Excerpt: 'Summer Roses'

Lily nodded. "Yes. You know she's sick--"

"That's why we came here, from Cape Hawk."

Lily stared at Rose, as if trying to decide how much to say. Liam kept watch out the side window, knowing that they didn't have much time.

"It is why we came," Lily said. "But long ago, there was a reason why I left here. I have to...take care of all that, before you come back to stay."

"Mommy," Rose said her voice breaking with panic. "Rose, it won't take very long."

"I want you to come with us."

"I will come find you," Lily said. "Very soon, Rose--as soon as I straighten everything out. It won't be long--I promise you. And in the meantime, you'll be with Liam."

Rose hesitated. She still looked worried, but she glanced up at Liam for reassurance. He smiled down at her and squeezed her hand. She raised her arms, and he lifted her up. He leaned close to Lily--their eyes met and locked.

"Take good care of her," Lily said.

"I will. As if she were my own," Liam said, leaning forward, so Lily could embrace Rose and Liam could hold them both at the same time. Their bags were in the truck. Lily had his cell phone number and he had left her all the additional information he could--addresses and telephone numbers for John Stanley's home and lab, a hand-drawn map of how to find his house in Narragansett.

"Bye, sweetheart," Lily said, her voice thin and her eyes moist.

"Bye, Mommy." "I'll call you," Liam promised.

Lily waved him away. He glanced across the yard--the grass deep green, wet with dew--and saw the curtains fall again. Holding Rose, he walked up the sidewalk and stone steps, past the rose-covered well.

"What's that?" Rose asked.

"A wishing well," Liam said as he opened the truck door, buckled Rose into her seat. He strode around to the driver's side and started the engine.

"In my great-grandmother's yard?" Rose asked, sounding surprised.

"Yes," Liam said, putting the truck in reverse just as he saw the door to the house next door open and a gray-haired woman start hurrying down her sidewalk.

"I wish," Rose whispered. "I wish..."

Liam's pulse was racing as he backed into the cul-de-sac. The Sound spread out on both sides of the Point, blue water surrounding the land. Graceful cottages perched on rock ledges, gardens spilling over with beach roses and wildflowers. He couldn't take his eyes off Lily. She stood in the front yard, arms crossed tightly across her chest, hardly able to move.

"Who's that lady?" Rose asked, watching the white-haired woman stop in her tracks. Then the woman shrieked, and started running toward Lily.

"It's Clara," Liam said, although he had never met her himself. "You'll meet her someday."

"I hope so," Rose said, her voice thick. "She looks so happy to see Mommy."

"She sure does," Liam said. And then, with Lily holding out her arms to embrace her grandmother's oldest friend, he shifted into gear and headed for Rhode Island.

Excerpted with permission from "Summer Roses," by Luanne Rice. Copyright © 2005, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Inc., a division of Random House, Inc.

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