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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 21 of 55


Chapter 30 (Word Prompts: aroma, socks, jacket, orange, frost, crow, fence post, flu)



Blair answered the phone immediately, his voice sounding as cold as the frost I’d seen earlier. I was happy when he told me he was on his way to work and would call me later. I was not in the mood to handle whatever was on his mind, although I was still left to wonder why he had called in the first place. I thought we were both thinking that this two weeks was a sort of trial separation during which we both had some decisions to make. Not that I had given Blair or the future very much thought. I wasn’t left with much time to do it now.


I knew this must be Charlie without seeing any badge. He wore an orange vest, the kind hunters wear so they won’t be mistaken for a deer. His black hair was as glossy as that crow that had surprised me earlier. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the mirror lenses. I caught a whiff of aftershave as he took a seat at the table opposite of me. That added to the aroma of coffee and frying bacon was almost too much. Then he removed those lenses and I thought no man should have eyelashes that long. He could have been featured on a mascara commercial while being completely masculine.


“I suppose you are the person Lily was ordering me to see.”


I was grateful to be saved from the need to answer by the arrival of Lily. A cup was placed in front of the new arrival and the others refilled. A plate of sausage biscuits appeared in front of me and I took a bite just to give myself an excuse to say nothing for a moment while I collected myself. I was not accustomed to responding to any male in this way and so glad I was sitting. I thought I understood those teenagers who swooned while watching their favorite group. I had entirely lost track of the conversation between him and Lily, but I realized they were both looking at me as though they expected me to say something.


“This is the best biscuit I’ve had in a long time”, I said while picking up my coffee, pleased that my hand seemed to be steady.


“Now where was this campfire you say you saw?”


I was pleased that he knew that. Lily must have explained while I was zoned out.


He continued, “Do you want to show me?”


My heart skipped a couple of beats as I thought about walking up the path with this man, “I don’t think I can”, I said and thought my voice sounded a bit shaky.


“I told you it’s the one right there beside that first fence post. She’ll get the flu if she goes out there again with no jacket, only those puny socks for warmth.” I couldn’t tell if Lily knew what was going on with me or not, but I blessed her for giving an excuse other than thinking that my knees might collapse at any moment.


By this time some of the other early arrivals were coming in the door. Theresa got a cup of coffee and came over to join me. I was still filling her in when the sheriff returned.


It was obvious that he and Theresa knew each other and it was she who took over giving him the background of what we had already seen.


“Wait a minute. I’m a bit confused. I talked to Roger yesterday and he said the mystery was solved. He explained about the little project his son and friends had been doing over the summer.”


“But that’s nowhere near this path and I don’t think they tagged that rock with the “13” either”, said Theresa. “Besides, I can almost guarantee that neither Greg nor his friend Matt were out last night building campfires, here or anywhere else.”


I thought about the expression on Roger’s face as he had led his son away and I thought that was a pretty safe bet and more than likely the rest of the kids had been notified and they would not be about either.


Charlie seemed to agree. “Tell me about this “13” that you mentioned.”


“It was further up the path from the campfire, near the fork in the path that leads to the overlook”, I said.


“Have you seen any other graffiti or anything?”


Theresa and I looked at each other and realized we had not been further up the path for a week. I wondered if any of the others had ventured up there while we were at the house. My musings were cut short when Dalton George joined us at the table and took charge, suggesting Charlie join him in his office, leaving us sitting there to wonder if there was more going on.


(to be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 22 of 55



Chapter 29 (Word Prompts: aroma, socks, jacket, orange, frost, crow, fence post, flew)



It was warm and cozy in the dining hall. The aroma of freshly brewing coffee mixed with frying bacon made my mouth water. I wondered what time the staff came in to prepare our meals and realized this was something I hadn’t thought about. I should make it a point to thank them for our meals.


I spotted a heavy jacket hanging on a hook inside the door and thought it had been even colder earlier in the morning. Perhaps they began even while it was dark outside. At least it had been sunrise when I had been awakened. Sounds were coming from a door behind the cafeteria line and I headed in that direction. I was about to stick my head in when the door opened and a woman wearing an orange apron emerged, almost knocking me down. I wasn’t certain which of us were the most surprised.


She was a woman of my approximate age and size. The crows feet beside her eyes showed that she had spent much of her life in laughter, which was what she was doing now, probably at the shock on my face.


“You’re a bit early for breakfast, aren’t you?”


I noticed the name neatly embroidered on her apron, Lily. That had been the woman that Theresa had looked for to see if we could eat an early lunch, yesterday. Had that only been yesterday?


“I’m sorry”, I said. “I didn’t mean to disturb you. It’s just that I got a phone call and then I found something and thought I should report it, only I don’t know who to report it to.”


Lily examined me from top to bottom. “You’re shivering. Don’t you know you need more than that little shirt. Why there’s frost on the ground at this time of the day.” She glanced at my feet before adding “well, I’m glad you had the good sense to wear socks at least. Here, sit down and I’ll get us both a cup of coffee. It should be ready by now.”


She motioned me toward a chair at the nearest table and almost flew toward the coffee urn before I had time to sit there. She returned shortly carrying a small tray with two mugs and an assortment of packets containing sweetener and creamers, which we both left untouched as we began to consume the hot liquid.


I began to warm up almost immediately and realized I had been so upset by the call from Blair and then the discovery on the path that I hadn’t realized how chilled I really was. Lily just watched me while I drank about half the cup. Then as if I had given her some signal she began to question me.


“Tell me about this discovery you made that you think you need to report.”


I wondered if she had been told about the other strange things that seemed to be happening and thought she probably knew more of what went on here than anyone else.


I explained about the still smoking remains of the camp fire. This seemed to perk her interest. “And where exactly was this?”


“The path right beside that first fence post”, I answered.


“And you say it was still smoldering just now?” I nodded affirmative.


“You’re right. This does need to be reported. I don’t like this at all”, she said with more passion that I expected.


She spotted my cell phone lying on the table beside my cup. “Could I use that?” She picked it up before I had a chance to answer and quickly punched in a number.


“Charlie, Lily here. It looks like we’ve had some intruders overnight and I need you to come out here and have a look. And this time I don’t want you to send that idiot you sent yesterday.” After a moment she seemed satisfied and disconnected, handing me my phone.


“I hope you don’t mind sticking around until Charlie gets here. I don’t like the thought of somebody being here about the time the girls come in to get things started. I’ll ask around but nobody mentioned seeing a car or anything this morning. I know there was nothing out of the ordinary when I arrived. Here, I’ll get you some more coffee. Let me know if you need anything else. Charlie should be here in about a half hour or less.”


With another cup of coffee in my hand and fully warmed up, I thought I’d better call my husband and see what was so urgent there.


(to be continued)






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Respected Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 23 of 55

Wow, after anxiously waiting for more I was so busy with a trip to close on the property my son and I bought that I never got to read chapter 27 and now chapter 28 arrived.


I just read both over my second cup of coffee and you are still keeping me on the edge of the cliff wondering what will happen next.


Surprises keep popping up, LOL! I am enjoying this tremendously, so please keep up the good work.


I have been too busy to read anything else and will have a lot of catching up to do once I am moved and settled. Hopefully that will be before Thanksgiving.



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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 24 of 55


Chapter 28 (Word Prompts: aroma, socks, jacket, orange, frost, crow, fence post, flu, flew)


My housemates were still asleep so I took the phone outside so as not to wake them. There was a distinct chill in the early morning air and I regretted not taking the time to grab my jacket that had been hanging on the chair beside the bed. I was grateful for the socks that were on my feet since I had not removed them after kicking off my shoes before beginning my sketches.


The sun was just beginning to rise making a faint orange glow to the trees that surrounded the yard. I wondered what Blair was thinking calling so early and then I remembered he was in a different time zone and it was two hours later for him. But I was wishing for a cup of coffee before talking with him. I’m not really coherent before my morning coffee. I thought about asking him if I could call him back a little later, but at that point a crow flew right in front of my eyes and, with it, a deep feeling of foreboding. I suddenly wished for a place to sit but nothing was handy so I headed for the nearest fence post, feeling the need of the support it would provide.


It was then I noticed a thin layer of frost on the dried leaves scattered on the ground, which explained my shivering and knew I had to get a jacket. A cold or flu was the last thing I wanted or needed this far from home.


I realized Blair had been talking and I had not heard a word. I finally had to ask if I could call him back. I didn’t explain my need for warmth or of coffee. I had told him he had awakened me and after all our years of marriage he should know about my addiction. When I returned his call I would be in a much better place to understand whatever it was that he was needing to talk to me about.


I was just disconnecting when I caught the aroma of something coming from up the path and realized that the smell of wood smoke that I’d dreamed about might not, in fact, be a dream. I ran up the path to the clearing where I found some still-smoldering remains of what had been a camp fire. I looked around and all the cabins seemed to be dark. I was the only one stirring at this time of the morning, although I thought there were probably some of the cooks in the dining hall. I decided to head in that direction, hoping for coffee and for someone to report this newest incident.


(to be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 25 of 55


Chapter 27 (Word Prompts: September: approaching, faded, peaceful, dappled, meandering, forever, rhythm)  October: thunder, moss, orange, damp, spice, whisper, guilt, wood smoke)



I could tell the group was jealous of our outing. It seemed things had been rather dull for the rest of them while we were gone. A few of them had tried to do a few sketches, but for the most part had just talked about what might be going on. It seemed we had the most interesting day.



By the time I was back in the cottage I feared the memory of that time by the pond was fading. I had felt more peaceful there than any other place I could remember. I knew I couldn’t stay there forever, but thought I might be able to hold onto the feeling. I pulled out my sketchbook, thinking that I might make some drawings while the memories were fresh in my mind.



I lost myself in the rhythm of my pencil on the while paper as I let my mind meander over what I had seen during the day. I was pleased with the dappled light that I had noticed just before we left. It was filtered through the boughs of the willow making interesting reflections on the pond with the approaching sunset. I couldn’t help thinking that it would have been even more beautiful with the changing colors of the end of day.



I must have dozed as my drawing of the lily pads began to take on color, not provided by my pencil. The gray and white became purple and orange in a variety of values, from deep blue violet, almost black, to soft peach in what had been the white blossoms. The light glistened off the specks of water seen between the giant pads. I hadn’t noticed the patch of moss on the bank until now, nor had I noticed the small chipmunk who seemed to be interested in my work. I tried to take off my shoes and feel the damp velvety softness under my toes, but for some reason my hands refused to cooperate. I decided not to worry about it and just enjoy the view.



The vague aroma of spice drifted through the air. I had smelled it before but couldn’t remember where. It bothered me that I couldn’t remember and I knew it was something important. Even in my sleep I seemed to know that my memory could not be forced and the whisper of the leaves as they danced in the light was more interesting anyway, so I watched that for a while. I thought they were singing but I was unable to adjust the volume to hear the words.



Suddenly the music was interrupted by an unwelcome intruder. The spice was replaced by wood smoke and the leaves became frightened as I watched them flutter more desperately, attempting to escape. I felt I should flee too, but I had been so comfortable here that I didn’t want to go. But the thunder was telling me I had to wake up now. It was directly in my ear and it wouldn’t stop.



When I opened my eyes and found I was on my bed surrounded by the sketches I had made earlier, but the sound continued. Buried under the lily pads I found my cell phone. It showed that I had a call from Blair. I realized I hadn’t even thought about my husband for days. It was with the feeling of guilt that I answered the phone.



(to be continued)





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Respected Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 26 of 55

Hi PattyDiane,

Just wondering when we will get more of this story. LOL!

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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 27 of 55

Chapter 26 (Word Prompts: approaching, faded, peaceful, dappled, meandering, forever, rhythm)


Roger and the boys wasted no time leaving as soon as they returned to the house. I knew we should be getting back too, but I hoped the others wouldn’t be in a big hurry. It had been so peaceful by that pool that I wanted to enjoy it a bit more. I wondered if I would ever be able to return to this place and wished to somehow carry a part of it away with me.


I wondered if Peter was having some of those same thoughts as he meandered around the garden. It struck me once again how much the statue reminded me of him and wondered if he had been the inspiration, if not the artist. For the first time I found myself wondering about the people who had left this place and wondering what was the problem that seemed to be keeping it unoccupied forever. Perhaps I could learn more from Peter but right now I was anxious to return to the pond and shade of that willow tree.


Theresa and Doris had the same idea and signaled me when they heard me approaching. The sun was fading now and there was only a bit of dappled light hitting and reflecting off the pool making it appear to sparkle. My friends moved over a bit and I sat beside them. There were no words necessary as we mediated to the rhythm of the gentle moving water.


I think we were there for only a few minutes before Peter called out that we needed to leave if we were to make it back in time to eat. I hated to leave but he was right. If we missed dinner we would be very hungry before breakfast. I thought about suggesting we stop in town for a bite but then realized I had no idea what was available or if any of us had brought any money so, after a final look at the scene, I got up to leave.


The drive back was surprisingly quiet. It seemed we were all with our own thoughts. From my place in the back seat alongside Doris, I was able to see the expression on Peter’s face as he gazed out the window. I wanted to ask him about some things but he seemed to be in his own world at the moment and I didn’t want to interrupt his thoughts, whatever they might be.


It was almost dark by the time we reached the camp. There was already a group leaving the dining room and I wondered if Theresa was going to have to find her friend, Lily, for more sandwiches. I was relieved to find we were not actually the last to go through the line and I piled my tray high with beef stew, loaded with vegetables and homemade rolls. I took a bowl of cherry cobbler for desert. I thought the walk up the hill today used enough calories for me to splurge on dinner.


Since so few people had actually kept to the schedule there were very few works to be discussed. We were given a short lecture on how to develop our rough sketches into a finished painting but still finished much earlier than usual. I wanted some time alone with Peter, but as we left we found that Donna and Betty, along with some others, were waiting for us, anxious to know if we had learned anything.


(to be continued)


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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 28 of 55

Chapter 25 (August Word Prompts: baseball, hammock, swimming, shade, away, lemonade, snake, fair, flip flops)


There was something about the way that baseball was flip-flopping from one hand to the other that was almost hypnotic. I found myself watching it go back and forth with the splish-splash sound and realized Matt had continued the process through the entire conversation, appearing to be unaffected by the drama going on next to him. I had to wonder what was going on in his mind when he suddenly put down the ball and looked at Peter.


“Did you mention that there was a path leading up the mountain?”


“Yes, we used to go up there all the time when we were kids. That was before they made it into a state park, although I suppose kids still use it. Why do you ask?”


Matt looked very serious, unlike the boy who had tried to block the entrance to the bedroom just a short time before. “You know we were so interested in discovering the water and rebuilding the pool that we never thought about who blocked it in the first place and why. There must have been a purpose in that.”


This got Roger’s attention. “You’re right.” He turned to Officer Brooks. Have you had any reports about anything concerning water?”


It was obvious that the young man had been far away in his thoughts after deciding that the conversation didn’t involve him and a possible arrest of a drug king pin. He hurriedly tried to return to the present and gave a simple shake of the head, indicating a negative, but his response didn’t matter. Peter was already heading out the door, followed by Matt, Gregg and Roger. The other girls and I were tempted to stay in the shade of that tree but in the end we followed too. I have to admit that I would have made a different choice if there had been more lemonade and if the planned hammock had been available.


It was a nice walk up a well-worn path up the mountain. It snaked below several outcroppings of rock and I wondered if that was where we had been on that first day of the workshop. It was hard to tell from below. I realized we heard no sound of running water at any time along the path, even though we must not be far away from the stream. It was only about a half hour before we arrived at the stream and Greg showed us where the dam had been found. There was a mound of stones still on the banks where they had left them. Peter suggested they go further upstream to see what they could find.


It was just a few feet further up the mountain where they found evidence of another pool and also a pipe partially buried. Peter wanted to follow that but Roger said he had an idea about whose swimming pool it would lead and he would check it out. The others decided this would be only fair to let him handle it if he wanted. After all it was getting dark and they didn’t want to miss dinner.


(To be continued)




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Respected Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 29 of 55

Great story, keep it coming as I am enjoying each and every line.

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Valued Social Butterfly

Re: House in the Valley

Message 30 of 55

Chapter 24 (August Word Prompts: baseball, hammock, swimming, shade, away, lemonade, snake, fair, flip flops)


I had forgotten that Peter was back in the room.


“I must say you boys did an excellent job restoring the pool but how did you do it?”


Roger uttered that he was pretty curious about that too, but somehow his expression was one of disbelief. I thought it was time we stop underestimating kids and their creativity when they get interested in a project. If only we could find a way to channel that, but I’m certain our parents thought the same thing about us.


Greg was becoming quite bold now and all eyes were on him, although I glanced over at Officer Brooks who was still on guard and making it clear that he still regarded the teen-ages as close kin to a snake.


For me, I was picturing the place I had enjoyed just a short time before and thinking how much I would enjoy this glass of lemonade from the hammock in the shade of that weeping willow tree. I didn’t really care how they managed it. I was just very grateful that they had.


Matt had picked up the baseball from where it had landed beside him on the sofa and was absently tossing it back and forth in a similar fashion as before, although the sound was somewhat different. It must have been the size of his hands or perhaps his were not as weathered as the older man. This time instead of the “flip-flop, slip-slap” there was more of a “splish-splash, splish-splash”. I don’t know why I noticed that, but it seemed interesting at the time and it was the only sound in the room.


Greg seemed to know that the words he used at this point were going to be the most important of his life. He could either impress his father or he could find himself grounded for life, or even arrested if the expression on Officer Brooks’ face was to be believed.


Roger broke the silence. “I’m not so interested in how you did it. I want to know why you decided to do such a thing on someone’s private property.”


It was obvious this was not what Greg wanted to hear from his father and I thought he would later regret his outburst. “Well, the why was easy. It was hot last summer and we thought it would be great to have a place for swimming.”


“Well, I’m interested in the how it was done”, said Peter from his spot at the door to the kitchen.


Greg was pleased with this response. I thought he was rather proud of the project and from what I had seen it was well deserved.


“Once we saw the painting and realized where the pool had been we located the dried up stream that had fed it and we followed it up the mountain to find out where it had been blocked. We had to pull some rocks away that had been piled up to make a dam but after that it went back the way that it must have years ago. We spent weeks checking on it and making certain it wasn’t doing any damage. We thought there must have been some reason for the dam to be built but we couldn’t find one.”


Now Roger was paying attention. “Are you saying that the stream was deliberately blocked? This wasn’t just a rock slide or something?”


“We didn’t think so”, said Matt. “The rocks seemed to be very carefully placed and my father said he remembered that the pool had dried up very suddenly and they didn’t know why.”


“Yes”, said Roger. I remember that too. It didn’t occur to me that nobody checked into that. Evan and Alice were already gone then and I guess their father was too preoccupied to care.”


Then he looked at his son, “But this doesn’t mean that you aren’t in trouble.”


“Dad, that isn’t fair”, moaned Greg.


(to be continued)



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