When Claire McPherson booked Windward Cottage for the annual reunion with three college friends her biggest concern was whether they would like the weather-beaten, old Victorian on Cape Cod. Little did she know that would be the least of her worries.
Claire, Jill, Caroline, and Diane are in for more than a little R and R. Windward Cottage has its own special powers of seduction. After 35 years of friendship they thought they knew everything about each other, but the old house draws confessions out of each of them revealing secrets they never knew, and guides them unwillingly into a 50-year-old mystery.
What was planned to be a vacation filled with fun, food, and lots of reminiscing turns into one that will change their lives forever. Who or what is trying to frighten them? What is it about this house that won’t let them go? The four women reluctantly take on a mission that leads them beyond their wildest expectations. Only one woman’s stubborn determination keeps them at Windward Cottage when common sense tells them to leave. Fear, danger, and unexplained events connect the four women to each other and to Windward Cottage. Where do they go from here? Can their friendships survive this vacation? Three of them find their futures, and one finds her past.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book started in a short story contest, but the characters invaded my brain and refused to leave until I gave then their due. I like realistic, strong, women characters who do not allow themselves to be victims. I also love characters who have lived real lives and have experiences to share. I did my best to pull the best out in every character.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Every character I write has a little bit of someone I know in them, good and bad. In the case of Windward Secrets, the characters introduced themselves to me visually and I picked names that I felt fit their personalities. I love character development and tried to keep each character unique unto herself and emphasize her strengths and weaknesses.
Tears of frustration ran down Caroline’s face as she pulled her suitcase down the curving staircase of the pseudo-antebellum mini-mansion located on the outskirts of Atlanta. “There’s never anyone around when I need them!” she exclaimed bumping the suitcase down another step.
“Thelma, are you here?” yelled Caroline at the top of her voice. When the housekeeper didn’t answer she sat down on a step bracing the suitcase behind her. Pulling a tissue from the pocket of her beige linen slacks, she laid it over her face so she wouldn’t destroy the makeup she had spent forty minutes applying, and then wept into her hands.
After a full five minutes of self-pity Caroline took a deep breath, dabbed gently at her eyes and ferociously grabbed the handle of the suitcase. “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all. I don’t need him.” And, with that, she yanked the suitcase down the remaining stairs and onto the tile floor of the entry hall. Glancing in the full-length, antique, pier mirror she surveyed her appearance. Thankfully her makeup only needed minor repairs. Flipping open her compact she covered the tear streaks with powder and then touched up her lipstick. Looking closer she saw the earlier application of under-eye concealer had not hidden the dark circles that had gathered like storm clouds around her eyes from months of unhappiness; she gave them a little extra pat of powder and snapped the compact closed. Then she tucked a stray strand of chin-length auburn hair behind her ear and straightened her pink silk blouse. Checking her watch she had two hours to get to the airport and check-in for her flight to Hyannis; plenty of time for the puffiness from crying to disappear.
Reaching into her handbag she pulled out the envelope with Bill’s name on it. She wasn’t going to tell him where she was going, let him guess. The message inside the envelope was short. GOING AWAY WITH THE GIRLS.
Leaning the envelope against the vase of flowers on the round table in the middle of the foyer she turned, extended the handle on the suitcase, and rolled it out the front door.
Words she didn’t allow spoken in her house spewed from her mouth as she reached her boiling point wrestling the heavy suitcase into the trunk of the car. Slamming the trunk closed made her feel better and with a skyward glance she apologized for swearing. Seated behind the steering wheel of her new convertible, the annual upgrade from one of her husband’s dealerships, she shifted into drive and pressed the gas pedal. She watched her lovely home shrink slowly in the rearview mirror as she drove away.
It was an easy drive to the airport and as she drove Caroline went over the events of the last few months. ‘How could this happen?’ she asked herself for the thousandth time. ‘I thought we still loved each other. When did we drift apart? Bill worked hard to build the business and I thought I played a role in that by freeing him of any responsibilities at home, entertaining his clients, and taking care of the boys’ needs. We had a good marriage, three great kids, and a beautiful home. I just don’t understand what went wrong. When did he start running around? Why didn’t I notice?’
Having to be told by a friend at the country club that Bill was having an affair with their dental hygienist was not only embarrassing, it felt like she had been punched in the stomach. She couldn’t breathe; the wind was knocked out of her. She had made a mad dash for the ladies’ room and hid in a stall until she got herself under control. She sat on the toilet holding her stomach and wanting to vomit. When she was sure there was no one else in the ladies room, she went to the mirror to see how bad she looked. It was BAD. After due diligence to her face, she returned to the dining room and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. Bill seemed fine, telling jokes and laughing. She wanted to spear him with her fork, but instead she smiled and laughed at his stupid jokes she had heard a hundred times. She didn’t dare look around because she knew every eye in the room was waiting to see what she might do.
“Dental hygienist my ass!” There were three in their dentist’s office, but she didn’t need to ask for verification…she knew which one. “Bridgette, the blond with the big boobs! The bitch made my gums bleed!”
Following the signs to the valet parking at the airport Caroline pulled up to the curb and popped the trunk. The attendant removed her suitcase and handed her a ticket. In return, Caroline handed him a hefty tip and headed for the sliding glass doors and the ticket counter.
Walking down the concourse her I-phone played it’s ridiculously cheery tune. ‘I really need to change that,’ she thought. The caller ID glowed with Bill’s name and office number. ‘Fat chance!’ Caroline glared at the phone, turned it off, and threw it into her handbag.
She took her place in line at the security area, removed her shoes,placed them in the plastic tub along with her handbag, and stepped up to the metal detector. The agent motioned her through and of course the bleeping alarm went off.
“Oh geez, what now!” Caroline exclaimed as she backed out and took off her watch placing it in a tub on the advancing conveyer. “It has to be this bracelet,” she said to the guard holding up the humongous ornamentation for him to see. In her embarrassment she neglected to place the bracelet into one of the plastic bins, it disappeared under the wavy flaps of the x-ray machine and got caught at the other end jamming the machine and setting off another alarm.
“Sorry, sorry,” Caroline lamented to the passengers waiting behind her.
It took three security personnel to release the bracelet and get the conveyer moving again. “Next time use a tray,” said the female guard dangling Caroline’s bracelet with an indulgent look saved for naughty children.
“Yes, yes, of course,” whispered Caroline snatching her bracelet and hurriedly stepping into her shoes. Red-faced she grabbed her handbag and made a run for it.
Embarrassed and flustered she plopped down in a seat in the waiting area at the gate. Her mind raced toward the danger zone again.
“Mr. Bill isn’t as smart as he thinks,” she thought with a smirk. She never let him know that she knew about his little escapade. She had been killing him with kindness for two months while she transferred funds from their joint accounts to an account in her name only. She had even moved some stocks and bonds without him knowing.
“If he thinks he’s going to get away with spending everything we saved, for the last 27 years, on some bimbo he’s a freaking lunatic,” she mumbled a little too loudly.
The sound of someone clearing their throat made her look up. An elderly couple across from her was looking at her with raised eyebrows. She flashed them a big smile and said sweetly in her best southern accent, “It’s been a long day.”
Finally, seated in first class, with a cocktail in hand and luckily an empty seat beside her, Caroline started to feel her stress begin to melt. She closed her eyes and put her head back against the seat. ‘What do I tell the girls?’ Closing her eyes she thought, ‘Oh hell, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.’
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