Rachel Brinton came from her comfortable home in Philadelphia to the savage and breathtakingly beautiful land of sultry South Carolina to help with the rebuilding of lives of the poor Ashepoo River tenant farmers. Rachel, though, finds a danger she never dreamed imaginable. His name is Beau Tillson, known as Beau Devil. This intoxicatingly dark and brooding man is the master of Belle Haven—and of Rachel's heart. Beau continually fights against his emerging feelings for Rachel, for she is a threat to everything he holds dear. But as time passes and another threat emerges, Rachel is forced into the arms of this man who could be yet another danger, a man with a personality as dark as midnight.
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
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A peach silk dressing gown folded loosely about her slender body, she sat before the mirror, the long mass of her hair unbound as Dan had liked it. Morning sun filled the room and caught golden glints in the slightly curling, dark auburn hair which reached almost to her waist.
Beyond the light-filled window the oaks that surrounded the old mansion bent their branches in a brisk November wind. The scent of burning leaves drifted into the room, and she could hear dimly the distant growl of a lawn mower trimming the last remnants of green grass in sheltered places.
Rachel moved a small copper coin with the tip of her fingernail across the dressing table, separating it from the other small tokens of Dan's existence. The bright sunlight picked out the soft, worn etching of an oak tree on the coin's face. The pre-Revolutionary penny, of Pennsylvania issue and virtually priceless to any collector, had been her present to Dan on their first anniversary.
The Goodbody family's grandfather clock on the first floor landing, its ancient brass pendulum swinging, counted off the minutes of this generation as it had for seven preceding ones; the rooms of the old house on Philadelphia's Main Line echoed the clock's litany of a calm and peaceful acceptance of life, and fleeting time.
With an effort at a matching serenity that she couldn't feel, Rachel bent her head to the other, tangible evidences of past happiness spread before her: Dan's sensible, conservative wristwatch with gold link band from Cartier, his Swarthmore class ring, two dog-eared ticket stubs that she had found in his pockets for a Philadelphia Orchestra concert.
She propped her arm on thedresser edge, chin in her hand as she studied these precious scraps of Dan's possessions, feeling him so near and yet so far from her life. She knew she should put his things in the safe deposit box, but she lingered over them; his presence was all around her even now, like the pervasive sunshine flowing into the room from the bank of windows.
The rest of Dan's property, those mute symbols of great wealth held but never displayed, were in the wall safe in the library. The accountants and family tax lawyers had long ago reviewed the estate records: all the deeds to old Philadelphia city holdings; the elaborate old Brinton summer home at Lake Hope; the certificates of stocks, bonds, and other securities; even the inventories of Brinton family furniture, china, and silver that had been assigned as gifts to Philadelphia museums.
How much easier it was, she thought sadly, to accept the documents of mere wealth, rather than the small, intimate things like the worn pasteboard ticket stubs Dan had kept to remember a rainy night and a sublime Mozart concert.
Her hand closed over the rare old copper penny. He was still far too real. It had been a year, and in a year pain and loss were supposed to have dulled, fading in sweet memory. After all these months she had forced herself to face the outward signs of her loss. Not peacefully--not yet, because she'd been too young, and too happy with Dan. But she could bring herself now to do what she had never thought she could do--slip the plain gold band of her wedding ring from her finger and place it in the box on top of their marriage certificate.
RACHEL STARBUCK GOODBODY, MARRIED TO DANIEL COFFIN BRINTON. She could be thankful that all the letters and notes of condolence no longer had to be answered; that, too, was long past.
Taken so suddenly, and too soon, to the everlasting distress of his young and beautiful wife. And the endless correspondence that had confronted her like a punishment: notifications of his death to committees he had served on; contributions to organizations, which had to be terminated; even the change of their name on mailing lists--all long completed.
In time, peace will come. If it came, it came slowly, she now knew. The material things of this world remained. Daniel Brinton did not.
Rachel put her head in her hand and with the other blindly groped for the ring. She knew she should close the metal box, press the clasp to lock it, and in so doing seal the past forever. On the landing even the ancient Sheraton clock struck the hour as if acknowledging an end to all of it--to life, and young love, and the happiness she'd known.
Unsteadily she lifted the gold ring and slipped it back on her finger. Willful Rachel Brinton. She could almost hear her mother's murmured words; unyielding in grief, headstrong still in spite of gentle, lifelong constraints.
Not yet, she thought, placing her fingers over the cool clasp of the ring on her flesh. She wouldn't give up wearing the last symbol of what she had lost. At that moment, because there was no knowing the future, this was the way she wished it to be.
The tide's at full: the marsh with flooded streams Glimmers, a limpid labyrinth of dreams.
The Marshes of Glynn