Read Pink Blue Dahlia
In the Garden Trilogy
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Against the backdrop of a house steeped in history and a thriving new gardening business, three women unearth the memories of the past and uncover a dangerous secretfinding in each other the courage to take chances and embrace the future.
Stella has a passion for planning that keeps her from taking too many risks.But when she opens her heart to a new love, she discovers that she will fight to the death to protect what’s hers.
Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild, along with her two energetic little boys, has moved back to her roots in southern Tennesseeand into her new life at Harper House and In the Garden nursery. She isn’t intimidated by the housenor its mistress, local legend Roz Harper. Despite a reputation for being difficult, Roz has been nothing but kind to Stella, offering her a comfortable new place to live and a challenging new job as manager of the flourishing nursery. As Stella settles comfortably into her new life, she finds a nurturing friendship with Roz and with expectant mother Hayley. And she discovers a fierce attraction with ruggedly handsome landscaper Logan Kitridge
But someone isn’t happy about the budding romance…the Harper Bride. As the women dig into the history of Harper House, they discover that grief and rage have kept the Bride’s spirit alive long past her death. And now, she will do anything to destroy the passion that Logan and Stella share...
Harper HouseJanuary 2004
She couldn’t afford to be intimidated by the house, or by its mistress. They both had reputations.
The house was said to be elegant and old, with gardens that rivaled Eden. She’d just confirmed that for herself.
The woman was said to be interesting, somewhat solitary, and perhaps a bit “difficult.” A word, Stella knew, that could mean anything from strong-willed to stone bitch.
Either way, she could handle it, she reminded herself as she fought the need to get up and pace. She’d handled worse.
She needed this job. Not just for the salary––and it was generous––but for the structure, for the challenge, for the doing. Doing more, she knew, than circling the wheel she’d fallen into back home.
She needed a life, something more than clocking time, drawing a paycheck that would be soaked up by bills. She needed, however self-help-book it sounded, something that fulfilled and challenged her.
Rosalind Harper was fulfilled, Stella was sure. A beautiful ancestral home, a thriving business. What was it like, she wondered, to wake up every morning knowing exactly where you belonged and where you were going?
If she could earn one thing for herself, and give that gift to her children, it would be the sense of knowing. She was afraid she’d lost any clear sight of that with Kevin’s death. The sense of doing, no problem. Give her a task or a challenge and the room to accomplish or solve it, she was your girl.
But the sense of knowing who she was, in the heart of herself, had been mangled that day in September of 2001 and had never fully healed.
This was her start, this move back to Tennessee. This final and face-to-face interview with Rosalind Harper. If she didn’t get the job––well, she’d get another. No one could accuse her of not knowing how to work or how to provide a living for herself and her kids.
But, God, she wanted this job.
She straightened her shoulders and tried to ignore all the whispers of doubt muttering inside her head. She’d get this one.
She’d dressed carefully for this meeting. Businesslike but not fussy, in a navy suit and starched white blouse. Good shoes, good bag, she thought. Simple jewelry. Nothing flashy. Subtle makeup, to bring out the blue of her eyes. She’d fought her hair into a clip at the nape of her neck. If she was lucky, the curling mass of it wouldn’t spring out until the interview was over.
Rosalind was keeping her waiting. It was probably a mind game, Stella decided as her fingers twisted, untwisted her watchband. Letting her sit and stew in the gorgeous parlor, letting her take in the lovely antiques and paintings, the sumptuous view from the front windows.
All in that dreamy and gracious southern style that reminded her she was a Yankee fish out of water.
Things moved slower down here, she reminded herself. She would have to remember that this was a different pace from the one she was used to, and a different culture.
The fireplace was probably an Adams, she decided. That lamp was certainly an original Tiffany. Would they call those drapes portieres down here, or was that too Scarlett O’Hara? Were the lace panels under the drapes heirlooms?
God, had she ever been more out of her element? What was a middle-class widow from Michigan doing in all this southern splendor?
She steadied herself, fixed a neutral expression on her face, when she heard footsteps coming down the hall.
“Brought coffee.” It wasn’t Rosalind, but the cheerful man who’d answered the door and escorted Stella to the parlor.
He was about thirty, she judged, average height, very slim. He wore his glossy brown hair waved around a movie-poster face set off by sparkling blue eyes. Though he wore black, Stella found nothing butlerlike about it. Much too artsy, too stylish. He’d said his name was David.
He set the tray with its china pot and cups, the little linen napkins, the sugar and cream, and the tiny vase with its clutch of violets on the coffee table.
“Roz got a bit hung up, but she’ll be right along, so you just relax and enjoy your coffee. You comfortable in here?”
“Anything else I can get you while you’re waiting on her?”
“You just settle on in, then,” he ordered, and poured coffee into a cup. “Nothing like a fire in January, is there? Makes you forget that a few months ago it was hot enough to melt the skin off your bones. What do you take in your coffee, honey?”
She wasn’t used to being called “honey” by strange men who served her coffee in magnificent parlors.
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