Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter 3
Welcome to Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter! Abigail and I have decided to publish all three books in The Burrows Bay Series, 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 and Moira followed Arthur’s BMW out of Anacortes as they headed towards the west side of the island. Moira had convinced Gabbi to finally put the top down on her Jetta convertible, so they could see the scenery.
Arthur had told them the MacInnes house was about five miles out of town, but they didn’t follow the water. They cut across the island taking the main road southwest.
“Look at all these houses,” commented Gabbi. “Every time I come up here, there seem to be more of them.”
“Did you visit Gran?” asked Moira.
“No,” replied Gabbi. “She was usually off seeing the world. I’ve driven up to Anacortes a few times just to get away for the weekend.”
“Did you come up here with a guy?” Moira smiled, batting her eyelashes.
Gabbi laughed. “I came up with friends the first time, but not the second time. I did meet a very interesting driftwood sculptor on one of the beaches.” She smiled devilishly. “He said my limbs were a wonder to behold. He didn’t get the opportunity to see what was under the leaves.”
“Gabbi!” Moira feigned shock. “I don’t know how you meet these men.”
“I have a talent,” Gabbi replied, smiling to herself.
“Oh well,” Moira giggled. “It’s a whole new adventure this time. And I’ll try to keep you away from the beachcombers. We’re landowners now.”
“Yes, we are,” Gabbi said, smiling slowly, “and I think this is some of our land just off to our right. You know, I’ve never driven out to the house. It didn’t seem right without an invitation.”
Arthur had turned and they followed him down a wide gravel drive, which cut through an open area bordered by heavy forest on the left. An overgrown vineyard was on the right with wild blackberries at the far end.
“Wow,” exclaimed Moira. “This is amazing.”
“More than I expected,” admitted Gabbi, “and we haven’t even seen the house. I hope it’s not in too bad a shape,” she added, thinking of her plans.
The long drive had been fairly straight, but now curved to the left, then started a slow half circle back to the right. Gabbi wondered if this was the grand entrance, meant to impress and awe the visitors.
Ever since they had turned off the main road, Moira had been going on and on about the old-growth forest, but all Gabbi could see were large evergreen trees and shaded undergrowth. She was starting to wonder how long a person could talk about trees and moss, when Moira suddenly got very quiet. Gabbi stopped the car and they both just stared. The MacInnes Mansion stood before them, absolutely beautiful and much larger than either of them had expected.
The house was built of dark red brick with a gray roof and lighter gray, fish-scale shingles on the third-floor gable. The large, white porch ran across the front of the house and dead-ended into the turret on the right. It continued around the turret on the left side and had all the Victorian gingerbread details one would expect. They could see the side of a long balcony on the second level that was also painted white. All the windows had dark green trim and were topped with stained-glass transoms. Directly above the peaked entry to the front porch was a half circle, stained-glass window.
The cousins just stared and Gabbi let out a low whistle. “I hope the third floor is all one, large space. What a view!”
Arthur had already parked and was now walking back to them. Smiling, he said, “As a matter of fact, it’s two huge bedrooms and a bath…and it has spectacular views.”
To the right, they could see a smaller version of the house, which was also brick. “That must be the carriage house,” Moira said, looking at Arthur.
“It is,” he agreed, nodding. “There’s an apartment above, which used to be servants’ quarters before it was converted into an artist loft back in the 1920s.”
The gravel drive continued past the front of the house, around to the carriage house and then looped back to the main drive. There was a fountain in the middle, topped by a sculpture of three women in a circle holding hands with one set of joined hands reaching toward the sky. Moira recognized it as ‘The Three Graces’ from Botticelli’s painting, Primavera. She’d never seen it as part of a fountain, and it was lovely. Surrounding the fountain were short, green shrubs she thought might be boxwoods.
Gabbi and Moira walked up the path to the front steps and onto the porch, which led to a huge mahogany door with leaded glass sidelights. They moved past the wicker chairs on the porch and around the left turret to south side of the house. The porch passed two sets of French doors, then ended at the side of a glass porch or conservatory.
There were steps to the left, down to a brick path that led to an octagonal white gazebo covered with pink climbing roses. The bricks made up the floor of the gazebo and continued through the other opening, directly across and down into the garden. There was also a path that wound through the garden, then led back to the walkway at the bottom of the stairs.
The garden was a bit overgrown, but many of the flowers were still blooming. On the other side of the garden was the old-growth forest and to the right, they could see glimpses of water between the trees. As they followed the brick path around the house, they found a stone terrace in back. They both gasped as they saw the view of Burrows Bay and the islands beyond.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” said Moira. “Just beautiful.”
“That’s the word for it,” agreed Gabbi. “Beautiful. And it’s all ours.”
“For now,” agreed Moira quietly.
She saw the annoyed look Gabbi gave her but ignored it. She was too busy thinking they couldn’t possibly afford to keep this insanely huge, lovely house. The maintenance alone would be more than she made in a year. But she would enjoy this week of exploring every bit of it, she promised herself.
Arthur had followed them around the back and smiled as he saw them. “It’s quite a view, isn’t it? You should see it from the upstairs balcony.”
They turned around and saw the back of the house was just as impressive as the front. There were balconies on the second and third floors and what appeared to be a cedar pergola covering part of the terrace. Wisteria vines wrapped around the beams, but it was too late in the season for any flowers.
To the left there was another turret, larger than the ones in the front. Seeming to read their thoughts, Arthur said, “That’s the breakfast nook. I’ve enjoyed many a fine cup of coffee in that room.” Then he looked down and cleared his throat. “We should probably go in. The library is upstairs.”
Gabbi and Moira glanced at each other. It was obvious Arthur had been a good friend to Gran. Following him through the glass doors by the turret, they found themselves between the breakfast room and a large space that ended in the conservatory. There were decorative corbels showing where the dividing wall would have been at one time, closing off the kitchen from this area. The entire space was amazing.
Arthur didn’t stop, so they followed him through an archway into a central hall. There was a huge dining room to the left and a stairway to the right.
Climbing the stairs, they reached another center hall. This was a twin to the one below with doors opening into what were probably bedrooms. Dark walnut paneling covered the lower part of the wall and old photographs hung above. They could see the window seat ahead with bookcases halfway up the wall, on both sides. Above it all, there was that lovely stained-glass window they’d seen outside.
The window would practically glow in the morning, Moira thought to herself, when the sun hit those vibrant shades of green, gold and red. The design seemed to be a family crest of some sort. Probably Scottish.
All this was a quick glimpse as Arthur led them through double doors to the right and they entered an impressive room. It was wrapped with bookcases on both sides of the doors and on either side of a huge fireplace to their right. Across from the entrance were two sets of French doors leading out to a balcony with more books between them. And to their left was a large window seat with the ever-present bookcases on the left side. To the right was one of the turrets they had seen as they walked up to the house.
Inside the turret, there were windows on six sides with a small desk and chair in the center. The view from this spot would look out onto the woods and the water. It was easy to picture Gran sitting there, watching over it all.
Moira smiled and sighed, contentedly. Of course, Moira would love this room, Gabbi thought, looking at the bookshelves from floor to ceiling. A huge library table sat in the middle of the space, and two comfortable chairs and an ottoman were by the fireplace. Another large chair was to the left of the window seat with a few more chairs pulled up to the library table. It was an amazing space.
“Oh, it’s…it’s unbelievable,” Moira said. She had just fallen in love, and Gabbi could see it all over her face. Smiling, she turned to Arthur. “You’ll have to excuse my cousin. She’s never had a library of her own before.”
Arthur nodded and indicated they sit down around the library table. “Why don’t we have the reading of the will, then I’ll give you both a proper tour of the house.” He looked at Gabbi, adding, “When you see the storage in the kitchen, I think you might feel the same as Moira.”
“How did you know I like to cook?” Gabbi asked surprised.
“Oh, Maggie kept track of you. Of both of you,” he added, turning to include Moira. “She followed your progress in school and in your careers. Even when she was out of the country, she had her sources. She wanted to know everything about you. She always said that someday, her girls would come home.”
“Then, why didn’t she come to see us?” asked Gabbi before she could stop herself.
Moira looked over but said nothing. She wondered the same thing.
Arthur had expected this. He looked at each of them, then slowly sat down. When they did the same, he continued. “Your grandmother thought she would have more time. We all do, don’t we?” He looked down for a moment. “When the doctors told her she was sick, she asked me to do something for her, but she didn’t tell me about her illness. She was a proud woman and wouldn’t want sympathy even from her closest friends.”
He cleared his throat. “When she….” He tried again. “When she asked me to update her will and told me about her wishes, I thought she was making changes because of her new plans for the vineyard.”
Waving his hand as he anticipated their questions, he said, “We’ll get to that later, but at the time, I thought that’s why she was looking for her son.”
Gabbi looked confused. “Gran knew Dad was in San Francisco. It’s never been a secret that he moved there after the divorce.”
“Not that son,” Arthur said, deciding the direct approach was probably best. “Your grandmother had a child before she married your grandfather. A little boy, whom she gave up for adoption when she was nineteen.”
Gabbi and Moira looked stunned. As Gabbi started to say something, Arthur held up his hand.
“My father took care of the adoption. When Maggie told her father, he was furious. However, he soon realized that his little girl would have to make some very adult decisions. He took her away to have the baby, what with Anacortes being such a small town. They told everyone she went to visit a sick aunt in Olympia that spring and summer. She took a semester off from college and when she came back, the little boy had been placed with a family in Seattle.”
He got up and started to pace around the room. “All these years and we’d never discussed it. Not until she came to me a few months ago, asking me to help her find her son. She said she wanted to know if there were any grandchildren. When I asked her why, she simply smiled, saying it was important.”
“She wanted to include all of us,” Moira said quietly. Gabbi looked over and rolled her eyes. She wasn’t happy about this new development.
Arthur looked down at the floor for a moment, then back up at the two women. “She became very serious, saying she didn’t have much time, so I should look into it right away. I thought she was talking about the vineyard not that anything…” Arthur dropped his arms to his sides.
Moira went up to Arthur and gave him a quick hug. “You miss her, and I think that’s a very sweet and wonderful thing. I’ve never had a friend like that, man or woman.”
“Neither have I,” whispered Gabbi under her breath. Then, she said, “You seem to have been very fond of Gran.”
Arthur sat back down. “You’re right. She was a good friend. And for a short while, many years ago, I imagined I might be in love with her. But she said I was just too noble to let a girl deal with such a huge problem on her own.”
Smiling to himself, he continued. “She was an amazing woman. She told me I would find someone special within the year.” Looking down, he added, “And I met my darling Lily the next fall. She passed away a few years ago, but your grandmother knew she’d be the one. In fact, she introduced us right here in this house.”
He looked around, remembering. “Maggie went back to college that fall and brought home a friend for Thanksgiving break. Said her family was in Europe and she needed a good meal with friends. She called and asked me to bring some papers by for her father, knowing I’d be home for the holiday helping my Dad. I always wondered…” Arthur smiled. “As I said, your grandmother was an amazing woman.”
He cleared his throat. “Anyway, now that you know about the possibility of other grandchildren, I can read the will. Be sure to tell me if you have any questions and then we’ll take that tour.”
Gabbi and Moira were still in shock about everything that had happened in the past week. And now the will stated that the house was being left to her grandchildren, not granddaughters, but grandchildren to be divided equally between them. Arthur was given three months from the time of the reading of the will to find them. He stopped there, explaining that he already had a pair of investigators looking into it.
Then, he got to the really big surprise. Maggie was adamant that her granddaughters must live in the MacInnes house together for six months, beginning on the day of the reading of the will. They would be allowed to go home for up to one week to gather their possessions, then return. At the end of the six months, they would inherit the house and decide if they wanted to keep it or sell it. The majority ruled and a tie would mean they kept the house.
If any other grandchildren were found in the three months allowed, they would have to stay at the carriage house until the original six months were up. Not knowing them, she thought it best that they have their own space and be allowed to come and go as they pleased. The girls, she knew, might have a difficult time adjusting to each other, but they must both stay in the house. If they failed to do as she requested, the entire estate would revert to a trust for ten years, then be divided equally between them all.
“She was a smart one all right,” Gabbi admitted grudgingly. She already anticipated my first question. What if we don’t want to play her little game?” She smiled. “If we don’t play, we don’t inherit for another decade.”
“You sound impressed!” accused Moira. “How can you be so cavalier? There’s no point to any of this. We couldn’t possibly afford to maintain this place, let alone have a choice as to whether to sell it or not.” She looked at Arthur. “Why insist on this, when she must have known we’d never be able to afford it?”
Arthur shook his head. “Your grandmother was many things, but never cruel. Didn’t you ever wonder how she maintained this place?”
The girls looked at each other. “I guess I always thought the Bed and Breakfast made good money, while she ran it,” Gabbi replied, “and she was living on the interest.”
Arthur smiled. “Maggie was always good with money, and she had a way with her hunches. When she got the insurance settlement from your grandfather’s accident, she decided to invest it all in stock. Computer stock. She said she had a feeling about a particular company and wanted to be a part of it. That was thirty years ago, and her initial investment would have been worth over a million dollars today.
Moira felt weak in the knees, and Gabbi thought about jumping up and down. Arthur held up his hands. “Before you get too excited, she didn’t leave it all in the investment. She took out what she needed to keep the estate going, but there’s $350,000 left in trust for the estate. If you decide to sell, it will be split between you as will any profits from the sale.”
He smiled. “Of course, the more you improve the house, the more it will be worth. And I would imagine it will take a good six months to get it all done.”
Moira shook her head. “Gran was a clever one. We either grow to love it or hate it, but either way the house gets a new lease on life, and we get to know one another. I have to admit it’s a good plan.”
Gabbi thought for a minute. She knew that half, or worse, a third or even a quarter would never be enough to do what she hoped. And what if there were ten grandchildren? She pushed the thought out of her head. Instead, she asked, “Arthur, when are you going to show us the house?”
As they started to follow him out of the library, Moira came up and looked at Gabbi thoughtfully. “Whatever you’re planning, just know that it has to make sense financially and logically. No crazy ideas that may or may not work.”
Gabbi laughed. “Where’s your sense of adventure, cuz? Let’s go find out if there’s any food in this place.”
Moira shook her head, wondering what exactly Gran had gotten her into. Then, she smiled once more at the room full of books and followed Gabbi out of the library.
Join us next week for the next chapter of The Magic of Burrows Bay!