An excerpt from the Golden Heart nominated romantic suspense novel, WIDOW'S TALE
A brisk ascent up the incline did little to keep the cold air at bay. Serena’s breath clouded her sight. She moved instinctively, traveling a path she had trekked since childhood, when the lighthouse was once operational. Extinguished more than fifteen years ago, replaced by the modern, high-tech model further down shore, this empty beacon stood as a lofty symbol of Victory Cove’s romantic past.
As the outline drew close, Serena’s pace stalled. She circled the tall edifice. The aid of moonlight came and went, the fickle north Atlantic current forcing along a patchy cloudbank. She took advantage of the brief moments of clarity to discern the single stone building at the base of the tower. In the past, gale force winds had lashed the waves high enough to mount the cliffs and engulf the tiny abode. Nonetheless, it survived through the years, a testimony to the hand-laid rock walls. She hoped the underground shed still offered the same access it had when she was a child.
Serena’s feet crunched over the frozen turf. Air billowed from her mouth as her eyes began to tear from the wind. She tucked her chin even deeper into the down collar. Seeking relief, walking backwards against the wind, she focused on the floodlights illuminating the tavern’s deck. From this perspective, O’Flanagans represented a warm and inviting symbol of hope, the lights on the third floor reminding her that Brett lay safe and asleep.
Most importantly, safe.
Turning back into the blustery weather, sounds came to Serena in muffled echoes within the cocoon of the jacket hiked around her ears. She nearly missed the grinding tread to her right.
Instinctively she crouched, cursing the open knolls that lead to the lighthouse. She prayed for cloud cover—any form of camouflage. But the moon glimmered across the fresh snow.
Spinning about, she studied the dirt path that led to the light keeper’s house like a black vein scarring white marble.
The path was empty. She was alone.
Hastening into a jog, Serena felt the tears of windburn on her face, and cursed when her boot skidded on a slick rock, pitching her into a heap. In frustration, she smacked her clenched fist on the rigid dirt and yelled at the pain.
Unsure whether to laugh or cry, Serena tipped her head back and stared into the moon, searching its wizened face for insight.