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Beyond the Roses by Mary Cantell

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  • After relocating to her quaint hometown of Pinewood, Maryland, widow Lissa Logan and her young daughter Lacy happily begin their new life.

    When Lissa reconnects with her longtime friend and former grade school crush Brian Pickering—she's over-the-moon.   Then strange things begin to happen.

    One terrifying night, Lissa's world collapses. Did an old past secret have anything to do with her living nightmare? Or does someone in Brian's family have something to hide?

    Rating: Sweet
    Page Count: 266
    Word Count: 59814
    978-1-5092-2324-4 Paperback
    978-1-5092-2325-1 Digital

    Excerpt

    Chapter One

     

    Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

    March 4th, 2005

     

    Twelve boxes the color of creamed coffee filled half the tiny living room, all labeled in bold black marker as to their contents. Lissa dropped the thirteenth one on the floor and heaved a sigh at the growing eyesore cluttering the formerly pristine space. Bittersweet thoughts circled in her mind like crows descending. Another stab of sadness doused her spirit. “I hate this,” she mumbled under her breath, dreading the whole idea of moving.

    With her boss’s recent transfer, an invitation to follow him seemed like a good idea at first—a miracle, actually—as her co-workers were not blessed with the same fortune when the PR&D department of Merka Pharmaceuticals downsized. They were sending out resumes right about now. They thought her lucky, though Lissa knew it was the Lord’s blessing—not luck—that she wouldn’t have to worry where her rent money would come from. Now, two weeks later, she questioned her decision to accept his offer. Was this the best choice for her family? Uprooting her life and that of her daughter’s—for a job? There were plenty of administrative positions in the pharmaceutical industry in suburban Philadelphia, but Dr. Billing was the kindest boss she ever had, and she cornered the market salary-wise. Still, a nagging thought poked at her: unpack everything and forget the whole idea.

    Overheated from shuffling boxes all morning, she went to the living room window and lifted the sash to let in some fresh air. The morning sun shone hazily through a strand of opal clouds. She leaned in to let the drift of cool air slip over her face. With her eyes closed, she pictured the boxes gone and her worries about the move drifting up and away into the clouds. She breathed deeply, in and out…she couldn’t get enough of the rich bourbon scent. A neighbor’s pile of burning leaves? As she lingered in her thoughts, the doorbell buzzed. Lissa inhaled the ambrosia one more time before lowering the sash and going to the door.

    “Hey, Robin,” she said brightly. Her mood lightened at the surprise visit of her best friend from church, along with her little boy.

    “Hey, hope we’re not interrupting too much. Just came to say g’bye.” Robin held up a tiny purple gift bag topped with a mound of silver and purple ribbons. “For Lacy.”

    “Oh, how sweet of you; come on in.” Lissa lifted her hand to sweep her unruly bangs out of her eyes and pulled open the door, embarrassed at the glut of disarray. “I apologize for the mess,” she said, waving her arm up and down. Between the packed and half-packed boxes, along with strewn newspapers, rolls of masking tape, and general disorder, Lissa cringed, hating her sense of order disturbed. It was as though navigating the way along a ship’s deck in a hurricane. Unsure. Insecure. She moved toward the hall and called, “Lacy, Miss Robin is here. Alex, too. Come say goodbye, honey.” She took the shiny purple bag and placed it daintily on a clear spot on top of the entryway table. “It’s lovely, Robin. Lacy loves anything purple, thank you,” she chirped and gestured toward the sofa. “Have a seat.”

    Robin plopped herself down and helped Alex unzip his jacket. “So did you find out which office you’ll be working out of?” Robin asked, tugging on the zipper.

    “Gaithersburg,” she said, her hands on her hips. “It’s one of the satellite branches. Near my old hometown.”

    “That’s great,” Robin replied with little enthusiasm. “I loved Maryland. Daddy was stationed there for a while.” She offered a strained smile. Alex shrugged off his jacket as Robin’s face morphed into a palette of emotion that tugged at Lissa’s heart.

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Beyond the Roses

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