Authors: Shane Morgan
By Shane Morgan
Copyright © 2013 Shane Morgan
All rights reserved, including the right of
reproduction in any format. Please do not partake in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials. Purchase authorized editions only.
ISBN-13: 978-0615945811 (paperback)
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Formatted by S. Morgan
Connect with the author:
This is a work of fiction and is a product of the author’s
imagination. Anything mentioned that relates to actual names, events, places,
or institutions are used fictitiously.
Let your heart guide you. It
whispers, so listen carefully.
took the death
of Cole Vanderson for me to return to
Narragansett, Rhode Island after ten years. My father and I didn’t have the
best relationship. Honestly, our relationship was non-existent. Our lack of
communication wasn’t my fault. It was his. And now he was gone. Heart attack.
After everything, I didn’t get to say
goodbye. So here I was, sitting on a crowded Amtrak train. The old man next to
me kept falling asleep and knocking into my arm. I didn’t see any empty seats.
Oh well, I’d just have to tolerate it for the time being.
As the rail cars passed over the tracks
on our way to Rhode Island—the ocean state of America—I tried to keep myself
preoccupied by listening to Florence and the Machine on my iPod. But not even
the vocalist’s melting tone could calm my nerves.
The lyrics of the song began to cloud my
thoughts. It emphasized being fearless, something I was far from. At the
mention of following your heart lines, I glanced at my hand, still tightly
gripping the small travel bag since I hopped on the train two hours ago.
I’d hastily packed a few things this
morning. No need for a lot when I was only going to Narragansett to attend my
father’s funeral, and then grab the next train back to New York.
“In and out,” my mother had said last
night, when I finally decided to go. “The Vandersons, except for your aunt, are
terrible. So the sooner you get away from them, the better.”
In spite of how she reacted, hearing my
father had died, I knew I had to go. It felt like the right thing to do. Like,
it was time to face that side of me, the part that felt missing all this time.
I snapped out of my deep thinking when
the old man’s head slid onto my shoulder once again. Feeling uncomfortable, I
shifted over more towards the window and he finally woke up, appearing
embarrassed. He mumbled something before getting up and walking to the
Ten minutes later, I arrived in the city
of Providence and made my way through the busy traffic of people entering and
leaving the train station. When I got outside and sought out a taxi, a familiar
face as refreshing as the sunshine greeted me.
“Julian,” she said, taking me in with
her piercing hazel eyes, as if amazed at how much I’d grown. Aunt Bev was
looking casual in a blue and white tie-dye dress with her hair up in a
ponytail. She wasn’t wearing any make-up or jewelry. She looked so bare, so
“Hi,” I whispered, fixing the bag strap
over my shoulder. “What are you doing here?”
She stepped closer. “I came to pick you
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure of my aunt’s
feelings towards me, since I’d refused to visit Narragansett every time she
called. That was my reason for deciding to take a taxi to Kennedy plaza, then
get on a city bus to Narragansett and check myself into a motel.
When I spoke to Aunt Bev last week, her
voice was very solemn over the phone as she told me the news; wedged between
being saddened by her brother’s death and the fact that I didn’t get to see
him. I knew in my heart if I didn’t attend my father’s funeral it’d be another
thing to regret.
“You didn’t have to do—”
“Nonsense,” she walked up to me and
hooked her arm around mine, leading me to where she parked her car.
“Thank you,” my voice sounded almost
Aunt Bev smiled at me. “You look so much
I wasn’t surprised to hear that. People
always told me I looked nothing like my mother.
Getting to her SUV, I opened the front
door and hopped in. Aunt Bev came in shortly and drove out of the city.
Once we got on the highway, I searched
my head for something to say to her.
“How are you doing?” I asked in a shy
She let out a sigh before answering,
“Not too bad. We’ll make it.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I took in
her features. For thirty-eight, Aunt Bev was still beautiful. I didn’t think after
a decade of not seeing her that she’d show no sign of aging. Crow’s feet. Age
spots. Nope. My aunt was gorgeous as ever. Her shoulder-length chestnut hair
had a shine to it my own locks never did. A natural blush marked those
model-high cheekbones. Her wrinkle free face appeared perfect.
Aunt Bev decided to drive through the
village of Wickford and avoided the bypass after getting to North Kingstown.
Without the signs, I wouldn’t have guessed where we were.
“Does any of this look familiar to you?”
she asked. There was a speck of hope in her tone.
I turned away from the window and stared
at her. “No. I don’t remember much.”
Going back to see the area filled with
houses, looking as if they transported straight out of the seventeen hundreds,
I glimpsed the still, dark water of Wickford harbor as we drove across the
bridge and anxiety started to chew at my insides.
By the time we reached Boston Neck
Road, I kept an eye out for the motel I’d booked online.
Aunt Bev didn’t say much else. I was
happy for that. If she saw how scared being in Narragansett made me, she would
realize my tough armor was a front.
Thinking the rest of the drive was going
to be in soundless comfort, I relaxed even more in the seat. But then Aunt Bev
murmured unexpectedly, “It’s so much nicer here in summer. The warm weather
doesn’t last long enough, takes the splendor of this place with it when it
She got that right; this place was
indeed breathtaking, with the bright green trees and colorful shrubs along the
ride. My nana used to say how much she adored Washington Country for its
There were many things scenic in New
York; still, it wasn’t as laid back as this place. I adjusted to it though, and
I didn’t mind the nightlife. There was no way I’d give up New York for
Narragansett. No way.
I stayed silent, trying to calm my
restlessness. I presumed Aunt Bev hadn’t meant her last remark for me after
all. But then she said, “You have to at least stay until after the reading of
the will, Julian.”
Taken aback, I spun away from the window
and asked, “Why? I’m just here to attend my father’s funeral. I’m leaving on
the next train,” I explained. “I have to get back to Manhattan. There’s work—”
“Don’t lie to me!” Aunt Bev interrupted.
you’re not working,” she glanced over at me for a beat, her
hazel eyes flashing me a knowing look. “Your mother told me you’ve been out of
work since May.”
“You’ve been talking to my mother?” I
wouldn’t have thought they’d be talking more often than usual. Not that it was
a surprise. My mom didn’t hold any animosity towards Aunt Bev. She resented the
rest of the Vandersons. In fact, her exact words were, “I don’t need your
money, any of it. I hope you all rot in hell!” Although spoken ten years ago, I
remembered those words like it was said only yesterday.
“Your father insisted I make sure you’re
all right, even if you refuse to come to Narragansett,” Aunt Bev pulled me out
of my thoughts, “and after a while, Sarah did soften up to me when she realized
I wasn’t the enemy. So yes, we’ve spoken more times than you think. I wasn’t
only calling you, Julian.”
I turned my eyes back on the road, in
time to see Aunt Bev drive past the motel where I’d intended to stay. Damn it,
I forgot to tell her.
“Oh, Aunt Bev, let me out please. We
just missed the place I was going to stay—”
“Are you joking?” she snapped. I swore
she pressed her foot on the gas to get further away from the place. “Do you
seriously think I’ll let family stay in a random motel?”
I grew even more uncomfortable. How
could I stay in the same house where my father’s widow, not to mention her
lived? That would never go well.
Turning my body a bit in the seat, I
reminded her why that idea was a no-no, “Marlene won’t allow it. Think how
strange it’ll be for me to stay there.”
Aunt Bev shook her head. “You’ll be
staying with me in the guesthouse. I promise you, there won’t be any problems.”
Her voice dipped, cracking, “Trust me, Julian.”
Her words held a sense of security. They
made me think I could believe in her. I settled back against the seat, resigned
to the change in plans. To the Vanderson estate it was then.
After another few minutes of
, Aunt Bev turned off the road and
entered Anawan Cliffs Waterfront Community. I started to rub my hands together.
They were sweating out of nervousness as she rounded the corner onto North
Cliff Drive and the lavish Vanderson estate came into view.
Hopefully, I wouldn’t have to lay eyes
on the people who despised my very existence until the funeral tomorrow.
Afterwards, I’d make my escape back to New York.
She came to a stop at the tall, black
iron gates and punched in the security code to allow us entry. I looked past
her and out her window as Aunt Bev drove past a Venetian desert rose, stone
water fountain. It was surrounded by hybrid tea roses and lovely green shrubs.
There were taller shrubs aligning the
walls that enclosed the property. I gaped at the effortless landscape as she
continued down the long, paved entrance, before coming to a stop in front of
the four car garage.
Staring down at myself, I regarded my
jeans and t-shirt. Oddly, I felt out of place. Then it hit me, I was really at
Vanderson estate, in a land of luxury.
Aunt Bev got out, but I sat in the car,
paralyzed, staring wide-eyed at the huge brick mansion. The memory of my first
and last visit popped into my head, paralyzing me.
It was raining heavy on that day. My mom
and I were in our little apartment in Warwick, packing like crazy. She’d
decided it was time to move to New York. Mom always expressed her love for the
Big Apple, but on that particular day, she’d made up her mind about going. The
pain of leaving my friends, my school, and the place I’d accepted as my home
behind had never left me.
At the sound of a knock on the car
window, my mind sprang back to reality.
“Are you coming, Julian?” asked Aunt
Bev, a worried frown creased her forehead.
“Yes.” I shuddered, tossing old memories
aside before opening the door. I stepped out, willing my legs to keep me
upright as I draped my bag strap over my shoulder.
My flats made light patters on the
pavement as we walked past the main entrance. Then I slowed my steps and stared
at the massive wood door, remembering it being slammed in both mine and my
mother’s faces. The more strides I took, the more intense the air got around
me. I felt like fainting.
Aunt Bev gripped my elbow, urging me on,
“This way, dear.”
I followed her around the side of the
mansion and down marble steps. We continued across rustic, stoned pathway in
the middle of a perfectly manicured lawn. I felt tempted to kick my slippers
off and walk barefoot in the grass. Straight ahead was the guesthouse where
Aunt Bev lived, a mere replica of the main house, but a smaller version of it.
Trailing behind her, I glimpsed the
ocean to my left. Its rushing waves called out to me. Swimming was one of my
favorite things to do in high school, but I hadn’t done it in such a long time.
Aunt Bev unlocked the door. Glancing
back at me, she smiled before she turned and entered, then gestured me inside.
My mouth opened slightly in awe. The
living room was stunning with its hardwood floors, high ceiling and carved wood
furniture. A marble fireplace sat against one wall and a lovely white sofa and
matching loveseat gave the room warmth. There was an exquisite spiral staircase
with metal railings that led to the second floor.
Aunt Bev noticed how distracted I’d
become, the longer I admired the place. She gently took my hand and led me
through the arched doorway, passing the seaside themed kitchen. The décor was
Stopping at the second door on the left
of the passage, Aunt Bev pushed it open and moved aside so that I could enter.
The guestroom was bigger than my entire shabby apartment—of which I was being
evicted from—and more luxurious than what I’d get at any motel. The queen-sized
bed nestled against the light-blue painted wall. There was matching white
furniture in here as well, and my own private bathroom.
Walking further inside, I placed my bag
down on the bed. Then I twisted slowly, soaking in all of the room’s elegance.
Aunt Bev stood in the doorway, beaming.
I remembered the reason for this entire
trip and pulled myself together. Only a sudden gush of wind took me by
surprise. The sheer curtains swayed as I noticed sliding glass doors that
opened to a balcony. I walked outside and gasped at the view.
“Isn’t it nice?” asked Aunt Bev, coming
out as well. She stood next to me. “You can see Beavertail lighthouse in the
distance, over on the island of Jamestown.” She got quiet again, and for split
second I gazed at the ocean and its surrounding area, saturating myself in the
richness of this place.
“Your father hoped you’d like it too,”
she added. My stomach tensed. Surprisingly, I began to wish I had been here
before my father died, to at least say goodbye. I had to stop myself, this
wasn’t my fault. He’d made the decision to stay out of my life. He could have
reached out to me himself, instead of leaving it all to his sister.
Feeling weighed down by my thoughts, I
retreated back inside. “It’s only the funeral,” I reminded her as I walked over
to the bed, “Then I’m outta here.”
Aunt Bev sighed as she closed the
sliding doors, muttering, “If you say so, Julian.” She went over to the room
door, stopping to say over her shoulder, “Get some rest. Come out for dinner
“No, that’s okay. I have snacks.” I took
out my bag of Doritos to show her.
She shook her head while opening the
door. “Don’t be silly. That’s not real food. Besides, there’s someone I’d like
you to meet.” Aunt Bev was out the door before I had the chance to argue.
Moments later, I walked into the
bathroom to take a shower, resting my travel bag on the edge of the sink. I
took out my body wash and the red towel I brought with me. The guest bath had
plenty, but I still preferred to use my own things, especially if I wasn’t
going to be here long.
After showering, I stood before the
mirror and combed out my long, sandy blonde hair that I’d inherited from my
father, as well as his pale blue eyes, both similar to Mackenzie’s. Aunt Bev
sent me photos of her without Mom knowing. I wondered if my sister ever wanted
a photo, much less thought about me.
Born only a year after Mackenzie, I
understood her anger. If I’d been in her shoes, I’d hate me too. After all, her
father was married to her mother when he went out and got another woman
pregnant. I could only imagine Mackenzie’s reaction to me being at the funeral
tomorrow. Surely Aunt Bev had mentioned my arrival to Narragansett. Still,
their reaction would definitely reignite all of my childhood hurt—the kid
without a daddy on father’s day. And boy did I wish for one, growing up.
I slipped into my Capri pants and hauled
on a tank top, lying on the firm, comfy bed afterwards. Taking my cell phone
out of the bag pocket, I checked the time. It was only past three, yet I was
tired from the journey.
Closing my eyes, I started to consider
what their neighbors, friends, and other family members would say when they saw
me tomorrow—the gasps, the looks, and the pointing fingers I’d have to endure.
I had to face it: the daughter of Cole
Vanderson’s mistress had returned. And now I had to prepare myself for their