Read Secrets and Revelations (Bellingwood #4) Online
Authors: Diane Greenwood Muir
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission.
The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Cover Design Photography: Maxim M. Muir
Copyright © 201
3 Diane Greenwood Muir
All rights reserved.
Don’t miss the first book
Diane Greenwood Muir’s
All Roads Lead Home – Bellingwood #1
A Big Life in a Small Town – Bellingwood #2
Treasure Uncovered – Bellingwood #3
Writing these books has been a joy in so many ways, but it has taken me away from my normal life. I am thankful to those who love me for ‘getting it’ and encouraging me to pursue this dream.
A special thank you to those people who answer questions for me when I ask. Alice Stewart has been working with horses for nearly as long as I’ve known her and without her expertise, I couldn’t write with any confidence about my favorite Percherons.
Bruce Peiffer directs the Oskaloosa, Iowa City Band in the summer and gave me a wonderful set list to work with for the Bellingwood Days band. He is also Maestro Extraordinaire for the instrumental program at North Mahaska schools.
Thank you to Rebecca Bauman, Tracy Kesterson Simpson, Linda Watson, Carol Greenwood, Alice Stewart, Fran Neff, Max Muir, Edna Fleming and Nancy Quist for all they do to make these books happen.
These people will never know how much they mean to me. I trust them with my words and they make me better. They encourage me, while also correcting my work and asking me to rethink what I’ve written. With each edit that comes from them, unique issues are discovered and my book gets better and better. I appreciate their gift of time and attention.
Flashes of lightning crackled across the night sky, illuminating the lawn with short bursts of light. Thunder rumbled while sheets of rain streamed down from the heavens.
Polly smiled as she pressed the button to open her garage door.
The luxury of driving into the garage attached to Sycamore House wasn't lost on her. Dark and stormy nights weren't quite as frightening since she no longer worried about getting wet on the trip from her truck to her apartment. However, tonight she was already soaked to the skin.
She'd spent the evening at the library listening to literary presentations from students in the area as they prepared for the community's festival
, Bellingwood Days. A two thousand dollar college scholarship was at stake and these young people had spent the last year writing short stories, poems, plays, and in one case, a full length novel. Polly had been invited to participate in the final selection process. During the course of the last week, she and three others had interviewed the kids and listened as each presented their work with all the passion and excitement they could muster.
Bellingwood Days was beginning in just over a week and the community went to extraordinary lengths to decorate and prepare for the event.
Sycamore House was the new home for the quilt show and with the larger space, the entrants had more than doubled. Polly’s friend and chef-in-training Sylvie Donovan, and Jeff Lyndsay, the facilities coordinator, were still taking entries for the pie contest. It would be held on Sunday afternoon along with an ice cream social to close out the festivities.
Polly picked her fingers through her wet hair.
Though it had been a beautiful summer evening when she arrived, an isolated thunderstorm had found its way to Bellingwood's skies just as the evening’s activity began to break up. One of the mothers had offered her a ride to her truck, but Polly waved her off, choosing to enjoy the short walk in the warm rain. A sudden torrent had caught her just as she approached the vehicle and she had laughed out loud. By that time, wet was just ... wet.
She stood for a moment inside the door of the garage and watched the storm rage around her, enjoying the coolness it brought. The thunder and lightning were moving off and she pressed the button to lower the door as the rain began to abate.
Opening the door between the garage and Sycamore House, she took a moment to stop and text Henry, something she did every night when she got inside her home.
"I'm home and safe. Good night and I'll see you in the morning."
Within a moment, she had a response
, "Good night to you. Hope you had fun tonight. I've missed hanging out with you this week, just us."
"Can we have a real date tomorrow night?"
"Can't do it tomorrow night."
"Oh, right. Well, see you in the morning."
"Good night. Love you.
She was just getting comfortable with that part of their relationship. He signed off every night telling her he loved her and though she was able to say it to everyone else in her life, when she finally told Henry she loved him, it needed to be something bigger, something much more special. He had an easy, casual way of communicating it to her and she wished she was confident enough with him to be as casual right back.
Polly sneered at herself, and said out loud, "You fool. He's put up with you this long and you continue to question whether he means it."
She walked past the nook Henry had built for Andrew under the stairway and unlocked the door which would allow her entrance to stairs leading
up to the bedroom in her apartment. When Henry discovered this stairway last spring, nine-year-old Andrew Donovan's mind had exploded with possible reasons for it being boarded up. Of course, the mundane reality of decrepit supports came nowhere near matching the stories of zombies or alien wormholes he created, but the boxes of old books which had been left in the stairwell when it was closed, soon became the beginning of the little boy's library.
Henry had cut out a space under the stairs when he rebuilt the supports and filled it with shelves for books and a bench where Andrew could stretch out and dream.
Sylvie Donovan, Andrew's mother and one of Polly's best friends, had come up with a couple of rag rugs for the floor, and she and her son had shopped thrift stores looking for a desk and a lamp as well as an old globe.
Andrew's first short story was well done. He had asked Polly for help in editing it and they worked together to make sure he used proper grammar as he wrote. He had presented it to the judges two nights ago and
they were quite impressed. Polly was certain his work would make it to the top fifteen and couldn't wait to see his eyes when he found out that he'd been chosen. She and Sylvie had both worked with him on his presentation skills and Sylvie had found a suit in his size at a local thrift store. Andrew fell into the role like a born performer. Once the suit went on, his shoulders straightened up, his face became animated and he led the judges on a thrill ride as he presented his story to them.
With their mother attending
culinary school in Des Moines during the day, Andrew and his older brother Jason, spent a great deal of time at Sycamore House. Everyone who worked there kept an eye on the boys and Jason spent as much time as possible with Polly's groundskeeper and custodian, Eliseo Aquila. Jason had discovered a passion for horses and the two spent their free time with the four Percherons Polly had rescued last winter.
It didn't seem like so much time could have passed.
The horses were in fantastic shape now and quite happy in their present surroundings. Eliseo, Jason and Polly and Mark Ogden, who was the local veterinarian, had been working with them in teams for the last two months and this evening Jason begged her to be available tomorrow morning. They had a surprise for her. Polly assured him she would be there whenever he was ready.
She got to the middle of the stairway and looked up.
Sure enough, there was her family waiting at the top of the steps. Obiwan, a gift from Doug Randall and Billy Endicott, was a ten-month old Labrador - German Shepherd mix that was the love of her life. The two cats, Luke and Leia, had been a gift from her friends last Christmas. Luke was a tuxedo cat, black down his back and tail, with two black triangles around his eyes. His feet and stomach were white as was the tip of his tail. Two little spots of black on his front right paw were Polly’s undoing. He didn’t like it when she rubbed the paw, but she couldn’t help it. His sister, Leia, was grey, brown and white. There was an adorable patch of tan, shaped like a diamond, on her forehead. It lay in a field of grey which covered the rest of her head and ears. Her front paws and neck were white and her back was covered in grey and tan. The base of her tail was white, but gave way to mottled color out to its tip.
walked up the last few steps and sat down on the landing. Obiwan nuzzled her head, while the cats rubbed their faces against her, flopping themselves on the floor beside her as they purred.
"This really is the best welcome home," she said. "And I love that you do it every time I come up these stairs. If you were human I'd tell you that you needed to get more of a life, but since you're my kiddos, I'm really glad that I'm your life."
She leaned back against the wall and listened for the storm as it continued to move away from Bellingwood.
"Alright," she said, standing up. The cats raced into the bedroom and leaped onto the perches of their cat tree.
There was still enough light outside for them to be interested in any movement that occurred and with the creek and tree line in the background, there was always plenty of activity. Once they caught sight of something, Polly was no longer interesting, so she and Obiwan went out to the living room. He jumped up on the sofa and waited for her to sit down, then spread out beside her, his face looking for room on her lap.
She put her hand on his head and began rubbing it absentmindedly as she opened her laptop and logged on.
She needed to finish reading the novel that had been submitted for the literary contest and then she wanted to re-read several of the poems and pieces from the first two nights of presentations. She still couldn't believe the community supported this. Any student who wanted to participate had been encouraged to do so by teachers at the school. There was also a wonderful woman who volunteered her time during the week to work with them in perfecting their skills throughout the year.
The local library was instrumental in building the literacy of the children and youth in the community.
Polly was just getting to know the woman who ran the place and couldn't believe how lucky the town had been to recognize her skills. She had moved to Bellingwood five years ago with her husband, who was a pharmacist. They had thought she would get an opportunity to stay at home and start a family, but as Jocelyn confided to Polly the other night over a couple of cocktails at Davey's, her body chose to reject any hope of them having children. Her husband, Nate, had done what any good husband would do and quit talking about it. Jocelyn, or Joss, as she kept insisting Polly call her, had taught literature at a university in Indiana and they met while he was getting his degree. She told Polly that finding creative ways to get kids to read books was one of her greatest joys. Polly recognized a kindred spirit immediately and began to realize that no matter how much fun she was having with her life now, sometimes she missed the stacks of books and the extraordinary sensation of watching someone fall in love with reading.
Polly opened her browser
, bringing up her standard set of tabs. Twenty-three new emails? What had happened? She never had that many in the evening. She scanned the list. It seemed as if everyone was trying to get in touch with her. She scanned through the list and realized that half of them had come in from kids and parents in the literacy competition. She grinned. Oh, the price of celebrity.
She opened an email from someone looking into a long-term stay at Sycamore House and forwarded it to Jeff. She didn't usually get those in her personal account, so took another look at the email.
Sophia Anderson. She didn't
think she knew anyone by that name. Polly read through the email again and realized the girl had been at Boston College with her, but couldn't for the life of her remember what her maiden name had been. She'd barely known Sophia, but vaguely remembered her as an aspiring painter. Polly chuckled. Oh yeah. She was the strange girl who walked around campus with a stool and an easel, alighting wherever her fancy took her and painting with great fury. That had to be who this was.
She quickly hit *reply* and wrote
, "Hi Sophia. I've forwarded your request to my assistant, Jeff Lyndsay. He will contact you to see if the dates line up for you. If so, I look forward to seeing you again."
Polly sent it and went to the next email
from an unknown sender. Spam. Delete. She clicked another email open and felt bile rise up in her throat. Was no one paying any attention to his activities?
The email was from Joey Delancy, an old boyfriend who had kidnapped her last fall and was over the top delusional. He'd been sentenced to a care facility when the judge realized that his brain was broken and she had hoped to never hear from the guy again.
I'm writing this to you under the strict eyes of my keeper, Jack. He monitors everything I do. I'm supposed to let you know how sorry I am that I frightened you and brought you to Boston against your will and to assure you that I would never do that same thing again. I wish that things were different between us. You were the person I was meant to be with and since I scared you so badly, I am to recognize that you will never trust me again.
Following those words, which gave Polly no comfort at all, was a short note from someone else.
"Mr. Delancy has not been given access to your email address. He wrote these words as part of his court ordered counseling. They were forwarded to the prosecutor and sent on to you. It is our hope that you will one day be able to find peace regarding his actions and find it in your heart to forgive him.