dream is about to come true. All of her life she’s wanted nothing more than a garden full of antique roses. Within the haven she wants to build, she is safe from the evil that has chased her since childhood. Only now, the ‘prickles’ she learned to rely on as a child are back, warning her that danger is near, and far more deadly than before.
Bricklayer and all around handyman, Devin Leising, has found Serendipitous Rose to be his own safe haven. Here he can hide from his past and live a life of solitude. Until the first body is discovered in the lake, their secrets are safe locked inside the grounds of Blakely Manor. Together they must fight the evil that lurks within the walls of the house and skirts the edges of the woods, haunting and hunting the unsuspecting soul.
"You may think I’m a heartless father, Rani, but I’d like to see you succeed to prove to Judith you don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to be somebody. It takes brains and hard work to make it in this world, and you shouldn’t rely on your family money to get you by in life. Judith’s still under the misconception old money is what made her." Mr. O’Malley coughed again. This time the gut-wrenching racking lasted longer.
"And you don’t believe that?" Rani questioned, knowing the answer well-enough. Money talked, especially old money.
"It shouldn’t, but it has. I blame her mother and myself for that. I, too, was a spoiled, arrogant S.O.B. in my youth. I’m still an S.O.B., but one who sees even old money can’t give you everything." He sighed into the phone. "If you’ll be home this afternoon, I’d like to stop by with my analysis. Don’t feel obligated to take it, just look it over and think about it. Will two o’clock be alright with you?"
Rani stood upright and glanced at the clock. "Two o’clock is fine, Mr. O’Malley. I’ll be waiting."
The abrupt dial tone shook her more than the phone call. She didn’t think he was much of a businessman in the way of manners when he didn’t even say goodbye.
"Miz Rani, you okay?"
She glanced at Arthur and realized she still held the phone in her hand. "Yeah, sure." She let out a deep breath. "At least I think I am."
The receiver dropped in its base with a soft thud before she walked to the table to sit. "It seems the president of the bank is going to make a house call this afternoon." She glanced around the kitchen. "Where’s Devin?"
Arthur nodded, his face solemn. "I reckon Mister Devin’s still down at the fishing hole. The ground’s too muddy to till."
But, there was brick that could be replaced or work on the fountain that needed to be done. Did he think just because she was inside she was loafing around? She rubbed her eyes, frustrated at her own lack of patience. He couldn’t work very well in the mud, either.
A stack of leather-bound books caught her eye. "Are these the books you found?"
"Yes, ma’am. Here’s your soup and a nice plate of bread and butter." He placed the items in front of her.
Enthralled with the discovery, Rani found the same spidery handwriting filled the musty pages of these notebooks, just like the book upstairs. Todd Blakely’s diagrams and ideas fascinated her. His dreams to make Blakely gardens as superb as the castle gardens in England were apparently cut short by some unknown event.
Rani turned the page and stared at the hand-drawn map of the area. The bowl of soup was forgotten as she became caught up in history.
"Look at this, Arthur," she exclaimed. "All of these buildings behind the garden area."
Arthur didn’t move from his seat, yet he nodded, "Slave quarters."
Shocked at the unexpected answer, she jerked and stared at the old man. "How do you know that?"
He took a bite of thick, vegetable beef soup and chewed slowly, abominably slow. "My granddaddy was born of slave parents on this land, Miz Rani. He came into this world a slave and left it as a free man."
When he pointed his spoon at her, his hand shook slightly. "Now you eat, Miz Rani. Need to keep your strength up for the money man."
With a sigh, she slid the bowl closer. "Arthur, would you tell me more?"
"What you want to know?" he asked, his eyes watchful.
"What were the Blakelys like? How did they treat the people who worked for them?" She spooned up soup and savored the flavor while waiting for an answer.
"Mister Todd and Granddaddy grew up together. They were best friends. Mister Todd’s mama took granddaddy under her wing and taught him to read and write. The master and mistress were good, fair people who treated their slaves decent. Master Blakely wasn’t looked on favorably by many of his peers ‘cause they believed he was too soft, letting his slaves become educated and not splitting up and selling off their family."
I continue to reside in the state where I was born and raised. One of three daughters, I would stand at the kitchen sink daydreaming of different lifetimes I believed I’d lived before. With each passing year, I continue to wonder about past life experiences, déjà vu, and the blueprint of life we are all born with. As time continues, I hope to discover more of my own past lives through my studies. With the help of my guides I believe this will be a major accomplishment for me.
I am surrounded by my four children, my beautiful grandchildren and my sisters, who love me, but don’t always understand me. My parents offer me their encouragement from their home state, by reading my books, then telling their friends. I am blessed to share my living space with my cat, Gracie, who only knows true and unconditional love. Which she’s bound and determined to teach me in this lifetime.
I am constantly being challenged with new thoughts and ideas by my close circle of friends. They never know when something they say may start to smolder and flame into a new story.
I would love to hear from each of you and you may reach me at Sthornton@neb.rr.com.
In the combined tradition of Tami Hoag and Dean Koonz, author Sue Thornton creates a spellbinding tale of horror and murder.– Cindy Penn, Word weaving
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 452
Paper Weight (lb): 18.8
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