Authors: Brenda Hill
A month later, I closed and locked the door to Terry’s apartment for the last time. I’d already notified the managers that I’d be vacating the apartment and given them Shanna’s a
ddress for any final paperwork.
After turning in the keys to the office, I exited and saw S
tan and Maggie waiting outside.
Maggie hesitantly approached me. “I’m so sorry, Lisa. If I could ch
ange things . . .”
I made no move toward her. Observing both of them, I saw the pain in Maggie’s eyes and felt pity for her as I would toward anyone who was suffering. But it was as if I were looking at a stranger. I no longer held any animosity toward either of them, but ne
ither did I feel anything else.
“You’ve certainly made some drastic decisions,” Stan sai
d. “I wish you well, you know.”
eard a muffled sob from Maggie.
“I used to love you, you know,” I said dispassionately to her.
“Please, Lisa . . .”
“I know yo
u were in an awkward situation—”
“Oh, Lisa,” she broke in, “if you knew how many
times I wanted to tell you . . .”
Listening to her, hearing all the unspoken words she wanted to say, I suddenly realized I no longer wanted to live in the past. But could I shut it out completely? Did I even want to? While the past may have been painful, it also held great joy—my time with Terry and discovering how to reconnect with my daughter. I still had a lot to learn
, but at least I was on my way.
“Perhaps one day we can talk,” I told Maggie. “Perhaps one day. But not now.”
“You don’t hate me?”
“I’m not sure what I feel, but I no longer hate you.”
When she gave me a brief hug, I felt a momentary pang of regret, but I didn’t stop them when they walked to their car.
Perhaps one day
. . .
Before leaving, I turned and gazed at the apartment building. It was just an ordinary building in the middle of a busy city, but for me it had been a fairy-tale place of fireworks and magic, a place of never-ending love th
at I had always wanted to find.
Ten minutes later, heading west on I-10, I ran into a traffic jam and meandered over to State Highway 60, staying on it until I arrived in Santa Monica. I’d always loved the excitement of the pier, the Ferris wheel lights, the music, but today it was crowded with people and I didn’t want to bother. Then I thought of a small beach tucked away in San Pedro that I’d enjoyed a few years before.
Perfect. Just right for today.
Forty minutes later, after easily pulling into the ample parking area, I strolled the beach, carrying my shoes and feeling the moist sand between my toes. The sky was a hazy light blue and the water was a choppy slate-gray. Past a few sand dunes ahead, I could just make out the Long Beach city lights.
Walking next to the water, the soothing sounds of waves rolling onto the shore helped to ease some of the crushing pain. When a wave washed over my feet, I squealed like a child, delighting in the feel of the foamy water, desperately wishing Terry could be there to share it with me.
The funeral had been a city affair with photographers and TV cameras. Out of respect for the length of time he and Betty had been married, I remained in the background and out of sight. That night she’d called.
When I picked up the phone and realized it was Betty, I thought about hanging up. We’d been cordial at the hospital, but I couldn’t see us as having anything to talk about now.
“Could you stop by the house, Lisa? Or perhaps it would be better if we met somewhere, perhaps
Coco’s on Tennessee in Redlands.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but why do you want to see me?”
“A couple of things. I saw you at the funeral today, and I want to thank you for honoring my marriage to Terry.”
I didn’t want to think about the funeral, ye
t I could think of little else.
I nodded since I couldn’t speak.
“Hello?” she asked.
I swallowed. “I’m here.”
“There’s something I have to give to you,” she said.
“If it’s one of those keepsake memorials, I appreciate the thought, but can you just mail it?” I didn’t want to see her. I knew she must be suffering, but my own grief was too great to share with someone else.
“It’s an insurance policy, Lisa. Terry signed one of his smaller policies over to you.”
“An insurance policy?” He’d never mentioned it and I was stunned. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. He took it out three weeks before he died, and it’s perfectly legal. I
t even paid triple since his . . .” Her voice faltered. “. . . death . . . was caused by an act of violence and not his illness. You won’t be rich, but you’ll have a nice little sum.”
“A little over three hundred thousand.”
Three hundred thousand.
I almost dropped the phone. “But Betty, shouldn’t that be yours since Terry and I weren’t legally married?”
“Terry was more than generous to me, Lisa, and I have enough with the sale of the house and his insurances. I know it probably sounds strange, but I really don’t mind. I’m glad he found some happiness at the end. It helps to wipe away my guilt o
ver deceiving him for so long.”
After a brief meeting over iced tea at Denny’s, I was overwhelmed—by the policy and by Betty. If she could show such generosity and forgiveness toward me, how could
I called Jenna and consented to talk to Marsh. His mother brought him by and I told him the good things about his father and gave him some of the photos I had. At that moment, I wished I had another piece of Mac’s jewelry to give to him, but it all belonged to Shanna and Kyle now. If she wanted to share with Marsh, that would be her decision.
A gust of wind blew my hair and I turned to gaze out over the water. The setting sun threw a reddish cast in the western sky, and in the distance, I could see the faint outline of Santa Catalina, an island on the horizon. While Catalina might be a normal island where tourists swarm daily, I’d always thought of it as a place of beauty and mystery, one of the sites I’d always longed to visit.
Perhaps one day when I returned to the area, I’d take
the boat ride and explore.
entle breeze caressed my cheek.
Good-bye, my darling. I’ll always love you.
Shoes back on, I was ready to leave for Minnesota. I’d learned how precious life really was and I didn’t want to waste the rest of mine. I was going to show my daughter how much I loved her and try to make up for my past mistakes. I couldn’t wait to hug Kyle and cradle that new baby of hers next to my heart.
Sitting with the motor idling, I looked out over the ocean again, at the island sitting on the horizon.
Why wait until
I could almost hear Terry’s voice. Maybe I’d just take that boat ride to Catalina now.
I called Shanna.
“A change of plans, honey. I’m going to make a trip to Catalina. I might stay for a few days, then I’ll head out. But don’t look for me any time soon. I have a lot of country to see.”
Then, using the mirrors, I carefully backed up my new Itasca motor home and swung around. At twenty-four-feet, the RV was large enough to have all the modern conveniences, yet small enough for me to handle. I’d sold all my possessions, even my car, and even though I owned nothing but the motor
home, I felt gloriously alive.
With the passenger seat full of maps and a list of the RV parks across the country, I clicked on my Yanni CD and headed out of the parking lot and into my new life, ready to face the future, whatever it might bring.
* * * *
Thank you for reading
Beyond the Quiet
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My other novels:
A single mother struggles for worth after a vicious attack…a police sergeant seeks redemption for a crime he didn't realize he had committed - until the victim died.
Secrets worth killing for . . .
A paroled sex-offender shot at close range,
pacts made in hidden chambers . . .
Yucaipa, CA, a quiet community in the foothills below Big Bear, hides secrets – extraordinary people, a deadly secret society.
To what lengths will a desperate person go to protect a loved one
An abandoned house on a north woods lake,
dreams of a lover from another time.
Lindsay wants the hundred-year-old home to heal her troubled marriage,
something unseen in the house wants her.
About the Author:
Brenda Hill lives in California and is currently working on her next novel.
She loves things that go bump in the night whether they're serial killers or other strange creatures. She has written about those pesky people who intrude on our lives with deadly force - Ten Times Guilty, With Full Malice, Beyond the Quiet. She’s still writing about those pesky people/creatures, but with her latest, a paranormal, they're in a slightly different form. The House on Serpent Lake is a ghost/love story - with a slight twist.
Raised in the South, she live in the Inland Empire of Southern CA, but longs for cool ocean breezes, the forests and clean air of the northern areas of the States, but can do without mosquitoes and horseflies. The bonus? Her son and his family. So here she stays.
She enjoys hearing from her readers. You can send an email from her website: