I love TheCavanaugh House so much that I want to share it with you! So, I have a Goodreads Giveaway going on and you could be the lucky winner of a free autographed copy of my book. Just click on the button next to this post to enter. To further entice you, here is an excerpt:
This might be the biggest mistake I’ve made yet, thought Jesse Graham.
She climbed out of her three-year-old yellow 1965 Volkswagen Beetle and waded through tall grass and weeds that scratched at her sandal-clad feet. Looming before her, the two-story house—her house—hovered, insinuating more height than it could actually claim. Wrapped in chipped and peeling greenish-yellow paint, the house looked weary, and the once-red front door had faded to a dull russet. The roof sagged, and the tiny porch appeared to be giving up the fight to support the small roof above it. She stared at the house, and the windows stared back, blank. Above the front door, two windows mirrored her dismay as the wood trim above them bowed down. In her twenty-eight years, she had never seen a sadder looking house.
“Oh my God, what have I done?” she breathed…
The house was wider than it was deep, although an addition at the back accommodated a kitchen. Two outbuildings stood farther back on the property, one an outhouse, the other a small carriage house.
“Oh, Lord, I hope there’s indoor plumbing.”
Plumbing! Not yet; she hadn’t contacted the local utility companies to have water or gas and electricity turned on in the house. She checked her watch, relieved to see that it was just 1:30 p.m. She still had time to make it into town and take care of that.
Returning to her car, she rustled through her purse in search of the keys her mother had given her. Her fingers found the horseshoe-shaped key ring, smooth brass worn down by years of use holding three keys: a standard Yale lock key, a smaller brass key and a skeleton key. She headed for the front door and tested the first of three steps leading up to the porch. Feeling confident that they would hold her, she climbed them and faced the door. Her body tingled as if ants crawled beneath her skin; what would she find in there? This was the first step to her new-found independence. No one was coming to her aid if her plans failed. The house was a tumbled-down mess, but wasn’t she as well? She had burned many bridges in Rochester, and the bridge with her mother was smoldering. Her father had been out of the picture for years, and she was an only child. Her dear friend Maggie was her sole support system.
Whatever existed on the other side of the door was now a part of her existence, too. This abandoned and rejected house was all she had. And she was all this house had. We’re in this together. Straightening her shoulders, she took a deep breath and selected the key. She was surprised that the Yale key worked so easily in the old lock. Her heart pounded as she turned the doorknob and entered the house.
It took a moment for Jesse’s eyes to adjust to the dim interior, for the windows were thick with grime, and the trees filtered out most of the sunlight. The centrally located door opened into a small foyer, a room on either side. Straight ahead was a staircase, and beside it, a hall led to the kitchen. Musty air invaded her nostrils, dust turned everything a dull pale gray, and she felt ancient, powdery motes settle upon her like a second skin. Lacy cobwebs stretched from the high corners to the brass light fixtures hanging in the middle of the ceilings. She heard scurrying at the far end of the hall and resisted the urge to run outside.
To her right was the dining room with a door on the far wall that led back to the kitchen. Turning left, she entered the living room, sparsely furnished with drop cloths draped over the pieces. A chair sat perpendicular to a sofa with a round coffee table in front. A floor lamp hung its head in the space between the sofa and chair, and nestled in a far corner was an oak secretary with a drop-down desk. Drooping at the windows were barkcloth drapes that once had boasted white gardenias on a rose background, but now hung in faded tatters, eaten away by dry rot.
Jesse turned slowly, surveying the room.
“Wow,” she said. “Wow, wow, wow.”
Her thoughts traveled to Robert’s apartment with its white leather furniture, glass and chrome accent tables, and carpeting so thick it was like walking on moss. It was as though she was on a “Rat Pack” set when she was there; everything was sleek and modern, tasteful and expensive. She had lived in that world for the past two years. And like its furnishings, that world had turned out to be less ideal than it appeared. A world more than just miles away from this dilapidated house.
Mustering her courage, she pulled the fabric off the sofa. She shrieked as a flurry of grey shapes scattered in all directions—one straight toward her. She panicked as paws scurried across her sandaled foot. Mice! Goosebumps prickled her skin and adrenalin shot though her body. Heart pounding, she ran out the front door, off the porch and bolted to her car. Her knees gave out and she collapsed, trembling.
“Are you okay?”
Grabbing the door handle, she pulled herself up and looked around for the voice’s owner.
“I’m over here,” he said.
She looked toward the road and saw a blue pickup truck at the end of the driveway. Leaning out the driver’s-side window was a man about her age, with tousled red hair. Humor lit up his mouth and softened his strong jawline and rugged face.
“Are you okay?” he repeated as he climbed out of his truck and started toward her.
Jesse brushed herself off and ran her fingers through her hair.
“Oh, yes, I’m fine,” she said.
She saw his hazel eyes twinkle with amusement.
“I can see that. In a hurry to get somewhere? I noticed your quick exit.”
She looked at her watch and gasped. It was after 2 p.m. If she were going to get any utilities started, she needed to get to town.
“I need to get my utilities started.”
Oh, that sounded intelligent. She was a little off balance, and not just because of the mice encounter; this man’s gaze was warm and unsettling. He chuckled.
“Well, I would never want to keep a woman from that.”
“What I mean is…”
He held out his hand.
She shook his hand and smiled.
“Nice to meet you, Jessica,” he said.
“Not Jessica, just Jesse. The nickname for Jessica is J-E-S-S-I-E. I’m J-E-S-S-E. Pronounced the same, spelled differently.”
“Oh, like Jesse James,” he said.
“Yeah, I’ve never heard that one before,” she tossed back.
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