Excerpt: 'Summer Roses'

How could Lily begin to know what that was? Rose had just come through open-heart surgery. She was healing from what was supposed to be the final operation necessary to correct the last of the multiple heart defects--Tetralogy of Fallot--she'd been born with.

"I don't know," she said. "She'll have so many questions."

"It's going to work out, Lily," Liam said.

"You've made big promises to me before," Lily said, smiling. None bigger than the fact that he would always be there, never desert Rose--the heart-stricken baby he had brought into this world.

"And they've come true, right?"

"So far," she said, turning to tilt her head back, kissing him long and hard, feeling her blood tingle as it moved through her body. Every touch of Liam's was a promise, with the energy of magic. Outside, the waves hit the rocks, and leaves rustled in the breeze. Lily shivered, wanting more of everything.

"So the answer is yes?" Liam asked.

Lily closed her eyes, unable to speak. Everything had been happening so fast--from hearing about Maeve, to deciding to come out of hiding, to driving down from Nova Scotia.

"You don't have to decide right now," he said. "You need some sleep, Lily. You'll know what to do in the morning."

"Once the sun comes up," Lily said, "Clara will see your truck. She'll come over to investigate. If she sees you and Rose, there'll be no keeping it secret. Not that she means any harm--in fact, I can't wait to see her."

"I know," Liam said. "You're thinking it would be unfair to ask her to go along with something she might not understand. Let's go to bed--we have until dawn to decide."

"In just a few hours," Lily said.

Holding hands, they went upstairs again. Lily still hadn't turned on a light. She still hadn't let herself take that extra step. It didn't matter--she knew every inch of this house in the dark. Every draft, every creaky board, every piece of furniture.Her grandmother hadn't changed anything since Lily had left.

Yet here in this cottage she knew better than any place on earth, Lily waited for the answers. She couldn't help the joy she felt--she loved the warm breeze, the smell of her grandmother's roses. She led Liam into the largest bedroom--the one her grandmother had always saved for guests--in the front of the house, where dormer windows jutted out over the sloping roof, facing the moonlit bay. Lily cranked open the casement windows as wide as they could go.

A gust of air fluttered the sheer white curtains and cooled Lily's hot skin. The sound of waves, rhythmically splashing the rocks down below, came through the windows. Lily went to check on Rose. She bent down, watched her daughter's chest rise and fall. Rose's breath was like the waves--steady, sure, one after the other. Lily knew that Rose would be in good hands with Liam, but the idea of letting her beautiful girl out of her sight was almost impossible to bear.

"Lily," Liam whispered, in the doorway behind her, his hand on her shoulder. "Come to bed."

Lily shook her head. She couldn't move. How could something so peaceful fill her with such fear? Rose was sleeping in Lily's own childhood bed; the summer breeze carried scents of honeysuckle and hundreds of red, pink, and white roses. The old words came back to her: white roses bruise so easily. Staring down at her daughter, she calmed herself with the hard-won certainty that Edward wasn't even aware that Rose existed.

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