Authors: Barbara Hinske
© 2015 Barbara Hinske
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articles. This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons,
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Helen Curl, Jeffrie Story, and my Brian—you are the wind beneath my
Table of Contents
Maggie Martin snapped her laptop shut and set it on the
coffee table. She’d been reviewing spreadsheets for hours. The formidable
financial problems facing Westbury would still be there tomorrow. It was New
Year’s Day, after all, and Westbury’s hard-working mayor deserved some time
off. She’d worked every day since she’d taken office last spring. She stretched
and slid over on the sofa to snuggle her fiancé of almost twenty-four hours,
put his arm around her and hugged her, his eyes glued to the college bowl game
on television. “Only two minutes left,” he mumbled. “Then we can …”
interrupted him. “And there’s another game right after this one. Enjoy. I know
you’re reliving your glory days on the gridiron. I’m going to let the dogs out
and call Susan and Mike. I have big news, you know.”
smiled and patted her arm.
summoned Eve and Roman, tucked her chestnut bob into the collar of her down
jacket, and wound a scarf around her neck. She picked up her cell phone and
headed to the back garden. The dogs raced ahead of her as she sought protection
from the icy wind under a pine tree on the lawn and tightened the scarf around
her neck. She’d lived in Southern California most of her adult life, and these
Midwestern winters were not easy to get used to.
turned to study the edifice of Rosemont. The warm tones of its stone walls and
the symmetry of the mullioned windows elicited the same visceral response in
her as the first time she saw it. Rosemont embodied stability, order, and
security—exactly what she was looking for when she moved here to restart
her life after her husband Paul’s sudden death. And not at all what she’d
found. Never in a million years would she have imagined she’d be elected to
public office as a write-in candidate.
yesterday, she’d been prepared to hand in her resignation as mayor. The
constant criticism of the local press and a vocal segment of the community were
demoralizing, and a lucrative assignment offered by her once trusted colleague,
Professor Lyndon Upton, seemed too good to turn down. Uncovering collusion
between Upton and local town councilman Frank Haynes had changed everything.
They weren’t going to get rid of her that easily. She would stand her ground
and do everything in her power to restore the town’s financial footing. She’d
make sure those responsible for the fraud and embezzlement that left the
general fund and the town workers’ pension plan on the brink of bankruptcy were
brought to justice. So much had changed in the last day. She pulled her phone
out of her jacket pocket and dialed Susan’s number.
Mom, Happy New Year!” Susan sounded cheery, as she almost always did these days
now that Aaron Scanlon had come into her life.
to you. How did you two ring in the New Year?”
went to dinner at this swanky hotel that had a ten-piece orchestra, and dancing
afterward, like out of an old movie—so glamorous.”
smiled. “What did you wear?”
long, slinky midnight-blue dress with the slit. Remember? We found it on
clearance, and you insisted I buy it. You promised I’d have a chance to wear
it. You were right, Mom.”
was that again? You’re breaking up—I can’t quite hear you.”
heard me, Mom. But if you want to hear it again—you were
laughed. “The words every mother loves to hear.”
about you? Did you and John do anything special?”
was quite a day.”
you turn in your resignation?”
it in and went back and tore it up.”
heard Susan take a sharp breath.
you’re not going to take the expert witness gig that Professor Upton offered
you? You won’t be traveling to California all the time and coming to visit us?”
Maggie could hear the disappointment in her daughter’s voice.
honey, I’m sorry. It’s a long story. I suspect Frank Haynes and Don Upton have
been working together to convince me to resign.”
do you think that?”
saw a text message from Don on Frank’s phone—congratulating him on my
ran into Frank—literally—on the steps of Town Hall after I turned
in my resignation yesterday. I slipped on the ice, and my purse went flying
down the steps. When Frank helped me pick everything up, I grabbed his phone by
did you see the text?”
that afternoon—when John and I were sitting in a movie. The phone started
beeping. I scrambled through my purse to find it, and that’s when I saw the
would Councilman Haynes and Professor Upton conspire against you? It doesn’t
agree. I don’t know, but there’s something more between the two of them.”
what did you do?”
and I sat in the lobby of the movie theater and talked it out. The more we
talked, the madder I got. One thing is certain: I am not going to let them
orchestrate my resignation.”
does John think about all this?”
in total agreement. He drove me to Town Hall, so I could take back my
resignation letter. We burned it in the fireplace at Rosemont.”
are you thinking, honey?”
did the only thing you could do, Mom. It all sounds very fishy. I’m
disappointed you won’t be here on a regular basis, but I’m behind you one
hundred percent, and Mike will be as well.”
you, honey. I’m really sorry I won’t be seeing you guys more often. Plus the
money would have been nice.”
got enough money, Mom. Sounds like your New Year’s Eve sucked. I’m sorry.”
wasn’t all bad …” Maggie paused, unsure how her daughter would take the news of
her engagement. Both of her children got along famously with John, but changing
status from boyfriend to husband might be another matter entirely. “John
proposed. And I accepted.”
squealed. “Mom! That’s fantastic news! Mike and I were both hoping the two of
you would get married. I was devastated when you broke up last year. You belong
you, honey. Your blessing means the world to us.”
will be thrilled.” Susan drew a deep breath. “We need to get going on the
haven’t made any firm plans yet. It’ll be a small affair, here at Rosemont. I’d
like to get married in the garden,” Maggie said, looking over the now empty
flowerbeds. “Maybe June? We wanted to check with you and Mike to see when it
would be convenient for you.”
got a trial that ends in April, so June is fine with me. The whole town will
want to be there, with you being mayor and John a hometown boy and the local
why we’re going to keep this really quiet. We don’t want a massive affair.”
would be lovely …”
can have a big wedding at Rosemont or anywhere you choose. John and I don’t
on, Mom. You love to throw a party. You and Dad got married at the courthouse,
and you didn’t even have a new dress. This has to be a grand affair. The back
garden would be lovely, but outdoor weddings can be tricky. Why not get married
inside Rosemont? The place looks like a movie set from an English period drama.
A gorgeous stone manor home—it’s a perfect wedding venue. You could be in
front of the fireplace in the library, or in the living room. We could all
sweep down that staircase.” Susan sighed. “And you have to wear a wedding
I’m too old for a wedding gown, don’t you think? Won’t I look ridiculous? I was
thinking of getting a really nice evening suit. Then I could wear it again.”
snorted. “Get yourself an evening suit if you want one, but you’re not getting
married in it.
logging into Pinterest right now. I’ll create boards for your dress, the food,
and the flowers. What does your ring look like?”
didn’t give me a ring.”
You’ve got to have a ring, Mom. You love jewelry. I’m starting a board for your
laughed. “Slow down, princess. All in good time.”
my Pinterest page tonight—I’ll have gobs of pins by then.”
will. And I’m grateful for your enthusiasm. You get busy with Pinterest. I’m
standing outside and am frozen stiff. I need to round up the dogs and head
John a big hug from me. Love you both.”
opened the back door, and Eve darted inside to her warm basket in the corner of
Roman?” Maggie asked as her beloved terrier mix nestled into her blanket.
Maggie leaned out the back door and whistled, pausing to listen for the
familiar sound of Roman’s tags jingling on his collar as he ran up the hill.
The only sound was the wind rustling through the branches.
must have found a dead bird or some other treasure at the bottom of the vast
lawn; she’d have to go back into the blustery afternoon and bring him inside.
She trudged down the hill, alternatively whistling and calling Roman’s name,
becoming more concerned with each step. She’d never known John’s Golden
Retriever to disobey a command. By the time she reached the thin strip of woods
at the bottom of the hill, Maggie knew he was gone. She raced up the hill and
burst into the library of Rosemont.
bent over, thoroughly winded, and gulped air. “Roman got out. He’s not in the
leapt to his feet. “It’s not like him to run away,” he said, rushing past her
to the back door, not stopping for his coat. Maggie followed in his wake.