And now the conclusion of The Saga of Lovelace Lane
Chapter 12 by Mary Alford
Rose stared at the younger woman in shock. Had she heard Martha correctly? “Wait, you know about the four?”
Martha smiled sweetly at her and nodded. “Yes, I’ve known since I was a child.” Rose couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Why didn’t you mention it before?” Mason asked while still trying to play catch-up.
“Because it wasn’t the right time. The Four wasn’t complete. We still needed Rose.”
Rose’s gaze tangled with Mason’s. She had no idea why Martha believed they needed her to complete the map.
Mason shook his head. “I think you’d better explain what you mean by that, Martha.”
The young woman sighed. “I suppose you’re right. Please come sit down and I’ll tell you all that I know.”
Rose sank down to the sofa and Mason sat down next to her. She resisted the urge to clasp his hand and feel the warmth of his skin against hers.
Mason looked down at her and smiled, then as if reading her thoughts, he snugged her hand in his.
“When my grandfather first told me about the four and how his father Mark was one of them, I was barely ten. At first, I thought it was just a tall tell, until he showed me the map. Grandfather told me that his father Mark was elected to be the one to pass along the information to his family. The four had decided that someone needed to know the story and pass it along through the generations until the time was right. He passed it along to his son, but when it was Grandfather’s time to pass it along, well, he didn’t trust the information to his own son because he was too close to his cousins, Deke and Darryl DeFoliate.”
A chill of unease swept over her and Rose leaned in closer to Mason and he put his arm around her.
“Honey, I can’t believe you never mentioned any of this before,” Andrew said as he sat down on the arm of his wife’s chair.
“I know and I’m sorry, it’s just that Grandfather was very specific about who I could tell. He made me promise.” Rose smiled up at her husband who squeezed her arm. It was easy to see that adored each other.
“Did your grandfather every say what the maps led to?” Mason asked in a hopeful tone.
Martha shook her head. “No, just that when the time came, we would all know what to do…Sorry, that seems a bit vague, but he was so sure we’d figure it out I guess I just never thought to question him further about it.”
“Do you have your part of the map?” Rose asked. “The sooner we locate whatever’s hidden there the better.” She couldn’t help but feel that time was running out. Deke’s threat had certainly felt real. What if he were watching their every move? A shiver ran up her spine. A forewarning, her grandfather used to say.
“I do.” Martha jumped to her feet and hurried off to another room. She returned shortly carrying an aged piece of paper and laid it out on the small kitchen table. Mason and Rose did the same. The pieces fit together perfectly.
Rose peered at the faded map praying for answers, but she was coming up blank. “That looks like a cave of some sort. Do you have any idea where this could be?” she asked Mason.
He was staring at the map intently. “I’m not sure…hang on a second. I think I do. Oh no…”
“What is it?” Rose asked, dreading his answer.
“I hope I’m wrong, but the cave looks like it’s right on the border of the Redmond property and the land my family used to own. In other words, the cave and whatever it holds might be on DeFoliate property.”
“Here’s the property line,” Mason looked back over his shoulder to see that Rose standing next to him. He’d been hiking these hills for years. He was used to the physical stress. As a novice hiker, Rose had never once fallen behind. She was beautiful, and smart, and he so wanted to share the future with her. “I can’t tell which side of the property line the cave is on.”
Rose peered over his shoulder at the map. Her nearness made it hard to concentrate. He gave himself a mental shake. They had to keep going. They’d come too far.
“It looks like it should be somewhere along this ridgeline,” she said and began searching the area to her left. He headed out to the right while wondering what they’d find if they were able to access the cave.
“Over here,” Rose called out. “I think I have something.”
Mason rushed over to where she stood staring at a small opening in the side of the mountain. He studied it and then the map.
“If this is it, then we’re firmly on Redmond land.” He smiled with relief and she drew him an audible breath and looked at him with so much hope in her eyes that it made him want to do whatever it took to help her save the town he so loved.
Mason took out the flashlight he’d brought and eased into the opening. Rose followed clinging to his arm.
They’d barely taken a couple of steps when they were met with what appeared to be an enormous rock, blocking the path.
“Oh no,” Rose groaned with disappointment.
Had they been wrong? Mason examined the rock and right away something caught his attention. “This rock is different from the others around it. Hang on a sec. I’m going to try something.” He took off his backpack and pulled out the rock pick he’d brought with him. He slammed the pick into the rock and large chunks crumbled away.
“It looks like it was manmade of some type of mortar.” Mason picked up a piece in his hand and handed it to Rose. “Probably by the four.”
Within minutes, the last of the mortar chipped away, revealing an opening large enough for them to walk through.
Mason’s gaze met Rose’s. “Ready to find out what’s in there?”
She smiled up at him and then planted a kiss on his lips. “I’m so ready,” she said in a breathless voice that held so much promise.
He took her hand and together they eased into the cave together.
Mason shown the light around. At first the room appeared empty, until the light hit the corner and what he saw there left them both speechless. What appeared to be an ornate chest with a huge metal lock.
“The French jewels,” they said at the same time and Rose giggled.
They hurried to the chest and knelt next to it. Mason’s worst fear was that it would be locked and the key would be missing.
He examined it closely. “It doesn’t appear to be locked.” He threw the top open and sat back amazed at what lay before them. Dozens of priceless jewels. Diamond and emerald necklaces, golden rings encrusted with rubies. Breathtaking jewels like he’d never seen before. The chest was half way filled with its precious cargo.
Rose picked up a diamond tiara. “I can’t believe it. The legend was true all along.”
Mason laughed at her excitement. “This stuff has to be worth a fortune…”
“Not so fast.” Someone growled behind them. Mason whirled in time to see Deke standing nearby with a gun pointed at them. “I’ll take those.” He motioned with the gun. “You two, get over there, and don’t try anything funny.”
Mason’s arm circled Rose’s waist and he inched her behind him. He wasn’t going to let Deke hurt her. He’d die first.
“I knew you would eventually lead me to what I wanted,” Deke laughed nastily. “Too bad you two won’t be around to see me spend it. I’m afraid I can’t let you live.”
Deke drug the chest to the door. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to shook you. But there will be a terrible accident.” He pointed the gun at the rock ceiling above them and fired. Rocks tumbled to the ground at their feet. Within seconds, the world around them rumbled and shook and half of the rock ceiling collapsed to the ground, blocking the entrance.
Rose’s hand flew to her mouth. She stared at Mason in horror.
“What are we going to do?” she asked and he struggled to think clearly. He couldn’t give in to the paranoia.
“It’s going to be okay. We’ll find a way out.” He looked for the pick and remembered he’d left it by the entrance.
Please, God, we need Your help. We don’t want to die here. Not now, after we’ve found each other again.
Outside, what sounded like multiple gunshots could be heard and Rose bolted into his arms and he held her tight.
“Everyone okay in there?” Someone asked. It took Mason a few seconds to realize that was Sheriff Jack Peter’s voice.
“Yes, we’re okay, Sheriff, but we’re trapped,” he called out.
“Don’t worry about that. My men will have you out in nothing flat. And don’t worry about Deke trying to hurt you anymore. He’s on his way to jail.”
“Thank you, God,” Mason yelped for joy and then framed Rose’s face with his hands and kissed her with all the love pent up in his heart.
“I love you, Rose. I’ve loved you from the first moment I met you, and no matter what happens in the future, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
She was crying and smiling at the same time. “I love you too, Mason. I love you so much.” He kissed her again and then held on to her for dear life.
Two weeks later…
“You’re kidding…” Rose couldn’t believe what she’d head. The jewels had been returned to their rightful owner, but Mason had a surprise for her that she hadn’t expected. There was a five hundred thousand dollar reward offered by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. The money would be more than enough to pay the property taxes and keep the town operating successfully.
“You did it, Rose. You saved Lovelace,” he said and smiled tenderly into her eyes.
“No,” she was quick to respond. “We did it. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together, right here in Lovelace.”
And she was. She couldn’t wait to grow with Mason in the town that she loved so much.