It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Friday, January 15, 2010

We want to thank Katie O'Sullivan for being here with us all week, and for sharing UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS with us, our SPOTLIGHT wraps up with a sneak peak at Chapter One!

Copyright © KATIE O’SULLIVAN, 2009
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

The following excerpt is a sneak peak at Chapter One of UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS.

To buy the book, go to the Cerridwen Press website at Cerridwen Press.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter One
The day after Christmas

If it weren’t for Alexandra, Jillian was quite sure she wouldn’t be here. She’d been thinking of leaving Kyle last winter. A year ago.

Before she’d been forced to move to Vermont.

Lying in bed, Jillian stared at the motionless mountain beside her. A wave of resentment surged through her, the taste of bile rising in her throat. She wondered how he could sleep so soundly and so much, as if he were making up for the last few years, when he almost never came to bed. At least, not to her bed.

She listened to the dog emit a tentative whine. Jillian sighed. The dog was eight, the same age as her oldest son, and very set in his ways. There was no sleeping late for Jillian. She slipped out from under the covers and fumbled for her slippers. I wasn’t sleeping anyway, she reasoned. Max dashed ahead, toenails clattering on the wooden stairs. Jillian flipped on the kitchen lights and saw him waiting next to the door, tail wagging in anticipation.

“Come right back,” Jillian said sternly, shaking a finger at her black lab. “No goats today.”

Max wagged his tail harder and whined again. Jillian pushed the long blonde hair back from her face and opened the door into the still darkness of early morning. Max made a beeline for the woods. Headed straight to the Dundorfs. A dozen goats. What kind of Christmas present is that? Jillian shook her head thinking of her crazy neighbors. Fifteen acres and I’m going to have to start leash walking him again. Not fair.

Moments later, the Labrador’s barking broke her reverie. As Max entered the warm kitchen, he shook off a dusting of fresh snow. Jillian shivered, shutting the door behind the dog. “It feels below zero out there,” she said to him. “No wonder you came right back.”

There hadn’t been any snow since the beginning of December, despite the promises Kyle had made to the kids about a white Vermont Christmas. It obviously snowed last night, but that promise, like so many others, was already broken.

Jillian gave Max a biscuit and poured herself a cup of yesterday’s coffee. As she waited for the microwave to work its magic, she watched Billy’s hamster climb up on the roof of its sleep shack to stare at her as she twisted her hair into a loose bun. She grabbed the scrunchie her daughter had left on the countertop and wound it around the hair. Jillian’s hair had been long and straight since childhood, one of the things about her that never changed. Although she’d given up hope of ever being a size six again after the birth of the twins, she felt comfortable with her body. Since the stress of moving, she’d gotten down to wearing an eight. She smiled at the irony. No one in Vermont cared what size clothing she wore. This wasn’t New York City. Or even Jersey.

The hamster scratched at the side of his cage. He was a new addition to the Greene menagerie, thanks to Santa. But it’s not a goat, for goodness sake. Jillian shook her head again, thinking of the Dundorfs. She took the hot coffee out of the microwave and moved to the kitchen table. Sitting down, Jillian flipped open the laptop she’d left there the night before.

“Time to check email,” she said quietly to the dog. “I wonder if Deb got engaged?” Max ignored her, choosing instead to curl up on the rug in front of the cold brick fireplace.

She missed Jersey. She missed her friends. It felt to Jillian like she hadn’t relaxed for a single moment of the last year, especially not in this foreign land of open spaces and Green Mountain vistas. As she sipped her coffee, she thought briefly of the dream that had woken her. For the last three nights she’d dreamt of her Great Aunt Edith. Jillian tried to shake it off, telling herself she’d call Auntie today to wish her a belated Merry Christmas. “It’s just guilt,” she said out loud, trying to convince herself. “Auntie is always there for me and now I’ve moved so far away.” But, she remembered, we tried to call. It was Auntie who didn’t answer the phone yesterday.

Moments later, Max jerked his head up as the man of the house stumbled into the kitchen. Kyle stretched his thick arms and ran his fingers through greasy brown hair. “What are you doing up so early?” he asked Jillian, groggily making his way to the coffeemaker. He frowned as he lifted the pot and looked at the dregs within. “No coffee?”

Jillian glanced up from her computer screen. “I didn’t want to wake you with the grinder,” she said. “The real question is what are you doing awake at this hour, honey? I haven’t seen you this early in months. Since we moved.”

Kyle opened the cabinet and took out the coffee and grinder. “Didn’t I tell you last night?” he said as he carefully spooned out beans. “I promised Dan Wheaton I’d help him mend the hole in his barn roof before the next snowstorm.”

“I guess you did mention it,” Jillian admitted, returning her attention to the computer screen. “I didn’t realize it meant you’d be getting up so early,” she said without looking at her husband.

Kyle chuckled. “Well, you know these farmers. Up with the roosters and all. Kind of like New York lawyers.”

“You’re not a New York lawyer anymore,” Jillian said, resentment giving a hard edge to her words.
Kyle’s blue eyes turned to ice. He turned to the sink, filling the coffee pot. “Thanks. I almost forgot,” he spat sarcastically as he slammed the faucet off again.

Instantly regretting her words, Jillian stared at Kyle, biting back the apology that sprang to her lips. He stood looking out the window with the intense expression he’d once employed so skillfully in the courtroom. It lacked the same effect with his current wardrobe of plaid boxers and gray t-shirt, spreading the word Middlebury across his wide chest. Despite his workaholic schedule, he’d always managed to find time to get himself to the gym.

Until he’d lost his job. Now he never went anywhere. Jillian had seen more of Kyle in these last four months than in the previous nine years of marriage. She felt she was only just getting to know who he really was.

Changing the subject, she asked, “Remind me again who this Dan guy is?”

Kyle’s expression softened. “You met him at Dad’s funeral in April. He called last week about his will and mentioned the hole in the roof. I offered to help. We could use the extra money, unless you want to ask your parents again. Or that evil aunt of yours.”

“The handyman lawyer,” Jillian quipped, ignoring his jabs at her family, “can hammer out wills, divorces and holes in roofs while you wait. Maybe we can add your shingle-ing skills to your shingle.”

Kyle flipped the switch on the coffee pot and joined Jillian at the table. “What’s new with the girls back home?” he asked as he leaned back and closed his eyes.

“The usual,” Jillian said, still reading. “Deb’s single again. I guess she gave Mark a ‘diamond deadline’ of Christmas Eve and he bought her a new microwave instead. And Gretchen…” Jillian clicked open the email from her friend. “There’s no note here,” Jillian said puzzled. “Only a URL link to the paper she works at.”

“Open it,” said Kyle as she clicked on the blue letters on the screen.

“Oh my god.”

Kyle slid over to look at the computer screen. The headline read “Little Old Lady versus Commuter Train”. Scanning the story, Jillian quickly summarized. “Early Christmas morning, a ninety-five-year-old woman in a Lexus apparently mistook the tracks for a roadway and turned left, directly into the path of a train leaving Westwood station. No passengers were injured, but the driver of the car was rushed to Englewood Hospital and listed in critical condition.”

“Well, that’s no way to start a Sunday morning,” said Kyle as he got up to pour the coffee. “Why would Gretchen send you that?”

“It’s my great aunt,” said Jillian, still in shock as she reread the article. “Why take her all the way to Englewood, I wonder?”

“Are you sure?” Kyle asked skeptically. “Rich old Auntie Evil from Alpine?”

“Aunt Edith,” Jillian corrected, scowling at him. “I can’t believe you’re still mad at her. I need to call Mom.” She grabbed the phone off the wall.

“How ironic,” said Kyle, interrupting Jillian’s thoughts.

“What?” she asked as she willed her mother to pick up the phone.

“Remember in November? All she kept saying was ‘Thank goodness for my Lexus, it’s such a safe car.’ A lot of good the car did her against a train!” Kyle laughed.

“It’s not funny,” said Jillian, annoyed by her husband’s callousness. A moment later she hung up. “There’s no answer.”

“They’re probably at the hospital,” Kyle offered and placed a fresh mug of coffee at Jillian’s place. “Sit down for a minute.”

Visit Katie on the web-


Anonymous said...

This book sounds really good. I have added it to my TBR list.
I am always looking for different authors to read.

librarypat said...

He is a jerk. Anyone who would make such an insensitive remark when she has gotten such bad news deserves a good kick. Sounds like a good book, even if I do prefer Vermont's Green Mountains to New York City.
librarypat AT comcast DOT net

Katie O'Sullivan said...

Thanks, Andrea, for having me in your Spotlight! It's been a great week!

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit - - especially those who left comments! Thanks for all the good wishes and kind words.

I've chosen LibraryPat as the winner of the free e-book and will send her an email today.

For those of you who didn't win, my book is available from Cerridwen Press, and just last week became available from Amazon as a Kindle download!

Thanks again, Andrea! What a great week!

Sky Purington said...

So sorry I'm coming in late on this. The holidays dribbled into January somehow and I've had no time to enjoy my favorite blogs. This story sounds really wonderful and I'll certainly be checking it out. Best of luck to you, Katie!

Sky P.

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