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The cabin never changed. Set high up on a hill overlooking White Swan Lake, it was rustic, with board-and-batten siding weathered silver, a once-red roof that had faded to soft pink, and long, low windows that gave a sweeping view of the teal green water. Small and square, the structure had been built for ease and economy. A wide, foot-worn wooden deck circled the building, giving a casual observer an unobstructed view not only of the lake, but of the gardens and forest surrounding the cabin.
Lucy thought it was the most perfect place on the planet. And it was all hers.
Dragging her laptop and duffel bag up the hill toward the front steps, she swore beneath her breath.
"Sonofabitch. Could they have put the friggin' door any further away? And these steps--why so damn many steps, Uncle Bob? I'd love to know."
A rusty lock was her first greeting after a long absence. The keys that the attorney had given her were all on a length of worn leather cording--the same one she remembered her uncle pulling from his pockets when she was a child. But no matter how hard she tried to get any of the keys to open the front door, the stubborn tumblers wouldn't budge.
Great. Locked out of Summersong like a mouse out of Aunt Lu's pantry. Now what?
Leaving her things where they were, she headed toward the back of the cabin, piles of unswept leaves crunching against the wood beneath her feet. A small, brown mole scurried out from beneath one of the heaps of leaves and disappeared over the side of the deck. It seemed strange to see evidence of last year's autumn still here in the spring. Uncle Bob had been so particular about the building andgrounds; he never would have let leaves lie where they fell.
You were too sick last fall to clear the leaves, and I didn't think to have it done for you. I guess I was too wrapped up with the other things that you needed ... other, pressing things. I'll get the place cleaned up now, though. I promise. For you--and for me.
The back door opened easily, and she walked through the cluttered rooms without flipping a light switch. At the front door, she cranked the dead bolt open and tugged on the tarnished brass knob. The door refused to budge, no matter how hard she pulled.
Maybe it's warped. Just another thing to put on my to-do list--a list that's getting longer at every turn. What the hell. At least I'll be busy enough to keep my mind off of Craig and his traitorous cock.
With more force than was necessary, Lucy opened a window in the living room and climbed out onto the porch. She picked up her computer and bag and reached through the open window, putting her things down on the braided rug. Then she climbed back inside the cabin and closed the window behind her.
She was home.