Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter 5
Welcome to Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter! Abigail and I have decided to publish The Magic of Burrows Bay one chapter at a time. As always, you can find out more information on these and all our other books at the Lavender Lass Books website.
And we’ve created a group on Facebook just for our Thursday newsletter! It’s a fun place to talk about all things Burrows Bay related…and as we progress through the story, you’ll find out why we post all those 1920s-inspired dresses. Hope you’ll join us!
Also, we invite you to browse our Lavender Lass BookShop to enjoy our FREE stories and save 25% on all other ebooks in our store.
Finally, here is the next chapter of The Magic of Burrows Bay! We’ll have a new chapter every Thursday, so we hope you enjoy the story!
Maggie McCrae knew her granddaughters were not ready for the legacy she must leave them. The house, the grounds and everything that went with it would now be theirs. She vowed she would do all she could to protect them and hopefully, give them the time they needed to fulfill their destiny. Gabriella and Moira must learn to trust themselves and each other as they discover the true magic of Burrows Bay.
And remember, you can always catch up on all earlier chapters here.
Gabbi was up early the next morning. She walked into Moira’s room and had to laugh at the condition of her cousin’s hair. It seemed to stand up in spikes around her head.
“Oh, that’s a great look on you,” Gabbi commented with a smile. “You really should wear your hair up more often.”
Moira ignored her.
“Now, you have to promise not to look for any secret compartments without me,” Gabbi said as she walked over to the bed.
Moira groaned, deciding she was happy to do anything Gabbi asked if she would just stop yelling.
“I promise,” she replied. “I won’t go treasure hunting without you.”
Gabbi laughed. “Told you to slow down with those daiquiris.”
“I only had two, but you were also the one who made them with those fresh strawberries.” Moira cringed at the thought of the drink but remembered there were still some strawberries downstairs in the kitchen. Maybe she should just stick to having them on her cereal.
Gabbi was saying something about her convertible. “I said,” she repeated, seeing Moira was not listening, “I finally got the top up last night. We are not putting it down again.”
Oh, the car. That’s what she’s talking about, thought Moira. “It’s fine. Whatever you want. Just drive carefully and bring your little kitties back safely.”
“They’re not little and I will drive carefully.” Gabbi had to smile. Moira was pretty sweet. “If you don’t feel better this afternoon, I’ll make you some soup.”
Food did not sound good at the moment, but Moira smiled. “Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll just lie here, hoping I feel better in a few hours.”
“Remember, no treasure hunting without me,” Gabbi said over her shoulder as she walked out of the room.
“I promise,” Moira muttered, pulling the covers back over her head.
Gabbi made good time on the freeway and got into Seattle during late morning traffic. She pulled up to her apartment, noticing how close the buildings were to each other. One day in a mansion and I’m totally spoiled, she thought to herself. Looking around, she realized the city had lost the allure it once had. At least for her.
Passing through the security door, she climbed the stairs to the second floor. Carol Monroe was coming out of her apartment, so Gabbi waved and asked her if she wanted some tea. Carol lived across the hall and was a free spirit. Her gray hair was always piled up on top of her head and she usually wore loose, flowy tunics over cropped pants. Unless she was painting. Then, it was old jeans and colorful t-shirts. She celebrated the bohemian lifestyle, but doted on Gabbi’s two seal-point Himalayans, and had three cats of her own.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. This morning in the paper, I saw Pisces clashing with Virgo and Mars ascending.” She placed a hand on Gabbi’s arm. “You dumped that Darryl just in time.”
“That was apparent as soon as he became one with my sofa,” Gabbi replied. “The cats were happy to see him go, too.”
Carol nodded. “Cats before men, every time. I should have reminded myself of that, before I said yes to my third husband.”
Gabbi laughed. “I’ll have to remember that. I know you like herbal tea, but what about Earl Grey today? I could use the caffeine.” She looked at her watch. “I have to drive back up to Anacortes this afternoon.”
“I noticed you weren’t home last night, so I came to check on your fur babies.” Carol sat down at the small dining table as Gabbi came out of the kitchen with a tray and two cups. “Oh, you have cookies. No sugar, right?”
“Of course not,” Gabbi replied as she sat down.
“I’m not a fan of sugarless cookies, but it’s what I have to eat. When you bake them, they actually taste like real cookies.” Carol looked over her cup at Gabbi. “How did it go with the reading of the will?”
Gabbi brushed her hands through her hair. “I have inherited part of an estate and an actual mansion.”
“A mansion? Sounds intriguing. Are you right by the water?” asked Carol.
“No, we’re out on Agnes Point, but it overlooks the water and the islands. The house has been in my family for several generations, but I had no idea it was so big.” Gabbi took a cookie. “It’s called the MacInnes House.”
Carol almost spilled her tea. “The MacInnes House? I’ve been there. Almost fifty years ago, but I went up there for a couple of long weekends with an old boyfriend. It was more of an art commune back then. Very popular, especially with that view.”
Gabbi smiled. “It does have a great view. I haven’t really had a chance to see much of the house or the grounds. I didn’t want to leave the cats too long. My cousin Moira and I will have to live there together for six months, and then we can decide if we want to sell or keep it.”
“Oh, you have to keep it,” replied Carol. “With a view like that, a chef with no talent would make a tidy profit. With your skills, you could make a fortune.”
“Thank you.” Gabbi gave her a big smile. “I’m off work through the weekend, but I’m tempted to call Monday and tell them I can’t make it back. Ever.”
Carol laughed. “That place has always been beneath you. And didn’t you say the owner has wandering hands?”
“Did have,” replied Gabbi. “Until I showed him how talented I am with a knife. He seems to like his fingers, so he backed off.”
“I knew you could handle it. You’re like me,” Carol said, patting Gabbi’s hand. “You know how to take care of yourself.”
Gabbi smiled. “Until the right man comes along, we can handle anything that comes our way.”
Carol nodded. “We sure can. I should get back, but you know how much I enjoy coming over to visit. And I just love your Angus and sweet Priscilla,” Carol said, nodding towards Angus on the sofa.
“And they love you,” Gabbi assured her. She had to smile as Priscilla was many things, but sweet was rarely one of them.
Carol stood up and started for the door. “Let me know if you need anything. Happy to get your mail and watch out for any men, wandering around with their hearts broken. Have fun in Anacortes and do me a favor. If you keep the house, invite me up next summer.”
As Carol walked out into the hall towards her own apartment, she turned. “Oh, I almost forgot. Priscilla didn’t finish her food this morning. She might be a little put out with Angus. You know how he teases her. Just thought you should know.” She waved and went into her apartment.
Gabbi glanced over at Angus. He was looking very pleased with himself. She wondered how much damage he’d done to her bathroom after leaving him alone all night. As she walked into the bedroom, she found sweet Priscilla, or Prissy as she called her, stretched out on the bed. Her Prissy Diva Princess looked up with those lovely blue eyes and seemed a little too quiet.
“Are you okay, baby?” Gabbi stroked her head and looked at her carefully. “Carol says you’re not eating. Let me check your temperature.” She gently touched Prissy’s nose to make sure it was cool and wet. “Well, no fever. But we’ll keep an eye on you just in case.”
She looked over as Angus strolled in. “That means be nice. And I’d better not see toilet paper all over the floor.” Angus ducked under the bed, which gave Gabbi a pretty good idea what the bathroom was going to look like.
“All right, we need to pack anyway. I have a surprise for you two,” Gabbi said as she started taking her clothes out of the dresser and closet. “We are going to stay in a real-life mansion. And you will both have a lot more space to run around.”
As she moved into the bathroom to pack her makeup, she saw the toilet paper pulled off the roll and a box of tissues knocked off the counter. “Angus,” she shook her head, “you have been a very bad boy.”
Angus came out from under the bed and rubbed against her leg, gazing up at her with that sweet, angelic face and those deep blue eyes. How could such a good boy be responsible for such a mess, he seemed to be saying.
Gabbi smiled. “All right, I was gone for over twenty-four hours. I’ll give you a pass this time.”
As she finished packing her clothes, she took a final look at her view over Seattle. The rent on Queen Anne Hill was pretty steep, but the view at night was worth it. Of course, the view of the San Juan Islands was entirely different, but she knew it would be a lot quieter at the new place. And she was looking forward to the water view every morning, when she woke up.
“Oh well,” she confided to her cats, “hopefully, we’ll get to keep our mansion. Even if we do have to sell, we’ll have more money for a nicer place. Maybe a bistro instead of a restaurant, but still a place of our own. And that’s something your mom has wanted for a long time.” She smiled, reminding herself she wasn’t overly fond of children, but thought of the cats as her kids.
They were used to her packing for the occasional weekend trip with friends, so they didn’t pay much attention. And she knew better than to take out the cat carriers until the very last minute. As she looked around the room once more, she debated about her chaise. It was beautiful, comfortable, and had been an unbelievably low price. She smiled, remembering when she found it at the thrift store. All lovely curves of dark mahogany upholstered with soft gold brocade. More romantic than she was looking for, but she knew it was perfect the moment she saw it.
She’d worried about the cats, but it was the one piece of furniture they didn’t have any interest in. They ignored it, preferring the bed and her sofa. Maybe she should have the chaise sent up to Anacortes, she thought, along with some of her other furniture. She didn’t have much worth moving, but there was definitely room for it at the mansion.
No, she decided that might scare off Moira entirely. Better to wait until the end of October, since she’d already paid the month ahead. She would give Moira a few weeks to get used to the idea of living at the mansion before she started moving in furniture. However, she was going to take her favorite knives and some of her better pots and pans with her today.
As she looked at her watch, she realized the worst of the Seattle traffic was starting in about fifteen minutes. She debated for a moment, then decided to stay for a few more hours. She’d feed the cats, then make herself a late lunch and still make it back to the mansion before dark.
“Come on kids,” she said to the cats, “let’s enjoy one more meal in our old place.” The cats followed her into the kitchen and Gabbi started cooking.
A few hours later, everything was packed and loaded into her car. The cats started giving her a funny look. They’re on to me, she thought, smiling. “All right, let’s get this over with,” she said as she took the cat carriers out of the hall closet. It was a fight to grab Angus and put him in, but Prissy only gave a half-hearted attempt to squirm out of her arms.
Gabbi got the carriers into the car and said, “Come on babies, let’s go see our new home.
Back at the mansion, Moira had taken her time getting out of bed. Two hours after Gabbi left, she finally decided it was time to try the shower in the bathroom and prayed the water was hot. Thankfully, there was plenty of it and after almost twenty minutes, she definitely felt better.
As she went downstairs to the kitchen, she found a note. ‘Coffee in the thermos and strawberries hidden in the fridge.’ Moira smiled. Gabbi had her moments and leaving her almost hot coffee was definitely one of them.
She drank the coffee, then found some bread in the cupboard and made toast. Sitting at the table in the breakfast nook, she looked out at the view and realized she had fallen for the place. The view, the house, the grounds, everything. It was larger than she would have chosen for herself, but it definitely had the potential to be something grand. If only they could somehow bring it back to its former glory. Now, she sounded like Gabbi, she thought. And the reality was it would be a huge undertaking to renovate the estate, let alone find a way to maintain it.
Almost feeling normal after last night’s daiquiris, Moira considered going through each room of the house. Then, she remembered the promise she’d made to Gabbi. No treasure hunting without her! She laughed and decided to spend the day outside exploring the estate. She went upstairs and quickly dressed, grabbing a sweater on her way out of the bedroom.
As she came down the stairs, someone was knocking on the front door. She didn’t expect Gabbi back so soon. Hoping there was nothing wrong with the car, she looked through the leaded glass sidelight by the front door. A very cute, blonde woman was outside with a large wicker basket.
Opening the door, Moira said, “Hello. May I help you?”
The woman smiled and held out a hand. “I’m Callie O’Reilly and Arthur asked me to check in on you. I’m married to one of his grandsons.”
Moira smiled. “I’m Moira Dunbar. Won’t you come in?” she asked.
“Sorry, I’d love to, but I’m late for work.” Callie handed her the basket. “I brought you and your cousin a few necessities.” She laughed. “There isn’t much in the way of entertainment out here, so I thought you might like a few DVDs and some snack foods.”
“Oh, how very nice of you,” replied Moira. “Gabbi went to Seattle to pick up her cats, but she should be back this afternoon.” Moira looked at the basket and added, “Oh! You brought some romantic comedies. They’re my favorite.”
“Mine, too,” said Callie with a laugh. She was about 5’2” with shoulder length blonde hair and big blue eyes. “I wish I could stay, but I’m a veterinarian down at Burrows Bay Animal Clinic. If I don’t get there soon, we’ll start out behind and won’t catch up for the rest of the day.”
“Thanks, again. And do stop by when you have more time.” Moira waved as Callie ran to her car and headed back down the drive.
That was nice, thought Moira. Arthur was watching out for them. It made her feel like her grandmother was watching over them, too. She set the basket on the entry table and went outside. As she stood on the porch, she wondered where to start. There were one hundred and thirty acres according to the paperwork yesterday. She looked around and decided to start with the gardens.
Moira had seen the flower garden on the way up the drive. It seemed a bit neglected, but she was no expert. There was also a garden on the kitchen side of the house, which the path went past on its way to the carriage house. She walked around that side of the house and saw it was fairly overrun with weeds. It had a white picket fence surrounding it that could use a little paint and an arbor over the entrance. There was a vine growing over the arbor, but she had no idea what kind. Maybe, they could do something with the garden next spring, but it looked too neglected to worry about this year.
She decided to look more closely at the flower garden on the other side of the house. Viewed from the conservatory, it appeared to be in slightly better shape. As she walked along the brick path past the gazebo, she could hear the names of the plants in her head. There’s the lavender for clarity of mind, healing and happiness. It ran along the edge of the path with the roses just behind it, which were for beauty, love and faithfulness. Behind them were the delphiniums, which were starting to die back, but she could see the dried blue and white flowers. They were for peace and stability, which seemed ironic to her since they often had to be staked.
She stopped. It had been so natural she hadn’t even questioned it for almost a full minute. She knew very little about gardening. The roses she recognized, but how did she know the meanings of the plants? She supposed it could have been in one of her many books, but it didn’t seem familiar…yet it did. As if she’d recited it many times before.
Moira shook herself, then walked back up to the porch. Maybe she’d wait until Gabbi returned to see more of the gardens. If she couldn’t walk around the house, or the gardens, it was going to be a long day. She decided to go upstairs and look through her books. Maybe there was something to explain her knowledge of the plants. As she started to open the front door, another car pulled up the drive. Still not Gabbi, she thought, noting the black sedan as it approached.
She waited as the car stopped and a man got out. He was about six feet tall with light brown hair and an athletic build. What surprised her was that he wore a light gray trench coat and a dark gray fedora. She thought both looked great on him and tried not to stare.
“Miss McCrae?” he asked, walking up to her.
“No, I’m her cousin, Moira Dunbar,” she replied. “May I help you?”
“Detective Jack Stewart, Anacortes P.D. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions.” As he walked towards her, she saw he had brown eyes that seemed to see right through her. He must be very good at interrogating people, she thought as she forced herself to look away.
Moira turned and gestured to the white wicker chairs on the porch. “Would you like to sit down?” she asked.
“No, thank you,” replied the detective. “I’m here because Maggie McCrae reported that she had trespassers in these woods on two different occasions.” He paused. “It was the week before she died. Have you seen any people or lights in the woods since you arrived?”
“My cousin and I drove up from Seattle yesterday and we were too tired to notice much last night. I wasn’t aware Gran had any problems with trespassers,” she added, a look of concern clouding her face.
Jack noticed the way her eyes changed, the green growing darker with her concern. He held her gaze adding, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Moira shook her head. “It’s all been so quick. Receiving the letter about the house and the grounds, finding out Gran was gone, realizing I’d never really get to know her the way I’d hoped, traveling here from Billings.” She stopped, realizing she was rambling. She did that whenever she was nervous. Taking a breath, she finished, “If I see anyone, I’ll be sure to let you know. Right away,” she added as his eyes locked with hers again.
“Why don’t I leave you my card,” he began, which was his standard response, but surprised himself by adding, “I can write my cell number on the back in case you can’t get through to the station.”
Moira watched him as he scribbled the number on the back. “Thank you,” she said. “These trespassers, do you suspect local kids or something else?” She looked around, wondering how long it would take Gabbi to return.
“We really don’t know. That’s one reason I came out here today.” He reached out and gave her his card.
She felt the spark as his hand brushed against hers. She caught her breath and looked into those brown eyes, wondering if he’d felt it, too.
He turned and walked down the steps. He paused at the bottom and looked back up at her. “Be sure to call if you see anyone or anything that seems suspicious.”
Moira nodded, then he turned and walked back to the black sedan.
Pretty young woman, Jack thought as he got into his car. Too bad about Maggie McCrae. She’d always been good to him and his family. He rubbed his hand absent-mindedly but was still thinking about those dark green eyes when he pulled out onto the main road.
Moira watched the car until it turned out of sight, then took a quick look around and went into the house, locking the door behind her. She decided to check the locks on all the doors as she waited for Gabbi. It was past time for lunch but too soon for dinner. She had enjoyed afternoon tea with her girlfriends back in Montana, so she went in and found some teabags and brewed a cup. Going back to the front entry, she picked up the basket and carried it to the breakfast table. She chose a chocolate chip cookie and had it with her tea.
A half hour later, she was done with her tea and still no sign of Gabbi. She didn’t want to call in case she was in heavy traffic. Also, she didn’t want Gabbi to think she was afraid to be by herself. Moira realized she had put off calling her parents all day. This seemed as good a time as any, so she walked upstairs to her room.
She took another look around, realizing she had chosen this room more for the hand-painted, green ivy tiles around the fireplace than anything else. Of course, the window seat and built-in bookcases were another benefit. The room looked out over the front drive rather than the water, but today that seemed like a good thing. She could watch for Gabbi and see part of the forest, too.
When her dad answered, she told him about the house, the required six-month stay and the other stipulations of the will. She also told him she was going to be staying there with Gabbi and that there may or may not be other cousins involved.
“All this means I’m obviously going to need some time off,” Moira said, pacing back and forth. “I think Janet would be a good fit for the advertising as she knows all our clients after interning last spring. I saw her last week and she’s still working at the restaurant. I told her I’d let her know if anything opened up.”
Robert Dunbar laughed, and Moira felt homesick for a moment. “Just like you, Moira. All this excitement and you’ve already got the details figured out.”
She thought about the police detective coming to the house and decided not to tell him anything about that. Not yet. He’d only worry and there was nothing he could do. She was twenty-seven years old and had to start looking out for herself.
“Okay, Dad. I love you. Tell Mom I’m sorry I missed her.” Moira hung up the phone and went over to the suitcase, grabbing the book on native plants and magical herbs. Not sure why she’d included it when she packed, she thought it might come in handy now. She could check and see if those names and uses matched the plants in the garden. If they did…well, if they did, that was something she and Gabbi would have to figure out together.
Join us next week for the next chapter of The Magic of Burrows Bay!