Published: September 13th, 2013
"An impulsive decision changes her life forever. When Clara DeVine decides to take a vacation she has no idea what twists of fate she has triggered. First she has a reunion with Colin Lambert, the boy she was in love with during high school. She discovers that the tall, dark and unbelievably sexy man he had become was also reciprocating her feelings and so begins an intense, smoldering love story.
In parallel with this intervenes the ghostly appearance of a mysterious woman, followed by a series of scary episodes. Strange things happen in the strange place where Clara has landed and she and her lover are constrained to find out what happened to the mystery woman. Her fate, which had been sealed by some very dangerous yoga practices, seems to be connected with the much controversial Philadelphia Experiment, a fact that is discussed only in whispers, behind closed doors."About the author:
The horizon stretched boundless in front of her – a décor of shape and color, oscillating in a slow but permanent transformation under the calm, indulgent blue of a clear sky. As the car moved through the smoky background of the mountains, the road became more and more sinuous, the curves tighter and more frequent.
In the four hours of her journey, the June landscape gradually changed; with the increasing altitude, the green, smooth vastness of plain – punctuated by the intense yellow of a few sunflower islands – gave way to an abundance of mountainous vegetation beyond which wooded ridges filled the view, flirting to the peaks with waves of fog and snow. At that point, a sort of finis mundi, the sky and the misty crests seemed to merge into a primordial entity.
Looks like not only Hell, but Paradise also is on Earth, thought Clara, while from the audio system inside the car came the perfectly modulated notes of Alphaville’s Forever Young, conferring a nostalgic vibration to the ambiance. Stimulated by the evocative music, by the picturesque and strange beauty of the scenery, a mixture of nameless emotions gravitated in her soul. For in such moments of melancholy and reverie, one’s spirit yearns for an undefined something, in permanent search and aspiration to a fulfillment whose road or purpose almost always remain inexpressible.
Slumped on the passenger seat, which had been adjusted back as a concession to his comfort, Tony was snoring gently with his golden fur caressed by the sunlight. In the first half hour on the road, he had stood with his head out the window, tongue waving, fascinated by the sights, but even the huge energy reserves of a dog know limits.
Clara affectionately ruffled his hairy ears; then, concentrating on the route, took a slight curve, marked with a traffic sign. On the right side of the road, visibility was limited by a rocky slope, somewhat oppressive and apparently interminable. On the left, beyond the edge of a parapet stood a kind of valley, with a few huts straying in an abyss of vegetation.
After yet another curve to the right, partially hidden by the mountain and a clump of shrubs seemingly disposed in an artistic arrangement, Clara discovered a place which her imagination immediately associated with a mirror-portal to one of Monet’s impressionist paintings. A small lake, crystal clear, sprinkled with water lilies, lazily undulating over the illusions of clouds reflected in the waters. Near the shore, a small boat, archaic-looking, swayed fluidly, carried by the gentle breeze. A pretty hedge flanked the right half; on the opposite side, along shore, the exotic landscape was balanced by the rustic touch of a few cottages.
Taking advantage of the extremely light traffic, Clara slowed down and stopped on the verge of the road.
From there, fascinated by the strange charm and static grandeur of that place, she contemplated the panorama. Confused thoughts of her own existence – so often restless and not as stable as she wanted – dripped a vague nostalgia in her soul. And suddenly, boosted perhaps by the image of the path that detached itself from the main road to reach the small paradise, she made up her mind.
The end of the road was divided in two alleys, one of which ended in a small parking lot and the other, paved with an interesting gravel and marble mosaic, meandered asymmetrically in front of each cottage.
Clara got out of the car and opened the passenger door for Tony. Still heavy with sleep, the dog left the seat lazily and, for a few moments, sniffed the new surroundings. Then he stretched, shaking himself, extending his paws and tail; the ritual ended with a guttural groan and a yawn of epic proportions, during which he displayed a crocodile dentition; now, a preliminary examination of the area could begin.
The first of the seven cottages was the largest, a two-story building, having several windows and a sign that announced simply: ROSE UNIVERSAL, and below: COTTAGES FOR RENT.
The rest of the cottages were two-storied as well, but smaller, built along the shore, at distances that ensured a minimum of discretion and privacy. For an aboriginal who landed here straight from the noise and infernal pollution specific to big cities, the impression of heavenly oasis was also emphasized by an almost tangible quiet, in which the stylized solfeggios of unseen birds occasionally entwined.
Clara took off her sunshades, as the strong light was softened through a network of shadows cast by the cottages and trees surrounding them. Breathing in deeply the fragrant air, she strolled to the main building.
“Let’s go inside,” she said, addressing Tony, who was frolicking around her, chasing a butterfly.
However, before they got to the door, it opened and an old woman made her appearance. She was wearing a green dress, and had a shawl on her shoulders. Her curly grey hair was cut short, and from behind the glasses resting on her nose, a pair of very sharp eyes watched Clara.
“Hello. Are you Mrs. Rose?”
For a moment, the woman analyzed her curiously.
“Depends,” she finally answered. “If you wanna sell me something, advertise something or charge me for something, you’ve got the wrong address,” she continued brusquely and somewhat grumpily.
Clara laughed, surprised and amused.
“No, actually I came to find peace and quiet. Do you have a vacant cottage?”
“Yes. If you want to rent one, you’re in the right place. I’m Rose,” said the woman, with the same sharp but now jovial tone, this time warmed with a smile. “Cute mutt you got here,” she remarked, scratching Tony’s ears; the dog collapsed ecstatically at her feet, bracing his huge paws on her shoes.
“Thank you, we think so, too. His name is Tony. Quite a place you have here!” she said admiringly. “I was just thinking it’s like a miniature version of Eden.”
“Yeah... And the least populated it is, the better! Although that’s not so good for business. Oh, well...Come in!”
The big cottage was, according to the sign above, a universal store, where you could find anything, from food to needles. The merchandise was arranged on shelves, and along the right wall was a massive walnut desk, a chair and a small portable TV.
“You’re well supplied,” remarked the young woman. “But who buys all this stuff?”
“There’s a small village about four or five miles from here. All the folks there come to me for shopping, and I use somebody from the metropolis for supplies. It’s only thirty miles to the city, but I hate all that dust and crowds, where you always bump into weirdoes on the street,” said Rose. “For now, I’ve got only two cottages occupied; in one of them live Marie and Robert Axel and in the other one stays Mr. Garcia. The Axels both work in the city, and the old man, a fanatical botanist, wanders all day long through the wilderness searching for unusual plants. The funny thing is he often gathers the most common weeds,” she added, as if to herself. “Oh, and other times he sits on the shore or floats in the boat and pretends to fish.”
“Why do you say he pretends?”
“Cause I never saw any fish caught by him.”
While speaking, Rose took out a register book from a desk drawer. After she informed Clara of the renting fee, the latter decided to stay a month for starters.
“Got an ID? I have to know who I’m hosting, don’t I?”
Clara rummaged through her bag and gave the old lady her passport and the required money.
“Clara DeVine,” read Rose, noting the data in the register, then she analyzed her skeptically over the top of her glasses. “You’re twenty-six?” she asked incredulously. “I wouldn’t have granted you more than eighteen.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” replied the young woman, smiling, although the tone of Rose’s remark wasn’t necessarily flattering.
“Sign here, please, and I’ll show you to your temporary residence.”
After she signed, Clara followed her outside. Her cottage, the third in line, was placed at a convenient distance from the others. It was roomy enough, with a small garden in the back, surrounded by a colorful hedge. Near the back entry, a table and two chairs that appeared to have been woven from twigs supplemented the decor.
Inside was dark, pleasantly cool, and the air carried an intimate and unmistakable fragrance of freshly polished wood. The cottage consisted of a living area, simply furnished with a massive couch, a coffee table and, in the opposite corner, a TV incorporated in a small bookcase; on its shelves were scattered a few books and magazines.
On the left, next to the couch, a staircase led up to the bedroom, and on the right, there was a crescent-shaped bar. Behind it was a limited a kind of kitchenette. In the center of the living area, on the polished walnut floor, reigned a unique-looking rug, manufactured, in all appearance, from what had once been an enormous bear.
When Clara headed to the stairs for an inspection of the upper floor, Tony remained to smell the bear fur, intrigued and cautious. Although he was an impressively built Golden Retriever, courage wasn’t his strong suit, and the nickname Brave heart, with which his mistress sometimes teased him, was an obscure mystery for him.
The bedroom, she noted with delight, was furnished as simple as the rest: a huge bed, hedonistic-looking, a nightstand on each side of it, a closet and a small desk in a corner. In the opposite corner, a door led to the bathroom.
During this inspection, Rose remained in the living area with Tony. When Clara descended the stairs, the old lady raised her eyebrows and watched her over the top of her glasses.
“I like it!” exclaimed Clara excitedly. “It’s exactly what I wanted.”
“Well, then, I’ll leave you to get settled. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Rose,” she said, as the old woman headed to the exit. Once she reached the door, Rose turned around.
“I hope Tony’s got impeccable… hygienic manners!”
“Definitely. He’s extremely well educated and clean. We won’t cause any trouble, I promise.”
“All right, then. Enjoy your stay!”
Left only with Tony, Clara remembered her travel bag, which she had left in the trunk of her car, and returned to the parking lot to recover it. Although initially she had intended to stay for a few days in one of the metropolis’ comfortable hotels, she didn’t regret in the least the decision to stay a while in this isolated paradise. Getting back to the refuge of shadows and coolness of the cottage, she climbed the stairs loaded with luggage and entered the bedroom, where Tony already seemed to feel at home.
The first things she unpacked were the plastic bowl especially imprinted with the spoiled quadruped’s name, his food, the small bag containing her cosmetic products and a bathrobe. And because a small amount of discipline never hurts, the dog had to eat on the veranda. With this matter solved, the young woman decided it was time to take care of herself, as she felt the passive fatigue of the road in every muscle. Not having an established schedule or a certain destination in mind, she had started her journey late, in her own comfortable rhythm, which she preferred. Although it was just past 7 p.m., after she relaxed, taking a long and very hot shower, the monotonous humming of insects and the conifers’ fragrance were the last things she noticed before falling asleep, with Tony curled on a rug near the bed.
Anca-Melinda Coliolu was born on the 4th of July 1986 in Alexandria, Romania. She graduated a Mathematics high school, has a Law degree and has been a professional target shooter for ten years, being a multiple National Champion and holds a National Record at this sport. She has been working as a journalist since high school until present, writing for several newspapers. She is married to Ionut-Augustin Coliolu and currently lives in Romania.
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Thank you so much for sharing this and for participating in the tour!!
Intern @ My Family's Heart Book Reviews & Tours
I love the cover and the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway.
The excerpt was phenomenal looking forward in reading.
Thank you so much for being part of the tour _ TONYA
Multumesc din suflet pentru participarea la acest tur, Cremona! Ai un blog superb! M-a impresionat mult tricolorul nostru si profit de ocazie sa urez LA MULTI ANI tuturor romanilor de 1 Decembrie!
Thank you very much!
Melinda De Ross
Sounds like a great book! The isolated area with the lake sounds like a place in a recurring dream of mine.
Her surroundings were a perfect choice.. Very nice!
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