The final book in the Not Like Paradise trilogy, Mirrors and Blue Smoke, will be available in just a couple of weeks!! 😀 But you can get started on it now…read the first scene below!
And if you haven’t read the first two books in Not Like Paradise, check out my website or find them on Amazon!
Pandora’s Box on Amazon (Not Like Paradise book 2)
1st scene from Mirrors and Blue Smoke:
That was the summer Jansen started dying her hair black.
Opera on the Pier was the night after Corinne and Jacob’s twentieth anniversary party. Jansen, Jason, Hersh, Clint, and Jessie went, and Jessie’s reaction was about the same as Tierney’s and Brynn’s two years before. Jansen looked at her once during the afternoon, before the opera, and saw her glancing around, her nose wrinkled, repulsed by the mix of people dressed in shorts and t-shirts and eating junk food from vendor carts who would gather at the South Street Seaport for such a distasteful event.
“What’s wrong, Jessie?” Jansen asked. “Not a fan of Opera on the Pier?”
Clint, Jason, and Hersh all turned to look at Jessie as Jessie flicked her eyes to Jansen, caught off guard, then quickly plastered on a smile.
“Oh, no!” She grabbed Clint’s arm and twirled the fabric on her long, flowing, definitely designer dress. “This is so cool! I can’t believe I haven’t been before. I can’t wait for the actual opera later!”
Jansen gave Jessie a bright smile, then picked up her hotdog in its paper holder from the lap of her jean shorts and took a huge bite.
Nobody mentioned Jansen’s overdose, which had been last year on this night and which Jessie of course knew nothing about. But Jansen knew the boys were thinking about it, because Hersh didn’t even offer any coke or E to anyone, and Clint, in a vast departure from his normal behavior, didn’t ask for any.
Finally Jessie asked for some, and Hersh offered her coke but took none for himself. Clint turned it down and ignored Jessie’s surprised look.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Clint said. “Not in the mood. You go ahead.”
Jansen and Jason spiked their Mountain Dews with vodka but didn’t do anything else.
School got out the following week, the last Wednesday in June.
Hersh left Saturday morning for the Vineyard and Summer left the same day for the Hamptons. The Niyots summered in the Hamptons too, and Summer was looking forward to a romantic couple months with Geoff, whom she’d been dating since the Plaza prom, and her best tennis season ever. Jansen figured she wouldn’t see Summer till school started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Perfect.
Tierney was still dating Johnny Drake, who was spending the summer in Hollywood auditioning for parts, as he’d told her the night of prom. Tierney had been bitching nonstop for weeks about having to go to the Hamptons, but she was going to visit Johnny in LA at least twice; she’d already booked her plane tickets. Jansen thought it was good Tierney wouldn’t be spending any more time with Johnny this summer, because if she dropped all her own plans and went to LA with him instead, that would kind of ruin the “control” thing she and Jansen had talked about.
Taylan had fallen hard for Troy, with whom she’d gone out every weekend since prom and would be spending the whole summer living right next door to in the Hamptons. She was hoping he would be her boyfriend before long, and Jansen hoped so too.
Tierney and Taylan left Sunday afternoon for the Hamptons, and Clint left Monday morning at four for the airport with his dad and Jessie. His dad may have given up Mistress of the Sea, but he apparently wasn’t so invested locally he couldn’t still take his summer yacht trips. Jessie had been beside herself with excitement for the last month of school and her gushing had fluttered right through Jansen’s ears with Jansen paying no real attention.
Sunday night Jansen dyed her hair in her bathroom. Monday morning Corinne and Jacob left for work shortly before 8:00, and at 8:30 Jansen and Jason were in a car on their way to Lakeside, Vermont.
Jason had hired the car to pick them up at the Plaza so Culver or Elliott wouldn’t see. They’d decided they had to go with the car this time because it would take a little less than six hours, while on the bus, and then with the cab ride afterward, the trip had taken almost ten. They had to be back in New York tonight so as not to arouse any suspicion from Jason’s parents. And they left for Europe on Wednesday, so this was their one chance to dig up some info they could analyze during their month abroad.
Their driver dropped them off just outside town around 2:15. Jansen and Jason pulled their rented bicycles off the back of the car and threw their backpacks, packed full of random clothes, over their shoulders. Jason put on the UVM hat he’d ordered online. “Do I look like I’ve been biking around the state for a month?” he asked.
Jansen laughed at his appearance because he did. “Yeah,” she said. He was wearing khaki shorts and a plain white Hanes t-shirt, along with his backpack and UVM hat. Jansen was wearing short jean shorts with a green UVM t-shirt, and her newly black hair was in a low ponytail, a style she never normally wore.
“Okay, let’s do it,” Jason said.
“We’ll be back in a couple hours,” Jansen said. “We’ll call you when we’re on our way.”
The driver nodded and saluted them. “I’ll be waiting in the last town we passed.”
Jansen and Jason climbed on their bikes and started pedaling. “Holy shit!” Jansen laughed as she swerved halfway across the road and back. “I haven’t ridden a bike since I was like five!” Her parents had taught her in the Hamptons one summer. By the next summer Jansen had been bored with it and picked up rollerblading instead.
“I know,” Jason laughed. “Me either. I probably learned up here, actually.”
They rode to the courthouse, which they’d seen last time they were in town. It was down Main Street a few blocks from the bar, luckily in the opposite direction from the bed and breakfast. They were praying they wouldn’t run into Nancy.
They parked their bikes outside and were able to walk right into the courthouse, no metal detectors or anything. There was an information desk in a kiosk in the first-floor hallway, and they approached it.
“Hi, kids, how can I help you?” the woman behind the desk asked after she hung up the phone.
“We’re from UVM and we’re doing a project on old houses in the state,” Jansen said. “We heard there’s one here. Le Chalet or something? We wanted to look up the property records.”
“Oh, you mean Le Château.” The woman looked at them with a small frown. “What kinda class is that for?”
“It’s this summer class we’re taking on architectural history,” Jason said. “We had two weeks of class, and now we get to spend two weeks doing research on a topic, and then we have to write a paper on it and do a presentation.”
“Oh,” the woman said, standing from her desk. “Well I don’t know if the property records are gonna tell you much about architectural history.” She went to where several keys hung from hooks and removed one.
“We were hoping to try to find some of the owners or former owners of the houses and interview them,” Jansen said. “We’re just biking around the state doing that.”
“Oh, have you found any other nice old homes so far?”
“A couple,” Jason said. “One in Burlington and one outside Montpelier.”
Jansen almost laughed. Those were probably the only other names of towns in Vermont he knew. She tried to think of any others and drew a blank.
“All right, well sign in on this sheet, and then you can follow me.”
Jansen signed her name as Raina Williams, and Jason signed his as Michael Atley. They had planned everything ahead of time, right down to the story they had just told and the names they would use. They had decided on their middle names and bland, non-memorable last names. Had they been asked for their IDs, Jansen had been going to give hers and use her real name and just hope they didn’t notice that based on her age, she probably wouldn’t actually be a University of Vermont student, and Jason had been going to look for his in his backpack and act like he couldn’t find it. He couldn’t use his real ID, because there was a chance this woman would recognize the name Auerbach as being Corinne Westin’s married name. Maybe they would have let Jason in anyway, if he said he’d lost his ID, and if not, at least Jansen would still have gotten in. But Jansen was glad they were both getting to go; it would be a lot more fun this way.
“Right this way, please,” the woman said.
They followed her down the hall and onto the elevator, and she took them up to the fifth floor, which was the top one. On the elevator it was labeled as County Clerk. They got off the elevator and went down a long, dull hallway. Some doors were open, and the rooms looked like offices inside. Jansen saw only a few people. One office was labeled State and Federal Tax Records, and another was labeled Lake County Civil Court Records. Finally the woman unlocked a room on the right and flipped on a light. The sign above the door said Property Records. No one worked in this office; it was more like a storage room full of files. The overhead light was dim and the shelves were an old 1970s shade of green. It looked like no one had been in the room in years, and that was probably close to the truth. Who really cared about the history of property ownership in Lake County, Vermont?
The woman walked to the left and around a corner, leading them to the very back of the room. She stood on her toes to read the names on files along the top shelf, and finally she pulled one down. She handed it to Jansen. Parker Road, Lot #1, the front of the folder read.
“I’ll leave you guys. Feel free to take as long as you like, make notes, whatever. Return the file to me up front when you leave, and I’ll put it away for you. I will warn you though, I don’t think you’ll have much luck talking to the woman who lives there now. She’s pretty much a recluse. She never talks to anybody. You might have more luck trying the Westins, who used to own it. They were always real friendly people.”
“Okay,” Jansen said. “Thanks. Do they still live around here?”
“Oh, no, honey, it was just their summer house. They live in New York.”
“Oh, okay. Well thanks.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Jason said.
“All right then, I hope you find what you need.” She left the room.
Jansen and Jason sat on the floor and opened the file in front of them. They both leaned over it. The first paper was a copy of the deed that had been gifted to Corinne Westin on June 20, 1980 from her mom, Di Westin.
“That was right before my parents got married,” Jason said. Jansen nodded.
Stapled underneath was a copy of a new deed that had been drawn up in the name Corinne Ella Auerbach on August 19, 1980.
Jason flipped those papers to the side. The next deed showed a transfer of ownership from Katalina Longmont to Di Westin on September 12, 1957. This transaction was also labeled as a gift.
“That’s probably a few years after my grandparents got married,” Jason said. “I know they had their forty-fifth anniversary a few years ago. And yeah, that’d make sense, ‘cause my mom’s forty-two, right? So she was born in November…” He figured in his head. “1957, and her brother’s a few years older.”
“So was it like a tradition to give the house to the next girl in the family when she got married?”
“Maybe, but I don’t know who Katalina Longmont is. My Grandma Di’s mom is dead, but I remember her a little. She died when I was like, six. Grandma Di’s dad’s still alive, but he’s really old and he never does anything anymore. Their last name’s Forsythe. William and Elizabeth. Grandma Liz, I used to call her, and my mom always told me she didn’t like Liz.”
They flipped to the next page. The deed was yellowed with age and was dated July 17, 1936.
“Oh my gosh,” Jansen and Jason said together.
This transaction had also been a gift…from Anabelle Hendrick to Katalina Hendrick.
Jansen and Jason stared at each other.
“Katalina was Anabelle’s daughter,” Jansen said. “Holy shit. I remember that name now, as a Circles of Eight member. Katalina Hendrick. I realized at the time she was probably Anabelle’s daughter but I didn’t look into it that much ‘cause I didn’t know there was some secret about Anabelle.”
“But why would she gift the house to my grandma?” Jason asked. “Instead of her own daughter?”
“Maybe she didn’t have a daughter,” Jansen said. “Maybe she was friends with your Grandma Di’s mom. Elizabeth.”
“Was she a member? Grandma Liz?” Jason asked.
“I don’t remember. I didn’t look that closely at the records from back then. That name wouldn’t have jumped out at me ‘cause I don’t think I even knew your great-grandma’s name.”
There were a couple documents left. The next one was a redrawn deed in the name Katalina Longmont, dated August 3, 1936. The last one was the original deed, in the name Anabelle Hendrick, dated 1911.
“That’s weird her husband didn’t own part of it,” Jason said. “ ‘Cause it looks like she had it built after they were married. It’s under Anabelle Hendrick, not Townsend.”
“Maybe he didn’t even know about it,” Jansen said. “Maybe it was a secret house at first, where she kept all her Circles stuff. Or maybe she always intended for it to be passed down to the girls in her family, but then Katalina never had her own daughter.”
“Well she must have approved of Katalina giving it to my grandma,” Jason said. “ ‘Cause that was in 1957, and Anabelle didn’t die till 1973.”
“I wonder if your Grandma Di was friends with Anabelle. You know, like friends of the family. Like I’m friends with your grandparents or something.”
“Well I never thought about it, but probably.”
“Do you think your mom was? That’s what I really wanna know.” Jansen had wondered whether the letter mentioned in Corinne’s diary, the one Corinne had found in the Vermont house in the summer of 1973, had been left specifically for Corinne, or if Corinne and Anabelle had even been in on something together. But it had seemed more likely the letter was something Corinne had randomly found in the house, something meant for a completely different person long before her.
But now it was clear Anabelle would have known who was living in the house in the summer of 1973…and if she’d written a letter with some big secret in it, or if the letter had once been hers, why would she have left it lying around for anyone to find? She would only have left it for the right person to find…
Hope you enjoyed the scene! I will say…the action only picks up exponentially from here. 😉
Check back soon for more details about Mirrors and Blue Smoke!