Maggie travels to Westbury for the stated purpose of listing Rosemont for immediate sale, but what she really seeks are answers to her all-consuming questions about her sham of a marriage; her sham of a life. She never anticipated the seductive charm of Rosemont. Throwing her trademark caution to the wind, and over the objections of her opinionated grown children, she pulls up stakes and moves halfway across the country, determined to make a fresh start in Westbury. Behind closed doors, however, lurks a cadre of evildoers, playing with multiple wild cards of fraud, embezzlement and arson.
With a quiet, orderly -- and distinctively solitary -- life in mind, Maggie is instead thrown headlong into a crusade against political corruption, where defeat and retreat are not an option. Still bearing the scars of betrayal, will she find joy, romance and possibility in Westbury?
This fast-paced, smart novel has enough twists and turns to make the reader want to buckle in!
From chapter 9
Maggie dropped to her knees and threw her arms around the squirming dog. “You don’t know how much I appreciate being able to have Eve with me tonight,” she beamed up at John. “My flight was delayed and I had a Chatty-Cathy car rental agent. I drove like a maniac to get here. I’m really very grateful you waited. The lot was empty and I thought that I was too late.”
“It was no trouble. I was catching up on paperwork,” John assured her. “I live on the other side of the Square and walk to work, weather permitting. I usually stop at one of the restaurants on the way home for dinner.”
“Are you done? Would you like a lift home?”
John knew an opportunity when he saw one. “I just need to lock up,” he said. “Are you hungry? Or are you full of delicious airline food,” he mocked. When she shook her head and indicated that she was, indeed, starved, he proposed that the three of them walk over to Pete’s for dinner. They could leave her car at the Hospital and she could drop him off at his house after dinner.
From chapter 7
“What do you mean, mom? Fresh start? I don’t get it,” Susan finally replied.
“You know how awkward things have been for me with the College crowd. The new President and his wife are headed in a different direction and don’t want me hanging around. I don’t feel like I fit anywhere anymore. Helen is the only friend that I continue to see,” she
said. Maggie raised her hand to hush their objections. “You both have your own lives. I need to have mine. I can run my business from anywhere with a phone and a computer.”
“So you’re thinking of moving there?” Susan choked.
“That’s exactly what I’ve decided to do,” Maggie replied with her best attempt at a firm, confident voice.
“But you don’t know anyone there,” Susan protested.
“Won’t you rattle around in that huge house all alone? Won’t that make you feel more alone?” Mike interjected for the first time.
“You know, that’s the part I’m most sure of. That I won’t be lonely in that house. When the front door closed behind me that first night, I knew I was home. I never told you, but I checked out of the hotel and moved into Rosemont the night I arrived,” Maggie said. Mike and Susan exchanged a skeptical glance. “And you know, the most extraordinary thing happened the next morning. I adopted a lost dog. Or more accurately, she adopted me,” Maggie said, and told them about Eve. “So you see, I won’t be alone there,” Maggie finished.
Both children remained silent. Astonished, Maggie thought with a measure of satisfaction.
From chapter 4
“Now,” Tonya said, “As you know, I have been calling for an independent audit of Westbury’s books. At first, I simply thought this was a good practice. I never dreamed that something could be wrong. But the more I requested and pushed for one, the more the Mayor and the other Council Members balked and stalled and misdirected the conversation.”
“I grew up the oldest child in a large family,” she continued. “I’ve heard plenty of wild excuses and tall tales in my time. My mother always knew when one of us was lying, and I guess I’ve inherited her nose for nonsense.” At this, a chuckle rippled through the crowd. “I felt like I was back in my mother’s kitchen with my brothers when these guys were making excuses to avoid an audit,” she said. “So I got my back up and decided that I was going to find out about the town’s finances one way or the other. And at last week’s Town Council meeting I finally got my chance. Mayor Wheeler left the bank statement out on the Council table in plain sight when we went to recess.” Tonya paused for dramatic effect. “So I spent my recess pouring through it. Long story short, the general account is about half of what was reported in the treasurer’s report and the pension fund was short by almost forty percent,” she announced, as a gasp escaped from the crowd.
Side conversations started up all over the room. Tonya raised her hands and gestured for quiet. “At this point, I don’t have a good picture of where the money has gone. I confronted the Mayor and Council when we resumed after recess. They scolded me for looking at ‘confidential Town information’, as they called it, telling me that I didn’t understand what I was looking at. ‘Well, enlighten me,’ I said. Instead, they quickly adjourned the meeting. I’ve been calling the Mayor and each of my fellow Council Members ever since and no one has been available to take my call. And they’re not coming to their offices, either.”
“They’ve all gone to ground,” she continued. “And you hunters in the crowd know what that means. We have to drive them out of their hidey-holes. And this is where I desperately need your help. Each and every one of you.”