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First pages

PROLOGUE

Darkness lay softly over the island like a blanket. On the northern end of the island, a cottage was perched close to a cliff just beyond the forest, only the glow of its window shone in the dark. Inside the house, a man and a woman sat in stillness. She wore a black, lace dress that wrapped tightly against her pale throat and arms, and the only color on her face was two red lips. The silence was disrupted when the lips opened to speak and a raspy voice filled the room.

"It will take several years. Are you sure you are up to the task?" asked the woman.

The man nodded his head and shifted in his chair, his shadow nodding at the same time, like a two headed beast made of shade and substance. The dark mass loomed over the man and woman, and when he took a breath its chest moved as well. "Yes, we have been planning this since we heard the news. It will take a long time but with careful handling we will achieve our goal," he smiled slowly, lips stretched taut.

The woman sat staring at the fire in silence. The little cottage was uncomfortably warm in the August heat and the man wiped at his forehead with a handkerchief, but the woman did not seem to notice. Finally she spoke up, "Just a few more weeks and it begins. Go slowly. They must never suspect that they are being manipulated. Do you understand?" she stared keenly into his face.

A faint smile played on his lips, "Of course. Don't worry, it'll work...like magic" he said, snapping his fingers.

Across from him the woman let out a harsh, bark-like laugh, and the dog laying by the fireplace sat up. "Yes, once more, I will..." then she stopped, a frown darkening her face. She turned away to stare at the fireplace once again. The man thought she would speak no more but then her low voice came to him, "Next time you come, bring me more candles."

After ten minutes the door of the cottage opened noiselessly, spilling light onto the dark path. The man stepped outside and a chill breeze rushed into the warm house.

"Shut the door," cried the woman from within.

The man closed the door softly and took a deep breath of the cool, briny air blowing off the ocean. In contrast to the hot, stagnant house, the atmosphere outside was fresher and cooler. Before making his way through the woods and onto the path that led into town the man moved to the tall structure that stood between the house and the ocean. He tried to read the words etched upon it but the moon was waning, just a sliver now, and he could not make out more than a word here and there.

After a minute, he slipped back into the woods, following the pebbled road to the village, luckily avoiding a dark, looming figure that skulked among the trees. The man was sure he went unseen by the growler-prowler and he smiled in the darkness as he made his way back into town.

The creature roamed the woods near the cottage. As it passed the birds and woodland creatures hushed and even the wind in the trees seemed to quiet down. The creature moved closer to the cottage, its green eyes glowing in the near darkness. It inhaled deeply, tongue slightly out, tasting the air. It smelled something both familiar and strange, something that should not have been there. It let out a low growl then bounded back into the woods.

After a while the night forest sounds came back to life, nearly obscuring the sounds of the ocean. The woman peered out from her curtained window, a black silhouette. A twitch of her hand and heavy curtains fell, masking the light within and throwing the surroundings into complete darkness.

Far below the cottage, the waves crashed against the rocky island.

i
THE ISLE OF JERU

I saw a ship a-sailing,

A-sailing on the sea.

And, oh, but it was laden

With pretty things for thee.

 

There were comfits in the cabin,

And apples in the hold;

The sails were made of silver

And the masts were made of gold.

 

-Traditional

 

Sarah's stomach lurched with each rock of the ship and she just managed to keep her lunch down by focusing on the dark streak in the distance. She had been traveling for the past hour, making her way from beneath the ship as soon as she could, to the deck, gasping for air after the cramp closeness of her cabin below. The sharp, salty sting of wind and water had no effect on her queasiness, and her ears and face had begun to hurt from the cold spray of the Atlantic. She had made up her mind to take her chances again in her private cabin below when a voice spoke behind her.

"They say ginger tea helps with seasickness."

Sarah turned and saw a girl around her age, holding a steaming mug toward her. She reached out, her grateful smile became a grimace as she gulped down the liquid and scalded her throat, but it warmed her up instantly. The girl stood beside her, watching the water foam and leap as the worn ship surged through the ocean. Sarah continued sipping tea, enjoying the warmth that spread from the mug to her fingers. Above the noise of the ship's rush and sails she heard another sound, then she turned realizing what it was. The girl beside her was chuckling.

"You looked like we were traveling across the ocean on a two week journey instead of a two hour boat ride," the girl chortled, her freckled face bursting in dimples.

Sarah, eyebrows furrowed, was about to stalk back down to the cabins, when she realized that her stomach no longer felt queasy. She smiled begrudgingly at the girl. "I always get seasick, no matter how long the ride. My uncle is a fisherman but he stopped taking me with him because I was miserable the entire time. Didn't matter if it was all day or ten minutes," she said.

"I've seen you around on Saturdays, shopping at the market, I think. Is that your mom with you?" asked the girl. "I'm Abigail, by the way," she added.

"I'm Sarah. That's my aunt...my mom died when I was younger. Are you from town then?" she pointed to the quickly disappearing mainland, where they had boarded the ship. Sarah had rushed down to one of the cabins as soon as she could, not even bothering to see who had boarded with her.

"I've never seen you around," Sarah said, getting a good look at Abigail. In front of her stood a short, stout, freckled girl with brown hair and muddy green eyes. Sarah saw that Abigail had an open face and a amiable smile, someone that made friends easily.

"No. We live on a farm a few miles away. My mom comes in on Saturdays for the market to sell our produce. Sometimes I come with her," Abigail replied.

A noise behind them brought up two other people around their age from the cabins below, and they approached Abigail and Sarah. One was a thin boy with wavy, shoulder-length hair, he wore a grin that housed a mouthful of teeth. The other girl had shiny, dark hair and eyes, she was pretty but looked a little vacant, eyes focused on something none of them could see, a dreamy smile on her face.

"Hi, are we almost there?" asked the boy.

"It's invisible to us, but it will probably take another thirty minutes to reach it," answered Abigail, gesturing to the blank ocean on the horizon. "I'm Abigail. This is Sarah," she said, tilting her head toward Sarah.

"I'm Fen. This is Ellie," answered the boy. Abigail and Sarah looked at one another. Fen spoke with a melodic, mumbled twang that suggested warmer climes, very different from what the two of them were used to, living in New England.

Ellie looked at them, her dreamy look replaced with a matter-of-fact demeanor. "Hi. It's just the four of us then? Yes, that makes sense." Ellie didn't have a local accent either, and if Sarah had to guess, she would have said somewhere from the West. "It's been fifty years since the last batch, hasn't it?" Ellie continued.

"What do you mean 'that makes sense'?" asked Sarah.

"Well, they need the four elements, don't they?" she took in Sarah's pale, somewhat greenish complexion and said, "I bet you're fire."

Sarah was surprised but before she could answer, Ellie looked to Abigail and said, "You're earth, and by process of elimination, Fen is water. Am I right?"

Abigail looked impressed, "How'd you guess?"

"Sarah was easy, she's holding a mug and it smells like ginger, which means she's seasick, which means she doesn't like being on the water. The element that has the most negative reaction to water is fire," Ellie said easily.

"Wow, that's smart. How did you guess me?" asked Abigail.

"You have dirt under your nails," said Ellie, pointing to Abigail's fingers," which means you were working with dirt, and most earth people love the soil and gardens," she smiled knowingly at Abigail. "I'm wind, so I guessed that Fen was water," she shrugged.

"Did any of you know what to pack?" Abigail said, hastily changing the subject. "My mom made me pack up every single piece of clothing I had. But I had to sneak out a lot of it because I couldn't close my suitcase," Abigail continued, jamming her hands into her pocket, hiding her nails.

"I packed a lot of clothes too," said Ellie "because my grandmother and mother were both worried that I would be too cold here. I also packed up a bunch of books," she added, "you never know what you're going to need. They didn't give us a list of things they wanted us to bring," she said.

"I have a few trunks full of clothes, books, and some photos and other mementos of home," said Fen, looking past the streak of mainland.

"I didn't pack too much," said Sarah. "I don't live too far," she pointed to the quickly disappearing town of Salem, "so I don't have to worry about my winter clothes because my aunt can probably come by and drop them off. I just brought my thick cloak." She was thinking of the things she had left behind. "I did bring my photo album...and a book or two," Sarah said. "I guess I could always have my aunt send me anything I left behind," she said to them.

"Do really think that it's only us four?" Fen said.

"From what I heard of the school, they have only ever had four students in each year. The four elements," said Abigail, looking around at everyone. "My cousin says it's an old fashioned belief, and that our kind prefer to be individuals nowadays. That there isn't anything to being stronger in the four elements coming together. But she didn't get accepted into the school, so maybe it's just sour grapes," Abigail smiled. "She knows a lot of the people who were taught at the school became famous. I wasn't sure it would only be four because they might have changed their method of teaching, but..." she indicated the four of them standing on the ship.

The four of them leaned against the railing, watching the ship toss up white foam.

"Why did they slow down? I don't see anything." Fen said, turning to the other three.

Before them was the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, the grey waves and grey sky seamless until it seemed to Sarah that they were made of one material.

"We're here, that's why," said Abigail with a knowing smile.

They stood expectantly and in a few seconds Sarah felt a tiny tingle, even though it seemed as if the ship moved toward another endless wave. Then she heard a pop before feeling showered in a warm glow. It was as if they had just entered a bubble. The clouds appeared to skitter away and the sun shone over them, the winds died down, gray and white gulls soared in the air, and suddenly an island loomed before them. Sarah caught a glimpse of smaller islands in the distance, before the main island became the only thing they could see.

The cold spray from the waves died down and they realized that they had no need to raise their voices to hear one another. Without another word they walked closer to the foremast and watched as the island became clearer. Dark cliffs jutted around the island as evergreens rose from the back, framing a pretty seaside town of painted red, blue, green, and purple-sided homes and shops, nestled among grey-shingled stores with colorful awnings. A brick road snaked its way through the town and beyond, disappearing behind trees. A large, purple house with turrets, stood in the distance, as if a great, shiny plum were plopped on the hillside. In the harbor were several fishing boats bobbing gently on the waves. It was a pretty little spot, and Sarah was glad they were finally getting off the boat.

"That's the barrier," Abigail told them. "It keeps...unwanted people out. We are officially on the island, even though we haven't stepped foot on it," Abigail beamed.

Sarah took hold of the railing, clenching her hand over the rough wood in excitement. She couldn't wait to begin her new life here. She leaned over the railing, breathing in the tangy, briny air, looking at the island before her in happy anticipation. It was the Isle of Jeru, and Sarah suspected that the large house on the hill was the Hubert School for Exceptional Children, where the four of them would be spending the next five years of their lives studying magic, with the renowned Hubert Sisters.

II
AN ISLAND WELCOME

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

 

-James Halliwell

 

The ship reached the island gliding easily into the awaiting dock. The four of them watched as a gangplank was carefully lowered to meet the worn boards of the dock below. Abigail went down first, giving them a hesitant smile before stepping off the boat and onto the plank. Then one by one, they carefully walked off onto the waiting island, where gulls and villagers greeted them with shrill cries and cheers.

Sarah was the last of the four to step carefully down the wooden gangplank, grasping the rope and gingerly making her way to the end, where she took the hand of the man waiting at the bottom of the plank. A frisson of magic tingled up her arm when she touched his palm. Surprised, she looked up at him and he returned the look with a wink, letting go of her hand as she touched ground.

"Hello and welcome to the island! I am Oscar, the bookseller. We are all happy that you are here," he said to Sarah.

Sarah only had a moment to take in the man's crooked smile and mouthful of misaligned teeth, before he turned around and hobbled through the crowd. She was jostled into an embraced by the woman closest to her and the chatter and handshakes distracted her from wondering about the man. She soon forgot about him amidst the welcome she and the others received. Sarah smiled at the greeters, feeling the magic swirl around her. A small man, to her right, deftly produced a bouquet of flowers from thin air, and a woman hastily passed out raisin buns to the four of them.

"It's so nice to have the school opened again! Welcome!" exclaimed a little man standing by her elbow. Sarah shook the hand he offered and continued to follow the other three, who were also making their way through the crowd.

Another woman, dressed in an ample white dress covered with a pink frilly apron, produced several large, wicker baskets for each of the children. She glanced guiltily towards the top of the hill, whispering to Sarah, "Take this dear, they may be great and powerful magicals but Gilpin does the cooking and he isn't the greatest cook. Sweet man, but no cook," she shook her head. "Also, whenever you children are in town, stop by my bakery and you are always welcome to free cookies or whatever goodies I've got fresh out of the oven," she smiled and Sarah thanked her, settling the heavy basket into the crook of her arm.

Ahead of her, Sarah saw an old woman bend down and whisper something into Abigail's ear. Sarah caught a look of horror on Abigail's face when she turned. She walked forward and was handed something by another villager and she absentmindedly thanked the man and put it in her basket.

When she reached the old woman, she was given a sprig of herbs. The old woman grasped Sarah's arm in a surprisingly strong grip, and leaned in to whisper, "This is to ward off the growler-prowler. You must be very, very careful it doesn't turn you into a growler-prowler too."

The woman's tone and her wide, staring eyes, made Sarah shiver and she wrestled to free herself from the woman's touch. Sarah straightened and hurried to catch up with the others. What was a growler-prowler? She examined the sprig but didn't know what kind of plant it was. She made a note to ask Abigail later when they were alone.

That was how they made their way through the crowd, each inhabitant offering them greetings or gift of sweets, flowers, food, bits of advice, and congratulations. Sarah had just begun to think that she didn't have the strength to carry all the gifts when she looked at the other three and saw that Ellie was using magic to let the air carry her things. Abigail had set down her items and they rolled on the ground as if an army of ants was marching them along. Fen had a similar conveyance as Abigail, his gifts riding along the ground but as Sarah looked on she realized that they were balanced on a small raft and that water had sprung up from the stones and earth, moving them along a tiny stream.

"Oh dear," she mumbled to herself. She knew a little about each element but couldn't do magic to manipulate any of them enough to carry her heavy things, and she couldn't use her element without burning everything down. She was staring at Ellie's basket, jauntily bobbing up and down on an unseen air current, and had an idea. "I hope this works," she whispered to herself.

Taking a large cloth that someone had given her, she quickly used magic to meld the fibers together, quietly thanking her aunt for teaching her to sew with magic, and created a big pouch with the material. Turning it upside down she tied the four corner flaps onto the large wicker basket full of food. She carefully laid some of the gifts she was given on top of the basket. Crossing her fingers that this would work out, she created a blue fireball and suspended it between the laden basket and the pouch. She held the pouch open so that heated air funneled into it. Slowly, the pouch filled up with air and the heavy packages tilted then steadied as it rose, creating a miniature hot air balloon.

"Ooh," cried the crowd as her hot air balloon basket floated above their heads.

The other three hearing the clamor turned around to see and also let out appreciative sounds. Abigail smiled at her and Fen gave her a thumbs up, causing his gifts to stop moving, the water receding back into the earth. He turned back and the water appeared again, the raft steadily climbing the hill. Ellie wore a dreamy smile, looking at something just above Sarah's balloon.

Sarah, who was concentrating hard on keeping the flame afloat beneath the balloon, and giving it just enough heat without it soaring out into the atmosphere, could only nod, afraid that any more would cause her flame to disappear. She carried the rest of the gifts she couldn't fit, walking up the hill to the crowd's cheering.

Sarah began to worry that she wouldn't be able to fit more on her basket or carry anything more, but luckily there were no more gifts and the mass of people parted to reveal a tiny, prune-looking man. Sarah took in his finely wrinkled face, spectacles perched on his bulbous nose, the boots covered in a thick crust of mud, and the disheveled heavy pants and home-sewn shirt. She wondered who he was but he, apparently, was waiting for them.

Fen brightened when he saw him, "Hello, Gilpin!"

The lines on the old man's face moved upward, a snarl of a smile made an appearance. "Hello, Fen," came back a throaty growl. "The school is just up this path, and it looks like you have all your things in order," he motioned to their magically transported things.

"The rest of your things are most likely in your rooms by now," he said, then added, "I don't know why they had to come out in droves just for students, but I've never gotten them," Gilpin sniffed and inclined his head towards the town and the people below. He made an impatient gesture then turned to the path that led uphill and began walking quickly.

The four of them turned and smiled at the gathering below them. Sarah's eye swept around the people and was surprised to see one man, hunched and dressed in black, among the colorfully dressed crowd. He was looking at the four of them with a look Sarah couldn't place, but it was not in welcome. Shuddering slightly, she looked at him further until he caught her eye and turned around and disappeared amidst the throng of villagers.

She caught up with the other three following Gilpin up the hill until the voices and cheers from the crowd faded away. The five of them walked silently along the road that led from the village. The path turned from brick to gravel and finally into dirt. It was bordered on one side by a low stone wall, and either side of the path was flanked by large oaks and maples. Grass, fungi, and moss grew along the edge, and through the trees Sarah caught glimpses of blue water. As they rounded a final bend the trees cleared and in front of them was a wrought iron gate, tall and imposing.

The four children let out a sudden intake of breath as they saw what lay beyond the gates. There stood a four-storied, deep purple, Victorian mansion, trimmed in gold. It was covered in tiny scalloped wood siding, and each corner was decorated with some intricate trim, as if cobwebbed lace was hung around the house. The lawn was immaculate, split in two by a brick walkway that led up to the house before encircling it. Spacious steps flanked by two railings stopped at a beautifully rounded porch. Beneath the arch were two gigantic wooden doors, painted in a gleaming gold.

The porch wrapped around the house, the corners ending in gazebos. Several circular turrets jutted out, as well as gables that faced in different directions. The largest tower was topped by a widow's walk, and just behind the house was a little hill fringed by an orchard. To the left of the school, the five of them could see the ocean winking in the distance, friendly and reassuring beneath the August sun.

"There's a lot of land in the back, the Sisters have several types of gardens just outside the kitchen door, and they also have a private beach." All four were so engrossed at looking at the house that when Gilpin's gravelly voice spoke they all jumped, but he continued as if he didn't notice. "There's a path through the orchard that will lead to the beach. The hill is a great place for playing with winds, and there's a creek behind there too. They also have an outdoor fire pit, for the pyromaniacs in the group," he nodded at Sarah's ball of fire keeping her gifts aloft.

Sarah didn't notice Gilpin's nod to her flame because she couldn't take her eyes off of the house. She had a feeling of déjà vu, as if she had been there before, and a sudden yearning to run up to the house bubbled up inside of her. It was as if she had found her home after being parted for so long. She had a strange memory of walking through the orchard while the white blossoms rained down on her. Sarah shook her head wondering where the vision came from, because she was sure that she had never been there before.

The magic emanating from the house was palpable. It made the hairs on Sarah's neck stand on end. The Sisters were powerful and there was no doubt about it, Sarah thought, and at this, the front doors opened noiselessly and two figures stepped onto the porch.

"The Sisters are good ladies, but do not push them. They may look frail but they're mighty strong and expect to be obeyed at all times," he told them. Sarah did not know if he was warning them or threatening them. Then Gilpin continued, "The Island is full of old magic, but not everyone can feel it or use it. You four probably will be able to use it soon enough, just don't go too far into it," he stopped abruptly and didn't say anymore.

Gilpin reached out with a gnarled hand and pushed open the gate. It swung slowly on its hinges and the five of them waited until it clanged gently before proceeding onto the walkway. They moved toward the house where the two figures waited for them in the shadow of the porch. They had all seen and met the two Sisters before but on this day they crackled from excitement and energy.

In the gloom of the porch, Sarah could make out a fine white-blue aura of magic encircling the two women before her. It reminded her of the hottest part of a flame and the tips of her fingers sparked in answer. The two women stepped out from beneath the porch and into the sun and Sarah wondered again at how young they looked, almost fragile. One sister wore a dress, in a shimmering green material that reminded Sarah of a bug's wings. It was covered with lace and frills, a voluminous skirt that made her small waist seem smaller, the fabric concealed her arms and wrapped around her neck, fastened by tiny pearls. Although her eyes and mouth had a few lines, it did not show her true age.

They must be at least ninety years old, Sarah thought.

One of the sisters nodded to Gilpin and spoke, a sweet, melodic sound that made Sarah think she must have a great singing voice. "Thank you, Gilpin, for bringing the children and making sure they made it here safe and sound." Gilpin bowed and walked quickly to the path that went to the left of the house and soon disappeared behind the large flowering bushes that grew against the side of the house.

Sarah watched Gilpin go, and faced the two women before her, oddly glad that she was standing close enough to Abigail and Ellie that she could feel their traveling cloaks brushing against hers.

The four of them were now alone with two of the most powerful magicals in existence.

III
THE HUBERT SCHOOL

Over in the meadow,

In the reeds on the shore

Lived an old mother muskrat

And her little ratties four

"Dive!" said the mother;

"We dive!" said the four

So they dived and they burrowed

In the reeds on the shore.

 

- Olive Wadsworth

 

"Welcome Abigail Weber, Sarah Goodwin, Elizea Lee, and Fen Latour. I am Nona and this is my sister, Calliope. As you may know, it has been fifty years since we taught the last set of magical students. You are the very best of the best out there, and we expect so much from you. The magic that you used this morning to carry your gifts was very impressive," she said, eyeing them all, but pausing to linger on Sarah's balloon before continuing. "In the next five years we hope that you will grow in your abilities, learning and creating your own magic," as she spoke her hands flew in every direction, accentuating her speech.

"Classes with me are more hands-on, while my sister," she turned to acknowledge Calliope, who nodded briefly, "prefers to talk and take notes, study and discuss. You will learn the elements of magic, invocations, potions, soothsaying, but most of all, your five years here will be focused on crafting."

Sarah looked at the others, and they seemed just as intrigued and unsure as she did. They had never heard of crafting and were unsure of what it meant. Sarah had a vision of paper decorated with stamps and calligraphy, the way her aunt did whenever she had Christmas cards to make.

"Crafting is creating your own spells and magic for your own purposes and needs," Nona continued. "It will be complicated but worthwhile, just like your education here," she paused then said, "We picked you four, and really, you four called to us because you needed advancement and tutelage with your powers. It has been many, many years that we have seen signs of such force and for that we are grateful that you should want to stay with us. I know we will have a marvelous time here together," she clapped her hands, mouth drawn up into a wide smile, and Sarah suspected if not for her reserved sister, Nona would have flung down the stairs to hug each of them.

"I would like to welcome you four to our home. It is your home now," said Calliope.

While they both looked alike, Sarah saw that this sister was the serious one, and incredibly, the younger looking of the two. No lines creased her smooth face, and a slight blush gave her the appearance of being only a dozen or so years older than themselves. The somber dark blue suit, and dark, cropped hair, no evidence of dancing eyes or wide smile, also added to her grim countenance.

Nona certainly rambled but this sister was succinct, and after the quick greeting, she continued, "You may address me as Sister Calliope. My sister is to be addressed as Sister Nona. Please come and follow us, we will show you to your rooms and around the grounds," she stopped abruptly, turned, and held the door open.

"Before we show you around the house, we would like to ask each of you to sign the guest book." Sister Nona led them to a small table in the foyer. "Everyone who has ever been on this island, and been to our house, has signed the registry. It dates back to when the island was first settled by our ancestors," said Sister Nona, placing a hand fondly on the open page of a large, ancient book.

When Sarah approached the book to sign her name, she noticed the slightly yellowed, brittle pages. She signed her name beneath Abigail's and waited for Fen and Ellie to finish signing their names. Then they followed Sister Calliope past the foyer to the grand stairway.

The six of them walked through a high archway and to Sarah, the feeling of being home and having been there before intensified. The six of them trooped up the wide stairs, their footsteps muted by the carpet. Sister Nona stopped to show them the library and Sarah had to restrain herself from gasping aloud, but Fen let out a low whistle. The library was located in one of the turrets, and the circular walls were hugged by floor to ceiling shelves filled with every size and shape book. A fireplace fit snugly around the rounded wall, and there was a spiral staircase in the far end that led to a little nook at the top. Sarah made a mental note to explore the library as soon as she got a chance.

They continued their tour as Nona pointed out laboratories and hidden studies. The bedrooms were located on the third floor, at the back of the house.

"These four are your rooms, you may now choose which one you would like," Calliope said.

Each of the students walked into a separate room, then came out again to try another room. In the first room, Sarah saw a large bed with dark wooden posts on each corner, a matching wardrobe, against one wall was a fireplace with a sofa placed in front of it, on the opposite area a writing desk and chair that faced the only window. Although there was only one window, it took up the entire wall and had a long, low bench built against it. Outside was a view of the gardens, and in the distance was the ocean, and between the two were the orchards. While the room was beautiful, Sarah didn't feel like it was just right for her.

When she stepped into the next room, which was slightly smaller than the first room, she was greeted by a simpler bed, with just a head and footboard and no posts. The room had a high ceiling with a skylight. Two windows overlooked the grounds and flooded the room with light. There was a fireplace and a cheerful, little round rug that pulled all the pieces together.

The third room was her room. Sarah hoped no one else wanted it, but she felt sure that they each would pick different rooms. It was certainly the smallest room, but it was a circular turret room. A large fireplace with an oak mantle was on the left when she first walked in. A small bed sat in the middle, Sarah ran her finger along the intricately carved headboard and footboard, feeling the deeply chiseled grooves. Across the way was a smaller, rounded wardrobe. Sarah looked up and saw that the ceiling ended in a point with rafters criss-crossing the top. All along the sides were shelves and cubby holes, and three tall windows with a little cushioned bench beneath each one. A simple desk and two chairs completed the room.

 


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Elle Emery lives in New England with her husband and son. After growing up in New York City, she learned to discern the subway system at a young age. Elle moved to Boston for college where she met her husband. Elle is always in search of her next adventure, either literally or literary.

Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
My son and I are currently reading The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I am reading Glass Houses, by Louise Penny.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
The influx of information from later books in the series and trying to sort the scenes so that I leave clues but not give it all away.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
Alexander McCall Smith's books and their quiet introspection. Stephen King's use of everyday speech and turning it into poetry. Louise Penny's has made me see that crime and murder can be literature.

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