Caitlin and Robert have lived their lives with the comforts and conveniences that only the city can provide until an opportunistic move lured them from everything they knew. When a small town doctor offers up his practice, the two find themselves grasping at the silver platter. But the luring temptations of a serene New England town quickly trade places with a flurry of surreal, mysterious and paranormal occurrences causing the couple to question the reality in which they live.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)|
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We live in a small village off the coast of Maine. High on the cliffs, it's an attractive, historical town near the ocean. Approaching from the crest, high on the hill, there is a breathtaking view of the bay and distant islands. The village itself is a narrow strip of shops, remnants of an early 17th century settlement. Downtown was once a shipbuilding center and is now a quiet fishing village with clusters of stately sea captain homes. The town retains its New England charm; a tranquil spot.
My husband, Robert and I moved from a big city. We both had a dream of living in a small town in a big old house with plenty of peace and quiet away from big city life. This picturesque fishing village has everything we always wanted. We picked this town knowing the doctor that lived there. He was ready to retire, and his wife recently passed away. My name is Caitlin and this is where my story begins.
Robert and I met Dr. Lewis in the city at a dinner party with some very close friends. Robert's friend, Jeremy and his wife, also knew the doctor. He was looking for a young physician to take over his family practice. Our friends told us how tired he was and how he needed to get away. The loss of his wife changed everything for him. After dinner, Dr. Lewis started telling us about his beautiful wife. Her name was Catherine. She was a big part of his life and helped him in every way.
The doctor and his wife were not blessed with children, so she put all her love into the children of the village. She would bake cookies for all of them. Some of the children would stop by on their way home from school. They knew cookies and milk would be waiting for them. Everyone in the town loved Catherine and they could always count on her for help. She was someone they could go to, and she would sit and listen. She was a real friend to everyone that came to her door. There was always tea brewing in the kitchen and her favorite cookies in the cookie jar. As I sat and listened to the doctor talk about his lovely wife, I thought how sad he was. The look in his eyes and on his face told us their love was very special. It would be hard to fill her shoes. Would I be able to take over and be ready to help in the way she had done for so many?
On the way home from the dinner party my husband and I talked about Dr. Lewis. Our hearts went out to him. We just looked at each other and knew in our hearts the pain he must be feeling. As we walked into our small apartment, I looked around and thought to myself, how great it would be to live in a big house with lots of windows. Living in the city, we looked out a window and all we saw was more windows and more buildings. It would be nice to be able to see trees filled with birds singing and in the spring smell the new grass coming back to life and turning green. It seemed like a distant dream of flowers budding and how wonderful it would be. Once settled, we could start a family. It's something we both wanted, to have children, and lots of them.
Before I got carried away in my dreams, Robert and I had to sit down and talk over this big move. Would it be the right move for us? Could we take over Dr. Lewis' practice and be happy in a small town off the coast of Maine? Would we be happy so far from Robert's family and all of our friends? After all - we were city kids. We both lived in the big city all of our lives. I know we talked about living in a small town and having a family, but could we take over the practice? Would Robert be accepted in the town? After all, Dr. Lewis lived there and practiced for a long time. He was very well-liked amongst the townspeople. The town already felt the loss of Catherine; could they take the loss of Dr. Lewis too?
Robert and I talked and talked. A week went by and we were still asking all the same questions. Robert called Dr. Lewis. He had given Robert his business card before he left the party. Robert and I wanted to go see the house and the town. I was sitting on the edge of my chair as he made the call, the phone kept ringing and ringing, no answer. I was so disappointed.
"Where could he be?" I asked.
"Well you know small-town doctors do make house calls. I will try calling again later. Relax, Caitlin," Robert said. So I went about cleaning the dishes off the table and thinking about a trip to see the little town where Dr. Lewis lived.
Robert came into the kitchen with that cute little smile on his face. I love the way he smiles. It makes him look like a little boy who has a big secret. He is 6'2" tall, has brown hair and big blue eyes and when he smiles, his dimples blossom. As I looked up at him, he said he tried Dr. Lewis again and he was at home.
"What did he say? Tell me, tell me, please, tell me!"
"Well, he said we can make the trip up to see him."
Dr. Lewis was very happy Robert called. He told Robert that after one look at the town we would fall in love with it.
All week long I talked about our trip. I could not wait to go. It has been some time since Robert and I took time off. I was really looking forward to this long weekend in the country. We drove, taking the scenic by-ways instead of the crowded highways. The town was just like he said. There were big old houses and little shops that lined the small streets. At the end of the town, we saw Dr. Lewis, who was waiting for us. He had a smile on his face, and we were both happy to see that smile. He made us feel as if we were his children coming home to visit. He waved at us to follow him home. The road to his house had tall pine trees. We drove up the long hill and when we got to the top of the private tree-lined circular drive, it seemed as if the tall trees opened up to greet us. On the cliff was set this magnificent, architecturally designed century-year-old Victorian, quiet and secluded. It was like looking at a picture over someone's mantle. We walked up the front steps onto the porch.
He opened the front door, to this stately brick structure. Our eyes could not see all the beauty and wonder this house held. As I walked into the foyer, I was amazed. The house had so much beauty. There was a dazzling array of original furnishings as well as a spectacular circular staircase. Everything was in its place; you could see the lady of the house was a special person with impeccable taste. She loved having beautiful things around her.
Walking into the living room, over the mantle there was a portrait of Catherine and she was beautiful. As I looked at the painting, Robert looked at me with his eyes wide open. He could not believe what he was seeing.
He said, "That's Catherine's portrait, you look just like her."
I laughed, "Stop, I can't see it. She is so beautiful. ...."
Dr. Lewis looked at me and said "Yes my dear, you do."
I thought they were just being polite. That night at the dinner party, the doctor told me he could see the resemblance I had to his wife and just then a cold chill came over me.
The house had a faint sweet smell; it was as if Catherine was still there. Dr. Lewis took us to the kitchen for some tea; the kettle was on the stove. The room was just like I pictured it, filled with beautiful things. It had a sense that made you feel very welcome. The windows looked out over a garden. It was autumn and the leaves covered the gardens. Serving us tea, he put some cookies on the table.
"Sorry no more home baked cookies, just store bought."
As he looked down at the tray we could feel his sadness. We finished our tea. Dr. Lewis said, "My dear, Robert and I are going into the den to talk. Feel free to look around the house if you like." I thanked him.
It was a cool and clear day in October, the wind started to kick up and the leaves were falling off the trees. I thought a walk would be nice. I loved walking in the cool air, the wind hitting my face, the leaves under my feet. I walked for a long time until it started to get dark and the sun was going behind the clouds. The town was not far from the house. As I walked back to Dr. Lewis' home, I could feel all eyes on me. Did they all think I look like Catherine? Or was it just that I was a stranger in town? Walking back, I was thinking about Robert. Would he like living in the small town? Would we be happy here? I could not wait to get back to the house to see him.
We had booked a room at the inn, but the Dr. would not hear of it. He wanted us to stay at the house with him. He looked at me and said, "After all, my dear this house will be yours soon." I looked at Robert and he had that smile on his face. "Okay, we'll stay with you."
Robert put his arms around me and whispered in my ear, "This is and will be the place for us. Now that that's settled let's go and celebrate."
Dr. Lewis took us to his favorite restaurant for dinner. As we drove up to this old stone building, I felt as if I was going back in time. The old wooden doors opened and the floors were made from wide plank boards and pegs. As we walked on the planks they began to creak. The room was filled with antiques, something I love. Robert laughed, "My wife is right at home with all these antiques around her."
The owner came over to our table with a bottle of wine and as I looked up at him, he stopped in his tracks, staring at me. I could see in his face what he was thinking. Dr. Lewis said, "Yes, she does look like Catherine. Now pour the wine old man and stop staring. This is a celebration, dinner specials all around, please."
I hoped his taste in food was to our liking. It was. Dinner was very good and he had very good taste. I sat there and listened to Dr. Lewis tell us about his town and all the people in it. His eyes sparkled. He looked at me and knew I was getting tired. It had been a long day for all of us and as we went back to the house, I thanked him for a lovely dinner. He took us upstairs to the front bedroom and said goodnight.
"I hope you will be comfortable in this room."
I gave him a peck on the cheek. "Thank you again for everything."
As Robert and I were getting ready for bed, I noticed there was a sweet scent in the room. The bed was so soft, I fell asleep right away. I must have been asleep for some time. I don't know what woke me up. I guess it was a feeling. A feeling I had that someone was in the room looking at me. As I sat up in bed, I looked around the room and saw a shadow in the corner. Robert was asleep and he looked so peaceful, but I was frightened. A chill came over me and I started to shake.
I woke him up with all my shaking. "What's wrong, Caitlin?" He pulled me close and put his big, strong arms around me. I was still shaking and could not speak. It took a long time before I could calm myself down. Being in Robert's arms helped. He asked me what happened. I started to tell him. "Shh! Shh!" He comforted me as he kissed my forehead. "Close your eyes. You had a bad dream."
"No," I said, "it was real! Someone was in the room!"
I finally fell asleep in Robert's arms. The morning sun came in the windows and it felt warm on my face. As I looked around the room, I thought to myself, maybe it was all a bad dream. Everything was so bright; I pulled the covers off of Robert to wake him up. He looked at me, "I see you're feeling better this morning."
I smiled at him and breathed deeply, the smell of freshly brewed coffee was in the air. Who could be in the kitchen so early making breakfast? Something smells really good. How could I be hungry after that wonderful dinner we had? I put on my bathrobe and quickly opened the door. I could hear someone singing. Who was singing? It sounded like a woman working in the kitchen. Could it be Dr. Lewis?
No, I didn't think it was him. He never said if there was someone else in the house. I slowly walked to the top of the stairs. Whoever was down there, they liked Irish music. As I listened to the music, a hand touched my shoulder. Startled and frightened, I turned my head quickly to look. It was Dr. Lewis and I let out a big whoosh of breath as my hand fluttered on my chest. In his soft voice he said, "I'm sorry. Did I frighten you? Yes, I can see I did. Do you like the music?"
"Yes I do. Who is that?"
"It's my housekeeper, Mrs. Lilia O'Malley. She's been a lot of help to me since," and he stopped in mid-sentence. But I knew what he meant. We walked down the stairs together. He said, "Wait until she looks at you," and we both laughed. Standing behind him, I waited like a sheepish child hiding behind its mother. He greeted her, "Good morning, Mrs. O'Malley."
"Top of the morning to you, Sir," she replied, in her thick Irish brogue.
"I would like you to meet Caitlin."
Her eyes fixed on my face as I stepped around the doctor. She became very pale, her mouth fell open.
"I don't believe my own eyes, it can't be," she said. Sitting down shaking her head you could hear a faint prayer under her breath. I guess she thought I was Catherine's ghost.
"Who is she? Where did she come from?" she queried hastily. Her words running together.
Dr. Lewis said, "Just calm down now. Your old eyes are not playing tricks on you. She is the wife of the young man who will be taking over for me."
She started to cry, "So fast - you found someone already." Her sentences ran together again.
"Yes," he answered. "I feel very lucky to have found them. Everything will be all right, you'll see. Now, may I have my breakfast?"
"Yes, Sir," she answered as she walked to the stove to get his oatmeal and coffee. I noticed that as she put the doctor's breakfast on the table, her eyes were still fixed on me in an unbelieving stare. She was in her mid-sixties, hair graying, with red highlights still there. There were soft lines around her hazel eyes and freckles on her face. It looked like she had something to say, but she didn't speak. Just then Robert walked in. Sitting at the table, Dr. Lewis introduced him and a look came across the room. Poor Robert, he didn't know what to make of it. We finished our breakfast and Dr. Lewis asked Robert to meet him in the den.
I was alone with Mrs. O'Malley. "Please sit with me and have a cup of coffee?" I asked her. She sat down with a cup of tea. We looked across at each other; I began to ask her about the shops in town. After talking for a while she became more relaxed with me. I asked her if she would consider staying on after we moved into the house. A smile came across her face.
"It would be an honor, Lassie. Thank you, for asking me. It will be like old times around here again, having you in this house. I wish the good doctor would stay here too. Well Ms. Caitlin, I love sitting here with you, but I must get on with my work."
"May I help you?"
"No ... No ...," she said. "Ms. Caitlin, please go get dressed then you can take a look around. You will be the mistress of this house soon and you will get to know it all. This is a beautiful place and it needs a fine lady in it again."
"Why, thank you Mrs. O"
"I hope you don't mind my music?" She interrupted.
"No, I love it," I told her, smiling. I think I heard her say, "Good" as she turned it up and went about her work.
As I started up the stairs to the bedroom, a scent filled the hallway. I stopped, my heart pounding. I looked around and there was nothing and no one in the hall, just the sweet scent. I comforted myself, thinking it must be Mrs. O'Malley cleaning and the scent drifting up from the kitchen. I berated myself. Stop this silliness. It's all in your head. Go on and get dressed. Forget about the scent, I kept telling myself. You don't believe in spirits. If it's Catherine, I hope she's pleased with me being here. Questioning myself, how can we look so much alike? It just seems strange to me.
Dressed, I ran down the stairs and out the front door. I could not wait to see what was in the old barn. Entering the barn was like walking into the house. Everything was so clean and in its place. The animal stalls were empty. I walked up the stairs to the loft and in the corner of the loft was an old trunk. I asked myself, do I open it, or leave it alone? As I walked around the loft, I kept looking at the trunk. Something was drawing me to it. I opened the lid, there were pictures on top. It was Catherine and the more I looked at them, the more I started to see the resemblance. I kept thinking, how could I look so much like her? The resemblance was so unbelievable. They do say we all have a double in this world. But it was still hard for me to believe. I had so many questions about her. Call me nosey, but I wanted to know more. She was fairly young to have passed on already.
Excerpted from "Haunted Cliffs"
Copyright © 2017 Nicholina Tichy.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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