Sometimes the supernatural crashes in on you in an abrupt and jarring manner, and at other times, it’s a slow, languorous journey that unfolds in surprising and unexpected ways. My third story for Halloween Month is the tale of a woman who essentially is running away from her life, if only for the holidays, and how a chance encounter on a beach along the Mississippi Gulf Coast changes everything.
It wasn’t exactly as she’d intended, but the truth of the matter was that nothing ever was, exactly as she intended. It was Christmas, the Christmas holidays, and she had three weeks off at teaching at the University. But she wouldn’t be travelling home. Her parents were off to visit her sister’s family in North Carolina — a trip that she simply couldn’t face. So instead, Helen had decided to do something odd and spontaneous that no one really understood. She’d decided to rent a beach cottage and spend Christmas alone.
“You can’t spend the holidays alone dear.”
“That’s just odd.”
And a maelstrom of other responses, but she was thirty-six years old, unattached. And her heart craved something indefinable. But as was not unusual, her plans did not turn out as she expected.
“This is not a beachside cottage.”
The manager, a woman in her early sixties with abundant white hair, smiled at her broadly, clearly unruffled. “If you follow this street down White Harbor Road, you will hit the beach in no time.”
Helen frowned. On the internet, it had advertised a Gulf Coast beachside cottage. “That’s not exactly the same as a beachside cottage. I wanted to be near the water.”
Mrs. Haughn smiled broadly again, smoothly, as though completely untouched by misunderstanding. “You know Miss Ellis, it is Miss.”
“Lately it’s been Ms.”
Another smile, “Ms. Ellis, I would be happy to refund your deposit, but I must tell you I think you’re making a mistake. This sweet little cottage is right in the midst of historical Crystal Springs. Just turn a corner and you’re walking down a lovely street filled with shops owned by our artistic residents. And my dear, you can walk to the beach. It’s only three, well, maybe four blocks down, a lovely jaunt in this cool weather.”
Her head spun a bit. It wasn’t what she’d planned. She’d planned to be well isolated, work on the novel she’d been piddling with for the last two years and listen to the sound of the water, not of cars driving by. “I don’t know Mrs. Haughn. It’s just not exactly what I had planned.”
“Well, my dear, why don’t you try it out for a few days. Plans can change sometimes, change and often for the better.”
It was a lovely cottage, wooden floors, a cozy bedroom with a full-size bed covered in a light blue chenille bedspread that reminded her of her grandmother for some odd reason. There was also a small sort of den with a comfortable overstuffed chair and a television that she did not intend to use, then a connecting open kitchen with a small dinette table. All in all, very comfortable, very solitary, and there was free wireless. It fit the bill for what she wanted, except she wished all of it were sitting right on the beach.
“It’s not too late to catch a flight out to North Carolina. I hate the idea of you spending Christmas alone.”
“No, no don’t worry. I need this time to myself to figure some things out.”
Actually Mrs. Haughn was just slightly off. The beach was a five block walk from the Seaside Cottages. That was even their name, Seaside Cottages. But the first morning, actually a Sunday morning, Helen bundled up and made the jaunt. Living in the South, one would think the winters weren’t as terribly cold, but they’d be wrong. There might be an absence of snow, but there was also the moisture in the air that made the cold so penetrative. As she walked, Helen pulled the heavy teal colored scarf that she’d wrapped around her neck up to cover the bottom part of her face.
The beach itself was definitely worth the walk once she arrived. The day was gray, overcast, but the white sand gleamed. The water soothingly lapped up on the shore. She sat on a cold granite bench for a moment that had been placed in a park like area leading up the sand. She breathed the cool air into her lungs as she considered for the first time that perhaps she’d made a mistake. Christmas was in four days, and she would be alone. It hadn’t bothered her before, not really. She’d felt determined, possessed in some way to be isolated, but now there were doubts — the best laid plans.
She bowed her head, overcome with a sudden surge of confusing despair when out of nowhere she felt a long cold nose nudge her. Her head pulled up, and she met the large dark eyes of a black dog. It aggressively pushed its face into her hands, so she would pet it.
Finally, regaining her bearings after being so startled, she noticed the long slim dog was leashed and followed its long connection to a man standing quietly a few feet away. “Don’t worry. She’s harmless,” he commented. Helen slowly stood up, though the dog was still intent on nuzzling her. “You know, she doesn’t take to everyone but seems to like you.”
He was tall, tall with a big blue jacket on. “Well, she’s beautiful. I didn’t notice you two walk up.”
He pressed a button reeling the leash in a bit tighter as he approached her. “You seemed like you wanted to be alone. I was planning to walk by, but then Hazel had other plans.”
She laughed, “She’s a lab?”
“Lab, collie, a mix of other things.”
She smiled nodding. He was closer now. Brown hair, beard and mustache, maybe forties she thought. “Are you—” then she stopped.
“Are we—” he echoed in a friendly manner.
“Sorry, I was going to ask if you were from here.”
“Ah Crystal Springs, not originally, but I have lived here for the last three years. It’s a lovely little antiquated community. And I would say quite definitively that you are not.”
She laughed nervously, “No, I guess that’s obvious.”
“Yes, but not for reason you may think. Visiting?”
She nodded, “Yes, I rented a cottage.”
“Ah, one of Mary Haughn’s cottages down White Harbor Road?”
“Yes,” she answered a bit surprised.
“Over Christmas here alone?”
She sighed a bit in response, trying to decide how to respond.
And then he smiled, “Would you like to get a coffee. It’s just into town.”
Now that was quick and unexpected, seeing as though they’d literally just met. “I suppose,” she answered a bit hesitantly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get your name.”
“No you didn’t. My name is Billy Struve.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Helen, Helen Ellis.”
It was a small café/coffee shop just off Main Street. And by the time they arrived, she was grateful. She’d thought she was in good shape, but all the walking this morning had proved differently. Mr. Billy Struve had tied Hazel to the white wrought iron chair across from hers on the café’s patio asking her to keep watch as he disappeared into the restaurant. The patio was positioned just off the street where she could observe people milling around, wandering from shop to shop. It was actually quite soothing, a different pace from the city where these days nothing much felt languid.
In moments, she was pulled from her thoughts back to the presence of her companion arriving with two steaming cups of coffee and two almond croissants. He smiled, sitting across from her. “I hope you don’t mind. I thought you might be hungry. Breakfast went right by me today.”
Strange, she hadn’t given a thought to breakfast this morning, just focused on the necessity of getting out by the water. “Oh, actually it’s perfect, thank you,” she answered.
She hadn’t looked too closely at her companion on their jaunt here. There was some conversation, but purely superficial, about the lovely houses near the water, the weather, the beautiful day, and Hazel. She learned quickly all there was to know about Hazel — an SPCA dog he’d adopted as a puppy just after he’d moved here. He took a sip of his coffee and more than a few bites of his croissant and then leaned back in his chair, eying her amiably. “So, you work here?” she asked a little awkwardly.
“Yes, I own one of these shops here. It’s a bit of a gallery for painters, sculptors, other artists. “
“Oh, that’s interesting. What about you, are you an artist?” It was an odd question that had simply popped into her head. But he seemed to take it in his stride, as though he were not surprised.
“Yes, Helen, as a matter of fact, I am a painter and I make pottery as well.”
She nodded, “So you sell?”
“My work as well as others,” he answered, smoothly completing her thought. “And you are a writer?” he asked, as he took another sip of his coffee.
The question hit her strangely. “No, not really, why would you say that?”
He hesitated, almost as though he didn’t believe her, then shrugged, “Felt right.”
She glanced away, feeling a little uncomfortable now. “I’m a professor in New Orleans. I teach English.”
He slowly lowered his coffee cup to the table. “Hmm, strange, you just have that writer vibe, you know.”
She turned back to him adding, “I guess I dabble in it a bit, my own writing.”
“Well, Helen Ellis, I have a sense of these sorts of things, and I think you should do more than dabble. You should commit to it. I’m sure you’d be wonderful.”
She felt a bit stunned at his pronouncement, at how personal he was getting. “And this you know from our short acquaintance?”
“Hmm, don’t mean for you to get your back up. In my experience, it’s just important to do what your soul craves. “And then he smiled warmly, “And if you don’t, it won’t give you any peace. You see, I used to be a lawyer, practiced out in Georgia for many years. Then I gave it all up and came here.”
“Really?” she asked a bit surprised.
“Seems reckless I suppose to some. But I don’t think you can put too high a premium on peace.” She felt stunned, having no idea at all what to say. “So Helen, since we’re being candid, is there anything else you’d like to know?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m not married, have been, have been divorced, have no children.”
She nodded, not at all sure where he was going with this. “Oh, well, that’s nice.”
He laughed, “Yes, my point being that if we’re finished with me for the moment, I would like to know about you. About why such a lovely woman has come to this place, a place she clearly doesn’t know, alone for the holidays. Why?” and then he smiled in that warm way of his, “And why again?”
She sipped her coffee, wondering if it was time to leave and start closing doors. “It’s not a mystery. I wanted to get away, alone. That’s all.”
“And write?” he asked.
“Maybe,” she hesitated.
“Been married Helen?”
Another odd moment in a series of odd moments since she’d met this man. “Yes, once, a while ago,” she answered with a distance in her voice.
He nodded slowly, as though it was of no surprise. “Thought so.”
“Why, why would you think so?”
And then he looked past her to the people milling on the sidewalks, “Because these things leave marks.
After coffee, they walked around Main Street with Billy Struve amiably pointing out this establishment and then the next. She found herself drifting into a peaceful zone, one that was not contemplating her next move, or analyzing the implications of what was happening. She was simply moving in the moment, a soothing place to exist.
“Are you getting tired?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe a bit, I’m not really used to walking this much.”
“Well, we don’t want to wear you out on your first day. How about I walk you home?”
“All right,” she answered, as he changed directions, she following his moderate strides back towards White Harbor Road.
“You know, I was thinking Helen Ellis. Why don’t you let me fix you dinner tonight?”
She breathed in the frosty air, her city upbringing creeping back into her mind with doubts. After all, Billy Struve was a virtual stranger. What did she really know about him, except that he was pleasant, laid-back and —
“Only the things he has told you he is.”
She halted in the middle of the road at his strange pronouncement exactly mirroring her thoughts. “What did you say?” she asked.
He frowned, “Sorry, I told you I get a sense of things. You’re worried about whether you can really trust me.”
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Helen, it’s not such an incredible jump to make. Tell you what. I’ll take you out to dinner, into Biloxi. Things roll up early here in this sleepy little town. Would that be better?”
She started walking again but slowly this time, a bit taken aback by what had just happened. “I don’t know.”
“Hmm, look, I like spending time with you. You seem, how can I say this, kindred to me. So, don’t over think it, all right.”
She didn’t answer just let his pronouncement float solitarily in the air as they turned another corner that led into the parking lot of Mary Haughn’s cottages.
“So how’s the great experiment going?”
“Fine, it’s beautiful here.”
“You know, we could still get you a last-minute ticket to fly up here for Christmas,” Helen could hear a bit of strain in Lydia’s normally cheerful voice. It was evident that her mother had put pressure on her to make this scenario happen.
“Thanks, but I’m all set up here. And I think it’s doing me some good.”
“Oh, okay, met anybody interesting?”
She sighed, questioning whether to open this up or not, but in truth, it would be reassuring to them to know that she wasn’t completely alone. “Actually yes, I met a man on the beach this morning, and we’re having dinner tonight.”
Helen dressed in one of the few slightly dressy outfits she’d brought with her — a dark green wool skirt and matching sweater with boots of course, her favorite cold-weather accessory. It was just after six when she heard the light quick knock at her cottage door. She’d spent most of the afternoon resting and then actually for the remaining hour or two writing. She was gratified at actually getting some of this work done finally. The normal distractions that always seemed to vex her were absent here. Truly, it was as though she’d escaped, at least temporarily, to a different reality.
“You look beautiful,” he immediately commented as Billy Struve crossed the threshold into her small den.
“Oh thanks,” she responded. He was so gracious, so smoothly attentive that it took her by surprise. Most people who had been orbiting her sphere of contacts lately seemed more self-absorbed, completely focused on keeping their personal realm intact. As a result, giving wasn’t a high priority.
He was dressed nicely too, a sweater over dress pants and a long trench coat that gave him a different look, sharper, as though she could now imagine him as that lawyer he had claimed to be.
“Look, I’m sorry about brushing you off, I mean about dinner at your house.”
“No, don’t give it a second thought, too soon. That’s my problem. Once I set my mind to something, I’m ready to move ahead full steam.”
She picked up her long gray coat, and he immediately took hold of it, helping her into it. “Set your mind to what exactly?”
He grinned a bit, “Yeah, hmm, how about seafood? I know a good restaurant.”
“Sounds fine,” she said realizing that he was not going to answer.
It was dusk, and they traveled the long quiet stretch of beach road into Biloxi. Billy Struve drove a Jeep Cherokee that seemed to be filled with various extraneous equipment in the back that denoted a more rural style of existence than she was used to. It was strange. The pace here seemed more mellow, calmer, but the further they traveled away from Crystal Springs that feeling of tranquility seemed to dissipate a bit.
“You feel it?” he murmured.
She turned to him with curiosity. The conversation between them had died off since he’d initially picked her up at the cottage. In fact, so gradually that she hadn’t even acknowledged it. “Feel it?” she asked.
“The change,” he said.
She smiled. He certainly was being opaque. “I’m sorry. Maybe I’m a bit thick, but I don’t follow.”
He shook his head, his eyes still fixed on the long curving stretch of beachside road. “I just mean the feeling. It changes once you get out of Crystal Springs. Of course, it’s lovely here along the water, but there is something particular and special about that little town. That’s why I originally suggested cooking you dinner, all decorum aside. I thought you weren’t ready to leave yet.”
“Ready to leave?” she echoed with some confusion.
He sighed, “Sorry, I mean never mind. Here we are,” he noted, as she looked up seeing the corporal limits sign for Biloxi.
Helen Ellis was a blond, a blond with rather large hazel eyes. And he had to admit, she was beautiful. All these facts sort of hit him like a rock in the side of the head. They’d settled into their table at The Seagull, a nice table where they could see the water, even though the light of the day was nearly gone. The waves felt a bit more turbulent tonight, just a bit, by degrees. Perhaps, there was a storm coming, but none was forecast. Then again, perhaps, he was projecting his own somewhat tumultuous thoughts onto the scenery. He’d felt sure that when he came here, that when she came here, he would be prepared. But now, it didn’t feel that way, not nearly.
She glanced up from behind the menu, a lovely smile but something else, a pensiveness. “What do you recommend?” she asked lightly.
He breathed in deeply, coaxing patience to himself. He’d tried to refrain as much as possible canvassing her thoughts. No matter how tempted he was. And he was tempted. Helen wore a veneer, a protective veneer. It wasn’t so obvious who she was, one had to dig to find it. On the surface, she appeared to be a smooth serene pearl, fluid, pleasing, lovely. But beneath, and it was beneath that he was interested in, it was a different story. “Well, that all depends on how hungry you are.”
She smiled smoothly, “Not really all that hungry.”
“Then the redfish or the flounder.”
She nodded, closing the menu and putting it softly down in front of her. “So, tell me Mr. Struve. What did you mean about Crystal Springs and the feeling there?”
He placed his menu down in front of him as well. Tactful buddy, not too much too soon, or she’ll scare away. “You know, the Indians originally settled that area. They felt there was something special there, mystical energy if you will. It’s my experience every place has its own energy. Your city, New Orleans, being so large is overlaid with many different energy imprints. But this little town, there is something encased about it, strong, pure, consistent. It’s healing.”
Her eyes had never left his face, those large deep eyes. “Do you believe all of that?” she asked hesitantly.
“Okay Billy, do you believe all of that, about the city, I mean?”
“Well, there is more than is dreamed of in our philosophy Horatio.”
She’d almost asked him another question, but then the waiter arrived just in time. It was better this way, small steps, small truths to digest a little at a time.
She’d decided. This was it. She would have this dinner with him, and then the rest of her time in Crystal Springs would be reflective, solitary, and uncomplicated. The man sitting across from her, engaging her in relaxed, entertaining conversation, was anything but uncomplicated. On the surface, he was handsome, in a rugged kind of way, intelligent, thoughtful, and at first glance easy-going. But this was not her first time around the block, and she had the intense impression that she was being handled.
“How’s the fish?” he asked.
She glanced up, pulling herself out of her troubled assessments. “Oh, you were right. It’s great.”
He hesitated, his eyes on her face, and it disturbed her. All evening she would catch him doing this, weirdly looking beyond what she’d said. “What’s wrong Helen?” he asked.
That was it, too perceptive. He was too damn perceptive. “Oh, nothing really, I just have a lot on my mind.”
Again, with that stare but the warm bluish eyes at the same time put her at ease, put her at ease and made her nervous. She worked to steady herself. This wasn’t happening. Whatever this was, wasn’t happening. “Am I making you nervous?” he said placidly.
She shook her head in reflex. Her mother’s influence, never hurt anyone’s feelings. Be tactful. “No, no this is all lovely. I just. . . I’m not sure how to say this.”
He frowned a bit, “Well, if you have to be that anxious, it’s best just come out and say it.”
Directness, refreshing, disarming. “I just don’t want to give the wrong impression. I came here, well, to figure some things out quietly. I don’t want things to get complicated.”
“Friendship.” He stated a bit bluntly.
“What?” she answered with confusion.
“I’m just offering friendship. I like you Helen, and I could use a friend. Is that acceptable?”
She eyed him with confusion. It sounded so, on the surface, perfectly acceptable.
“You know, your abilities are getting stronger William.”
He frowned, “I know. Sometimes it’s difficult controlling them. I don’t want to see auras bleeding out of everyone as I walk down the street.”
“Sometimes, it takes time for natural talents to develop, and, of course, this place is especially conducive to the psychic energies.” Sara Morgan, the lovely lady that he sat across from on the rug in her den began to cough very lightly, and then reached for a cup of tea, she’d placed on the coffee table beside them.
“Are you sure you’re feeling up to this Sara?”
She smiled softly. She was a slight silver haired woman in her late sixties, and she was a bona fide psychic. She’d come to live in Crystal Spring just six months before he’d settled there. She ran a small metaphysical bookstore and gift shop. After a brief acquaintance, he’d begun taking classes from her; first for stress control, and then later for other pursuits. “It will pass,” she murmured. “Anymore dreams?” she asked.
“Yes, several times a week.”
“The same woman?”
“Yes, we meet on the beach, and then we talk, talk about everything, and then sometimes just sit there. I can’t really see her face, but her energy I know. It’s so familiar.”
She nodded, “She’s coming, maybe another year,” she murmured.
And it had been as Sara had predicted. And unfortunately, six months earlier, his teacher had crossed over, passing away from an affliction she had opted to keep private.
He’d scared her. Too much too soon, that’s a lesson that Sara had often stressed that he needed to learn, patience — the ability to allow things to unfold in their own time. They were traveling along the long dark road back to Crystal Springs. The darkness of the winter night was thick just now, heavy and dense. And her mood reflected it. He could feel that her thoughts were somber, somewhere else. Stuck in some painful rivet from the past, he suspected. “Doing all right?” he asked.
She roused from that gray misty place where she’d resided in only moments before. “Yes, sorry,” she said. “It’s so dark tonight. Is this the way it usually is around here?”
“At times, seems more so in the winter.”
She sighed deeply, “You didn’t tell me. Do you have family?”
“I have a brother up North and a sister out west. My parents have passed on.”
“And they didn’t want you to visit for Christmas?”
“Well, I have to say it didn’t really come up. They have their own families, their own lives, and we were never what you would call a close knit family.”
She responded pensively. “This is really my first Christmas away from some kind of family. And you’d swear I was stealing the Crown jewels, the way everyone is reacting.”
“Good to know they care.”
“Hmm, I don’t know if it’s that or them just being shocked I’m not doing what they expect me to do. They don’t take to change very well.”
“How about you?”
“How do you take to change Helen?”
There was a pause, and he could feel she was actually genuinely considering the question. “I’m not sure. I haven’t had very much lately.”
It was strange, unexpected. She was comfortable being with Billy Struve and yet not — relaxed and yet tense. She’d decided to not see him again and yet couldn’t seem to follow through.
The dinner was nice, and he’d taken her out to a coffee shop later. Nothing earth shattering happened but it felt as though something, something had happened. Something she couldn’t put her finger on. And then he’d taken her home. He talked about his shop off of Main Street and invited her to drop by.
Her response was vague, and he seemed undaunted. A good night at her door, a slight hug, and then he was gone. And she felt, well, clearly not quite herself.
It was after eleven and the darkness of the cottage wrapped around her. Silently, she eased out of the bed and wrapped herself in a soft fluffy pink robe that she’d brought from the city. It was comforting. There had been many sleepless nights like this one when she’d wrapped up in it, settling into the large blue-gray lazy boy that she’d taken with her when her marriage had ended.
Here, there was only the large over-stuffed armchair in front of the TV. But it would have to suffice, and she curled up in it, tucking her feet beneath the robe. She’d tried not to think of it much, but she supposed that was when everything changed, at least when she changed. As marriages go, hers was short lived. Just two years, and most family and friends had commented supportively, “Well, at least you didn’t invest too much. There were no children, no real entanglements.”
At the time, she’d responded numbly to such comments, but in retrospect, she wondered exactly what they could be thinking.
She’d come out of it changed. The sparkle had gone out of things, the enthusiasm from youth, and yes, the innocence. She’d left much on that doorstep, so strange. Kevin wasn’t a bad guy by any means. But together, well, it drained something out of her, something she didn’t know how to get back.
There was a chill in the air. She supposed she could put the heater on, but that would take effort and a perceptible grogginess was slipping in. She let her head rest softly on the back of the chair and closed her eyes, not even willing to make the effort to return to bed.
Hazel was restless when he returned home. She knew as well. She’d taken immediately to Helen Ellis as had he. For a full two years, he’d been aware of her presence. It was something that had slowly seeped into his dreams and then his waking thoughts. At first, it seemed like some sort of fantasy, perhaps like an imaginary friend of from his youth. But then, the impressions became more insistent.
And tonight the pull was strong, maybe because they’d finally met in the flesh. But her flesh, her free will, was resisting this, even though her spirit felt differently. He heard the rush of wind chimes just outside the French doors in his bedroom. The doors led onto a secluded patio. Patting Hazel lightly on the head, he gently put her out of the room and then pulled on his jacket. As he opened the doors, he could make out shadows, but he reached for the lights on the wall to light up the stone patio.
It startled him at first, the figure he saw down the steps moving across the granite stone pattern he’d designed himself. She was dressed in a long white nightgown, just silently wandering barefoot across the patio. It was startling to find her here, such a direct contact. But he cleared his mind and directed his thoughts to Helen.
“What do you need?”
The figure stopped and turned to him with no expression on her face. It was her and not her — a spiritual manifestation, reaching out, feeling the powerful connection between them as had he. There was silence in response but also confusion, yearning.
“How we make our own prisons,” he murmured. And then she was gone. Shakily, he sat down in one of the wrought iron chairs near the patio table. He felt shaky all over. She would seek him out again. He was sure of it. After all, it was what her spirit wanted.
It was her intent to resist, instead, to spend the day writing or perhaps taking another walk on the beach or perhaps even a long ride along the coast. All of these were distinct possibilities. But what she had decided against was walking into town and heading in the general direction of Billy Struve’s place of business. Helen had decided after a somewhat restless night that she would avoid this and him. But of course, just after lunch, after one, her feet were itchy for exploration. And they began to draw her in the direction that she had decided against.
“Just friendship,” that was what he was looking for, that was what he had said. But as had been her experience, what one said was not exactly always what one meant. Kevin, her ex-husband, had said he supported everything she wanted to do, was enamored of all she was. But that was before they were married, before he began to chisel away at her dreams piece by piece, slowly and methodically, until it almost went unnoticed by her. Of course, upon reflection, she never felt as though he did it deliberately. It was just his nature to absorb what was around him and funnel its energy to benefit himself. She often chastised herself for not being more of a fighter in the relationship and less of a giver. But then again, she had never envisioned a relationship where she would have to fight. It went against her grain.
She drifted toward Main Street and noted how busy it was but more of foot traffic than cars. “A right off of Main Street onto Pine.” That was what he had told her. Again, she questioned the wisdom of seeing him again. Would that denote too much interest on her part? But something pulled her, something unconscious. And she disregarded her better instincts. She smiled in appreciation as she turned the corner and spotted his establishment. Artistically scripted across the window was the word Illuminations. He hadn’t told her the name of the store, but she knew it was his. With a deep breath and not another thought, she turned the knob where she was greeted by the happy bark of Hazel that drifted in from somewhere in the back of the store.
She was initially overwhelmed, actually stunned, by an impressive array of glass shelves decorated by all manner of artistry imaginable. She simply stopped in the middle of the significantly large room and allowed her eyes to travel and soak in all that was around her — pottery, jewelry, paintings, baskets, all manner of decorative items formed from seashells. And it felt, it felt as though light and energy poured through the room, so much that it was dizzying. “What do you think?” His voice took her by surprise, but she was more surprised by that fact that he was right beside her, evidently moving next to her while she was completely distracted by what she was seeing.
She turned to him a bit shakily, “You startled me.”
He smiled, his face more pensive now as though he were a bit preoccupied, “Sorry, I wasn’t sure if you’d come today.”
“To tell you the truth neither was I, but I’m glad I did. This place, it’s amazing.” She said as she drifted over to a lovely curling, bluish vase made of glass.”
“I try to pick pieces that are conductors of energy.”
She stopped focusing on the beauty of the items around her, then looking at him curiously, “Conductors of energy?”
“Yes, you could feel it when you walked in.”
She answered thoughtfully. “I felt light, and yes, I guess you could call it energy.”
“Everything carries its own energy, and some objects serve as conductors. It’s very helpful to any environment it’s placed in.”
She turned to him, smiling. Clearly, he was quite serious about this, “Sounds like you’ve made a science out of this.”
He nodded, “If you had come earlier, I would have taken you to lunch.”
“I wasn’t really sure what my plans would be today.”
There was another bark from toward the back of the expansive shop. “I think Hazel wants to see you as well. Come on. I’ll show you the back.”
Windows and light, that was what struck her about the backrooms of Billy Struve’s establishment. It was winter, icy and cold outside, but it felt warm in here, and not just from artificial means. The first room was a stock room with shelves of items that had yet to be placed on display. The next seemed more of a studio — a table for pottery, an easel, counters for all variety of work. She was envious. It was charged with energy. Oddly, she could imagine herself having a desk near one of the large windows and writing, writing in a way that she’d never been able to before.
He’d disappeared in the front, hearing the chiming of the front doors. She was left here, not quite alone. Hazel lie curled up on a bed just under a light wooden table against the wall. Clearly, it was a spot she’d made her own. There were dual impulses she was feeling. One was to bolt and return to the life she knew, forgetting that people lived like this on their own terms. The other, even more perplexing than the first, was to sit down on the window seat and pull the soft afghan throw that was draped across it lightly across her shoulders and relax — allow herself to let go of all the tenseness and all the baggage from the past that she seemed to carry around with her and simply be.
She looked up and saw him standing there in the doorway. Again, he’d surprised her while she was deeply enmeshed in her own thoughts. He frowned, “All right?” he asked pointedly.
She wondered, simple question but what was the answer. “It must be wonderful to work here,” she said, sidestepping the question entirely.
“Well, it is great, at times. But the retail thing interrupts.” He stepped off the small landing and in a few direct steps had made it to the space directly in front of her. “So, I have a microwave. How about a cup of mint tea?”
He nodded, turning away from her, but then adding just over his shoulder. “Then after that maybe you’ll answer my question, Helen.”
It was disorienting, having her here, having her here after seeing her last night on his patio. He’d done his best. He’d concentrated on sending energy to her, but then he’d done something else, something that he wasn’t at all sure that he should. He’d brought her here today, funneled all his concentration on luring her to him. Truthfully, for all intents and purposes, he’d felt as though he’d failed, until he found her standing in the middle of his shop in an almost mesmerized state.
He debated within. Was this really fair to influence her like this? After all, he wasn’t some sort of vampire beckoning his intended victim to his side. He wanted to help Helen. He wanted, and then he stopped. What exactly did he want from her? If it wasn’t even clear in his mind, he shouldn’t be playing around with her life.
He brought two cups of steaming tea from the small kitchen galley to the studio where he found Helen sitting on the window seat with Hazel curled up beside her as she stroked her. “Now that’s a pretty picture,” he commented, as he handed her the tea.
“It just kind of happened,” she said, taking a sip. “It’s good. Do you do a lot of painting?”
He’d grabbed one of the metal chairs lurking around the studio and pulled it up beside her. “When I’m inspired. The shop brings in enough money that I don’t have to paint, but, of course, I have to stay creative, the ener—” then he stopped.
“The energy,” she finished for him.
“I’ve been bantering that word around a lot today. So—” he said.
“So,” she repeated, continuing to stroke Hazel’s heavy black fur. She felt calmer now, not thinking as much. He could feel it. This place was soothing her, clearly exactly what she needed.
“You seemed very bothered earlier.”
She didn’t answer at first, just quietly sipped her tea. And he was struck again at how physically beautiful she was, her hands long and elegant, an aura of delicateness, and now rather fragileness. “I don’t know. Like I said at dinner, I came here to sort some things out, reassess I guess.”
He nodded, “How’s that working out?”
She smiled lightly, meeting his eyes with her large green ones. “Good question, sometimes I think reliving the past is maybe just that reliving the past. Doesn’t really change anything, just stirs up,”
“Pain?” he asked.
“Maybe, I mean it’s not a huge secret to me why things happened, how they happened. But it is a secret how I can let go of all that.”
“Hmm, there’s the trick.”
Her long elegant hand started to scratch Hazel just under the ear, and she settled against Helen as though she was in bliss — odd to be jealous of his own dog. “You seem to have made peace with things William.” He felt a bit startled. The last person who called him William was Sara Morgan, his teacher. But here in the small town of Crystal Springs, he was just Billy or Struve to some. Her eyes widened. She was perceptive. “I’m sorry. Would you rather I call you Billy?”
He smiled, shaking his head, “No, no William is fine. Um oh yeah, making peace with things. That’s a bit of a tall order. I don’t know if you can ever completely get rid of the old stuff. I don’t know if we’re meant to .It kind of reminds us of where we’ve been, who we’ve been — a benchmark so to speak. But it’s important to learn from it but not to keep beating yourself up for it. After all, you wouldn’t make the same choices today that you did say five years ago.”
Her eyes were wide and filled with shadows. “I hope not,” she murmured.
“And the rest of the cure is living. Just moving on and filling your life with new things, better things that bring you joy.”
She sipped her tea, her eyes focusing on something beyond him. She was considering. He could feel it, considering carefully.
She hadn’t intended to stay here as long as she had. In fact, she hadn’t intended to spend much of any time at all with Billy Struve. But the hours of the afternoon stretched on. There was a comfortable, languid feeling throughout the rooms of Illuminations. And Helen was not in much of a hurry to relinquish the feeling.
It was approaching four, the hour at which he would close up shop. There was a door at the back of the store that led to the back patio. While he took care of business up front, Helen wandered outside. It was a bright winter day and she inhaled deeply. The cool air flooded through her lungs, and she felt peace float in, a peace that she had never comprehended as possible.
He appeared in the doorway, quietly waiting for her to notice his presence. “So,” he said quietly. “All closed up.”
She smiled, “So soon?”
“Well, I’m the owner. It’s my prerogative.” He walked out further onto the patio. “And today feels like other things take precedence.”
“I hope I’m not interfering with your business.”
He nodded, “You are, but it’s not unwelcomed. So, can we try dinner again?”
Her head swirled a bit. It was not unexpected but still caught her off guard, “Dinner?”
He smiled, “Yes, but at my place. You know, Hazel and me.”
“Um, I don’t know.”
“Too late to be cautious, we’ve spent the afternoon together.”
“Oh, you think it’s too late, do you?”
“I think it’s time to let things follow their course. Don’t you Helen?”
Her heart was hammering in her chest a bit more profoundly. But she didn’t want to think about it too much, didn’t want to let go of this peacefulness that was wrapping around her like a cocoon. So all she said was, “I suppose not.”
It struck a chord. They’d stopped on the way to William’s house at a small grocery just a few blocks away from Illuminations. It was like everything else that she’d seen of Crystal Springs, homey, personal, and creative. The owner knew Billy Struve on a first name basis. She waited in the café portion of the store with Hazel while he shopped. Mr. Deangelis, the owner, and his daughter came from inside the store to greet her and play with Hazel. It seemed no problem for the dog to be there. It was so different, so alien for her. Where she came from, people were generally aloof, and you’d never see a dog in a grocery. Oddly enough, it felt destabilizing. When William returned to her, he looked at her with concern, “Something wrong?” he asked. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m just tired,” she lied. And he looked unconvinced. It was second nature for her to cover like this, to cover the truth of her feelings. Why exactly, she’d never particularly examined except that it had begun in her marriage.
“What’s the matter with you? Can’t you be satisfied with anything?”
And then it became, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m just tired.”
But the truth seemed to bring caustic, painful confrontations. So, she began to avoid them. But this man, this one next to her, was not content to accept platitudes.
It was the house, however, that struck a chord. This shook her a bit, because it seemed so oddly familiar. When they pulled up in his driveway, it nearly took her breath away. It was a wooden frame house, sort of warm beige in color, the front with several steps leading up to a porch — nestled comfortably in trees surrounding it, protecting it she thought a bit abstractly. It was lovely, not the most extraordinary house she’d ever seen, but in some other, indefinable way it was the most extraordinary house she’d seen.
He patted her hand softly, not questioning her this time. “Come on,” he said, but she hesitated. She couldn’t help it. She knew that if she went inside things would change. That thought resounded through her mind. But then she stepped out of the jeep, knowing that she would. It was inevitable.
She was wandering around his house, and it made him feel odd, as though some electric sort of energy was weaving its spell around them now. He didn’t know he would feel this way, didn’t really think about it at all. “You really don’t get it William. When the two of you finally come together, it will be extraordinary, powerful. Change both your lives in ways you can’t imagine. Your spirits are a perfect fit, created together for each other.”
“That sounds a bit overwhelming,” he’d told Sara Morgan.
“I imagine it will be,” she’d answered. “But you have never struck me as a man who would shy from a challenge.”
And here he was, watching Helen Ellis, absolutely incandescent in the way she was subtly connecting with everything around her. It was profound how drawn he was to her, physically, emotionally. He wanted so fiercely to get past all those barriers that she’d erected in the name of self-preservation. And he’d only known her a few days.
“So, what do you think?” he said wandering into the den where she was standing near the fireplace.
“You have a wonderful place. Did you do this?” she asked in regards to the landscapes that were placed on either side of the fireplace.
He handed her a glass of white wine. “Yes, some of my early work. I hope I’ve improved.”
She shook her head. “They’re wonderful William. They feel peaceful to me,” she murmured. And the she looked at him oddly, “Have you found that here? In Crystal Springs, peace?”
He sat down slowly on the small moss green sofa. “Sometimes Helen, I think peace is something you have to work at. It’s something earned, not just a natural state of being.”
She nodded, sipping her wine. “I guess that’s why I don’t have it. I never thought I’d have to earn it.”
“Well, it helps when you’re in a place you want to be, doing things because you enjoy them, not just because you have to.”
“Is that what you think I’m doing?”
“Actually, I was talking about myself. I had to remove myself from an environment that was, well, toxic to my spirit. That was the first step for me, I guess caring for my inner self.”
“Some of us don’t have that luxury.”
“Some of us don’t give ourselves the luxury.”
She turned away from him, facing his pictures again. He stood up and walked over to her putting his hand on her shoulder. He could feel it, fear. Her experiences had taught her fear. “I’m sorry Helen. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“We’re just very different William. Come from different places,” she murmured.
He put his glass of wine on the mantle and put both hands on her shoulders, beginning to gently rub, trying to drive some of her tenseness away. “I’d like to help you relax some, Helen,” he said. But she didn’t answer. He could feel so much, just connecting with her skin — confusion, tumultuous emotion, but it was helping. She was calming. “That’s it,” he said.
“William,” she began.
“Just relax Helen.” She was leaning back against him a bit, not realizing at all what she was doing. It was completely unconscious. He breathed deeply, feeling it as a languid and yes sensual feeling traveling through his veins. Sara had said they would be powerful together, but he hadn’t realized to what degree. There was a decision to be made now. Move forward or wait, give her a bit more time.
He pulled his hands away from her shoulders and whispered into her ear. “I better get dinner going.”
She straightened up, turning around to face him, “Yeah sorry, that felt good.”
He smiled, “Just relax awhile. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
He headed out the room, trying to shake the almost overwhelming need that was coursing through him.
William had a lovely natural wood dinette set in a small sunroom just off the kitchen. But instead, they ate in the den on the coffee table, sitting cross legged on his large Aztec pattern rug in front of a crackling fireplace. Of all things, he’d made spaghetti, but it was actually quite good.
“This is really great. When did you learn to be a great cook?”
He laughed, “Well, I’m not a great cook but generally out of necessity. After my marriage fell apart, I decided either I would learn to cook decently or eat take out the rest of my life.”
“That makes sense.” She picked up her glass of wine off the coffee table to take a sip. Her plate was somewhat precariously perched on her lap, but truth be told, she didn’t care. This was her second glass of wine, her limit usually was one, but she felt warm, cozy, and watchful of Hazel who more than once had tried to abscond with her dinner. “I can’t believe Christmas is in two days.”
“It’s true, any regrets?”
“You mean coming here?”
“Not being with your family.”
“No, oddly enough, it feels right. I guess though I feel some pressure not doing what I feel I should be doing.”
He put his glass down abruptly on the coffee table. “Okay, you’re going to have to explain that one to me. Not doing what you feel you should be doing?”
She laughed. It was true. Once she voiced it, it sounded remarkably nonsensical. “Okay, let’s see. Christmas comes with pressures. You feel if you don’t celebrate it in a certain way, you’ve failed somehow.”
“Wow, that sounds joyous!”
“Now you know what I mean. If you don’t have a tree,” she gestured to the small live pine tree he had in one corner of his house, sparsely decorated with ornaments from his shop. “If you don’t have a family around you, if you don’t exchange presents, if you don’t send out Christmas cards.”
“You send out Christmas cards?”
She sighed, “I used to when Kev,” then she stopped.
William put his basically cleaned plate onto the coffee table. “Okay, you want to finish that thought?”
She swallowed, good question. Did she really? “I was going to say I did when Kevin and I were together, then for a few years after. I guess to make it seem like I was okay, then I let it go.”
“I see, and all this was because you felt you should.”
“It’s part of the trappings of Christmas. Come on, didn’t you send out Christmas cards when you were married?”
“Honestly, I think Laura did, but I let her handle all that stuff I’m ashamed to say.”
“I see, a bit of a workaholic husband.”
He nodded, “Yeah, ambitious, self-centered, all the trappings that go with it. It isn’t a wonder she left me.” He took a sip of his wine.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you think about unhappy things.”
“No, no she did me a favor. Made me wake up, re-examine things.”
“Did you ever try to reconcile, I mean, once you changed things?”
He shook his head, “No Helen, one thing I’ve learned emphatically is that not everyone is a good match for you. Two people can be very nice, but once you put them together, they just don’t bring out the best in each other.”
“Sounds like you believe in soul mates.”
He smiled, “That’s one word. Kindred is another. Twins, twin spirits, is another.”
“Then I wonder why so many people wind up with the wrong match?” she said softly.
“It’s all about learning Helen. We’re all here on this earth to learn, to evolve. And that’s hard to do if you always do things perfectly.”
She glanced at a clock on the wall. It was already eight. The evening had been flying by, great food, great conversation, and she wasn’t in all that much hurry to go back now to her lonely cottage. They’d just had coffee, and she knew she should leave. “Ah, I see thinking about leaving now.” He spoke from across the den.
“You know, sometimes I get the strange feeling that you’re reading my mind.”
He walked in further, coming to stand just next to her near the fireplace. “Would that I could my dear,” he said laughing.
“I really should get back.”
“Because you think that is what you should do Helen?”
It was awkward. He was too honest, too unvarnished about what he was thinking. “I had a lovely time. In fact,” then she stopped.
“You know, before you vanish back into your old life, it is my quest, my most earnest desire, to get you to say what you really mean.”
She frowned, “Are you implying that I’m insincere?”
“No, I’m saying that you’re guarded and defensive and protective of yourself. But you don’t have to be around me.” He reached out and softly touched her face with the tips of his fingers. It made her literally catch her breath.
“I wanted to say that I can’t remember, at least not for a very long time, having such a wonderful evening.”
He nodded, “That’s high praise, and may I say that I feel the same.”
He moved in a step closer, and her heart began to race. “William, I,” she tried to say, but he was touching both sides of her face now with his hands, softly caressing. “You said you were only offering friendship,” she murmured.
“I know, we can be friends, and more,” he whispered.
She thought to answer, but then she didn’t because he was kissing her now. Softly at first, so gently he eased her into an embrace. And then more intensely, as he folded her deeply in his arms, against his chest, more passionately. It was unexpected, and yet more than reasonable.
He drove around the city after he brought Helen home. He was rattled, completely overwhelmed, but delightfully so. “It’s control that you need to work on William,” Sara Morgan had said.
“I don’t know what you mean. I’m always in control of myself, my life.”
“That’s the problem,” she’d said. “You have to learn to let go, allow life to have its flow without you impeding it.”
He hadn’t really understood what she’d meant, until tonight. He felt as though he were caught in a tidal wave. Helen would have stayed with him the night. He was sure of it. She was caught up just like he was in the passion igniting between them, the electric crazy flow of energy. She would have stayed, against her better judgment, against what she believed she should do, and all of that would have come crashing down on her the next morning. She wasn’t ready for this. Hell, he wasn’t ready for this. But it didn’t matter, not really, because it was going to happen. The feelings, the sensation, the connection was like a deluge. It wouldn’t be denied. But tonight, he’d pulled back. And he didn’t know at all if he was happy about it or not. She’d seemed confused, scattered. But once he’d brought her back, he’d stepped into the cottage, closing the door behind him.
Her eyes were wide with a bit of surprise. But he pulled her, without asking, straight into his arms again, kissing her softly, but trying to stave off the intense passion. “I want to see you tomorrow,” he’d said.
She was breathing deeply, “I don’t know.” She was confused, but he wouldn’t let her pull away from him now.
“It’s all right Helen,” he whispered into her hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll call you tomorrow.” She nodded and again he kissed her. This was crazy. All he wanted to do was scoop her up and take her back to his house, into his bed — such an incredibly powerful need.
But he didn’t, instead he wandered the darkened streets of Crystal Springs, trying, trying to get a handle on things.
Helen woke from a heavy sleep. It was late for her, ten o’ clock, but she felt well-rested, calm. As she wandered around the small cottage, it distantly registered in her mind that it was Christmas Eve. Presents weren’t something she needed to worry about. She’d mailed a package filled with them up to North Carolina. But then of course, there was one person that she hadn’t bought anything for yet — William.
Her breath hitched a bit in her throat at the memory of last night. It was the point at which their understanding of friendship had evolved into what she could only describe as passion, uncontrolled passion. She watched the small coffee pot that the cottage provided slowly drip. Coffee was such a wonderful aroma. It connected her with peaceful soothing things. There were actually just four more days that she would spend in Crystal Springs. The time was flying now.
She poured herself a cup of the morning brew and curled up in the overstuffed chair. She didn’t want to think too much, about the future or the past, just allow herself to feel now, to feel joy.
Her cell phone rang, and she answered without even looking at the number.
“Hello back, and how are you this morning?”
She sipped her coffee, “Good, a bit lazy though. I only got up a little while ago.”
William laughed a bit on the other end. “Well, maybe you needed the rest. I was hoping you’d meet me for lunch. We’re closing early today because it’s Christmas Eve.”
She straightened up, thinking about the gift she had yet to buy for him. “Are all the stores closing early?” she asked.
“All of them around here. Why? Have some last minute shopping to do?”
“Well, a bit.”
“There’s still a little of the morning left. Do your shopping, then meet me at the store. Can’t wait to see you.”
It felt like butterflies, and she was much too old for butterflies. “Okay, that sounds good.”
“Great, see you later.”
“Okay,” she’d already said that, just like a flustered teenager. And then she hung up.
She looked up at the clock, ten-thirty, enough time to hop in the shower then make a mad dash into town. She wasn’t thinking, wasn’t examining too much. That, she felt acutely, would ruin everything.
He watched the clock. The morning was busy enough, a steady stream of customers to distract him. But then, it was eleven and eleven-thirty and his mind wandered, lingering on the wild energy last night passing around them, through them, within them, when he touched Helen, when he kissed her. He’d been warned of it but still hadn’t really expected it.
“When the two of you come together, it will be extraordinarily powerful.” Sara Morgan had told him serenely, as though it were quite natural.
He’d frowned at her a bit. It was undeniable. At that point in his life, there was still a hefty dose of pessimism within him. “What do you mean powerful?”
She’d smiled at him, almost indulgently. “William when two spirits reunite who are a perfect match, it is extraordinary. Energy is created, healing occurs. And there is a need between them to be together that is like an unstoppable storm. It will defy logic, judgment, and reasoning. It is simply undeniable.”
And then she’d said something odd, that he’d forgotten. “I envy you William, what is to come. Don’t let anything come between you, especially yourselves.”
“Especially yourselves,” he murmured to himself. Yes, he could easily see that possibility looming — fear, wounds from the past, and a host of other things perceived as stumbling blocks. But if he’d learned anything in his years of life was that perception did not necessarily equal truth.
The front bell chimed, and Helen crossed the threshold of Illuminations.
She was holding a small decorative bag in her hand and smiling as she approached him.
“So,” he said kissing her softly on the cheek, “what’s in the bag?”
“None of your business,” she laughed. And he knew it was a Christmas gift for him. The truth was that he’d already picked one out for her on that very first day that they’d met on the beach.
There was a change. At first, he’d felt it, then he’d seen it, in Helen’s aura — the colors of the energy around her. When he’d first met her, in fact before he’d even introduced himself that first day on the beach, he’d taken a moment to look at her, really look at her. Seeing auras wasn’t something that had come easily to him. It had begun first as picking up random splashes of energy on people, objects. At first, he’d thought it was his vision going, but an eye doctor confirmed that this was not the case. Ever since he was a child, he’d had extremely good vision, and that hadn’t changed as he got older. So, he’d mentioned it to Sara Morgan in one of their sessions, and she had introduced him into the world of energy, the colors of energy and its significance.
And with much practiced meditation, he’d begun to see clearly, the auras surrounding people.
Helen had been low on energy and surrounded by great splashes of pink and orange. The pink denoted confusion within her emotions and the orange a strong connection to other people who might be influencing her. But rather quickly over the last few days of their association, he was noticing a difference, less pink, less orange, more white and blue-green — strong energy colors. There was a lighter mood to her, more buoyant. And with no humbleness, he knew he could claim credit or rather their association could. They were helping each other already, because he also could feel the energy shifting within himself for the better.
He’d just closed the shop, and they were sitting in the back room with Hazel at their feet.
“So, what do you want for lunch?”
She smiled, “This is your town, what do you recommend?”
He grabbed her hand and impulsively brought it up to his lips kissing it softly. “Well, we can pick up some po’boys at a little seafood place I know, then go picnic somewhere.”
“Sounds nice,” she murmured. But it was clear, her focus was on the hand he was still holding. He breathed deeply. It was difficult. Last night they’d pretty much let the genie out of the bottle and now. Well, there seemed as though there was no going back. Again, he brought her hand up to his lips, kissing it more lingeringly this time.
“Or we could go back to my house, and I’ll fix us something.” She was breathing deeply, and it felt like a spell wrapping around them.
“What are we doing?” she whispered softly but with intent.
He shook his head, “Not really sure Helen Ellis, feels a bit like falling but not in a bad way.” He turned her arm a bit and now brought her wrist softly up to his lips.
“You know, this isn’t really like me.”
“This isn’t like anything. This is all brand new.” And then he reached over, softly drawing her to him, and began kissing her. He kissed her again and again, and he could feel she was not holding anything back. “Let’s go,” he whispered to her. He thought he read some confusion in her eyes, but then it was gone, just acceptance. She nodded then he stood up, soon after pulling her to her feet.
She was going to have an affair. This was the only way Helen could interpret what was happening. It didn’t fit into any other construct that she had been taught since she was a child.
Of course, it was still new to her. She’d never had an affair, although there had been a few opportunities. Several she could remember after her divorce from Kevin. And she had considered it. She was lonely, feeling terrible about herself, but something had held her back — something that clearly was not holding her back now.
They were largely silent as they drove to William’s house. Hazel barked occasionally from the back seat, and once William had reached over to squeeze her hand. “Okay?” he’d said.
She’d nodded, saying nothing. She was afraid a bit, but it had such an edge of excitement, like the unknown. This was her plunging into the unknown, whatever it might bring, but feeling intoxicatingly alive. They pulled into his driveway, and he turned off the car. But he made no move to get out. Finally, after a few moments, he spoke, “I guess I should ask you if you’re sure you want to do this,” he murmured.
She waited, smiling a bit. “Was that a question?” she couldn’t help but saying.
He turned to her, also smiling a bit. “I think that was the lawyer in me trying to cover the bases.”
She nodded, “I’m sure.”
There seemed to be a slight sigh of relief from him. Then he opened his door and stepped out of the car. She did the same. Her answer had been true. She was sure. Whatever would come, whatever it would bring, she was sure. Breathing in the cool mist around her, she noted happily that around them it was a sunny day.
Copyright © 2012 by Evelyn Klebert
A psychic soul mate, a time traveler, a horror writer, and a enigmatic stranger take a selection of resilient, life-battered heroines to a place of paranormal healing and transformation. In this collection of short stories, White Harbor Road is the last stop where life’s burdens and hardships evolve into something unexpected.