Excerpt: 'Summer Roses'

Lily began to smile. "It's all the same," she whispered. The moon had risen out of the Sound, casting a gleaming white light on the calm water, its pale light flooding the room. Lily saw the familiar slipcovers, braided rugs, pillows she had needlepointed for her grandmother. She ran her fingers over her old shell collection, books in the bookcase, moonstones gathered at low tide on Little Beach.

She had to see everything, yet she couldn't turn on a lamp yet. If she turned on a light, it would mean she was committed to this. "This" meaning that she was really here, that her exile was over, that she had returned to the land of the living. Neighbors would see the light and come over. People would know that she was back.

Edward would find out.

"Where does Rose sleep?" Liam asked.

"In my room," Lily whispered. She led him up the narrow stairs. The second floor had four small bedrooms--beach-cottage in size and feel. Lily's heart was racing as she entered her old room. Under the eaves on the north side, it had funny ceiling angles, a twin bed, and her old Betsy McCall paper dolls right there on the bureau. Pulling down the covers, she choked up to see the sheets--imprinted with tiny bouquets of blue roses--and a pink summer-weight blanket. She bent down to smell the bedding--it was fresh.

"My grandmother knew we were coming," she said. "Somehow, before she went to the hospital, she made up the bed for Rose."

Together they tucked Rose in. The little girl stirred, opening her eyes, glancing around the unfamiliar room in dream-state wonder. "Are we here?" she asked.

"Yes, honey. You'll see it all tomorrow morning. Good night."

"Night," Rose murmured as her eyes fluttered shut.

Lily and Liam went back downstairs. Moonlight was dazzling on the water in front of the house. Lily had watched countless moonrises from this room, through the wide, curtainless windows overlooking the rocks and sea. Everything seemed so open compared to the pineshrouded cabin she'd lived in at Cape Hawk, Nova Scotia--she had hidden in a boreal forest, with hawks and owls as sentries.

Liam had been one of the first people she'd met, arriving in the distant, unfamiliar town--disguised by cropping her long dark hair, dying it light brown, wearing the old horn-rimmed spectacles her grandmother had given her. He had been her friend and savior, even though she had rejected him every step of the way. She had to, to protect herself and her unborn baby.

Lily's first weeks in Nova Scotia had been a dark fairy tale, complete with cabin deep in the North Woods, a bounty on her head in the form of a reward posted by Edward, and the benevolent presence of the fierce and kindly Liam--there for Rose's birth, delivering the baby on the kitchen floor, and swearing to protect forever this mother and child.And there had been plenty of protecting for him to do: born with complex heart defects, Rose had just completed her last round of surgery earlier that summer.

Brokenhearted baby, brokenhearted mother, Lily thought, gazing out at the moon on the Sound. Her arm was around Liam, and his around her. Gulls called from across the water, from their rookery on the rock islands half a mile offshore. Lily felt the sound in her heart, and thought of the annual Ceili Festival, just about to start in Cape Hawk, the Irish music as haunting as the gulls' cries.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...