Keely Schiffer is having the strangest day. There's the skull in her rose garden and she receives a gift from her dead husband. Then an earthquake hits, and Keely's trapped with a handsome, gun-toting stranger.
Detective Jake Malloy heard that nothing bad ever happened in the town of Haven, but his so-called R & R has turned into a nightmare. Except for being stuck in a dark cellar with a sexy woman till help arrives. For Keely and Jake, near-death stokes hidden fires, but the earthquake seems hell-bent on stirring up all the people of Haven, past and present....
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July 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Secrets Rising by Suzanne McMinn
There was a skull in her rose bed.
Keely Schiffer swiped the hair out of her eyes, felt the damp, cool smear of fresh dirt she'd applied to her cheek in the process, along with the sensation of her insides starting to crawl. The shovel dropped out of her other hand.
That wasn't really a skull, was it? It was probably just a rock. A big one. With gaping eye sockets--
that somehow she'd ended up about three feet back was a skull, a human skull. She should call the police. She hated calling the police. She'd called the police too many times lately. And they'd called her too many times to count. That's what happened when your husband had a lot of secrets you didn't know about and then got himself killed doing something stupid--
Oh, God. Was this another one of Ray's secrets? It was Ray who'd had the bright idea of digging up this bed. Plant some roses, he'd said. Then he'd dug the crap out of it, torn out the old boxwood hedges, and left it in a big mess last fall right before--
Keely staggered back a few more steps then forced herself to move forward again to the hole she'd dug. She stood on trembling legs, her heart beating fast. Do something.
It took her ten seconds to decide. As if there was a decision to make.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A sudden whip of wind tore through the West Virginia mountain hollow, buffeting leftover dead leaves from winter across the short grass. Another spring storm was on the way. She wasn't going to get the gorgeous hybrid tea roses planted in time. She wasn't going to get them planted today at all, not until the police were finished.... And she'd been so looking forward to this one day off to play outside in the dirt and sunshine. She looked back at the neatly lined-up roses, ready for planting. They had a short growing season here in the mountain region. She needed to get her bushes planted. That thought had seemed really important just about five minutes ago.
Her head reeled. She ran for the back door of the house, burst inside and reached for the phone. She punched 911 before the reality of the silent air hit her.
The phone was out.
The old house settled still and heavy around her. The farm was five miles outside Haven on a road so narrow, to pass another car one vehicle or the other had to pull over on the weedy shoulder. Sugar Run Farm had been in her family for four generations. It wasn't unusual for the phone to go out, storm or no storm. Inconveniences were par for the course in the boonies. There was no cell signal, no cable. They were lucky to have satellite TV. Dickie the mechanic provided personal service.... Including picking up his customers" vehicles on site then dropping them back off.
The windows on her ten-year-old Ford pickup weren't operating properly. Dickie had picked it up first thing this morning, promising it back by tonight. No phone. No vehicle. Not too big of a problem normally, especially on her day off.
Except for the skull in her rose bed and some really scary thoughts about how it might have gotten there.
But it wasn't an emergency, was it? It had been there since last fall.... Probably. And she'd been living right here all this time, sleeping soundly in spite of it. No reason for alarm now....
And yet, she was alarmed. Creeped out. She'd never minded being alone all the way out here.
Row after row after row of timeworn family photographs stared down at her from the parlor walls as she cradled the portable phone back on its base. Through the large front window, she could see the day darkening swiftly. Wind crackled through the leaves on the two maple trees out front. Rain poured down, then the house gave a sudden shake.
Something crashed in the kitchen.
She ran the short distance, pulse thudding. A large cookie jar shaped like a windmill lay shattered on the floor, jostled off the shelf over the cabinets. Staring down at the broken cream-and-blue ceramic jar, she realized something small and shiny sat in the middle of the shards.
She paused for a long beat, glancing up at the ceiling. Had a tree struck the house? Nothing else made sense.... Dammit, she'd have to go check, make sure there wasn't water coming into the attic just in case it had been a tree.
Glancing down again, she reached for the foil-wrapped box. She had a second's instinctive temptation to play the childlike game of shaking it lightly, trying to guess what was inside. Her chest tightened. It was silver Christmas wrap with a toneon-tone pattern of bells and ribbons, but the peeland-stick holiday label with the bright caricature of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer on one end said Happy Birthday, Baby.