Friday Sampler: Miracle at Sycamore Grove by Bobbie Shafer
November 20, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Miracle at Sycamore Grove, a novel of mystery and suspense by Bobbie Shafer.
As one reviewer said: From the time Virginia Cash receives the three unexpected envelopes in her tip jar, to the last page of this page-turning novel, readers are propelled into a world of mystery and suspense where things are often not what they seem.
Virginia Cash is a young mother of two small children and lives in a small apartment above a New York diner where she works as a waitress on the midnight shift. Virginia has just been informed that her husband, Wylie, is missing in action during a medical rescue north of the 38th parallel line in Korea.
When Clayton Wilkens and his wife stop in for a burger during a traffic jam on their way to Puerto Rico where they plan to retire, they realize that Virginia is the perfect candidate to take over Eagle Creek Manor and raise her children.
Ginny, as she’s known to her friends, asks Edna Taylor, her best friend and babysitter, to move with her to the manor to help the relocation for her and the children, six-year-old Donny and five-year-old Anna Marie.
Once they arrive and are greeted by Peter Clark, the local banker and member of Eagle Creek Management, unusual events take place. Ginny is offered a job at the Chase Hotel by Michael Chase, great grandson of Aimee McKay, builder of Eagle Creek Manor. When someone breaks into Eagle Creek Manor, the family dog digs up a human bone and a young girl goes missing in Sycamore Grove, Ginny begins to wonder if the move to Eagle Creek was a smart one.
When Rosa, the housekeeper, informs Ginny and Edna that young girls have disappeared from the area for quite some time, the new occupants of Eagle Creek Manor, set out to solve the mystery and bring peace of mind to the residents of Sycamore Grove and Eagle Creek.
Ginny and her best friend discover there are several popular residents with shady and questionable pasts. When Edna and Ginny start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, they are shocked at the results.
A demanding and obsessive mother has warped her son’s mind and when his father commits suicide, the man tumbles over the edge of sanity. Now Ginny and Edna are in his sights. The fear of discovery snaps what’s left of his mind, and he sets out to remove those responsible for his concern — Virginia and Edna.
Can a New York waitress and young mother, along with a middle-aged, retired librarian survive the madness of a warped mind, or will the move to Eagle Creek destroy Ginny’s world and take Edna’s life?
Shortly after breakfast, Sheriff Coy Herrington and Deputy Jack Yarbrough drove up in front of the house. When Micah, Jubal’s younger brother, alerted Rosa that the police had arrived, Ginny and Edna were called in from the back yard where they watched Donny and Anna Marie chase Jubal in a game of “Goose, goose.”
“Morning, Sheriff.” Ruth waved lazily at Coy Herrington while he climbed from the cruiser.
“Morning, Ruth. Heard y’all had a little trouble out here last night.” Coy touched his fingers to his hat when he saw Ginny and Edna join Rosa on the porch.
“Sheriff, this here is Mrs. Virginia Cash and Miss Edna Taylor, new occupants of Eagle Creek.
“Miss Ginny, this is our Sheriff and that there is Deputy Yarbrough.”
“Thank you, Ruth. I think Rosa was looking for you. She needs to go over the grocery list.” Ginny reached out and touched Rosa’s arm.
“Thank you, ma’am, I’ll see what she needs.” Ruth nodded and hurried inside.
“Can I offer you some coffee, Sheriff?” Ginny gestured toward a group of chairs on the porch.
“Thank you, ma’am that would be nice. I need a little information on what happened last night.”
“Of course. Edna…”
“I’ll get someone to prepare us a tray,” Edna replied with a smile and reached for the screen door. “I’ll also make sure the children don’t interrupt.”
Ginny smiled gratefully.
“Jack, you check those grounds around that patio by the library doors and then come on back.” Coy nodded and pointed Jack toward the doors.
“Yes, sir.” The deputy hitched up his belt and moved away.
Coy removed his hat and sat heavily in a chair. “The dispatcher didn’t have a lot of information to pass on this morning. He said the intruder broke through the patio door and front door. Could you tell me exactly what alerted you to the break-in?” Sheriff Herrington pulled a small notebook from his jacket and grabbed a pencil from his pocket.
Before Ginny could respond, Edna and Ruth brought a large tray of coffee, cups, and three slices of cinnamon cake to the small table, set it down, and left quickly without a word.
“Thanks,” Ginny murmured, watching the two women disappear into the house.
After pouring two cups, placing cake on the plates, Ginny took a long sip and sighed.
“I was about to say,” she said softly, “I don’t know exactly what it was that woke me up, but after checking on the children, I did hear a bump, thump, or something that made me wonder if someone was downstairs and I came down mostly out of curiosity. It was then I noticed the front door was open and I know that Ruth always checks the locks before turning in.
“By that time, Edna and Ruth were up and we started looking around. Edna used the house phone called Albert, the estate manager. He and his son came almost immediately.”
“Why didn’t you call the police?” Coy Herrington frowned and cocked his head to the side. “What if the burglar had been armed?”
Ginny felt a strange tingle start at the base of her spine. She was tired of bullies and bossing. She was a grown woman, caring for two small children, and she had traveled across country for a chance at a new beginning for her family and the future.
Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and set her cup down.
“I realize that as a professional law officer, that would have been your first thought. In the light of day, the wouldas, shouldas, and couldas run rampant in our thoughts, however, during the situation in the middle of the night, a normal, average person simply reacts… and that’s what we did. They were already here and you were not. I, er, we were not expecting to discover a break-in. Maybe our actions were not the best actions we could have taken, but I don’t see what difference that matters now. We did call you. You are here and nothing you can say will change the events of last night.”
Coy Herrington grinned, rubbed his chin, and nodded.
“You’re right of course. Didn’t mean to offend you, Mrs. Cash.”