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Death in Autumn

Twenty years ago the poetess Rosalie Dwyer Saunders threw herself from the rocks near Bluecliff Seminary, thus establishing her legend for a generation of romantic girls and even more romantic scholars.
When literary biographer Alec Ford arrives to write about the former child prodigy, everyone at Bluecliff welcomes him–with the exception of Professor Gideon Rhodes.
During the war, Alec and Gideon were friends–and more–until Gideon’s jealousy and suspicion destroyed their already fragile chances for happiness.
But as Alec delves deeper into the mysteries of Saunders’ past, an unseen enemy moves to stop him–and his only real ally might be his former friend.

 

Coming 2020

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Chapter One

 

Every story has a start and a finish. There’s usually no missing the finish, but the start is not always where you think it is.

Rosalie Dwyer Saunders believed her story was beginning the night she walked out of Rose Cottage. My story began the afternoon I knocked on the front door.

The cottage looked like a picture postcard from before the war.

The garden gate banged in the sea breeze, a fitful knock-latch-release in the sparkling air. I eyed that gate from the stoop, watching it open and close. Over and over. I’m not the imaginative type, but something about that gate bothered me. It wasn’t like Gideon to put up with that kind of inefficiency.

Bees hummed in the heavy fall of white-pink blossoms cascading around the blue door frame; the too-sweet fragrance of the blossoms cut by the bracing ocean breeze.

My knock continued to go unanswered.

I looked for the bell, located it looking like a bronze nipple amidst the ruffled petals, and pressed. The cheery buzz rang emptily through the cottage.

“Can I help you?”

I turned, surprised, to see Gideon was coming through the little gate.

Same broad shoulders, same broad disapproval, evidenced by his frown. His usual expression with me, though I don’t think he recognized me at first.

“What ho, Jeeves,” I called because even after all that time the unexpected sight of Gideon rattled me.

I had been right. He hadn’t recognized me until I spoke. His frown grew blacker but then vanished. After all, he knew as well as I did that this wasn’t really a social call.

“Alec,” he said.

“Worse luck,” I agreed, smiling.

“It isn’t locked. We don’t lock our doors here.”

“How very trusting.”

He had changed probably. Four years after all. But he looked much the same to me.

“I wasn’t expecting you until Monday.” He reached me, opened the door, and waited for me to enter.

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