Foundation of Love: The Gypsy Blessing 2

BOOK: Foundation of Love: The Gypsy Blessing 2
12.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

Foundation of Love

 

(The Gypsy Blessing 2)

 

Wendi Sotis

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced

in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means,

including information storage and retrieval systems

—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in

critical articles or reviews—

without permission in writing from its publisher and author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book

are fictitious or are used fictitiously.

Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

and not intended by the author.

 

First draft was posted serially on BeyondAusten.com

from January through May 2014

 

Several passages in this novel are paraphrased from

the works of Jane Austen

 

Foundation of Love copyright © 2014 Wendi Sotis

 

Cover art by Matthew Sotis copyright © 2014

 

This book is dedicated to

my mother-in-law

Viola Schwartz

 

and

 

my favorite architect:

my father-in-law, Chuck (Vincent) Sotis,

 

 

 

Prologue

Elizabeth Bennett bolted upright in bed and stared wide-eyed into the darkness. A low growl gave her a necessary clue as to where she was—her parents’ house.

The digital numbers of the clock on the bedside table were not visible, and she was almost sure she had fallen asleep with the light on while working on her school project.
Dang it! Now the power is out?

It seemed that almost anything that could go wrong,
had
gone wrong during the few days she had been dog-sitting for her parents. A pipe had broken, flooding the basement. An unusually heavy spring downpour had revealed a leak in the roof. Termites had swarmed in the living room.

After all the repairs she had overseen already this week, she doubted this old house would need any more work done for a long time.

Having a great relationship with all the contractors in this small town through the family business, Meryton Building Supply, had come in handy. Help in the form of carpenters, plumbers, roofers, exterminators and electricians was always just a quick phone call away. She had certainly made use of those contacts this week as she had responded to one disaster after another.

Elizabeth blinked a few times. Her eyes now adjusted to the darkness, she looked at the floor where Lady slept whenever Elizabeth was home from college. The blonde cocker spaniel stood staring at the open doorway—ears cocked, muscles coiled—ready to spring into action.

The sight of that stance on most dogs would make nearly anyone nervous, but with Lady, Elizabeth knew it didn’t mean a thing. Lady was a wimp, pure and simple; almost anything frightened her. Once, Elizabeth had even caught her barking at her own shadow.

Remembering that she had just been having a nightmare, the terror Elizabeth had felt upon waking made more sense.
Probably her abrupt waking had scared the nervous pup half to death.

Lady began to growl once again.

Or does she really hear something this time?

Elizabeth drew in deep breaths to slow her racing heart. She reached down to pat Lady’s head, hoping to calm her.
This dog’s skittish personality is making
me
a nervous wreck, too.
She couldn’t wait until her brother, Tom, would take over for her at the end of the week.

Angling her wrist toward the window to catch the light from the full moon, she checked her watch
. A little before four in the morning—way too early to call the electrician.
Good thing she had brought her cell phone since her parents’ cordless phones wouldn’t work without power. The landline phone she had found in the basement had been in bad shape after the flood, and she had thrown it away.

Yawning, she supposed she might as well go back to sleep.

Just as she snuggled down into the covers and closed her eyes, a loud thump sounded directly above her bed. Lady growled louder. Freezing in place, Elizabeth stared at the ceiling.

Maybe a tree fell on the roof... or an animal got into the attic.

I frightening thought popped into her head. Everyone she’d run into in town and all the workmen who had helped her had seemed to know her parents were away on their second honeymoon and that her younger sister had gone on a trip with her friend’s family. They had all had been surprised that Elizabeth was home from college and staying at the house.

Suddenly feeling vulnerable, goose bumps spread across her skin.

Anyone could have overheard my mother chatting away about their plans. If someone didn’t know that my mother refused to inconvenience her dog by putting her in a kennel, they would assume Mom and Dad left Mr. Hill in charge at the store and the house was empty right now. Burglars love unoccupied houses.

But why would a burglar be in the attic?

Holding her breath, she listened for some clue as to what was making the noise, but the house was now silent.

Maybe she should have taken up her sister Lydia’s offer to remain with her at their parents’ house instead of going away for spring break. If she had, there was no doubt that the entire neighborhood would have known they were here. But Elizabeth also knew she would have ended up chasing after her irresponsible younger sister in her spare time instead of working on her school project, which was due after the break, and while Elizabeth was busy filling in for her father at the store, who could know what trouble her young sister might have gotten into.

The loudest crash yet sounded from above, rattling the windows. Lady ran from the room, barking frantically at the noise.

Elizabeth snatched her cell phone off the table next to the bed, but when she pressed the power button, nothing happened. No light, nothing.
You’d think I’d actually remember to charge it occasionally.
Her heart hammered in her chest.

Sliding from the bed, she slipped a foot into one slipper but couldn’t find the other. Deciding Lady must have kicked it under the bed in her haste to leave the room, she chose not to waste time looking for it. From the corner of the room, she grabbed what she thought of as her lucky bat, the one she had used all four years while playing high school softball.

Elizabeth followed the sound of Lady’s barking into the hall and peeked into her parents’ room—the most logical place for a burglar to look for something valuable. The room was in order, untouched. She opened the closet door, retrieved the battery-powered lantern she knew her mother kept there, and switched it on. Elizabeth sighed in relief when it worked. At least she wouldn’t have to go searching for batteries, too.

Slowly, she moved to peer around the doorway toward the attic door. A shiver passed up her spine. She hesitated, gathering up the nerve to go on.

Elizabeth tried to imagine a raccoon chewing heartily through the wires in the attic as the culprit of the power outage, hoping the idea of a burglar would seem silly. She cringed, thinking of the big raccoon her friend Charlotte’s father, Mr. Lucas, had trapped last year.
That thing was huge!

As she padded down the hallway, Elizabeth glanced at Lady, who was now not only barking at the attic door, but also baring her teeth at though she was about to gnaw a hole through it.

The way Elizabeth’s luck was going lately, Lady would not be afraid of whatever was up there. If it
was
a raccoon, it might chase Lady instead, and then she would have to take her to see the vet. No, she definitely did not need another problem this week—and certainly not at four in the morning.

With some difficulty, Elizabeth made it past Lady and through the door. She crept up the stairs, holding the bat at the ready. Pulling the door open carefully, she thrust the lantern in ahead of her and stole a look inside. A decided lack of holes in the roof, no sign of animals, and certainly no human presence helped the tension in her shoulders ease just a tad.
So, what had made all that noise?

The most likely culprit caught her gaze—directly above her bedroom, a trunk had toppled over, and its contents were now scattered across the floor. Relief replaced her fear, and she could not help but laugh at her silly imagination.

Since she required both hands to right the trunk, she placed her lantern and bat on the floor near the many papers and packages that had spilled out all over the area. As she lifted the trunk, the lid flipped closed.

At seeing the name carved into the wood, she gasped. It was
her
name, though the last name was missing a
‘t’
.

Elizabeth Rose Benne
t
.

She shook her head in disbelief. The trunk looked hundreds of years old.

As she moved some papers to clear a spot to sit on the floor, her interest was piqued by some letters. Although she was tempted to read them, they looked so fragile she was afraid to unfold them—until she came to one labeled only with
Elizabeth Rose Bennet
and
the current day’s
date. Her fingers lightly traced the red wax seal holding it closed.

As the effects of adrenaline faded, her normally inquisitive and logical mind began to take over. Had her family set up an elaborate prank? To have arranged for the trunk to fall a full four days after she had been here alone would take planning. Of course, it could not have been her sister Jane—she was so sweet, she never would play a joke on anyone. Lydia would not have had the patience, and her mother would not have thought of something this complex. It was more in the style of something her brother, Tom, would do, though with him away at college, he would not have had the opportunity to arrange it. It had to be her father.

The thought of leaving the letter unopened just to spite him for scaring her so badly occurred to her, but curiosity ate away at her resolve.

Carefully, Elizabeth broke the seal and warily unfolded the delicate pages. A glance at the first page made her gasp. It was a drawing—the perfect likeness of
her
sitting in the attic, looking at the same drawing of herself. Looking down at her clothes, she realized that even the pattern of dirt on them was exact. She scrambled to the mirror that leaned up against the wall and used her fist to clear the dust. A shudder rolled through her. A black mark stretched across her cheek exactly like the one in the sketch!

Elizabeth froze, staring at her image in the mirror, more than a little frightened to see what else this letter might contain. Deciding she was being a coward, she refused to allow herself to be intimidated and moved on to the next page.

The letter was addressed to her, but again, the odd spelling of her last name was used. Elizabeth raised her eyebrows when she noticed the date—it was written
two hundred years
earlier. It read:

 

Dear Elizabeth Rose Bennet,

Do not be afraid, my dear, to read this missive. The knowledge contained herein will not harm you in any way. I hope that I can help you to understand what is about to occur in your life, so that you do not feel you have gone insane, as I did when these happenings first began for me. You see, I am an ancestor of yours, and we two have been honoured with a special blessing.

One day, while I walked about my father’s estate, I came upon a woman who had been injured. Though she was a gypsy, and obviously not a gentlewoman, it mattered not to me. I assisted her by tending her wounds the best I could under the circumstances, and then I helped her to rejoin her family at their gypsy camp just on the edge of our property

The leader of the gypsies was impressed that I, a genteel lady, had helped his wife instead of running away from her in fright or disgust. The gypsy woman said some things in a language that I did not understand, which was later explained as being a great blessing.

It was not until the morning of my twentieth birthday that the letters began to arrive in the post. I thought them only odd at first, for there was no direction telling me from whom they came. Each letter contained only a drawing—some consisting of more than one sheet—but that was all. They were beautifully crafted, and since most depicted people that I knew, I kept them. However, I soon began to doubt my sanity. Only after my sister confirmed that the events shown in the pictures actually were occurring
after
I received them, as I had thought, did I believe the pictures were not a product of my imagination.

In the bottom of this trunk, I have placed several packages, one of which contains my journal, and another, all of the sketches that I have received as a result of the blessing. I trust they will answer many of your questions.

The drawing I just now received is the one that you hold in your hand. It is interesting for me to see—it seems that the style of ladies’ dress will change dramatically over two hundred years. I envy that you are able to wear trousers.

I cannot explain how I am aware of the date that you will find this letter, nor that your name will be the same as mine. I cannot prove that the drawings come to me as a result of the gypsy blessing. I cannot tell you why I believe that my trunk will open for you only, and that you will experience the same effects from the blessing as I have. I simply
knew
these things the moment I laid eyes on this drawing, as surely as I know my own name, the same way that I have been intuitively aware of many details about the sketches I have received. I believe you will appreciate that statement soon, as well.

BOOK: Foundation of Love: The Gypsy Blessing 2
12.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

In Over Her Head by Melody Fitzpatrick
The Blaze Ignites by Nichelle Rae
Rune by H.D. March
The dead of Jericho by Colin Dexter
Coal to Diamonds by Beth Ditto
G'Day to Die by Maddy Hunter
The Assassin's Mark (Skeleton Key) by Sarah Makela, Tavin Soren, Skeleton Key
Siren Rock by Keck, Laurie