Sometimes in the dead of night, Lynette Carlisle heard her mother’s voice. Sometimes it was easy to forget her mother had been dead twelve years.
Curled up in bed, covers pulled tight, she strained to hear the whisper over the wind. Some nights the voice was clear, like Mom was right there in the room, the faintest scent of light musk and lavender tickling Lynette’s imagination. Other nights, all she heard was her own sigh of disappointment as angry waves crashed against the Nantucket cliffs beyond the garden wall.
Some nights she welcomed the voice. Some nights it made her wish for the impossible and remember life as it had been, before.
Some nights, like tonight, it kept her awake and rattled the cage of her memory. Tonight the voice came to her, as it so often did, in a dream.
The message was urgent, but she couldn’t remember a word of it.
That was it. She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes.
Something about Dad.
A few sleepy moments later, Lynette stood in the doorway of her father’s bedroom and stared at the empty bed. Red numbers glowed through the semidarkness. Four a.m. She checked the bathroom, but he wasn’t there.
Thoughts of where he might be created a momentary state of paralysis. Lynette waited a moment, listening for any sound, but the big house was silent.
She pushed her arms through the sleeves of her robe as she thundered down the stairs to the ground floor. Her two Labradors sat stationed by the front door, indicating he’d already made good his escape.
Panic pushed her forward. This served her right for staying up too late trying to finish that painting.
“Dad!” Lynette pulled open the heavy door and a gust of cold, salty wind smacked her face. Spring nights on the island still held a chill. A full moon lit her way as she raced across the white gravel in bare feet. No time to go back for shoes. She gritted her teeth and pressed on toward the road. Shouts came from the direction of the house next door.
Dread dragged her to a stop.
Diggory and Jasper began to growl as another shout punctuated the silence. She hoped they wouldn’t start barking. “Shush, guys.” Lynette picked up her pace again, grateful when her feet finally sank into the soft stretch of grass between the two estates. She squinted down the winding drive that led to their neighbor’s home, the Cooperage, and scrambled for a viable excuse.
Perhaps Mr. Cooper was away for the weekend.
If he wasn’t . . .
“I know you’re in there, Cooper! Get out here this instant!” Her father’s baritone voice punched through the night like a warhead honing in on its unsuspecting target. No stopping him now.
He stood on the front porch, swaying in the wind, his bathrobe flapping like dark wings, wild hair flying around his neck as he pounded on the double doors with both fists.
“Dad!” Lynette shot up the steps and grabbed his arm. “Stop it!” Perhaps it wasn’t too late to just take him home. Perhaps, with a little luck, Mr. Cooper was indeed off the island.
The porch light came on and that hope washed out like the tide.
The lock turned, the door creaked open, and Nicholas Cooper peered around it.
“Nick.” Lynette stepped back, fully expecting to be faced with an angry Anthony Cooper. Nick hadn’t been back to Nantucket in years.
“Who . . . what?” He stepped forward, blinking under the glow of the carriage lantern above them. “Mr. Carlisle?”
“Aha,” Dad bellowed as he lunged for the young man. “Where is she? Tell me where she is before I beat the tar out of you!”
“Whoa, Mr. Carlisle?” Nick disentangled himself, put up his hands, and ducked out of reach. Bleary blue eyes caught hers. “Lynette?”
Lynette made a frantic grab for her father’s arm. “Dad, stop! You’re confused. Let’s go home.” She pushed him, hard. “Daddy!” Her childlike cry stopped his flailing. “STOP.” She met his eyes and saw them fill with murky confusion.
His anger slunk away like a punished dog. “I . . . I’m sorry. I . . . forgot myself.”
Lynette glanced at Nick and patted her father’s arm. Dad clamped his mouth shut and studied his slippers.
“Let’s go, Dad. It’s okay.” Lynette shook her head. It wasn’t okay.
Not at all.