Norma's words to her grandson Quinn Santini are a shock--and it all started with a packet of letters found by a woman named April Trent.
From the moment April uncovers the love letters inside the walls of a historic Virginia home, she's sure they tell a fascinating story. Faded and seemingly forgotten, the letters lead April to society matriarch Norma Marsh Santini--and her grandson Quinn.
Norma knows it's finally time to reveal the truth about her experiences as a World War II spy--and her secret love affair with a man now dead. But the past has a way of reaching into the present, and soon the very basis of Quinn's life comes into question. Only April can help him see that sometimes things aren't quite what they seem--and that love can be strong enough to survive anything.
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July 31, 2007
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Excerpt from A Secret to Tell You by Roz Denny Fox
Dust flew everywhere as April Trent's circular saw bit into the lath and plaster wall of the sixty-year-old Shenandoah Valley farmhouse she was remodeling. Seeing a flash of red and white in what should be empty space, she shut off her saw and set it down on the floor. Then she carefully pulled free a ragged chunk of wall. April shoved her safety glasses into her hair so she could clearly see the item wedged between two-by-four-inch studs.
Since being awarded her contractor's license at twentyfour, this was the sixth Virginia home between Harrisburg and Staunton that she'd purchased and renovated. She always lived in the houses she was renovating; and had managed to accumulate a tidy nest egg. At thirty-one, she was a woman of independent means. Her first project she'd bought with a trust fund left by her paternal grandmother, Dixie. Early on, she'd struggled to be taken seriously in a largely male-dominated field. Now things were going well. No thanks, though, to her prominent family who, outside of her grandmother, saw her interest as merely an aberrant whim that would pass. Rather than being happy for her and wishing her well, they considered her an embarrassment. Especially her Dad and her brothers....
April plucked out a dusty, rectangular package wrapped in red-and-white checked oilcloth. Bits of fabric, brittle with age, broke off, even though she took care lifting it out. Her pulse beat faster. Generally all she found was crumbling grout, cobwebs or the skeletal remains of long-dead mice.
Coleman Trent, her lawyer daddy, might not be so quick to denigrate her profession if she found a cache of stolen money.
Excited, April carried her treasure around the plastic sheeting that cordoned off the kitchen, one of the rooms she'd completed. A corner nook near the window offered better lighting, and she identified the wrapping as oilcloth of a type used to line kitchen cupboards at the time this home was built. Twine holding the covering in place snapped easily.
Darn! Not money. Letters, bound together with a red satin ribbon. Letters addressed in precise script to a woman named Norma Marsh, at an address in France.
On a self-imposed timetable to complete the house but tempted nevertheless, April couldn't resist tugging open the bow. She eased the top letter out of its envelope. The ink was faded and the handwriting looked like that of a man. Yes, it was signed Erge ben, Heinz. April was disappointed when she realized none of the letters were in English. No, they'd been written in German. She'd taken a smattering of college French and high school German, and from the little she could translate, it appeared Heinz was devoted to Norma.
April couldn't help a poignant sigh as she refolded the letter. She'd love to pour a cup of coffee and take a break, try to decipher what--judging by the salutation--were obviously old love letters. But she needed to get that wall down and cleaned up, since she had carpet-layers scheduled the following week. Although she did most of the work alone, a few tasks she subcontracted out on an asneeded basis.
Leaving the letters, she returned to the dirty job at hand. By one o'clock she was exhausted. But the wall was down. Only the promise of coffee and a closer inspection of the letters gave her the final burst of energy she needed to dispose of debris and sweep up.
She was pleased with her morning's work. Ripping out the wall had resulted in a lovely, large open room with a brick fireplace at one end. Homes built in the thirties and forties tended to have small, dark rooms. April liked open and airy.
Filthy, she should head straight for the spanking new shower she'd already added to the refitted bathroom. But coffee enticed, as did those letters.