After the tragic death of her husband, Dan, Amy Shaw leaves her Pennsylvania home for Vermont, accompanied by Teddy Steiner, her bestie who has just broken up with his boyfriend and hopes to find love in the north country. They plan to live in an old house Amy has inherited from her eccentric cousin. Shortly after settling in, Amy meets Eric Jordan, the man of her dreams, and falls hard for him. But when Dan's ghost appears to Amy, bearing the message that she should investigate further into her new man's character and history, complications arise. Set on the shores of Lake Champlain, The View from Kamaloka takes the reader on a journey both light and dark through the realms of romance and the supernatural.
Standing over the sink, soaping up the last of the dinner dishes, I watched my husband back our Honda Pilot out of the driveway. He glanced toward the street, his broad shoulders turning slightly, his handsome face still aglow from our flirtations. I wondered if we would always flirt and banter, romantic even into our dotage. The Pilot crept into the street. Dan turned the wheel and was gone, and I felt in my heart the familiar momentary pang that accompanied every one of our partings, no matter how trivial. He was just going to the store. It was a seven-minute drive—we had timed it. And it was Sunday afternoon, no drunks or wild teens likely to be on the road. But ever since falling for Dan three years ago, I had gotten in the habit of believing that every goodbye would be our last. I had loved boys and men before Dan, but never with this painful twist added on.
But I suppose it was natural that the twist should be there. When you lose both your parents in a bizarre accident, it changes the way you think.
I put the last glass in the dish-drainer and turned off the water. Dan would be fine. He would return in a few minutes with ice-cream, and with other items, too, because he loved the colors and bright lights of grocery stores and was inclined to dawdle, succumbing to displays of goods that were newly minted or on sale.
My fear of losing him made sense for another reason. I found myself, at this point in my life, awash in a happiness more poignant and powerful than I had ever known. And in this world of suffering, how could such happiness last?
I dried my hands on the dishtowel and headed for the living room. The baseball game had gone dark to prevent screen burn. DVR, I knew, would keep it that way for ninety minutes.
Pride and Prejudice lay on the arm of the sofa. I had lost count of how many times I’d read it. Ten? At least. These days I dipped into its pages anywhere at all, knowing full well what would happen, but seeking immersion in the lovely sentences and the active minds of the characters.
I stretched out on the sofa, a throw-pillow behind my head, contentedly reading. Despite the heat, I had turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows, for I preferred fresh air almost always. A sudden wind came up, and I closed my eyes, hearing it rustle through the trees.
I dozed. When the book slid from my lap to the floor I reawakened. Glancing at the wall clock, I saw that my involuntary nap had encompassed almost half an hour.
Feeling thirsty, I padded in sock feet to the kitchen and extracted a bottle of water from the fridge. I gulped a third of it down before even closing the door. From afar I heard the wail of a siren.
Once more to the sofa. I picked up the book. Elizabeth Bennett was musing on the amiable appearance of Mr. Wickham. My attention wandered from the page, and my eyes fell upon the black screen of the television set. Why was Dan taking so long at the store?
A refrain entered my mind, from a song the nuns had taught me in grade school.
Oh, dear, what can the matter be? Dear, dear, what can the matter be? Oh, dear, what can the matter be? Johnny’s so long at the fair…
The phone rang, making me jump. It was the land phone, nestled on the credenza between a pile of magazines and an incense burner in the shape of a turtle.
A dull hiss of a cell phone at the other end—a long pause.
“Hello?” I repeated. I was growing annoyed.
“Amy. It’s Gwen Varrick, from the club.”
Gwen, an older woman who played tennis at the club where I sometimes gave lessons. “Hi, Gwen. What’s up?”
“I’m in Wegmans parking lot. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to tell you this.”
My heart was suddenly pounding. “Just tell me.”
Gwen spoke what I already knew in my fevered, coursing blood. What I had always feared would happen.
“I’ll come down now,” I said, my voice strangely calm.
“No,” Gwen said. She paused. “He’s not here. The police…took him away. Someone will come to your home.”
I knew how this worked. It had happened to me before. The police never called you. They didn’t want you on the road in a frenzy of grief, a danger to all. An officer would arrive on your doorstep, hat in hand, his face grave. If someone called, it would be a busybody who had been at the scene by chance.
My fist held the phone so hard that it was cramping. I ended the call without saying anything more to Gwen.
Trembling all over, I sat on the sofa, staring into space, waiting for the knock on the door.