Sunlight in the Shadows (excerpt)
“How the hell did this happen? Kate sat in the passenger section of the ferry holding her overnight case on her lap. She looked down at the suitcase next to her and sighed. It was just a few short months ago that she was a high powered attorney at Peters and Phips until it was determined that Phips had gambled away most of the companies money. Raided by federal and local agencies everyone in the company had been deposed for possible involvement and put out on the street. Kate, having been one of the most well respected of the team was called back for numerous meetings regarding the status of files and questioned continuously as to how no one knew this was happening. Once done with that aspect of the investigation, the feds moved onto the company’s accountants.
The entire process had left Kate an emotional wreck. With no spirit left in her, she had left her beautiful apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan and headed for her family’s home in Bedford where she took comfort in being babied by her mother and father. Kate’s mother was the famous artist Morgan Whitfield and her father, David Parks was a doctor whose office was in town. For the first several weeks they allowed Kate to wallow in her despair. After that her father told her it was time to get up and go kick some butt. Kate made some attempts at reaching out to her contacts, but felt so let down by the entire incident, couldn’t manage enough courage to even head to the City for an interview. That’s when her mother pulled out the trump card.
They were sitting in the kitchen one morning after David had left for work. Kate stared out the window as Morgan poured them another cup of tea.
“It does so kill me to see you this way dearheart.” Morgan rubbed her back. “Anything on the horizon?”
Kate just shook her head.
“Look darling you have to get back on the horse, sometimes you have to make things happen.” “You know, get your knickers in order.”
Kate almost spit out her tea. “You know mother, until you say something like that, I forget how British you can be.” Kate grabbed her napkin and wiped her lips.
“Well you know darling that’s one thing about us Brits, stiff upper lip and all that.” Now they both where laughing. “I have something I want to talk to you about.” “You know I have to head off to London next week and your father has some sort of conference, so I was thinking.”
“Oh mother I would love to go to London with you.” Kate jumped from her seat and hugged her”
Morgan held her tightly as she continued. “That was not exactly what I had in mind.” “I thought it would be a good idea for you to head out to Shelter Island and stay with Aunt Constance.”
“What!” Kate tried to squirm away.
Morgan held her tighter. “I called her and made all the arrangements.”
Kate broke free and put her hands over her head. “You have to be kidding me, oh my god, what did you tell her?”
“Darling she already knows what happened and I just told her that I was going out of town and you could use a change of scenery to clear your head.”
“Oh my god I’ll never hear the end of this.” “Of course I’ll have to hear how wonderful all my cousins are doing and how did this happen to me, Mother I can’t go there.” Kate threw herself back down into the chair and put her head on the table.
“Katherine Arabella Whitfield you are going to go to Aunt Connie’s, you are going to decide what you are going to do with your life, and for god’s sake you are going to get hold of yourself!”
Kate lifted her head. “Could you get any more dramatic?”
“I thought it was pretty good if I do say so myself.” Morgan patted herself on the back. “Dearheart I think this will be the best thing for you and you know how much you love it there.
“I loved it there because Gran was there.”
“I know, but you know she’s always there in spirit.”
Morgan kissed the top of her head and turned to leave the room. “By the way, you go on Friday.”
So there she sat, on the ferry to Shelter Island for the first time since her beloved grandmother had passed away. At the ripe old age of 96, Arabella Morgan Hilliard Whitfield left this earth the same way she came in, raising hell. Arabella, Belle as she was sometimes called, and her sister Constance were born to a wealthy family in Cheshire. Their mother’s family had been very rich and their father built his own fortune raising horses. Arabella and Constance had the best of everything, clothes, schools, homes, but oddly enough you never would have known it from them. Both kept very low profiles when it came to their wealth but in Arabella’s case, not when it came to having fun. It was a good thing the family had money for as soon as she entered a school she was kicked out and onto another. Cited for everything from smoking in the bathrooms to missing curfews to drinking and boys, Arabella had a grand old time. It wasn’t until she met Kate’s grandfather Edward that she settled down slightly. It wasn’t until after giving birth to their second child, Kate’s uncle Niles, that Arabella and Edward took their children and moved to America.
They moved into a grand mansion overlooking Central Park. There, they threw lavish parties and hosted dinners. This is where Kate always remembered when she was little spending all the holidays. A few years later, one of their friends invited them out to a party in the Hamptons. While they found the southeast end of Long Island beautiful they found what they were really looking for one weekend while they were out exploring, Shelter Island. First settled in 1652 this tiny island nestled between the north and south forks of Long Island was like stepping back in time. Each time they visited the Hamptons, Arabella and Edward hopped in their friend’s car and headed to Shelter Island. It was during one of their visits that as Edward came around a curve in the road Arabella yelled at him to stop. She jumped from the car and with Edward scrambling after her, and stood on a piece of land overlooking Dering Harbor.
“This is it Edward, this is where we need to be.”
Not being able to deny Arabella anything, Edward purchased the land and there they built their house. It was after Edward passed away that Constance came to live with Arabella, and where after she had thrown a heck of a birthday party for a friend, that Arabella went to sleep never to awaken.
The ferry bumping into its slip brought Kate back to reality. She picked up her bags and headed out. It was early afternoon now.
That morning Morgan had driven her down to the city as she had a meeting. She got out of the car to help Kate get her bags out of the trunk. They were in front of Penn Station.
“Lighten up my darling you know this is not such a bad place I’m sending you.”
“Great I’m thirty five and my mother has to send me someplace.”
“Kate you just need to get your eggs in a basket, your ducks in a row, maybe you need a good roll in the hay.” Morgan slapped her bottom.
“Oh what darling, come on its not like we haven’t been all through this before, come on, what happened to that adorable girl who was your assistant that you had to fire because you couldn’t keep your hands off of her?”
“Really mom, really, I’m not depressed enough you have to go bringing up my love life?”
“Well you know what they say, a good organism is good for the body and soul.”
“That’s it mother, kiss me goodbye I think my train is leaving.”
“Alright my girl, I love you and you know call me every five minutes so I know what’s going on.”“When I get back maybe your father and I will come out for a weekend.”
“Sure” Kate picked up her bags. “I might be back in Bedford by then so we’ll see how it goes.”