Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Serial: The Saga of Lovelace Lane Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - by Jolene Navarro
The Saga of Lovelace Lane
Chapter 11
Jolene Navarro

     Names and places swam in Rose's head. She thrived on history. This was the kind of stuff that made her blood pump and her heart sing. ­­­­ Falling back into the chair, her gaze darted between Eden and Mason. “Can it get more complicated?”
     Eden quickly shifted her attention back to the old stories spread out on the table. Mason didn’t turn away from her. His silver eyes stared at her with an intensity that made her squirm. Why was he doing this? Was he using her to get all the maps together?
     He had the power to hurt her more than any other man in her past. How did this happen? Just because of some whimsical meeting fifteen years ago and now her future and dreams were tied to him.
     Her dreams. All the years of digging deep into other people's history had been preparing her for her real purpose to save her grandfather’s legacy and the town of Lovelace.
     She leaned closer to him. “Mason, what do you want from all this?” Her heart slammed against her chest, and her throat went dry. Did she really want to hear the answer?
     “I want to preserve the integrity of Lovelace to keep it whole and healthy as it stands today. I want…” He broke eye contact. His strong, capable fingers pushing back his hair.
     She imagined her own fingers running through the thick, tousled hair. Was it as soft as it looked? UGH! No. Stay focused on the problem. Don’t let a fifteen-year-old fantasy distract you.
     Mason walked to the window. His back to them, the wide shoulders went up and fell again with a massive sigh.
     Eden picked up the three pieces of their newly discovered treasure map. That was what Rose needed to focus on, not the feel of Mason’s hair or the width of his shoulders.
     With the papers in hand, Eden stood next to Mason. “You have to ask her. Take Rose and finish this.”
     He crossed his arms. “Martha might not even know. What if we upset her? The Defoliates could follow us. She’s fragile.”
     Rose shook her head. “Your talking in code. Who do we need to talk to?” Nervous energy forces her back to her feet. “Eden?”
     The older woman faced her. “Martha is a very sweet girl and gifted. Her father and uncle exploited her talent at a very young age.” Eden turned to Mason. “She can’t hide forever. She is stronger now, and she would be the most likely one to have Mark’s papers.”
     Mason nodded. He came back to the table and pulled out a chair. Elbows planted on his knees, finger intertwined, his head dropped.
     Rose eased back into her chair. “Mason?”
“I was trusted to protect her.” He raised his head, pinning her with his silver eyes. “Martha has an amazing gift with art. She sees beyond this world. Concerned about herAndrew came to me a year ago , she was in a dark place and needed to hide from her own family. They were destroying the gift God gave her and in the process destroying her. They didn’t get it.”
     Eden put her hand on Mason’s shoulder. “Andrew was in a panic trying to figure out how to save her. He went to Mason. Since she was twenty-one, she had every right to separate from her family, but she didn’t know how. Mason legally made it impossible for them to gain any future financial success from her. He gave her complete control over any new works of art.”
     Mason’s lopsided grin melted her heart.
     “For the first time, I felt my law degree had a real God given purpose. But her family didn’t make it easy. So Andrew, Eden and I came up with a plan to hide her. We found a place that protected her from the world. Andrew and I are her connection to the galleries that sell her art. Andrew has been acting as her manager. Needless to say her father, uncle and cousins are furious. Her mother is the only one that supports us. I even helped Martha’s mother with the divorce. So it would be an understatement to say the DeFoliates hate me and want to see me ruined.”
     “Wow. That’s crazy.” Rose resisted the urge to reach out to him and hold his hand. “Okay, so where is she, and what does this have to do with the Damask family land. Is that where she’s hiding? It’s close, right? Wouldn’t that be the first place they look?”
     “My son owns the land. It’s on the other side of the lake and the island. Yes, the DeFoliates have caused him problems so much so that we have a restraining order stopping them from getting on the property.” Eden sat. “My son and grandson are good stewards of the land. They keep it primitive. It’s part of the state college environmental research. There are a few cabins that are rented out. The Defoliates want the land too.”

     Mason leaned back and rolled his shoulders. “They have a big vision that would destroy this serene piece of  God’s country. We have to stop them, and if this map works out, we can do that. Together we can ensure that everyone gets to keep their homes and businesses and that Martha is safe to create what she needs to.”
     Eden started organizing the scattered pieces of history. “You’re going to have to go see her today, so we can settle this.”
     Rose studied the history that connected her to these people in a way she could have never imagined. “Where is Martha hiding?”
     Mason took a deep breath before looking back at her. “Damask Island.”
     “I didn’t think it was inhabited. There’s just an old shack that looks like it’s about to collapse.”
     “That’s the entrance to the underground shelter.” He grinned. “As a historian, the research could keep you busy for a lifetime.”
     “Martha lives there. Alone?” How much more could she take? 
     Eden giggled. “No. She and Andrew secretly married three months ago. Mason has been working to make sure her work is legally protected before they go public. She hates conflict so for her it's easier to hide from her family. Andrew was willing to live anywhere in the world, but she doesn’t want to move. These mountains are her home and the only place she wants to live. Andrew is the only one that has come and gone from the island. No one else even knows she is out there, but her mother, my son, Mason and I. Now you know.”
     Mason took his phone out. “I’ll call Andrew and let him know we are coming for a visit.”
     It looked like she was going canoeing instead of hiking. Alone on the lake with Mason.
     Was she stupid to trust him? She watched as he talked to Andrew. He protected people. Would her heart be safe with him?
     The water cradled the red canoe as Mason dipped the paddles into the lake and moved them forward. The physical activity felt good after all the sitting he’d been doing lately.
     Rose had her back to him as they headed to the island. Her hair danced with the breeze. The tiny braids that she had on each side were clipped with a silver butterfly. He never noticed that kind of details on other women. But he loved everything about Rose. Was he utterly hopeless in thinking he had been made to love her?
     “Rose?” If he was going to be brave enough to tell her, he might as well do it now. His mouth went dry.
    She pivoted on the bench. The blue of the sky paled compared to the blue in her eyes. “Is everything okay?”
     He cleared his throat and plunged the paddle back into the water. “At the house, there was something else I wanted to say, but I’m not sure if it is the right time.”
     Her face brightened with a smile. “It’s always the right time to tell the truth.”
     Laughter bubbled up. It felt good. “Yes, that's true. It’s incredible the way we met, and now here we are again. Fifteen years later.”
     She swung her legs over the bench to face him straight on. “I think about that day so often, I wonder if I made it bigger, more important than it actually was. I mean we were teenagers.”
     “I almost got married.” He closed his eyes and groaned. Of all the words in the world, why would his brain spit those out?
     “Really?” Her voice was low and hoarse. “What happened?”
     “I thought it was time for me to settle down, and you know the whole white picket fence plan, but she wanted a high rise in the big city.”
     “Did she break your heart?”
     He grinned. “That’s the funny part. I don’t think so. She hurt my pride, and I hate it when my plans don’t go as I want, but yesterday I realized her saying no was a gift from God.”
     “How so?” Her forehead wrinkled.
     “If she had said yes, then you showed up on the shore of the lake?” He shook his head. “That would have been devastating. God’s plan is better than anything I plotted out.”
      Rose slid from her bench and went to her knees in front of him. He pulled the paddles in, and they drifted, but it didn’t matter. He was captured by the love in her eyes. His heart was fully awake as the sun cleared the clouds from the sky. She was beauty.
     “Rose, I didn’t even know I was waiting for you until I saw you on the shore again.”
     Her hands rested on his knees. “I was engaged, but he was just using me to get research for his paper.” She bit her full lip.
     Not able to hold back, he ran his thumb across the edge of her tender skin. “He was an idiot to not see the treasure he had.” He leaned in until they were a breath apart. “But I’m thankful because it means I have a chance to show you how special you are.”
     Her hands went from his knees to the back of his neck and up into his hair. Cupping her face, he pressed his lips to hers. The world slipped away until the canoe wobbled. She gripped the sides to balance it before they were plunged into the cold lake.
     He laughed. “Okay, so we should wait to do that again when we're on solid ground.”
     Moving away from him, she settled back into her bench. “Solid ground is good.”
     Paddles in the water, he moved them forward. “Rose, for the first time in a long time. I feel God has us on solid ground.”
     Focused on the job at hand, he dug deep to get them across the lake and on the shore made up of gnarled roots and boulders. It wasn’t easy going, but Rose didn’t complain once. Hand and hand they made it to the longstanding shack on the hillside, hidden in the tree line.

     He eased the door open and went to the bookcase in the sparsely furnished cabin. He followed the instructions Andrew had given him to unlock the secret door. Holding his breath he pulled and without a sound, the shelves moved.
     Rose gasped. “I feel like I’m in one of the Nancy Drew books I devoured as a girl.”
     Mason took her hand and made his way down the steps. “Does that make me Ned Nickerson?”
     “You read Nancy Drew?” Her giggle filled his heart and echoed through the narrow stone staircase.
     “Shh. Don’t tell or they’ll take my man card.”
     “Your secrets are safe with me.”
     He stopped and turned. On the steps, she was eye to eye with him. He cupped her face and planted a fast kiss on her lips. For a moment she kissed him back, then pulled back and rested her forehead on his. “I’m not sure this is considered solid ground. On the other side of that door lays our future, and for the first time in fifteen years I’m excited about what awaits us.”
     With a nod, he opened the last door. They stepped into a world of color and textures painted on huge canvases leaning against the stone walls. A tiny elfin like woman danced to music that vibrated through speakers. She dripped paint as she moved, stopping every once in a while to add a stroke with a brush in her other hand.
     Mason looked for Andrew. He always felt a little uneasy around Martha. She seemed to belong in another world. “Martha?”
     “Not yet.” She didn’t even look up at them but moved across the ten-foot canvas stretched across the floor. Her bare feet skipping over images.
     Rose raised an eyebrow at Mason. He shrugged and leaned in close. “She can be a bit difficult to talk to especially if she's creating.” He scanned the area again. “Andrew should be here somewhere.
A door in the back of the room opened. Rose’s eyes went wide. “Is that tall Viking with a full blond beard Andrew?” Wow. He had been five the last time she saw him. She glanced at the petite woman dancing in paint.
     “Yeah, they are an interesting couple.”
     She nodded. “It’s as if I stepped into some weird time warp to find a full-on-Viking and fairy ­­ in front of me.”
     “Mason.” Andrew came at Mason, hand out. With the hearty handshake, he pulled Mason into a bear hug that included a lot of pounding on the back. With startling blue eyes, he turned to Rose.              “Hello.”
     Martha put her brush down and joined them. “Now that the four have been reunited we can get the trunks.”
     Andrew turned to her. “The four?”
     “Luke.” She nodded to Mason. “Matthew.” With a smile, she pointed to Rose. “John.” She wrapped her arm around Andrew.  Then placed a hand over her heart. “Mark.”


Sally Shupe said...

I got chills reading that last paragraph. Wow! It's so fun reading this with each day coming from a different author. Thanks for sharing this story!

Jolene Navarro said...

Thank you, Sally. This was challenging but so much fun. Can't wait to see the last chapter! What is in those trunks?

Terri Reed said...

Very intriguing Jolene! How will it end? Ohhh, the suspense of it all.

Debby Giusti said...

Great job, Jolene!

I'm worried and keep thinking Darryl will appear. I hope he didn't follow them to the island. One more installment. Then a happily ever after?

If only!

Cate Nolan said...

Fascinating twists, Jolene. I can't wait to find out how it all works out.

Lenora said...

Great chapter, Jolene! So good. I hate to see this one end!

Patricia Bradley said...

I don't want to see it end either! I've really enjoyed this.

Margaret Daley said...

This has been so interesting and entertaining!!