There was an orderliness, a rightness to the prospect that sent a shiver of pleasure through him.
Chapter Two: Tuesday, March 20
Emily gave a sigh of relief as she passed the sign indicating she was now in Spring Lake. "Made it!" she said aloud. "Hallelujah."
The drive from Albany had taken nearly eight hours. She had left in what was supposed to have been "periods of light to moderate snow," but which had turned into a near blizzard that only tapered off as she exited Rockland County. Along the way the number of fender benders on the New York State Thruway reminded her of the bumper cars she had loved as a child.
In a fairly clear stretch, she had picked up speed, but then witnessed a terrifying spinout. For a horrible moment it had seemed as though two vehicles were headed for a head-on collision. It was avoided only because the driver of one car had somehow managed to regain control and turn right with less than a nanosecond to spare.
Kind of reminds me of my life the last couple of years, she had thought as she slowed down -- constantly in the fast lane, and sometimes almost getting clobbered. I needed a change of direction and a change of pace.
As her grandmother had put it, "Emily, you take that job in New York. I'll feel a lot more secure about you when you're living a couple of hundred miles away. A nasty ex-husband and a stalker at one time are a little too much on your plate for my taste."
And then, being Gran, she continued, "On the bright side, you never should have married Gary White. The fact that three years after you're divorced he'd have the gall to try to sue you because you have money now only proves what I always thought about him."
Remembering her grandmother's words, Emily smiled involuntarily as she drove slowly through the darkened streets. She glanced at the gauge on the dashboard. The outside temperature was a chilly thirty-eight degrees. The streets were wet -- here the storm had produced only rain -- and the windshield was becoming misted. The movement of the tree branches indicated sharp gusts of wind coming in from the ocean.
But the houses, the majority of them restored Victorians, looked secure and serene. As of tomorrow I'll officially own a home here, Emily mused. March 21st. The equinox. Light and night equally divided. The world in balance.
It was a comforting thought. She had experienced enough turbulence of late to both want and need a period of complete and total peace. She'd had stunning good luck, but also frightening problems that had crashed like meteors into each other. But as the old saying went, everything that rises must converge, and God only knows she was living proof of that.
She considered, then rejected, the impulse to drive by the house. There was still something unreal about the knowledge that in only a matter of hours, it would be hers. Even before she saw the house for the first time three months ago, it had been a vivid presence in her childhood imaginings -- half real, half blended with fairy tales. Then, when she stepped into it that first time, she had known immediately that for her the place held a feeling of coming home. The real estate agent had mentioned that it was still called the Shapley house.
Enough driving for now, she decided. It's been a long, long day. Concord Reliable Movers in Albany were supposed to have arrived at eight. Most of the furniture she wanted to keep was already in her new Manhattan apartment, but when her grandmother downsized she had given her some fine antique pieces, so there was still a lot to move.
"First pickup, guaranteed," the Concord scheduler had vehemently promised. "Count on me."
The van had not made its appearance until noon. As a result she got a much later start than she'd expected, and it was now almost ten-thirty.
Copyright © 2001 by Mary Higgins Clark
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