A Cottage by the Seaby Ciji Ware
One woman, one man, one shared fate...
Ciji Ware has been an Emmy-award winning television producer, reporter, writer, and radio host. A Harvard graduate, she has written numerous historical and romance novels as well as non-fiction. When she's not writing, Ciji is a Scottish history and dancing aficionado. She lives with her husband in San/strong>… See more details below
One woman, one man, one shared fate...
Ciji Ware has been an Emmy-award winning television producer, reporter, writer, and radio host. A Harvard graduate, she has written numerous historical and romance novels as well as non-fiction. When she's not writing, Ciji is a Scottish history and dancing aficionado. She lives with her husband in San Francisco.
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Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 2
In typical Cornish fashion the weather had changed abruptly by mid afternoon. The dark, rain-filled clouds that had greeted Blythe's arrival in the West Country quickly vanished and were replaced by benign puffs of white that drifted across a Wedgwood-blue sky.
Blythe set out for Barton Hall dressed in jeans and an ivory cable-knit turtleneck sweater. She walked along the public footpath that skirted the cliff side meadow, glancing back briefly at the sight of Painter's Cottage perched dramatically at its edge. She could hear the surf crashing on the narrow beach below, accompanied by friendly shrieks from gulls circling overhead. Wisps of smoke drifted from the chimney, the remnants of the crackling fire she'd carefully banked before her departure. Just as Lucas Teague suggested, she had soaked for an hour in piping-hot water while surveying the spectacular coastline in naked privacy.
A Bathtub with a View, she thought, smiling to herself as she reached the far corner of the grassy field. For the first time in months her spirits began to rise.
She shut the gate carefully, not wishing to be responsible for the escape of any of the sheep that were her new neighbors. Cautiously she looked in both directions for vehicles driving on the left side of the road.
"Do, please, avoid the Dead Yank syndrome, darling," Christopher had chided her on their first trip to England together. "The civilized world drives on the left."
Resolutely she darted across the narrow road that separated the coastline properties of Barton Hall from its principal holdings. Near a brambly hedge at the entrance to the next field, an iron sign enameled white and embossed with black letters beckoned her to follow another public pathway called, appropriately enough, Hall Walk.
She climbed gingerly over a wooden stile that consisted of four spiraling steps cleverly designed to allow humans access to the field while keeping four-legged animals from getting out on the road. A second metal sign directed her to make a right turn. Within moments she had plunged into a kind of leafy mine shaft, thick with English oak and dense underbrush, where dappled sunlight filtered through the trees that arched overhead. Enclosed in this cool, green, shadowed habitat, she suddenly had the giddy sensation that she was like the White Rabbit in the animated version of Alice in Wonderland, diving into an underground lair.
Then she halted in her tracks.
There I go again! she thought crossly. Everything in my life can't be a potential movie scene!
As usual, she was observing the world through a designer's eye, rather than simply living. It was an occupational hazard, she supposed. On some crucial level, however, she sensed that her habit of seeing daily events as fodder for some future film had a way of bleeding some of the joy and spontaneity out of her everyday life.
I'm in Cornwall! I'm not scouting locations. I'm here. It's beautiful... and that's enough.
On her left, fifty yards down the path, the gnarled roots of an enormous oak had pushed up thick tentacles from the moist ground, forming a large hollow some three feet in diameter. She leaned forward to have a closer look, concluding that an Irish leprechaun or Cornish "pisky" would find this space a suitable abode. Or perhaps even the White Rabbit himself.
Old habits were hard to break, she mused.
Impulsively Blythe shed her indestructible dark-green Barbour jacket-another present from Chris that first trip-and placed it on the ground. Feeling like a mischievous five-year-old hiding from her nanny, she then squeezed inside the vaulted space that was blanketed with cozy moss so intensely green it seemed almost psychedelic. She had just enough room above her head to sit, legs crossed Indian style, like a happy Hobbit in a sheltering forest home.
This is a bit much, she thought, amused by her childish antics as she strafed her fingertips along the velvet-clad roots that formed her woodland cave. In this magical forest an uplifting harmony seemed to prevail-proof of a wholeness in the natural world that seemed to soothe and assuage her wounded soul. As if to confirm this hypothesis, a plump brown rabbit leaped across the path to her right, followed by a bounding gray squirrel that appeared to be not so much its pursuer as its playmate.
Reluctantly Blythe glanced at her watch. Twenty minutes past four. She pulled herself to her feet and dusted off her jacket. A gentle coolness enveloped her as her new walking shoes trod along the tufted emerald path that led through this enchanted wooded world of bright ferns, twisting vines, and ivy-cloaked tree trunks.
A thousand shades of green.
The phrase rang in her head, and the incredible beauty of her surroundings lifted her spirits another notch. As she slowly inhaled the soft Cornish afternoon air, the thought came to her that time spent here-with her feet planted in the soil of her probable forebears, her lungs filled with gentle breezes blowing off the sea-might purify the wells of bitterness and remorse she now realized ran deep.
As she peered ahead, her euphoria swiftly began to evaporate. "It's always something, isn't it?" she exclaimed aloud. The leafy tunnel, its shadows warmed every few feet by shafts of sage-green light, angled sharply upward. As far as Blythe could determine, there appeared to be no way to avoid climbing the steep, challenging hill that stood between her and her destination, Barton Hall.
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