Madeleine Sutter was once the belle of the ball at the popular resort town of Misty Lake, New York. But as the sole survivor of the community’s worst tragedy, she’s come under suspicion. Longing for the life she once enjoyed, she accepts a rare social invitation to the event of the season. Now she will be able to show everyone she’s the same woman they’d always admired—with just one hidden exception: she awoke from the accident with the ability to heal.
Doctor Jace Merrick has fled the failures and futility of city life to start anew in rural Misty Lake. A man of science, he rejects the superstitious chatter surrounding Maddie and finds himself drawn to her confidence and beauty. And when she seduces him into a sham engagement, he agrees to be her ticket back into society, if she supports his new practice—and reveals the details of her remarkable recovery. But when his patients begin to heal miraculously, Jace may have to abandon logic, accept the inexplicable—and surrender to a love beyond reason…
Misty Lake, New York, 1882
Everyone wished she had died with the others. Maddie Sutter had accepted this truth long ago. But much to the small town’s dismay, she insisted on living and breathing despite it.
Straightening her shoulders, she lifted her chin against the barrage of eyes watching her every move as she forged down Main Street. After three years of suffering this unwelcome attention each time she ventured to town, one would think she’d have grown used to the assault.
Maddie had resigned herself to many things since the accident, but she’d never adapt to the dread her presence induced in those she had known all her life—those who had once loved and cared for her.
With a fortifying breath, she approached a cluster of young boys on the corner. The same wretched imps had greeted her earlier when they’d spied her arrival in downtown Misty Lake. She braced herself for a repeat performance of the cruel rhyme they’d composed in her honor.
“Four dead girls on the slab, on the twelfth day of May. On Friday the thirteenth, one girl walked away.”
Refusing to alter her course, Maddie strode straight toward them. Her lungs swelled with triumph as the alarmed little brats scattered like mice. With another fractional lift of her chin, she swept onward and rounded the corner.
She entered the general mercantile, the jingling bell on the door her only greeting as she stepped inside. Along with a handful of patrons, the store housed a hodgepodge of scents. Aromas of charcoal and beeswax mingled with the sweet smell of cinnamon and apples. Renewed by the boon to her senses, she enjoyed the whiff of fond memories that came with it. She shopped quickly, spurred on by the hushed whispers echoing through the aisles as she browsed the shelves.
Gathering a bag of sugar, a tin of baking powder, and the other items on her list, she headed to the front of the store, then placed them on the polished counter.
“Good morning, Mr. Piedmont,” she said with a smile.
He wiped his hands on his bibbed apron and took a step forward.
With a curt nod, he lowered his somber eyes to the items on the counter and began to tally her purchases.
Maddie’s smile faded, her mind drifting back to the days when Mr. Piedmont’s face would light up to see her and her friends bounding into the mercantile. The Fair Five, as they were known back then, had charmed everyone. The girls had hardly put away their pinafores when they first learned to use their collective wit and beauty to full advantage. The Five always left Mr. Piedmont’s store lapping at complimentary peppermint sticks, pressed upon them by the kindly merchant with a playful wink.
Maddie took a deep breath, forcing away thoughts of the past and the accident that had snatched her friends from this world. At twenty-four-years old, Maddie was a living reminder and the sole survivor of the worst tragedy in Misty Lake’s history. People could barely stand to look at her. And Maddie couldn’t blame them. She could barely stand to look at herself.
and angst, she enjoys spending time with her family, fishing on one of the nearby lakes, and basking on the beach in Cape Cod. Thomasine is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Capital Region Romance Writers. Readers can find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @ThomRappold.