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Authors: Island of Dreams

Patricia Potter

BOOK: Patricia Potter
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This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2012, Patricia Potter

To my nieces, Laura and Julie, and nephews, Bill and Stephen, who have all given me much joy.



Title Page

Copyright Page


Part One

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Part Two

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Author’s Note



Summer, 1963

wished the tears would flow. Perhaps they would loosen the vise around her heart.

She looked over toward her daughter. Lisa, now almost twenty-one, had never been able to hide her emotions, and tears were streaming down her face. How lucky she was. To be able to wash out even a portion of grief instead of locking it up inside until you wondered whether the wall within made you something less than human.

Meara’s gloved hands knotted together as an honor guard carefully rolled up the flag on her husband’s casket and, in almost jerky automaton movements, marched over to present it. She shook her head and nodded to Lisa. Lisa had the greater right to it. Her daughter had loved Sanders with no qualification, no reserve. Lisa had, quite simply, adored the man she believed was her natural father, the man who had been father in all the important ways.

The service was over, the sound of a lonely bagpipe stilled, but its echo lingered in the hot, heavy air. The bagpipe, a too familiar sound at funerals of law enforcement officers, had been included at the suggestion of John Malcomb, Sanders’s partner. The pipes did, Meara thought, have a mournful sound.

Like the sound of her soul.

With the exception of her daughter, who knew nothing of the events of the spring of 1942, Sanders was Meara’s last link with those two heart-wrenching weeks of her past, a past that now lived only in FBI files someplace and in the recesses of a heart that had never quite repaired itself.

Even that FBI file, however, was not complete. Sanders had been the only one who knew what really happened, who knew the truth about Lisa, about a man who called himself David Michael Fielding, about the love and hate and terrible violence which had marked Meara for life.

Which had dried her tears long ago.

There was movement now, and she felt Lisa’s hand reach for hers and tighten. Obediently, as if she were daughter instead of mother, she stepped forward and carefully placed a rose on Sanders’s casket. It was a rose Sanders himself had planted. He had loved his roses. It was a fine thing, he’d said, to produce something beautiful. He didn’t say anything more. He didn’t have to say that it represented peace in the violent, often evil, world he inhabited as a federal agent. Despite his profession, he had been a gentle man, a warm man.

Sanders had been her friend, her best friend, and her greatest sorrow was that she had been unable to give him more. He had loved her with a painful sweetness and yearning, and he’d had to live among the shadows of another man who had betrayed them both. Despite Sanders’s every effort, he had never been able to block out those shadows, and he knew it. Worse, he had accepted the relationship gratefully, giving all and receiving little. But Meara could not give what was dead but never buried.

She looked at the great oak trees which shaded the cemetery, and the moss that draped from them like great gray shrouds. She had wondered whether it was really fair to bury him here rather than in Pennsylvania with his parents. But now she planned to live here, and she wanted him near. She couldn’t force herself to leave this island, not even now. Jekyll Island, with its compelling beauty and obsessive memories, was to her like the apple in the Garden of Eden, a temptation that overrode every rational thought.

was here. He had died here. She had watched the explosion that killed him. He had introduced her to love and then he had destroyed them both.

And she wasn’t even sure of his true name.

A penetrating loneliness drove through her. Now she didn’t have Sanders, the one person who knew and understood her. Her daughter’s hand trembled in hers, but still Meara couldn’t leave. She placed her free hand against the casket. One last touch, one last effort to tell Sanders how much he had meant to her, to say things she had never been able to say while he was alive. She grieved for him, for all she had not been able to give him, for all the pain they both had endured over the years, for the two weeks during which the sun had touched her life and then left it forever, leaving only a legacy of betrayal and sudden violent death.

Even J. Edgar Hoover dropped by the cottage later to pay his respects. The house was filled with FBI agents and other law enforcement officers who had worked with Sanders. He had been a popular man who had never lost his sense of justice, of compassion. Because of those qualities, or flaws as some of his superiors at the FBI saw them, he had never climbed the bureau ladder. He simply wasn’t single-minded enough.

It was also the reason he had died, Meara had learned. Sanders and three other agents had confronted a group of suspected terrorists who had robbed a Wells Fargo truck and killed the driver. One of the terrorists had been a woman, and Sanders had hesitated before shooting. The woman had not. Yet he had been good at his job because people naturally trusted him. He could coax information from both victims and suspects as easily as he had once milked cows on his family’s Pennsylvania farm. Meara had experienced that skill firsthand.

She smiled slightly as still another man offered awkward sympathies. The numbness was still there. The denial. Thank God. In the meantime, she could smile blankly at the stories being told, the affectionate remembrances. Sanders. Lochinvar and Don Quixote. He had been both to her. He had saved her life that summer of 1942 and had, all the rest of it, tilted at windmills to repair her wounded heart.

Meara looked over at Lisa, whose eyes, throughout the day, had never lost the mist of tears. She saw Kellen Tabor stand next to Lisa, his hand under her daughter’s arm, and she said a brief prayer of thanks for the tall young attorney who lived in the cottage next to this one. He and Lisa had played together for years, and now his eyes had changed from teasing playfulness to something softer. Something tender. Meara hoped that Lisa would soon share the feelings so evident in his eyes. But you couldn’t direct love. She knew that better than anyone.


She turned and recognized John Malcomb, the agent who had been Sanders’s last partner.

His eyes were grim, a muscle flexing in his cheek. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. If only…”

“If only…”

The two saddest words in the English language, Meara thought. In any language. If only…

She held out her hands to him, taking one of his and clasping it tightly. “Don’t, John. Don’t torment yourself. There was nothing you could have done.”

He hesitated. “Sanders was my best friend. He once asked me to look out for you if something happened to him. If there’s anything I can do, anything at all, call me. Anytime.”

Meara felt her heart slow, her hands tremble. Even now, Sanders was trying to protect her. She nodded, unable to force words between the growing lump in her throat. Sanders had never really realized that steel had formed within her, that strength and independence and finally confidence had replaced the naive young woman she once had been. He had wanted to protect. He still wanted to protect.

But she merely nodded. “Thank you, John.”

They kept coming until she thought her face would break from the effort of keeping it composed. But she knew she must for Lisa, for Lisa was about to fall apart. Meara could tell from the trembling lips, the glaze over her daughter’s eyes. Lisa had never really encountered death before, had never felt loss. Meara was proud of her, proud of the attempt Lisa was making. But that strength was nearly gone.

She nodded to John, who understood and gently, diplomatically started ushering guests out. Finally, there were only three visitors left: John, Kellen, and his mother, Evelyn.

Meara went over to Lisa and hugged her, feeling the slight withdrawal of her daughter. It deepened the grief in her, the sense of loss, but there had always been a certain reserve between them, a resentment on Lisa’s part for something Meara had never entirely understood. Lisa had always been more her father’s daughter, had always given Sanders her entire devotion, and although part of Meara ached from the quiet, barely obvious rejection, another part had been glad for Sanders. The two of them, father and daughter, had had a very special relationship, and Sanders had received the total, unqualified love that Meara had never been able to give.

“I’m going for a walk, love,” she told Lisa, watching a flash of relief cross her daughter’s face. It had only been those few moments at the cemetery when Lisa pressed her hand into her own that they had been united in sorrow. Now the chasm was back again, and Meara didn’t know how to cross it.

She turned and walked out of the cottage door, across the dunes she loved to the wide gray beach alive with gulls and small skittering birds. The sun, a huge crimson ball, was streaming paths of gold against the gently churning water. Meara found the old log which she often used as a perch, and sat, wishing she could feel the renewal she sometimes felt here. But now there was only a lonely sadness, an isolation rising from the vastness of the ocean.

She needed to go away from this place. She knew it. She’d known it for years, but she could never stay away. Even now as she looked down the beach, even now when she was mourning Sanders, she thought she saw Michael far down the beach. She saw bits and pieces of him in others: the arrogant stance, the amused crinkling around the corners of his eyes, the impatient raking of sandy hair, the dark blue eyes which blazed with passion and deadly secrets. She saw bits and pieces but never the whole. The whole had been destroyed in flames, flames she still saw in her sleep.

BOOK: Patricia Potter
9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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